Mid-year resolutions

New Year’s Eve is hands-down my favorite day of the year. There’s something magical about the calendar clicking over, and immediately starting anew. It’s like a cosmic birthday that everyone celebrates, anticipates, and absolutely revels in.

Not only do you get to wipe away the muck from the previous 365 days, you set the tenor for how you want your year to go.

Fitness-oriented? Hit the gym!

Romance-seeking? Go for it!

Breaking a bad habit? Out it goes!

All that being said, my second-favorite time of the year is mid-year. It’s not a commonly-celebrated timestamp, but it’s worth noting when it comes to self-improvement. If you’ve fallen off the wagon on your New Year’s goals, this is your second chance to get things right before the champagne is chilled and confetti dropped on the next December 31st.

This year has definitely been fitness-oriented. After spending a few months in a boot due to a bum foot and subsequently drinking a bunch of wine and eating a bunch of pizza, I took action once the boot came off. I’ve always been above-averagely active, but this time that knob got turned to blow-your-neighbors-away proportions.

My already-tiny frame has seen ten pounds of fat disappear. Those awesome back muscles are popped out nicely. A six pack is mere weeks from making an appearance. All this, and my hair and nails are growing like mad, I literally heal after a day of rest, and I effortlessly get out of bed at 6 each morning.

In a few short weeks I’ll be taking the stage for a figure competition (a division of bodybuilding where contenders still look like girls). That alone is a crazy athletic accomplishment, but I want more, more, more!

My brother, a new friend, and I set mid-year goals with an end date of the summer’s end. We maxed out on a few super-strength gym moves: pull-ups, chin-ups, dips, and bench press. Then we decided what the other person could achieve based on that number.

My by-mid-August goals are to do 12 chin-ups, 25 dips, 8 pull-ups, and my body weight on bench.

I’m looking forward to cranking these out each week, seeing consistent improvement, and knowing that I’m continuing what I started a few months back.

What can you achieve in the next six months?


Perp vs privacy

I’m in a bit of a quandary right now: doing the right thing vs. maintaining my privacy.

Despite spending a good chunk of my daily hours on Facebook, sending out the occasional Twitter message, and having an on-again/off-again blog of what goes on in my life, there’s very little of my for-real life bits that make it up here.

Yes, something teary-eyed occasionally peeps up on one of the mediums. But by and large, you’re seeing a filtered representation of my everyday life.

For the past nine months I’ve been waiting for my then-boyfriend to go to jail. He’s been arrested multiple times in multiple cities for the same crime over and over again. I understand that the criminal justice system takes time in ensuring that they have sufficient evidence, everybody’s rights are protected, and that something suitable comes from the end result.

I’m just frustrated.

The thing is, while he’s out on bail on his charges, he’s continuing to do what he’s currently in trouble for. Time and time again, he’s committing these crimes. He goes from county to county, racking up the damages. He’s clearly not going to stop.

I feel the need to warn others.

But in doing so, my name gets attached to this mess. With that comes various issues: retaliation via the legal system, retaliation via force, and the simple matter of my personal business becoming public knowledge.

I’ve talked with a lawyer, and the legal ramifications of posting something with the word allegedly all over it are essentially nil. I have the truth on my side, proof of all points I bring up, and witnesses galore who can back up everything I’m saying.

Add to it that I’m pretty sure my head would explode from the rage of a thousand fiery suns if he tried to turn this around on me. It’s not really a stressor I want.

Although he’s not big on accepting responsibility for, well, anything, I have to remember that plaintiffs can’t take the fifth. Legally he has to answer anything I ask. There’s so much more beyond the crimes he’s been arrested for, things I keep quiet on unless you’re in my innermost circle. I know he’d lie if ever seated for a deposition (since breaking the law clearly doesn’t bother him). However, being asked about all of these topics would be enough to make anyone of sound mind hesitate to press charges when he or she knows the claims are baseless.

My second major consideration is fear of retaliation — whether physical or financial. He’s got enough information to pull my credit report, do some damage there, and get my current address in the process.

I notified the credit bureaus upon my move-out and have all notifications and alerts turned on, but I still don’t trust that it’s enough to protect my financial holdings.

And although I’m fairly certain that my name doesn’t come across his mind at all these days, but I’m still afraid about 2% of the time that he’s going to snap, look my info up, and come looking for me. No social networking sites list my actual location, all permissions are set to secure levels, and I regularly monitor Google to make sure nothing’s up there. (I have a few outstanding requests with sitemasters right now asking for resolution on my information being displayed in search engines.)

If I posted the full story with a full list of the crimes I’m aware of, that 2% would increase exponentially. I recognize that my apartment’s gate can be circumvented with enough patience, and my dead-bolted door can be overcome with enough force. And, well, my head isn’t strong enough to withstand blunt forces, knifings, bullets, or any other creative weaponry that might be used.

Add to it that I will soon have a 225-pound muscle-y man living in my house. I’m positive that he can defend himself mano y mano, but I don’t like his odds with any handicap given to the perp. If anything ever happened to my brother, that would be the end of me — especially if from the hands of someone gunning for my face.

The final issue that’s weighing on me is my loss of privacy. I can point to specifics on my decision to be involved with him. I can defend why I’d choose to move back to Chicago. There’s nobody who can look at his crimes against me and say that I overacted in my filing police charges and moving out immediately. However, do I really want the world to know the specifics of my situation?

This is exactly why superheroes have secret identities. Unfortunately, I don’t have that luxury.

The woman with amazing hair turns 30

When your high school has only 600 kids, you know everyone and his or her business.

My circles involved sports, whereas hers were in the arts. Both thankfully avoiding any drama of the typical teenaged lack-of-a-developed-frontal-cortex variety, we had no animosity, yet we had no overlap either.

Years beyond high school, Tom Anderson came up with the far inferior, pre-Facebook social networking site. Being click-happy, Jamie and I became connected through the site. Witticisms were shared, and photos commented on. All in all, Jamie turned out well. Among the messages of strange men making indecent suggestions, Jamie sent a message announcing that she was moving to Chicago — my home city at the time.

Unlike another high school acquaintance whose friendship was attempted and promptly rejected when she too made her move 1200 miles north of our sleepy little town, I had no hesitation with welcoming Jamie to my fair city.

It took a little while before we finally met up, but Margarita Tuesday was launched. Our first outing brought us TeJays, Officer Tony, nefarious iPod catalogs, a pink bear with boxing gloves, and construction workers from the Trump Tower. Despite ridiculous schedules, we were fast friends from there.

I have seen Jamie through bad dates, compensated her last break-up with badass theater tickers, and subsequently been welcomed into her (nearly marital!) domestic life with the oh-so-awesome Rodney.

In turn, she’s seen me through dates with various panty-sniffers, cheered me on when I recognized it was time for me to move, welcomed me back excitedly when I returned, and — in an act I so appreciate and will forever remember — took me into her home, fed me ice cream and tacos, and all-around helped take care of me when Very Bad Things happened.

She’s kind, funny, and loyal. She’s got a combo of social smarts and sass that puts any leading lady to shame. She wears eye shadow better than anyone ever has.

I’m so happy to call her my friend, even if I’m jealous of her amazing rack and mermaid-like hair.

Happy 30th birthday, Jamie. You are certainly loved!

Blog neglect gets a mass copy and paste

In years past, I know I’ve done this sort of entry before. I manage my thoughts with a long MS Word file with partially-written blog entries, letting those words sit until I find inspiration to finish the entry or let the topic pass and eventually delete it for its lack of relevance.

The document now has more than 30 pages, so it’s time to clear some of that out and start anew.

Here are some partial entries.

There’s a lot that goes into dating. Besides the mammoth task of chemistry and compatibility, there are all sorts of considerations.

Availability. Is this person ready for whatever you’re ready for?

Geography. Does this person live close somewhere you’re able to get to during the getting-to-know-you phase?

[Item. Example question?]

And then there’s the all-important age range.

Plenty of people tout the ‘half your age plus seven’ dating formula. Namely I think these are men in their late 20s and early 30s who are seeking permission to not just oogle hot college girl tail, but to go for it.

Yesterday’s entry made me remember the time that I called 911 because a hobo was cutting down a tree on friggin’ Clark Street. It was all sorts of lolz, unlike the time I called because a guy was beating the crap out of the other one because guy #2 complained about guy #1’s reckless motorcycle driving.

Hobos with a handsaw on a major street? Not scary.

Man punching another man’s face? Scary.

Things I accomplished in 2010:

I lost about 15 pounds.
My niece and nephew know me well.
I turned my boyfriend into the police.
I moved a few times.
Some friendships have been renewed by my oddball travels this year. > Jamie, Shika, Chad, Amber/Martin, Crystal, Josh, Jesse, Michelle/Stephen, Christine

Each time I’m approached by an older man, I always hesitate.

Sometimes it’s for purely superficial reasons. His attitude and clothing may be proper, but I know underneath he’s a less than a decade away from being my father’s age. And although I am absolutely aiming for a man who comes near my dad in terms of taking care of his family and all-around awesomeosity, a 50-something-year-old man is not who I’m looking at for a boyfriend.

Also note that it’s only old people proclaiming that age is just a number. I don’t care if you feel 25, you’re still 50.


Theme parties galore

At what age did suddenly ever party have to have a goddamn theme? Since moving, I’ve been asked to don an ugly sweater, masquerade gear, superhero tights, something Monty Python-esque, a Snuggie, and 80s clothes. I have yet to comply, nonetheless show up to most of these events.

I’m all for having fun. But what happened to just going somewhere with friends and having a good time?

My three rules for my husband

Since in my last entry I admitted to liking Nashville Star — no matter how embarrassing it might be — I figured today would be a good day to list and explain all of the other stupidly embarrassing things I also like.

I actually like the Hyundai Tuscon. It’s cute, the right size, has a bunch of safety features, includes a built-in MP3 player, had that honkin’ warranty, and isn’t ridiculously priced like so many other small SUVs.

But then I remember that it’s a Hyundai. As in, We made the name similar to Honda with hopes that you’d get confused.

Don’t think that I’m getting all made-in-America-lovin’ on you. My previous vehicles have been evenly split between American and Japanese, and I loved my Accord and my Camry with one of those big bear hug kinda loves.

Hyundai = Bad resale value.

Hyundai = Who knows what you’re getting because none of my friends have ever owned one.

Hyundai = It’s presumably inexpensive for a reason.

Hyundai = Disposable.

There are plenty of reasons to nix the Hyundai, but I’m drawn in.

Pretty, shiny, good warranty…

[smack] Stop that, Jo!

Atheist Democrat seeks someone not so maverick-y

I met someone out for a beer this weekend, and Sean Hannity came up. My head nearly exploded.

I’m completely new to dating in a red state.

I watch Rachel Maddow and John Stewart. I’m a champion for gay rights. I don’t think anyone should die because he or she can’t afford medication. I think Sarah Palin represents everything that’s wrong with America, and Meghann McCain is quite possibly the only Republican who hasn’t lost her damn mind in the past decade.

For those of you nodding affirmatively, happy to find someone who doesn’t use the word of Jesus to justify being a jerk, here are more details:

I’m a short, athletic, scientifically-minded wine drinker who enjoys pizza, the occasional Big Gulp of Diet Coke, and running downhill after a long hike.

I have no kids, no exes within a 1000-mile radius, and no drama. I understand if your exes are closer (not all of us moved here a few weeks ago — ha!), but the kids and drama aren’t for me.

Great conversation will melt my panties way better than washboard abs, but please be in-shape enough to keep up with me.

Post-Chicago, with no public transportation or inexpensive taxis at my whim, I got back into driving. It’s been a pretty easy transition, since the CTA was the bane of my existence. I’m all about instant gratification, and that’s for-sure not what you get with Chicago’s public transportation system. The waiting, the shared space, the constantly-running inner chant to remind myself that I’m paying only two dollars to travel miles at a time — I was so done with it.

Add to it that I haven’t exactly been roughing it when it comes to my vehicles. Sure, I drove what was affectionately called The Donkey, when I first came to Texas. After that, I got a major upgrade to a really smooth Mercedes convertible. I ended up relinquishing the vehicle to a family member, with the notion that I’d possibly return to Chicago.

In the gap between when I gave up the sweet ride and when I headed back to the frozen arctic tundra, I borrowed a brand new Civic. It was no CLK, but it wasn’t anything to complain about either. It had power everything, a moon roof, and a gazillion miles per gallon. Which, when you live in the middle of nowhere, is a good thing.

Then I headed off to Chicago, and I was handed the keys to a car nearly as fancy as the CLK. In an act that allowed me to maintain every shred of my dignity and self respect, we all know those were tossed back rather quickly. I again had a short forlorn trip back to the slums of the CTA.

It was at the end of my Chicago stay, when I recognized that anywhere I ended up, I’d need a vehicle. So I headed off to the dealer, and walked away a few hours later with a Honda CRV. There were other, more preferred cars on my list. However, this was a good choice that met my current needs and kept my dad off my back. After all, when you have the traveling bug like I do and the freedom to roam pretty freely, you need a lot of room, and one’s parents tend to worry. And if driving an indestructible Honda that easily holds my life’s entire possessions makes my folks bite their nails a little less as I gallivant across the country, so be it. Honda CRV, you trump the G35 for now.

Until my 1000+ miles between Houston and where I am now, I hadn’t been pulled over in over ten years. In my years away, something’s changed.

No longer am I some jerk-off kid driving a crappy car too fast in an unsafe manner. Nope! I’m a woman of a respectable age with half a lifetime’s experience driving a safe vehicle a little too fast on the freeway.

In sum: Unless I’m going excessively over the posted limit, there’s essentially no way I’m getting a ticket.

Somewhere in the middle of nowhere, I got pulled over by a Texas State Trooper. The posted speed limit was 80, and I was pushing it at 87. Truthfully, those extra 7 miles each hour actually do add up when you’re driving for 20-something hours. So when I saw the officer hit his brakes and cross the median, I coasted down to 80, and waited for him to catch up to me. When the lights approached, I pulled into a wide striped area on the side of the road.

As he sauntered up to the window, I took a good look at who I was about to deal with.

Dear city where I now live,

Beautiful. Great weather. Lovely people — both my friends and strangers. Nice, clean stores. Nice, clean gym. Kick-ass apartment for $900 a month. Fantastic day trips.

But for the love of all things holy, could you pretty please drive the goddamn speed limit?


Dear Taylor Swift,

My niece LOVES your new song. I’ll admit, it’s pretty catchy. ‘Catchy’ is what you do well. Bravo for that. However, I have a bone to pick with the concept in “You Belong With Me”.

It’s called THE FRIEND ZONE. Dudes have been bitching about it for eons. They sit patiently while the object of their affections complains about her love life, all the while waiting for that one day when the princess will toss aside the frogs, think, “Holy crap! My friend is who I want to smooch on,” and announce to him that he should drop trou, bone like mad, and live happily ever after.

Unlike your video, though, these guys don’t take off their ugly glasses, show up in a pretty dress, announce their love, and get their ways. Either they continue to toil with their lack of cajones in having failed to make an appropriate move at the appropriate time (READ: now is too late), or they make so many changes to try to land the girl that they come across as creepy. And, really, no girl wants a friend — nonetheless a boyfriend — who is creepy.

When the shit hits the proverbial fan, I want someone to be standing there with a shovel. When I’m sick, I want someone with enough vested interest in my well being, that he goes to Walgreens for tissues and Nyquil so I don’t have to make that pitiful stumble to the car, to the store, to the cashier. Man, even simple, non-depressing things like trying a new restaurant and having someone there to grab a fork to share dessert with me. Or share a bottle of wine. Or to teach me boy-type things that my dad didn’t pass along: cigars, football, TiVO, how to ride a motorcycle.

Although I very clearly marked that I’m not looking for a relationship beyond friendship, I’m done with OkCupid for a while.

OKCupid is having a profile competition. I’m less than impressed with the profiles vying for the $250. I guess women have as stereotypically snooze-worthy profiles as the guys I come across.

I did, however, come across this gem:

…I won’t take pity on anyone if your not willing to accept help and to fix what you have going against you.

Also, I can’t STAND when people can’t spell, or use the wrong word in context. Call me crazy, but I can’t take anyone seriously if they don’t know where and when to use “There, Their, They’re” or “To, Two, Too”.

Immensely hilarious, I tell ya.

Yes, I judge.

Chances are, with 90% of women, you’re gonna get laid pretty early on. Is it really necessary to alienate a portion of those women by posting that you’re looking for Casual Encounters? You’re a man. No shit you’re looking to get laid!

Two people told me the other day that they were getting laid off, and I was initially excited for both. Because I forget that most people haven’t been laid off ten times before and that most people don’t see it as an opportunity to move, go into something new, or take time off to lounge in one’s undies while petting a cat.

Occasionally there’s a decision to make, and you recognize that there’s no use halving a sheet of paper to list the pros and cons for an objective overview because what you’re thinking is boo-hoo no fun and what you’re feeling says “JUMP! Jump now!”

So you say, “What the hell?” agree to something outlandish, and then expect to get all freaked out and hopping on that list to talk yourself out of it.

But instead there’s a sense of calm followed by excitement and anticipation and desire.

Yeah, sometimes decisions are like that.

[23:25] queenjoeypea: I’ve decided that what bothers me about Austin is the pace
[23:26] queenjoeypea: correction: the reason for the pace
[23:26] queenjoeypea: see, slow is okay
[23:26] queenjoeypea: it has its purpose
[23:26] queenjoeypea: but there’s slow because you’re charming
[23:26] queenjoeypea: there’s slow because you’re chill
[23:26] queenjoeypea: and then there’s slow because you’re lazy

I had this boyfriend once who would go overboard with his hobbies. There was the time that he bowled $20 worth of games in the hour between his classes. Then the time he got so into racquetball that he wore out a pair of shoes in a month. Then the time he tried to be a gourmet cook (but really just dirtied every pot in the house and made dinner two hours later than my stomach wanted). Everything was mostly harmless, but it was a bit dizzying to keep up with the hobby de jour.

I may laugh about his foray into making custom bicycles, but I’m really just as fickle and obsessive with my ways of passing the time. From how-to information, to reviews on related products, to theory and opinions and techniques, to how it relates to the bigger-than-me world around, I read — no, devour — everything I can on the topic while simultaneously trying it all hands-on.

Cake baking, candle making, HTML coding by hand, juggling, teaching the cat to pee in the toilet — the list goes on and on — all at one time or another occupied large amounts of my time. Today, they merely take up brain space.

My minutes and hours and weeks and months are now all about fitness.

I’ve been working out for a good, long while now. It’s no secret that I’m really into it. Heck, I routinely recruit others to the bright side. One friend dropped 40 pounds and got her diabetes into check, another no longer has a back that looks like Zoidberg’s, one runs miles and miles per day, and I’ve got another who is looking forward to being medically cleared to work out for the first time since having friggin’ heart surgery.

It’s reasonable that when you want to know something, you go to a good source. I try not to offer unsolicited advice, but people ask me questions because they know I know my stuff.

But if you don’t know someone like me and have no interest in reading a bunch of Internet sites, who do you turn to?

With a gym membership, naturally you’d think that those employed to train others in fitness and nutrition would be give suitable answers.

The other day I got a bit wonky-eyed when listening to two women talk, only to have to walk away when a realized that one of the women was wearing a shirt with PERSONAL TRAINER emblazoned on the back.

Sit up straight: it’s like doing a crunch all day long.

___ calories, and you will burn a pound of fat per week.

I read an article not too long ago about the differences in how men and women handle the issues they encounter. Men aim for immediate resolution, and women want to complain. Neither of these is exactly the best approach. As one friend put it, when a man’s arm hurts, he might decide to cut it off. It’s not the best solution, but it’s a solution. In that same scenario, a woman will complain to her friends, her family, her coworkers, and some random woman in the elevator. She doesn’t intend to be a pain in the ass; she just wants someone to say, “I understand.” Then she gets over it.

[Side note: One day I’ll write something about each gender’s inherent flaws. A guy on a previous flight and I hashed through some stuff, and we came to the conclusion that I’m brilliant.]

The other day I had a few complaints, and I briefly made mention of one in my Facebook status before a friend’s sarcastic response snapped me back to reality. I can’t remember exactly what I wrote, but it was along the lines of how I have no clothes that fit.

I’m looking at the situation, thinking about how I hate to feel so frumpy right now, how I don’t really want to spend money on clothes yet, how I don’t even know where to buy clothes now that I’m not going into the office and out dang near every single night and don’t need to outfit myself in Ann Taylor Loft anymore, and how I hate trying on clothes, turning into the mirror to pick at my face or squeeze my butt cheeks together to gasp at the cellulite that’s formed over the past 16 years, only to have nothing fit.

So when I go to complain, I note that I’m complaining about how my clothes are all too big. And why are my clothes too big? Because I’ve lost 16 pounds since this year.

Really, is that anything to complain about?

Dear friends on Facebook,

I find it rather cute when you lie your pants off.

“My husband is the first guy I ever kissed.”
“I had my daughter when I was 15, and she turned out just fine!”
“I earned the right to wear white on my wedding night.”
“I never considered an abortion.”

Another thing on Facebook that riles me is the political comments.

I got a friend request from a guy from high school. Instead of, “Hey! How have you been after all these years?” I was told that I was going to have to change my views now that I lived in Texas.

Excuse me while I LOL and ROFLMAO or whatever else he expects me to do with his oh so cute and funny comments.


Another really got me going by sending me an email asking me why I defended gay rights. I replied back, saying I believe in equal rights for all people. To which she wrote and asked if I was gay. To which I wrote back and asked if she was trying to fuck me.

I was combing through an overflowing inbox earlier, when I happened upon my Drafts folder. From nearly four years back, there’s a message to someone talking about the notion of things happening for a reason. I outlined a little about my then-boyfriend, stating that I don’t believe in the universe pushing me in any direction, but acknowledging that some pretty cool coincidences lined up to making it so we could be together at the time.

We all know how that ended up. Ahem.

I’m currently involved in a romantic comedy of sorts. If I told you the story, you’d shout that fate, destiny, things happening for a reason, or whatever it is that you want to call it is pushing us together.

In a half-decade of near-misses, random exclamations made to unrelated parties, and periodically typing the names of cute boys into Friendster, MySpare, and Facebook, something finally happened to me back in January.

After a litany of events that screamed, “Yes! This is it!” another set of events unraveled to complicate things. With things uncertain, I took a gamble and moved. No matter what other reasons I give for moving there — reconnecting with old friends, attempting to have a social life outside my immediate family, trying the city I once called home another shot — he was my primary pull.

The things Bush said and what people have to say now

A recent article listed Bush 43’s worst communication blunders.

I fully realize that not everyone’s a good speaker and that being a good speaker doesn’t necessarily make someone a good leader either. With exception to “Mission accomplished!” and the town hall meeting where he exclaimed that a woman with three jobs was a true American (instead of recognizing it as something being wrong that an older woman has to work three jobs to make ends meet…), most of his errors are just a result of him being a poor speaker. I look at most of these in a “poor George” kinda way.

All was fine while I read the article for the little chuckle. Then I got to the comments.

And there’s where my latest coronary began.

Let’s see what the public had to say on the topic of Bush and his laughable quotes.

We have done enough of Bush bashing. Now that he has returned to his ranch, I think he was cute and naive. I like him just for his gaffes and the confidence with which he said it.

MANOJ KARWANDE, Johannesburg, South Africa

Perhaps there’s a language barrier with Manoj’s comments, but I find nothing cute about Bush’s eight years as president. The more informed I become, the more I come to disagree with. And although I’m sure he’s a heckuva guy, being a good drinking buddy (or in his case, a former drinking buddy) doesn’t make someone a good leader or decision-maker.

Would you say George W. Bush was a victim of the US education system? Perhaps an initially undetected dyslexia was allowed to go unchecked. Whatever it was, I also cringed and smiled at his solecisms. But one somehow still admired his candour and US politics may miss his sincerity

MICHAEL STUART, Stellenbosch, South Africa

Although I don’t doubt his sincerity, I will certainly not miss him being the to-go-man for making any decisions. Time and time again, the decisions made resulted in the wrong actions. It’s that — and not his verbal gaffes — that make me cringe.

Until recently, I never realized that the United States was watched and scrutinized by the whole world. President Bush was not perfect, but we (Americans) have not had another terrorist attack since 09/11/2001. I don’t have that same confidence with Obama as Commander in Chief.

P. J. Bartley, Kentucky, United States


History will prove, despite his admitted difficulty with the English language, that Bush did a lot more for our wonderful country than people give him credit for. Our liberal media has misled our people and let down our nation. America is in danger of becoming a paper tiger.

Jeremy Burdusis, Seattle, USA


God bless him…lol we will miss him.

Janet, Ocala, USA


I think people all too often mistake speaking ability for IQ. we don’t elect people for their eloquence. not that I particularly liked him as a president. I definitely think we should have found a better republican to run in 2000. but for what it was worth, the man did a pretty good job as president

Spencer, La Verne, USA


what about the great achievments overshadowed by the media’s depiction and biased portrayal of the leader of the greatest country in the free world. how about some appreciation for stopping terroism in it’s tracks. for making the world a safer place for us all to live in. there were many successes!

johnbarleycorn, warrenton, va., USA


Come on it is time to get off the Bush back. Like it or not he has done a great job.

RALPH, Pflugerville , Texas

No, Ralph, he didn’t. And I’m really, really glad you didn’t sign your last name. Pflugerville is a little too close to my house for me not to do something harmless yet irrational like pick all the flowers from your front yard.

You know what I would love? Someone to put forth a concrete list of what George Bush did wrong. No one can ever make one that isn’t full of opinion and conspiracy theory. Just baseless trash like “The world hates us!!” Really? We will pray for men like him before this thing is over.

R. Foster, St. Charles, United States

Condoning torture
Concocting legal justification for said torture
The lack of WMDs
No Child Left Behind
The handling of Katrina
The legal quagmire in the holding of prisoners at Gitmo
Civilian casualties in both wars
Military casualties in both wars
The complete disregard for all things having to do with the environment
Granting the Pope immunity from prosecution for conspiracy to cover up sexual abuse in the United States
A tainted international image
Limits to stem cell research
Not including the wars and disaster relief in the budget
The 2008 market issues (not 2001 when the economy self-corrected from the dot-com boom)

The extent of my dating life

Jo: Did I mention that [he] loves me?

Friend: Oh yes. What did he do?

Jo: commented on my fbook status last night

Jo: he clearly loves me

Friend: Clearly! What did he say?

Jo: that I was funny and smart and pretty

Jo: but in different words

Crazy daters and what went wrong

When I go on dates and the man ends up a complete whack job, I always wonder how many guys I’ve been out with who count me as a horror story. In all honesty, I can think of exactly two men out there who can legitimately think of me as an absolute weirdo.

In one case, were I ever to run into him again and get a fearful glance, I’ll merely have to bring up that he was a 35-year-old man trying to sleep with a 22-year-old girl, and that he deserved every ounce of crazy that I threw at him.

In the other case, the man got a good look at my insanity, excused himself politely, and has thankfully never brought it up again. We peacefully coexist on various social networking sites, ‘like’-ing each other’s statuses and whatnot. I think he knows he just pushed a few too many wrong buttons. Combine that with me not getting my way on where that relationship was going, and it’s insta-crazy.

Outside these two instances, I’m solidly not crazy. As proof of my sanity, I keep going on dates. Maybe you think that doing the same thing over and over again (going on dates) is the definition of insanity, but I see it as perseverance. That, and a test of patience. After all, I’ve not killed any of these fuckers.

Long ago I wrote an entry about the worst date I’d ever been on. Since that time, I’ve learned a bit about him that might explain our different outlooks on the night. For instance, cultural differences in dating lead some new-to-the-country guys to display consistent peculiarities. Also, having lived near the man for about a year, I learned that he is a raging alcoholic.

On Saturday night I found myself in the company of a man who lives more than a thousand miles away. He was polite, kept up in conversation, and gave me no reason to say no when he invited me to lunch the following day. Geography makes this a no-go on an actual relationship, but lunch with a handsome man never hurt anyone. If nothing else, I figured it’ll give me good practice for future dating opportunities. And, really, who doesn’t enjoy an ahi salad for lunch?

This entry now segues into a pseudo article that offers dating tips for men. After all, I’ve previously written an article that regularly gets hits on how to increase your chances of getting a response off a dating site.

Now, instead of employing my suggestions to prosper in the virtual world, it’s time to focus on what not to do on a date.

First and foremost, Put the Goddamn Cell Phone Down. I know that he is in town for business and fielding a ton of emails for sales interviews, but it wouldn’t have killed him to put the cell phone away for the two hours we were together. Not only did he stay glued to the incoming emails, but he also stopped twice to check voicemail.

His constant checking said that he didn’t care about my company, and I essentially stopped talking (as not to disrupt his work). I enjoyed my ahi and arugula by the beeps of his phone pad while he responded emails.

However, during the time that we did share conversation, I was reminded to Keep Your Baggage to Yourself. I should know nothing of this sort:

That your dad died when you were little. That you would have had another sister, had she not died of SIDs. That your mom went to jail when you were 11 because she and her friend beat a three-year-old to death while they were high. That you met your eldest son for the first time a few weeks ago. That you’ve had three colonoscopies in the past year.

There are friends I’ve had for years yet don’t know this much about. And frankly, unless we are best friends to the end or I’m siring your children after a few years of marital bliss, I don’t need to know any of this.

When you’re not going on and on about the badness you’ve encountered during your three or four decades on this green and blue rock, it’s also a good idea to Avoid being a Jerk.

We all know there are certain topics to avoid. Both politics and religion are potentially polarizing or offensive, and that’s really not what you’re going for on a first date. Keep it light, keep it airy, and don’t ask if I date black guys and then stare at me judgingly as I exclaim that I love all men who are polite, well-spoken, and clean.

At this point, the date doesn’t seem to be going well. After all, he’s asked several times if I was bored, interpreting my silence as he tip-taps on that tiny keyboard as such. Then he was met with an emphatically negative head shake when he laid all of his business out and stated, “That’s all my baggage. What about you?” And then there’s silly ol’ me with my insistence that I’d happily smash Taye Diggs, Ludacris, Lenny Kravitz, Shemar Moore, and Will Smith.

After all this, I will say that when it came down to the typical acts, he did indeed Maintain the Chivalry. He pulled back my chair. He provided assistance with putting on my jacket. He held doors — both to the restaurant and to the car.

Because of the chivalry-related items above, I really want to give the guy the benefit of the doubt. I’d like to think that this is an instance of a girlfriend in the past wanting to be taken care of in a nontraditional way, and his compliance was his way to trying that out. However, this certain act caught me completely off guard and makes me have to spell out to Don’t be Weird.

Homeboy opened the car door, assisted me in, and then… buckled my seat belt for me.

He did it so quickly, I didn’t have a chance to react. Because, really, who in the frig buckles a seatbelt for anyone over the age of five? The valet and I exchanged WTF expressions, validating that my surprise was indeed warranted.

As he helped me into the car post-lunch, he started to reach for the belt, and I stopped him:

Me: That’s okay! I’ve got it!

Him: What? Don’t you like being treated like a lady?

Me: Like a lady, yes. Like a baby, no.

Well guys, my two hours at lunch netted you five tips on how not to screw up a date. Check back again, as I’m sure I’ll have more dates with plenty more tips on what not to do.

911 throughout the cities

I remember the first time I ever called 911. I lived in a really shady part of Austin, and there was someone blatantly driving drunk. In a span of about 1000 feet, the guy nearly caused three accidents. As he approached the road, he pulled into oncoming traffic and proceeded toward a very busy road.

This wasn’t in the age of cell phones, so I pulled over and dialed the three numbers that were drilled into our little heads when we were wee ones. I guess I expected the operator to be like, “Oh crap! That’s dangerous, and we’re on it!”

Sadly, I was mistaken. She was annoyed that I couldn’t tell her where the guy was intending to go. I had his car’s make, model, and license plate; however, I couldn’t read his booze-riddled brain to say anything more than he was heading toward Riverside Dr.

Fortunately I moved to a better part of town and never had to call Austin’s 911 operators again.

Several years later, I found myself living in Chicago. Although I lived in the wealthiest zipcode around, with a big city comes big city problems. Also, with a big city comes a kick-ass response time and professionals who do their job in and out.

I call, they gather the proper information, and someone’s there within minutes.

Some jackasses are beating the crap out of some other jackasses in River North. BAM! The cops are there, pulling jackass off of jackass.

Each time I called, the operator was efficient, helpful, and totally on top of things.

When I found myself in New Caney, Texas at the start of 2009, I knew a lot about my life was going to be different. However, the professionalism of one’s local 911 operators never crossed my mind.

Ya know, it’s not like I go around calling 911, having the police check on windows left open, cars parked for too long, or kids loitering on corners. The three times I called 911 while living in Montgomery County, I was met with absolute contempt.

In one instance, a brush fire just broke out. I told the operator it was about 2 miles west of a large intersection, and she gave me lip about needing a cross street. If you’re familiar with New Caney, you are probably laughing right now. Cross streets? When directions are told in the manner of telling someone to turn left at the third cow pasture, cross streets aren’t exactly known. Add to it that this particular road is just long, and, well, that’s that. I did my part in reporting it. Any subsequent damage is off my conscious.

The second time I called was to have the police retrieve a man who was riding a bicycle down the center of a very busy road. It was dark, he was weaving, and his bike was — HELLO — riding down the yellow line. I called and said something like, “Could you please send a cop to come get the drunk guy riding down the center stripe on the loop on his bike?” and was shot back, “How do you know he’s drunk?!”

Look, I wasn’t hoping for the Montgomery County police department to come swarming out and arresting this law-breaking citizen. Mostly I just wanted them to take him off the road so he doesn’t accidentally get hit. If nothing else, I’m saving the county time and effort: getting a drunk guy off his bike is a lot less messy than sweeping brain off the street.

The third time I called was to report a case of road rage where someone tried to run me off the road, and then got out of his vehicle to threaten me. I don’t know what this hillbilly thought I did, but I wanted them to have his license plate number if I was going to be shot.

This 911 operator told me that he was probably having a bad day, and to just go about my business and let him go about his. I could, of course, have an officer come to home to take a statement. But I should know that nothing would come of it because it’s my word against the hillbilly’s. It’s the truth, yes, but can you say:


Less than an hour later, I was on an airplane leaving that godforsaken shithole. It was fine timing for getting the frig outta there.

I now live in a new city. Things here are pretty quiet. After all, I live in the suburbs with a bunch of upper-middleclass families. I’d make some quip about how the worst thing to happen in this area would be jaywalking, but the police presence every single night after 11 p.m. tells me otherwise.

Drunk driving is #1 around here.

Tonight I met up with a friend. He had already been there a few hours, throwing back the beers. I sipped my hot tea while talking with another bar patrons, noting that he was nodding off, clumsy in his stool, and talking jibberish.

My, “All right, big guy. I’m driving you home,” was met with resistance. Dropping him off is not an issue at all. Taking him to his car tomorrow morning before work also isn’t a deterrent from taking up my offer. We went back and forth a couple times, and then he started toward my car.

He hit the wall. He walked into a chair. He hit the server’s station. Once outside the restaurant’s patio, he nearly fell off the curb. I asked if that was enough proof that he should ride with me, again saying that I’d drive him to his car as soon as he woke up, and he got even more insistent.

I grabbed his arm. I yelled at him. He grabbed and yelled back. I said that I was now seeking assistance and that he should expect to see the cops if he tried to drive home. I went back to the restaurant, and 911 was called.

When I went back to my car, he wasn’t around. Driving down the road back toward our homes, he wasn’t walking. I don’t know what he chose to do, but I guarantee there was a police car looking for a grey Xterra around the restaurant.

I don’t care if we are friends, I will call 911 when you drive drunk.