01 November 2010

on The Dentist's Chair

I'm not very scared of the dentist. In fact my mother used to tell me I was "sick" because I "liked" going to the dentist. It wasn't that I LIKED going to the dentist, it was just that I liked the way I felt when it was all over. Like my mouth and I, together, accomplished a great feat of impossible daring. Such was the dentist... when I was 15.

Now my dentist visits consist of blood and guts. No, really. I got my implant -yay- back in May and ever since then it seems like I'm going to be bleeding when I leave a visit. Such was the result of my visit today, clearing my dear implant of any foreign objects that might cross its path.

But! NONE of this is the point. I'm writing today about the peculiarity of the dentist's chair. What an awkward place to be! I'm laying there half-stoned clutching desperately onto a shirt-tail or my own thumbs or the inside of my pocket. It squeaks--no matter what, even if I just flex a butt cheek, it squeaks. And looming to my left, power drills the size of Montana are about to bore their ways through my gums, and saws with teeth sharper than the sharpest shark (what?) are ready to wipe away the remainder of my pitiful teeths.

Normally, when the tools are silenced and the suction has suctioned out all the blood and guts it can find, I'm left with the sound of the second hand on the drug-company-sponsored clock hanging over my head. Tick, tick, tick: Jeanna, you're one second closer to your imminent mouth-altering demise.

Today, however, my dentist was WAY COOL. We were the only team left in the room, and she put on some alt-rock Pandora pretty loud. We were jamming to The Fray and Rob Thomas and Kelly Clarkson and... and. Oh. SHIT. Jimmy Eat m-f-ing World.

Yes, that's right: A Praise Chorus started blaring through her laptop's speakers and I was stuck with a drill in my mouth and a finger up my nose (or so it felt). A Praise Chorus! Of all of the songs in the world, WHY THIS ONE?! Cabral joked with me that perhaps at some point in my life I was hypnotized to COMPULSIVELY DANCE LIKE A MANIAC any time I heard this song... a hypothesis that doesn't seem quite off. My feet, they start moving. My arms, they do some throwback-monkey-white-girl dance. My ass shakes and... and my head... my head bobs... MUST. NOT. BOB. HEAD. Large drill inside mouth. Must not move... Can't... Must fight... the dancing... FEELING......

And just when I thought I couldn't take it anymore, Jimmy Eat World wanted to fall in love tonight for the last time. For three and a half grueling minutes, my need for dancing had taken over every non-numb part of my body. And now it was over.

Thank God, right?

WRONG. Because what happened next was even more excruciating than I could have ever predicted.

Yes, that's right: VINDICATED started blaring through her laptop's speakers, and I was stuck with no earplugs and no drill and no saw and no talking and not even a second hand to block it out. WHY?! THIS?! ONE?!

There I was. Stuck in the dentist's chair. The dentist asked me how I was doing. How could I tell her that the most horrifying song in on the planet had just come on her Pandora and she needed to push the Thumbs Down ASAP? I could barely even garble out a "mhhbbgggsrrhh" through the muck and mire before she turned on the drill again, not loud enough to dull the pain of Dashboard Confessional penetrating my ears.

Stuck in the dentist's chair. Sounds like a good review of a horrible, horrible song.

12 October 2010

on Comic Sans

Today, I put Comic Sans in my mouth, for the pure pleasure of being able to purge it out.

That's right, Comic Sans: DREAM BIG. Your dreams are futile while swimming around in my stomach acids, and will be crushed by the time they enter my intestinal tract. You will leave this world the same way in which you came: crappy!

05 October 2010

on Contraptions

I've been having a problem with this stray cat. See, stray cat knows that Otto inhabits the insides of my dwelling place, and stray cat likes to hop up onto my patio fence and lounge around inside my patio, taunting poor Otto with his menacing looks and large, erm, paws. He struts back and forth and Otto MEWS with all his might, hoping that I'll wake up and let him outside to meet his new friend.

Poor Otto doesn't know that new friend would probably kill him with one little slap (Otto's kinda wimpy). Unfortunately, this does not stop stray cat from prancing around, laughing to himself that Otto cannot come out and play.


Last night, I engineered what I am calling The Ultimate Catraption: the cat trap contraption rivaled only by real chicken wire and foxes across the nation.

(Click for larger, more in-depth and completely precise view)

Here's the idea: the fishing line is pretty much invisible, shocking the cat when he tries to jump on the fence and sending him into a state of frenetic fury. He then goes and tells his other cat friends not to mess with that patio in building 6, and the cat party stops right there.

And last night, IT WORKED! There was no mangy stray cat gracing my patio with his seemingly phantom presence, and Otto and I got a solid night's sleep. As an added bonus, I was able to sleep with the glass door open and have a cool, 50-degree breeze billow through the screen.

Let's just hope it holds out through the rest of this awesome weather.

01 October 2010

on Pie

Best. Photo. Sequence. EVER: St. Mary's Pie a Chi Phi

25 September 2010

on Dumpster Diving

There comes a time in everyone's life--I'm pretty sure--that, when driving by a dumpster, they think to themselves: "I just have to have that _______."

Today, that ______ for me was a beautiful, turquoise-stained wooden pallet. I've been craving a pallet for quite a while now, and it just so happened that the perfect pallet was waiting for me on top of the dumpster at the Toys-R-Us at Blanco and 410. There was no question in my mind: I had to have that pallet.

After climbing on top of my car (sorry, car), lifting the pallet out of the dumpster, almost dropping it and falling off the car instead (with the pallet landing on top of me, of course), I managed to scoot it over to my back seat. This thing has to weigh at least 50 pounds, but there is no way I'm leaving it here... I've gotten this far.

Lucky for me, a nice guy pulled over to help me load it up, and the awesome manager at my apartment complex helped me get it out of the car and into the house.

So, now I have a pallet. A perfect, beautiful, heavy-as-hell pallet ...that I have NO idea what I'm going to do with.

Just look at it! Look at the details, the colors, the little dents and etchings...
this is going to be a project of epic proportions!

19 September 2010

on Weekends

It's been a while since I had a "Weekend," but in the past couple of weekends, I've had some amazing ones.

Three weekends ago, I took a semi-spontaneous trip to Chicago. Train rides, day drunk, Michigan Avenue, art school, Chinatown, downtown, and about 40 miles of walking later, I realized what'd I'd been missing out on: genuine, non-stop fun. Then again, it was one of my first real "Weekend"s since college, and I suppose I'd just been missing it more than I realized.

But this past weekend was no match for that Illinois city... who knew that so much else could happen right here at home. On Friday I got stuck in a flood, had someone run into my car in a parking lot, dressed in a Dirndl, chugged beer with the German club, bought shots for some European guys in a sketchy smokey bar, built an amazing art project, drove three hours through a hurricane, took Julie out for her 21st birthday in Houston, got pulled over and sobriety-tested while wearing boxers and a hoodie, lost my ID, found my ID, went to Buc-ees!!!, got home at 4 in the morning, went to church, cooked homemade biscuits, and got 1/4 through building a website.

Next weekend is La Grange and maybe Mexico; two weekends after that it's back to Chicago again. All with 6 bucks in my bank account and two massive blisters on my heels.

David was right. It's a pretty exhilarating feeling, to start conquering the world again.

17 August 2010

on Projects

It had been a while since I worked on a project. A REAL project. Not just putting new wall hangers on the back of old pictures or buying organization at Target to try to make myself seem tidier.

Then, a gangsta-ass artist (ok not really) dropped a set of truly amazing paintings in my lap, and I felt inspired:

I thought to myself, I can't let this kid go to Chicago without making him something in return. Hours of sweating over a hot iron (no joke) I finally came up with this: a photograph printed on multiple pieces of fabric, sewn together with thick thread and stretched over a frame.

It feels good to do projects again.

06 July 2010

on 238,000 Good Memories

I wrote this letter to Chevy today:

Dear Chevy,

This past weekend, my mother was involved in an accident which left her 2001 Tahoe totaled. I cannot tell you enough how much Mom loved this Tahoe (or the Taco, as we called it, though I have no idea why).

I grew up with Chevy. My family had Suburbans for as long as I can remember, until my mom "switched" to a Tahoe in 2001. My Grandaddy had a 'Burban with over 300,000 miles on it, and it was still running when we gave it away. My first car was even a Suburban, from the year I was born (1986)... ah, the good ol' days.

Anyway, I digress: Mom's Tahoe is now kaputt. She was pretty upset when it the accident happened, but even more upset when she found out there was nothing she could do to save the poor soul. And as she was unpacking the back--"for the last time," she said sadly--she made a comment that I will never forget. She said, "There are 238,000 good memories in this thing."

238,000 good memories. 238,000 miles of mission trips to Mexico (she'd always volunteer to drive us crazy kids there and back); 238,000 miles of school trips and football games (she was always the loudest in the stands); 238,000 miles of spontaneous road trips to the beach or the mountains... yes, I'd say she was quite right. 238,000 good memories.

It touched me enough to write you a letter about it, as I just wanted to let you know... as corny as it may seem, I don't know that those 238,000 miles could have ever been put on anything else. And, I do hope Mom gets a new Chevy soon... because she's got a lot more memories to go!

21 June 2010

A Logo For Otto

I made a logo for the one and only Otto von Schnitzelpusskrankengescheitmeyer:

Ok, so it's kind of a knock-off. I don't think he'll mind ;)

11 May 2010

on Shopping and Driving

I noticed yesterday that people drive their shopping carts the same way they drive their cars.

Instance 1: Man on Cell Phone
Scenario: I'm driving along in the right lane of a four-lane isle in target. A man takes a right into the isle, merging nicely in behind me, when he decides to step on it and pass me in the left lane. I'm ok with this--I'm going slower, he has the right to pass. As said man begins to speed up beside me, he gets a call on his cell phone. This, of course, causes him to slow down drastically, making the other fast-paced woman behind him come to a halting stop. Now, he's interchangeably increasing and decreasing his speed, not only making it impossible to pass him, but making it impossible for the other cart drivers to maintain a consistent rate of speed until their next isle exits. This man--I hate him. And he doesn't care, because he's on his cell phone and NOTHING ELSE is as important as that.

Instance 2: Soccer Mom in Mini Van
Scenario: The isles are bustling with traffic, each cart driver keeping to his or her own respective space. Some are reaching for pasta sauce, some for cookies, all anxious to go home and cook dinner. But then comes Mad Mom. She's got her two kids strapped into the front of the cart, and they're wailing about not getting toys. She's on a mission. She's gotta get home. She's gotta get the first load in the laundry. She's the only one with rights on the road right now, so get out of her way--and this is all completely logical to her. She's risking her kid's LIVES going 1/4 miles an hour through the isles, weaving in and out of traffic in a real-life Mario (Shopping) Kart. And she's winning.

Instance 3: Guy Who Doesn't Use His Blinker
Scenario: Ok, Ok, I know. Shopping carts don't have blinkers. BUT, there is a common courtesy when shopping that, if one is turning down the isle, he or she looks left, looks right, and looks left again, then heads visibly in the direction of the isle with a smile and a nod. It's a non-verbal communication that is essential to the shopping-with-a-shopping-cart experience, even more necessary when you're at the only grocery store in a 20-mile radius at 5:30 pm on a workday afternoon. But then there's that guy, who rams his cart into the center isle, or jerks into another lane, or cuts you off in the check-out line... all without the slightest signal of intention or direction. But why not? I mean, he's the only person in the store that really matters anyway.

Result: An Open Letter to Shoppers around the World
Dear Shoppers: Please be nice. Please be courteous. Please remember that there are other people who have to get places, too. Stay alive--don't text and drive.

06 March 2010

on Sick

It's only happened to me a few times. Something makes me so upset that I get sick. Dizzy, nauseous, clammy, cold. Before I know it I'm worshiping the porcelain god, successfully having taken my mind off whatever was bothering me--even if only for a brief few seconds.

Before you decide that I'm embarking on a self-indulgent sob story, hear me out. This kind of thing, until recently, had only happened to me on extremely rare occasions. I don't really enjoy puking, and pepto just doesn't help. So, I decided that the next time I started thinking too hard, I'd Google myself a distraction that didn't involve having to eat another dinner.

What to Google? Funny YouTube videos? Seasons of The Office? Extra-Difficult Sudoku? I wasn't feelin' it. Digg was a bit too liberal today, and I still can't navigate Reddit without wanting to pull out my hair. Not even Tetris was helping. So what do I Google? "Something to make me happy."

After scrolling past the ad-words self-help sites, I came across a do-it-yourself guide to having 100 things to make you happy. Boy, talk about a distraction. I quickly opened TextEdit and thought, "Well, this is going to be easy."

Not so much.

After half an hour, I had a list of 18 things. It was harder than I thought.

1. Popcorn
2. Otto
3. Learning
4. Singing to music in the car
5. Fresh vegetables
6. Julie (and all of my family, really, but Julie especially)
7. John Knox Ranch
8. The feeling of somewhat sore muscles after a bout of strenuous exercise
9. Making art
10. Remembering a joke, and telling it again
11. Finishing a project, no matter how big or small
12. Homemade chocolate milkshakes
13. Courtesy
14. Finally putting away the clean laundry
15. Snail mail
16. The beach and summer's first sunburn
17. Accidentally-good photographs
18. Lazy evenings without the TV on

Unfortunately, the hardest thing was NOT including things that would get me thinking again. There are so many things that used to make me happy, that I would give a lot to have back. If I can only get to 18... it means I'm only 82 away from 100.

As an aside,
This is pretty helpful too:

27 February 2010


For reasons I care not to elaborate upon, I found myself in the big city of Bandera this weekend in desperate need of a Compact Flash (CF) Card Reader. At the intersection of Main Street and Highway 16, I had three choices: a 1980s-inspired Super S, a "Gun & Pawn" down Main, and a little strip-mall store with a lime-green sign blaring "COMPUTERZ". Seeing as how the Super S and the Gun & Pawn had no guarantee of anyone knowing what a CF Card was, much less how to read one (is it like a Hallmark card or what?), I went with COMPUTERZ and crossed my fingers. At least this store had somewhat entered the 90s.

I pulled into the Chevron/Tattoo Parlor/COMPUTERZ parking lot, which was naturally filled with quad-cab Dodge Rams and F-250s and cute cowboys with too-tight blue jeans and steel-toed boots (this IS the Cowboy Capital of the World), my hopes began to dwindle. Three men tipped their hats at me from the car to the curb, and my hopes sank even further. CF was going to be as foreign here as Twitter and ethnic equality.

Opening the door, COMPUTERZ was exactly what I'd imagined it to be. An old guy with a half-blad head and twenty-year beard was sitting behind a counter that was decorated in bright green rope lights. Motorola flip phones from 1996 were stacked in the glass shelving underneath, and the walls were littered with changeable covers for the Noika 3310. I had stepped back in time a decade, and the cigarette-smoking beard dude didn't seem to mind being here.

"Can I help you?" he asked, putting his cigarette out on the countertop. "Sure," I replied. "I'm looking for a CF Card reader, or, at least for the cord to connect a card reader to a USB port."

I shouldn't have been shocked by his response. "A what? A cord for a card?"

Jesus. COMPUTERZ was still working in command prompt on MS DOS. "I'm looking for a memory card reader; if you don't have the reader itself, I'm looking for the cord that would potentially connect the reader to the USB port in the computer."

His reply was a muddled mix of "uh huh" and "what the hell", and I followed him back to the rear of the store, where he had cords of all kinds hanging from pegs in the wall. "Think you can find it over here?" he asked, looking down at me. Of course I could find it... but would I be locked in the store and stuffed in a closet in the process?

As I sifted through cords I'd definitely never seen before, dude picked up a different cigarette off a different desk and lit up. I found the cord I was looking for--though it looked like a beaver had attempted to build a chewed-up house out of it--before he could take his first long drag, and asked him how much he'd sell it to me for. "Twenty bucks," he said, and I couldn't help it: I laughed in his face. "Twenty bucks?!" I replied; "These things with the readers actually attached are 15 bucks brand new."

"Oh," he replied, somewhat puzzled. Then a look of clarity came over his face, and he re-put-out his cigarette stub. "You mean, one of these things?" He walked over to a visibly broken monitor and pulled a trusty Targus 6-in-1 card reader out from a heap of rubbish. "Yes," I said. "One of those things."

"Uh, twenty bucks." I laughed again. "Look, lady, do you want it or not?"

It was life or death; card reader or no card reader. If the luckiest I was going to get was a used, beaver-chewed card reader, I better take my luck and run. I had eighteen bucks in cash in my wallet, which was good enough for him. I collected my card reader--along with my wits--and dashed out the door. My three cowboy friends were still gathered in the parking lot. They politely nodded at me again, in succession.


I've lived in small towns all of my life. For a brief four months I lived in Denton, which is small town enough; for five years I lived in San Antonio which is smaller than people might think. But I grew up in a true small town, and reside in one now. I do so by choice. People in small towns have something that people in big cities do not: trust. We trust our neighbors; we trust our police officers and tax collectors; we trust people we won't ever even know. We do this, because without this trust, we'd just live in a smaller, shittier version of a "bad side of the city". Figuratively, of course.

Why COMPUTERZ brings me to appreciate this, I have no idea. I started thinking about Bandera as I drove away from that store, which turned my thoughts to Boerne and then to San Antonio. Certainly, had I walked into a store called COMPUTERZ in good ol' SA, it would be for a going-out-of-business battle that the local owner was losing to the new Best Buy across the street. Old dude with beard wouldn't be making his living anymore trying to cheat twenty bucks of ignorant-looking small girls. And three cowboys wouldn't be standing in the parking lot, waiting for the chance to get the door to the convenience store behind them.

Small towns hold these keys to the past--that, granted, aren't always the best for growth or life--that keep them rooted in what's important. Not what's important to the girl in the Passat that's just stopping by, but what's important to them, their fathers, their grandfathers, and what they want to teach as important to their sons and their grandsons.

I'm rambling. I guess what I meant to say by this whole story is that while the rest of the world has moved on to value THINGS, there are a handful of small towns out there that have shunned the moving on so that they can still value VALUES. How this came up from COMPUTERZ, I guess I'll never know.

11 January 2010

on Faith

Nisi credideritis, non intelligetis.