Tag Archives: travel

this is what happened when i met jennifer weiner, part 2

the fourth and final installment of the “what i did this summer” series.
[part 1 (shot guns/cooked a fish) is here. part 2 (flirted with siri) is over here. part 3 (took a 30-minute flight without xanax, made a scene) is over there.]

you may recall my post a few months ago in which i met my literary idol, new york times bestselling author jennifer weiner, and promptly turned into a blubbering idiot, scaring her by saying things like, “i think i’m going to faint.” and the very unique “i’m a writer, too.”

it was my mom who wound up rescuing me from myself, miraculously and stealthily popping up behind my shoulder, announcing in a way that only a jewish mother can that i really was a writer, making me look far less crazy and perhaps only emotionally deranged.

when i found out that jen would be stopping by the philadelphia public library on tour for her fab new book the next best thing, i called my mom immediately on her new iphone (that she bought at best buy for $49; please oh please don’t ask her about her iphone–more on that later) and told her we needed to go. a longtime jennifer weiner fan, she immediately agreed.

we got to the library and there was already a line to get into the auditorium. once the doors were unlocked and everyone filed in, it soon became absolutely packed. despite the crowd, i knew with great certainty that i was still jen’s #1 SuperFan.

what i’m saying is: if she had a fanclub, i’d be president and i’d make holly treasurer and we’d hold bake sales. i’d make holly bake everything, of course. and we’d name the baked goods after her books, like Good in Bed Brownies and Fly Away Home Flan (ok wait: flan’s probably not good for a bake sale.)

my mom and i found seats towards the front right, and after this funny library guy gave an introduction, jen walked out and the crowd went wild. well, as wild as a library crowd can get.

she started speaking and five minutes later, i see my mom covertly open her purse and unearth a small mass of chocolate chips. and they’re wrapped in plastic wrap. she “secretly” unwraps them, then begins sneaking them out a couple at a time.

she’s trying to be quiet, but it’s no use. she’s the kid in synagogue trying to wrestle a hard candy out of a crinkly wrapper in the middle of the torah service. (if you’ve ever been to synagogue you know this isn’t a good thing.)

mom,” i whispered.

“do you want some?” she whispered back. (and by “whispered” i mean not whisper. jewish mothers are not renowned for whispering. it’s like an evolutionary mechanism to protect their children from wild animals and cold weather.)

“they’re ghirardelli,” she said, pushing them in my direction. like the fact that they’re a name brand was going to make me want to snack on chocolate chips during a jennifer weiner event.

“no thanks, mom.”

then she informed me she had “cheese wedges,” in her purse, too, which i could only surmise meant laughing cow cheese wedges, which are actually meant to spread on crackers at home or at the office, or even at a picnic, not enjoy on their own in the philadelphia public library’s auditorium during a jennifer weiner event.

“mom, what? cheese wedges?” i whispered, my eyes wide.

“well, it’s protein,” she non-whispered back . “and carbohydrates.”

“oh i am so blogging about this,” i told her.

“do you want one?” she asked, trying not to laugh.

“no, mom, i don’t want any cheese wedges!” i said, trying not to crack up while simultaneously trying to remember what she was saying, since i knew i’d be writing it down.

then she offered me chocolate chips again, which i declined–again.

after jen’s talk, (which was hysterical–you can listen to it here) all us superfans ran out and got in line for her to sign our books. i guess the problem with sitting in front at an author event is that you’re pretty much dead last in line for the signing.

i really didn’t mind, as i feel a special kind of kinship with other jennifer weiner superfans (JWSFs). i quickly befriended my fellow line waiters, thrilled to discuss my fave JW books without holding back. we also animatedly discussed jen’s foxy new look, which featured glamorous extensions and fabulous shoes.

my mom joined the line, also thrilled to be part of the JWSF excitement. i don’t know how it came up, but one of my new JWSF friends started talking about coupons and wouldn’t you know, my mom has an app for that. on her new iphone. that she got for $49 at best buy.

“i have the greatest coupon app!” my mom told my new friends. (this from the woman who never figured out how to use a VCR–and yet she’s mastered the world of apps. i know, i don’t get it either.)

“i got my iphone for $49 at best buy,” she continued.

mom,” i implored, gently touching her shoulder. but it was too late. the levy broke. the i-got-my-iphone-for-$49-at-best-buy-yes-i-really-did-no-i’m-not-kidding speech had begun.

“…you see? it’s a real iphone. yeah i really did get it for $49. i can’t believe it either.”

“i think you’re calling someone,” one of my new friends, i think her name was emily, politely informed her.

“what? i am? how can you tell?”

“look, the call counter’s on,” i said, pointing to the screen. “it’s ruth.”

in her coupon app excitement, she had accidentally called her friend ruth. i love ruth.

she held the phone up to her ear.

hello? HELLO? ruth? hello?”

when it comes to cell phones, jewish mothers have no volume regulator. it’s only loud or LOUDER. it’s like they think whomever they’re talking to is connected to their cell phone by a piece of string and if they don’t speak loud enough the other person will not hear them.

“i think she hung up,” she told us.

then my mom did what any sensible jewish mom would do after accidentally calling her friend ruth while waiting in a jennifer weiner booksigning line at the philadelphia public library: she called her back.

“ruth? HELLO, RUTH? hi, it’s susan! IT’S SUSAN. right, i called. by accident. uh-huh, i’m at the jennifer weiner event right now with jessie. oh it’s so fun! yeah. ok i can’t talk. but i’ll…what? what? i think we’re…hello? right i’ll call you, i’ll call you back. ok, talk to you later.”

“that was ruth,” she said.

“i know,” i said.

i think everyone in line knew it was ruth.

the line was moving at a decent pace. before i knew it, it was our turn.

jen greeted us warmly, and i mentioned that i was the crazed SuperFan that blogged about meeting her months earlier.

“and this is my mom. again,” i said, smiling, proud of my effervescent champ of a professor mom that, if i invite her, will come with me to any and all jennifer weiner events in the philadelphia area, come hell, high water, or chocolate chips. she will get there three hours early with me to sit in the front row (like she did last time), and she will stand in a book signing line with me for who knows how long, make friends with other JWSFs, and educate them on handy, money-saving apps.

jen laughed and said it was nice to see us again and yes, of course she remembered my blog post. (how could she not? if you had a psycho fan write a 1,000-word blog post about how she met you for two minutes, you’d remember it, too.)

then she asked me why i was so nervous about meeting her the last time.

i blubbered something about…oh hell. i actually don’t remember what i said because i’m probably repressing it as it most likely sounded mentally incompetent or at least slightly demented. however i do remember saying something about madonna. (i have the unique ability to insert the topic of madonna into any conversation.) 

jen announced that i needed a beach towel. before i knew it, i was holding a huge JW towel.

then she mentioned something about thinking about her when i was hot and steamy just out of the shower and then i really forgot everything i planned to say.

in my JWSF stupor, someone handed me a JW tote bag. then, tote and towel in hand,  i waved goodbye to jen and my new JWSF friends–just another 30-something emotionally deranged superfan with her sensible mom.

i put my JW beach towel in my new JW tote and stepped into my dad’s waiting highlander, amped up from the delicious combination of literary celebrity, community, and free fan merchandise.

suddenly i felt my blood-sugar dropping.

“mom, do you have any of those chocolate chips left?”

of course she did. and man was i glad they were a name brand.

as the chocolate chips melted in my mouth, i held my new JW tote close and thought about all the fun things my mom and i have done over the years: playing hooky when i was a kid to hit the MET and the hard rock cafe on a school day (YES REALLY!); getting miraculously bumped up about a hundred rows closer to barry manilow when he played madison square garden a few years ago (yes i took my mom to a barry manilow concert; it’s called love, people–and besides, he still has a voice like buttah and moves very well for a man his age); countless mall outings, coffee shop chitchats, and trips to buy me bare escentuals make-up and warm winter coats (jewish parents live to buy their children warm winter coats).

i suddenly kind of wanted a cheese wedge, too.

“i love you, mom. thanks for coming with me,” i said.

“i love you, too, honey. i had a great time. i knew you’d eventually want some chocolate chips. that’s why i brought them. here’s a cheese wedge. the chocolate’s not enough. you need protein, too.”

aw, mom.

——–

this concludes the what i did this summer series. it was a busy summer full of mystery and intrigue: grilled cheeses. guns. flirting with female robots. a 30-minute flight to pittsburgh without xanax. literary celebrities. moms. chocolate chips. free totes.

special thanks to jennifer weiner for once again being a good sport with her more…excitable fans. and the towel. and the tote, which i proudly tote around, proclaiming my superfan-ness.

an additional special thanks to jen’s fab assistant meghan, who not only remembered me, but didn’t run away when she saw me coming towards her. i believe she orchestrated the free towel and tote, but i was too excited to understand it at the time. love the towel, love the tote, love that you didn’t kick us out for chocolate-chipping. (do you want some? i’m sure my mom has more.)

next up: tacos with the in-laws. and how i thought i just scratched my throat with a corn shell but wound up coming down with a two-week cold that’s resulted in me becoming an alcoholic.

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not taking xanax on my 30-minute flight to pittsburgh was a really bad idea

the third installment of what i did this summer.*

*(two to three more installments to follow.)
**(part 1 is over here. part 2 is over there.)
***(can we start now? good.)

if you’re a regular reader of this blog, you may recall that just over a year ago, i bought a holiday sweater from chico’s, got a prescription for xanax, and boarded a plane to san francisco for my dear friend nicole‘s wedding.

(then i proceeded to wear that sweater–which was both unseasonal and inappropriately sparkly–to her pre-wedding party, burning out several people’s retinas in the process. SORRY ABOUT THAT.)

anyway, a couple weeks before leaving, i called my doctor saying i was nervous about the flight and could she prescribe something gentle and extremely low dose to help calm me down before and during my trip.

“xanax,” she said without skipping a beat.

she explained that it was the lowest dose available on the market, and i could even just take half.

i picked up the little white pills at the pharmacy later that day and stared at them. LORD, i thought. i must really love nicole because i do not want to take these pills nor do i want to take this flight. 

(and i do love her!!! hi, nicole! mwah!)

i decided to do a “test run” at home, and took one (well, half, ok i’m a sissy and actually only took half) on a sunday afternoon as holly and i were watching a movie on the couch.

my immediate urge was, of course, to gag myself and throw it up. but alas, as a neurotic jewish control freak, i avoid throwing up at all costs, so gagging myself was not an option and i was stuck there on the couch with the xanax melting in my stomach.

i immediately started to panic. kind of like that one time i took caffeine pills i found in a freebie welcome-to-college pack when i was a freshman and collapsed on the floor next to my sleeping roommate.

“it’s ok, babe,” holly said, her eyes fixed on whatever annoying action-comedy she had chosen. “you’ll be fine.”

and…i was fine. i was actually fine! it felt more like my old migraine medicine, but better. it just sort of…took the edge off. and it worked perfectly on my flight. except for when it wore off somewhere over colorado but we’re not going there right now.

so when holly bugged me til i agreed to let her mom book me a flight to pittsburgh a couple months ago–while holly was there helping her gram–i was like, ok, yeah sure. i can do this. i’ll take a xanax, i’ll be fine. 

but then i started thinking stupid things like: wait. do i really want to use xanax as a crutch like this? it’s just a half-hour flight. i can do it. i want to see how i actually am on a flight. maybe i’m not that bad anymore. it’s just half an hour.

folks, this was deranged thinking. a half-hour flight is still a half hour flight! you still have to board the friggin plane, sit the hell down, wait a long time for it to take off. then you have to take off (omg i hate taking off), fly and land.

i woke up at 5am nervous as hell, even though my flight was at 4pm,  so i started off my day by downloading a bunch of songs from itunes on my new iphone to calm me down on the plane. they were what some might call comfort songs. the musical equivalent of…toast with jam. a slice of your favorite pizza. birthday cake. ok carbs. they were the musical equivalent of carbs.

here’s what i purchased:

(i’ve had) the time of my life (yes, from dirty dancing)
waiting for a star to fall (yes, 80s)
so emotional (yes, whitney houston, yes, 80s)
i wanna dance with somebody (yes, whitney, yes more 80s)
bette davis eyes (and yet…more 80s!) (that is one DAMN GOOD SONG btw)
hammer and a nail (yes, indigo girls; yes, very lesbionic of me, i know)
now or never (gotta throw a little dance in there, too) (also a GREAT SONG)

so. i get on the plane. and i get a seat right in the middle on the wing like i wanted. and this businesslady is sitting next to me. she’s in sales and flys all the time and i’m totally making her talk to me even though it’s clear she’s really not interested.

i mention that i’m a nervous flyer but decided i didn’t want to take xanax.

“i just don’t want to use it as a crutch, you know?” i tell her.

she looks at me and smiles politely, as if to say: lady, i really wish you would have taken your xanax. i’m really doubting my decision to sit next to you.

she assures me that the flight is short. you’re up, you’re down, you’re there.

then it starts to rain. hard. and i fear there’s lightning. there’s only one thing that scares me more than flying and it’s lightning. but let’s not get ahead of ourselves here.

anyway, the storm passes and we finally move onto the runway. convinced the roar of the jet engines will cover it up, i start doing deep breathing exercises. we lift off the ground and suddenly i realize:

THIS WAS THE STUPIDEST IDEA OF MY LIFE. I REALLY SHOULD HAVE TAKEN XANAX.

i start frantically searching for my homeopathic stress spray and dammit i’m out! i’m spraying it in my mouth and…NOTHING. JESUS MARY JOSEPH WHY DIDN’T I BUY MORE OF THIS WHERE THE HELL IS MY XANAX.

and then, out the window, maybe a few hundred feet from the plane:

LIGHTNING.

HOLY G-D GET ME OFF THIS PLANE I AM GOING TO DIE.

at this point, i think the grumpy-ish sales lady begins hearing my deep breathing exercises and so she starts to make conversation with me. this helps a little. i thank her and start to calm down.

they make an announcement that we can turn on our electronic devices so i bust out my new iphone and my brand-new, never-before-used earphones.

i decide i’m more in the mood for dance music, so i choose “now or never.” (don’t ask me why, sometimes pounding dance music calms me down.)

i put in my earphones and crank up the tunes except for…i can barely hear it.

man these damn jet engines are loud, i think as i turn it up. and up. and up. til it won’t go up any louder. DAMMIT I WANT TO HEAR THIS SONG WHAT THE HELL.

a guy turns around in the row in front of me and gives me a dirty look. i glare back at him as if to say WHAT MOTHERF*CKER?! YOU NEVER HEARD A JEWISH GIRL FROM JERSEY DO DEEP BREATHING EXERCISES ON A PLANE BEFORE? I JUST SAW LIGHTENING I’M ABOUT TO FLIP MY SH*T DON’T TEMPT ME I LIVE IN BALTIMORE NOW AND I WILL CUT YOU AND PULL OUT YOUR WEAVE.

never mind that he wasn’t wearing a weave. but if he was i would have pulled it out to set an example for the plane.

i feel a tap on my shoulder. it’s the grumpy-ish saleslady.

she leans towards me.

“we can hear that,” she says, smiling.

i look around the plane. everyone’s looking at me. this one lady across the aisle, she’s looking at me, smiling as if to say, sweetie, it’s ok. we all know you’re nervous. you obviously don’t know how to use your iphone yet. 

my face gets hot. ohmygosh. i didn’t have my earphones plugged completely in my iphone. MY PHONE WAS BLASTING DANCE MUSIC AT FULL CAPACITY.

it was really loud. i can’t emphasize this enough.

i quickly hit pause, take out my earphones and explain to the saleslady that i got an iphone like a week ago and i was still figuring out how to use it. there are still a lot of people looking at me. i suddenly feel bad about thinking how i was going to cut that guy and pull out his non-existent weave.

i thank her for alerting me, push the earphones in and start listening to “waiting for a star to fall,” wishing i could disappear.  i’m suddenly extremely grateful i hadn’t been blasting “i had the time of my life.” i mean, can you imagine??

not even five minutes later, they announce we’re starting our descent into pittsburgh and to please turn off our electronic devices.

the grumpy-ish saleslady has her eyes closed with her head back and she’s still laughing. i kind of want to pull out her weave but her hair looks real.

we land in pittsburgh. my half-hour ride is over. i’m chilly with sweat. i vow to myself: never ever again without xanax. never. again. without. xanax.

what i did this summer (part 1)

well hello, readers. it’s been a minute, hasn’t it?

last time we spoke, holly  had just left for a sunday-night-thru-thursday night summer taking care of her gram in western pee-ay. and i was here, at home, making grilled cheese and doing copywriting. which is what i do for a living. copywriting, not grilled cheese. (honestly, making-then-eating grilled cheese for a living doesn’t sound half bad though “my figure” would suffer.)

well, folks, i have news for you. while i mostly worked and missed holly–sleeping with my gemstone mace out of its gemstone case (gasp!) right next to the bed–i did do a few new things this summer.

here’s a sampling of some highlights.

i…

1. cooked a fish.

ok, actually, i cooked half a fish.

this was actually not meant to happen. holly was supposed to cook it, as i, as a rule, don’t cook anything that looks too much like its original source. not very “farm-to-table” PC of me but whatever. you want to picture your food with its family, that’s your business, not mine.

anyway, we bought two rainbow trout fillets a day before holly left one week. but we never cooked them. suddenly i was by myself in the house with two fish fillets in the fridge. i was like, even though i’m really grossed out by the idea of it, i’m going to have to cook this fish bc i’m not going to let it die in vain. plus it was five bucks. and i am nothing if not thrifty.

so i called holly, she was in the car driving back to pee-ay, and i was like, babe. what do i do with this fish? is there a way i can cook it without actually looking at it?

and she was like, babe. you can do this.

so she coached me on how to pan fry the fish. i had my “operators are standing by to take your call” home phone headset on. and the phone was clipped to my jeggings. oh i was a sight to behold, let me tell you.

i tried convincing myself that it wasn’t actually a fish, but there was no denying its fish shape, fish skin, fish flesh, etc. i placed it on the skillet and it sizzled and of course i overcooked it bc i’m scared of food-borne bacteria. then i forced myself to eat it, telling myself this is good fish! you cooked it yourself! good job! see? you don’t need holly here all the time! you can totally do this type of stuff on your own! 

i told the voice in my head to shut the hell up, put my fork down and decided the other half of the trout would have to die in vain bc there was just no way i was going to eat the other half. i almost texted our friend and neighbor dilini to see if she wanted the other half. but who drops off half a raw fish at a friend’s house? i mean, really. plus i wasn’t about to get mugged for the sake of a fish. so it was almost like the fish cosmically gave up (half of) its life to save mine. or something. anyway, next!

2. shot a gun.
ok, it was three guns: two rifles and one handgun. (crap! did i really just write that?) this was in western pee-ay. holly’s twin sister’s in-laws have guns. they also have a lot of property. holly wants me to learn how to shoot a gun, as we live in one of the most dangerous cities in america and..yeah, fill in the blanks. i did not want to do it. however, she wore me down and i knew she was right.

so i went to the local rite-aid, bought ear plugs, then to my sister-in-law’s in-law’s. i promptly froze up and started crying (and shaking) saying babe, i don’t want to do it! they’re loud and i’m scared! i took a deep breath (ok, about 20 deep breaths) and, with holly’s sister’s father-in-law by my side, i pretended like the…tree stump across the way was an intruder and i said in my mind f*ck you motherf*cker! you’re in my house and i’m gonna kill you before you kill me! then i pulled the trigger. then i did it two more times with different guns. then i had enough.

(somehow i feel like my favorite black jeggings from new york and co. with rhinestone flip-flops wasn’t the most sensible choice for this outing but what can you do. you can take the girl outta jersey, but you can’t take the jersey outta the girl…)

then holly convinced me to let her seven-year-old nephew take me on a ride through a wooded trail (oh! it was actually the same wooden trail i got stuck on a couple years ago! the one where i almost gotten eaten by a brown bear? you can read that here, it’s a doozy) on this elaborate four-wheeler. i was like WHAT. and she was like, “he’s a good driver!” then i figured, what in the hell, i just shot three guns, i cooked half a fish last month, i can do this.

so i put my arm around little landon (that’s his name) and said, “please don’t go too fast, ok, honey?” and to his credit, he was indeed a very good driver and he did not go too fast. then he and his four-year-old brother desperately wanted me to jump on a giant trampoline with them. and i did it for like two minutes and then the old jewish lady in me said OY ENOUGH WITH THE BOUNCING YOU’RE IRRITATING MY HIATAL HERNIA. (do you know i actually have one of those? it’s like, the jewish hernia.)

guns. four-wheelers. an excessively large trampoline. it was like a country song. except for it was my actual life and no beer and/or dogs were involved. taylor swift was there, however. no she wasn’t. yes! she was! (no she wasn’t.)

3. took a plane to pittsburgh without xanax
this was a mistake. to be continued.

4. talked to siri
she doesn’t flirt back and i think she’s anti-semitic. to be continued.

5. got a haircut, learned how to use a barrette
YES REALLY. to be continued.

6. gave a quote about the jewish new year to the baltimore sun
HOLLA!

7. bought high-tops i’ve wanted since i was, like, four (yes, that means styles from 1983 are back)
then wore those high-tops when i…

8. SAW MADONNA!
to be continued.

9. got a bad cold, gave it to holly
sorry, babe!

10. met jennifer weiner again
my mom “secretly” snacked during her talk and then accidentally called her friend ruth on her new iphone. which she got for $49 at best buy. as she told everyone there.
to be continued.

YES REALLY YES. all TBC (to be continued). come back to find out how i managed a half-hour flight without xanax. it wasn’t pretty. i wish i was kidding.

this is what happened when i met jennifer weiner

if there’s one thing you need to know about me–besides my penchant for frosty lipstick, eternal love for madonna and the fact that i’ve married holly like 100 times–it’s that i’m a jennifer weiner superfan.

she’s pretty much my literary idol. so when i saw she was coming to philly’s head house books, i made it my personal business to rearrange my schedule so i could be there. two hours early. with my mom. and snacks in my bag in case i got hungry.

i introduced myself to the the bookstore worker, who proved to be both patient and kind as she listened to me blubber about how excited i was to meet my fave author.

“there’s only two people i want to meet in this world,” i breathlessly told her as she stood trapped behind the counter. “jennifer weiner and madonna. and i’m not sure if i even want to meet madonna because there’s a good chance she might be kind of mean.”

once that came out of my mouth there was no taking it back. i was that person. i was the overly excited fan waiting around to meet the star. but i didn’t even care.

“oh yeah! and this is my mom!”

yup. i really was that person. and i brought my mom! all i was missing was a star wars t-shirt and a juice box.

in my former life as a journalist, i interviewed rock stars, television personalities, politicians, federal officials, heads of state (ok i totally made that last one up but i know people that’ve interviewed heads of state–does that count??) and i’ve never, ever been as nervous to meet/talk to anyone ever in my life.

jen (despite my distaste for using nicknames when you don’t really know someone, i’m going to call her “jen” because everyone kept referring to her as that) and fellow fab author liz moore did a great job speaking to the audience, which had grown to fill the entire store.

as soon they were done, i made a beeline for jen.

“hi! i’m jessica,” i said, putting out my hand for her to shake.

“hi, jessica!” she said, smiling as she shook my hand. “it’s nice to meet you.”

don’t faint don’t faint don’t faint. do. not.  faint. i told myself.

a lightening speed battle between the dorky side of my brain (you know, the side with the juice box and star wars t-shirt) and the sensible side commenced.

this is your big chance! the sensible side shouted. this is what you daydream about! you’re meeting your literary idol! say something meaningful and witty about your writing background. don’t say “i’m a writer, too!” because hello, everyone tells their favorite author they’re “a writer, too.” make yourself stand out from the crowd!

say something cool! the dorky side shouted back. TELL HER YOU LOVE HER! wait! don’t tell her you love her because that would be weird because you don’t actually know her. maybe you should ask her out for coffee? no wait, don’t do that. wait…no, you definitely should. yeah, see if she wants to get coffee! there’s a great place just down the street!

no! absolutely do not ask her out for coffee! the sensible side advised. say something clever. be friendly but not overly friendly. pretend like you’re about to interview her. act cool, you’re a professional! 

so what did i wind up saying?

“ohmygoshican’tbelievei’mactuallymeetingyou. i think…i think i might faint. i’m a writer, too!”

niiiice.

dorky side: 1. sensible side: 0.

then i started to sweat and my mouth went dry, at which point the sensible side of my brain threw its hands up and left me alone with my dorky side, which took a noisy sip from its cranberry juice box, delighted to take over completely.

unfazed, she laughed, obviously used to weirdo superfans like me, and said no, don’t faint, it’s ok.

i felt the heat of the crowd behind me. i had to act fast and turn this thing around.

i told her i came in from baltimore to see her, that i was a former journalist, had a blog and brought my old paperback copy of “good in bed” for her to sign. then she asked me what kind of blog i had.

“it’s a humor blog,” i said, sounding completely devoid of humor.

this was a trainwreck. i watched as she signed my book. the clock was ticking. my time with one of the people i most wanted to meet in this world was quickly coming to an end and i had to make an impression other than Potentially Psycho I’m-A-Writer-Too! SuperFan. and, without warning, who comes to my rescue?

my mom.

suddenly she was over my shoulder–hell, i didn’t even realize she was behind me anymore!–and sang my praises as only a jewish mother from new jersey can.

“there’s something my daughter neglected to tell you,” my mom said in all her proud jewish mother glory. “she was in the It Gets Better book!”

YES MOM YES! i totally forgot about that! yes i was published in an actual book! that made me sound way less crazy!

jen looked up and said she loved the it gets better project, and that her and her siblings were going to be making a video. then she asked for my card.

jennifer weiner asked for my business card. 

i died a thousands small deaths. right there. i really did. i took a card out of my bag and put it on the table, at which point she tucked it away and said she’d check out my blog. 

the dorky side of my brain and my sensible side did one of those running/jumping shoulder-bump things that guys do. then the dorky side did the running man and the sensible side shook its head and walked away.

leave it to a mom to be your best publicist. she totally saved the day. not to mention a) happily agreeing to arrive at the bookstore ridiculously early b) tirelessly keeping me company while c) simultaneously not judging me for being overly excited.

since that day, almost three weeks ago, i’ve felt that special kind of peace that only comes with checking a life goal off your list. now all i have to do is go to a madonna concert (ACTUALLY HAPPENING THIS SEPT *goosebumps!*), have a baby and publish a book. oh and also go to england and ireland. and an organic spa with holly in arizona or new mexico (do those even exist?). and take a road trip with holly to visit my great uncle ben in florida. not necessarily in that order, but those are the biggies.

anyway, i may have acted like a complete dork, but at least i got out there, stepped up to the plate and met my number one superstar. so jen, if you’re reading this, thank you for your kindness–and for not backing away from me.

yours truly,
jessica leshnoff, superfan
baltimore, md

you know you live in baltimore when…

inspired by an upcoming 48 hours away from “the greatest city in america,” i wrote this list on the stankass megabus to philly last week while listening to yes, “welcome to the jungle.” which makes me wonder: was axl rose in los angeles when he wrote that song? or was he really in…southeast baltimore??

you know you live in baltimore…

when your alley looks like a thrift shop
when you think you saw a squirrel in your yard, but it actually turned out to be a really big rat
when your “yard” is actually a cracked concrete pad
when you find chicken bones in your yard and you haven’t eaten chicken lately
when you discover the “trees” in your yard–and the trees in all of your neighbors’ yards–are just really big weeds
when you get a cat just to catch mice
when every dog you pass on the street is a “pit mix”
when you can’t figure out if the methhead across the street is 30 or 90
when your neighborhood crime listings read like the funnies
when the whapwhapwhap of helicopters lull you to sleep at night
when half your block smells like mothballs & old church basement during open-window season
when scary-ass ice cream trucks circle your neighborhood til midnight–and you’re not sure if they’re really selling ice cream
when there’s an earthquake in the middle of the day in the middle of the week and everyone’s home
when a construction dumpster is a community event
when half the basements on your block flood because someone stole all the copper piping out of rehab
when you roll over at least three plastic mini liquor bottles every time you park your car
when people save parking spots with orange cones in one inch of snow
when someone gets stabbed over a coned-off parking spot in one inch of snow

live in baltimore? recently escape? add yours below…

part five: vermont just might be the best place on earth to get married, especially if you love dairy.

you're in maple country, bee-otch!

the 5th and final chapter of a multipart series about our 3-weddings-3-states-1-day BFGW anniversary extravaganza (click here for part 1)

so where were we? ah, yes. connecticut. the second stop in our three-weddings-in-one-day wedding blitz. where we kind-of-almost got married in the rain by a smoking justice of the peace and her effeminate male colleague.

before connecticut, we got married in new york (city), where i managed to cry yet again, despite a run-in with a lisping super-psycho anderson cooper fan the day before and the fact that i cheesed out of telling everyone i invented post-its at my big fat jersey high school reunion two days before that.

so the smoking justice of the peace and her effeminate male colleague wish us luck and we run, we literally run–like we’re on a gay version of that one show, i forget what the hell it’s called…where coupled contestants compete in this round-the-world competition…except instead of whatever they’re racing to do, we’re racing to get married in as many states as we can before 5pm–back to the car, which is parked across the street from the harford city hall. luckily there’s no hobos or pan handlers to fight off this time (ok this is starting to sound like a really weird kind of lame urban-gay video game).we get in and go go go to vermont!

we decided to get married in an artsy little town called brattleboro, which sits just over the vermont state line. (see map below.) at this point, it was like…2pm. and while brattleboro is only about 85 miles from harford, we were somewhat concerned about making it there in time. since we were in a rush, i decided it was probably a bad time to tell holly i was hungry, so instead i ate uninspired car snacks like sunflower seeds (gag) and mini pretzels (gag) with a applesauce chaser (GAG). but i figured getting married again was way more important than, say, finding a starbucks, so i decided to suck it up and help us navigate even though the ride was basically one road and one turn.

location A is harford. location B is brattleboro. i tried to make the picture bigger but i couldn't, so stop complaining i did the best i could.

i didn’t know what to expect in vermont, as i’d never been there before. i really only knew a couple things about vermont: 1) maple syrup and 2) our friend christina whose family owns a maple syrup farm there. so yeah. basically maple syrup.

as we drove through the rest of boring connecticut and then the entire state of massachusetts (another supremely hard-to-spell state name), i crunched on my bad car snacks wondering what there was to do in vermont besides get married and eat local artisan foods containing maple syrup. then i remembered ben & jerry’s is headquartered in vermont. and cabot creamery, which makes a mean cheddar. the answer became crystal clear: indulge in dairy. i was really starting to like vermont and we hadn’t even gotten there yet.

so we roll into little brattleboro at around 4pm and i swear the place looks like a friggin postcard. it honestly made me feel proud to be an american. how i could have lived in this country so long without going to vermont? i wondered while silently chastising myself for not only living in smelly baltimore, but allowing myself to grow up in northern new jersey without ever at least trying to convince my parents to drop me off in vermont and grow up there instead.

it didn’t take too long before we found the brattleboro town hall, a picturesque historic-looking building on top of a little hill. being from baltimore (and in a hurry), we of course parked illegally in an adjacent parking lot, figuring we probably wouldn’t get a ticket, and even if we did, we were in vermont, how much would it really be? like, a quarter?? you tell me the one person you know that got a parking ticket in vermont. my point exactly.

we arrive in the town clerk’s office and the ladies were so nice to us i almost fainted. i’m not even kidding. as it turns out, the town clerk that issued our marriage license was the town clerk that issued the country’s very first same-sex civil union! if there’s a rock star award for town clerk, this woman totally gets it.

she provides a list of justices of the peace for us and holly starts calling them while i blabber to the clerk and her assistant about our exciting day. i’m not sure if i told them we went to the anderson cooper show the day before, i might have. i  was kind of telling them everything, i was that excited.

holly finds a justice of the peace and before we know it, she arrives. we tell her we’d just like a simple ceremony, maybe outside? so the group of us ladies all go outside the brattleboro town hall on the top of the hill and we decide to stand under this pretty little lone tree.

it was a great view from up there. we were surrounded by all these rolling hills and it felt like we could see the whole town. we made it, i kept thinking. we’re really doing this. 

we took off our rings for the second time that day, and handed them to the justice of the peace. as she started the ceremony, i got teary–again.

we took each other’s hands and looked into each other’s eyes, so far from baltimore, so many years–almost 11–since that night we met at 17th & Q. i’ll marry you 47 more times if i have to, i thought with a lump in my throat.

we legally pledged our love to each other for the second time that day, and placed our wedding rings back on each other’s ring fingers.

i would have loved the opportunity to share a photo or two with you guys, but all the photos the town clerk (annette) took during the ceremony with holly’s cellphone–ugh i can’t even stand to write this–were deleted somehow, we don’t even know when or why it happened. i can assure you, however, that my hair was likely pretty huge by that point, my eyes were watery and there’s the distinct possibility that i had a erstwhile sunflower seed somewhere on my sweater. the fact that holly still wanted to marry me again by that point is a testament to her love for me. (haha. ok, that made me laugh out loud.)

we thanked and said goodbye to the justice of the peace and the wonderful ladies in the brattleboro town clerks office (if you’re somehow reading this, a big giant hug to you guys!!! you made our day that much more special), and, with our new marriage license in our hands (the second of the day!), we jumped back in the car (NO TICKET!) and went to find the bed and breakfast we were going to stay at. (it’s called 40 Putney Road–highly recommended!)

the innkeepers suggested we celebrate at a restaurant called L.A. Burdick just over the state line in nearby walpole, new hampshire. i was like, new hampshire! get outta here! (like vermont, neither of us had ever been there before)

i’m telling you, this place was fabulous. plus they make chocolate there. we told the waitress about our day and before we knew it, the chef sent out special appetizers and champagne to help us celebrate. we were like, what the heck is it with these friggin new england people?? everyone here is so nice!!!! after our meal, she brought out a slice of…i think it was chocolate mousse cake? with candles!!! i was like, oh my gosh. it was pretty much the best chocolate anything i’ve ever eaten. it was the perfect ending to a perfect day.

to hell with connecticut, i thought. it’s almost impossible to spell anyway.

“two outta three ain’t bad, babe,” i said, lifting my champagne glass.

“two outta three ain’t bad at all,” holly said, lifting her glass.

“to us!” she said.

“to us!” i repeated as we clinked glasses.

only holly actually sipped her champagne, as i’m apparently an old jewish lady now with acid indigestion irritated by champagne, fresh cantaloupe and don’t even get me started about fresh pineapple do not get me started.

now we hold our breath that maryland will become the eighth state to legalize same-sex marriage. it looks like it’ll be up to the public to decide. so if you live in maryland and you support same-sex couples like holly and i, get out to the polls and VOTE VOTE VOTE so we can finally get married right here in our HOME STATE.

if you have friends or family in maryland that are on the fence about same-sex marriage, send them here. one of the reasons i started this blog was and still is to show people just how normal we are. just as i told the CNS reporter the other day, we’re just a normal couple. mind-numbingly normal, actually. we go to the supermarket, we go to starbucks, we fall asleep watching movies on the couch. (some “gay agenda” right?) all we want is the chance to get married here in maryland so we can enjoy the same legal rights that other married couples do.

so there you go, folks! three states, 2.5 marriages, one day–and all between the hours of 9am and 5pm. (watch out, connecticut! we’re coming back for you!)

part four: connecticut kind of sucks, and not just b/c it’s almost impossible to spell

part 4 of a multipart series about our 3-weddings-3-states-1-day BFGW anniversary extravaganza (click here for part 1)

holly determined the best place for us to get married in connecticut was hartford. i just asked her why and she said she doesn’t really remember, which seems appropriate for a city that’s fairly forgettable in a state that’s not only nearly impossible to spell but can’t decide if it’s part of the tri-state area or new england.

yeah i’m bitter about connecticut. i’ll tell you why in a minute.

since holly’s not interested in giving me input here, i recall she zeroed in on hartford b/c of its central location and the fact that it was on interstate 91, a great but boring road that crossed thru all of our wedding blitz states.

so we get on the road just minutes after our first wedding of the day, our mouths and hands full of sandwiches and chips we bought near the brooklyn municipal building. i had both of our cellphone GPS systems going so two different julies were telling us where to go.

i call any sort of “GPS lady” julie after julie the automated amtrak lady.

(back when i used to call amtrak in the late 90s/early 00s, an automated lady used to come on and say “hi! i’m julie!” it was always kind of fun to scream “AGENT!!! I WANT TO TALK TO AN AGENT!!!!!” right off the bat. unfailingly chipper, she’d say, “i…think i heard you say you’d like to talk to an agent. is that correct?” and then i’d yell back, “YES! AN AGENT! I’D LIKE TO TALK TO AN AGENT, JULIE!”)

(this is what i did for fun before texting & facebook.)

(holy crap now i feel kind of bad bc i just googled “amtrak julie” and found this article. there’s actually a lady named julie that does the amtrak julie voice and she seems really nice! damn. now i kind of feel like a jerk.)

anyway, after about 90 minutes on interstate 91 with our two talking julies, we saw a drab skyline appear.

“babe!” i shouted. “that must be hartford! it looks…it looks…so…boring! i can’t wait to get married there!”

we roll into hartford and quickly find the city’s municipal building. as soon as we park, sketchy panhandlers came up to us asking for money. this confused me.

isn’t everyone in connecticut supposed to be rich? i asked holly, who shrugged, dodged the panhandlers, got a parking ticket thingy to put on our dashboard and told me to hurry up and finish putting on your lipstick already, we still need to get to vermont blah blah blah i blocked the rest out.

so we run past some kind of hartford PR event (oh i am SO glad i don’t do that for a living anymore!) into a room with a bunch of cashiers and tell the lady behind the glass we want to get married. she points at paperwork and we get to it.

we need a justice of the peace, so the lady gives us a few cards for local justices of the peace. yes, justices of the peace have business cards. it felt weird to me, too. 

as she starts typing everything up, we start calling the justices of the peace (ok, i’m just gonna stop and clear the air: “justices of the peace” sounds weird. it’s been the elephant in the room since three sentences ago) leaving voicemails like, hi, we’re holly & jessica and we need a justice of the peace in like five minutes. can you make it?

i don’t know where the hell all the justices of the peace were. it’s not like there’s that much going on in hartford.

once again, we start to panic. no actually i start to panic. holly doesn’t panic much, unless, of course, i push her to the brink of panic with my new jersey-induced neuroses, which i’ve never done so shut up. i’m jewish, it’s in my genes, i can’t even help it.

she tells me she’ll be right back and walks out of the room with all the cashier windows (what does one call a room like that? i have no idea). i refresh my facebook newsfeed every two seconds until she comes back five minutes later.

“i found a justice of the peace, babe. she’s meeting us outside in five minutes.”

you see why i keep marrying holly? INGENUITY. turns out there was a justice of the peace somewhere else in the building and she actually found her. leave it to holly to find a justice of the peace when you really need one.

just when everything seemed to be going so smoothly, we hit a snag. (cue the record scratching and the silverware clinking)

the cashier lady looks down at the paper and then back at us.

you’re already married to each other? she asks.

yes, we say. in washington, dc, and we got married again this morning in new york. 

not surprisingly, she goes to get her supervisor. who, of course, is unnecessarily grumpy.

grumpy supervisor: so you’re renewing your vows?

us: no, we’re getting married to each other. again.

grumpy supervisor: right, you’re renewing your vows.

us: no. we’re getting married.

grumpy supervisor: but you’re already married to each other. 

us: right. but we’re doing it again.

grumpy supervisor: why?

us: because we’re celebrating our anniversary by marrying each other in three states in one day.

grumpy supervisor: (confused look)

us: until same-sex marriage is federally recognized, we’re going to keep marrying each other in every state we possibly can.

grumpy supervisor: (still looking confused) well you can’t do that here. because you’re already married somewhere else. 

holly: but someone in this office told me last week we could.

grumpy supervisor: well that person didn’t talk to me. 

we went back and forth a little bit more until this we decided this woman wasn’t interested in taking our money and giving us a piece of paper.

that’s when i decided i didn’t like connecticut.

i mean, i never really had feelings about connecticut before, other than it seemed like a boring state that didn’t have much to offer other than…hell i don’t even know. it was kind of like skim milk: never really impressed me, would rather avoid it if i could.

fuming mad, we left the building. it was starting to rain and the justice of the peace was waiting outside for us, smoking a cigarette with an effeminate male colleague. (writing that just made me laugh. i don’t even know why.)

“you gals ready?” she said, raspy-voiced and smiling. she reminded me of ladies in our neighborhood.

we sighed and told her what happened. she furrowed her brow, blew some smoke and said that was ridiculous and that the city ought to just take our money.

she put out her cigarette and told us that by the powers vested in her by the state of connecticut, she pronounced us married.

so we were half-married in connecticut. it was better than nothing.

we said thank you and ran back to the car.

“happy anniversary!” they shouted, blowing smoke out into the rain. “good luck!”

(so many complete strangers wished us well that day. it was really touching.)

i mentally gave the entire state the middle finger as we drove away but then felt bad since connecticut actually passed same-sex marriage, which is more than i can say for our home state of maryland right now. plus i really liked the smoking justice of the peace (and her effeminate male colleague!) and she was in connecticut. so instead i gave it a ross & monica finger, which seemed not as bad, and told holly to step on it. it was already 2pm and we had to get to the brattleboro, vermont courthouse before 5pm.

ok i just lied. i’d never tell holly to “step on it.” (who even says that??)  i think i actually told her not to go too fast b/c i didn’t want us to get a speeding ticket. then she pretended not to hear me and went 80mph anyway.

ready to get your maple syrup on and get hitched in vermont? i asked.

hell’s yeah i am, holly said.

come hell or high water, we were going to have at least two weddings in one day. it was on like donkey kong, folks. we were doing this.