Monthly Archives: November 2011

For Parties to which I should not be invited: Telephone Pictionary!

Jana: I recently played a really fun game that I’d like to share, advertise, and encourage (all meaning the same thing? Quite possibly). The game is “Telephone Pictionary,” and it works just like that game “Telephone” that you definitely played at a childhood birthday party when, if you were me, you were really just plotting a way to get your mom to call and ask you yes-or-no questions (ie, “Are you having fun?”, “Do you want to leave?”) so that you could tentatively say into the phone, “No?, Yes?”, and then explain to the party-throwers that your mom really needed you to go home now sorry!, thus escaping another round of “Telephone.”

Now that you’re an adult, though, you should know about “Telephone Pictionary” – Yes, you should. Despite the fact that this, like all games played in groups, is one you should really just start playing instead of having someone explain the rules while no one listens, Here are the Rules!:

– Cut up a bunch of pieces of paper.

– Give everyone the same number of pieces as there are people.

– Have everyone write a phrase on their first piece of paper. This phrase should be anything weird and interesting. One I used last time was, “Long-lost cat (ran away 2 years ago) shows up on day of big family event; reactions are mixed.” You get the idea.

– Once everyone has written the phrase, pass your pile of papers, with the phrase piece on top, to the person on your left.

– That person receives the phrase, and, on the next piece of paper, draws the phrase as best they can.

– The pile is then passed again, with the drawing on top this time.

– The person receiving the drawing then re-interprets the drawing into a new phrase, writing whatever they see.

– The paper is passed again….

You get it, right? It’s like telephone with pictures. By the end, the phrase has become “Jewish family in ceremonial garb eats large animal; some people are crying”, or something like that. It’s hilarious! And it helps if you are drinking.

It also helps, I will say, if you have some artistic ability of some kind. Unfortunately, despite spending my youth at an alternative elementary school that emphasized artistic expression, I am UNABLE TO DRAW. Worried by the title, I vocalized this when the game started, and it was laughed off. “No worries! It doesn’t have to be good!”, my friends encouraged. But by mid-game, I was given a handicap (“Oh my god ok, just LABEL something”), and by the end I think that the group, while having a good time, was genuinely concerned about me.

Here are a few of the pictures I drew, for your viewing pleasure:

The prompt for this one was something like, “The monopoly man is now homeless.”

You can see my thought process here: At the top, he’s on a monopoly board, and then afterward he’s in some kind of… homeless mire? Also, in the beginning he is wearing an upside-down top hat. My only explanation for this is that I quite literally forgot what a top hat looked like, panicked, and drew that one instead.

Marilyn Monroe fights a tiger.

Ok. So this one was supposed to be Marilyn Monroe fighting a tiger. Obviously, I forgot what tigers look like. Also obviously, I don’t have any idea what Marilyn Monroe looks like. The zig-zag in the middle was supposed to represent the fight, I think, because by the time I’d drawn Marilyn and the tiger, I realized that they were far away from each other and seemed fairly complacent. The thing behind Marilyn was supposed to be a movie screen – the concept, at least, was high minded: She in her world, he (the tiger) in his. Unfortunately the person interpreting this thought that the movie screen was a postcard, so.

Finally there’s this:

A black herd eats pancakes.

Here, we have the most questionable picture – the one that is yes, maybe, a little racist. This came at the point at which I had been granted that label handicap. The problem here stemmed from the fact that the prompt read “A black nerd (possibly Urkel?) eats pancakes”. Here’s where that tricky little issue of how similar Ns and H’s sometimes look came into play. I thought it said a black HERD. So I drew these four curly-haired people, as apparently all I know about black people is that they have afros? What? Or maybe, just maybe, I was avoiding black face – yes, let’s go with that. And I labeled – of all things – their bottle of syrup.

So, there you have it. I cannot draw, and in retrospect, should not be allowed to play this game again. But have fun guys! Call me after when you’re ready to do something that’s more up my alley, like just drink in silence without using other special skills.

Catherine: I can’t read this post without getting extremely upset that you are so far away. I need to play this with you, basically right now, because ohmygod, I would get free reign on just making fun of you and how terrible you are at drawing. And nothing is better than making fun of you, and of us, and how bad our lives are/can be.

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The Principal Took My Backpack Away, Or My Childhood

Catherine: Middle school. I wouldn’t say I was particularly “cool” or “attractive” or “had friends” in this period of my life. I liked to work on the Bigelow News, the daily morning TV show that chronicled such happenings as who won last night’s basketball game, or what Ms. Sutphin’s class was up to now. Big deal stuff. SHOCKINGLY, this didn’t afford me any popularity points. But. Anyways. Once upon a seventh  grade day, as I sat in class likely wearing those extremely oversized pants that were popular for a time, combat boots, and a crushed velvet t-shirt, the principal of the school came and pulled me out of science class.

Apparently, there was concern over the contents of my locker. Had I forgotten to put my tamagotchi in sleep mode? Was it beeping?? How embarassing! But no, no, no. It was at least six times worse. I removed my backpack, and well I guess in that moment I first became aware of the issue. My bag smelled awful. My cat, bless his soul, had peed in my backpack. And apparently it was smelling up the whole hallway. And I hadn’t even NOTICED. So. The principal very gingerly escorted me out by the gym, where she placed my bag outside after making sure I was “ok” with that. Jesus Christ. If kids didn’t have enough reasons to think I sort of sucked already, this was a nice one that I heard about for a good long time. I may or may not have cried several times post incident. Kids are the worst.

Jana: Thinks that this is a really good reason never to have a cat. And is reminded of the time that my backpack broke open in the middle of a crowded hallway during the first week at PUBLIC HIGH SCHOOL (scary, where people do drugs, I assumed). Backpacks as minefields – something to consider when raising a child?

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In honor of the holiday season: I still have a grudge against the Red Cross.


This once happened to me:

A senior in college, I was in Bailey-Howe library at UVM, “working” on a paper on Moby Dick. Yes, I was an English major but no, I had not exactly READ Moby Dick. I don’t think that anyone, with the possible exception of my mother, actually READS Moby Dick. I read the sparknotes. I thought about the symbolism. I got an A on the paper. Anyway, I’m getting ahead of myself.

As I sat in the library, staring at my computer, my notebooks open and balancing in the tiny space of table that was serving as my desk, my cell phone rang. I breathed a sigh of relief for the solid distraction from writing that this might provide. Who could it be? My boyfriend? No, no. The number was “Restricted,” and I whispered “fuck THIS” – I was immediately sure that it was the damn Red Cross again. They’d been calling me daily ever since I gave blood earlier in the semester. Giving blood had been alright (free crackers, some time to lay down), but for the whole week afterwards I’d felt exhausted, as if someone had LITERALLY drained a pint of blood from my body, so I definitely wasn’t planning to ever do it again.

terrible self-portrait

(this was around the time when I was taking pictures of myself and posting them on facebook, because I thought that was something that was ok to do. Here is one which represents my feelings about the Red Cross).

As such, I’d been ignoring the calls. But on this particular day, I decided the time had come to stand up for myself.

“Hello,” I answered, short and annoyed.

“Um, Jahna?” came a tentative voice.

Now, I’m used to people mispronouncing my name, and generally I’m a real pushover about it. Such as:

“Hi, I’m Jana.”




“You got it!”

(What follows is a relationship built on this lie, culminating in the day, months later, when someone else addresses me correctly in the presence of this new friend, and I have to admit in a really high-pitched voice “no yeah, she’s right, it’s Jana, but it’s really not a big deal!” The new friend then feels like an idiot for having called me Jane this whole time, AND loses all respect for me for having let them. FOOLPROOF).

However, on this particular day, the combination of my frustration with Herman Melville and my general anger at the Red Cross for bein such a dick pushed me over the edge. “It’s Jana,” I nearly yelled. “JANA. Just like Anna, but with a J.”

“Oh, I’m so sorry. This is Emily, your mother’s friend, she asked me to call you to discuss a career in publishing…”

AHHHHH. WHAAAT. Ok. I panicked. I backpedaled. I spoke really fast.

“Oh, my god, hi! I’m so sorry I was so rude. I thought that you were the Red Cross.”


“Not that the Red Cross is bad, of course I support the Red Cross, it’s just that they call me a lot.”

“Anyway, I’d love to hear about your career?”

To her credit, Emily managed to stumble through a few minutes of career-related talk, but I’m pretty sure I failed to impress her.

Meanwhile, I still get calls from the Red Cross.

Catherine: At some point we will need to share a good 99% of the pictures Jana used to take of herself. I recall stumbling upon like, 500 on her computer one day and being EXTREMELY taken aback. I didn’t understand why they were taken and why, once taken, they had not immediately been erased. I’m grateful for the one shown in this post for its value it sharing truly how intense and special Jana used to (and sort of continues to) be.

I suppose this is also as good a time as any to mention that the first time I met Jana, I pronounced her name “John-uh”, like a girl from school growing up who was the only other person I’d ever seen with the name. I pronounced her name incorrectly for months, I believe, before SOMEONE ELSE told me I was saying it wrong. That’s just how close we were and how terrified she was of me.

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That Time When I Ruined The Day (Maybe Life) Of A Target Employee Because My Body Exploded

Catherine: It was an afternoon like many other, probably overcast and nothing particularly good happening. My mother and I had eaten at the Old Country Buffet, which was sort of our standby throughout high school. Something about getting in and eating ALL YOU COULD, well, it appealed to me. To us both, really. Anyways. We finish eating (which is to say we had the equivalent of four meals at once) and journeyed down the way to Target. Whilst perusing the wares, suddenly I was kind of like, “Hm. You know what, I think I need to go to the bathroom.” Ten seconds later, that changed to “YOU KNOW WHAT, I THINK I NEED TO GO TO THE BATHROOM.” So, there I was. Bathroom was at the farthest possible point from my current Targetspot, and Target is huge, so thus began my emergency run/walk. I wish I could say I was not sweating and breathing heavily, but I absolutely was. By the time I was in sight of the bathroom, it was Defcon 5. As I rushed through the door, I noticed the ‘Out of Service’ sign, followed by a surprised cleaning lady whose face I saw but for a moment as I bust into a stall. Her “Bathroom is being serviced, you must wait!” rang in my ears as the door shut and I yellscreamed back, “IT’S AN EMERGENCY!!!!”

If you or someone you know has had to walk home after a too-drunken night where you met your soulmate only to awake and find that he/she is (to put it mildly) NOT EVEN CLOSE, know that when I had to leave the stall, AND SHE WAS STILL THERE, HAVING HEARD EVERYTHING, I felt something, deep, deep inside – it was The Ultimate Walk of Shame.

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Kids Are Weird and Delusional: A Generalization Based Entirely on the Weird Delusional Kid I used to Be.

Tuesday, April 9, ’96

Dear Journal, 

I’ve been thinking, you need a name. Maybe you could be Piggy, since she’s a really nice pig who has been my best friend ever since I turned 7. But I think I’ll name you Socac. I’m naming you Socac after what I want to be when I grow up. A soccer player and an actor. So I just put the two together to come up with Socac. So, today I cristin you Socac. 

Goodbye, Socac. I love you!

Jana P

I think I had a really solid chance of becoming the first ever famous combination soccer player/actor, mostly because I was so attractive and coordinated. Here’s another few excerpts that demonstrate this:

January 2, 1996

Hi! Today was ok. I went to the Doctor’s office and got my nose wart taken off. Then we went shopping for an hour or so (had lunch too) and then mom dropped us off at home while she did some errands. 

January 3rd, 1996

Dear Journal, 

Last night I was walking in just my socks, when I stepped on a pencil. I got some graffite in my foot and we spent hours trying to get it out. We called the Doctor today and she said it wasn’t to dangerous. What a relief!

So yeah, like I was saying, super attractive, super coordinated. I will say that the aforementioned nose wart was NOT a one time thing, also. It was right in the middle of my nose, sticking out style, and it came back about once a year for maybe five years. Dr. Paul, the ancient dermatologist who kept doggedly spraying liquid nitrogen on my nose wart whenever it recurred, practically raised me. It was weird though, because he never seemed to remember the long-running nose wart saga. Every time, he would start his spiel like, “this is going to hurt just a little…” and I’d be like, DR. PAUL! I’M ALL OVER IT! ME AND THIS NOSE WART AND THAT CAN OF LIQUID NITROGEN ARE GROWING UP TOGETHER!. I’m not sure he could hear me though, he truly was quite old. I miss that guy.

(Before Dr. Paul, for nose wart appearance #1, I went to a different dude who used a medication that turned the nose wart purple. The appointment happened to be the day before the play that I was in at school, so… I had a purple wart on my nose during the play. Even then, in third grade, I was getting the sense that this was sort of just gonna be the deal with life).

It’s been about ten years since the nose wart finally died for good (obviously, this is a premature statement. I’m sure it will be back). I remember it sort of fondly. It was also cool because sometimes it would bleed while I was on a playdate, and then the parents of whatever friend I was with would start suggesting regular nose-bleed-stopping strategies, and I’d have to explain that I didn’t have a NOSE BLEED, I just had a wart on my nose that was BLEEDING.

Attractive. Coordinated. Popular. Destined for fame on the stage, screen, and field. 


Things that sound like they might be fun, are usually not fun.

Jana: Once, feeling like our lives lacked adventure, we proved ourselves suckers for the “Top fun free things to do in New England this summer!” list compiled by the g-damn Boston Globe. Thinking it would be like, the greatest!, we booked a room in Providence, Rhode Island. We were going to see the Water Fire. Fire Water. Whatever it’s called, we assumed it would be something special. Something MORE than just a literal piece of fire floating in water.
We were wrong. The weekend was the worst. It was expensive and our room was cold and there were tons of hills to climb up and down and the bars were LAME. We had to eat dinner at a chain restaurant of some horrible kind. The only other fire water attendees were ugly gross children. Yes, one of us did eventually make out with a chubby English major, but it wasn’t enough to make up for our disappointment.
On the final morning of the trip, before we headed home, we stopped at Dunkin Donuts. Jana ordered what she thought would be a breakfast wrap. Instead, it was the smallest piece of fake egg we’d ever seen precariously residing in just the thinnest piece of tortilla. The fake egg tortilla represents the fire water. Lame, and a little weirdly over-advertised.
Later, we wrote these haikus about our experience:
A hotel! we thought
Bars! People! Floating fire!
But we were wrong. Wrong.
We had such high hopes
An adventure to cheer us
In the end, we lost.
The room was so cold.
The people were just the worst.
Deserved? I think not.
I remember then
the day was dark, the sadness
Providence. Oh god.

A Conversation, In Haiku

last night i slept, hot.
two beers too many, jeepers.
morning – go away.
 At work, not awake
Four glasses of wine, oh my!
I wish for my bed.
the day goes on, why?
will the moon come out to play?
fuck the sun. fuck it.
My eyes are closing
My hair is dirty, so gross
I want a bagel.
my legs so hairy,
my zits, big and poppable,
shocked a boy loves me.
Can I sleep now please?
Really. Please? Really. Please? Rea-
Ok fine. I won’t.
i think i’m dying.
is this real life? could it be?
must be, cuz it sucks.
Fell asleep outside
In the grass, life was alright
Now it’s bad again
my work is done now
strangely, i still want to die
couldn’t want sleep more.

Things have been bad for a while.

Jana’s journal entry, January 3rd, 1996 (age 11)

Last night I was walking in just my socks, when I stepped on a pencil. I got some graphite in my foot and we spent hours trying to get it out. We called the doctor today and she said it wasn’t too dangerous. What a relief!

Catherine: This makes me think of the following Jana journal excerpt.

May 16, 1996 (Jana remains 11)
I thought I should tell you about my good, good friend Piggy. She is a stuffed (I hate to say it) pig and is my real good friend and helper. I just wanted to acknowledge her. Love ya! – Jana P. PS. We started word problems.

You were a troubled, lonely child, no?


And Now?

November 13, 2011

Jana: Last week I had to see my doctor. I made the appointment to discuss birth control?, which is how I explained my reasons to the receptionist when I called to schedule the visit. Anyway, after work I drove to davis square, and arrived just about 15 minutes early. (I had planned to arrive one hour early and get SO MUCH DONE in the nearby Starbucks – that’s why I brought my computer, see – but then I had paid no attention while driving and taken the absolute slowest and most ridiculous route possible, thus arriving with just 15 minutes to spare). Luckily, that was enough time to go to Starbucks, buy one tea, and cry quietly while I drank it before heading to the doctor’s office.

When I got there I was told to wait. So I waited and waited and waited. I finished my tea. After 45 minutes, I decided to use the bathroom. With the receptionist’s permission, I went through the doctor’s door, out of the waiting room, to use the bathroom that I knew existed down the hall. On my way back from the bathroom, I passed a little office across from the examining room, and out of the corner of my eye I saw a tiny figure. And this is where my mind went: THE DOCTOR IS A CHILD, WHAT? WHAT?

It turns out that it was just an actual child, who I guess was having heart problems which caused the whole DELAY (I told the doctor that of course I understood about that and wasn’t bothered by it, but then when she left I cried a little thinking about all of the time I’d wasted that day, so you decide if my heart is in the right place when it comes to the heart health of children). The point is, my doctor is not a child, but for a brief minute I really thought she was.

Catherine: I find this entire story amazing. I wish that, someway, somehow, your doctor really had been a small, small child. And I would like to envision the part where the childdoctor goes, “What brings you here?” and you go, “Um. I need… uh, birth control?” And then the childdoctor looks at you and goes, ” What, you got something against kids? You think I shouldn’t be alive?” And you go, “Um. No. What?” Then the childdoctor goes, “I was just joshing you, let’s get you some pills. Hope they don’t make your boobs get any larger. But, that probably will end up happening.” You, “::tears::”.


In The Beginning

January 29th, 2009

Catherine: not having a phone makes me feel like i’m living in a 3rd world country.
JanaThat’s because, essentially, you are. You have no connection to anyone. You have no running water.  I can’t imagine.