Monday, June 18, 2012

You Don't Have to Be Lonely...

I was watching VH1's 100 Greatest One Hit Wonders of the 80s the other day when I saw the following commercial for

My first thought was "Why am I watching a show where I am the targeted audience for this commercial?"  

My second thought was "Am I a city folk?" 

My third thought was "How do I feel about talking cow yokel spokespersons?"  I suppose if Chick-Fil-A can do it, so can dating websites.

Please don't take this as an endorsement of
Chick-Fil-A's political views.
Anyway, Farmers Only made me curious as to what other niche dating sites are out there.  Research revealed that many dating websites have a direct counterpart.  Partisanship has bled over into the online dating realm.  (Really. Depending on your political leanings you could join either or

Other examples of yin and yang in the online datingsphere:

The website is for people who want to date someone who values health and fitness, whereas caters to BBW (Big Beautiful Women), BHM (Big Handsome Men), SSBBW (Super-Sized Big Beautiful Women), and their admirers.

The dating website describes itself as “an elite online club, where every member works the door” and where “applicants are required to be voted in by existing members of the opposite sex.”  This is in contrast to which offers "dating for the aesthetically average."

This is the offensive promotion for "The Ugly Bug Ball."
As the wise Seth Avett of The Avett Brothers once said:
"There are no ugly (people), just different shades of pretty." is for virgins who have “neither shared his/her gametes with somebody else, nor has sexually participated personally or assisted by objects in same sex or heterosexual acts involving either sexual penetration or other types of intimate contact including intimate acts carried out remotely.”   My understanding is that is for people wanting to exchange their gametes. 

Like riding bikes?  Try  Like riding horses?  Try  Like riding sea captains?  Try  No, seriously.  This “premier dating service for Sea Captains” promises to help you "find your first mate."  

"In the unforgiving ocean of love, let us be your lighthouse."
The website is practical and clever!
My other favorite sites were:
  • This site claims to have nothing to do with illegal activity.  I wasn't the only one misled by the name of the site, as the featured member quote is “got to have good head an good drank an grass is what is craccin."
  • Tagline: "We're hot for ginger because ginger is beautiful."  Also, this website taught me that January 12 was international kiss a ginger day.
  •  This site uses "The Science & Art of Love in fine tuning the search for meaningful relationships. Scientists offer compelling data on romantic chemistry and findings prove that passion is subconsciously ignited when we spot someone whose facial features are similar to our own."  Basically, they find someone for you to date that looks as much like you as possible.  Narcissism much?
  •  Tagline: "Date me.  Date my pet."  This is misleading.  You don't actually date their pet, you just take your pets on a date with you.  I didn't want anyone else to create a profile due to this misunderstanding.
My main problem with these sites is the idea of defining oneself by a single overarching trait.  This could lead to tough decisions for some, like whether to join TrekPassion or WeWaited (just kidding, Trekkies.  Huge TNG fan here).

Plus, I think it would be boring to date someone with your exact interests.  If you both have red hair or the same favorite STD, what else will you have to talk about?  

Wait.  That wasn't the point of STD-match?

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Sleep: The Final Frontier

Yesterday morning I woke up with a pins and needles feeling in my arms and legs.  I figured I must have just been sleeping in a funny position, so I tried to roll over.  But I couldn't.  I couldn't move at all, which scared the hell out of me.  After what seemed like several minutes, I was finally able to move.  When I told my dad about it, he explained that it was sleep paralysis.  I consulted Google, and after reading a riveting Wikipedia article on the subject, I fancy myself educated enough to discuss this phenomenon with the general public.

Stop me if you know this already, but sleep paralysis is when a person becomes aware before their REM sleep cycle is complete, so they are unable to move anything (with the exception of their eyes).

In many countries this phenomenon is attributed to a ghost
sitting on your chest.  Devon Sawa, is that you?

picture source
Sleep paralysis can also be accompanied by hallucinations.  Many scientists think this is what is actually happening when people think they are being abducted by aliens.  I have only had a couple sleep paralysis episodes that I can recall, none of which involved alien probing.

When I was in elementary school, I was paid a visit by Slimer from Ghostbusters, only he had sharp fangs and a poor attitude.  He hung out above my bookcase, and looked something like this:

"I'm an asshole who doesn't have any friends because I like to
terrify small children with anxiety disorders."

picture source
During another hallucination, I watched as bats flew down from the ceiling and tangled themselves in my hair.  Once I could finally move, I placed a blanket over my head (unsure why), walked into my parents' room, and politely asked them to remove the vermin I had trapped underneath.

Sleep disorders freak me out.  My brother has had night terrors as far back as I can remember, and has been known to leave the house in his sleep.  I guess I should be thankful that I can't leave my bed during my hallucinations.  I'm also thankful that I don't have trouble falling asleep.  I recently discovered online message boards devoted to Ambien stories.  They are highly entertaining, and involve people doing tons of crazy stuff in the middle of the night with no memory of it in the morning.  It's like giving yourself a roofy.

My favorite story on the message board involved a woman who woke up in the middle of the night, shaved her arms, and spelled the word "bath" in her bathtub with duct tape.  Also, I found some lovely Ambien comics drawn by a guy named Drew that I want to share.

comic source (Toothpaste for Dinner)
So, does anyone else have any fun sleep paralysis, night terror, or Ambien stories?  If so, you should share, especially if you are currently on Ambien.  Just give me a second to go make some popcorn.

Monday, June 11, 2012

No Such Thing as Stupid Questions?

This Saturday I went to the West Virginia Writing Conference at Cedar Lakes. The setting was beautiful,  the people were friendly, and the classes had good potential.  This potential was ruined, however, by a multitude of stupid questions.

I cringe when I hear a professor or speaker say "feel free to interrupt with any questions," because there is someone in every class who accepts this as a personal challenge.  Somewhere along the line, someone thought it a good idea to encourage class participation by throwing around phrases like "the only stupid questions are those that go unasked" or "there are no stupid questions."  Wrong.  Wrong.  Wrong.

In my opinion, there are three main varieties of stupid questions:

1.  The "Wolf in Sheep's Clothing"

picture source
These are statements not-so-cleverly disguised as questions.  The speaker seems to subconsciously think, "hey, there's a story I want to share that might make me seem interesting or cool or complex.  There are no stupid questions, therefore I will put my story in the form of a question."

Real life examples:  My friend taught sex education to local fifth graders as part of his residency requirements.  At the end of the class, he asked if there were any questions.  One boy raised his hand and said "Um, yeah.  So my cat had kittens and then it ate a bunch of junk and it was really gross.  What's up with that?"  The boy doesn't actually care about what was going on with his cat, as much as he just wants to share what happened to bolster his social status.

Similarly, in my nonfiction class at the writing conference a woman raised her hand on 6 different occasions to make statements disguised as questions.  Our teacher was discussing the danger of libel (defamation) when writing nonfiction, and this woman interrupted him to say "I have PTSD and I'm trying to write about my experiences, do you know what I mean?"   ("Do you know what I mean," "what's up with that," and "am I making sense" are phrases commonly used to make random statements appear as questions).  This woman wanted to tell the class that she has PTSD, and to be the focus of the discussion, so she mentioned it with a question mark at the end.  This was despite the fact that it had nothing to do with the current discussion.  The worst part is that the professor often spends so long trying to make sense of or address these questions, that the class rarely gets back on track.  We learn nothing, except that the woman in the front row has PTSD.

This leads me into another type of stupid question that I call...

2.  Square Peg in a Round Hole

picture source
A question that could be acceptable in certain instances becomes dumb when asked at an inappropriate time.  The person wants to ask the question so badly, that they try to make it fit in where it doesn't.  It is completely irrelevant to the current discussion topic.

Real life example:  At the writing conference I attended in Pennsylvania, our speaker was discussing the importance of using social networking in building a platform for your writing.  At the end of the talk, the speaker said, "if you take anything away from my talk today it should be the following..."  We all picked up our pens to record the wisdom we were about the receive, when a woman raised her hand.  The speaker stopped mid-sentence, confused, and called on the woman.

"Yeah, I was wondering, how many e-books fit on a Nook?"

I wish I were making this up, but I'm not.  She interrupted to ask this question, and by the time the speaker addressed the question, our class time was over, and we never learned what the most important thing was.

And finally...

3.  Rapid Firers

picture source
These are the people who ask so many questions that they dictate the entire class.  I keep tallies on the side of my notebook when this happens.  The classroom is merely their audience; a chance for them to hear themselves talk.  Even if their individual questions aren't stupid (which is rare), the sheer number of them is completely absurd.

Real life example:  In law school, we referred to these rapid firers as "gunners."  Several students in my law school class developed a game called "gunner tag."  The point of the game was to see if everyone else in the class combined could ask more questions or make more statements during class than the single gunner.  To encourage full class participation, once you spoke in class, you had to "tag" someone on instant messenger and then they had to make a comment.  To my knowledge, the gunners still never lost.  Their determination is unparalleled.

The three types of people I just mentioned are the reason I hate "discussion" classes.  If I want to sit around and bullshit with someone, it will be over coffee or a beer.  Let's not sit in a circle, let's not have an open forum.  I want someone with education on a subject to teach it to me so I can apply it in my own work. Otherwise, the class becomes merely a basin for one person's verbal diarrhea.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Awkward Family Photos

I was going through some family photo albums the other day, and came to the conclusion that my greatest achievement as a child was ruining family photos. I wore my disgust with family photography on my face like a first birthday cake, or tried to escape such situations entirely.

Really, I understand my past reluctance to have certain stages of my life memorialized (i.e. the solid year or so where I looked exactly like a miniature Garth from Wayne's World.  See below.)

"Party on, Wayne!"

Maybe I thought that if I put forth minimal effort, these pictures would be tucked away in an attic somewhere, never to be seen by the public eye.  Little Jenna never foresaw that she would one day become a self-depricating Benedict Arnold, perfectly willing to expose the embarrassing photos from her past.

Anyway, without further ado, here are some of my favorites:

Pissed-Off Baby Elvis

Come Hither

Escape Artist

Baptism Blues

Eskimo Hostage

Chris Farley


Sugar High

Slow: Child Posing

And I rest my case.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Doctors and Dancers

Blogging is daunting at times.  I can literally write about anything, which is simultaneously scary and liberating.  I often write down ideas for my next entry in a little notebook, so I can look at them later and wonder what the hell I was even talking about.  Over the past few days I wrote things like "tan line that looks like you're wearing white shorts," "channeling your inner Breakfast Club," and "would you rather use someone else's toothbrush or nasal spray?"  What stands out about these notes is that they are all incredibly frivolous and shallow.  So, I decided to take a break from my usual banter and blog about something important.  Feel free to answer the nasal spray question though.  I'm curious.

The subject of today's blog is how much my friends rock.  All of them.  I have no bad friends.  Not even mediocre ones.  Except that one.  Just kidding, you're all right, too.  Anyway, I was reminded of how amazing my friends are when I attended two different events this weekend.

On Saturday evening I went to a going away service for my friend Dominique.  She is leaving for medical school this summer, and her church put together a surprise service for her that featured her favorite hymns, and a sermon inspired by her accomplishments and the journey she is about to begin.  It was incredible to see how many lives Dominique has touched.  

Dominique was student body president at Marshall, where I went to undergrad, and has been involved in so many community service projects around Huntington that it's hard to keep track of them.  Members of her church stood up and thanked Dominique for things she has done to help them personally, like helping keep them in track in school, or reading to them when they were in the hospital.  I was so impressed with her church family for how much thought they put into Dominique's service and and how friendly and welcoming they were to newcomers.  The service was indicative of what kind of people they are, and as importantly, what kind of person Dominique is.  Now she is going to be a doctor and I can't wait to see all the good she will do.  I selfishly hope she will come back to Huntington after she finishes school.  We need her here pretty desperately.  We are all rooting for you, Dominique!!

The awesome program from Dominique's surprise service.

On Sunday afternoon, Courtney and I went to our friend Anna's dance recital.  Anna works in event planning at the local museum during the day, and attends grad school and teaches dance at Huntington Dance Theatre in the evenings.  She also does a ton of community service around Huntington, and I really don't know how she balances everything and still has a smile on her face every time I see her.

Anyway, Huntington Dance Theatre's spring recital was on Sunday.  Anna taught the 3 and 4-year-old "creative movement" class, choreographed multiple routines for other dancers, and danced in multiple numbers herself.  She is so talented, and her 3 and 4-year-olds were adorable.  They were dressed as little pink bunnies, and when they hopped about on stage I seriously thought I might die from cuteness over-exposure.  After the show, the kids kept running up to give Anna flowers and hugs.  It was obvious how much they adore her.

When I turned to the back of the program, I saw that Anna had written a message as the Theatre's new director.  I can't think of anyone better for the job, and if you have little kids who are interested in dance you should absolutely enroll them in her class.  I can't think of a better role model or teacher.

The beautiful Miss Anna!  So proud of her!
Seriously.  I'm thinking about having kids solely so I can send them to her for lessons.

Friday, June 1, 2012

What is a Granddaughter?

Many of the stories in my book focus on several of my quirkier family members.  One chapter focuses entirely on my Grandma Marlin, who moved in with my family when I was 9.  Grandma Marlin, God love her, was one of the craziest people I've ever known.  She was uniquely morbid and self-centered, and treated me and my brother more like casual acquaintances than treasured grandchildren.  I say this not to be mean, but because it's just plain true. I loved my Grandma very much, but she was more likely to tell me about a dead cat she saw in the road than she was to give me a hug or bake cookies.

I say all of this because tonight I discovered a card my Grandma Marlin sent me for my 7th birthday.  The front of the card was very sweet and appropriate.

Kudos, Grandma, on the rockin' birthday card!
The inside inscription, however, was fairly unorthodox for a 7-year-old's birthday card.  I've produced it in its entirety below:

Dear Jenna,

Looking forward to all of you visiting soon.  It is cloudy out and will probably rain. It's only 8 a.m.  I received my birthday card from Aunt Pauline yesterday with a note in it. Then at 10:30 p.m. your Grandpa's cousin, Gladys, who lives in Barberton Ohio called, but just to talk to me.  We were on the phone about an hour as it was midnight when I climbed back in bed.  She lost her sister.  Happy Birthday.


Oh, it's cloudy and rainy and Gladys's sister just died?  This was probably the correct forum for you to share these things.