Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Thanksgiving is Going to the Dogs

"Lou, you've known me ten years now, just a few months short of your whole life," I told my dog, "I'm probably not going to kill you with the vacuum cleaner." Lou hates it when I vacuum. He hates it when the washer begins its spin cycle. He hates it when the dishwasher door swings open. In fact, about the only thing he doesn't hate is when I accidentally leave the room with dirty dishes on the coffee table, but hates it once I re-enter the room, to find him with his little spotted snout all but impaling a plastic container, his tongue dislodging every last molecule of flavor from it. He cowers under the dining room table when Sophie digs her play broom and mop out of her toy box and pretends to clean house. And there's something especially frightening about living entities inhaling or exhaling or opening the mail anywhere within a four mile radius of him while he's drinking from his water dish.

But don't let Lou's fragility fool you. Woe is the well-meaning fundraiser who comes to the front door to sell candy bars or memberships to one environmental organization or another. You Girl Scouts and your cookies better look out. And all you deer out there who think you can just walk up to one of the trees and start munching without having your eardrums burst wide open from the most ferocious bark in three states can think again. Losers. And just after I adopted him TEN years ago, he was pretty sure that performing stealth attacks to my head while I slept was the very best possible way to spend an early Saturday morning. "If I were going to kill you, Lou," I ducked down under the table to explain, "it would have been then, and by the way, I wouldn't use a Swiffer to do it." It's also for this reason that I don't usually reprimand Sophie for her propensity to body tackle Lou once he's sound asleep in his chair.

We've included in our last three moves a big, old, and now very gross and beat-up stuffed chair, simply because it's Lou's Chair(TM), and I swear that if we ever buy land, I'm putting at least one sheep on it so that Lou finally has a proper way to unleash his desperate instincts to herd things. He's Lou, a forty pound cattle dog-mutt and the exact behavioral replica of Alex, only in dog form. He's the little guy I found in a poor, drug-addled town on the Colorado-New Mexico border, trembling and growling in equal measure at anyone who might harm him. And from the looks of it, pretty much everyone did.

I was not prepared to take a four month old puppy with substantial mental and physical difficulties home. I had already stuffed a dog--a big one--into my tiny townhome, and was working all the time. But there was something about Lou that was ornery and sweet in all the right places, and that convinced me to ply him with hot dogs until he allowed me to put him in my lap and give him the petting of his life. (What no one would have guessed about Lou is that he's one big tickle spot.) He fell asleep there, much to the wonderment of people who never got the memo about how holding down a puppy and docking his tail with an ax pretty much puts the kibosh on a dog/human relationship based on love and trust. So there's that.

I took Lou home, where I promptly paid my vet's student loan every month trying to figure out what was the deal with the daily torrent of bloody diarrhea. I spent the rest of my cash undoing what I came to call Lou's little home improvement projects: The trench he dug down the middle of the living room carpet had to have been my favorite. A few months later, I met Alex, who I think actually married me to get to Lou. They are high-strung, skittish males who are annoying and lovable at the same time, and live to run and play. They are intent on rolling in dead stuff, passing gas in close quarters, messing up the house on a constant basis, and can't be bothered with listening to anything I have to say. Whenever I take either one of them out, I use a short leash that I abandon the second I catch a glimpse of a certain sad face...and a whiff of something that can trigger a coroner's gag reflex.

A few years ago, we added "cancer survivor" to Lou's resume, an impressive record that also includes "porcupine survivor" and "prairie dog catcher." And come to think of it, Lou has outlasted and survived just about every thing that was in my life the day he walked into my house and promptly peed all over it. The job, most of the people, the house, the cars, the late, great, incredibly soft Bobo Reale. He's seen a chunk of my adulthood that made me want to cower under my dining room table, and I'm thankful to have had his little furry body next to me for it, the nervous, ungrateful bastard that he is. He's our dog, Lou, the only one of his kind. Lucky us.

Have a Merry Christmas...Somewhere Else

I ate lunch the other day with my friend Mickki. She's a doll who put up with my singing "Oh Micky you're so fine" three days a week at the job I had a million years ago right up until the day that she reminded me that I am four hundred and twenty seven years old, and she was something like 21 at the time. I think she said something like, "I've never heard the original version of that song, I've only heard other people sing it to me." But when we're not contemplating the fact that I'm over four hundred, we're just two kooky gals who both like eating lunch at Noodles.

"I can't believe they're playing Christmas music already," she said. And it was true, the sterile Musak version of Oh Come All Ye Faithful was oozing out of the overhead speaker onto me and my strogonoff, reminding me of one of my most genius ideas: Tiered Christmases.

One of the problems with Christmas, you see, is that everyone celebrates it at once. There's no escaping it. It's everywhere. So I, Jody Reale, propose the following: The US Regional Holiday Plan. Here's the idea:

For example, we could say, "Red states, your Christmas season happens in the summertime; blue states, your Christmas happens in the winter." That way, the white Christmas enthusiasts could travel to, say, Maine Massachusetts while they're celebrating their Christmas season, and Coloradoans like me would be psyched out of their damn minds that they didn't have to risk their lives driving to the mall in bad weather the day before the big gift exchange.

Or, maybe we could say that the Eastern Seaboard, the middle states, and the West Coast are all assigned different Christmas seasons. Or each state is given its own week of Christmas time, leaving the US with two full weeks out of every year during which Christmas is prohibited. Not personal enough for you? OK, your own Christmastime could be assigned to you based on the first three numbers of your social security number, or you could draw dates from a lottery.

Think of the possibilities; the lessening of airport mayhem and travel frustration. The steady flow of consumers to stores all year-round. The potential to make what can be an anxious time of year more palatable to those of us with seasonal affective disorder. Are you on board?

I'm sure Santa's going to fight this one with every fiber, but screw him. He's had a good run all these years working one day a year. He can start outsourcing like everyone else.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Grossing Out, Twice Removed

I wish I had a dime for every time Alex has asked me to drop whatever I’m doing so that he can show me some random dude’s film of some other dude skateboarding off his roof, or chugging a beer in record time and then burping the 1812 Overture. He watches them on the Internet of course, at a site that is the equivalent of YouTube’s younger brother; the littler one with chew stuck in his teeth. The stuff is, in general, a little ruder, harder, and delves right into the dark, so that after you watch the guy skateboard off his roof, you can also get a close up of his naked femur after he breaks his leg in half. Probably not coincidentally, the site’s name is I have bowed only twice to watching a few choice offerings there, and both times, showered afterward.

I love mindless media, just ask the people at VH1 who are happy to deliver the Celebreality tripe I consistently clamor for in 55 gallon drums; it’s not that. It’s that Break is the Web site equivalent of the guy who drives a car with a “No fat chicks” bumper sticker on it, with his Jerky Boys tape turned up to 11. And I realize that, not only am I not hurting his feelings with these observations, I’m probably just encouraging him. So be it.

Despite my outward criticisms of such media, I don’t begrudge Alex his enjoyment of it, as long as I don’t have to drop whatever I’m doing to watch it myself, or hear about it over the phone while I’m trying to work. (I have to wonder what else he does at work.) For a few weeks running now, Alex explained to me, there’s been one video making the rounds more than any other, generating a buzz that was hard for Internet video-watching America to ignore. It was called, ominously, Two Girls, One Cup, a video that the vox populi touted as unwatchable. Not being one to ignore a gauntlet, no matter how juvenile, no matter how “betcha can’t” or “double dog dare,” Alex bucked up, gave it his all, and “was only able to make it eight seconds,” he told me, dialing up each of his friends to initiate a long-distance game of “betcha can’t” tag.

As I wondered how all of these men make incomes that are triple my own, one friend was only able to make it five seconds, with another, grittier guy just barely making it all the way through. Another friend had to stop watching it after ten seconds, and even after turning away from the picture, was unable to listen to it. “I don’t understand,” I said, unable to even guess at what would make these grown men—these ungross-outable men—so grossed out. “Is it snuff?” I asked, reaching for the most terrible genre I could think of.

“No, it’s poop,” I saw Alex wince. “And puke.”

A movie with poop in it that’s sweeping the nation. It’s these kinds of phenomena that make me wonder why I’m not a millionaire yet.

I won’t narrate the plot here; you can read about it yourself, literally ad nauseum, just by Googling the title. But the notes on the story line are these: Nude or nude-ish girl meets girl. Girl and girl meet all manners of the most rude and foul activities that one can perform with the body’s humors.

Right, so that’s all fine. I get it. I’m the girl who almost vomited during both Jackass I and II, not because of some of the more nauseating stunts, but because I laughed so hard during them. (I’m thinking specifically of one gag—no pun intended—in particular, entitled “Fart Mask.”) And I’m still not watching Two Girls, One Cup, all high-pressure tactics notwithstanding. I’m no sensor, no puritan. I’m not taking a stand, I’m making a choice, and it’s to think more about puppy dogs and Skittles than about two girls, one cup, and the interesting-but-not-that-interesting motives behind the camera. Maybe you’ll choose the same, or maybe you’ll let the curiosity get the better of you, pussy cat. No harm, no foul. Just count me in for hayrides and show tunes, and out for witnessing women take the Pepsi challenge with a cornucopia of each others’ body fluids.

Oh, and by the way, our friend Jeff has seen the whole thing five times now, the best part about that being that it’s so fun to watch him watching it that he threw an ad hoc viewing party in which he sat facing his computer monitor and his guests sat facing him. Who knew such a thing could be so entertaining? As it turns out: the Internet knew. They know everything.

Now, not only can you watch Two Girls, One Cup, (or not watch it, as the case may be) you can watch videos of people watching Two Girls, One Cup. A cottage industry!

So I told Alex that, as a consolation prize for my refusal to answer the call to jump off the bridge like everyone else, I would gladly appear on-camera, as a person watching a person watching Two Girls, One Cup. I’m such an innovator. Mom will be so proud.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Boxer Shorts and Black Socks: A Love Story

The other day our friend Jim came by to pick something up. It was as lazy of an afternoon as we’re capable of having, and Alex answered the door in his standard post-bike-ride best: A pair of striped boxers and the black dress socks that he’d put on for work at least forty eight hours before. Jim looked at him, scowling, shaking his head. “What are you doing?” Jim asked him, motioning with his hands to Alex’s exposed torso. Alex puffed up his chest, sucked in his belly, then let it all out and farted.

I can’t believe it myself, but this is the very thing that drew me to Alex all those years ago: An unashamed appreciation for life’s simplest, greatest pleasures. I literally fell in love the afternoon I witnessed Alex eating a sandwich over the sink, wearing nothing but his boxer briefs and the twenty dollar Timex Iron Man digital watch that he publicly considers his best purchase in twenty years. It looks like since then, he’s decided to keep his feet warm, too—thus the socks—making me wonder: Is there anything sexier than common sense?

“Tomorrow’s our anniversary,” I told Jim, which elicited a response that Jim’s famous for in our circle of friends. I heard it for the first time eight years ago, the night the three of us crowded into a ski town hotel room for the night; the night that I saw Alex perform for the first time what I guess was standard operating procedure—if you happen to be at summer camp: Reserving the bed he wanted by yanking down the comforter and his pants at the same time, and rubbing his bare bottom on the sheets. “Got dibs on this bed!” he cheered, pulling up his pants. Jim and I looked at each other, slack jawed, before Jim said, “I don’t know how you do it, Jody. I just don’t know.”

We met in the fall of ’98, at a party that he and his friends weren’t even invited to. Because it was the time in my life when I decided working ninety hours a week would be a good idea, it took us about two weeks to speak to each other again and agree to go on our first date. I pressed for lunch, he pressed for dinner and won. Since then, he’s taken me to live in three different cities in four different houses. He has sent me to Italy, and also in a separate turn of events, quite literally over the edge. I saw a therapist once, and as I was explaining why I was in her office sitting on her purple futon, this therapist, a person who is trained to look neutral and serene and blameless while you tell her things that are quite the opposite, smote herself on the head and said, “God! What was he thinking?”

Ever since we were married in Las Vegas of all places, here, during a four-day whirlwind nuptial extravaganza in the company of 90 of our closest friends and family, I’ve heard a lot of “I don’t know how you do it”-type sentiments, including:
You two don’t match
You really keep him grounded
Did he just do what I think he just did?
You’re a saint.

And yet, here we are: October 14, 2007. Alex and I are together for nine years, married for seven. A time when, for reasons that are unknown to me, and that I didn’t bother looking up, a couple’s destiny is ruled by an entity or phenomenon commonly known as the seven year itch.

I may be a lot of things on this day in history. Flaky, tired, overwhelmed, and in dire need of highlights and an all-day moisturizer specially formulated for acne-prone combination skin, but itchy isn’t one of them. It’s true that things have changed in seven years. For one, gray hairs. I’ve found a few in my own head of hair, but not Alex’s, that lucky dog, and have plucked them from my head, knowing that these things are like roaches; for every one you see, there are at least ten you don’t. And for another, I now have collected something like seven different doctors, one for each organ or gland, with a spare, free-range, after-hours-friendly one who is willing to call in a prescription on the fly for acute maladies that present themselves between the hours of midnight and three: Pink eye and ear infections and other delights fresh in from preschool, like SARS and Ebolla.

But Alex is no spring chick either.

In most recent years, he’s earned a secret nickname: Rapunzel, for his long, long locks of hair that also happen to also be his eyebrows. “What’s with the eyebrows?” I’ve been known to say, plucking a few of the more noticeable strays from the pack by twirling them around a doorknob a few times and then slamming the door. “Do you have to tuck your eyebrows behind your ears when they check your eyesight at the DMV?” I asked him once. And then I probably pushed the envelope a few inches too far the day I told him I was starting a grassroots organization called M.A.M.E.: Mothers Against Mammoth Eyebrows.

The difference between us is that he doesn’t know he’s any older. In fact, he’s still pretty sure he’s going to camp next summer, to learn some new tricks, like how to burp the alphabet, or make a bong out of a tennis racquet. He’s got big plans, and they involve first finding his old pair of parachute pants—“They’re around here somewhere”—and then restoring a ’71 GTO in the garage, despite the fact that he’s a man who loves great gas mileage more than Al Gore. More than Bono. I’ll let him figure out that one out on his own; the parachute pants I cannot abide, however, and if it were in the least environmentally safe, I would have burned them in the wood stove several winters ago. I will hide them someplace I know he will never look: With the cleaning supplies, or with the vacuum, a thing he hasn’t touched since the Carter administration, and only then was it a means to torturing his sister.

“How about taking me to dinner for our anniversary, so that I can have a martini for the first time in like twenty seven years?” I asked him after Jim had left the building, still shaking his head and muttering. “You can have a drink, too; don’t worry, your eyebrows said they would drive.”

We went to a nice place while Sophie was at a friend’s house, and laughed and teased each other at the bar, where we like to sit, even when there are perfectly nice tables available in the dining room. I pointed out that he speaks Spanish in a way that sounds like he’s recently sustained a head injury. He remarked that the suitcase I brought home from a trip a month ago is still sitting out in the living room, still fully packed, and he’s starting to tell our guests that it’s sculpture.

Parenthetically, on the compatibility side, we’re both extremely frugal, but for different reasons. His frugality originates with the belief that, no matter what job he has, he’s always ten minutes away from losing it, leaving us all out on the street with a sign that says, “Kidneys, cheap to a good home.” My frugal behavior is inextricably linked to laziness. Bringing another nice thing home means that there’s just one more thing to vacuum/dust/wash/keep the dogs and a sticky toddler away from. And entering a mall makes me want to spin my head around on its axis and throw the nearest clergyman down a flight of stairs.

That’s when we saw Nina, a woman from the tiny town we lived in, whom we know only by first name, which is an upgrade from what we called her for the first two years we knew her: Good Diction Woman. Apart from speaking with balls-on precision no matter what she’s doing, Nina is the real-life version of that sitcom character who works every job in whatever small, funky, fictional town the show’s set in. So in the morning, she’s taking your deposit at the bank, and then your lunch order at the diner, drives the kids home on the school bus that afternoon, and then looks up from her weeding in the community garden to wave at you as you’re driving home from work that night.

Nina, as we learned from our table in the bar, is a bit of a baseball nut, and with the Colorado Rockies going to the World Series, she was beside herself with joy and victorious anticipation. She looked to me to back her up on just what a boon this was to all living creatures in the great state of Colorado, to which I explained, shrugging, “I hate all professional sports, except for the World’s Strongest Man/Woman competitions.”

She looked at Alex like I had sprouted a second head and said the most profound and unprecedented thing anyone has ever said to us, “You’re a very patient and forgiving man. I don’t know how you do it.” Ladies and gentlemen, what a night!

So maybe we’ll chalk this one up to being lucky number seven, instead of the year of the itch. Maybe we won’t have to fight it this year, or maybe we’ll have to gulp down a boxcar full of Benadryl and slip into a Calamine bath. Who knows? Maybe we will complain about and to each other; I about how I envy him. He makes everything—everything—look so easy that it makes me nuts. And he that I have the memory of a whole herd of elephants and boy can I carry a grudge. Maybe we’ll just not even notice the slightest whisper of an itch, and this year will fall away like years do, leaving us at the door of number eight, wondering where the time went. And so on, until Alex is opening the door for Jim in his black socks and Depends.


Blogger’s note: A few weeks ago, the lovely and talented Susan Henderson at LitPark wrote about love. If you don’t know Susan, or the Park, please do yourself a favor by getting to know the two of them.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Now That We're BFFs, Let's KIT

Let's say that you're a guy or gal who likes to receive the very occasional email update from pithy writers and bloggists from around the globe. Can we say that? Good! Because the Jody Reale e-mailing list is here to serve you. To be sure, it's not your mother's email list, which means that you'll never--ever--receive emails from me forwarded from my mom's friend's daughter's sister-in-law's roommate from college about some terrible scam that was just--moments ago!--perpetrated against her boss's wife's cousin.

At the most, you'll find out exactly when there's a new addition to my Web site, or--or!--that I'm giving something away for free. So subscribe today at Yahoo Groups, where managing your subscription is a real snap, by sending a blank email to

PS. Here's a fun link to a site dedicated to the game Cornhole...who knew there was a game called Cornhole?

Saturday, September 8, 2007

I'm On a Tag Jag

I'm on a roll with the random fact jag I'm on as a result of yesterday's "tag" entry, and so here are a few more items of Jody Reale trivia, brought to you by Immodium PC, now available over the counter for sufferers of bloggorhea. Uh hem.

1. I married a man with two graduate degrees who insists--insists!--that the acronym TMJ stands for "totally massive jaw." I love him.

2. Despite having spent most of my adolescence smearing baby oil and/or Crisco on my skin every summer, all summer, instead of using, oh I don't know, SUNSCREEN, a dermatologist told me I'm hardly sun damaged at all.

3. I am, however, experiencing acne breakouts that make me wonder if I should just start auditioning for the part of the lonely loser girl in an ABC after school special.

4. After participating in a May pole dance at the wedding I attended today, I can tell you from experience that the picture I've always had in my head of merry folk dancing and skipping around with their flouncy skirts billowing behind them as they wove their ribbons was way off. First off, my ribbon was about two feet shorter than everyone else's, and after two passes around, I resigned myself to just ducking under every passerby's ribbon instead of going to all the trouble of alternating between the over and under positions. Sorry, Shawn.

5. I can't decide how I feel about the plot of Green Eggs and Ham. On the one hand, it's true that you might like something if you just try it, and you can't blame a guy clearly working on commission for trying to get you to just get over it and try the damn things; but on the other, did Sam I Am have to be such a freakin' stalker about it? OK, we get it, you want the guy in the crumpled top hat to try green eggs and ham because you believe in your product, but after the four hundredth objection, let it go, man, and get on with the rest of your sales calls.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Well It's About Damn Time: My first-ever tag

Without knowing whether it's an insult or a compliment, it's taken me eight years of blogging (even before it was called blogging) to get "tagged."

Tagging, if you don't know because you're 400 years old like me, is the practice of sending some other blogger an exercise to complete, and then send the exercise on to others. Kind of like a chain letter that refrains from threatening a case of flesh eating bacteria if the recipient refuses to comply. In this case, I'm required to report eight random facts about myself, making sure to post the following rules first:

"Each player starts with eight random facts/habits or embarrassing things about themselves. People who are tagged need to write their own blog about their eight things and post these rules. At the end of your blog, you need to choose eight people to get tagged and list their names. Don't forget to leave them a comment telling them they're tagged, and to read your blog."

Before I begin, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention I was tapped by the ever-brilliant writerJ. Chris Rock. If it hadn't been someone I admire so much, believe me, I would have included ten things about myself instead of eight, just to punish everyone.

And PS, these aren't random; you'll notice a theme. I'm sure I'll never be tagged in this town again.

8) When Styx came to Denver in 1983 on their Kilroy Was Here tour (the Mr. Roboto album), I saw Tommy Shaw jump off the stage and run through the audience just in time to jump down two rows of bleachers and pat him on the back.

7) When Def Leppard came to Denver on their Hysteria tour in 1987, a cameraman jumped in front of us for a one nanosecond shot. You can see part of my crispy bleached hair in the "Pour Some Sugar on Me" video.

6) After Quiet Riot opened for the Scorpions at Boulder's Balch Field House in 1984, guitarist Carlos Casavos threw what was left of his joint to me from the lighting catwalk where they watched the rest of the show.

5) I met Charo at the John Wayne Airport in 1977. She kissed me on the cheek and said, "Do ju want to come home with me, Yody?" My dad said, "I'll go with you Charo," to which my mom groaned, "Frank..."

4) When I asked Liberace for his autograph in a Denver restaurant in 1981, his "protege" waved his lace cuff in my face and hissed, "Not while he's eating!"

3) I sat in the Ceasar's Palace swim up bar with Rat Packer Joey Bishop in 1978. During the course of an hour I drank 47 Cokes and didn't pee once. OK, maybe once.

2) One of the Blue Man Group performers smudged my cheek with paint after a Vegas performance in 2001. He didn't use his finger, thus answering the question, "do you paint your whole body blue?"

1) When Bon Jovi came to Denver in 2003, a bouncer escorted my three friends and I to the stage, where we danced for three songs. I still have the backstage bracelet.

I'm tagging:
Pinckney Benedict
Laura Benedict
Paul Larosa
William L. Bryan
Nicole Del Sesto
Jen at Salt Publishing
Strong Pony

Thank you,Denver! Goodnight!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

No Move is Good Move: A Primer on What My Problem Is, Part IV

If you're new to the No Move is Good Move saga, you'll find part one here, part two here, and part three here.

Our rental house on the hill was owned by a couple that I’ll call, for the purposes of talking trash about busybody people with too much time on their hands, the Smiths. And because their real-life professions probably had nothing to do with their annoying-as-fuck behavior, let’s say, just for the purposes of my own small-minded entertainment, that Mr. Smith was a stunt body double for Woody Allen, and Mrs. Smith was an amateur wrestler on the GLOW circuit.

It’s true that the Smiths were nice and all, but they weren’t giving their property away. The monthly rent wasn’t even close to a bargain, but all their busybodying was contagious, and so we looked up what they paid for the place. Turns out that what we paid for rent against what they were probably paying for a mortgage meant that they weren’t making a killing either.

The place was textbook Boulder, in that it was a totally random mish-mash of fixer-upper and state of the art. It was a schizophrenic mess, that house, and if the place could talk, it would exclaim, “We’re hippies, man!” one second, and, “We’re yuppies, darling!” the next. Right off the bat, I was incredulous that The Smiths paid about $980,000 for it; that just seems like a lot for no more than 1,000 square feet from the ‘50s and a fenced yard. In the kitchen was a million-dollar stainless steel Viking stove cozying up to crappy formica counters and a butcher block island that was so big that you couldn’t get around the kitchen without sucking everything in. There was also a stainless steel dishwasher with a broken top drawer that required a special tool to keep it shut during loading and unloading: A plastic baby spoon. Whenever someone was kind enough to help me around the house, I would hand them the spoon and train them on how to jam it just right between the rails and the drawer. “Here, you’ll need this or you’ll go crazy trying to unload that thing,” I said. And then there was our crappy old refrigerator—cream colored, not stainless—which we moved from our house in Ned because, well, we were going to need a fridge in the house, and it didn’t come with one already installed.

There was a beautiful, if one can call a furnace beautiful, brand new, industrial grade furnace in the basement. It had blinking lights and a computer inside, and I was wont to call it Kit on the few occasions that the pilot light went out. Because instead of getting down on my hands and knees and taking the thing apart and finding a fireplace match and pressing a button or turning a valve while trying to hold the flame steady in the belly of the beast without setting the whole place on fire, all I practically had to do was ask the nice furnace, in the parlance of everyone’s favorite rapper, to check itself before it wrecked itself. Thank whatever gods are available right now that we had that furnace, too, because there was no insulation to speak of, and most of the windows were bare and of the original, single-paned variety, which would have been fine in a milder climate, but it was the dead of winter and I swear I could feel the wind blowing right through the pores in that old glass.

I’m often reminded how small of a town Boulder is, and one of those reminders came when our babysitter showed up shortly after we’d moved in and said, “Oh, I’ve worked in this house before, but back then, the floor was warped to hell.” Apparently, there’d been some kind of leak all over the hardwoods, which eventually righted itself with time and Colorado’s patently dry conditions. I wondered, though, what kind of mold or mildew was living beneath us, waiting to strangle us come spring.

Our lease came right out and said that we were not allowed to pock the walls with new holes. Fine, we were leaving in six months and left our prints and art in a box in the basement for the next move. “And don’t paint anything,” it told us. No worries there. But what it really, really did not want us to do, under any circumstance was for us to flush tampons down the toilet. To do so was strictly verboten to the point that even Mrs. Smith mentioned it herself a few times. I figured that she’d learned some hard lessons after a few full moons with two daughters in her house. It’s true that calling the Rotor Rooter Man can hurt, but I am a grown woman who’s smart enough to appreciate the necessity of keeping sacred the marriage between aging plumbing and tampon responsibility.

That summer we learned that, in addition to praising the furnace, we were to fall down with gratitude for the central air conditioning. All the windows were painted shut, which we would have been willing to remedy with a crow bar had we failed to notice that there were no screens covering the windows. And so there was no fresh air in the house, ever, a phenomenon that resulted in the daily practice of leaving the backdoor wide open all day. When Alex would come home at night, he’d find me in the kitchen, cooking dinner with a can of Raid in one hand and a flyswatter in the other, and Sophie in a little beekeeper’s suit, remarking that she enjoyed the taste of Deep Woods Off with her green beans.

So, we were moved in to the house with a lot of flaws, but a sick location, and because I would rather give myself a lobotomy than spend my good money on blinds for a house that wasn’t ours, we put tin foil over the windows in Sophie’s room to make it dark and we called it good.

In hindsight, it wasn’t choosing to rent a house with bad mechanics that was “our bad.” In hindsight, we were lucky to find that place. In hindsight, we had some good times and a few bad ones that had to do with being sick all the time to the extent that we took more than one trip to the ever-popular urgent care clinic. (Hello, mold!) In hindsight, I was just more than sick of renting.

Next time in No Move is Good Move, we'll find out why.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

How to Behave at a Wedding Reception: A Guide for the Drunken Modern Woman

First, mingle. When complimented on your appearance, say, “I’ve worn this dress to three weddings and it still smells pretty good.” Throw in another impressive, random fact about your appearance, such as the fact that you cut your hair yourself without even really using a mirror. Pretend to listen when two Stepfordesque women strike up a conversation about how much they adore golf. When they begin to openly wink at each other as they tease you about your dress, burp loudly and then shout, “Fore!”

When you learn that the man seated next to you is from Vermont, ask if Vermont is the state that’s skinny at the bottom or the top. After he answers, make mention that you never can remember which one is which, only that the way that you recognize Vermont and New Hampshire on a map is by picking out, “The states that sixty-nine each other.” Pretend not to notice that his seat is empty when you return from the bar.

Confirm that people are right to praise your daughter’s intelligence by letting them know that she’s only two and a half, and yet she already knows that salad is just a polite way of eating dressing. Say, “I was in my twenties before I figured that one out.”

After the band warms up, make requests by calling out in between songs, “Something in the key of G!” Or, “Something with C, G and D in it.” When a guy actually gets out his cowbell, lose your voice shouting “MORE COWBELL” over the amps that the band turned up to 11 specifically so that they could finally drown out your pleas for “Anything by El DeBarge.”

Tackle the bride when she threatens to enlist her bridesmaids in the Macarena or Electric Slide; while you’ve got her pinned, ask her for her honest opinion about your dress. Eat cake until you’re nearly paralyzed, dance like everybody’s watching, and above all, spout that mythic rule of etiquette at least twice an hour: I’ve got a year to buy a gift!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

No Move is Good Move: A Primer on What My Problem Is, Part III

If you're new to the No Move is Good Move saga, you'll find part one here, part two here, and part three here.

To add to my mounting panic over our nest-less existence, those were the months that marked the beginning of the end of Sophie’s career as a baby who slept like, well, a baby.

From her second month of life, Sophie sleep in her crib, every night, from 6 PM to 6 AM, and that was the problem: We had it too good. “This is it,” Alex and I said, congratulating ourselves during quiet, unhurried dinners, “we’ve got it made. She’s a sleeper, thanks to our stellar parenting and undeniable good looks.”

We moved to Boulder. Two weeks later, we went to Mexico. Two months after that, Sophie broke her collarbone on the babysitter’s watch, an episode that disturbed us much more than the bout of pneumonia she caught about as soon as her tiny bones mended. I would put her in her crib and stroke her head, either for an hour or until I’d rubbed off a good portion of her hair—whichever came first—and try and make dinner before she was able to figure out that she had accidentally fallen asleep. There would be night terrors sometime between midnight and one, and at least three other teary awakenings on a bad night. She would ask for—demand—milk each time she woke, and by morning, had drunk enough to add up to a volume that justified keeping a cow on the premises. And as if there was something a mere doctor could do about it, Alex and every relative I have implored me ask our pediatrician for ideas.

“You moved?” asked the pediatrician, as if he’d never heard such nonsense, “Oh, well.” He wrote the word “moved” in Sophie’s chart, and said,“That’ll do it.” He told me that a move can mess up a baby’s sleep schedule for as long as six months, and so can an illness, an injury, and a big change in routine, like starting day care, which she did in between bouts of the Bird Flu. Accepting that we’d sent our daughter’s schedule straight to hell in a basket bearing a nice pink bow, I told Alex to buck up. “We’re never sleeping again.”

Of course, I was wrong. We would sleep, but with a child in between us who apparently was dreaming that she was executing a triple axel toe-loop combo. In exasperation one morning, Alex looked down at the two of us in bed, Sophie occupying ¾ of the king-sized bed by lying diagonally, her feet in my face, and said, “This must end.”

We all deal with challenges differently. I usually hide under the covers of whatever bed is available with a box of strawberry Pop Tarts (frosted). Alex threatens to help, usually in the most condescending way possible, which is what he did the night he suggested, “Do you want me to read a book on this stuff or something?”

“Sure, go nuts,” I said. I went to my office and retrieved a half-dozen books with so many bookmarks and wrinkled Post-It Notes thrust between the pages that they resembled little paper porcupines. “Which philosophy do you want to subscribe to?” I asked him. “There’s Ferberizing, there’s the almighty American Academy of Pediatrics.” I tossed them onto the coffee table as I summarized. “On one end of the spectrum, there’s Dr. Weisbluth and his all-cry-all-the-time approach and the Sears clan at the other, who openly come right out and ask you, ‘What’s up your ass? Jesus. Just take the kid to bed with you.’” I shrugged and said, “I’m paraphrasing, of course.”

It was out of the kind of hand-wringing, hair-pulling, crazy-making, all-encompassing desperation that only severe and extended sleep deprivation can cause that I’d turned to the experts in the first place. Knowing that they’re just trying to help while they make a good living, I know that there’s a problem with relying too much on them. The problem with experts is that you can’t really call them up at 3:24 AM to say, “The best thing about not sleeping is that Bosom Buddies is on now.“ The problem with experts is that they may or may not have changed their minds about something they’ve written between having written it and having decided that maybe it would be better just to give the kid a big slug of whiskey.

The problem with experts is that, while I’m listening to the second half of an hour’s worth of screaming and crying that will no doubt escalate to the kind of wailing that eventually culminates in a vomiting jag, the good doctor is probably in his study, deciding what to bring to the next Rotary Club potluck. Just as he’s asking the shadowy figure of his wife in the doorway, “Do you think Swedish meatballs are too salty?” I’m wondering if it would be wrong to just put my head in the oven, next to the dinner that’s four hours late.

And then, of course, the problem with experts is that sometimes I just want to do things my own way. Because sometimes, unlike a certain ’80 sit-com, I like to think I know exactly who the boss is. (Of course, I’m almost always wrong.) Bossing aside, I do believe that ninety percent of the time, we know what to do with the crises in our lives, no matter how big or how small they are. We can trust our instincts, we can trust ourselves. Although she would win any day of the week in a cage match against Major Houlihan from MASH, and although I often wonder if astronauts can see the stick up her ass from space, the pediatrician’s nurse took me aside on Sophie’s fifth day of life, and told me that she had some advice about advice. She poked me square in the chest and said, “Now that the baby’s born, everyone wants to give you advice, but the best advice is already built-in. It’s in you.” She was telling me what I had already concluded after years of near-disastrous dates and relationships and experiences. Those experiments in substituting my judgment with someone else’s have served me well in the form of painful lessons that hold up over time. Nurse Ratchet with the Rave home perm reminded me that there’s hard-won wisdom in me, and damned if I was going to forsake it because I’d spend $24.95 on some yahoo’s thesis.

To be continued, unless you beg me to stop.

Monday, July 2, 2007

No Move is Good Move: A Primer on What My Problem Is, Part II

If you're new to the No Move is Good Move saga, you'll find part one here, part two here, and part three here.

With just a few days between closing on our house in Ned and not having any place to live at all, I found what seemed like the last house in town with a yard and a short-term lease option. We moved into a pea green shack, the last one that hadn’t been razed or remodeled right in the center of Boulder County’s most expensive zip code.

We liked pretending that we were, like the bumper sticker says, keeping Boulder weird. We liked pretending that we were the bad element on the street that was keeping property values down. We liked pretending that we were representin’, that we were keepin’ it real and sticking it to the man, forgetting that it’s all relative. To some people, we are the man. But it was an easy act, considering that the historical mansions and monolithic homes occupying every square foot of third-acre lots hovered over us in every direction. Across one street sat a ten thousand square foot building that had been converted from an old schoolhouse into a single-family home. It was stunning, yes, but it had no driveway, much less a garage, which meant that after driving your Bentley home, you were parking your rich ass on the street, dahling. On the other corner, a palace that looked like a resort hotel—a dark one, as the family who owned it was rarely there. Not only does money not buy love, it looks like it doesn't buy good sense, either.

We laughed when we realized that were not used to getting fully dressed before going outside to flip the burgers on the grill, but according to our new neighbors, Rick and Kitty, neither were the last people who lived there. “We didn’t care they were naked, and neither did they,” said Rick in the thick Long Island accent that refused to resign even after fifteen years away from the coast. A few months later, Rick was bitten by a raccoon during his evening dog walk, thus ending the lesson that Boulder was already plenty weird without us.

The truth is, that million-dollar Boulder cracker box that we rented was where we reconnected with the old friends who dreaded the winding canyon drive to Ned. It was where we walked to dinner dates on the Pearl Street Mall, and found a preschool for our little girl—a place where she felt loved and appreciated and safe, and where her teachers called her Soaf without us telling them that's what we called her. It’s where we made new friends walking down the street; I guess even multimillionaires take their kids out for some fresh air now and then—on the days when they’re not having it imported on the backs of chinchillas, that is.

And when I wasn't marveling over the neighbor who went to jail for installing the wrong kind of garage door (at least she had a garage), I was looking feverishly for a permanent home for us in Boulder. The sticker shock was unbearable, and eventually, so was our REALTOR. A whole spring season of house hunting later, she was pulling all the stops, using all her powers, to sell us…something, anything to rid herself of clients so demanding that they wanted a house that was actually standing for their three-quarters of a million dollars.

“Well, it’s nice and all,” we practically said on our last outing with her, “but this house is on fire.” And she just about said, “Oh, ALL the houses in this neighborhood are on fire. I live here, and two of my bedrooms are on fire right now. You have to give up something if you want to live in this neighborhood.”

And she was right. We did have to give up something: Her.

Stay tuned for the conclusion, part three of No Move is Good Move: A Primer on What My Problem Is, coming next week. Probably.

Monday, June 25, 2007

No Move is Good Move: A Primer on What My Problem Is, Part I

When I was seven or eight years old, I drew a picture in crayon of a tropical island only big enough for one palm tree and me. “I love Hawaii,” I told my dad. I missed being there, and so did he, even though we’d just returned from a vacation on the island of Kauai. “I’m homesick,” I told him.
“I don’t understand,” he said. “We’re home right now.”
“I know,” I said. “And I’m sick of it.”

Famous last words.

Last week, my dad turned 82. He’s only ever lived in two houses: the one he grew up in, and the one I grew up in. When I left that home for college, I moved once or twice a year; by the time I graduated, one of my life goals was to own things without worrying about whether or not they would fit into the trunk of a Camaro. I was a natural at digging my heels in, growing some roots, and I spent the next five years renting an apartment located in a neighborhood in steady decline. One of my neighbors was one of those high-priced call girls with a full-page ad in one of the weekly alternative newspapers; another was a drug dealer with a full book of business. A stray bullet from a sale gone bad or a psychopathic John with the wrong address might have done me in, but I had furniture. Damned if I was going to strap my second-hand sectional to the roof of my econo-sized Toyota.

After that, it was three years in the first home I’d ever owned, a town home in a better neighborhood with a huge park across the street. I kicked out my boyfriend and adopted a dog. I was set. “Write down my phone number and address,” I said to every friend and relative. “And use a pen.” I was there, and there I was: that kooky dog lady with a Pier 1 credit card and a mountain bike and that’s all I needed. And this lamp. And this paddle ball game. And that’s all I needed. And this remote control. Uh-hem.

When Alex and I married, we bought a home in the mountains, a move I agreed to make without a lot of fuss, considering I never thought I would own a free-standing, single-family home with enough space around it for a few dogs and, judging by our neighbors down the dirt road, two or three llamas. We lived there, in a crunchy little town called Nederland, for six years. The locals called it Ned, and we came to call it that, too, as a term of familiarity, endearment even. Ned was our friend; our flaky, weird friend who was loveably erratic in his behavior and most of all, valued a don’t-tread-on-me lifestyle above all others. As people who wanted to be left alone with their thoughts and dogs and mountain bikes and skis, we loved Ned and his collection of Viet Nam veterans, hippies, hermits, and real estate cheapskates. We loved him even during the winter, when the triple digit wind speeds kept us up nights.

Our first year there, we spent many evenings watching the way the wind would distort our reflections in the double-paned windows as they flexed and strained between the gusts and us. "I wonder what those people up the street who live in that tee-pee are doing right now?" I said to myself. Our second year there, we held contests to see who could make the house hotter with the wood burning stove. (I won with an indoor temperature of 89, despite the minus 25 conditions outdoors.) Our third year there, we survived the hundred-year snow storm by skiing to town for the barbeque the grocery store hosted as a way of kindly disposing of the meat that was going to expire anyway. They wouldn’t have power for their refrigerators for no telling how long, so why not?

It's the place where folks keep their dream-catcher-hammock-kinetic sculpture studios-slash-cannabis-growing-rooms in the front yard, and their dead grandfather on ice in the back. We knew the police chief personally. We watched a semi-organized uprising against those pesky laws that forbid drunk driving. We noticed that Ned is a very active incubator for stupid restaurant ideas. We never locked our doors.

And so on.

During year six it happened: Alex said, “I think I’ll take the baby for a walk to town.” Just like that. He said he was going to have a stroll, get some fresh air, take his time. I had just been diagnosed with Grave’s disease, and remember replying with something like, “I have Grave’s disease,” adding that I was going to curl up with a good goiter and have a nap.

Alex returned looking triumphant. He said that while he was out, he ran into our realtor, Candace, who said the time was right for us to sell our house. Inventory was low, but the market was about to flatten out, so we could make some money if we acted fast. “So,” he said, looking smug, “I listed our house.” Our house was on the market. For sale. Available now. If memory serves, I think I went back to bed. Two months later, we did something I wasn’t prepared to do: we moved downhill to Boulder. Flatlanders again we were, and soon I had to admit that such an act was so crazy that it just might work.

Stay tuned for next week's installment, the continuation of No Move is Good Move: A Primer on What My Problem Is

Monday, June 4, 2007

Four Non Blogs

Jody Reale world headquarters is moving this week, and so in the spirit of publishing a Monday entry despite the shitstorm that is packing up everything I own and moving it to the other side of a mountain range, I’m listing four good ways to make sure that your lunch hour still goes to hell today in your hand basket of choice.

1. You can download my 13-page ebook, an essay entitled Just a Small Town Girl, for only two dollars—that’s less than the cost of a movie for heaven’s sake! And, you can print it out and take it with you to the bathroom; nobody has to know.

2. Please patronize the bloggers on my blogroll:

3. Check out the “Samples” page at There’s a new entry there, entitled In the Middle of Somewhere, especially for you Colorado folks.

4. If you’re not a MySpace junkie yet, you’re missing out on some good phishing attacks and messages from complete strangers who want you to know that, no kidding, you two were married in a previous incarnation. Sign up already, and come see me at We will be friends, screw Jeremy Piven. After all, you and I were married once, which entitles me to your password. Give it up.

See you next week.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

A Top Ten List of the Things I Wonder About While Driving or Taking a Shower, Part I

1. If anyone will ever invent tooth whitening coffee.
2. If I’m paying too much for car insurance.
3. What the hell that ex-boyfriend’s problem was.
4. What I should do with all the gobs of money I’m going to have someday.
5. Why it’s called date rape if the perpetrator and victim aren’t really even on a date.
6. Why I spent so much time in high school trying to learn the words to the German version of “99 Luft Balloons” instead of studying.
7. If any of these “Part I” blog entries will ever see a “Part II.”
8. What I was thinking the last time I cut my own hair.
9. Where sexy went, and why everyone’s trying to bring it back.
10. If someday everyone will divide history the way I do: Stuff that happened before the drummer for Def Leppard lost his arm, and stuff that happened after.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Smelebrity Number Nine

Paris Hilton, Jennifer “J. Lo” Lopez, Liz Taylor, Britney Spears, Sarah Jessica Parker, and even Donald Trump: These are all celebrities with a fragrance on the shelves of your favorite department store. To date, it’s hard to name a celebrity who hasn’t thrown her scent to the shelves, as if she’s a dog at a park, madly spraying every tree, bush and swath of grass possible.

As a soap and water gal, I’ve never really taken to perfume. Everything I try on overwhelms me, and I end up fleeing a store called something like Scents for Cents with my eyes and nose watering. I drive home with the windows down, wondering how anyone determines what their favorite fragrance is, and if I’ll ever feel like spending the equivalent of a tank of gas on something I’ll likely tuck into one of my toiletry bags at home, forgetting it until airport security officials confiscate it the next time I travel. And how do you shop for the stuff without trying a bunch of it on?

I know it must be hard to pull together a commercial for something so intangible, but the television advertisements only serve to bemuse me. And they’re a treasure trove of information compared to the copy that goes into each print and catalog ad. I was thinking that what’s in the bottle either smells like something or it doesn’t, but that’s me: A fan of the “You’re soaking in it!” campaign.

One designer scent goes so far as to claim that it’s “A new fragrance interpretation that is the essence of enchanting femininity…” I’ve always wanted to know what enchanting femininity smells like, and now I can find out by driving to the nearest Sephora. What a relief.

I admit that I’m a cynic, but really—haven’t we exhausted the possibilities? Aren’t there a finite number of ways that one’s wrist or neck or cleavage can smell, and haven’t we formulated them all? With its textures and variations in preparing it, and its visual context, food is much more complicated than perfume, and if you ask most people, it always “tastes like chicken.”

So in the spirit of stopping the insanity, I’ve devised a plea and an opportunity. Forget “enchanting femininity,” let’s get back to basics, back to the beginning. Call it appealing to the lowest common denominator if you want. Call it dumbing things down if you want; I call it getting back to basics. I call it keeping it simple and real, and when word gets out, Jeremy Piven, it’s going to be huge, and you missed the boat.

Celebrity perfumes account for 7% of the US prestige fragrance market, a $2.8 billion business. That’s some pretty good scratch, and shoot, if someone can get away with pushing a bottle of liquid claiming that it’s a new “fragrance interpretation,” there must be a way for someone genuine to grab a piece of the action.

Introducing my idea for a new smelebrity fragrance: Sniff This, by Snoop Dogg.
Instead of calling it an “olfactory experience,” I plan on making this marketing plan a no-brainer, targeting Snoop Dogg’s loyal—if impaired—niche demographic. Sniff This is a unisex fragrance with bong water high notes, Cheetos middle notes, and a malt liquor base note, and I plan to roll out this scent-sational stuff at the next Widespread Panic show. So if you want to work this one out, Snoop, give me a call. You’ll find me in the book, I’m living on Shakedown Street right now.

And P.S., Dogg,
Don’t limit yourself to perfume, G. Have you seen KY’s new offerings and super-high production value TV advertisements for products from your personal lubricant aisle? We could call it celube-rity. Don’t forget to thank me when you’re a gazillionaire, yo.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Owning Up to My Music Collection, Part I: The Corrs

I saw the Corrs perform live as Conan O’Brien’s musical guest in 2000, way back when there was still a little lingering doubt that the show could go on with the same amount of hilarity without Andy Richter. (I guess we all know how that turned out.) The year before that, I’d bought the Corrs’ CD, Talk on Corners, and seeing them endorsed by my favorite modern-day, late-night pitch man validated that my music collection was pitch perfect, baby.


I won’t be too hard on myself for loving the Corrs like I did. It was a time in my life when I was grasping at whatever good vibes I could get. I’d just been fired without warning by people I’d considered my friends. It was a harsh blow to my pride, and just two weeks after a surgeon had taken a drill and screws to my knee. Overnight, I’d become that sappy gal who was gimpy and moody, with a black mark on her resume and ketchup on her shirt, and there they were: The Corrs. They were beautiful, the one brother and three sisters. They were my Irish Partridge Family with dark, silky hair and peachy-creamy skin. And the noticeable, welcome absence of Danny Bonaduce. From my cheap condo with bad wall-to-wall carpeting and bad wall-to-wall dogs, I imagined them in their quaint little native village, writing songs and playing them under the moss- and dew-dipped thatch of their cottage, the unicorns munching sweet grass and thistles right outside the front door.

What seems like light years later, I now live in a major ski resort town, where you’ll find someone playing live music seven nights a week just about anywhere there’s space. Most of them are high-end hacks singing cover tunes and playing their guitars to the gimmicks they’ve made up to sell drinks. (Johnny Mogambo, I’m looking right at you, with your patrons lined up and ready to drink from the set of shot glasses you glued to the surface of an old ski, your cries of “Shotski!” reverberating down the whole valley. And to be fair, I’m not looking at Phil Long, a real musician who loved playing piano and guitar at the Red Lion so much that he bought the place, and continues to perform there every night. After ten o’clock, you can hear him sing and play an entire musical such as Jesus Christ Superstar or Annie, no shit.) With all the racket going on every night, and all the children’s music every day—The Wiggles in particular—you would think that my stereo selection of choice would be white noise at the least, and NPR at the most. For the most part, it is, but every now and then, when I’m alone in my car driving the I-70 corridor, I have been known to slip Talk On Corners into the CD player.

You’ll notice right off the bat, if you ever get the chance, that The Corrs is not just an Irish band. It’s an Irrrrish band, with the “r”s rolled up tight and the whiskey corks loose. For some reason, all the tin whistles and the bodhran beats are OK with me. The word “moonbeams” is used in two different songs, but somehow I get past that. It’s a lot of acoustic guitar, with the complete lack of a sizzling electric solo, a string section that's decidedly more violin than fiddle, quite a bit of tambourine--and instrument that's right up there with the cowbell in its underratedness--and maybe, I'm not sure, but I think just a hint of accordion in there somewhere. As someone who spent a good chunk of time measuring a band’s worth by the size of the hair and the power of the ballad, I can stick by Talk on Corners, and sometimes consider changing my name to Wee Paddy McFinn from Cork County in the process, because is it’s so goshdarn uplifting.

Yes, the lead vocals are too breezy and weak, which is probably the reason for all the harmonizing that’s going on in every track, but I can’t help but loop around to the third song on the album a few times. It’s my favorite, a real toe-tapper, entitled “So Young.”

Because it begins with a synthesized drum line and a nanosecond of scratching, “So Young” is the most modern, mainstream-sounding song you’ll find on the album. And let’s get it straight: It’s bright and fun and poppy. It’s just perfect for the opening sequence of a sitcom in which three girls move from their farm to New York, where they make it big simply by working hard and diligently refrain from sleeping with each other’s boyfriends. It’s the kind of song that I would use were I a producer working on a commercial for a feminine hygiene product, and in fact it’s become impossible for me to listen to “So Young” without watching in my mind the vivid image of a 20-something brunette, just as fresh-faced and feisty as you please, in white short-shorts. She’s doing something like leap-frogging a fire hydrant, for heaven’s sake. She’s so confident! So bold! Gosh, you’d never know she was on her period would you? Gee, just what kind of tampon has she got in there, anyway? Whatever it is, it's really working. Just as dry and as comfortable as any postmenopausal, pre-incontinence woman, that gal’s going places. And she’s getting there without any worry whatsoever of menstrual-related embarrassment.

And there you have it: The Corrs. I’m saying it. I’m unapologetic. Maybe I’m even prostheletizing a bit. Try it. Listen, if you can still find it. Put on those short-shorts and get out there, tiger. We can do it, even if we have to drink a Guinness first.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

In My Next Life I'd Like to Have Better Time Management Skills

Maybe then I'll find a way to mention in plenty of time that you can order something from this very special line of tee shirts, mugs and cards. It's perfect for Mother's Day. (Depending on the mother, as you'll see.)

Until my next reincarnation, have a happy day, mothers!

Monday, May 7, 2007

Addicted to Recovery, or, This is What Sleep Deprivation Can Do to a Person

I might complain about it, but living with someone who is constantly bogarting the TV remote is kind of a blessing. No, I usually don’t care to watch all four hundred episodes in the James Bond marathon, thanks for asking, or an entire round of an Ultimate Fighting cage match, so I sit next to Alex and practice scales on the guitar—as loudly as possible. It’s good for me. When it’s my birthday or a night when I’m home alone, though, I get the remote to myself, and if the TV gods are smiling, the show Intervention is on.

I loved Intervention right away for its message that radical transformation can happen, even to people who will at first fight it tooth and nailgun; it’s a bloody war between the forces of good and evil within a single person, and we get to watch without fearing the shrapnel that’s flying from scene one.

One minute of the show we’re shaking out heads at Alyson, a three-time White House intern-turned-crackhead who regularly breaks into her dying father’s room to steal his morphine. “When the safe is open,” she says, “I feel like it’s my birthday. Like I won the lottery.” We break for commercial and let it sink in that there’s a mother out there who is not only going to be a widow soon, but has been moved by her own daughter’s behavior to keep her dying husband’s drugs under lock and combination. Minutes later, after accepting her family’s free ride to a treatment facility in Anaheim, Alyson is running the place and entertains a career as an author. “I can do it,” she laughs as the credits roll. “It’s possible.” And we believe her.

It’s usually at the end of the show, when I’m full of good old-fashioned inspiration, that I beg Alex to stage an intervention on me. “Please,” I beg, “I’m dying to go to rehab.”

If Intervention is as true to life as I’m sure it isn’t, I would put on my headphones, or open a magazine, or make nice chit chat with my interventionist before our flight touched down in a nice, warm place. We’d head over to what the show calls “detox,” which sounds like code for “getting a big snoot full of uninterrupted sleep.” After that, check-in at a facility that looks like a hybrid between a cottage and spa, for what could be weeks or even months of talking about myself to adults who are paid to listen. Yes, maybe I would have to cook or clean there; maybe I would have to sleep in the same room with someone who may decide one night to melt down my jewelry, suck it into a syringe, and inject it directly into her heart, but I’ll hand her my wedding ring myself if she promises to be as quiet as a little mouse while she does it. I may have to deal with cigarette smoke at rehab, but I’m pretty sure that no one will wake me at least three times every night, begging for another cup of milk, an hour of hair-stroking, and twelve more rounds of “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.”

“There’s one small problem,” Alex always says. “You don’t really even drink.” He can be such a wet blanket.

“Don’t I?” I try and argue. “Maybe you’re just in denial.”

“Fine, then chug this beer.”


He’s right, of course, for ignoring my cries for help. I know exactly what would happen. I would exit recovery, fresh as a daisy, hugging the pillows I had needle pointed with sentiments of a slightly spiritual flavor, believing in myself. And then after a few months of normal, everyday life, where a certain someone is physically incapable of putting his dishes into the sink instead of the dishwasher, and another certain someone likes to let herself outside, step in dog poop, and then come back inside to walk over every single square inch of carpet, I would find myself itching to go right back to the bliss of one full night’s sleep after another and the ability to eat a whole serving of…anything, without having to answer several questions about it before giving more than half of it away to someone who is too cute to refuse.

There’s no recovery from normal life, I guess, unless you count dying. As someone without an addiction to a substance or behavior that’s destroying my life and others’—except for the way I play guitar—no one has ever insisted that I “work a program.” I realize that I should be so grateful for this seemingly small fact that I start speaking in tongues, and so I'll express my undying gratitude to whatever forces kept me from beneath the giant ax of vice by telling you: I know that part of my problem is that I've had it so good. I also know that part of my blessing is that I've lived within a hair of those who have had it no good at all.

Having it good, having it bad...let's forget all that for a minute and get back to the things I can influence. Until I can change the minds of my friends and family, I’m going to work my own clumsy hodge-podge of twelve or so steps from now on, maybe even going so far as to gather my friends together for telling our ugliest truths and our most glorious ones, holding hands, singing songs, and shoring up our own hopes for what’s possible when we live life in delicious, bite-sized chunks. Note to self: Buy a coffee urn and make flyers.

I’m Jody Reale, and I’ve been without an entire night’s sleep for 392 days. Thank whatever higher power is available right now, I know that this, too, shall pass.

Monday, April 16, 2007

A Toddler’s Guide to Dog Ownership, Part I

Start the day by sneaking up on one or more of your sleeping dogs and yelling, “Wake up!” as you jump on top of him. Without skipping a beat, show your mother that everything’s on the level by patting the dog gently on the head and looking into his sad, tired eyes and repeating, “Aw, you’re a good girl,” over and over.

When your breakfast of a pancake slathered with butter is ready, insist on walking around the entire house with it, despite certain urgings from someone in the kitchen to please eat the damn thing or put it on the kitchen counter. Offer it to one of your dogs by very nearly ramming it into her mouth. When the dog actually shows the nerve to try and eat it, use the pancake to beat her about the head and shoulders while shouting, “No! No! No!” Sing the theme song from the show Dora the Explorer sixty seven times to drown out the din of battle. If possible, work in a few original verses about pooping in the potty and your undying love for the yogurt smoothie product, Danimals.

Discover that one or both of your dogs has eaten the pancake you left on the coffee table so that you could ram twenty seven CDs into the five-CD changer. Lose your mind to the tune of relieving yourself on the carpet, or ideally a piece of leather furniture. Run a hysterical circuit around the house, simultaneously chasing your dogs if possible, screaming, “I want that pancake!” until one of the dogs turns tail to face you and barks as loudly as possible right in your face. Escalate your hysterics until NASA calls to find out if they can use your grand mal seizure to power the next Space Shuttle flight.

Insist on a Band Aid. “A Dora one,” sob to your mother, and point to a half dozen places on your face where you think the noise from that one unconscionable bark may have broken the skin. By the time you’re dressed and ready for preschool, wonder why your mother hasn’t yet called the vet to make an appointment for euthanizing the offending dog. Adjust your Dora Band Aid forty two times to adequately cover one gaping wound after another. When asked in the car why you think your dog barked at you like that, pretend you’ve suddenly lost your hearing for a few minutes before answering, “I have poop.” Affirm to yourself that tomorrow those mutts are in a lot of trouble. Instead of butter, you're asking for a billy club to go on your pancake.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

To Norm: We Hardly Knew Ye

Whenever my friend Richie’s dog entered the room, I liked to shout, “Norm!” as if we were all at Cheers, trying to avoid talking to Cliff at all costs. About a year later, Richie and his family of humans and animals ran off to South Dakota, leaving us to wonder how a ski bum from Jersey would fair in the prairie. As the most wholesome family we know, I missed them all, especially Norm, the dog with one ear up and one ear slightly down. The German Shepard-ish mutt Richie referred lovingly to as “Fatty,” as in marijuana cigarette, because that’s how mellow you could count on Norm to be at any given moment.

And if Normy was mellow, he was also trustworthy. You could trust him with your cat, your furniture, your newborn baby girl. The only thing you couldn’t trust Norm with was your garbage, but that was only if you left it out on the ground, and so his neighbors, understanding Norm’s predisposition toward dogitude, hung their garbage bags up on their fence posts, for example. It was no big thing; it was Norm, roaming the neighborhood—very slowly in his later years—the neighbors calling out his name as if they were all at an outdoor, block-long installation of Cheers. I could pet that guy until I lost all feeling in my hands.

We received a postcard today with Richie’s return address on the envelope. On it was a black and white picture of Norm, gently kissing Richie’s daughter, Jessie, perhaps on the day she was born. The caption read, “Norman, 1993-2007. A very good boy.”

Indeed you were, buddy. Thanks for being our friend.

Monday, April 2, 2007

An Open Letter to Jeremy Piven

Dear Jeremy,

When I found you at MySpace, I was delighted. You are my favorite actor, the male counterpart to Parker Posey, my favorite female actor, and Alexis Arquette, my favorite transgendered actor. (Not that I know of any other transgendered actors, but let’s not let that get in the way of the fact that no one else on the planet could have pulled off so successfully one of the most important roles in modern cinema: George in The Wedding Singer.)

Jeremy, you are the saucy chick’s Vince Vaughn, an edgy John Cusak without entering the Tom Sizemore zone. As far as we know, you’ve never frolicked with Fleiss, and really that’s all we need: The illusion that you’ve kept your Ben Franklins to yourself, unlike a certain member of Sly and the family Sheen. I’ve loved you since the movie One Crazy Summer; the fact that you were about to carry male pattern baldness over the threshold well before your thirties didn’t bother me. There’s no shame in your game, no combover, no foul. Besides, hair is for horses—and Ted McGinley. Not necessarily in that order, though, right, Anthony Edwards?

I saw what appeared to be a home movie featuring other celebs at your MySpace page, and with a tagline like, “It is really me,” I figured it had to really be you. Number of friends: three hundred and change; not so few that you seemed exclusionary, not so many that my “add to friends” request would, as Walter Sobchak would say, "die face down in the muck." I clicked the “Add to friends” link and waited. Please hold.

[Cue the Muzak version of Lady From Ipanema.]

A month later, I sent another request, thinking that either you’ve been too busy to field the first one, or you’re kind of up your own ass about your friends list.

OK, I see the women posting images to your comments page. These are either photographs or artist’s renderings of pendulous breasts peeking from behind a tattered leather bikini top. Or maybe a fine young woman is looking back at you over her shoulder, pouting from, no doubt, the kind of discomfort that wearing a gold satin thong can burden a girl with. She’s a trouper, though; she’s blowing you a kiss from across the Interwebs nonetheless, and says that she is, despite her hectic nude photo shoot schedule, “Just stopping by to show your page some luv.”

Jeremy, I cannot in good conscience do these things to woo you to accept my request. It’s not that my breasts aren’t giant. They are. In fact, the only reason I cannot send you a picture right now is because I loaned my leather bikini top to the circus. What with the colder temperatures that the Midwest endured this winter, the standard big top just wasn’t cutting it, and I couldn’t stand the thought of all those clowns and elephants suffering through their performances. I can, however, offer you a few tidbits about me, hoping that they’ll persuade you to befriend me, even if it’s the kind of friendship that people commit to when they know they will never actually have to meet.

For several years, I lived in a two bedroom bungalow in Judd Nelson’s left nostril, and have since moved into a 2,200 square foot duplex behind Jon Bon Jovi’s porcelain veneers. Times are good. No stranger to how valuable real estate is these days, I myself have decided to sublet the space in between two of my incisors to a family of five from Toledo. They keep to themselves and are taking good care of the place, the only source of tension being that the man of the house works construction, and insists on warming up his diesel truck for at least a half hour every morning at five. Yeah, it’s a hemi.

Also no stranger to life’s difficulties, I did find squatters camping out in one of my facial pores, and conventional wisdom says that for every one of these moochers you find, there are ten more you don’t. My fear is that the word’s out about my skin; I should just call my accountant and get it over with. What with tax day coming up and all, maybe I can take a hefty deduction for providing shelter for those in need. I’ve always wanted to be a philanthropist; perhaps this is a good excuse to practice acts of kindness and avoid dermabrasion at the same time. I think this may be the win-win situation we’ve all been looking for, don’t you? (Note to self: Ask Edward James Olmos if he's got a few vacant pores just in case he, too, is into the charity thing.)

So, Jeremy Piven, if that is in fact your real name, where’s the love, bro? Click the Add to Friends button today; I'll be passing it (for the third time), much like the dutchie, to the left hand side.

Your wannabe friend,
Jody Reale

Monday, March 26, 2007

Karl and the Amazing Technicolor Eyebrow

I don’t usually encourage having houseguests, but for Alex's friend, Karl, I make exceptions. Karl will sleep anywhere. Karl makes the least amount of dirty laundry possible. As the father of two, Karl knows that waking a sleeping child is an offense that’s right up there with replacing my regular coffee not with Folger’s Crystals, but with ground glass, which is what I’ll do to whomever comes close to waking Sophie mid-naptime. (Jeff, I’m looking right at you, buddy.)

Thanks to the way they acted at my wedding, I have baggage about most of my husband’s friends; this is not the case with Karl, and in fact, Karl is the person responsible for keeping me from catching the next plane to Oh, Fuck Thisville during the category five shitstorm that was the last hour of our reception. But what I like most about Karl is that, unlike a lot of us, Karl doesn’t mind telling the truth on himself.

During his last visit, Karl and Alex came home from their ritual night out of drinking too much to stand in the kitchen catching up and making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Karl was taking a pretty good ribbing over the XXXL cycling jersey he tried on that day that turned out to be a few too many Xs too small. “I’ve been eating too much ice cream,” he confessed, smiling. And here's a tidbit: Karl has hair growing out of his nose. "Not out of my nostrils, mind you," he said, but out of the top of his nose. "What the hell is that all about?" He said, shrugging. Karl said he could eat, no kidding, a gallon of ice cream at one sitting. “I’m still fast on a bike, though,” he shook his finger. And Alex and I joined in the chorus we’ve heard a hundred times when he said, “I’m a former New York State champion in three disciplines of cycling.”

When I consider that Alex actually hears criticisms that come from his friends’ mouths, but is deaf to the ones that come out of mine, I suppose we really should entertain more often. “Al, you’re getting crumbs and jelly in the peanut butter,” Karl said, cleaning things up, “and crumbs and peanut butter in the jelly!” He said this not as if he was discovering three great tastes that taste great together, but with a healthy amount of disgust.

“He’s been blaming that on me for years.” I told Karl, who told me he doesn’t know how Alex and I have been married for six years without a violent incident to speak of. And that’s when Alex pulled up his shirt and slapped his belly. “Jody’s a lucky girl,” he said, “there aren’t that many guys approaching forty with a flat stomach.”

Please cue the floodgates.

When Karl and I had exhausted ourselves listing every shortcoming Alex had, including the habit of mouth breathing all night at a volume that has me taking cover from the plane crash that’s happening in our back yard, and being that guy at the end of the bar who talks a little too much about Stevie Ray Vaughn, we took a deep breath and tackled my favorite subject: Alex’s renegade eyebrows.

I didn’t have to start first; Karl jumped right in. “And dude,” I think he began, “what is with your eyebrow hairs?” Just as Karl was about to call him “Lloyd Fucking Bridges” I lunged, and plucked one from its root, which wasn’t that hard, considering that I was able to wrap it around my wrist a few times before he even saw it coming. Karl and I marveled at it for a moment before I scavenged the junk drawer for the tape measure. I taped the hair to a piece of paper and squinted. “Two and three eighths inches!” I squealed. Alex came out of the bathroom with a Band Aid over his eye, pouting up a storm. We posted on the refrigerator it and its measurements, its turn ons and turn offs, and it remains there today. And if that isn’t a testament to unconditional love on everyone’s part, I don’t know what is.

So if you’re ever invited over for dinner at our house, and you find a hair in your soup or salad, the kind of hair that’s the stuff upon which Steven King novels are based, check the fridge. Lately I’m obsessed with thinking of ways to make it useful. Tonight I’m considering fashioning it, in a weird new version of origami, into the shape of the Virgin Mary and selling it on eBay. But I’m not sure I want to part with it; it comforts me in that, if I ever need a ride to the hospital in the middle of the night, it can either drive me there or watch the baby while I’m gone. Or I might decide to use it as a paintbrush for the outside of our house. I joke.
“Someday, you won’t have my eyebrow hair to kick around anymore,” Alex said, and sadly, I know that’s true. I think I spotted it making eyes at one of Karl’s giant bnose hairs, scheming in its little eyebrow brain about starting a master race of body hair that someday takes over the world.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

One of Those Days

I'm having one of those days. I say that becuase I've just looked over four of the many e-mails I've sent today, and they start with the word "Great" and end with an exclamation point. It's during these days that I ask myself who I am.
Am I really the gal who sends a half dozen e-mails that are friendly enough to belong to someone with superfresh breath and a clean car? I could be, since I caught myself earlier thinking things like, "Tax time is the right time to save for retirement," "Luck favors the prepared," and "Can't lives on Won't Street."
Yes, today I'm considering drinking enough water; I will call my mom before she calls me. I will take the dogs not just for the walk that they want, but for the walk they deserve, damn the temperature. I'm remaining firmly unapologetic that I'm going to indulge in the guilty pleasure of writing for most of the day, and I'm going to make progress.
Without going as far as baking an apple pie, I will Do Things Right today, because I can. I'm having one of those days. What a relief.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

I’m Typing As Fast As I Can

I’ve got Big Ideas®, and unfortunately, that’s my whole problem. Take this blog for example. It’s new because the last platform I was using was bumming me out with its limitations and the learning curve involved in getting it to do some little extra things. I wanted to take my blog and, as Emeril would say, “Kick it up a notch,” and so in the tradition of everything old becoming new again, I revived my plain old HTML Web site from four years ago and opened a Blogger account. Because that’s what I need in my life: Another distraction.

Then I decided, hey! I’m going to post my “best-of” journal entries dating back to my 1200 baud modem! And I’m going to finish those entries I began during the Clinton Administration and post those! Where’s my Big Chief Tablet? I’ve got to rework those family portraits I drew in Kindergarten to at least include the mole on my dad’s nose; as someone who’s heard him say a million times that he likes that mole because it holds his glasses in place, I know that it just isn’t him without it.

And then thank God I had the good sense to talk myself down. No, I said. Stop. Put the “new” in New Media and move on. Forget the old stuff; go forward, ever forward, you moron. I did let myself off the hook a little, because this is what happens when we live in a culture where our good old-fashioned albums are “digitally re-mastered” on CD, and black and white movies are colorized. This is what happens when we have the technology to make things better, stronger, faster, or at least little, yellow, different. Do you see what happens, Larry?

And so here’s to new beginnings. Again. This marks my third online do-over in a handful of years, and by golly, the chances are pretty good that I’ll be as slow executing my Big Ideas® for this effort as all the others, but I really am kind of busy. Tonight I promised my daughter that I would mount a production of Yentl starring myself and one of our dogs during dinner. I’ve been rehearsing all day, and I just can’t seem to nail the part where I announce in a golf-whisper, “Ladies and gentlemen, tonight the part of Avigdor will be played by Lou the Blue Heeler,” and then make the sounds of the grumbling and groaning audience. (After all, they bought tickets just so that they could see Mandy Patinkin. No offense, Lou. )

Until the next time you visit—if you do visit—please know that I’ll be typing as fast as I can, which is actually pretty fast if you take into account the fact that I stop every now and then to wonder, seriously, where is my Big Chief Tablet?