Jenni’s Getting Cut

And by cut, I don’t mean ripped or super fit – although next week I begin my training for the Danskin Triathlon in June (technically it is a “sprint triathlon” – half-mile swim, 12 mile bike ride and 5K run), so maybe I’ll be “cut” in a few months.

Today, I’m cutting off about three years worth of hair growth, or roughly eight inches (my hair grows pretty slow, as the typical person’s hair grows about a half-an-inch a month).

Some of you may know that Justin’s mom was diagnosed with breast cancer back in October, and she just began chemo treatment this month, which causes your hair to fall out. So while I had planned to get a few inches cut off this year, part of the reason for the more drastic option is out of respect for Karen. I thought about shaving my head (seriously), but in the end, I just can’t go through it. I keep having visions of Britney with the umbrella. By the way, looking at that picture again makes me realize how far she’s come in the last year and a half. I can’t wait to see her in Dallas in less than two weeks! Wee!

Back on topic. For any of you looking to donate your hair at some point in your life, I recommend researching organizations thoroughly, because some organizations will actually just throw your hair out if you don’t meet certain requirements, like:
*Hair must be at a minimum between 8 to 12 inches
*In a ponytail when you donate (some people apparently send in swept-up hair off the ground, which is just gross)
*No hair dye, or certain types of dye only

That last requirement is what made the whole donation process tricky for me. For example, Wigs for Kids does NOT except any type of hair that’s been dyed, even if it was semi-permanent (washes out 4-6 weeks… used mainly if you’re coloring over grey hairs). Other organizations let you donate if you have colored, but not bleached (so any highlights during the past five years and you are out of luck). But whatever you decide, make sure you follow the directions carefully and researched the organization thoroughly. For example, Locks of Love WILL throw away or sell your hair if it is too grey, too short for their wigs, or is sent to them in a braid instead of a ponytail. Seriously.

For my purposes, I found an organization that lets you donate if you have colored your hair, thank goodness. If any of you have seen my hair in person, you know that it is incredibly thick, and I think would be great for a wig. Children with Hairloss is an organization based out of Michigan that caters to children who need a wig due to a medically-related condition.

And if you are strapped for cash – or just a greedy jerk, you can also grow your hair for money – and can sell it for upwards of $1,000 depending on the length and overall health of the hair.

I’ll post pictures this evening of the new hair style on Facebook over the weekend. Most likely it will be a picture with me and Perez Hilton, because I’m totally going to his book signing at BookPeople tomorrow. So look for my hot mug on Perez’s Web site next Friday. Haha.


Picking Yourself Up

I’ve discovered I have a bit of a character flaw. Involving wheels. Stay with me here...

About three years ago, I had this brilliant idea to buy rollerblades. Back in the day, I loved rollerblading. Jumping off of curbs, spinning around until I was dizzy. To me, it didn’t really feel like it was that long ago. Apparently, my sense of time is a little whack.

So I get the rollerblades, and start doing my thing, going up the driveway, and immediately decide to jump the curb. Because, it was so easy only, I don’t know, 15 years ago. It didn’t seem like more than a decade. But as I saw my feet fly up, looking up at the sky, I realized ten years was a lot longer than I previously thought. And as my butt and back smashed into the concrete and my husband is yelling at me to see if I had a concussion, I had to laugh.

What the heck was I thinking, right? But like a good girl, I got back up and tried again. And fell three more times.

And after going home sick from work the following day because I was so sore, I swore to myself that I would put those stupid things back on and try again.

Three years later, they’re right where I left them, in plain view, inviting me to try again. But I don’t.

Apparently I have a limit to falling down and picking myself up again.

And it isn’t limited to rollerblades. About a month and a half ago I bought an awesome new road bike. And I fell -- about three times I think. And I haven’t been on it since, which is a bit of a problem, since I’m supposed to do a triathlon in June.

What on earth happened to my fearless sense of adventure that I had as a child? I never thought of the risks associated with riding a bike or rollerblading back then -- I just did it without reservation.

I want that ability back. But I don’t know how to find it. It’s so weird to know I felt that way at one point in my life and I can’t re-wire myself to think that way. Simply picking yourself up and trying again doesn’t work, and I have the scars and bruises (literally) from trying it.

And then, as I’m laying here in bed giving myself a headache from thinking too hard, how do these two events translate into how I approach other, less physical activities? Is it even the same thing? I’ve given up on a few people throughout my life, individuals who, despite my best intentions, were past the point of my time and efforts. Similar to the bike or the rollerblade, there is literally only so many times that you can get beat down before you flat give up.

Ah, “giving up.” The point where you stop picking yourself up. I looked the term up on Google to see what’s out there, and it’s pretty pathetic. Though, it was sort of funny that the second result pulled is on Bill O’Reilly giving up his syndicated talk show. Really random. It’s sort of funny his name is associated with that term on Google.

Okay, so the term “giving up” is apparently for losers. So I did another search for “Picking Yourself Up” and I was quite pleased with the results. We have a Zen result listed, some Hindu... and again, randomly, a Fox News story. Seriously. What the crap is up with that?

I choose to ignore the Fox News story and instead focus on the Zen angle. It’s a story on the Zen Habits Web site called, “Feeling Down? 7 Ways to Pick Yourself Back Up!” The exclamation point speaks to me (along with the feeling down... why yes, I’m feeling down... I’ve managed to literally fall down several times this year and it’s only March) so I continue reading.

Reading these seven pointers is interesting, because I’ve managed to realize I’m not in that bad of shape. Apparently, I should make lists (I do regularly); take action (I do until I fall down); exercise (ha, that’s funny... that got me into this mess in the first place); shower and groom yourself (err... I don’t need to be reminded of that anymore, I’m not five); get out of the house and do something (both events was actually right in front of the house...); play some lively music (what do you think Britney Spears is??); and, talk about it (this blog).


Let’s try another search result, Swing Time by Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire. Crap, I wish I could dance in heels like that... but I would fall. A lot. Oh wow, the way Ginger’s dress swings around in 0:52 is pretty clutch. Random factoid -- did you know that Fred Astaire choreographed one of Madonna’s first tours, but she fired him? I read it in her brother’s autobiography.

Okay, so onto the next link from Hindu.com -- which turns out to be India’s National Newspaper. I love Bollywood, so I keep reading.

It ends up being a poem of sorts, which I enjoyed reading. I’ve bolded the good stuff that spoke to me. I hope you enjoy reading it :)

Three times I tried,
Defeat took all pride,
But each time I lost,
Everyone was saying,
Try, Try, Try again
For this is a saying
That hard work never goes in vain.
And I am still trying
Hope I succeed someday
Before I start crying.
You can understand,
How I feel,
After putting a lot of effort
No one wants to kneel.
To restart from the beginning,
It always takes time
And I am scolded,
For no crime of mine.
Yet with the burden on my shoulders
I gather courage to start.
But all my hopes are mined
When the chapters before me nastily laugh.
Oh God! What should I do?
In such mayhem caused?
Alas! I got an answer
With the inner conscience aroused,
Do not allow the fear
To make yourself pause
`Cause nothing is easy to achieve
What you can do is just
Work hard to please.
Last but not the least
Always remember
Nothing is impossible.
For hope sees invisible
And feels intangible
Hope never lets you die
Until you reach an ultimate high.
So just try and try again
As I am trying
And I'm sure that one day
Success will be mine.

Reetika Bajaj, XII Arts
New Delhi: Dayanand Model S.S. School, Mandir Marg


Walter, the Hamburgler

*Special shoutout to my pals Meredith and Angie, whose sweet Yorkies were kind enough to invite Walter to their fourth birthday party.

For any of you fortunate enough to meet Walter, you get the idea that he is a 75-year-old man trapped in the body of a 10-year-old dog. Seriously. He’s very particular, doesn’t particularly care for other dogs, actually enjoys going to the doctor’s office because it gives him something to do in his otherwise boring life, etc. And like old people, others tend to flock to him for sage advice or humor. Like my pal @kisngutz (Kim G.), who thinks I should go on vacation more often or get knocked up so she can watch Walter all the time (much like an old folks home).

With that background, Justin and I were slightly wary of bringing Walter to a birthday party for two Yorkies, Bella and Jackson. To be honest, we didn’t know what to expect – usually Walter does one of two things when he sees another dog: get excited too easily, which then causes the other dog to get mad at him; or, he pees on them accidently. Honestly, I don’t know if it is an accident or not. (Walter at the beginning of the birthday party)

So we took him anyways, and similar to a toddler birthday party, Walter is immediately swarmed by seven other dogs, sniffing, chatting via huffs and puffs, etc. I think Walter almost peed on one of them, but luckily the dog moved in time. After that, Walter went in search of places to pee, completely ignoring other dogs. Particularly when he stumbled across a rare, muddy find near the back of the property.

Most of you know, Walter has a fascination with tennis balls. In fact, his latest collection includes one the size of a basketball I found at Golfsmith in their tennis section, and a set of 48 I got him at Costco. (At some point, I’ll post the video of Walter playing with the huge tennis ball). But little known fact – he loves squeaky toys. I think because he hates the squeak and wants to kill it. Seriously. (Walter going to town on a fake hamburger)

So the hamburger toy squeaked. And it was Walter’s duty to the other dogs to de-squeak it. For about thirty minutes, he ignored everything going on around him and focused on this ridiculous toy. He entered the party beautiful and clean. Walter left it a muddy mess. Pretty cute, if we weren’t in a car with cream-colored leather. Whoops.

Anywho, the point of this story is that everyone needs to go to a dog birthday party once in their life. In fact, Justin and I (and Walter) had so much fun, we may have to throw one for Walter in June. (Walter after playing with the ball... clearly incredibly happy with himself. His parents, not so much)

Happy Fifth Anniversary, JB!

It only seems like yesterday that the better half and I decided to embark on that special life-long journey called marriage. *Swoon* Because I love quoting random stats, I was going to provide you with some sort of information about how “50 percent of marriages end in divorce after five years.” Turns out, that frequently quoted stat is based on historically flawed math and based on trends from the 1970s when everyone was swinging and high as a kite. Us 2000’s kids are much more refined. (Justin doesn't look too happy in that photo. More annoyed I guess)

Marriage statistics today, according to a New York Times April 2005 article (yes, it’s more almost four years old, but I’m trying to work with what I can find here), state that there are huge differences between people with a college degree and those who don’t have one. Turns out, only 16% of women who have a degree divorce within 10 years, compared to the more than 35% who don’t have a degree. Of course, if you’ve ever read Freakanomics, you can get numbers to tell you anything you want – like the fact that based on both of our names our parents are white and poor without any formal education. And we’ll most likely be naming our first born Quinn (that would be a girl’s name… which is lame. It sounds like I would name my child after a fictional television character). So you can really get stats to say whatever you want them to.

My longwinded point is we’re still married. Horray! We’ll be having dinner at Jeffrey’s here in Austin and then head back home to hang with Walter. If you have any good recommendations on what to get at the restaurant, I’d love to hear them. Just DM me at @jennijewel. (Picture taken at our fourth-anniversary dinner at Finn and Porter)

And what cool things have we gotten each other? Well, I’m glad I asked on your behalf. Both of us had been struggling to figure out what to get each other (actually, I’m lying… Justin apparently knew this whole time). Fifth anniversaries are usually celebrated by giving something made of wood. Or if you want to go more “modern” instead of traditional, silverware is the gift of choice. I’d like to consider myself a mod kind-of-girl, but why on earth would you give a guy silverware?

Anywho, back in college, Justin had this fascination with a game called Go. I think he read somewhere that really smart people play the game, and he fancies himself a smart person. Plus, it is understood to be one of the most complex games in the world. It turns out that playing Go causes you to use the right side of your brain more and decreases your chance of Alzheimer’s. Justin never got a board in college, because they were too expensive and we were both poor. It was forgotten about, until about a month ago, when I remembered his love of a game he’s never played before, and more importantly, the fact that this game happens to have a wooden board.

And what did the swell boy get me? Well, about a year ago, as I was really starting to learn how to play golf, Justin made a deal with me. If I could score 60 on nine holes (pathetic, right?), he would get me a driver. On a fateful day about a month ago, I actually got a 47! Granted, it was at the Butler Park Pitch and Putt, but I’ll take what I can get! And so last week, he surprised me with a trip to Golfsmith to pick up not only a driver, but a hybrid as well! Woot! To understand my seriousness at this decision, my final choice was between a purple Ping driver and a TaylorMade. And while I loved the idea that I could have a purple driver, I went with the one that I hit better. And then we went to the golf range, where I hit that driver 200 yards! It’s my best friend now, displacing Ashley. Haha. Kidding. Sort of. As a quick history of the game – drivers are technically a 1-Wood. Hence the gift. (Picture taken out at Horseshoe Bay last summer... by my husband.)

So all in all, a very good five-year anniversary. And more importantly, an awesome five years! BTW -- if you ever want to experience our ridiculous relationship in-person, feel free to crash at our house anytime you're in Austin. Just give us a 24-hour heads up. :) We usually take guests to dinner AND pay. So it's really a win-win.


Nostalgic Gaming, a.k.a. Zach Morris died of Cholera

So my last post was six months ago! Whoops. However, the more I think about it, the more I realize my life hasn’t been bloggable during that time. There have been plenty of things go down, but some events are better left unwritten.

But I’ve decided to break my dry spell with this awesomeness. I was reading my favorite blog, Gizmodo, yesterday, when I stumbled across this: Oregon Trail iPhone Game Hands On.

For the young-ins reading this blog (or those who did not grow up playing on Apple II’s during computer class at the school library): The Oregon Trail was an educational game developed back in 1971 by student teachers using a mainframe computer. Honestly, the fact that student teachers even knew how to use a mainframe computer is somewhat impressive – they’re hard to use now! Anywho, the game became so popular that it was sold on floppy disk in 1985 with another updated release in 1991 and again in 2001 (Thanks, Wikipedia!)

The premise of the game was to take you and the family (which you had the opportunity to name) along the Oregon Trail with limited supplies, money and food – which you then collected along the way to get to the final destination. Of course, random people would die off of various diseases or unfortunate accidents, and most likely if you ever played the game, you got to write on your own tombstone final words of wisdom that could be read by others. (Which most immature people would take that as an opportunity to show-off their newly learned vulgar vocabulary from an older sibling. Clearly, I went to a public school.)

It turns out that I shared a common theme with my husband (who went to the elementary school a few blocks down from mine) – we would name our Oregon Trail posse after Saved by the Bell characters. We would also kill too much buffalo – because let’s face it – we enjoyed shooting. Ironically, as much as the settlers did, since they almost wiped them out back in the mid-1800s. And history repeats itself in a school library. Fascinating.

And after reading the review of the Oregon Trail app for my iPhone, I knew it must be mine. My only hesitation was this – it was freakin’ $6. Up to this point, I had never paid for a single app on my iPhone. Maze Finger, Word Warp, Trace, iGolf, iBowl, Air Hockey, Whoppie Cushion (I will never forget eighth grade algebra and putting the whoppie cushion on the teacher’s seat, and it not working… LOL) – and my awesome metronome and tuner app for when I play violin – I grabbed them all for free.

But after discussing the potential purchase with my husband (which was most likely similar to talking with two seven-year-olds – we had reverted back 20 years), I bought it. And I couldn’t be more delighted. Both of us spent the next hour and a half choosing names for the family (Papa, Nana, Justin, Jenni and Walter) – which accidently got deleted when Ashley called to tell me about how awesome the LOST Season 4 finale was (I’m very excited she has blown through the whole series in the matter of a month, BTW) – we ended up sticking with the default names and went on our merry way.

I’ll say this – the hunting, picking fruit, floating the river – is way better than the Apple II version, yet stays true to the original game. While Indians are not narrowly picking off my family (which was apparently PC back in the 80s… but not in the 00’s), one of the children did get carried off by a bald eagle and was found two days later in a tree.

I’m still on the trail – and I’m doing this in easy mode until I get the hang of it – but all in all, I’d say this game is worth every penny – just because I can sit there and play it with my husband while we talk about the old version and reminisce about the olden days. We sound like we’re already 75 apparently ;)

So if you went to elementary school in MISD – or remember playing this game at school back in the day, grab the game on the iPhone. Better yet, if you are a true dork, download the original version for the Apple II here for free: http://classicgaming.gamespy.com/View.php?view=gmfiles.detail&id=128. Reading the comments even reminded me that it was a two-disk floppy game! Ah, the memories!

And if you were one of the punks that would leave the vulgar tombstones – now you’re free to do that in the comfort of your own living room without fear of a goodie two-shoes (i.e. ME) ratting you out to the school librarian.

“RIP Zack Morris. You were so hot and I wanted to marry you, even though I’m only 11.”