Friday, February 14, 2014

Amanda Palmer is my Patronus

Lots of people have famous people that they think of as embodying a specific portion of themselves. I have a girlfriend who swears that Beyonce is the living version of her sexuality. Another friend believes Louis C.K. is—in fact—his conscience brought to life. I don't let him watch my children (he knows why).  And I always thought this was something akin to stroking your ego. I mean, it's awfully grand to think that instead of Jiminy Cricket, you've got Louis C.K. sitting on your shoulder telling you to "go ahead and eat that piece of cake, what the hell, you're probably going to be dead from a fucking heart-attack soon anyway," but if you sat down and thought about it, that's kind of depressing.

So I resisted from doing this personification, it just seemed kind of... douchey. 
And then I had this really weird dream....

I was walking into a house. I knew there was going to be a party in the house, and I was excited about going, but I was also anxious because I felt like I didn't belong at the party for some reason. But I didn't know WHY I didn't belong, and that's why I was anxious. So I'm wandering through this house, which I think was a rundown mansion type of thing--like something from a movie set in the South (think Midnight in the Garden of Good & Evil or Gingerbread Man).  And everyone was hanging out, and kind of being chill, and I was still wandering from room to room because I just couldn't find a place that seemed like it was ok to stay because all I could see were people enjoying themselves and I was so anxious. And then I turned around a corner--because at this point I figured I would just leave--and ran smack into Neil Gaiman.

As an aside, I met Mr. Gaiman in person once. He signed my poster (to Jenni: Endless Wishes), and colored in the ankh on Death with a silver sharpie. I still have that poster rolled up and safely stored away.

Anyway, back to the dream. He was dressed in typical Neil fashion: black tee-shirt, darkish jeans, dark shoes, and impossibly good looking tousled hair. Neil apologized in his soft British voice, and told me that he was glad he ran into me. Apparently we were on friendly terms in my dream, because... why not? And I was confused and apologized and told him I was thinking about going home because I just didn't feel very good, and he said, "not until you say hi to Amanda."  Now the Amanda in question is AMANDA FUCKING PALMER*, so there is no way I'm going to say no regardless of how awful I feel.

So we wander into what looks like a comfy looking den, with squashy cushions and ottomans and built-in bookcases with paperback books and a nice fireplace with a comfy looking fire. and sitting on a particulary fancy moroccan pouf was Amanda. She was carelessly strumming a ukulele, not really playing it, but making a clever little melody just the same. She was talking to a pretty girl with long brown hair, speaking in a hushed tone that seemed perfectly appropriate to the room in question. As we walked in, she looked up and smiled and apologized to the girl who got up and walked out, briefly hugging Neil on the way out.

Amanda gestured for me to sit down on the ottoman across from her, and I but my feet didn't seem to want to move. Neil gave me a little nudge, "she won't bite you unless you ask her to, I promise." and then he giggled. Still, my feet wouldn't move. Amanda got up slowly, uncrossing her legs and setting down the uke on another footstool. She was dressed just like I always thought she would be, comfy sweats hung low on her hips, a t-shirt that hung off one shoulder and feet that were gloriously bare. She gamely took my hand and led me to sit by the fire, sitting me down on the pouf she had been sitting on, then curled up like a cat across from me, tucking her legs under her and looking at me with what felt like unblinking eyes.

"So," she said, "tell me." I picked up the uke and started strumming it absent-mindedly, focusing on remembering chords, but not talking. A few moments pass, and I finally look up at her. She's just sitting there, a smile playing on her lips, but not saying anything. waiting... waiting for me to say something. And finally I just start talking, and it's like someone opened a dam. I'm talking about how I felt about people I know dying, why I was upset that I couldn't play my uke at my mother-in-law's funeral, how I felt like I was being put into a role in my family that I didn't want to fill, everything. And she just sat there listening, nodding on occasion... sometimes reaching out and touching my arm lightly and squeezing slightly, and eventually I run out of things to say.

And she sits back slightly, and says, "well? feel better?" And I say, "well a little, I guess." And then I'm caught up in a hug, and it's like nothing I've ever felt. I don't like to be held normally. Even if I like someone I pretty much just allow myself to be held--my body doesn't fully relax. My husband is probably the only person besides the kids who I have allowed to hug me fully and be hugged in return. And this reminds me of a hug like that, except it's somehow more. And then I realize in an instant, that Amanda Fucking Palmer is my patronus.

She's not a physical manifestation of some bullshit part of my personality--she's like a patronus in the Harry Potter books--she protects me from the dementors, and allows me to escape with my mind intact. And I pull back from her slightly to look at her clearly, and she smiles a wicked smile and says, "figured it out, did you?" And then we both laugh and collapse back on the impossibly comfy couch that has now taken the spot of the poufs. 

And from there the conversation turns to ukulele technique and she shows me an easier way to do the D chord, which I can't manage very well because I have a wonky pinkie. And then we laugh about wonky pinkies, and in the middle of another laughing fit she smiles and touches my hand again and starts to tell me what I need to do to keep myself healthy. And it's silly things: drink more tea, remember to actually hold your abs in when you do poses in yoga because you're going to hurt your back, try to show the kids physical affection, always hold hands with your husband when have the chance... and speak your mind.

And then she gave me another hug and whispered something in my ear (I don't remember it) and Neil said, "it's time to wake up, I think." And I woke up.  I remember looking at the clock, and realizing I didn't have to get up for another 1/2 hour or so.  So I settled my head back down on my pillow and thought about what my mind was trying to tell me.  I reached out and took my husbands hand and laid it across my stomach, feeling the callouses on his palm through my tee-shirt and waited for the day to begin.

Later in the day, after we had dropped off our kids at church camp, I finally told him how I had been feeling. And it was like ripping off a band-aid—it felt so much better. And then when I got home, I finally sat down and played my uke again.

*If you don't know who Amanda Palmer is (outside of maybe a throwaway Twin Peaks reference), then you are a sad human being and should google her right away. Also, in addition to being my ukulele hero, she is married to Neil Gaiman.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

This is why I am unhappy...

Here is the situation in a nutshell:

I ordered a Dell Venue 11 pro tablet from dell on Black Friday because there was a special. I also ordered two Venue 7s, but in a separate order (using the same Dell account). The Venue 7's shipped the next day, and we had them within the week. The Venue 11, however was scheduled for delivery on 1/14. Nothing in the ordering process informed me of this delay--I didn't know about this until I got confirmation of my order. Having extra time, I would periodically check on the order to see if maybe they just found some 11's in a box hiding behind a palette or something. That's when I remembered the Venue 7's shipped to the house via FedEx, so I decided to change the address to my father-in-law's house.  I changed the delivery address before the tablet was sent, because I knew from our previous experience with ordering tablets, that you must have a signature for delivery. The change did not take, but I only found out when I got the shipment notification.

I then contacted Dell customer Serivice and asked them to change the delivery address from my home address, since I knew I would never be home when delivery was attempted to my in-law's address, as he is more consistently home, and had a better chance of signing for this. It took 2 days from sending the email for Sesha to get with me. She was very apologetic about the delay in sending, and told me they could not do that once the package was "in transit." I have since found out from UPS that this is not the case, you can change up to the first attempt, which had not been made. Once the first attempt was made a day or so later (and I was not home, as I knew I would not be), I asked them again. Sesha said that now that an attempt was made, they could definitely not change the address.

Don't get me wrong. Sesha was helpful with my other questions. Most of them stemmed from my inability to get any information about the tablet when I clicked on the link in the order information. It told me the product didn't exist. She told me how much memory was in the tablet (as I asked directly), and sent me a working link that outlined everything in the tablet. However, the she never did answer my biggest question: why did it take over a month to put together a black friday deal and send it... after Christmas. The tablet WAS a Christmas present, alternate arrangements had to be made, and we eventually got it worked out, but why did it take so long in the first place when the Venue 7's shipped pretty much next day.

After the 2nd attempt, I gave up on Sesha (who by this time had stopped responding to my emails anyway) and went to our local UPS store to have it intercepted and sent to the store. The girl at the store was sympathetic but didn't know how to do it. She suggested I call the UPS hotline and ask them to "intercept." The voice menu did not give me this option, so I instead changed the address (for a fee) to my father-in-law's house.

Even this was problematic... I knew that he is consistently out of the house for at LEAST a couple of hours during the day as he has to pick up his grandchildren from school. My fear was that he wouldn't be home to sign, which is why I wanted to change the address to the UPS store. Instead, they attempted delivery while he was in the backyard and could not hear the doorbell. They left and I got a notification from UPS Quantum View. I logged in and contacted UPS using the chat system, and chatted with Sid O. He informed me that UPS could not change the delivery address to the UPS store in Kyle because they might refuse it since they didn't know me. Additionally, it could not be held at the delivery center in San Marcos (the city where I work, incidentally), since that would be a second delivery request. He told me to contact Dell for further help with the issue, and then did not respond to my next two questions: "what happens after the final attempt is made?" and "hello." I waited several minutes, and ended the chat.

Herein lies the problem: Dell says to talk to UPS, UPS says to talk to Dell. 

Eventually I reached out to both Dell and UPS via twitter and UPS responded promptly. they intercepted the package, and had it sent to the delivery depot which happens to be in the same town where I work. Dell responded the next day, and after getting my information, told me: "At this stage,we are unable to change the ship address. Best to contact Carrier & arrange for a time to have the Order dropped. SS"
Exactly how was that helpful? I didn't need to know the status. I didn't want the address to change... I wanted to know why I have had to go through hell to get the tablet in the first place. My tweets were:

  • @Jenni_Froedrick @DellCares UPS got shipping sorted out, but still confused why all the trouble. Feel like this could have been avoided w/better cust svc.
  • @Jenni_Froedrick @DellCares Order# is 512xxxxxx bought 3 tablets in 2 orders. ?? on 1+ mo delay in shipping & wrong ship address. Service Request# was 88xxxxxxx. Thx
  • @Jenni_Froedrick @DellCares also, if it's easier, my email is [email]. Thank you.
  • (in response to aforementioned tweet in paragraph above)
    @Jenni_Froedrick @DellCares Yeah. I took care of that... Took me a week to get it straightened out. Very disappointed.

I know the shipping is taken care of because I took care of it. I still have two questions remaining:
  1. Why was this backordered? Why wasn't I notified of this until I checked out?
  2. Why didn't my address change when I altered and saved it before the unit shipped?
I AM NOT HAPPY. I can tell you that for a fact. I seriously considered having the tablet sent back to Dell this weekend because I am convinced looking at it will only make me angry. But I also went through a LOT of trouble to get to the point where I can actually hold the thing in my hands. Additionally, since this was a present, we were going to let our relatives buy accessories as gifts to go with the big present. since there was no tablet, this was nixed. Instead, I have been waiting for the tablet to arrive to make a decision about whether or not I wanted a case, or a case with keyboard, or maybe a charging stand, etc. Due to the timing, the tablet now mine.

I just don't think I will be ordering from Dell again after this fiasco. Bridges have been set ablaze--they may be burned.Let me be clear: previous to this, we have not had issues with shipping or with the products. And we've ordered several big items from Dell. We're not big spenders, but we are consistent spenders. We have bought TVs, laptops, and now tablets from Dell and it has gone relatively well. But this tablet business has been beyond horrible. After waiting over a month for the tablet, I then had to spend almost a full calendar week straightening out the shipping mess which (apparently) either UPS or Dell could have taken care of at any time.

And that, my dear people, is why I am unhappy.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Becoming a more "mature" woman, or why it sucks to get older

So about a year ago, I injured myself playing kickball. Yes, KICKBALL. Yes, the game you learn in elementary school that is kind of like base/softball only you kick the same kind of ball people throw at you in dodge-ball.

As an aside:  I was horrible at kickball when I was younger (read: elementary school). For some reason my brain could not comprehend the whole idea of pop-fly means you have to stay on the base (if there are less than 2 outs) until it's caught bit. I would always run—always. This did NOT endear me to my fellow teammates, and they often counted me as an automatic out when figuring out the lineup and when we would have to go back on the field. As a result, I tended to gravitate more towards stuff like field hockey, where I could hit people I didn't like with sticks... on "accident."

At any rate, about a year ago when I was playing 2nd base, my teammate playing shortstop lobbed me the ball so I could get the out, but it was a little too far to the right. I pivoted to grab the ball, and although the rest of my body turned to the right, my right leg from the knee down stayed firmly in place. My guess is there was some sort of a divot, or maybe I was too close to the base, I don't know, but it hurt. A LOT. Since then I had been having periodic pain in my knee, and a big ol' lump just below my kneecap--right at the tip of my tibia.

Last month i got tired of dealing with the pain. It hurt too much, and I was about to lose insurance (it's a long story), and I figured it was now or never. So I made an appointment with an Orthopedist that specializes in sports injuries. Now don't think that the irony that I was going to a doctor who makes his money treating people who injured themselves playing "real" sports (football, baseball, golf, etc) for an injury I sustained playing a kid's game was lost on me one bit. It was all I could do to keep a straight face when he asked me to explain how I originally injured myself.

me: ah. yes. well I was playing kickball, you see...
dr: I'm sorry, did you say kickball? not softball?
me: no. kickball. It's a lot like softball, but with the big red ball.
dr: oh. ok. go on.
me: yes. ok. well I was playing kickball, and there was this play on second base.
dr: you were playing second, or rounding second?
me: playing second
dr: good job then. did you get the out?
me: um, yes.
dr. even better. let's look this over then, shall we?

And so there was some awkward leg manipulation—mostly because I was wearing a skirt—and in the end an MRI was ordered. I was sent off with paper in hand, and by the end of the week I was lying on my back with my leg firmly in a vise to keep it from moving.

Another aside here: have you ever noticed that the minute you are told you CANNOT move your leg, that's the minute you start exhibiting signs of restless leg syndrome? Seriously, the second that light turned on to signal the scan was starting, my leg wanted to immediately begin doing the Watusi. 

The diagnosis came a week after the first appointment: prepatellar and infrapatellar bursitis. So...

GOOD: no surgery
BAD: pain pretty much the rest of my life, can't wear a proper knee brace, going to have to modify my exercise routine in the extreme

But hey, no surgery, right?

Wednesday, May 22, 2013


So my husband seems to think I win an inordinate amount of things. I maintain that this is not true, but like most coincidences he's just remembering instances where I have won something (as opposed to not).  It's not that I don't believe in luck, I just have more faith in statistics and probability.  Also, it's best to be modest if you're constantly winning things.

Anyway, for Mother's Day this year, GeekMom ( had a contest to win a Galaxy Note 2.  All you had to do was post simply leave a comment telling them why you needed your very own Samsung Galaxy Note II. The winner was chosen randomly.  

My comment? 
I need a smartphone I can see without putting my glasses on. :-)
Also, my “good” smartphone is going away in a month when I’m laid-off. :-(
I know, I know, pathetic.  But it is also true.

The TL:DR version of this, is that I won a Galaxy Note II from GeekMom. And I have to tell you I am OVER THE MOON with this phone.  Since I've had it (about a month now) I have all but stopped using the iPhone I use at my current job. This thing is a marvel. The hubby calls it "Jenn's Precious," because it is the "one gadget" to rule them all.

Of course, this did put a bit of a damper on what I was going to get for Mother's Day after all--but then w00t came to the rescue! After a little back/forth I received a Samsung NX100.  Such a marvel! It connects with my phone using the wifi.  I can control the shutter with an app on the Note II.  I've been taking pictures, making movies, downloading from the camera and sending the pics to my friends using SMS... even uploading it to youtube. And not using my computer at all to do it!

Want to see a video I recorded of a middle school band playing Queen songs? Sure you do.

Which is all to say.. if I start making Gollum noises. You know why.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

What do you mean you can't do yoga to Beastie Boys?

Sun Salutation
I love yoga. There, I said it. I love yoga. I love doing crazy hard poses, and I love just lying there on the floor acting like you're dead. I love yoga.

What I don't always love is the music my instructors put during practice. Don't get me wrong--I understand that the roots of yoga are deep in the art and practice of meditation, so it makes sense that a lot of the music sounds suspiciously like something you would hear as background music in a nice restaurant (think: the Savoy, not Chili's).  The music is supposed to be soothing, something you can tune out with relative ease while you concentrate on getting your leg wrapped around your neck.  And that's all well and good, except that's not the kind of yoga that I enjoy.  I like something more invigorating for my sun salutations and flows in general.

If you are like me and you want some beats in your practice, you have a few options.

  1. If you're looking for a class to attend, check for words like flow, power or vinyasa in the class title. These classes tend to be more upbeat. If you're not big into meditation, you want to avoid words like relaxation, visualization, or gentle in the description.
  2. Before you sign up for a class, sit in so you can get a feel for the tempo of the class.  You may not be able to change the music your instructor plays, but if the class has a good flow going, and the tempo is good, you probably won't notice.
  3. If you have a home practice going, and you're working from a DVD or YouTube video, you can turn down the music and put on whatever you like.  This is my favorite thing to do, I even have specific playlists for a couple of my DVDs*. 
  4. If you have a home practice going and you're NOT working from a DVD or YouTube video (from a journal or maybe a book or  whatever), experiment with different songs to find what motivates you. For my money nothing pushes me through a Sun Salutation like So What'cha Want (Beastie Boys) cranked to full volume.
  5. No matter what kind of music you have on--make sure to match your movements to your breathing. A rule of thumb: if you are "crunching" your abs in a pose, breathe out to move into the pose. If you are stretching out your abs, breathe out to move into the pose.
Don't be afraid to experiment, but do keep in mind that if you are in a class, you probably should NOT be practicing with ear-buds firmly in your ear-holes. You need to be able to hear your instructor. Likewise, if you're overdubbing a DVD or video with your own music, make sure to keep the levels in balance so you can hear the video (at least for the first few times, if you know the video like the back of your hand, feel free to blast your music as loud as you like).

And most importantly, remember that even in a rigorous practice, you need some time to cool down and just lie on the floor like a rug. 


* if you are curious, here is one of my playlists I use with my DVDs:

  • So What'cha Want (Beastie Boys)
  • Mama Said Knock You Out (LL Cool J)
  • Christian Peace Prayer (Larisa Stow and Shakti Tribe)
  • Drive By (Train)
  • Titanium (David Guetta feat. Sia)
  • Lose Yourself (Eminem)
  • Viva La Vida (Coldplay)
    ----this is where the "cool down" sequence begins----
  • The Lord's Prayer (Laris stow and Shakti Tribe)
  • Breathe In Breathe Out (Mat Kearney)

Monday, October 5, 2009

Always look on the bright side of life [whistling...]

I was only in my tweens when I was formally introduced to Msr. Python and his circus.  In fact, my uncle (who is actually an ex-uncle now, but that's not really the point of this post) introduced me to Monty Python, Anne Rice and Watership Down all in the same summer visit.  Now that I think about it, that really was a LOT for an 11 year old to take in, but hey--there was no Hannah Montana then, okay?

I had been babysitting my younger cousins (and brother) so my parents could go out with my aunt & uncle.  And, dutifully, I had just put them to bed, and was watching premium cable I couldn't get at home.  When my family returned, I was invited to stay up and watch a video they had brought home... It was "Meaning of Life."  Now I'm not going to lie to you, there was more than a few scenes that I was sent out of the room (which was ironic, considering I had watched "History of the Word: Part 1" not one year previous... Madeline Kahn's orgy song, anyone?)  But for the most part, I enjoyed it.  I LOVED IT.  It was just that right balance between slapstick and cerebral comedy my poor little brain had been longing for.  My father loved Benny Hill and seemed to play it at every opportunity, but to me Monty Python would forever remain my idea of British.

It was a few more years before I could really appreciate the humor of Monty Python, and not just because watching the scene with Mr. Creosote would make my mom barf every time it was on.  When I finally got to a wider population of freaks and geeks in high-school, I was able to connect with fellow Anglophiles.  It was glorious.  Funny walks in-between classes were common.  As were impersonations of the Seargent Major during drill and ceremony for JROTC.  And in college, I discovered the joy of the entire Monty Python collection for checkout in the library.

I have slowly begun the process of indoctrinating my chidren into the joyously racous humour of Monty Python.  We built slowly upon Hitchhiker's Guide, moving gradually to Red Dwarf and then some of the later individual projects like Baron von Muchhausen and Mom and Dad Save the World.  I think they might be ready for Holy Grail, soon.  And after that... perhaps something completely different. 

Happy Birthday, Mr. Python.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Emptying the Bag of Holding

If you had told me two weeks ago that I would now be looking forward to a weekend of Amish-like existance—no cell phone(s), no netbook, no camera(s), no watch—I would have laughed at you. These are things I can't live without! You can't reasonably expect me to go five minutes without having the ability to check my email (all three accounts).... I don't have to actually check it, I just want to know I can check it if I want to.  And that was when I realized I may have a little problem with a gadget addiction.

Wednesday night brought more revelations.  Sitting at dinner, my friend Angie asks if she can get something out of my purse.  I hand her the purse, and that's when it starts.

"GOOD LORD! How much stuff do you have in the purse?"
"What?" I say, defensively, "Not a lot. It's not like it's my gadget bag."
"Oh?" She's looking at me in disbelief.  "Prove it."

I can feel that familiar tingling in my stomach; it's the same tingling I used to get when I lost something in my backpack in middle-school and I realized I would have to empty it out to find whatever I had lost: progress report, homework, lunch money...  the knowledge that my entire life would be out on my desk or table for the world to see—to judge—and I couldn't do anything about it.  What would they think about me having a (*gasp*) PLAIN Trapper Keeper?  Would the popular girls know what that D20 was for?  Why didn't my mom buy me THIS year's Lisa Frank pencil case--the one with the sharpener built in? 

"I don't have to." I said, defensively. "You're not my mom."
"No, but I am the person sponsoring you on your retreat, and I need to know what I'm up against."

I looked around the table.  Everyone seemed encouraging.  Was this an intervention? Did I really have that much stuff in my bag?  I turned to my husband... he smiled and nodded.  Sighing, I opened my purse, which is actually a field messenger bag, and began to catalog the contents on the table:
  1. Dell 9 mini netbook, in bubble-gum pink with Hello Kitty, Cthulu and Puri Kura stickers covering the front
  2. Flip Mino, in white/pink, with matching tripod
  3. Pentax Optio Z10 camera
  4. Classic 60 Gb iPod in a Sushiwrap with earbuds
  5. iRiver H10 in LogicCase with folding earphones
  6. bluetooth usb mouse for the netbook
  7. Rumor cellphone (for personal use)
  8. Blackjack cellphone (for work)
  9. cosmetic case full of cables and connections for 1-8 as well as a back-up wired optical mouse in matching pink.
  10. wallet
  11. a small cosmetic case mostly filled with sharpies, but also with a tube of Rimmel lipgloss and Wet n' Wild eyeliner.
  12. my moleskine notebook
A small group began to gather around the table as the tingling in the pit of my stomach became more intense.  They stared in amazement.  One of the men commentted dryly that it was if someone had unloaded batgirl's utility belt.  I fought the urge to quickly throw it all back in my purse, and looked at Angie expectantly.  She smiled gently.

"Well, it's not the worse I've seen," she said with a laugh, "but I think we're definately going to have to go through your bags before you go."
I laughed, "actually, it's normally worse. I gave my PSP to my husband because he got me a DSi for my birthday. So I don't have that or the cables for it in here."  I gestured to my now deflated purse.

A hushed laughter went around the table, and instead of cringing I felt strangely ok with it.  A couple of the women asked me about how to spec out a smiliar netbook for their purses.  One of the men asked me which of the cellphones I preferred (the rumor, for the slide out keyboard, but I just LOVE having 3g).  One of the teenage kids and I had a brief conversation about PSP vs. DSi and whether or not we were going to get a PSP Go. Angie and I discussed my multiple MP3 players, and why it was easier for me to have an iPod and an iRiver instead of an iPhone...  and ... and it was okay.

It's okay to be a gadget otaku now.  And yeah, while I might be a little ashamed at the amount of pink on my gadgets, I am also comforted in the knowledge that my male children will NEVER touch them or steal them.  And yes, the thought of living without my 20+ lbs of gadgets for a weekend is still a little frightening to me, but I think I'm going to be okay.  Really, I'm just thankful I didn't bring my REAL gadget bag in....