Jul 24, 2013 by Jenna Zine

As I revel in these blue skies and rain-free days, I'm pulled back to one of my favorite summer memories. And here it is... My husband and I were dog sitting for some friends and decided to take the puppy to the park. We strolled along with Sassy* in the lead, straining her leash in anticipation. We got to the dog approved area and set her free. She made friends quickly, but soon came back to us, looking to be further entertained. I handed my husband the Chuckit Stick and said, "Throw the ball." He grabbed the stick.. and threw the entire thing. (This may be a good time to mention that we're cat people. Surprise! For you fellow cat owners out there, the Chuckit Stick is an apparatus that allows you to throw the ball without having to touch it. It's super handy - those balls get slobbery. That's what she said! RIP, The Office.) So, instead of the ball flying through the air to be fetched, the stick came hurtling at the dog as well. Everyone in the dog park paused before the laughter began. I was doubled over, with tears streaming down my face. I swear Sassy even laughed - and that's not me anthropomorphizing her; it's just me stating a fact. Larry got schooled in the ways of the Chuckit, but not before a good ribbing. Sassy and I both got a workout that day - her from finally getting to chase the ball and my lungs got stronger from trying to catch my breath after the giggles. You only get one first time with the Chuckit - and I'm glad I was there for Larry's!

[YouTube video, complete with hot Chuckit action and music! *Sassy's name was changed to protect the innocent. We know that ship has sailed for Larry, so his name is real. Sorry, boo!]
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Jul 16, 2013 by Jenna Zine
codependency.jpgSeveral years ago I saw a therapist who encouraged me to buy Codependent No More by Melody Beattie. I'd tell you it's a great book, and that if you have any inkling you may be codependent that you should read it - but that would be me trying to fix your problems for you and I don't do that anymore. (Ah, but seriously - it's a great book). 

So, said therapist gave me homework - go buy the book and start reading, pronto. I'm nothing if not a rule follower and people pleaser, so I marched to Powell's directly after my appointment. Like I said, I really needed this book. I searched the shelves in the appropriate section: high to low, low to high, right to left and so on. Nothing. Nada. Was there a run on the tome? Were there scads of Portlanders, all suffering from the same condition? (Driving our streets amongst endless combinations of Subaru Outbacks indicates 'yes.' Extra points if it's forrest green.) Regardless of the reason, I could not find a copy in sight. But I was determined to heal. No more fretting if so and so was happy - it was time to seize the day and start living my own life! I decided to ask the help desk (yes, I see the irony here) where it was - if they couldn't find a copy, perhaps they could order one for me.* 

As I approached the station, I noticed it was empty. Then a guy popped up from behind the counter. A young, wildly hot guy. I was young then too, so the stakes were higher. These days I'd stroll right up, knowing he'd do his job and not give me a second glance. His only responsibility would be to help me with my walker while he dreamed of all the hot babes he'd get to see once he guided the old lady to the self-help section. Ah, but my twenties! Possible flirtation was always a mere duckface away. Regardless of hot or not, I needed help. So I screwed up my courage and approached the desk, my face already an alarming shade of scarlet. The rest of the exchange went like this:

Me: "Um... hello. I'm looking for..." My voice trails off because 1. I was raised by a librarian and tend to speak quietly and 2. I was fucking mortified.

Him: "Pardon me?" Hot guy, straining to hear my dulcet whisper while looking really hot doing so. Who knew straining  could be such a turn on?

Me: Clears throat. Takes deep breath. "Yes, hello! I am looking for the book Codependent No More." I strive to project confidence, but end up sounding like a crazed psychopath. 

Him: "Oh, okay. Sure. Let me look that up for you." Gives me a sideways glance. Taps on computer keyboard with sexy fingers. "We have one copy in stock. Follow me."

Me: In my brain, "To the ends of the earth." Out loud, "Okay, thank you." 

We get to the section. He points out the book. Indeed there is one copy that escaped both my fevered search and the grasp of an Outback owner. He turned tenderly to me. My heart skipped a beat. Then he said:

Him: "Would you like me to get that down for you?"

Me: In my brain, "If it's possible for mortification to turn someone to dust, I would be a pile on the floor right now." Out loud, "No, thank you. I'll get it myself. I'm starting the healing today."

Him: "Uh, great. Can I help you with anything else?"

Me: Brain, "Getting a life." Aloud, "Nope. Have a good day!" Brain, "If there is a god, please let the cashier be a frumpy woman." 

And that, my friends, is how you beat codependency! 

[Photo Credit. *I'd like to note this was before ordering books off of Amazon was a thing. Back in the day if you wanted an embarrassing self-help book you did it the old-fashioned way. I probably walked up a hill, both ways, in the snow to purchase it too. Kindles may save the humiliation, but they won't tuck you in a night. Come to think of it, neither did that guy. Man, I really got screwed.]
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Jul 9, 2013 by Jenna Zine

I have a thing for African dance and I've wanted to take a class in it for about 10 years. (Did I mention that I'm a bit of a procrastinator?) Well, last week the opportunity finally presented itself and I jumped on it. The first session was scheduled for July 3rd and I had some pretty sweet plans for the 4th already lined up. I thought about postponing my class in favor of a champagne tasting at my favorite wine shop. What was one more week after all this time when I could get an early start on celebrating America's independence? Could anyone blame me? Well, it turns out I could blame me. I'd made a commitment damn it, and I was actually going to follow through. The email for the tasting got chucked and the workout gear came out of the closet.

As I strolled to class I had a huge grin on my face. I was nervous, but I was going to do it! I arrived at my destination to find a group of people practicing karate. This was definitely not what I'd signed up for. Shaking my booty? Yes. High kicks in hopes of splitting a wooden board in two? No. I finally got someone's attention who informed me that the time on the flyer was wrong and I was about half an hour early. "Hey, I could still make that tasting!" "No, you're already here. Sit down, Jenna." And so I did. I listened to that mysteriously insistent voice instead of my usual "Aw, fuck it" conversational thread. To pass the time I read Celebitchy on my phone, hiding it in my bag so as not to be disrespectful to the black belts currently occupying the room. I didn't want to find out the hard way that they may not be fans of celebrity gossip. 

Finally the karate class cleared out and I sat alone. Oh, crap. Then a man in a Dashiki showed up. This, my friends, was my teacher! He seemed just as confused as I was to walk into a room of one. We discussed the possibilities. What could've happened to the others? Should we proceed? My theory on my missing classmates was the same as my almost-skip: "Dude, it is the eve before July 4th. The people are partying." His theory on if we should proceed: "Why not? You're here. I'm here." Damn it. At this point I was really wishing I was chillin' with some champagne. I gracefully suggested that I could come back next week. (By "gracefully" I mean passive-aggressively offered to make his night easier in hopes that he would accept and I could run away to Division Wines relatively guilt-free.) He, in turn, gracefully declined, told me to take my shoes off, and get out on the floor. 

We started warming up and I thought, "What the heck. This isn't too bad. It's just the two of us, no biggie. We don't need music, we don't need people. This will work just fine with the stomping of our feet and the clapping of our hands." And it was fine... until three twenty-something guys with Djembes came into the room, reluctantly ready to drum for us. It turns out they were the nephews of my instructor and, like me and my other missing classmates, were very much hoping for a night off. Instead, at the insistence of their driven uncle, they were called into to work at the last minute to watch a fat, white, middle-aged lady (spoiler alert: that's me) flail around the dance floor, running after their uncle with a confused look on her face. Things got even worse when I was asked to switch up the steps and move in reverse. (Though I wrote John Travolta a fan letter as an 8-year old asking him for free disco lessons, I have since learned that I cannot dance backwards. I still blame Travolta to this day. Clearly my skills would be through the roof if he'd fulfilled my request. Who doesn't give free disco lessons to a child? Only an animal, I tell you.) 

As for me? I wanted to shrivel up and die. It was bad enough being there alone with the instructor as I watched myself struggle in the mirror. But to have an audience of resentful* young men (not) cheering me on? (One of the guys even drummed with one hand while checking texts with another.) Dear reader, it was mortifying. But, as my teacher said, they were here, I was here (and it was definitely too late to back out now) - so I danced. I did it anyway. My heart pumped, my body sweated, my face smiled in spite of it all and, ultimately, I lived through it. I still really want a fucking glass of champagne though. 

[Photo Credit: Not a photo of my class, obviously, because there are actually people in this picture. Dear fellow classmates, whomever you are, please get your asses to class tonight.]

[*I want to note that the guys were great and very nice to me. It was just clear that everyone wished they were somewhere else, myself included. This post is dedicated to my best friend Cathy who, when I told her this story, laughed until she cried and had the good sense not to sugarcoat how simply hilariously humiliating this experience was.]
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