Tag Archives: Blogging

Coffee Shop Invasion

Today I tried to be one of those cool people you see in coffee shops. The ones wearing those ridiculously large lawn-mowing headphones, sitting in a corner working furiously on something you assume is their latest short story or screenplay.

I’ve always thought these people seemed hip and successful. So this afternoon, I decided I was ready to join their ranks. It wasn’t as easy as I’d hoped.

To start, it takes me 10 minutes to park before I’m even able to set foot in the coffee shop. This aggravates me. But I try to let it go and tell myself I’m just not meant for menial tasks like driving or parking. I belong in a big city. A bustling financial district with a Light Rail, or whatever.

I arrive at the shop, put my stuff down and walk to the counter to order my drink. I get my usual — a medium dry cappuccino — and settle into a brightly lit corner that I hope will give me a second-hand tan.

Joan's judging eyes follow me wherever I go.

Joan’s judging eyes follow me wherever I go.

The table next to me is occupied by an aforementioned Headphone Wearer, who I’ve decided to name Karen. I crack open my MacBook Air (already pleased with the impression I’m making), and wander around in search of a nearby plug. I find one, plug in, and start unfurling my power cord like I’m laying a bomb or a booby-trap that leads back to my table. Karen looks up several times as I do this. It’s clear she finds me irritating. In this moment, I feel uncomfortably like my dad. He’s always very annoying when people are trying to concentrate on something other than him. He’s chipper. Bouncy and distracting, like a toddler who hasn’t quite come to grips with his body mass or movements.

All powered up and ready to go, I sit down and try to think of something to write about. Five minutes pass. Suddenly, I am painfully aware of how hot the sunlight feels on my delicate winter flesh. I cannot work under these circumstances, I tell myself. Especially considering the mole-removal I endured not seven days ago. So I stand on a chair and attempt to lower the blinds. The opposite happens, and somehow, the blinds open even further, showering Karen and myself with scalding UV rays from above. I hurry to reverse my actions, but it’s too late. The blinds are stuck ajar and I haven’t the upper body strength to pull them back down. It is clear that Karen hates me.

Defeated, I sit back down in my chair. At this point, I realize that I’ve nearly finished my coffee. What happens once it’s gone? Do I just sit here with an empty cup? Do I order another? What would Karen do?

I put this worry aside and begin to look for an acceptable Pandora station to enjoy. Do I go for my usual station — Kanye and Jay Z’s Watch the Throne? Or do I pick something a little more muted, more coffee-shop-esque? I feel Karen’s eyes burrowing into my screen and find myself wondering if she’s ever seen Keeping up with the Kardashians.

Things aren’t going as expected. I haven’t written a single word, I’ve formed a tumultuous relationship with this complete stranger Karen (if that’s even her real name), and my skin is feeling oddly flushed. Am I getting burned? Is my anti-aging cream negatively reacting to the window-filtered sunlight?

I decide to move. A change of scene will help me focus, surely. I pack up my station, wander over to a shady corner and start the whole process again. This time, I put on my glasses as if to say, “it’s go time, folks.”

I’ve now been in the coffee shop for 45 minutes. And I don’t have a word to show. So I write a blog post about being in a coffee shop.

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Things I tell myself

Things I tell myself when I’ve had a drink:

I’m going to pick up the piano. You know, get a keyboard and some sheet music on Amazon Prime. Start cranking out some classic jams – Bach, Beethoven, Andrew Lloyd Webber, the usual suspects. It’d be my signature party trick. Something I’d whip out unexpectedly to surprise my friends and woo nearby men with my digital dexterity.

I got very serious about this new musical venture. So serious that I went over to my parents’ house to practice on their piano. But when I sat down to play, I realized that despite seven years of choir and a brief affair with the trumpet, I still had NO idea how to read music. And the thought of learning was – and clearly always has been – just too much to bear.

I’m going to get some miniature life vests and teach my cats how to swim in the bathtub. This was a particularly passionate pipe dream of mine; it burned bright, but it burned fast. In the end, it was a traumatic flea bath that squashed my plans. Joan was so scared of the water that I had to strap on my old swim team one-piece and spray-tan swim-cap and hop in with her. It was – quite literally – a bloodbath.

Bathtime with Wolverine.

Bathtime with Wolverine.

I’m going to become a sommelier on the side. I’ve always had a great sense of smell. A unique ability to detect and describe even the faintest of scents. I think it’s an inherent survival trait of being asthmatic. I mean, think about it: the ability to identify an airborne threat is absolutely grounds for a right-swipe from the big D. (D being Darwin, mom.) If my ancestors were being picked off for wheezing, they had to develop at least one redeeming quality.

Anyways, as taste and smell are so closely related, I figured I’d be a shoe-in for sommelier school. So I ran the idea past my dad and sister. My dad was pretty supportive. Not a huge surprise, since our favorite bonding activities include blind bourbon taste tests. He did, however, tell me to back off the hot foods. One burnt tongue and I’d be out of business, he said. My sister was the voice of reason. “Jo. That shit costs like thousands of dollars. And it takes years of studying and practice. You can’t just become a sommelier as a hobby.”

And that was that.

I’m going to redownload Tinder. I have a love-hate relationship with Tinder. I hate it most of the time. Until I get a match. Which, for about five minutes, makes me feel DAMN self-important. But the feeling quickly wears off (see image below as to why). And when it does, I’m reminded of just how shallow the whole exercise is.

My profile said I loved cats. He thought I meant the Wildcats. Rookie mistake, bro. Also, ew.

My profile said I loved cats. He thought I meant the Wildcats. Rookie mistake, my man. Also, ew.

Every time I redownload the app, I ask myself, “Why am I even doing this? Why do I keep doing this? Why are all these men holding children? Why would they think I’d be into that? What’s the swipe etiquette for friends? Friends-of-friends? God I hope none of these matches actually message me.”

And finally, when I’ve once again reached my Tindering limit, “I’m just going to find a man the old-fashioned way. Go to a bar, down some liquid courage, hit on some non-threatening randos and hope something sticks.”

I’m going to write a blog post about things I tell myself when I’ve had a drink. The end.

Waiting for inspiration

Blogging used to come easy to me. Looking back, it seems like every day, I was struck with something that I just had to write about. Something that I couldn’t wait to jot down and roll with. I had such a constant stream of thoughts, ideas and blasphemous remarks from my dad that, for a time, I considered hooking a tape recorder to my belt. I still get a little excited at the thought of it, particularly because it would allow me to start using the phrase “Captain’s Log” in earnest (a Battlestar Galactica pipe dream, I suppose).

But in all seriousness, those are the days that haunt me every time I sit down to write another blog post. What if I’m a burned out blogger? A poser? What if I’ve peaked? It certainly wouldn’t be the first time, just look at my athletic career. Or my modeling career.

Here I am modeling the Dark Lord's spring collection, "He Who Must Not Be Drab." My career plummeted shortly after this photo surfaced.

Here I am modeling the Dark Lord’s spring collection, “He Who Must Not Be Drab.” My career plummeted shortly after this photo was released.

I’m sometimes so afraid that I’ll never come up with a “big idea” or a good story that I stop myself before I can even get started.

So here’s my attempt to change that. Which means I’m going to stop waiting for inspiration to strike and just write. I’m going to journal like the moody, LTD2-coveting child I once was and give a mere update on my life as of late. Brace yourselves, it’s riveting.

1. I’ve studied up on animal behavior. My exact Google search was: “How to tell my cat I love her.” I’m a firm believer in open communication – it can make or break a relationship. That said, I want to establish an ongoing dialogue with Joan, something that helps us communicate our immediate feelings or frustrations and navigate any future issues that may arise, like the introduction of a new father figure.

As you can see, she’s already very communicative. Particularly when it comes to feelings of disdain and superiority.

As you can see, she’s already very communicative. Particularly when it comes to emoting disdain and/or superiority.

Now, I’ve always been wary of verbally communicating with cats (you never know if you might be saying something disrespectful), so I’ve focused on deciphering body behavior and subtle social cues. My studies are far from finished, but I hope to draft myself a Doctorate Degree sometime in the near future.

2. Equally damning to my love life, I threw a birthday party for the above-mentioned cat. But from what I understand, my parents have already spent a significant amount of time renegotiating my dowry, so I’ll skimp on the incriminating details. Message me if you’re interested. And in the meantime, here’s a video of Joan’s fetching skills which, I must say, I’m incredibly proud of:

3. I’ve tried to hit on people for the first time in years. In college, my friends used to call me creepy. I denied it, of course. Quite vehemently. The way I saw it, I was proactive. Aggressively, disconcertingly proactive. But the day one of my pursuits addressed me via text message as “Hey creepy,” I decided it was time to throw in the towel and embrace the tactless romantic I was born to be.

Needless to say, my “game” has always been a little rough around the edges. And having been out of the game for a while, it’s safe to say it’s gotten worse. Just the other weekend, I hit on someone by broaching the scintillating topic of Meth Mouth. I asked someone out via LinkedIn (not my fault entirely), hid in the woods from a Tinder match and have since completed a few more cringeworthy actions that, for the time being, I’m unable to disclose. The wounds are too fresh.

So there you have it. My life as of late. A Captain’s Log, if you will. My hope is that this has somewhat alleviated my blogging block, but only time will tell.

 

A Walk in the Park

As I alluded to in my previous post, I was once an athlete. A field hockey player, to be exact.

joannaclark.wordpress.com

A pretty accurate visual representation of my field hockey career.

I realize that most people find this hard to believe as these days, my athletic endeavors are limited to chasing stray cats in my boyfriend’s backyard and the occasional lawn-mow (as illustrated in the photo below). In my defense, I recently gave team sports another shot. But after every tennis team I joined suspiciously “dissolved,” I decided that perhaps I’d better make a lasting transition into individual sports. So, I decided to get into running.

joannaclark.wordpress.com

My lawn-mowing face.

My favorite place to run is Cherokee Park. It’s full of pups, it’s relatively kid-unfriendly, and I always know exactly where I am in relation to the nearest bathroom. A few weeks ago, I was too tired and lazy to run, so I decided to power-walk instead.

But as I began my walk, I couldn’t help but feel a bit self-conscious. The only solo walkers were elderly women and strange men who believed that khaki cargo shorts were still an acceptable item of apparel. Certainly, I can understand the appeal of a nice pair of cargos — who wouldn’t want so many convenient options for storage? I myself was a cargo proponent for the better part of a decade, but I’m also the first to concede that they are in fact an assault on the senses.

But rather than let my insecurities get the best of me, I decided to put the negative thoughts behind me and make the most out of my walk. If nothing else, it would give me an opportunity to slowly enjoy the park, to see things I’d missed while running. Suddenly, my senses felt heightened. Like I’d splurged on an afternoon latte or, like Bran Stark, I’d opened my third eye. I began to examine every passerby with great attention to detail, realizing that this made me an anthropologist and that perhaps khaki cargos were a viable option after-all. Here are my observations:

1. Toe sock runners are dangerous

With heightened senses, I heard much of the world around me. The squirrels in the bushes, the birds in heat, the androgynous bikers whizzing past me. The only thing that snuck up on me, however, were the damn runners in those toe sock shoes. As an avid crop-duster, I’m fairly attuned to the gentle pitter patter of runners approaching me from behind. But due to the lightness of their footwear and the slenderness of their girlish calves, the men wearing toe sock shoes breezed by me without so much as a peep. It was startling and, quite honestly, unfortunate for all parties involved.

2. Big Foot probably smokes pot

At one point, I rounded a corner and was confronted with the distinct, skunkish smell of marijuana. I looked deeper into the woods to find said pot-smoker and saw what could have easily passed for the Germantown version of Big Foot — a man, casually strolling amongst the trees with long, unkempt locks and what looked like the remains of a tattered linen shirt. I couldn’t see his feet, but from my experience at Forecastle, I deduced that he was likely barefoot. I made eye contact with his chest hair and felt the blood rush from my face. I remained on-edge–practicing what I hoped would come across as a casual, yet passionate iteration of “I’m no narc”–until I realized that this fellow looked strikingly similar to one of sister’s ex-boyfriends. Certainly, a former Clark lover would cause me no harm, I thought. That soothed me. And I moved on.

This is an actual picture of an actual foot that I took at Forecastle.

This is an actual picture of an actual foot that I took at Forecastle.

3. Wildlife excites me

Obviously, this comes as no surprise. But at a slower pace, I realized that I was much more apt to spot critters. At one point, I even saw a turtle breast-stroking along with the current. It was almost too much. I stopped at every bridge to see how many ducks I could count, a treat I sometimes enjoy on my walk to work. To save money, I park in a free parking lot down by the Ohio River, which, for you non-Louisvillians, is the liquid that likely inspired the popular sci-fy series, Alex Mack. The Ohio is certainly no environment for whales, but every morning, I cross my fingers and pray to God that it will be the day I see one. It’s moments like these I know I need to relocate to Seattle.

4. I’m becoming my mother.

About five minutes into my walk, I thought to myself, “This would be really wonderful if I had a book on-tape.” It was jarring. And I rather not comment on the matter any more than I already have.

And those are the four things I observed at the park. To summarize, here’s a picture of my sister and I blowing away the competition at my first mini marathon.

joannaclark.wordpress.com

The Internet is officially creepy.

I have been called “creepy” on more than one occasion. Perhaps it is because I’m incapable of smiling like a normal person, fantasize about spray-tanning my boyfriend in his sleep, and/or habitually cuddle with a stuffed animal replica of my cat.

Creepy Exhibit A

Creepy Exhibit A

But regardless of my creepy tendencies, I am sad to report that I was officially “out-creeped” this month when an unauthorized photo of me went viral.

Exhibit B: Buster and Buster having a moment.

Creepy Exhibit B

I wrote a blog post a while ago about the strategy I use to weasel my way out of cooking, cleaning and yard-work. It is a tactic I’ve (successfully) used on my family for the last 20+ years. In fact, just last week, I proved its timeless value once again when I tricked my mom into “showing me how” to make scrambled eggs. They were delicious. Anyways, in the blog post, I included my high school senior yearbook picture and quote to prove my longtime commitment to this scheme.

Then, a few weeks ago, someone from high school informed me that a website dedicated to “daily fails” picked up my picture and was using it for an “epic yearbook quote fail.” I went to the link and saw that my yearbook picture had been pulled — completely out of context — from my blog post and used for the website’s daily post. Currently, the link has upwards of 200,000 shares and 20+ comments. Obviously, this creeps me out. While I have full intentions of reaching celebritydom at some point in my life (preferably by means of a music video), I wasn’t prepared to make my viral debut wearing a Wet Seal halter top and side-part comb-over. This was — and still is — a personal branding disaster.

After I saw the link, I began to freak out (as any normal hypochondriac would). Was Paris Hilton going to sue me? Was I going to lose my job? Was my right eye really that much bigger than my left eye? Then — as I scrambled to plan Buster’s and my exodus into obscurity — the person who sent me the link alluded to the possibility of me becoming an Internet meme. An Internet meme? Bless him — it was just the silver lining I needed. I heaved a huge sigh of relief as I realized that such a status would significantly up my chances of rubbing elbows with Grumpy Cat. It was the stuff of my dreams.

Feeling slightly better, I decided I was ready to read the comments on my picture. Big mistake. As it turns out, people were angry. Very angry. Because my picture had been pulled out of context, people deduced me to be some kind of socialite-worshiping, pathetic, aimless, sad child of “incompetent parents.” (To this, I can’t help but take offense as my parents are in fact nothing short of amazing. Weird, but amazing.) One commenter even said I was “like a 5-year old.” While I’ve never seen a 5-year-old up close (as I try to keep a minimum of 10-yards between myself and children at all times), I will take this as a tribute to my obsessive sunscreen application and rigorous moisturizer routine.

On a more serious note, my picture and quote sparked a fiery debate about immorality, government spending, my generation’s disgraceful laziness and “what’s wrong with the world today.” (Literally — according to some, am what’s wrong with the world today). I haven’t been the subject of such an attack since the mid 90s, when my own father tried to throw me out of a YMCA basketball game (I can only thank God my b-ball career isn’t on the line again this time). I scrolled through the comments, one more angry than the next, and realized that I was on the brink of becoming the poster-child of the fiscal cliff — it was as if every time I “forgot how” to clean the litter box, iron a shirt, steam some rice or reset the wireless router, I brought our country one step closer to an economic meltdown. Had I known my actions would bear such weight on the rest of the nation, I would have learned how to scramble an egg much sooner.

All joking aside, I realize that I have little room to complain. Yes, I was pissed. And yes, this was scary. But by sharing my pictures, stories and thoughts on the Internet, I am forfeiting a little piece of my privacy, and thus, the right to gripe once its been breached. Lesson learned. No more posting pictures with my name attached. However, as much as I hate to vent in my blog posts, I will say this: if you’re going to use my photos or writing for your own benefit, at least have the decency to cite my work. Or maybe even read the post that you pull something from. If nothing else, it might help you understand the concept of sarcasm.

Updated high school yearbook picture

Lawn-mowing Developments and Tennis Team Stardom

I realize that I’ve been noticeably absent from blogging. However, with another promising dog-sitting season on the horizon, I’ve decided to get back into the swing of things.

Allow me to recap the last few weeks of my life:

For starters, my dad claims to have submitted a personal ad for me, the contents of which list my dowry and immediate availability. His goal is to get me out of the house by February, and due to my lack of job offers, he considers marrying me off as the only option. My sister moved out a few weeks ago, leaving me the sole subject of my father’s antics. I’ve migrated my things into her old room, and while it’s a nice change from my former home-office setup, Buster is very resistant to the move.

Buster putting his foot down.

Buster putting his foot down.

My dad has already me locked into a May – July landscaping contract with him. My first task is to remove all rocks from the backyard. He also recently purchased a new lawn mower in anticipation of my continuing unemployment this summer. One night last week, he flung open the garage door and began yelling for me.

“Jo! Come here! Quick!” I pretended not to hear, as “Jo, come here quick” usually indicates in an incredibly non-time-sensitive emergency, such as a dish-washing demonstration. But he continued on. “Jo! Come here, I got something cool for you!”

It turned out that his “something cool” for me was the new lawnmower. I’ll admit — it is a pretty powerful piece of equipment. My dad “allowed me” to take it on its “maiden voyage” last week and I nearly dislocated both of my shoulders. The new mower is so fast that I spent the entire time jogging behind it. I finished the lawn in record time but with a few casualties — because I was  flung around the yard like an anemic child on an inner tube, the lawn is scattered with un-mowed tufts of grass that I was unable to tame.

I’ve also taken up tennis. Somehow, my sister talked me into joining her tennis league last November. It’s been both educational and embarrassing. I’ve been described as an “awkwardly lanky” tennis player with “crazy feet” and “flailing” limbs. I try not to take offense to the fact that I seem to have been described as a growing boy in the midst of puberty. While our season consists of 15-or-so matches, I’ve only been asked to participate in 3 of them.

Since I am clearly not the most athletic asset to my tennis team, I have resolved to become the most stylish member of the team. For Christmas, I asked my father for a tennis bag. I told him that I wanted something Serena would carry. Preferably something wild and glittery. The result is a black and gold tennis bag large enough to double as Buster’s traveling quarters. It’s huge. People have asked me to climb inside of it on more than one occasion. My goal for next season is to find things to put in it. Since I only have one racket, I’ll have to designate a few of the compartments for other important accessories, such as snacks or reading materials for when I am warming the bench.

In other news, Buster has developed a new habit of walking around the house with socks in his mouth. My hypothesis is that he’s pretending to starve on the brink of insanity so that we’ll give him more snacks.

And that’s about all for now.

Versatile Blogger Award

I’m always amazed when people tell me that they’ve read my blog or liked one of my posts. Actually I’m more than amazed — I’m flat-out shocked. I decided to start blogging this summer because things were getting a little ridiculous on the home-front — my days consisted of landscaping, dog grooming, Buster pampering, liquor/grocery shopping for my parents and any other miscellaneous task that my family members didn’t feel like tackling themselves. When I realized that I was buying more beer for my parents than for myself, I decided that things had reached an all-time low.

But I was wrong.

When my mom brought home a pet rat named after me, then I realized that things had reached an all time low.

So, I decided to start blogging to document the awkwardness/slew of rejection that is my post-grad life. I never thought people would read it, let alone enjoy it. When someone tells me they liked one of my posts, my reaction is somewhat similar to how I imagine redheads feel after every spray tan: pure and utter elation. (But seriously, the feedback and support I get from my friends and family makes me happier than I can ever explain. Thank you all!!)

When Katy Stuff gave me the Versatile Blogger Award, I very nearly emptied my inhaler — I was ecstatic!! I can’t thank her enough for how amazing she made me feel. Now, to claim the award, I have to fulfill each of these conditions:

Versatile Blogger Award

1. Thank the person who gave you the award and link back to them in your post

2. Share 7 things about yourself.

3. Pass this Award along to 15 recently discovered blogs and let them know about it!

I already mentioned how thankful I am that Katy Stuff gave me this award. If she only knew how much she brightened my day!

Now for 7 things about myself:

1. I put Frank’s hot sauce on everything. The fact that so many restaurants provide only Tabasco sauce disgusts me.

Hot sauce casualty.

2. When I was little, I cried because Aslan from The Chronicles of Narnia wasn’t real. I guess I’ve always been an awkward animal lover.

3. I don’t like going on dates. Dates are uncomfortable, I’m uncomfortable — it just doesn’t work out. I also don’t like occasions that require I change out of my yoga pants. I especially despise restaurant dates. I guess you could say I prefer bar dates, a fact at which as she reads this, I’m sure my mother is shaking her head disapprovingly and drafting me an email about her concern for my future.

My dusty pair of Jordans I wore for DZ intramural basketball games. We won twice in the 3 years I played.

4. I own 2 pairs of Jordans, one pair of Timberlands and at least 5 velour track suits. I had a phase in high school. My poor parents — I often wonder what they thought of me during that questionable time in my life.

OPI addiction. Just a few of my colors.

5.  I’m addicted to OPI nail polish. I don’t want to count how many colors I have because I don’t want to know much money I’ve spent on them. But, if I had to guess, I’d say my OPI collection is worth more than a few good velour track suits.

6. I still sleep with a stuffed animal. Needless to say, I’m single.

Buster & Buster.

7. My favorite month is October. Actually, I’m pretty much obsessed with it. October is the start of the holiday trifecta: Halloween (and my birthday), Thanksgiving and Christmas. I’m very much looking forward to the next 3 months as they’ll be my only source of income for the unforeseeable future.

Now, here are the 15 blogs I’ve recently discovered and really enjoyed!! (and yes, this did involve a fair amount of creeping) Be sure to check them out!

I’m passing the Versatile Blogger Award to:

http://unknowledgetree.wordpress.com

http://applescout.wordpress.com

http://theblackboxdiaries.com

http://oatsnbows.wordpress.com

http://sarahsypniewski.wordpress.com

http://mybeautifulair.wordpress.com

http://thekarinachronicles.wordpress.com

http://collegiatecrusades.wordpress.com

http://goingtogermany.wordpress.com

http://hippieinbloom.wordpress.com

http://realfunfood.com

http://bloglikeitshot.com

http://jhointhecity.wordpress.com

http://wanderlivin.com

http://danielsfunny.wordpress.com