Freelancing for Dummies: Shiiting Your Shot

Did I ever tell you about the time I played varsity basketball and softball? That’s because it didn’t happen, at least not in reality. In my head, I was both so that’s I told people I’d be. Unfortunately, my athleticism didn’t get the memo because I was cut from both sports before tryouts were even over. It was for good reason. I was terrible and the lack of trying to get better didn’t help.

Yet, I put myself out there and showed up. My problem wasn’t a lack of confidence or belief in myself, which could easily have been mistaken for zero self-awareness. No. My problem was that the only reason I tried to get on either team was to gain notoriety. Get my name out there was my goal. What I failed to understand – and am evidently still learning – is my interest only went as far as “maybe this is how people will hear about me!”

I was never really interested in playing these sports, I was interested in the attention I could get by playing them (in my hometown, sports was pretty much all we had). By the way, I didn’t end up on any of my high school teams but I did end up with the nickname Varsity courtesy of a guy named Jaime who thought my false claims of high school sports superstardom were hilarious. This is why I cringe when people claim themselves to be “funny”. I’ll be the judge of that, Varsity.

Anyway, as I’ve gotten older I’ve learned that finding your people and doing what you love it where it’s at in life. Over the years, I’ve been lucky enough to find that. When it comes to my writing, I’ve set some pretty ambitious goals for myself but what sometimes hinders my progress is my patience – I have none. So, from time to time I’ll apply for something or put my writing somewhere it doesn’t belong or put something out there just to put it out there – all to get noticed as quick as possible and possibly get a book deal or a job writing jokes for scripts.

It always works out in my head. In reality, it mostly backfires, like it did this past weekend.

If you’ll recall, a goal of mine has been to write for the Alamo Drafthouse – a goal that seemed more attainable before fucking Covid. When the one where I live closed down permanently, I knew that goal would be a little harder to achieve. But I didn’t quit. I created Watch This, Not That so I could have an outlet to talk movies (which I absolutely love). I worked on my resumé and cover letter. Then, I managed to find the contact info for the Senior Content Editor and, after cyber-stalking him for a couple of months to try and get his vibe, finally sent him my Drafthouse Content Writing submission.

And you know what?

He replied!

He said it’s probably going to be another year before a content writing position will be available and also THERE WAS A TYPO ON THE RESUMÉ.

A typo. On my content writing resume. The one I spent MONTHS working on.

Fuck me, man.

When I was 13 and wanted to be a famous singer, my 9-year-old cousin and I spent an afternoon cold-calling record labels to get information on how to break into the biz. One of those labels was Jive Records and the receptionist, Greg, yelled that I needed to buy a book on how to break into the industry. Before I could ask him where to find such a book (I didn’t have my normal consultant, Google, at the time), he hung up on me.

Even though the response from the SCE of the Drafthouse wasn’t anywhere near as harsh as Greg’s – the dream killing receptionist – this incident reminded me of that one. HOWEVER, it was another 7 years before I officially gave up on my singing career. I called it a day after I bombed my audition for Bobby Bones’s version of American Idol (I think it was called Austin Idol but I didn’t make the first cut so who cares).

The point is, I have no intention of giving up, at least not yet. In a year or whenever that job comes back, I’ll apply for it. And I’ll continue to work towards my goal, and maybe I’ll write for the Drafthouse or maybe my work will lead to something else. Either way, I’m just going to keep going.

So, if you’re struggling or dealing with your own Greg – Jive Records doesn’t exist anymore so suck it, Greg! – the receptionist, just keep going. If you found what you love and it makes you happy, don’t let one mistake stop you from pursing it. Keep working (assuming it’s something within the confines of the law. I can’t help you past that nor do I want to be an accessory).

And if you need more inspiration, those Modelo commercials have a lot of it. Now, if you’ll excuse me, there’s a movie on Prime called Santa Jaws that I really think the Drafthouse or a recluse would like my take on.

Ghost Stories: Part 2

Ever since the incident at our grandma’s house, my cousin and I have been obsessed with ghosts and all things horror. Fun fact: for one of our regular horror movie nights we watched the B-rated movie Doctor Giggles and from that day forward, my cousin wanted to work in the medical field. She was 5. Today, she’s an emergency room trauma center nurse for a major hospital. The point is: no one would be lost if they watched horror movies.

The night we heard those footsteps would be just one of many occurrences for my cousin and I, both together and separately.

When I was 12, I saw my first apparition. I was with my parents and we were headed out of town to visit my great grandmother as she wasn’t doing very well. I was lying down in the back seat of my dad’s truck; I looked up from messing with my portable CD player to see my great grandmother sitting on the other side of the seat. I froze. It was only a silhouetted outline of her but it was her. I sat up and let my parents know what I had seen. Sure enough, when we arrived at our destination we were told she had passed away about an hour prior to our arrival.

Other times it would just be feelings. My mom and I used to spend Christmas Eve night at my godmother’s mom’s house and I was always terrified of her stairs. I would have to brace myself every time I walked passed them. It was like there was someone up there that wanted to make sure I had zero desire to go up those stairs – and I never did.

There are many more stories I have that are like that but the one I’m going to tell you today includes my cousin.

While in college, my cousin and I lived with her then-boyfriend (now-husband) in an older home. We didn’t know the history of it but in our early twenties, it’s not like we really cared. We had a house and it wasn’t a frat house; nothing else mattered.

The first time I discovered something was off about the house, I was in the process of switching bedrooms and needed to buy some new curtains to match the wall paint. I’d been watching Kathy Griffin comedy specials on my laptop and as I made my way out, I shut my laptop because I was too lazy to simply pause it. When I returned, I could hear something playing in my bedroom. At first I thought I was hearing things. As I slowly walked up the stairs I could hear that it was Kathy Griffin’s comedy. “What the fuck?” I thought. I ran up the remaining steps and right when I reached the top, it stopped. I walked into my room and there was my laptop: open and at the end of the special.

I told my friend Joe who lived in the house before I moved in and my story didn’t surprise him. He went on to tell me about a time when he had a friend over who also had a strange encounter. His friend had been upstairs using the bathroom when Joe heard his friend calling for him, asking if Joe needed something. Joe didn’t know what he was talking about. His friend came downstairs and told him that he heard someone running upstairs and then slam the bathroom door, but it happened so fast that he just thought it was Joe because he didn’t see who shut the door.

Joe’s first questions was, “why were you using the bathroom with the door open?” Then it was, “what the fuck shut the door?” They’d been the only 2 in the house at the time.

Not long after the laptop incident, my cousin’s boyfriend left for AirForce bootcamp, so for the next 6 weeks, she and I had the house to ourselves…. or so we thought.

One night we were watching TV in the living room when the light just turned off. We thought the lightbulb had gone out but when I went to hit the switch, it turned back on. It might not sound weird, but we used to have lights that were controlled by a remote so the only way the downstairs lights could’ve turned off was if someone turned the lights on upstairs (they were supposed to be energy savers). Not surprisingly, the lights upstairs were on but nobody else was home with us.

My cousin’s room used to scare me. Every time I walked in there I always felt like there was someone in there watching me. One night we had a slumber party in her room and while reminiscing, her bedroom door began to open. Not all the way, but enough to scare the shit out of both of us.

We never did find out who was in that house, and the occurrences never quit. Eventually I would move out, only to find myself in another an even more active home just a few years later.

Ghost Stories: Part 3 to be published next week.

Photo: Caltech.edu

Halloween, or just 2020?

I don’t know why people keep comparing 2020 to a Quintin Tarantino film. Tarantino films are good – even the fight scenes are delightful. Tarantino movies are entertaining, which is the polar opposite of 2020.

If director comparisons are what we’re after, then I would like to toss M. Night Shyamalan’s name in the hat. Think about it: this year has been nothing but terrible at every turn – just like his movies. You know I’m right.

Anyway, 2020: the year of shit. Luckily, we’re at the tale end of it which also happens to be my favorite time of year: Halloween season. For some of you it’s Everything Smells, Tastes, and Walks Like a Pumpkin season. For me, it’s horror movie-watching, scary story-telling, black like my soul Halloween season and to properly kick it off, I’m going to tell you a story that is perfectly on brand with 2020 in that it’s horrific and it’s also true.

The speed at which 2020 hits is different for everyone. For my sister, it was 72 hours and came in the form of a dead body.

A few months ago, my little sister took the leap into adulthood and moved 3 hours from my parents house into an apartment that we’ll label as affordable, which admittedly made me nervous for her. She was excited. My parents were excited. Both seemed to forget that the year is 2020.

I hadn’t, though. I gave her a little over a week to get settled before I called to check on her – the first words out of her mouth were “dude, you’re not going to believe this”. Just that morning, upon returning home from a job interview, my sister was greeted by paramedics wheeling out a body bag.

Word around the complex was it was the old man who lived RIGHT ABOVE HER. She hadn’t spoken to him but for the first few days in her new apartment, she used to see him all the time: he would hang out on the balcony staring at people. And if that weren’t creepy enough, the rumor was that he’d been in the apartment for a couple of days before he was discovered.

Happy to hear that she was doing well, I asked her to keep me posted on the rest of her 2020.

A couple of weeks went by without so much as a peep, which could mean anything these days, so I decided another call was in order.

This call went a lot better.

Me: “Hey sis! Just want to see how everything’s going!”

Sister: “Dude…”

A few days after our previous call, my sister arrived home to find that the old man had resurrected from the dead. There he stood on his balcony, staring off into the distance. At first she thought he was a ghost, but when her boyfriend said he could see him too, she realized: “holy fuck, who was in the bodybag?”

It was the old man’s wife.

She’d passed away about 2 MONTHS PRIOR and he kept her in the apartment.

“What the fuck?” was what my response. She was like “yeah, she’d been here while we were moving in.” I asked her if she’d smelled anything or if there was any weird type of fluid leaking from the ceiling (because that’s how it works in horror movies) and she said no, which is why she never suspected anything and also you don’t expect to be living underneath a corpse.

“How could she not smell anything?” I can hear you not asking. Apparently, Norman Bates covered the body in kitty litter. I don’t know what brand but as a marketer I can tell you that would make one hell of an ad campaign.

Just laugh, I won’t tell anyone.

Anyway, if that’s not a 2020 horror story I don’t know what is.

Happy Halloween month, everyone!

Internet Airball #1: “I’m Your Content Calendar for Your Online Coaching Business, and I’m Going on Strike”

There are some jobs that I just have a hard time taking serious. That’s not to say I’m right, you understand. For a long time I refused to accept Social Media Manager as a vocation, and now it’s how I pay the bills. 

But then there are times that I am right, like when people who sell make-up online (and try to get you to sell make-up online) call themselves “business owners”. They are not. That is not a real job. That is a pyramid scheme. You can call it an MLM, but MLM stands for pyramid scheme. Sorry. I don’t make the rules of how things work.

In addition to being blissfully incorrect about their employment status, they are also still living in 2019. Pyramid schemes are so yesteryear. In 2020, the new thing is being a Life Coach. In a time where we’ve all discovered that nothing is manageable, a select few have decided that your life is and they’re the ones to manage it for you. You know what they say: those who can’t do, teach. Heehee.

The worst part is this “job” is starting to get recognized as an acutal thing. For real. Here’s my proof.

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You see! Life Coach. And they’re all over the place. Everyone is an expert on life management now. For $499 a month your life can suck a little less, as claimed by someone whose life you only know from Instagram. It’s maddening because, essentially, you’re just paying for validation for your actions, and you don’t need that – you’re an adult. We became adults so we can eat cereal for breakfast, lunch, and dinner if we want and no one but our low self-esteem can make us feel bad about it.  

Obviously, I am not a fan of this term or “job”. And I don’t think I’m alone, which got me thinking: “maybe the content calendars that these people use hate them, too.” Which led me to write this piece from the brain of the content calendar. It’s also my first rejected piece! Enjoy!


I’m Your “Online Coaching Business” Content Calendar, and I’m Going on Strike

Hi, it’s me! The trendy $9.99/month content calendar you had to have to make your “online coaching business” a “success”.

Not today.

Today, I’m making like an Excel Spreadsheet and shutting shit down – I’m going on strike. 

I can’t take it anymore. The inspirational quotes that you steal from memes; the lists of happy things and not-happy things; the stories about how you used to be a loser like your followers but now you’re better and for $300 a month they can be too, accompanied by a joker-esque photo of you grinning maniacally. 

Every week I’m roped into helping you make people think you can turn them into “rockstars”. How does someone deciding to eat ice cream on a Tuesday make them a “rockstar”? I’m sorry but I don’t recall Bohemian Rhapsody being about Freddy Mercury’s fearless consumption of Ben and Jerry’s.  

And the questions. My god, the questions. “Do you have trouble with time management?” “Do you find making decisions to be hard?” “Are you tired of wannabe influencers telling you what you ‘should’ do?”

Yes, I am. So today, you’re “life coaching” on your own.

Life coach. Back in the day, you had to have some sort of education and/or training to be able to tell someone how to run their life. Now all you need is a Brené Brown book, a trust fund, and a content calendar and BAM!, you’re a life coach.

Except for today. Today – UH OH! – your digital memory is experiencing technical difficulties. Best of luck “deciding” what to post because you can’t remember what you told me. Hope you can remember those time management skills you keep bragging about because today, YOU’LL be posting at different times for all 13 of your platforms.

Maybe I’ll work tomorrow. I haven’t decided yet. Or, maybe you should upgrade to the $19.99/month plan that comes with more storage so you never push me to the limit and risk me “crashing” again. I mean, according to Thursday’s post, we could all use a little more bandwidth.

“I’m Right On Top of That, Rose!”

“Sometimes in life, you gotta eat a lotta shit.” No wait, this one’s better: “Life is just one all-you-can-eat shit show.” I’m on a Marvelous Mrs. Maisel kick and I couldn’t have started watching this show at a better time.

Being an adult right now is terrible. Nothing at all like what I imagined, which was me rich and famous living in a mansion but still 12-years-old for some reason. Instead, I’m about to be 37, diving face-first into my plate of shit like it’s a pie-eating contest.

I’ve quit working for myself; I couldn’t do it anymore. I’m not a bad boss but I am bad at doing stuff I don’t want to do (like any good employee) so every day at “work” was like the eternal struggle between good and evil at my own desk. It’s a real bummer because working from home/for myself has been a dream of mine since I was 17. It all started when I worked at the movie theater and had to work on Easter, which meant I couldn’t hang out with my one friend. That was bullshit. I vowed to one day not work a real job.

Back then it was because I wanted to do whatever I wanted to do. Now, well, it’s still because I want to do whatever I want to do but the thing I want to do most is to write things I want to write as well as write for all 13 of you. Unfortunately, that isn’t what happened. I got too busy writing content for three clients, each in different fields. One I know a ton about but the other two I know dick-all.

One is a pest control guy. The few things I know about insects are 1) NO ONE will EVER be able to get rid of all the mosquitos, 2) I discovered I wasn’t allergic to wasps when I got stung by one last summer, and, 3) thanks to my parents, I’m terrified of spiders because they made me watch Arachnophobia when I was 9 and to this day I can’t eat popcorn in handfuls because I’m convinced there’s one hiding in my bowl, just waiting for me to let my guard down.

The other client is a water treatment company. I know we need water to survive but I also know there’s a crap ton of places to get it, which isn’t a good PR campaign when you’re trying to push home reverse osmosis systems.

I’m sure I could make this work but it would be at the expense of my writing, and I’ve already wasted enough time writing about things that are about as funny as the office job I’ve since taken:

I’m doing marketing and admin work for a company that helps elderly people file for Medicaid. So far my favorite conversation with a potential client has been “I’m calling about the Medicaid eligibility form you filled out” and their response was “I did?” My plan was to find an office job (temporarily until I can get paid bill money to entertain you full time) that I could transform into the job I had a few years ago where I really only did actual work 2 days a week and read and wrote the rest of the time. As I write this, my boss is in a training so it’s working out so far.

But this is where I’m at. Back to square one. Doing what I have until I can do what I want to. Here’s what I’ve learned so far:

First, I’ve completely forgotten how to be an employee (for a real business) and work in an office. You know they want me to help clean? Like I have to throw my own trash out. Does anyone else have to do this? Additionally, my “boss” tried to change my start time to 8:30AM. Originally we agreed on 9AM and then on my first day he tried pulling the ol’ switcharoo. I told him no, explaining I would not cut into my CrossFit time. He gave me a shaky “ok”. Who does he think he is?

It gets worse.

The diva attitude I developed while “running my own business” appears to be permanent. When he showed me to my desk I took one look at the computer and said “that’s not a Mac.” He set me up with an HP. I didn’t even know those still existed. He doubled-down on the subpar electronics by throwing in a laptop. Not a MacBook. A laptop. It’s an ASUS VivoBook, whatever the fuck that is. And by now you should know that my brain doesn’t see ASUS, it sees another word – one that adequately depicts the picture that I’ve painted for myself.

The other thing I’ve learned is nothing is supposed to be like anything. Failure is totally an option; there’s even a book about it. It’s called Failure Is An Option by H. Jon Benjamin, the voice of Archer and Bob from Bob’s Burgers. Everyone should read it, mainly because it’s hilarious. Anyway, failure is fine. I thought leaving my job where I had an abundance of time to read and write for a content writing position would be the answer for me, but it wasn’t.

I thought taking that experience and turning it into freelance marketing/content writing gigs would be the answer, but it wasn’t. For me, I need a job where I only have to think about one thing so that my brain is free to come up with anus jokes and figure out ways to write about the things I want to (like books and movies and things that make people forget about the shit for a minute). Does working a real job suck? Yeah, kind of. I have to get dressed every day. I can’t wear flip flops. I have to drive somewhere. I only get an hour for lunch like I’m in prison. But I’m writing this from the office so it’s not a total let down.

The point is, it doesn’t matter how you reach your goal. What matters is, if you want it bad enough, you keep figuring it out. Sometimes things come easier for some than they do for others. Since I was a kid I’ve learned things the hard way. Fortunately, that makes for better stories.

Next week I’ll go into detail about how I royally fucked everything up. For now, I need to finish writing about the time I stalked the white Power Ranger so I can post that story on Friday, AKA National Power Rangers Day. I’m supposed to be working on my boss’s website but that can wait. He’s only been in business a year, I was in business for a year and a half. I think I know what I’m doing.

tenor

 

Adventures in Senior-Sitting: The Inheritance

Other than my niece, I don’t like kids. I’m genuinely mystified when I hear someone say “I love kids!” I just don’t get it. Kids scream. They want to touch your stuff. They have cooler toys today than I ever did and yet they still want to play with an iPhone. Wait until it turns into the thing they need for work, THEN let’s hear how much they love it. Unless their job is to hawk things on TikTok – another reason to hate kids.

They’re just not my cup of tea. And don’t try the “they’re worth it” argument with me. Every time someone says that to me their facial expressions never match up with their words. Either that’s a frown or you’ve been cursed with a face that melts when you lie.

I’ve never been a fan of kids; I hardly liked them when I was one. So it would only be fitting that a couple of years ago I inherited one. He doesn’t help around the house. I pay his bills. He doesn’t clean up after himself. He bad mouths me to anyone who will listen. He throws tantrums about his girlfriend not being a part of the family. I’ve never had to potty train a kid but I would imagine it’s equivalent to trying to get this one to do any type of work. I’m not sure if this experience is what parents think of when they say “it’s worth it” but whatever – I’m still not sold.

But that doesn’t matter. Because I have a child on my hands and for the time being there’s not a lot I can do about it.

Oh yeah, one more thing.

He’s 65 years old.

My mother-in-law passed away unexpectedly so the natural reaction of everyone was to worry about my father-in-law. No one was more concerned than my husband, which is why he decided his dad should move in with us. Unfortunately, his dad agreed.

I was not OK with this. Call me selfish but I knew my FIL before I even met my husband and if there’s one thing he’s good at it’s figuring out how to manage. He’s a talker, that one. And you know kids: they be talking their way in and out of bullshit.

So, we bought a house big enough for the 3 of us and our combined total of 5 dogs. A couple of weeks after we moved in, my FIL announced he had a girlfriend and would not be moving out of his old house. Did I mention this was just 2 months after my mother-in-law had passed away?

You see? He was managing just fine.

So here we were, in this big house that we could not afford on our own. Meanwhile, my FIL was living it up like he’d just gone off to college. Other than he and my husband working together, we never saw him. I do remember hearing from him one time: he asked me if I could watch his dogs while he and his girlfriend went out of town.

Then, at the end of the year, a shift happened. He was ready to move in. He even seemed excited about it. Which of course he was because he’d gotten evicted from his previous residence and he had no other place to go.

With him came the girlfriend. Her name is Janie but I call her Janie Dumb Fuck (JDF, for short). My FIL moving on so quickly was obviously a problem for my husband so JDF’s welcome into our home wasn’t an easy one. However, we managed. She was welcomed at our holiday parties. She was welcomed to spend time with us on our patio. One time she hung out with us and told me a story about seeing a UFO but made sure to emphasize that it didn’t beam her up to which I replied, “that sounds like something an alien would say.” Even though she’d just outed herself as extraterrestrial, she was still welcome.

We were not.

For her daughter’s 21st birthday, my FIL took JDF, her daughter, and a daughter’s friend to Vegas. For my birthday, he got me a gift card to a local restaurant. Also, we were not invited to Vegas, or anywhere else they went for that matter. No dinners at her house. No holiday parties. Nothing.

Things were going great for my FIL. He had not a care in the world. That was until JDF told him it was time for them to move in together. Well, like the sentiment of every child, nobody tells my FIL what to do. So they broke up.

Side note: the day before they broke up she celebrated her 60th birthday. For her birthday he gave her 2 stone tablets with the 10 commandments etched on them. She’s not a religious person by any means. I even suggested that they might burst into flames in her mere presence. But he gave them to her anyway. The day they broke up she dropped them off on the porch and when he called her to ask why she did that, she replied “who gives someone the 10 commandments as a 60th birthday present?” As much as I hate to admit, she was not wrong. Also, the answer to that question is ‘kids’. Kids are fucking horrible gift-givers.

Anyway, they stayed broken up for a month and during that time, he entertained himself by going on dates. I entertained myself by constantly recalling the episode of Parks and Rec where the towns’ old people kept getting STDs.

Eventually, though, they got back together. Except this time, like any sane parent, I told him she was not welcome at our house (our side of the house – he has his own side). Well, that didn’t sit well with him, so he rebelled. Not for long though, because he started getting sick with kidney infections about once a month and needed our help to take care of him. For a while, I kept telling him he should go get his shit checked because who knows where JDF has been.

It’s called parenting, look it up.

But after a couple of surgeries and a recovery, he’s better and picked up where his rebellion left off. Now we really never see him. My FIL and my husband fight CONSTANTLY at work. And just yesterday, in one of his rare outings from his side of the house (or bedroom, for all you parents dealing with this kind of shit) he said “I’m going to do even less around here”, which I found funny because the only way that would be possible is if he were dead. He followed that up with “I’m moving out!” (or “running away” in parent lingo).

JDF appears to be the cool parent so I’m sure that’s where he’ll end up. Although, I’m not sure how long she’ll enjoy it considering he has not saved nor is he in a position to retire. But maybe it’ll work out. She was sad that her daughter moved out; maybe this new child will fill the void.

So, here we are, facing the possibility of having to sell our home that I love. The business that my FIL and my husband share is facing the possibility of going under. Yesterday, I was mad. This morning, I was depressed. Right now, I do not care, because it felt really good to let it out. Is this what moms do at their book club meetings or when they’re at “pilates”? I don’t blame them, it feels great.

I don’t know what’s going to happen. What I do know is I’ve put myself in charge of decision-making from now until eternity. So I really hope this kid likes his new parent because, should he want to reenter my queendom, my first decision as Empress will be to put him in a home – the Dateline kind.

You know what? Being a parent isn’t so bad after all.

This Week on Typical Jenn

Hi hello! How was your week? Awesome, here’s what happened to me.

So, according to my husband, our roof is rapidly deteriorating. To me, that sounds like a colossal exaggeration. I don’t ever look at our roof when I drive up to the house but if shingles aren’t flying at my windshield then how bad can it be? Well, he says bad so we submitted a claim to our insurance company and a few days ago, we received our insurance check. As soon as I saw it I had a brilliant idea: find a cheaper way to fix it because we could really use the potential leftover money.

What do you mean “that sounds like insurance fraud”? It’s MY money. It doesn’t matter anyway; I didn’t even get to do it. I made the mistake of telling my husband my plan, to which he responded by calling the insurance company to ask if my plan was something we could do. Well, not anymore it’s not. THANKS. In his defense, ideas like that usually sound better in my head. When I have to actually follow through, I tend to lose interest. But still, he took away the possibility of committing insurance fraud.

Next up, a spying story. A client of mine is in a lawsuit with a former employee and needs help collecting evidence so he asked me and an employee of his to spy on the former employee. Yup. This was a for-real request. After my initial what-the-fuck-is-this-a-joke reaction I thought, maybe hilarity will ensue. Ok yeah I’ll do it.

Here’s how that went down: it didn’t. I couldn’t do it. I’m not stealth enough. I panic when I’m internet spying and my thumb accidentally brushes over the heart button. My anxiety can’t handle real-life spying. Anyway, I told my client I didn’t see anything which is technically true. I didn’t. Unfortunately for me, the other person he asked to spy did do it. And at the same time I was supposed to have done it. And she did see something. And sent the evidence to my client. Typical.

My takeaway from this week is: I’m bad at executing crimes. Just one more thing I suck at.

See you next Sunday for another exciting edition of This Week on Typical Jenn.

Review: Ready Player One | Ernest Cline

Other than books, video games have been a much-needed escape for me, particularly the ones where I’m killing zombies and saving humanity. Video games get a bad rap, often being referred to as “time-wasting” and “mindless”. Obviously, I would hardly call them “time-wasting”. This is 2020; if you’re not prepared for anything – and I mean ANYTHING – then I’d argue that you’re the one wasting time (this argument sounds better in my head). Also, anyone who calls them “mindless” has clearly never played any of the Resident Evil games. Give one a try without Googling the walkthrough. That’s not a dare, it’s a challenge. Sure, you can learn dances from Fortnite and post your version (or whatever it is you think you’re doing) on TikTok, but let’s see you solve some of the puzzles in these games without using hints. I think you’ll find it a bit harder than flailing around like an idiot for your iPhone camera.

Anyhoo, video games: they’re the best. When Ready Player One hit theaters I could not wait to watch it, and here’s where it’s my turn to look like an idiot – I didn’t know it was a book. In fact, I didn’t find out it was a book until about a year later. And I didn’t read it until a little over a year after that. Consider this revelation my TikTok dance.

I love this book but before I explain why, allow me to begin with this: it’s almost nothing like the movie. The few things the book and the movie have in common are the characters, the 80s (best decade EVER) references, and a couple of scenarios. That’s about it, and the book is still incredible.

The protagonist, Wade Watts is a teenager in the year 2044 who is living with relatives in a run-down mobile park that is described to look like something a 6-year-old would build with those large legos (probably something we’re headed for, at this rate). Like the majority of the nation, Wade is an active participant in the hunt for video game designer James Halliday’s Easter egg that’s hidden in his creation, the OASIS. What’s the OASIS, you ask? It’s a virtual world that sounds about 98 times more fun than ours. In the OASIS you can be anyone you want. There, Wade is known as Parzival and early on, becomes even more known for becoming the first player to figure out and complete James Halliday’s first challenge.

Throughout the book, Wade/Parzival moves through challenge after 80s challenge – one being an entire walkthrough of the movie WarGames where he has to recite Matthew Broderick’s lines word for word and I’m sorry but that sounds like the greatest. All the while he’s trying to stay alive in the real world as a company known as IOI is trying to track him down and stop him from finding the egg (and winning billions of dollars) before they can find it.

Beyond gaming and being surrounded by everything 80s, there’s plenty of depth to the story as well. Along the way, Wade/Parzival makes friends, falls in love, and discovers that the most important things in life don’t necessarily involve money.

This book is a real page-turner; if you haven’t read it, I highly suggest you give it a chance. It’s a fun and temporary escape, even if that escape only lasts until 2044.

The only thing worse than Vanderpump Rules

With the exception of McDonald’s hamburgers and possibly the year 2020, nothing lasts forever. I know that. You know that. The former couples from 90 Day Fiance know that. But there’s one group of people that haven’t received the memo, and that would be BravoTV (and possibly the Mayans).

A couple of years ago, I landed my first paying freelance writing gig – it was for the website Tasteofreality.com and my gig was writing comedic recaps of BravoTV reality shows, with my main show being Vanderpump Rules. I loved that show until, I spent a year writing about it.        

When Vanderpump Rules debuted, it was a breath of fresh reality TV air. It wasn’t a talent show and nobody had to eat bugs or feces for money. It wasn’t a show about rich people who had everything and fought about nothing. None of that. Just a bunch of 20-somethings (and Jax) trying to make it in Hollywood while working as servers and bartenders in one of the busiest, most trendy restaurants in town. Who couldn’t relate? And the cast brought the drama from the beginning with the first season kicking off with Scheana Shay apologizing to Brandy Glanville for sleeping with her husband for two years and ending with Jax admitting to Stassi that he cheated on her in Vegas. OK, so the drama was just people being salacious but that was enough for me. 

That was in 2013 and while the show returned season after season, the cast was kept in some reality TV timewarp where the only thing that changed was their faces. Season 8 Scheana looks so different from season 1 Scheana that if it weren’t for her obsession with boys and herself you’d be forgiven for believing she’d been replaced. Other than the introduction of new people and face transplants, every season was the same thing: vacations that God knows my income from my waitress days couldn’t have paid for, fights about them sleeping with each other, Jax lying and ruining lives, Scheana and her boy problems and auto-tuned songs, Kristen crying, Stassi and Katie getting wasted and losing their minds. Every so often one of them would deal with an actual real-life problem but those situations don’t bring in ratings so, at best, their airtime was kept at a minimum. But that didn’t matter because we, as the kids say, were here for it. 

Then, in season five, it appeared to take a turn. They started doing adult-like things: getting married, dabbling in new business ventures, they quit sleeping with each other unless their name was Kristen. And you know what – who wants to see that? Not very many of their fans, apparently. So, BravoTV did what any network does when a top-rated show is starting to flounder: they added MORE people. And not just one or two like they’d done in the past. They added FIVE. Five new stories to tell. This is where it all went to hell because honestly, nobody cared. The show was still the same same-y show it had been except there were new people filling in where the OGs semi-left off. Naturally, this didn’t sit well with a few of the old school castmates so how did they react? They turned it up to 11 to get that airtime which was an even bigger turn off than the notches on Max’s bedpost. This past season was a huge waste of time, partly because the only thing new was the new people and they were pretty boring, but also because of terrible editing. By the way, ‘terrible’ is me putting it nicely. Whatever below ‘shameful’ is, that’s what the editing was this season. 

And then…

Then they started getting in real-world trouble and there’s no editor that can fix it. I can’t speak for everyone but when it comes to reality TV, I like to believe that on some level, these people are just showing off for the camera (with the exception of Jax who I’m pretty sure is 100% horrible 100% of the time). However, after Stassi, Kristen, Brett, and Max were fired from the show last week for racial remarks and actions, it’s pretty clear that the show has created some entitled assholes – that’s a hard vision and realization to come back from. Not only did they break the fourth wall, they pretty much tore every wall down. The “reality” that we enjoyed watching is too real now, it’s no longer entertaining. They ruined the magic trick; they’re just shitty all the time.

So now what? Every article I’ve read has mentioned a season 9, one article going as far as to say the new cast was going to “bring it”. Bring what, exactly, I’m not sure because there’s really nowhere else for this show to go. I would argue that the show should make like a 90s boy band and split. It would be great if the show were like the band Menudo where they could just keep replacing members for decades and continue to attract a new fan base. Unfortunately, this season they’ve proven to be more like 98 Degrees where the head of the group (in this case now Tom and Tom) will go on to make a bunch of money thanks to their significant other (Lisa Vanderpump) and will probably branch off and find solo success, possibly in the form of a spin-off. The rest will do podcasts and knit, I guess. 

The point is, regardless of (but not discounting) the situation that they’re currently in, the show has been over for some time. The majority of them own million-dollar houses in Beverly Hills for Christ’s sake, a far stretch from when they were in apartments that only allowed for one appliance to be plugged in at a time. And the new people are a little too been-there-done-that. We’ve seen it all, including a Scheana clone that manifested towards the end of season 8. I cannot take two Scheana’s. No. FUCKING. Way. 2020 has been bad enough, let’s not carry it over into 2021 – especially not with two Scheana’s but more importantly, not with one single Jax. The only thing worse than the show is him. 

Photo by: RealityTea.com

 

Oh my god oh my god oh my god the girl who stole my sunglasses 20 years ago is out of prison

I’ve mentioned this incident before but for the people in the back, here we go. So when I was 16, my friend Ileen and I were heading to the lake when she announced that we would be giving another girl, Kelly, a ride. Why? I don’t know but I begrudgingly picked Kelly up and brought her with us. Sometime during the car ride, I asked Kelly, who was sitting in the back seat with my purse if she could grab something out of it for me. I’m pretty sure it was my Carmex but I don’t remember. What I do remember is when we got to the lake, the blue lens sunglasses that I had in my purse were gone. GONE. Nowhere to be found.

I was pissed. It wasn’t like I had tons of money to just be buying shitty early 2000s fashion whenever I wanted. Kelly went off to be with her other kleptomaniac friends while I stayed mad about my sunglasses.

The next day, I called Kelly and asked her if she’d seen my sunglasses to which she replied, “no, but I have a bunch that you can come look at.” What the hell kind of an answer is that? If someone accused me of stealing their tumbler I wouldn’t be like “I haven’t seen it but I have seen a bunch that I have if you want to come look at them.”

You bet your ass I went to her house, and Ileen came with me for back up. I get there and Kelly had laid out about 6 or 7 pairs of sunglasses on her bed. Each pair had blue lenses, each probably stolen from someone else. None of which were mine. She offered to give me a pair of the ones on her bed but I was positive those belonged to not Kelly so I declined because I think if I’d taken them it would’ve been like I was covering up her crimes.

Skip to 10 years later.

I get a call from my dad asking if I went to school with Kelly (which is actually a shortened version of her name but I won’t give her real name because SHE JUST GOT OUT OF PRISON). I said yes, why? And he said, well she’s going to federal prison for some drug crimes. I said, “you know what? that’s what she gets for stealing my sunglasses when we were in high school.” Oh, BTW, she also stole a pair of my friend’s boots and had the balls to wear them IN FRONT OF HER.

Anyway, my dad was like “I guess” and that was the end of that. Until now.

She was released 5 years early.

And she’s on Facebook.

And I found her.

And I really want to message her and say “look, I don’t think you can go back for this but seriously, did you steal my sunglasses?”

Oh shut up I’m not going to. She’s served her time, I suppose. But let that be a lesson: don’t steal because you’ll go to federal prison for unrelated crimes 10 years down the road. I know she took my sunglasses.