Monday, December 30, 2013

My Twenties at a Glance

In my twenties, I...

Led an all-girl band in a Battle of the Bands.
Directed two plays.
Made friends.
Lost friends.
Met Tad.
Graduated college.
Began life on my own with nothing more than a BA degree in writing, a car full of stuff, and $500 to my name.
Married Tad.
Worked as a waitress.
Worked as an Admissions Counselor.
Traveled to Boston, NYC; San Diego; Dallas; Atlanta; St. Louis; D.C.; Anaheim; Portland; Springfield, Mo.; Turkey; Chicago; Cleveland; Grand Rapids; Indianapolis; The Blue Ridge Mountains; Kansas City; and more.
Did odd-jobs for Chip MacGregor.
Wrote for Vera Bradley.
Wrote for Peg Perego.
Held two full-time-ish jobs for three years.
Started my own business.
Became an agent.
Met Nora Roberts' handler's daughter...then met the handler.
Saw Nora Roberts.
Participated in my first dance party.
Saw George RR Martin.
Met Charlaine Harris.
Received a hug from Ted Dekker. :/
Met Tosca Lee.
Saw Jim Carrey.
Saw Tim Gunn.
Saw that Giada lady.
Befriended numerous authors and editors.
Mistook Frank Peretti for a very confused, old man.
Was *this close* to convincing a big-time NFL player to do a book.
Wrote many words.
Freelanced for local papers.
Wrote two books. One fiction; one nonfiction.
Self-published my nonfiction book.
Got a dog.
Became obsessed with said dog.
Found a shampoo that allowed me to grow my fragile hair past my shoulders.
Moved into a rental house (life on the top floor of a random building had gotten old after five years of it).
Baked a pie.
Baked another pie, and another...
Grew out of my love for playing video games.
Grew into a love of working :/
Took up running.
Stopped running.
Took it up again.
Stopped again, meaning that I...
Gained weight.
Lost weight.
Etc.
Owned an Audi 100.
Owned a Jetta VLX GR6.
Now I own a Toyota Corolla :(
Reached the "Medium and sometimes Hard" levels on the drums on Rockband.
Drove a lot.
Flew a lot.
Navigated NYC (taxis, subways, publisher meetings, etc) on my own without having ever been there before.
Was inside the Flatiron building, the Woolworth building, and more.
Felt fancy at a number of NYC publisher parties.
Rode in an elevator with Mr. Romance 2011.
Went to a Broadway show.
Moved to Indiana.
Missed Chicago.
Became obsessed with genealogy.
Became an aunt.
Became a sister-in-law.
Began the hunt to buy a house.

In my thirties I will blow this list away.

(Me, on my birthday with one of my gifts.)

And I will also continue to be frozen in time as "forever 23."


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Frienemies with Katy Perry

Well, Rachel Hauck...you've done it this time. You've gone and gotten a blog post written JUST FOR YOU so that you can understand that yes, my love for Katy Perry IS in fact a "heart/soul connection" that goes back more than a decade...

I present to you, Katy's first ever album with a written dedication on it TO ME:

Now I know what you're thinking! How cute! How sweet! Amanda met Katy before she became way famous and now she has this wonderful little memento along with a cursed desire to watch and know and listen to all things Katy Perry!

Oh, dear Rachel. If only it were that simple...

I have often thought that if Katy and I had gone to the same high school we possibly would have been frienemies. I mean we both came from families heavily involved in ministry, and we both have hearty amounts of experience leading worship at homeless shelters and rescue missions and outdoor evangelism parties. So on those counts, we probably would have been BFFs. BUT! when it comes to boys, our fate was doomed from the beginning.

It all started when I went to a concert and found myself being squished against the stage by a bunch of raging psychos. Panicked, I remember looking with a helpless expression to the lead singer of the band, who WINKED at me. Not a lame, boring, meaningless wink. This was a wink that said, "It's okay, I've got you. You're going to be fine and then you and I are going to get married and live happily ever after."

This boy was Matt Thiessen of Relient K.

So, naturally, I left the show, thinking that my life was about to get awesome because I was going to have a rockstar boyfriend!

Wrong. It was only a few weeks later that I discovered via an old school Christian music message board that Matt had started dating Katy Hudson (now Katy Perry).

RE: she stole him from me

*insert childish girl scream here*

I did my best to move on and forgive her. I mean her music was great, and I secretly wanted to be her, but there was always this voice in the back of my head that was like "She took him him! Now you can't have him! AND SHE'S YOUNGER THAN YOU!!!!"

This was the first time that Katy and I shared a romantic interest. The second time, was way weirder...

There is a name...a very specific name that if I were to whisper it in Katy's ear, she would probably gasp and cover her mouth and then whisk me away to a quiet corner so that she could ask me how in the world I know that name...

You see, Katy's and my intertwined romantic interests didn't stop at Matt. There was this guy on a different message board (I guess there were lots of those then). And he had this MAJOR interest in Katy.

But he also had an interest in me.

And he was like 40.

Now this guy had SUCH an interest in Katy and SUCH an interest in me, that he is the reason I have the above signed album. He went to one of Katy's concerts (he went to a million of them because she was a no-name back then and did small, accessible shows), bought the CD, had her personalize it for me in such a way that it proves that he actually spent time telling her about me, and then mailed it to me along with other nice gifts and such.

Yes. This. This happened. Katy and I shared an admirer for what I can roughly estimate to be a year-year and a half.

Of course this was an admirer that neither of us wanted, but still. It totally counts and is weird.

So THERE, Rachel. THAT is my "heart/soul connection" to Katy. A strange game of 6 degrees without a single Kevin Bacon in sight.

All of this points to one truth and one truth only...if my and Katy's romances are destined to overlap, SHE IS NEVER ALLOWED TO MEET TAD BECAUSE SHE WILL STEAL HIM.

Also, it was probably a good thing that Tad stopped me from chasing that Russell Brand lookalike that we saw at the fair this summer to ask him if it was really him.

(I was just curious).

Friday, September 6, 2013

Conversations with Myself While Shopping

Me: Oh, here's a good store to check out...act natural, act natural, act natural...
Myself: Why are you saying that?
Me: I don't want them to think that the only reason I came in was to check out the clearance section.
Myself: But that was the only reason--
Me: Yeah, but they don't need to know that. I mean there's totally a stigma associated with clearance shoppers.
Myself: But you're a clearance shopper.
Me: Yeah but I don't want to be. Big difference.
Myself: ...
Me: There, we made it to the back!
Myself: Hooray.
Me: This is cute! Oh man, only $14.
Myself: Great. Try it on.
Me: Hmm...I don't know.
Myself: What now?
Me: I mean it's cute, and it's a great deal, but...
Myself: Oh boy.
Me: I'm just not sure it's my style.
Myself: What?
Me: I mean it's just not hardcore enough.
Myself: I'm sorry, I didn't know you and P!nk were friends.
Me: Oh, shut it.
Myself: No seriously, I didn't know you had a hardcore style.
Me: I do. At least in my head. And the way you think about yourself really does impact who you are.
Myself: And you want to be hardcore?
Me: I'm just trying to go after the whole intimidation factor, okay?
Myself: And this shirt doesn't do that for you?
Me: No, it's way too Barbie. I mean I'd have to get a tan and bleach my hair for this shirt to work. Even though it's cute.
Myself: Okay, so put it back, and let's move on.
Me: But it's only $14...
Myself: Just stop.
Me: Oh no, sales associate alert!
Myself: SAVE ME!
Me: I can't believe she called me "kiddo."
Myself: Well, you are in the clearance section.
Me: Not fair. I already told you that I don't want to be here.
Myself: And you have your hair in a messy bun.
Me: Messy buns aren't mature?
Myself: Well, they definitely aren't hardcore if that's what you're going after.
Me: Shoot. You're right. Okay, new store.
Myself: Thank God.
Me: Hmmm...
Myself: What? Why are we hesitating?
Me: It's just that it's Forever 21...I'm afraid to go in.
Myself: But you always shop there.
Me: No, I shopped there. Big difference. I haven't been shopping for like a year or two. What if I've outgrown it? What if I go in and all of the items are ugly to me and then I find myself wandering into Christopher Banks?
Myself: That's not going to happen.
Me: You can't be sure. I mean every woman makes the CJ Banks switch at some point in her life. Why can't mine happen right before I'm thirty?
Myself: Stop. Just stop. Go in there and see if you can find something you like. Anything.
Me: Okay, but if I'm miserable, I'm blaming it on you...OH I LOVE THIS STORE!!
Myself: Remind me again why it was wrong of the sales associate to call you "kiddo?"

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

My Brief Career in the Rap Industry

You know how rappers feature guest artists on their tracks?
And you know how those artists are usually women, tasked with the role of turning a meandering jumble of verse into a song by belting out a meaningful hook that brings it all together?

Once upon a time, I was one such artist.

I should probably stop there and let you imagine all sorts of horrible or awesome things, depending on how you view the genre, but the story is just so bizarre that if my sister weren’t there to witness the actual recording process, I probably would have convinced myself that I imagined the whole thing.

I’ve been a rap fan for awhile…well…I should clarify. I’ve been a fan of white rap for awhile. Which makes me sound racist, except it has nothing to do with race and everything to do with sound. White rap is just different from black rap…which is different from what I would currently categorize as dance rap.

But anyway…

The story picks up in Peoria, Illinois. I’m sixteen or seventeen, and in the midst of a major crush on a local rap artist, when I’m introduced to a local rap duo. Now I can’t for the life of me remember their names. Something like Doughboy and Rocket (yeah, real winners). But they were local CHRISTIAN rappers.

Yeah, I’m pretty sure that’s the best part of the story.

So anyway, I head them perform at my dad’s outreach event a few times and in turn they heard me sing to my accompaniment tracks. (Classy!). And the next thing I knew they approached me, told me how great I sounded, that they were looking to re-record one of their songs (because the original vocalist on the record was Doughboy’s wife and they had since divorced and I guess there’s something uncool about a rapper still performing with his ex-wife’s vocal track…because we all know rappers must must must be bitterly divorced…), and that they thought I would be perfect for it.

Now, I don’t think I’ve done a very good job of communicating their excitement here, but they were PUMPED UP. I mean it was as if they won the lottery. Or as if the biggest problem the world had ever thrown at them had been solved! And now everything was going to be great and they were gonna be rich and famous, rapping about Jesus. (Which hey, Toby Mac did it, so it’s possible…)

Now before you laugh at me and wonder what the heck I was thinking, remember:
This was a time in my life when I was convinced that I had a shot at making it in the music industry.
This was also a time in my life when I had a major crush on a local rap artist and I thought in some crazy way that doing this would make him notice me.

So, I said yes.

A bit later my sister and I drove to their recording studio which was in some guy’s basement, and almost as soon as we got there, they shoved me into the booth with a pair of the biggest headphones I’d ever seen, and they started playing the track.

Mind you, I WAS SIXTEEN. I had no idea what I was doing. So for some dumb reason instead of making the song my own I tried to recreate what Doughboy’s ex-wife had done.

Note for note.
And I’m REALLY good at recreating vocal stuff.

I imagine Doughboy had some kind of panic attack as the ghost of his ex fluttered through his thoughts. He asked me to re-do it. Then he asked me to switch it up a bit. And after only about three tries, all of which I was very proud of myself for NAILING the original sound, they brought me out of the booth, told me what a great job I did, and then …

Some random guy… maybe it was Rocket. I can’t remember. I guess he’d been singing along while I’d been recording. Someone suggested he try laying down a track or two. And then someone else said that they could layer us.

And I can only imagine that Doughboy saw this opportunity to forever erase his wife’s stamp on the song, because he took the idea and ran with it.

Random guy was thrown in the booth and started singing.

AND. HE. WAS. HORRIBLE. Flat. Weak. No breath support whatsoever.

And the end result? A chorus in which the two of us are singing the exact same melody. One of us sounding like the ex-wife. The other sounding like a dying mouse.

I’ve often wondered if maybe I was biased. If maybe it really wasn’t as bad as I’d remembered, and if I was simply reacting out of jealousy and anger and hurt. So, I asked my sister about it a few weeks ago.

And she was like “Yeah, that guy sounded horrible. It totally ruined the song.”

Every time I think back on that experience, I cringe. And not just because I never got my promised CDs and t-shirts. Or because I blew it.

But because the end product was SO BAD. And they probably re-re-recorded it soon after.

AND because I realize now that featured artists are usually introduced somewhere in the song. You know, where they’re like…

“Doughboy!”
“Wassup?!”
“ROCKET!”
“aw yeah!”
“And introducing…AMAAAAAAAANDA PAAAAAAAANDA…”
*cue hook*

Bummer.

Now, even if the recording survived, no one will ever know it was me.


Though maybe that’s not such a bad thing…

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Just when you thought Succubi didn't exist...

I like to use this blog as an outlet to be witty, sarcastic, and silly. Well, I haven't been feeling particularly witty or sarcastic or silly lately, so good content has been hard to come by. Now bad content? There have been plenty of those ideas. You should probably thank me for stopping myself from posting photo streams of Helo or video of myself playing Rockband or inspiration boards for my office redecoration or my imagined audition for Les Miserables. Yes, all of these things I've considered and then wisely unconsidered. Because not only would they be painful for me down the road (as I'd look back and wonder what the heck I was thinking), they'd be disastrous for my readership.

So for today's post (because I really should be consistent about posting regularly), we're going to get a bit serious. We're going to talk about my sleep disorder.

It all started in high school. I'd wake up in the night, eyes wide open. And I'd see something in my room. Usually, it was a person. Sometimes it was a creature. Always very terrifying. I'd keep staring and staring and staring at it until it dissolved and there I'd be alone in my room.

When this first started happening, I was so freaked out and confused and frustrated that once when I awoke to find a man standing at the head of my bed, looking down on me, I started to talk to him. I asked him what he was doing there. He answered me, though I don't remember what exactly he said, and then he dissolved.

So this...this suspension of the dream world...continued. I experienced it through college, post-college, and I even experience it now (it happened last night, actually). I've come to accept it as part of my sleeping experience. I go to sleep, knowing it's very probable that I'll awaken in the night only to have the crap scared out of me due to some super-sized Helo, or bugs swarming the ceiling, or an old man sitting in a chair. I've accepted this and told few people. Because to be quite honest, this isn't really the type of thing you want people to know about you. Mostly because it sounds like you're demon possessed. And secondly....because it sounds like you're demon possessed.

But then today, my whole world changed.

On Yahoo!'s home page, it had an article that said "Strange Sleep Disorder Makes People See Demons."

You bet I clicked on that thing so fast it were as if I were playing Gopher Bop.

Come to find out, I am NOT demon possessed. I'm not even being haunted by spirits. Turns out I probably have Sleep Paralysis--a sleep disorder in which the mind remains suspended between dream world and reality while the eyes are open. (Okay, it's either Sleep Paralysis, or I'm being stalked by an incubus...which is gross and exactly what the ancients would have told me back in the day had I explained my symptoms).

Sleep Paralysis is also the likely explanation for those who claim to have been abducted by aliens (!) or had ghostly encounters (!).

I can only hope that some night my SP leads to imagined alien abductions and sweet encounters with Casper. In the meantime, I'll settle for seeing antlers grow out of light fixtures and random appearances of my siblings as the foot of my bed.


Thursday, March 21, 2013

If I Were to Design a Miniatures Game

Miniatures gaming is a freaking awesome business. I mean where else can you charge $40 for a bunch of tiny pieces of plastic that the customers will not only assemble themselves, but then spend hours and hours painting? It's genius.

The cutie below costs $25 and probably stands at 2 inches. He comes as a sheet of plastic in which you pop out the pieces, assemble, and then paint and paint and paint (with the help of a magnifying glass, no less).

So after watching Tad throw his money at such a hobby, I decided I needed to create my own miniatures game and dupe unsuspecting gamers into buying my lazy plastic.

Now, as a former marketer, I've noticed a few things about the gaming world...
1) Nearly every game title contains one of the following words: Dungeon, Quest, Battle, War
2) The act of assembling and painting is supposedly as fun as actually playing the game itself (some gamers will simply assemble and paint without any desire to play!)
3. Gamers are easily excitable with anything Dragon

So, I introduce to you my miniatures game:

DRAGON DUNGEON BATTLE QUEST WARS
In this miniatures game, not only do you get to assemble your dragons, but you can choose your unique look! That's right! Each of the four dragon components (head, body, wings, tail) come sold separately. This means not only will you be spending that much more money, but you'll get to have a completely unique dragon!

Select numerous power card combinations to give your dragon one-of-a-kind feat combos and abilities (cards sold separately in packs).

AND add plenty of magic to the mix by buying, assembling, and painting your very own Dragon Master! (Dragon Masters boost the dragon's abilities for as long as the masters are in play!)

RESERVE YOUR DRAGON PIECES OF PLASTIC TODAY and you'll be battling other dragon in search of dunegon treasure in approximately 40 labor hours!

Dragon Head (20 models to choose from): $25
Dragon Body (20 models to choose from): $25
Dragon Wings (20 models to choose from): $25
Dragon Tail (20 models to choose from): $25

Dragon Master (10 different masters to choose from!): $30

Total before paints, paint supplies, and terrain doo-dads: $130 (and you MUST have all these components before you even THINK about playing).



Tad and I joked about my game idea for awhile.

Then, he showed me this from Kickstarter...



All I know is that they could have chosen a way better name.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

The stuff you find...

I'm in the midst of making my office a REAL office and not just a place where we store random stuff and from which I occasionally work. We're talking an adult work space here. Something that if we had kids would be a DO NOT ENTER zone.

So in the process of whipping this room into shape, I had to empty my desk to replace it with a new one (!).

And it soon became quite apparent to me how long it's been since I've actually looked inside my desk drawers.

Here are a few of the gems I discovered:


Yes, this is exactly what you think it is!! A sheet of really sweet vintage Apple decals. I feel I should have used these on my previous cars (an Audi 100 and then a VW Jetta GLX VR6)...because putting them on a Toyota Corolla just isn't right.




This is the second diary I ever owned (runs from 12-24-93 to 8-24-98), and the level of awesome in this thing is just unreal. I mean FIRST, you have a tampered area where the lock sits because I'd lost the keys one day and needed to bust in, and THEN you have entries such as this:

I am now fully eleven for my birthday was December 22 of last year.
I am not wrapped up in Tyson for there is now Austin St. John and Jason Frank of the Power Rangers. I almost forgot John Bosch of the Power Rangers also...




I had this strange desire one day to give myself a tattoo sleeve, so I bought this pack of temporary tattoos. Not one of my best moments...and of course if I ever follow through I'll need to time it right, because showing up at a professional event with a sleeve of these fading bad boys probably wouldn't be the easiest thing to explain.



My wedding invites and programs!! Not sure why this was particularly exciting aside from the fact that my dessert cards say "Let them eat cake!" and there is a Charles Dickens quote in the program. Tad and I hate Dickens.



Oh, my years in marketing! These colorful catalogues are filled with catchy headlines such as:
Here's lookin' at style!
Color meets clarity.
See things your way.
Styles for the starry-eyed.

It's a wonder I didn't win any awards.



This is an article I wrote for the college newspaper that covers *gasp* tattoos! And whether those with tattoos are going to hell.

I'm not even joking. This is the real deal.

The article made some people mad, including the dude on the right who had a crush on me (I mean he was a blind date my freshman year and what can I say...I'm just really hard to get over).

But things settled down after awhile, and I eventually decided I never ever wanted to be a journalist. I mean what's the point in rattling cages when you can't even take a side?!

Now, where did I put those temporary tattoos again?






Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Bachelor of Arts in Awesomeness

So I'm in this process of creating an actual office for myself, which requires sifting through things and OH MAN, I REMEMBER THIS RANDOM THING FROM COLLEGE or high school or whatnot, because as I arrange this office area, I have to actually move stuff. Stuff that got tossed into this side room when we moved in a year ago and, well, there it's sat.

Anyway, I say this, because a moment ago I was poking around all of these boxes of good and bad memories, when I stumbled upon this envelope on the floor. Now I must say that this room isn't cluttered with stuff. So to stumble upon something without knowing it was there takes quite a bit of effort.

Especially when that something is your college diploma.

Alright, folks. Here's my big, bad confession. I've only looked at my diploma like twice in my life. I mean I'm pretty sure I checked it after receiving it to make sure it had my name spelled correctly. And I probably glanced at it after I pulled it out of my trunk (where it had lived for roughly a year post-graduation...because yes, I was that kid who left college with nothing but a car of possessions and $500 to my name...oh, and a diploma in the trunk. Quite Hallmark, wouldn't you say?). But other than those two probable events, I haven't looked at the thing.

Until now.

Am I the only one concerned by the fact that it nowhere states what my major was? I mean what happened to Bachelor of Arts in Dance or Bachelor of Arts in History or Bachelor of Arts in Guitar-Making? I mean this makes me look as though I had no major at all!! Just one of those "general studies" types, who end up working pottery studios where fifth grade birthday parties are held while the workers smoke pot in the back room!!!!!!

Okay, breathe. BREATHE, I SAY!!!!

But the school could so eeeeasily afford the stupid little protecitve tissue paper. Couldn't they afford ink for three more words? Three more simple, clarifying....

SNAP OUT OF IT!!!!!!

There has to be an upside--a way to turn this into a positive...

Like telling people I have a Bachelor of Arts in Medicine or Neurology or World Peace or ... SUPER MODELING.

You think they'll fall for it?

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Helo, Mr. CrazyMan

I work from home. And on occasion, I have to make very important phone calls. I mean, we're talking 212 area code phone calls. And every time, I have to very carefully plan when these calls take place.

You see, Helo is still a puppy, albeit a 95-lb (and quickly fattening up) puppy whose shoulders come to my waist. And Helo has very specific times during the day in which he likes to be a crazy man.

Now whenever it's revealed that Helo is the reason I can't talk before 11am or after 3pm, I always get the same, sweet, well-intentioned but highly ignorant response:

"Oh, I LOVE dogs!! Don't worry about it! We'll be fine, I'm sure."

No, my friend. No we will not be fine. Because unlike most puppies who can be ignored during their romp around the dining room table or incessant banging into your leg. when Helo plays, couch cushions are flying through the air, the rug is skidding across the floor, and every once in awhile, my lap appears to be the perfect launching pad for his ginormous frame.

In other words, when Helo decides it's time to play, my work day comes to a screeching halt.

Here's what a very tame play time looks like...anyone want to suffer through the no-holds-barred version?




Wednesday, February 6, 2013

My Juvenilia: A Cat

When I was in Kindergarten, I had a sort of epiphany--the epiphany went something like this:

I like books!!!!
But where do books come from?
They don't just appear out of nowhere.
*Gasp!* Someone has to MAKE them?!!!!
How fun!! How fun to make a book!!!
That's what I'm going to do!! I'm going to make a book!!!

I imagine this epiphany involved a very serious conversation with my mom, because before I knew it, I was in the living room, surrounded by my "Publishing House." My "printing press" was my baby doll's high chair. Then of course I had my illustration desk and my writing desk and so on.

And I did not leave until I made a book.

The result? The 1990 Newberry award-winning classic, A Cat. 

It appears that early on in life, I desired to be mononymous. It was quite epic of me, really. That, or I couldn't spell my last name.





 
Sorry for the low quality images ...scanner was having difficulty with the staples.
Wow! What a fantastic opening line. It evokes suspense and concern. Truly, an attention-grabber. Brilliant! Now, if only someone would have told me that despite my left-handed tendencies, page numbers for all right-side pages go...on the right.



 
Is it just me, or am I getting lazier with my illustrations? I mean Cat used to have thicker legs, right? Also, the letter 'e' was a doozie to write.



I specifically remember drawing each and every one of those rug tassels. I was sure that more tassels = better artistic quality. Boy, I was right. Those tassels are spot on.





 And there it is! The great conclusion!! What IRONY! What symbolism!! (And in case you can't see it, that gray blob amidst the black blob is the mouse, standing in his mouse hole. Laughing, of course. Just like my super-comedic manuscript describes.)



P.s. I had to ask for my mom's help with spelling the -ing words.


 

Thursday, January 31, 2013

One Giant Leap Toward Adulthood

Life is full of moments that remind us we're getting older.

Like that moment when you realize that you suddenly don't care if a man is going bald...you like him anyway.
Or that moment when it's midnight and you wonder how you ever ever ever pulled an all-nighter while trying to coherently write a term paper at the same time.
Or that moment when you responsibly say "I can't have caffeine. It keeps me up."
Or that moment when you find yourself giving a younger person the speech about how sometimes in life we all have to do things we don't want to do.

Or...that moment when you intentionally, knowingly and of your own volition, buy a box of cereal with dried fruit in it.

My whole life, I've hated cereal with fruit. Sliced bananas and bran? Gross. Diced strawberries and flakes? Nasty. But dried fruit. That was even worse, because there was no escaping it. There was no choice. You couldn't wake up and go "I think I'm going to skip the fruit today" because it was already in the box. And in Raisin Bran's case, there were TWO SCOOPS of it (I seem to remember when they added that extra scoop. I dry heaved when I heard the news).

But then the other day at the grocery store after a workout (which is the WORST time to be surrounded by purchasable food, by the way), I wanted something sweet. And I couldn't get a donut or anything like that, because I would hate myself after.

No, I needed cereal. A healthy-ish cereal that also had some sweetness to it.

So there I am, going up and down the aisle--eying the Reese's Puffs like a nerd eyes special boxed editions of Star Wars Trek Craft--when I settle on the Great Grains section. Instinctively, I reach for the Banana Nut flavor, because HELLO it tastes like banana bread without the bananas!!

But the calorie count! The calorie count makes me pull away. And then something very curious happens. My taste buds tell me they want something fruity in their cereal. And not something fake fruity, like fake banana flavoring. Something real fruity. Something chewy.

And before I knew what was happening, I had a box of Great Grains Cranberry Almond Crunch in my hands and was proceeding to the checkout.

Post Great Grains Cranberry Almond Crunch

Me: what are you doing?!
Myself: what does it seem like? I want this cereal.
Me: But are we actually going to eat the whole box? I mean one bowl, sure, but what if this craving is a tease? What if we go back to hating dried berries in our cereal after the first bite?
Myself: you worry too much.
Me: you don't worry enough!

The box was purchased. I drove home in silence, refusing to talk to myself.

And later, I poured a bowl, added skim milk (because I hate the taste of milk...another thing I'll probably grow out of, though I certainly hope not) and ate the whole thing.

and I liked it.

And today I had another bowl.

And as I stood there, eating this gross adult cereal and enjoying it, I felt very proud of myself and grown-up-ish.

And then I rinsed out my bowl and proceeded to work the rest of the day in my pajamas.


Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The month I was called Al



Once upon a time, when I worked at a marketing agency, my boss, who always referred to me as amanda, starting calling me AL in his email correspondence.

At first I thought it was just a simple error. A brain bubble, if you will. Because it was quite clear that my name was not Albert, or Alfred, or Aldo, or Alonzo, or Al Borland, or Alchemy (although I wouldn’t necessarily be opposed to that last one).

But the mistake continued. And it got to the point where not only was I AL in email correspondence, but I became AL when he wanted to visit my desk to ask a question and AL when he greeted me upon entering the conference room.

I laughed it off, of course, because I am nothing if not a good sport (and highly aware of when I may be missing the big picture), but this activity continued for the better part of a month or so until it dawned on me...

The dawning occurred after a mass email went out, in which my boss not only referred to me as AL, but my coworkers Dennis B. and Erin A. as DB and EA.

So AL wasn’t a short form of Aldous or Alma. AL were my new initials. (Without the periods, of course. Because we know how tiresome periods can be when sending off quick emails). I just hadn’t realized it yet.

All of my assumptions of him being funny or mischievous or cryptic couldn’t have been farther from the truth. He was merely being accurate.

While I was left with the sudden realization that I’d be suck with a man’s name for my initials for the rest of my life.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

The One Moment I Was a Celebrity

Sorry to state the obvious here, but I am not a celebrity. I know, surprise, surprise, right?

The closest I ever get to being anything near a celebrity is when I'm thrown in a room with a bunch of unpublished writers. At that point, my celebrity status moves up a half a notch. But even so, if some REAL or even a quasi-celebrity like the Progressive girl walked into that very room, I'd be abandoned in seconds. SECONDS!

I tell you this, because a funny thing happened to me at BEA.

BEA (Book Expo America) is like the big north american book trade show. All the publishers set up booths and show off their goods, and it's literally one of those events where you turn the corner an "OH! There's Tim Gunn!" Then you turn another corner and "OH! There's a really tall Harlem Globetrotter!" and then "OH! There's Michael Ian Black!" (Though I did not know his name at the time...I had to Google it. But I recognized his face!).

So, I'm at this event, and it was just after I was sitting in a rest area, secretly Googling the name of the guy across from me (he seemed really important...turned out he was like an investment millionaire). I walk away, and this random guy walks past me and then I hear him go:

"Megan?! ... Is it...could it be...?"

My heart stopped. What if he's talking to me?! What if he thinks I'm...famous! Oh man. THE PRESSURE! What do I do?! How do I crush his hopes and dreams? And how can I live with myself after experiencing the high of a real celebrity?!

After much contemplation (that took about half a second), I hesitantly turned around.

Yes, the guy had been talking to me. Yes, his face bore the most expectant, hopeful expression.

And yes, all of that came crashing down when he realized that I was in fact not Megan.

And felt bad for letting him down. So bad, i almost apologized to the guy.

Sorry for not being Megan. Sorry for ruining your day.
Sorry for not giving you fodder for your blog.
But look on the bright side! You gave me fodder for mine.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

How to Make It in Hollywood (It's Easier Than You Think)

I've often told myself that if I were to ever be silly enough to want to be an actress, I would simply make some big name director or producer or actor my BFF. Why? Because Hollywood is like high school. The easiest way to survive is to fit in with a group so that all you have to do is be like "what are we working on now, boys?!" and the group leader will practically hand you a role.

(Of course you could also try to get him to fall in love with you, but I prefer the less slutty route)

Still doubting this theory?

Allow me to introduce you to the equivalent of the Hollywood cafeteria.

The Jocks - The George Clooney Club
Members: Brad Pitt (among other various Oceans Eleven cast members), Ben Affleck and other good-looking actors who are a smidge less good-looking than Clooney.
Requirements for admission into group: Treat George like a benevolent god.

The Druggies - The Jud Apatow Club
Members: Seth Rogan, James Franco (though he's unsuccessfully been trying to leave the club for years), Leslie Mann, Johan Hill, Paul Rudd and pretty much anyone who ever starred in Freaks and Geeks.
Requirements for admission into group: You need to find fart jokes hilarious

The Goths - The Tim Burton Club
Members: Helena Bonham Carter, Johnny Depp, Danny Elfman
Requirements for admission into group: Be super weird with crazy hair and pale complexion. Think artsy in a dark way.

The Swingers - The Quentin Tarantino Club
Members: Members of this club are free to come and go, but Uma Thurman and Robert Rodriguez may never leave
Requirements for admission into group: Catch Quin's eye

Former Clubs:
The John Hughes Club
The M. Knight Shyamalan
Etc...

So now I MUST ask...which club would you be in? Be honest with yourself.


Thursday, January 17, 2013

Wherein I Embarass Myself

At the top of my list of JOBS I'D LIKE TO TRY OUT FOR A YEAR is music impersonator.

You think I jest.

I pretty much spend my entire day, walking around the house trying to impersonate whatever musician whose song is stuck in my head. And as Tad can attest, my impersonations know no bounds. I tackle everyone from Beyonce to Gavin Degraw. Yes, even Gavin Degraw. My best is Cher. My worst is Adele. But they're ALL my favorite and so very dear to me. They reflect the life I could have had on SNL.

So despite my better judgement, I thought it would be a good idea to share the hilarity of what it is to sit in on a practice session.

I may really regret this...and it ended up taking WAAAAAYYYYYYY longer to put the visual side of the video together than I thought, but what the heck, right? If anything, you can laugh with me at my stupidity.

So ladies and gents, I present one of my worse, yet most-fun impersonations.

It's a pitchy Adam Levine and a straining Christina Aguilera in Moves Like Jagger.


Saturday, January 12, 2013

Helo's Big Adventure, Part 2

GO HERE to read Part 1 of Helo's Big Adventure.

We live in a small-ish neighborhood that is tucked behind a couple major roads. To put it in perspective, the big indoor mall in Fort Wayne (population 250,000) is about three quarters of a mile from our house (as the crow flies), and the highway is about a mile and a quarter away from us in another direction.

So even though we live in this quiet, remote, woodsy subdivision, it's blocks from lots and lots of civilization and one of the most trafficked areas of the city.

The moment we realized Helo had left our neighborhood (and had probably done so within minutes of getting hit), the whole plan of finding him seemed that much more impossible. According to Tad, Helo had been broadsided. He rolled up on the car's hood and winshield before being thrown into the snow.

So he had to be hurting and running on adrenaline at this point. And what chance does an injured black dog have of crossing a six-lane road at night without getting hit?

So, we set out to find him. Because if we didn't, chances were he'd end up having to brave a night of freezing temperatures and snow. And, of course, possibly death.

The snow, however, ended up being our best friend.

We had about six inches of it on the ground, and despite the police officer losing Helo's tracks and being unable to find them again, we found them (says a lot for Fort Wayne's finest! ;). This was a moment when we thanked God for Helo's massive paws. Because there was no mistaking our boy's tracks.

So, we followed his path. Through people's yards (one lady sent her dogs out after Tad, thinking he was an intruder) and across streets where we'd pick them up again hundreds of feet away from where they left off.

Basically, there was a lot of putting our ears to the ground and fingering the snowy soil and smelling scent rubbed against trees and you know. Aragorn-type stuff. Or Sully-type stuff, if that's your thing.

We followed the tracks until we lost them at the big road I mentioned. The road that is some hundreds of feet away from a giant, massive intersection.

Tad set out on foot, and I took the car. I knew that there is a trailer-type neighborhood behind the businesses on the far side of the road, so that's where I headed. I drive up and down these dead-end roads, until I spot a set of tracks that just seems a bit random. Like it doesn't lead to a mailbox or door or anything. Something tells me to check these tracks. So, I get out, and I'm convinced they're Helo's. I follow them to behind a garage, where I lose them in a rust pile.

Just beyond the rust pile, and on the other side of a really big garage, is a gas station and what would be another super major road in Fort Wayne. So, I get Tad, he stays at the rust pile to see if he can find where the tracks pick up, and I head to the big road.

I'm driving up and down this major road, hoping and yet fearing to see a black dog on the side of the road. Hoping, because the Interstate is now a quarter of a mile away, and Helo is headed north in its direction.

I eventually meet up with Tad, who picked up Helo's tracks and then lost them in a car dealership lot. So, he leaves word with the people who work there, and we go north to a neighboring fenced-in hotel complex. We can't find him or his tracks, and I'm beginning to wonder if Helo somehow snuck around the fence and is heading toward the Interstate. So, we head to the Interstate.

At this point, we start praying like crazy. Clearly, we've lost his tracks. We have no idea where he is, and he's been missing for almost two and a half hours. That's plenty of time for him to get far, far away. Or get snatched by someone. Or, get hurt even worse. Tad calls a bunch of other people, and they start praying. We pray, because we have nothing left. Which is really sad in retrospect, because it's totally one of the first things we should have done.

No tracks in the field leading to the Interstate. So then, we head north on this main road, wondering if maybe he stuck to IT instead of veering off of it (and onto the Interstate). It was here that we got a phone call.

Helo had been found. It's 9pm.

We go to the hotel, and the guy who called us says that it's actually the dealership that has Helo. So, we go to the dealership, and standing inside of the showroom, looking out the window, is our dog.

We run in there and get him, thank the people (the guy closing up for the night had found Helo between two big SUVs), then lift Helo into the car. He's limping. So we head to the emergency pet hospital.

After a quick exam, we head home at 10:30pm. Helo simply has a bruised hip and a few scratches. His prescription? The doggy version of Ibuprofin.

And it's at this point that someone asks us how the car who hit him fared.

Probably not as well.

I strongly feel that God led us to Helo. We never failed to find Helo's tracks, no matter how crazy of a path he took. And we talked to the right people...people who would be instrumental in helping us get Helo back. And, we found him a mile away from home. Think about your hometown or city. Think of where you live, or a spot in town that is heavily populated and trafficked. Then, choose a spot a mile away. A mile isn't that long. But when you're talking highways and crossing city streets and passing block after block, it's VERY long. So long, that had there not been snow, I don't know how we would have found him. So that's my God post for the month or year. I don't do these very often, because that's not the type of blog this is. But I had to do it here. Because I thought it was a pretty crazy story.




Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Helo's Big Adventure, Part 1



WARNING: If you are crazy in love with dogs, read with caution.
WARNING: If you think people are crazy for being crazy in love with dogs, read with caution.
ACHTUNG: If you are easily offended by God-talk, read Part 2 with caution.

Now don’t say I didn’t warn you....

Tad and I have a dog named Helo. He is only a year old, but he is pretty massive. So massive, that when Helo decides it’s time to play or be crazy, cushions are flying off the couch and random crap is falling down all over the place.

We got him from the animal shelter last January, and he is THE MOST SPOILED DOG IN THE UNIVERSE. He is more than our child (because I like to think he gets away with way more than our children would). He is our obsession. He sleeps in our bed with us, under the covers. He eats stupid expensive dog food. He gets a new toy about every month. He goes bye-bye with me on all my errands. He is our best friend.

So imagine our horror a few weeks ago when he got hit by a car.

It was dark. Around 6:30pm. We were packing up the car for a Christmas trip to my parents’ in Illinois. Helo ran into the street right when a car was coming. I was inside, so I didn’t see it, but I heard it. Tad yelled. Then the impact. Then Tad screamed. That scream, my friends, was the same scream that 60 year-old men give when they’re letting their little dogs run free in the park behind our house and their little dogs come straight for Helo. It’s the scream of a grown man who is suddenly terrified that his dog will die before his eyes.

So I rushed outside.

This part is still a blur. I remember not seeing Helo and seeing Tad run off through someone’s yard. Or maybe Tad said something to me? I can’t remember. The only thing I do remember is eventually talking to the guy who hit Helo.

Now you must keep in mind that I’m freaking out. I’m not a screamer and I’m not a crier. I’m just one of those people who covers their mouth and says “ohmygoshohmygoshOHMYGOSH.”

So I find out from this guy that yes, he hit Helo and yes, Helo ran away, and yes my husband went after him.

So then sirens.

Cops approach me cautiously as though I’m some crazy lady, pacing outside in 28-degree weather without a jacket.

They ask me if everything is alright and I’m like MY DOG GOT HIT BY A CAR AND RAN AWAY. And so they stop and they ask me about it and then they say that they got a call about a domestic disturbance. I say it was probably the accident that neighbors heard. And the cop looked at me and very sensitively asked ... “was...was it a loud impact?”

And I said yes. And that my husband screamed.

And he said “Ok, that accounts for both of the noises that were reported.”

So then the cops join the search for Helo.

So at this point I become the person who is at home, coordinating search parties and telling people what to do and when it’s okay for them to quit (NEVER). Eventually, I let the guy who hit Helo go home (he had graciously agreed to drive around the neighborhood to look).

And then the MOST UNHELPFUL thing happened. Animal Control called and was like “Ma’am, your dog was recently reported last seen on the yada yada block of yada yada avenue...”

“YES, I KNOW. WE’RE LOOKING FOR HIM RIGHT NOW.”

“One moment.”

Moment.

“Ma’am, police have cleared the area and can’t find the dog.”

“NO, ACTUALLY, THAT’S NOT TRUE. THEY’RE HERE RIGHT NOW LOOKING FOR HIM.”  Ugh...dude was totally wasting my time...time that could be spent worrying! and pacing!

So then the Animal Control guy comes to the scene and drives around but can’t find Helo. And he’s convinced that Helo is curled up somewhere, dying. He won’t give me even a glimmer of hope. So, I send that guy packing.

Then the one cop who went out on foot to track Helo through the snow returns without any luck. And another cop leaves to respond to a call. And the third cop is just enjoying some Internet in the warmth of his tax money cop car. And these neighbors are screaming Helo’s name in their redneck accents (pretty sure Helo doesn’t speak redneck) and every second, Helo is getting farther and farther away.

And I quickly realize that if we’re going to find Helo, we’re going to have to do it ourselves.

So, around 8pm, Tad and I thank everyone for looking, and we set out on our own...only to quickly realize that Helo had left the neighborhood long ago.

To be continued...