Shameless Plug for my Book

Hey look! A blog post that isn’t about food.

So, as I mentioned awhile ago, I self-published my graduate thesis on for Kindle and for Barnes & Noble’s Nook readers. I figured that I should do some sort of promotion for this because the internet is a giant place and unless you’re selling tits or cats not many people are going to find your shit.

My awesome thesis/short story collection/thing I paid a university way too much fucking money to let me write is called Waiting in Cold Storage.

Without further ado (and only one more mention of TITS!), I present to you a selection from my book.

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Why I Self-Published My Thesis

Ready for a bullshit post about my “feelings”?? Some hardcore navel-gazing? Here we go!

I wrote a book. Actually it’s a collection of short stories. Whatever, same difference. All you need to know is I wrote a thing and, eventually, I self-published the thing.

Back in the day, you’d have to spend money to get your books printed and bound and shipped to you. I never saw much value that. Still don’t. But digital publishing for e-readers? Count me in.

A lot of people rag on self-publishing. I know this because before the days of Kindle Direct publishing, I used to be one of those judgmental assholes. I used to think if your work was good enough someone would publish your stories or give you a book deal. And sure, there are those writers who are so damn good they automatically get noticed and published. But, more often, your work needs to fit a certain style. You need to fit the voice of the journal you’re contributing to, or fit the publisher’s image. Your subject matter needs to be in line with what’s considered “serious” and “literary”. You need to SAY SOMETHING IMPORTANT ABOUT THE HUMAN CONDITION through as many metaphors as possible. I’m not one of those writers. I never have been.

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The Big C – FAQ and Snark

Some of you may have already heard that my husband, Shawn, was recently diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. This is true. In the spirit of the oversharing culture we now live in, I’ve created a short FAQ for anyone with questions.

What the fuck is Hodgkin’s Lymphoma?
Here, let me Google that for you. Fun fact: Mario Lemieux, former NHL hockey player (most would say HOCKEY SUPERSTAR) had Hodgkin’s. I can only assume this means Shawn will become a champion hockey player once he’s recovers because SCIENCE.

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A Letter to Myself on the Eve of my 30th Birthday

I attended a Women in Leadership conference today and one of the speakers was Ellyn Spragins, editor and contributor for the book Letters to My Younger Self. In the book, powerful and successful women write a letters to themselves at younger ages.

While I am in no way successful or powerful, I love this idea. I thought it would be a fun exercise for me to try, especially since I’m turning thirty tomorrow. So here’s my attempt at talking to twenty year old Jen. A million bucks says she wouldn’t have listened to me.

Dear Twenty Year Old Jen,

Hey. Decided to write you as life here in the future is so totally awesome that I can send pointless missives backwards through time via the internet. Wait until you see the flying cars! No, I’m just fucking with you. There are no flying cars.

I wanted to write this to you to share what wisdom I have with you in hopes that it might make the next ten years a little easier on you. I don’t have much wisdom to share, but maybe what I can share with you will help as you try to become your own person, which, let me tell you, is far more painful than you can imagine.

1) The day is going to come when you are going to realize that all your relationship-related pain has made you a better person. I must sound crazy to you. I know you believed that having a relationship was the most important thing in your life and you tied your self-esteem to your relationship status. Those two things should never have been entwined. It’s something you can’t change now. But once you realize that your value has nothing to do with your relationship status you will realize two things:

a) If you had been able to date all those guys you wanted to date you never would have worked to develop a personality, a sense of humor or one iota of intelligence. Don’t tell me it’s not true, I know you. It would have become more important to you to be what he wanted because you didn’t have the confidence to be yourself and to be proud of yourself. Because you didn’t get the adorations of nameless dudes, you read books instead. You discovered music you liked. You developed your own opinions. You’re better off for it.

b) If you had been able to date all those guys you wanted to date you would not be able to appreciate the relationship you have when you become me. You mature a lot during this time period. All the pain, all the times you sob into your pillow and learn how you don’t want to be treated, you learn how you DO want to be treated. During this time, watch those around you. Watch how they interact in their relationships and when your time comes, (and, just like your mother always said, it will) emulate what you liked and leave what you don’t like at the door.

2) You’re an introvert and that’s not going to change. But don’t be as shy around people you don’t know.

3) Spend as much time with your family as you can. You’ll need to store up as many good memories as you can for when you move 2000 miles away from them and find yourself living alone in a city you don’t know. Know that your family loves you and your parents raised you to be strong. You will be able to survive. Also, spend some time figuring out how to cook. You will need that knowledge in the future. (You’ll never cook as well as Mom, though. Did you expect anything different?) And kiss the cats. You’ll miss them more than you’ll know.

4) Don’t lose faith in your abilities. You do have talent and it will be hard for you to remember that and to find the motivation to actually use that talent. But it’s there. People will say things that shake your faith in yourself. You will feel talentless, worthless and stupid. Do not let these fears override your drive. Whenever you feel shitty, remember that you wrote this. You loved writing it and you’ll come to realize that is all that matters.

5) Sing. When you move into an apartment complex, it won’t be as easily to belt out those tunes and not annoy your neighbors. May I recommend playing Heart’s “Alone” as loud as you can in your car? That’s a great song to sing.

6) Embrace your nerdiness/fandom/etc. All that useless knowledge will come in handy.

7) Hating your body leads nowhere. Find acceptance in who you are and what you look like. It’ll make your life easier and more enjoyable.

Enjoy the next ten years. They’re going to be difficult, fun, turbulent, amazing and shitty all at the same time. You’ll make it through.

Love,

Jen

PS – VNV Nation still rocks.

One of THOSE people…

I never wanted to be one of those people. You know the kind. Obsessed with something in their lives, be it their children or their pets or their significant other. We’ve all got a few of those oversharey (is that a word?) obsessed friends whose status updates populate our Facebook feeds.

My obsession is not my boyfriend (though I do love him) and it’s not my non-existent children. It’s my cat. My fuzzy, giant, weird noise-making, adopted goofball of a cat.

I try not to talk about him. I try not to share stories about waking up at four in the morning to the sound of purring in my right ear before he headbutts my shoulder or face or whatever part of my body is in the vicinity. No one but me and my boyfriend care about how cute it is when he sits in the hallway with his front paws crossed, looking like he’d love nothing more than to share his thoughts on how to solve the health care crisis. But I want to share these stories. I want to take videos of him attacking a kitchen towel. I like it when he makes cute little chirp noises and licks my hand.

To satisfy my own personal desire to give in to the “ISN’T HE CUTE??!?!?!?!?!?” overshare urge that has become such a huge part of our interconnected lives, I dedicate this post to Tully, an adorable fuzzball who has made my life richer since he entered it. (I also wanted an excuse to post this clip.)

Chicken Soup for the Bored Soul

We’re ringing in 2010 like it’s 2009! For the second year in a row the boyfriend is laid up with a cold and I find myself making another pot of chicken soup to help with his recovery.

As a kid, I hated chicken soup. Hated it. I associated the soup with illness because the only time my mother would make this medical cure in a pot was when one of us was sick. Between the ages of 8 and 18, I came down with strep throat twice  a year – once in the spring and once in the fall. There was a lot of soup.

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Back for the scandal

So much for promising to write on this blog every night back in, what, August? Here it is DECEMBER and I haven’t posted anything new since September. Sigh…

I’m not sure what direction this blog will eventually take. Cakes, feasts, shows…and jokes?

I wrote a few monologue jokes today for a master’s class I took with Adam Felber, a writer on Real Time with Bill Maher. A good way to describe a monologue joke is any joke you see a late night talk show host (think Conan O’Brien, Jay Leno, David Letterman, etc) tell at the beginning of their show. They’re short jokes with a topical set up and usually a topical punchline. Think of them as a funny recap of the most recent news events.

Back when I was temping in Colorado, I used to write ten monologue jokes a day. All I wanted when I lived out there was to move to Boston and become a comedy writer (yeah, I know. I went to the wrong coast!). I forced myself to crank out some of the worst topical jokes ever written. After awhile I did come up with a few decent ones that I’m still ridiculously proud of. The problem with these jokes is the shelf-life is very short, something Felber mentioned during class today. He also said that he used to post monologue jokes on his blog before he worked in the industry.

That, for lack of a better term, lit a fire under my ass. Why shouldn’t I be writing monologue jokes everyday just for the hell of it? Why shouldn’t I be posting them on my blog? Why shouldn’t I be taking them to open mics and making an ass out of myself in front of a room of pissed off comics who just want to do their own sets and go the hell home?

In honor of my smoldering ass, here are the best jokes I wrote for the master’s workshop. I’m a little rusty but I think I did ok.

1) Some good news for Iraq – the game of Bingo is making a comeback. In related news, Larry King will be taking his next vacation to Bagdad.

2) In a recent interview, Kate Gosslin said her children cried when they found out their show had been cancelled. Kate also said Jon Gosslin cried when he learned Ed Hardy will stop making shirts in a size extra douche.

3) Sarah Palin has been accused of racism because her Going Rogue book tour is stopping in cities with a predominately caucasian population. Palin was unavailable for comment, citing a severe case of “snow blindness”.

4) Up to 90 vehicles are trapped by mudslides triggered by winter weather in California. Last time someone was caught in that much sludge they were trying to get out of the Jersey Shore house hot tub.

The one thing I regret about this workshop: We were asked to come up with sketch ideas for this class. I came up with a title for a sketch, “Tiger Woods buys new pants”. I have no idea what it would entail, but it would be a million kinds of awesome. Oh, how I want to write this sketch! But by the time The Ruckus takes the stage in February, that joke will be obsolete. :shakes fists: DAMN YOU, SHORT SHELF LIFE!