My Awesomely Random Life (and Everything in Between)

Archive for the ‘Humor’ Category

Confessions of a Booknerd

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My name is Wendi, and I am probably most definitely absolutely 110% the biggest booknerd you will ever meet.

*And damn proud of it, my friends!

When it comes to reading, I’m Tom Hanks at Denny’s right after he got off that island with Wilson. I’ll read almost anything and everything–mysteries, serious literary fiction, fluffy chic-lit fiction, biographies, memoirs, and of course one of my favorite genres, young adult fiction. I’d like to think of myself as a flexible, curious reader, always looking to learn something, feel something and discover something new.

That being said however, I do have a few quirky reading habits that I just can’t seem to shake.

And I know I’m not the only one—Joey, I’m looking at you buddy.

These eccentricities just go to show that reading is such an intensely personal activity; no one person does it the same way.

Here are just a few of the things I find myself doing when I’m knee-deep in a good page-turner.

  1. Before I actually dive into a good book, I always read the very first sentence and the very last.

When I shared this little quirk of mine with the librarian who I work with, she was a teensy bit horrified. What about the potential for spoilers? I get what’s she putting down, I do. But for me, reading the last sentence gives me just a hint of what’s to come, and piques my interest to find out how it fits in with the beginning of the book. I’m very careful to read only the very last sentence, and I try to avoid looking elsewhere on the page. There’s something suspenseful and thrilling about peeking ahead—but only just a little bit.

And you thought reading wasn’t badass.

The one time I can remember this backfiring on me is with the J.D. Salinger short story, “A Perfect Day for Bananafish.” If you’ve read the story, you understand.

  1. I hate folding down the page corners of a book.

Hate it! I will try to McGyver a bookmark out of just about anything before taking the drastic step to dog-ear a page; old receipts, a penny, a bobbi pin, even a butter knife (don’t ask).

  1. I also hate it when books get reinvented, new and flashy covers.

Some are more heartbreaking than others, like when the Harry Potter series was updated. The new covers seemed so strange and foreign to me; it was almost like it was a completely different book. The first edition I own or read will always be the best. No special new editions for this girl.

  1. I will go out of my way to get the hard cover versions of a book, even if I already own it in paperback or on my Nook.

There is just something about a hard cover; it’s hard binding, it’s strength, it’s durability. Just thinking about one gets me all flushed. Some Many Most think I’m crazy-sauce for buying a book if I already have it. But it’s kind of the same thing as buying that second pair of identical jeans that you’ve already got hanging in your closet, right? Which reminds me, I need to buy more jeans. As you can imagine, I am beginning to accumulate a lot of books. A lot of books.

  1. And finally, I love when books have a price sticker on the back of the cover that you can peel off.

My favorite local bookstore when I was a kid had those types of labels, and I loved bringing home a new book and peeling off the sticker. This childhood ritual has manifested itself in other areas of my life — I also love peeling the plastic protective sheet off of electronic devices and the labels off of water bottles. And don’t even get me started on those little stickers that come on your apples or bananas! I know, I don’t really get it either.

But we all have our little quirks, don’t we?

Question of the day: Do you have any unique quirks, reading or otherwise?

Confessions of an Over-thinker (Who’s Crushing Hard Core)

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It’s no secret that I tend to be one that overthinks thangs *from time to time.

*Read always. I always over-think thangs.

I also tend to turn into a **goober whenever I develop a new crush on someone.

**Read biggest. I turn into the biggest goober ever.

Combine these two stellar qualities and you get me, the World’s Most Awkward Dater everrrrr.

I tried contacting the folks at Guinness but apparently I was barely out-awkwarded by Mr. Avocado. I see you, buddy. And just know that I do not go down without fighting. Challenge accepted.

Here are just some of the things that happen when you’re an over-thinker who is crushing hardcore on someone.

1. Deny, deny, deny. You try to convince yourself you actually don’t. Because crushes are a damn commitment! And you certainly don’t have time for *feelings* and all the worrying that goes along with them. Nope. Noooo. You absolutely do NOT have a crush.

2. ….And then you see that perfect face and your heart is instantly pulverized into a mushy smoothie—Fine. Whatever. You might have a teeny, tiny, itsy-bitsy crush.

3. Making eye contact becomes a huge conscious effort. Because there’s some weird part of you that thinks, somehow, they will look at you and just KNOW. Your eyes will totally tell on you—“Hey you. Yeah you in the corner over there drinking PBR while watching the Brewers/Rockies game. I’ve got some juicy gossip. See this person? The one looking at you through me? He/she is soooo totally into you.”

4. You practice conversations in the shower. Or on your drive to work. Or just chilling in bed on a lazy Sunday. Basically any place that you’re guaranteed some privacy. You’re coming up with interesting topics to discuss, things to say to impress him/her, and testing out the perfect tone to casually (but not too casually) say: “Heyyy!”

5. But then you begin to worry that “Heyyy” sounds weirdly excited, “Hi” is too robotic and formal, “Whazzzupppp?!” is too Budweiser and “How are you?” is too invasive. You end up settling on a simple head nod.

6. Arggghh. You gave a fucking head nod??!!??

7. Investigate your crush online. And spend the next hour convinced you accidentally liked an Instagram photo from 56 weeks ago. You consider deleting all traces you ever existed on any social media account. EVER.

8. Orchestrate the perfect way to just accidentally run into this new crush. Oh, you go to this coffee shop/bar/grocery store too? That’s so weird. I had noooo idea.

9. But when you do see your crush, you totally clam up and don’t say anything. Mayyyybe squeak out a “good” when they say “What’s up?” and immediately want to die. Oh. My. God.

10. Realize that you definitely should have gone with “What’s up?” You gave a fucking head nod??!!??

11. You look for any possible sign feelings could be mutual. I mean, seriously, ANY sign. “He DEFINITELY lingered when handing me my coffee cup,” or “He said my name and kind of smiled when he said it, so that for surely means hhe likes me, right?!” 

12. Plan. Plan. Plan. The overthinker is crippled by the thought of anything remotely spontaneous. There needs to be something set in motion. And a Plan B. And C. Because oh my God, what if it all falls through? Many, many nights are just spent thinking and scheming.

13. If you happen to run into your crush while out with your friends, you work EXTRA hard to act cool and collected. Shut up, Wendi, don’t you dare give it away. Don’t giggle. And don’t you even think about doing that weird hair flip thing you do when you’re nervous. THEY WILL KNOW! Everything is fine. It’s easy breezy. Didn’t even seem him over there looking all ridiculously cute. Nope.

14. You create a playlist of songs that you imagine one day listening to together. Like a soundtrack to magically fall in love to. Would you like some macaroni with all that cheesy cheese fest, amiright? 

15. You spend an embarrassing amount of time scoping out anyone attractive who has commented on their pictures. Because it’s probably his sister. It’s his sister. Just tell me it’s his goddamn sister, okay????

16. You remember any little detail they provide. A favorite musician? You stored that info away for good. It’s in the vault. You probably even decided to check if there were going to be any shows in your area. That way you can casually mention it. Oh what? You already got tickets? And you have an extra one? I mean, yeah, it’s not a big deal though…

17. You become paranoid that they can actually hear your heat thump-thump-thumping in your chest. Or see the gigantic butterflies pterodactyls flying around in the pit of your stomach.

18. You stress, daydream, and above all else, remember that having a crush can kind sorta make you feel a little out of your mind—but for all of the right reasons.

Thank you for twenty years of magic

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Today marks the 20th anniversary of the publishing of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s (or Philosopher’s) Stone, so if you’ll allow me a moment of sappy self indulgence here, I’m about to get real nerdy.

People like to smile indulgently at me now when I say I grew up alongside Harry and his friends, but I’m really not over exaggerating. From the time I was ten years old, through all the misery and trauma and loneliness and heartbreak of childhood and adolescence, they were there. They were a crutch, a comfort, an escape, an identity. As J.K. Rowling once said, Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home, and some days that was the place that felt most like home to me.

Whenever I felt lonely or scared or unhappy, I knew I could find comfort in the familiar waterlogged, dog-eared pages of those books, the binding creased and failing in places.

I remember the first time I read them like it was yesterday. I was 10 years old, tiny but precocious. It was hard to tell what I had more of then – hair, brains, or spunk. I was in the library at my elementary school, where I was on first name terms with the librarian, clutching a stack of books half my height and five times my grade level when I spotted it there on the display rack, all blue and red and purple and magic.

In 2000, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone was a hot commodity, even in my lower elementary school. It was surprising that it was even in stock, and I couldn’t help but think that it must have been a sign, waiting there just for me to find it.

When I got home from school that afternoon, I retreated to my room and didn’t come out until the third time I was called to dinner. There, laying on my purple and white bedspread, I met my new best friends for the first time. Harry, with his heart of gold and unfailing courage; Ron, always loyal and quick to laugh; and Hermione, who was, to borrow more of Ms. Rowling’s words, my ink and paper twin.

From then on, Harry’s story and mine were intertwined. At age 16, ugly crying over the final chapter of Deathly Hallows at one in the morning. On my 18th birthday, visiting the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal, feeling like I could breathe for the first time in months when I saw the castle I’d inhabited in my head for years.

Sometimes I feel that, even with all the words I’ve learned since age ten, all the things I’ve experienced and felt, I will never be able to adequately describe the bottomless pool of love I have for this series. It isn’t so much a book series, a movie franchise, a set of characters, as it is part of my identity. I truly don’t who or how I’d be today if I hadn’t picked up that worn hardcover book in fifth grade.

It taught me the value of love and loyalty and light and friendship. It taught me that courage is never the same thing as fearlessness. It taught me how to speak my mind, how to stand up for what I believe in, how to fight for those who cannot defend themselves, and how to appreciate the little moments of joy amidst the chaos.

Now, two decades have elapsed since Harry Potter entered our collective lives. Hundreds of thousands of fans and friends have come to love this series. Some have already begun passing it on to their children, the second magical generation.

Harry’s story has come to mean so many things to so many different people. A whole generation who learned to love reading, to stand up for their beliefs, to make their own magic.

I know so many people, personally and by reputation, who have used Harry Potter as a way of coping with the ugliness that reality often throws our way. So many stories of strength and bravery and survival, fueled by the magic of rustling pages, midnight premieres, a common bond that draws us all closer.

Even as I sit here in my sunny corner office at my “big kid” job, my eyes rest on the thin piece of resin and wood, fashioned into a replica of Hermione Granger’s wand. After all these years, she’s still helping me be the woman I always wanted to be. While I’ve come to fall in love with half a dozen other ladies of the wizarding world – Tonks and Luna and Ginny and Lily and Molly – Hermione will always have a special place in my heart.

At ten years old, I was all frizzy hair, big words, and unfettered, self-righteous bossiness. I was what many over the years, both kindly and unkindly, have referred to as an insufferable know-it-all. Hell, at 30, I still am. Because Hermione Granger taught me that being bossy is a good thing, that breaking the rules is okay sometimes when you have a cause you believe in, that books and cleverness are important, but not as important as friendship and bravery.

So what can I say, nearly 20 years later? Thank you seems too trite, but it’s all I have. So thank you, J.K. Rowling, for changing and saving my life in ways I am still only beginning to unravel. Thank you to Harry and Ron and Hermione for teaching an entire generation to be better and braver and bolder.

The other day, I picked up my well-worn 17-year-old copy of the Sorcerer’s Stone. It’s been awhile since I took the time to sit down and read it, but as I did, I felt like I was rejoining my ten-year old self. Somewhere, lost in time, she’s always been there, hiding in a blanket fort with a flashlight and a book twice her size. She’s been waiting patiently for me to come find her again, reunited after all these years. It’s been a long time, she says. Sit down. I’ll read you a story about love and dragons and magic and some kids who changed the world. I think they’re friends of yours.

Perfectly Mismatched

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It’s easy to forget that the best combinations in life – the things that are infinitely nicer together than apart – are often the most unlikely.

Everything from food and activities to people and ideas can be infinitely improved by its logical opposite, or just something you never would have thought of in a million bajillion years. Like the Milwaukee Brewers continuing to kick ass…in JUNE! Or peanut butter and jelly and potato chip sandwiches (don’t knock it ‘till you try it, y’all).

While crazy and often underrated, the following are things that shouldn’t go together (but somehow fit perfectly).

  1. Laughing so hard, you cry. Probably my favorite emotion of all time.
  2. … and when someone makes the perfect joke right when things are at their most sad, and you can do nothing but laugh really, really hard. I’m convinced there’s nothing a good ugly snort-laugh can cure.
  3. Being attracted to people’s imperfections, and the way they combine to make someone more interesting than conventionally pretty (and all the more beautiful for it).
  4. Breakfast for dinner. One word: waffles and bacon. Okay, that was three words, but one amazing combo.
  5. … and dessert for breakfast. (Life is short. Sometimes you have to make sure you eat your fill of all the cake.)
  6. Sleeping all day, and then staying up all night and seeing the sun rise from the other side. Repeat as needed.
  7. Having the kind of friendship where you can sit together in absolute silence or even be half a world away but you still never feel bored, lonely, or alone. To those people in my life, you know you who are and I love you.
  8. Chocolate. Covered. Potato. Chips.
  9. The knowledge that sometimes, things have to come to an end — loved ones die, relationships come to a close, you graduate from school or leave a job — and yes, you’ll be sad, but that this happens so that you appreciate the time you did have all the more.
  10. Polka dots and stripes. Plaid and leopard print. Gingham and seersucker. Leather and lace. Mix patterns and textures until you can’t anymore, and then mix them again.
  11. Remembering that asking for help is sometimes a bigger sign of strength than struggling through something on your own.
  12. The rush of satisfaction that comes with doing something you know you shouldn’t be doing — but the end result is better and more wonderful than you could have ever imagined.
  13. Indulging in childhood favorites (like rereading Harry Potter in your blanket fort even though you are a full-blown adult). You’re never too old.
  14. Dancing in the rain. Go ahead. Do it one day. See how it feels.
  15. Opposing colors. Black and white is timeless, and few things can make you feel as festive as red and green.
  16. Calling green juice and a cookie a well-balanced meal. Because if those two combined don’t equal net zero, then I really don’t know what does.
  17. Everyone thinks that when you go into a hospital, life stops. But it’s just the 
 Life starts.

QOTD: What are some of your favorite combos that shouldn’t go together but fabulously do?

Laughter Looks Good on You

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I love my laugh. It’s probably one of my favorite things about me.

(I know, in a society that values modesty above all other things, that’s not exactly something that you’re supposed to say. You’re not supposed to have favorite things about yourself; other people can have favorite things about you and give you compliments and you take them graciously, but you never admit that you agree. Well, I think that’s kind of silly, because if you love something about yourself, you should own it. But I digress.)

Someone once told me that my laugh is the kind of thing people know they’ve earned, that makes them feel good about themselves, because they feel like they were genuinely funny enough to earn such a reaction. It’s a loud laugh, obnoxious at times and certainly the direct opposite of sexy (boy, I’m really selling this thing, aren’t I?) because I’ve never been able to learn how to make it quieter and I’ve never bothered to try. I’ll giggle when I’m nervous — because I can never keep a straight face when I’m really freaked out — or I’ll text a polite ‘lol’ when I don’t know what else to say, but when I laugh, I laugh real. Ugly-snort-laugh real. I think everyone should.

Life’s too short for fake laughter when you find something really funny.

After all, why shouldn’t you react accordingly when you find something funny? I don’t mean the harmful-to-other-people, at-the-expense-of-others funny, but rather just flat-out humorous. And there are tons of scientific reasons why you should laugh – from stress relief, to combatting depression, to making yourself feel closer to the person with whom you’re laughing, to the fact that it works like a domino, and is bound to make people around you feel happier, too.

With the untold number of tragedies that keep piling up this year alone, it feels sometimes like the world is growing a little darker, a little sadder, a little more cold. It’s hard to see the positive when everything seems to be pointing in the opposite direction. It’s hard to find the good (which there is so very much of) when it gets overshadowed on a daily basis by an influx of bad news.

It’s in the moment when we begin to feel the heaviness that we need laughter the most.

If only to get through all that bleakness to the next bright spot, even if it feels like it might never come.

You have to believe it will, though. And you get there by laughing. Even if it feels false at first. But laugh at your own jokes (because I know there are moments when you say something that you think is really funny–can I get a holla for all the fellow dad joke and/or puns connoisseurs out there) and laugh at the jokes your friends tell, and go out late at night and laugh about the things you did and said and strangers you flirted with the next morning.

Make memories.

Laugh until you cry. Make lame jokes and witty jokes, sarcastic one-liners and corny comments that make people look at you sideways. Laugh anyway. Laugh despite their looks. Laugh in spite of them.

Laugh every day if you can.

Even if you feel sad. Even if some tragedy struck you. (Sometimes that’s when we need laughter most.) And don’t feel guilty for it, either. The people who love you would want you to be happy, and would want you to laugh. Surround yourself with people who you think are funny. Laugh honestly, and you’ll be surprised how many people will think you’re funny too, just by virtue of the fact that you’re laughing. And you’ll feel better. Even if it’s just for that night, about a joke you won’t remember five years from now, but you’ll remember how you felt and hopefully that was happy.

Laughter brings happiness.

And the world could always use more of that.

#DearMe

If you could give your younger self any piece of advice, any at all, what would it be?

That’s the premise behind this really cool YouTube initiative I just happened to stumble upon (I may or may not be procrasti-writing). This particular initiative encourages people to upload a video letter to the site, addressing their younger selves and the struggles/challenges/insecurities they faced growing up.

While it’s a couple years old, it’s worth a watch (or three). #DearMe is an empowering and inspirational campaign that asks the question, “What would you differently?” More importantly, it is a strong reminder that you, yes YOU, are enough just the way you are.

That you, yes YOU are amazing and beautiful and smart and all around kick-ass. I absolutely love this idea, and while it was originally created in coalition with National Women’s Day which takes place on May 8th every year, I don’t feel that it should be just directed at women alone, but everyone in general.

Every one of us has our own insecurities, even the people you least expect. I think it’s up to us to help this next generation who is beaten down by bullying not to just accept who they are, but to also, and more importantly, love who they are.

In observance of this awesome campaign, I was inspired to do my own #DearMe entry. Here are just some of the things I would like to tell the younger me.

  1. #DearMe, happiness is found when you stop comparing yourself to others and celebrate your rocking individuality.

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  1. #DearMe, take risks. Don’t be afraid to fail. Try. Try again.
  1. #DearMe, you may not be able to change the world, but you can surely try.
  1. #DearMe, when you smile, smile with your whole self. When you laugh, laugh from your whole soul. When you love, love with your whole heart.
  1. #DearMe, learn that it’s okay to say, “no.”
  1. #DearMe, crimped hair would be a good thing to say a big, “HELL NO!” to. Just leaving that little nugget here as an example. And because CRIMPED HAIR!
  1. #DearMe, your value has nothing to do with a silly size or any number on a scale. Nor does it have anything to do with the clothes you wear, the makeup applied or the way you style your hair. You are beautiful; freckles, scars, sweatpants and all.
  1. #DearMe, not everyone is going to like you. And that is OKAY.
  1. #DearMe, sometimes it’s okay to treat yo’ damn self! Necessary in fact. So grab that book, take that bubble bath and go to town on that pint of Ben & Jerry’s. You’ll thank me future me later.
  1. #DearMe, don’t ever take for granted your family and friends. Call them just because. Pop over to see them. Tell them you love them as much as you can. If you’re lucky enough to have people in your life who love, support you [and make you ugly man laugh and smile] unconditionally, don’t ever let them go.
  1. #DearMe, just because you’re an adult, doesn’t mean you can/should eat ice cream for breakfast. HAHAHAHAHA!! Just kidding. Of course that’s what it means!!!!
  1. #DearMe, you will fall in love, you will get your heart broken, you will doubt if you will ever be able to fully heal. Don’t worry. You will. You will eventually meet someone who is the peanut butter to your jelly, the chocolate chip to your cookie, the Jim to your Pam. And when you do #DearMe, enjoy every damn second. When you smile with and because of this person, smile with your whole self. When you laugh with and because of this person, laugh from your whole soul. When you love and love because of this person, love with your whole heart.
  1. #DearMe, relaxxxxxxxxxxx the fuck out. Stop trying to plan everything, to control everything and just…be. Everything will work out. You’ve just got to have a little faith and a lot of hope (and a fully-stocked emergency chocolate stash).
  1. #DearMe, be brave. Be strong. You’ve got this in the bag! *But I was dead serious about that crimped hair thing.

If you could tell your younger self anything, anything at all, what would it be?

30

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Today began like any other day.

I woke up, hit my alarm two three five times, rolled out of bed and slowly greeted the morning. After I got done pouring myself one two three bowls of Frosted Flakes and two four five cups of coffee, something hit me.

HOLY SHIT!

I’m 30! As in, three decades, six whole hands, in-bed-by-nine and keeps-hard-candy-in her-pockets-at-all-times years old.

HOLY SHIT!

I want to preface this by saying that I’ve never really been one to harbor on the whole age thing. I’m one of those cliche weirdos who go around touting that “age is but a number” and “you are only as old as you feel.” And I’ve fully and wholeheartedly believed that.

But the big 3-0.

Damn.

That’s kind of a big one.

As I sat there hovering over my kitchen counter this morning, I couldn’t help but get just the teeny, tiniest bit sentimental.

I’ve been a lot of things in my 30 years.

I started out at as the preemie baby, the girl who beat the odds.

I was a daughter, grand-daughter, sister and best friend.

I was a t-ball player turned soccer ace turned wanna-be track star.

I was a book nerd, writer, baseball nut and avid ice cream aficionado.

I was a student and forever-learner who would go on to become a college and graduate school alum.

I was a struggling young professional just trying to find her way, searching for an opportunity to make her mark on the world.

I was a girlfriend, an ex-girl friend and hopeless romantic (even though I would never admit to that last one).

I was an eternal optimist, dreamer, thinker and doer.

I’ve been a lot of things in my 30 years, but most recently, I’ve been me. Just me.

This ‘just me’ has been fortunate enough to have thirty years of memories.

Thirty years of experiences.

Thirty years of accomplishments and heartbreak and laughter and joy. Thirty years full of places I’ve seen, people I’ve met, lessons I’ve learned and moments I would drop everything for just to relive one more time.

Thirty years have certainly given ‘just me’ many things: my first gray hair, face wrinkle and a whole new appreciation for Spanx. But what I’m most grateful for, the things that make me genuinely excited about turning the big 3-0? Those are yet to be seen, heard or felt.

For my 30th year around the sun, I’m going to be chasing these things, the things that light me up, make me so happy I find myself smiling for no particular reason. I want to do the things and see the places and feel the feels that make me feel like the truest version of myself.

We all have the ability to choose who we are and what defines us, no matter what point in life we are in.

For this next chapter in my life, I think I kinda want to pick and choose my favorite elements from each past phase (*with mayyyyybe the exception of that whole crimped hair thang because no one needs to see that ever, ever again!) to curate a brand-spankin’ new one, one that’s filled with adventure, excitement, happiness, passion and full-on, hard-core life-living.

I’m 30.

HOLY SHIT!

 

 

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