Guest Writers

February 8, 2013

Romancing the Throne: A Guest Post by Tori Young

Tori Young is one of my favorite bloggers. Her writing ranges from humorous to introspective to downright naughty. This little ditty was…

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January 11, 2013

Lessons From A New York Vagrant

This month’s guest blogger is Daniel Friedland, author of Down Aisle Ten, a fictional history of Universal Simultaneous Anxiety Collapse Disorder, an incapacitating…

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December 17, 2012

Guest Posts for 2013: #SoWrong

In 2013, I asked some of my blogging buddies to share their most embarrassing moments from which they learned…something. I’m kicking things…

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December 14, 2012

Pushing Through, a Lesson Learned by Elena Aitken

I’ve been thinking about how grateful I am to all the writers who wrote posts as part of my Lessons Learned series…

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November 8, 2012

Little Orange Balls: A Completely Unsolicited Guest Post by K.B. Owen

K.B. Owen is a true cyber buddy. She listened to me whimper when my computer crashed and when I had some medical stuff…

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September 14, 2012

Losing My Gourd: A #LessonLearned by Amy Stevens

Amy Stevens writes about a spaghetti squash. …

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August 28, 2012

TechSupport Answers, Part Tres

The final part of a 3-part interview with my 13-year-old son….

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August 23, 2012

Tech Support Answers, Part Dos

The second part of TechSupport’s answers to your questions….

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August 16, 2012

Tech Support Answers, Part Uno

Part one of the answers to the questions you gave to TechSupport. …

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Click on the eyeball to be directed to other writers who are participating in this series!

Valentine’s Day has come and gone, and, no doubt, some of you are feeling bummed out. Like maybe your boyfriend gave you a pencil for Valentine’s day. Yeah, that happened to me once, too. Jules of Go Jules Go is here to offer a little perspective on love, and she explains — without bitterness — how all the loving we do is worth it in the end. If you aren’t already following Jules, you should. A humorist, known for being downright hilarious, Jules shares another side of herself today. Tweet with Jules at @JulieDavidoski.

• • •

• I Love You, But I’m Not In Love With You •

I was 18 years old when my life began.

One summer day, after the Y2K dust settled, an auburn-haired woman walked into the local book store where I worked. Jenn. The new hire. Nearly half a foot shorter than me, her sundress flapped against ivory legs as she took the new hardcovers to the front of the shop.

We were fast friends, chatting in between placing orders and ringing up customers.

“You were maaaade for retail,” she teased, quoting one of our recent patrons.

Jenn. Indeed.
Jenn. Indeed.

I rolled my eyes. I’d taken the full-time job at the book store at 16, the same year I earned my GED. I was taking classes at the local community college, my sights set on screenwriting. Bullied for glasses, braces, a few spare chins and a penchant for white tights, I was eventually home schooled. I sometimes wondered if ‘old soul’ really meant ‘late bloomer.’

Jenn regaled me with sordid tales of her past: Running away from home, men calling in the middle of the night begging for forgiveness, operatic dreams dashed, sex, drugs and rock and roll.

“You need a little fun in your life,” she said one night as we sipped Sangria at a local bar. At 24, she was five years older than me and knew all the places with the most lenient carding policies.

A little fun in my life.
A little fun in my life.

One month before my 19th birthday, Jenn and I took our shoes off in the mud room of her parents’ colonial and walked into the small, outdated kitchen, like we’d done many times before. We were surrounded by blue painted cabinets and faded wallpaper. Despite its age, everything in the house was spotless.

And there he was.

“Nej,” he greeted (“Jen” spelled backwards), his deep voice rumbling with affection.

The figure sitting at the small round table, munching away on carrot and celery sticks, shared Jenn’s fair skin and self-proclaimed ‘large Irish noggin,’ but had much darker brown hair and eyes. Goodbye Justin Timberlake, hello…

“Dan, this is Jules. Jules, Dan.”

Jenn’s twin brother. The apple of her eye. He grinned widely, eyes sparkling.

In addition to sharing physical similarities with his twin, Dan shared Jenn’s intelligence, musical ability and sense of humor. He’d graduated two years earlier with a degree in Psychology, but his true passion was film, giving us plenty in common. He had a serious girlfriend, but she didn’t like his friends, which meant every time I saw him, he was alone.

And suddenly he was everywhere. The next time we met, we talked for over an hour. The third time, he sprung up and gave me a giant bear hug. His solid frame pressed against me, and I lost my breath. I’d never been held like that.

That same night, he stopped me from leaving.

We stood in the laundry room of a friend’s house, chatting for a few minutes about music. When, it was time for me to go, Dan stepped forward to circle my waist with his arms.

“You give good hugs,” I murmured.

He gave a throaty chuckle and squeezed me even more tightly.

Over the following months, the conversations and hugs grew longer. And longer. But he never made a pass, and I was sure I was imagining things.

Finally, I emailed Dan. “I think there’s something between us,” I wrote, heart racing. “You’re completely amazing, and I wish you all the best life has to offer,” I went on. “I’m just afraid -and my ultimate point lies here- that you won’t realize when it’s being offered to you.”

I wrote that on a Thursday.

On Sunday, Dan replied, explaining his lack of response indicated “slight discomfort” because, while he enjoyed my company just as much, it was in “a different way.” He ended by saying he hoped that we could “continue to chill.”

I was devastated. Humiliated. Yet some part of me wasn’t willing to accept his words. I was sure if I waited long enough, and tried hard enough, I’d get the thing I wanted most.

Six months later, standing outside his parents’ house, Dan kissed me.

“I thought it was all in my head,” I breathed.

“It’s not,” he replied, brown eyes blazing. He held me and stared into my eyes, like he always did.

“I tried to figure out if I just wasn’t pretty enough or smart enough or funny enough,” I gushed. The words were out before I could censor them, and I didn’t care.

“That’s ridiculous,” he reassured me.

The following year was speckled with more kisses, a couple of midnight confessions, and an endless series of marathon hugs. He loved me, and said I was one of his best friends, but he was never ready to leave his girlfriend and accept all I was willing to give.

Before I knew it, I was 21 and begging Dan not to leave a party.

He did.

And that was the moment.

The moment I decided to let myself fall in love with someone else. Someone I’d known a long time. Someone who, as it turns out, loved me back.

That man is my now husband.


Jenn once told me, when I finally confessed how I felt about her brother, “Your loving Dan has a purpose, if only to make you see how much you deserve in love.”

And she was right. I never would have known how to appreciate all I have now if it wasn’t for all I didn’t have then. I finally realized love was easy. Simple. Happy.

Any time people talk about their most embarrassing moments, I think of that email I sent to Dan, confessing my feelings. I cringe. I blush. I bury my head in my hands.

But part of me loves that girl who didn’t get the guy. Because at least she tried.

Have you ever waited too long for love?

tweet us @juliedavidoski & @rasjacobson

Click on the eyeball to read other posts by writers involved in this series.

Tori Young is one of my favorite bloggers. Her writing ranges from humorous to introspective to downright naughty. This little ditty was born after my January guest writer selected her as the winner of his book. He said: “That chick packed a lot into her comment. I want the backstory there.” That’s how Tori’s writing leaves you. Wanting more. Even if it is unsettling or yucky (and this one really is), you will still want to read more. Follow Tori on Twitter at @toristoptalking or at The Ramblings. You can also follow her on Facebook.

• • •

Romancing The Throne by Tori Young

He thought I was pretty. I thought he was edgy and cool. We called it love.

Ignore my fragile, needy self-esteem and ability to cry at the slightest insinuation of insult. Never mind his rough Northern accent, claiming his harsh words were meant to be jokes. We forgave each other ourselves, found at least some things in common. He worked as a waiter, and wouldn’t you know it? I love food. He is short.  I am tall. He was the cosmic yin to my 6-foot yang. I can quote most lines from The Office. Sweet Destiny! He just so happened to have every season on DVD. We spent nights in his grown-up, studio apartment watching the movies because his cable was shut off. I liked his cozy little place, the thrill of having a guy bring me leftovers, and the pretty idea of finally being big enough to play house.

As our first Valentine’s Day approached, we made plans. He was thoughtful enough to book an intimate couple’s massage right in the comfort of his living room/dining room/kitchen. I went above and beyond to hand-buy from scratch a gourmet dinner from a quaint Italian eatery.  I arrived with foil carry out plates from the kitchen of a West Nashville trailer known for delicacies such as fried cheese and fried ravioli.

Ever the seductive sir, he poured liquor from its plastic jug into fancy speckled glasses he’d swiped from the bar at work. I was trying for romance, too, sporting secret, frilly panties I planned to let him see. They were a stretch from my usual boring bottoms, the kind of lace’n’string thing that screamed “SEX!” or “Thrift Store Score/Box Labeled ‘Granny’s Attic’ “.  And while the thought of this cheekiness made me squeamish, I went ahead with the scheduled wooing.

Sometime between 7 PM and cold pasta, a knock at the door said the masseuse had arrived. She smelled of chicken tenders. I soon learned she was a waitress alongside my beau. She assured me she was certified but did not clarify if that meant she had a license to rub me or serve booze to hungry diners in the state of Tennessee. She brought her own folding table with a head hole and a plethora of lotions, so I decided she was professional enough.

The friendly woman oiled me up as my boyfriend ate and switched out laundry. This being my first massage, my first true relationship, I tried to ignore the nagging tug in my belly. What am I doing here? Why am I with this guy? Who taught this lady to massage because I think she just broke a rib? Crazy talk! I reassured myself that I this discomfort stemmed from my not being learned in the ways of true romance. Yes, these were the joyous flutters of butterfly wings stirring my stomach so. My, what excited butterflies these were. How rumble-y in my tummy! As the stranger ran her fingers in between my toes, I felt a panicked pucker and jumped from the table into the bathroom. “You go ahead!,” I yelled to the boyfriend from my seat on his toilet.

Oh, Love Gods. Those weren’t butterflies.

vdaytpThe next minutes and hours were a blur of uncontrollable bowel movements and wrenching explosions.

His once cozy apartment now felt like a cage, giving me nowhere to hide, no window to crack or climb out of.  I tried to disguise the disaster by flicking on a vent, running loud water from sink and tub to drown out the gory sounds.

Occasional pauses were filled with my whimpering, little begs for mercy to make it stop. Desperation gave way to creativity as I showered the whole crime scene with the baby powder I found in a cabinet. I waited for the police to arrive, called from the upstairs neighbors who warned them: Judging by the stench and cries, something has died down there. It truly was a massacre. When the shit storm cleared in the wee hours of the morning I glanced around the square-foot bathroom like a serial killer must stare down at his guilty hands. Look at the horrid things you’ve done.

I limped from the bathroom to find the boy sleeping on the couch. “Do you want to–?” I tried to feign some Betty Davis eyes to no avail. Save face, save the sexy, save something. He was typically harsh and seemingly pissed at the audacity of my intestines; he grunted and rolled over.

That relationship didn’t work out. I know. I was surprised, too. As most bad phases do, that ugly night taught me a thing or two. Some really sweet friends make a point to the “Tori shat on V-Day plans” story with dinner tables full of strangers. Even this has become an invaluable method of determining which new folks I could befriend. I ask them to pass the rolls as they hear of my deepest, darkest encounters with a toilet bowl, and if they can laugh about it, still manage to make eye contact afterwards, I know they’re my type. The ones who dry-heave and suddenly need to switch seats couldn’t handle me anyway.

My so-wrong moment reaffirmed common sense that I let myself forget back then:

Never trust anything that comes from a trailer, but always, always trust your gut.

Have any really “shitty” stories you’d like to share?

tweet us @toristoptalking & rasjacobson

Creepy Rooster Gonna Get You!

This month’s guest blogger is Daniel Friedland, author of Down Aisle Ten, a fictional history of Universal Simultaneous Anxiety Collapse Disorder, an incapacitating disease that arises from the abundant fears that surround us in the modern world.

So what’s with the cock rooster on the front cover? Doesn’t he look like he wants to poke your eyes out? (It’s all fun and games until someone loses an eye.)

But I digress.

Dan is offering a copy of his book to one lucky commenter. Read his piece here today, and check out what you need to do to win below.

Oh! And you can follow Daniel on Twitter at @djfriedland or via his Facebook page.

• • •

Click on the eyeball to see who else is contributing to this series! 


Lessons From a New York Vagrant by Daniel Friedland

Times Square wasn’t always Disneyland. There were no shrimp-themed restaurants or toy stores and it was nothing like the family friendly carnival scene it is today. In the Times Square of my youth, vagrants greeted you with alcohol breath, strip club promoters offered dirty flyers, and litter collected on the curbs. It was the heart of New York’s seedy side, a hub of ill repute, and when I was seventeen years old and wanted a fake I.D., Times Square was where I went.

I can’t recall how I ended up in that Wendy’s.

The man must have whispered something about fake I.D.s as I walked down the sidewalk. Now inside the restaurant, he leaned over the table and promised he could get me what I wanted. But there was one important question he needed to ask first.

Was I a cop?

This idea was ludicrous. I had fluffy hair, string bracelets around my wrist, and a telltale suburban naiveté. I was about to deny working at 21 Jump Street when the man extended his hand to my face and instructed me to sniff his fingers. It was an odd and unexpected development, but I was forced to agree with the stated proposition. Yes – his hand did smell like pot. This olfactory evidence, he explained, proved he wasn’t an undercover officer. I accepted this conclusion.

Now that his bona fides were established, my new acquaintance began asking me questions. Where did I go to school? Was I related to anyone in the police department? Did I have a recording device on me? Would I tell anyone about him? Withering under his interrogation, I discarded all sense entirely. He had me right where he wanted me.

When he said he needed to check the bills in my wallet to make sure the serial numbers weren’t traceable, I handed him all of my money.

Let me repeat that one more time – I handed him all of my money so he could check the serial numbers.

Give it a moment to waft over you. Feel the full breadth of my humiliation.

I feel compelled to note that I am not generally a stupid person. I sometimes make witty conversation, I can solve a Wednesday crossword puzzle in the New York Times, (I’m working toward Sunday!) and I have never mailed cash to help out a Nigerian prince. Yet on that fateful day, I fell prey to a classic trick of misdirection, duped by an unexpected turn and a narrative I could not control. My folly became clear to me when the door to Wendy’s closed and the man disappeared into the crowd.

It was a good lesson for a modest price – stay focused.

And if there’s a secondary moral to be gleaned, perhaps I shouldn’t have been looking for that fake I.D.

Of course, nowadays my wallet stays in my front pocket, and it has been years since I’ve stepped foot inside a Wendy’s. Yet no matter how much time passes, I’ll always be just another victim of the old Times Square. Long live its seedy memory.

To enter to win a copy of Down Aisle Ten, leave a comment about a time when you were absolutely humiliated by someone else. That’s right, spill your own #SoWrong moment. Either that or confess your favorite fast food restaurant and what you like to eat there.

Tweet us @rasjacobson & @djfriedland


In 2013, I asked some of my blogging buddies to share their most embarrassing moments from which they learned…something.

I’m kicking things off on December 20, 2012 by sharing my own tale of horror and humiliation.

I can hear y’all now.

You’re all: Omigosh, she’s probably recycling something.

Like remember the time she didn’t back-up her computer?

Or remember the time she fell down the stairs?

Or remember the time she went dancing alone and got all dizzy?

Or remember the time she got into a confrontation in an elevator?

Or remember the time she wore her son’s pants all day?

Or the time she bought meat off a truck?


But this one is worse.

Here’s the deliciously tasty line-up of awesome-sauciness:

January 7: Renée Schuls-Jacobson •Fifty Shades of Humiliation Featuring a Guy in a Gray Suit” @rasjacobson

Jan 11 – Daniel Friedland • author of Down Aisle Ten @danielfriedland “Lessons From a New York Vagrant”

Feb 8 – Tori Nelson of The Ramblings • @toristoptalking “Romancing the Throne

Feb 15 – Jules of Go Jules Go • @juliedavidoski “I Love You, But I’m Not In Love With You.

March 15 – Peg of Pegoleg •  “True Crime”

April 12 – Darla of She’s a Maineiac  •  “Dear Diary, I Hate You”

May 17 – Misty of Misty’s Laws  • “To Bra or Not To Bra”

May 31  – Margaret Lawrensen of Life in LaRoque “Je Ne Comprends Pas”

June 14 – Susie of Susie Lindau’s Wild Ride • @susielindau

July 19- Blogdramedy • @blogdramedy

August 16 – Jess Witkins of The Happiness Project • @jesswitkins

September 13 – Lisha Fink of The Lucky Mom • @lishafink

October 18– Amber West of A Day Without Sushi • @amberwest

November 15 – Kiran Ferrandino of Masala Chica • @kiranferrandino

December 13 – Mary Nelligan of ateachblemom • @ateachablemom

NOTE: If you would like to share a humiliating moment on your own blog, or if you have already written about one, send the link here! It’s nice to commiserate with others who have survived embarrassment and lived to tell about it.

Click on the teacher lady's nose to find links to other people who posted in this series.
Click on the teacher lady’s nose to find links to other people who posted in the #LessonLearned Series.

I’ve been thinking about how grateful I am to all the writers who wrote posts as part of my Lessons Learned series this year. Each post has been beautiful; each lesson, unique.

Isn't she purty-ful? Yeah, well she's a great writer, too.
Isn’t she purty-ful? Yeah, well she’s a great writer, too.

Author Elena Aitken is the last writer in this series. And her piece arrived at precisely the right time for me. Because I am struggling with some serious writer’s block. Elena’s words are the greatest gift I could have ever asked for this holiday season.

If you don’t know Elena, you should. A busy mom, Elena is also a wonderful blogging friend and a prolific writer. I was fortunate to interview her when her book Sugar Crash was hot off the press, and she’s written a new book since then!

After you read her piece below, you will want to follow Elena on Facebook or on Twitter. Take a peek at her website if you’d like to subscribe to her blog. Her newest book, Hidden Gifts, would make a great present. Just like your words were to me today, Elena.

• • •
Pushing Through by Elena Aitken
When Renée asked me to write a piece for her Lessons Learned series, I said yes without hesitation because sure, I’ve learned a thing or two over the years. I mean, I must have something to offer. No problem, right?
Then it came to write it.And nothing.

A gentle nudge from Renée, “Don’t forget. You promised. Um, can I get that soon?”

“Oh, don’t worry,” I said. “I’m on it. No problem.”

But…it was a problem. The thing is, ever since Renée asked me months ago, I’ve been thinking about what I would write about. I read all the other posts, and…I worried. I mean, what on earth was I going to say? What could I offer that this talented list of writers and bloggers hasn’t already said with more skill and grace then I could hope for?

I made notes. I stared at my computer screen. I started writing five different posts. I deleted five different posts.

And then, I worried some more.

I couldn’t think of a thing. Was it possible that I haven’t learned any lessons at all?

I was moments away from emailing Renée to tell her I’d changed my mind, and I couldn’t do it after all.

And then, there it was.

That voice in my head.

“Trust yourself,” the voice said.

Hearing voices in my head isn’t unusual for me. After all, I’m a writer. I hear voices all the time.

But, I’ve heard those two words before.

A lot.

• My dad said them when I was learning how to ride a bike.

• Ms. Montgomery, my junior high drama teacher, said them before I went on stage to perform my monologue.

• My mother said them when my twins were newborns, and I didn’t know the first thing about being a mom.

• My writing partners scribble them in the margins of my work when I’m wrestling with a scene, or a character that just won’t cooperate.

• My friend and training partner will say them to me when I’m nervous about a race and doubting my training.

• My husband says them to me when I’m struggling with a tough decision.

That voice in my head is a beautiful medley of all the voices from my life and its tune is constantly changing. But the message remains the same. And every time I hear those words, “Trust yourself.” Whether they are spoken aloud or quietly in my mind—I do.

Because I might not have the right answer, I could make the wrong decision, say something stupid, trip and fall, or make a mistake. But I might not. And when I shut out all the noise telling me what I should say/do/believe, and actually trust myself; it turns out that I know myself a whole lot better than I thought I did.

So, maybe I’m a slow learner, or maybe it’s a lesson worth learning over and over again, but it’s the most important lesson that I continue to learn.

What helps you push through to complete a project?

tweet us at @elenaaitken and @rasjacobson

K.B. Owen is a true cyber buddy. She listened to me whimper when my computer crashed and when I had some medical stuff going on. And she sent me this amazing “extended comment” in response to my Tingo Tuesday post. I had to share it here. Because it is that awesome, and because it should give you some idea of how talented and giving K.B. Owen is. Check out her blog and follow her on Twitter @kbowenwriter! Kathy is truly one of the most wonder tweeps out there.

If you’d like to win a chance to win some December sidebar linky-love, you are up against K.B. and a bunch of other folks. The comments are amazing, and you can enter to win until November 30. Interested? You don’t have to be a blogger to win. Click HERE for details.

• • •

My Grief Bacon, by K.B. Owen

My “Grief Bacon” story involves the blizzard of 2010 – aka “Snowmageddon, ” “Snowpocalypse,” “Snowzilla,” and “snOMG”… and cheeseballs.

Yep, cheeseballs. I know, I’m not proud of it. I’d much rather be carrying around this surplus fifteen pounds because of homemade butter spritz cookies, or macaroni and cheese, or even pie, but it’s really the cheeseballs that did it.

Target is partly to blame.

(No, really. But I’ll get back to that in a moment.)

So, anyway, the Blizzard was coming. The weather forecasters in Northern Virginia – who don’t see much in the way of snow on a regular basis, I might add – were practically wetting themselves in excitement. Our local weather guy has a “Bread-O-Meter” that he pulls out when he makes snow predictions on the air. It’s named after how fast the bread goes flying off the shelves when folks around here start panicking, even when there’s only a dusting of snow on the ground. For the first time in the 20+ years that I’ve been living in the area, his Bread-O-Meter was a 10 – a designation he also refers to as “Run for the Hills.”

Hmm…looks like I need to get ready! I have to admit that I was excited. We don’t see much snow around here, and it sounded like we’d be digging tunnels out of the stuff (and we were). Time to inventory the gloves, hats, boots, flashlights, batteries, Parmalat, etc.

List in hand, I headed to Target because they have everything – food, DVDs, batteries, clothing – all in one place. We had to be prepared for a possible power outage, and since we didn’t have an SUV, we needed to be able to stick it out at home.

So I’m doing fine, making my way through the list, being sensible in my food choices (non-perishable, nutritious, etc), when I see…this ENORMOUS clear plastic bin of cheeseballs. As high as my knee, and the size of a tall drum. O.M.G. This was the sort of thing I’d pass by when the boys were little. They’d be sitting in their shopping cart seats, and point to it and drool.

Ooh! Can we get that?


Mmmmm….Cheeseballs (Photo credit: phot0matt)

But this time, it was different. My survival instincts were kicking in. I knew those cheeseballs  would keep forever. Fat calories for keeping warm. And yummy.

In retrospect, I’m not quite sure what was going through my brain, but I put it in my cart.

The boys were super-impressed with mom plunking this huge canister of cheeseballs on top of the fridge. Hubster rolled his eyes.

The devil had entered our house.

But I was blissfully ignorant. I had visions of the pretty snow, of kids sledding and building forts and missing school, of me making hot chocolate and drying mittens and boots beside the fire while reading, my hubby home from work to hang out with us.

And you know what? That was all true.

But then we got a little bored, and the kids couldn’t really play in snow that was so deep they kept sinking into it up to their hips; hubby and I had work to do, but shoveling was all we could accomplish (and where to put the stuff was our biggest mental challenge). The schools were closed, the roads were closed, the stores were closed. And it was okay; we were making do. We knew it was temporary.

But the cheeseballs had become an extra guest in our house. That canister was so easy to dip into. It’s okay, I thought, as I filled another bowl. I’ll be shoveling snow later. So we’d play a board game, and I’d munch on cheeseballs. The boys ate some, too, but I think I was the one who kept going back to it, again and again, until it was gone.

I feel stuffed just thinking about it.

Here’s one of the pics from the blizzard. Our cars are in there somewhere.

There are cars under there, people!

• • •

My thoughts are with the folks who are experiencing yet another storm. I hope everybody got their batteries and their water. And their cheeseballs. Stay warm.

When you see the teacher, you know it’s a #LessonLearned!

I first “met” Amy Stevens 18 months ago at Life From The Trenches. Amy’s blog commonly features stories about her life with her husband and their children. Amy has lofty goals of growing a garden, frequently uses sarcasm as a coping mechanism, always wears socks in hotel rooms, sometimes says “Amen” at the end of The Pledge of Allegiance, and pretends to eat peas in front of her children.

Amy lives in Joplin, Missouri, and it is an understatement to say that her life was rocked in a major way when those tornadoes hit last May. Since then, Amy has been posting intermittently as she has worked tirelessly to rebuild her family home while assisting in rebuilding her community. She continues to provide her children with a sense of faith in a world where nothing is solid. Amy writes about beautiful, messy, and chaotic moments that make ordinary life magic. And she’s hoping to get back into her writing — starting now.

I urge you to follow Amy on Twitter @AmyStevens_ or, if you prefer via her Facebook page. I feel fortunate to have Amy here today to share this month’s #LessonLearned.

• • •

Photo by Craig Newsom at

I don’t know what led me to become a hospice social worker, but it’s been an amazing journey.

I could write about the patients: how they teach me about grace, compassion, gratitude, and provide powerful doses of perspective.

But I’m not going to write about the patients.

I could write about my colleagues.

You want to see radical compassion? Watch a hospice nurse work furiously to ease the pain of a patient. You want to experience mercy? Watch an aide provide care with patience and gentleness. Want to soak in real faith? Watch a chaplain offer a prayer that helps our patients find solid ground to cling to in grief.

But I’m not going to write about my colleagues.

I am going to write about a spaghetti squash.

One of the nurses gave me the squash, a giant one. Leaving the squash on my desk, I went to a meeting debating if this squash called for marinara, sweet sugar and cinnamon, or maybe just some Parmesan. There are so many options when it comes to spaghetti squash.

Fast forward to an hour later. My meeting ended and I walked out to my desk to find that the squash was gone. In its place was this note:

“You’ll never see your gourd again.”

In addition to all the things I said above about my coworkers, they also have sticky fingers.

They also think they’re funny.

And so it began.

I threw out reasonable accusations.

Everyone was a suspect, and everyone looked a bit shady.

They are, in fact, a tad shady.

No one came forward.

Because they’re good. Really good.

I went home and, as any top-notch investigator would, I turned to Facebook.

I posted this completely authentic picture of my poor children with no supper. (Guilt can lead to confessions, and this was no time for mercy.)

Look at those starving children!

My photo was posted along with the following Status Update:

Someone at work stole my spaghetti squash leaving behind the note: “You’ll never see your gourd again.” Tonight my children go hungry: victims of a cold, calculated crime.

Forty-three comments later, I learned my colleagues are not only shady but also willing to throw each other under the bus.

Still, no one came forward with a confession.

I was not surprised.

The following morning, I entered the office to this:

Squashy looks like he had a rough night.

Apparently, my squash had been stolen and passed around the office like some kind of contraband sex toy. The main culprit was a nurse, but no one was innocent in this game — except for my poor, hungry children.

(I wouldn’t feed them dinner until they posed for the Facebook picture. I wanted authentic.)

From the moment I discovered the theft, to the discovery of wide-eyed squash, to my apology over the intercom for accusing innocent people of a heinous crime, there was laughter.

Life hasn’t always been easy in Joplin, Missouri. As a community, we’ve struggled to rebuild ourselves after last year’s tornadoes. And, of course, working in hospice is not easy.

And yet.

My life has led me to a place where I’m surrounded by people who leave in their wake physical relief and soothed souls. There are no better people to teach how to comfort and how to be comforted through understanding words, soothing touch, and the simple presence of someone not scared away by suffering.

There are many lessons to be found in this tale. Obviously, the first lesson being that one should always secure her squash. But also that life is gritty – often devastating and heartbreaking – so it is important to find joy in the ridiculous, share comfort in a little squash vandalism, and heal through humor.

What’s making you laugh these days? What’s your favorite fall vegetable? How do you like your spaghetti squash? Anyone else have a playful office climate & culture? What kind of fun little pranks have you played at work?

Twit these Twits @rasjacobson & @AmyStevens_

This is the final installment in a series of answers that my 13-year old son has provided to all the faboo readers & bloggers who responded to my request to give him the gift of questions for his 13th birthday. Because nothing screams happy birthday like the prospect of being a guest writer on your mother’s blog. I know you are all devastated. He is riveting. But he needs to go back to school. And hopefully this little exercise got him back into the mood. Either that or he’s now burned out before school has even started. Click on the links if you’s like to read Part Uno or Part Dos.

Tech Support 2012

We’re jumping right in again.

pattisj said:

I love the Big Bang Theory. Do you have a favorite character?

TS: I love Sheldon because his reactions to things make me laugh. Like how he over-reacts to everything. I also love his roommate contract Part C, Section IV. I intend to get a full copy of the agreement and use it in my real life.

• • •

Jami Gold asked:

What are some of your favorite book series?

TS: I like the Gone Series, The Hunger Games, and The Maze Runner.

• • •

e. rumsey asked:

What is your favorite fiction genre? What are some of your favorite movies? Do you think you’ll like playing with LEGOs your whole life, like I do? Have you been to a show on Broadway, if so, which one and did you like it?

My favorite fiction genre is science fiction. I loved the Hunger Games movie, Iron Man, Captain America, and I really want to see The Avengers. I don’t play with LEGOs very much anymore, but I have a strange urge to play with them now.

• • •

Jay Donovan @ jaytechdad

Here’s a math problem: Using only 3s & any operators you want to use, write a math equation that equals 100. If TechSupport wants some real homework, tell him to install VMWare Player on his computer, install Linux, and figure out how to build a web server or get his own Minecraft server running. Afterward, he can enter minion training. We can always use another minion.

TS: Hi Jay.

Here is my best attempt:

33 x 3 = 99.

99+3 = 102.

102 x 3 = 306

306 – 3 – 3 = 300

300/3=100. 😉

I didn’t use any help to figure that out.

But now I have a riddle for you.

You have 8 potatoes. You need to feed 20,000 people in a village of starving people, none of whom are willing to eat potatoes. How do you feed them?

I just got my own computer, and I am planning to host my own Minecraft server. I’ll send you the IP address, if you are interested. Are you interested?

• • •

Coleen Patrick asked:

What was your favorite part of your bar mitzvah (and least favorite)?

TS: My favorite part was at the after party, dancing with all of my friends. My least favorite part was when I had to light invite people up to light the candles because I don’t like being alone on stage. I get nervous when I am the center of attention.

• • •

Go Jules Go asked:

Your mom told us about the books that you collected, organized & donated for your bar mitzvah. Do you have any other projects like that that you’d like to do or are already working on? Do you have someone you look up to when it comes to doing charitable acts (someone famous or someone you know personally)?

TS: Hi Jules. I feel like I can call you Jules because my mom talks about you all the time. Plus I know you were on the phone together when I was at fencing once, and you guys talked so long that her car battery died. I don’t have any mitzvah projects in the works right now, but I’m always involved in some sort of project.

I don’t really have someone who I look up to with regard to charitable giving. {RASJ’s note: Really dude, really?!} The book thing was natural because I love books. I started it with my own initiative. I’m sure I’ll stumble into something else at some point.

• • •

JM Randolph asked:

If you had a blog, what nickname would you give your mom? And what was the single biggest thing that helped you prepare for your Bar Mitzvah?

TS: I would probably call her Super Writer. Wow, that’s pretty lame. I guess that’s why I don’t have a blog.

I think the biggest thing that helped me prepare for my bar mitzvah was starting to study for it long before I had to.

• • •

Larisa asked:

Take one of the questions that your mom answered over at The Byronic Man’s page and answer it yourself.

I chose #13. “Which superpower would you choose if you could: the ability to fly, or to turn invisible at will?”

Neither and yet both. I would like to possess the ability to use other people’s strengths. By this I mean, I’d like to be able to think of another person or thing and utilize their abilities as my own. They wouldn’t lose their powers or anything. I would just stay looking like myself – a mild, mannered boy — but I would secretly have any power that I desired at any time I desired it. Basically, I want everyone’s power. Is that creepy?

• • •

Rivki from Life in The Married Lane asked:

What’s the most difficult task you’ve tackled, and how did you feel about it before, during and after?

TS: If I had to say there was one challenge I had to overcome it would be my 7th grade social studies experience. My teacher was…um…he…um…let’s just say I had to do a lot of independent learning. Which meant a lot of boring textbook reading and Internet quizzes. My parents kept saying, “One day, you’ll see that this class has helped you understand how to be a better learner.”

I don’t think so.

• • •

Diana asked:

[My son] is almost ten and dying to be a tween. He loves computers and reading and writing. Can you suggest a few books or series for him to read, and any cool web games/programs. (He’s currently into Minecraft and making videos with Adobe Aftereffects.)

TS: Have him read The Hunger Games, The Maze Runner and Gone Series. I loved all 3 of them. If you’re on a Mac, try Dimp Animator and if you’re on a PC try Pivot. They are stick figure animators that I think are pretty cool. I really want the whole CS6 Suite, but my mom says it is too expensive. {RASJ’s note: I said he has to pay for it himself.} I guess I’m stuck with freeware right now. Hey, maybe I could come live with you for a while. I mean, you have Adobe Aftereffects. So you probably have the CS6 Suite, right? That would be cool. {RASJ’s note: Oh yes. Go live with people you don’t know. Whaaat?}

• • •

Nathan Young asked:

What are your favorite TV shows other than Big Bang Theory? Many geeks love animation so what are your favorite cartoons and comic books?

TS: Hi Nathan. I love MAD Magazine. It’s hilarious. When I get it, I lock myself in my room and read if from cover to cover. I also get Mac Life, but that’s not a comic book, obviously. I like a few weird TV shows like Adventure Time, which is totally wacky — but very entertaining.

I am so tired. I’m sorry you are the last person, but I have to stop now. Right now.

Here is a little bit of Adventure Time to enjoy while I am playing on my iPod resting.

So there you have it, ladies and gentlemen. That brings Tech’s riveting answers to your questions to a close. I think this assignment took him more hours than all of his 7th grade English assignments combined. Maybe I should make a suggestion to his soon-to-be 8th grade English teacher to have the kids start blogs. Or maybe I should just shut up and stay out of things. Which do you think I’m better at? What Tech? No, I’m just kidding. No, I’m not going to contact your teacher. Sheesh, son, can’t you take a joke?

Tweet this Twit @rasjacobson

This is the second installment of TechSupport’s answers to questions that people asked him when I implored folks to ask him some questions for his 13th birthday. If you’d like to read the first part of his interview, please click HERE. Most importantly, please be sure to click on the links of all these bloggers. Especially if you don’t recognize someone’s name. There are a lot of talented people here today!

Tech Support 2012

Hi everyone. I’m back. Let’s just jump into it this time.

The Good Greatsby asked:

How would you rate your bar mitzvah? My kids aren’t Jewish, but they do like parties and getting gifts. Is the party worth converting?

TS: 99.9/100. The only reason it isn’t 100% is because in my mind, nothing is perfect. Like we have to sit in temple for High Holidays and we have a bunch of fasting holidays, which are exhausting. But have you have ever had matzah ball soup? Or real potato latkes made by a Jewish grandma? If not, you’ve got to try these things. If they are made right, you’ll want to convert. Or at least, it would be worth a conversation.

Lisha @ The Lucky Mom asked:

Who’s your favorite video game character and why?

TS: My favorite video game character is Steve from Minecraft. I am currently in love with this game.

This is Steve.

Hibs asked:

What are you curious about????

TS: I am curious as to why you ended your question with four question marks. Seems like you only needed one.

 • • •

EllieAnn asked:

This is one of the hardest riddles I know. And for the record, I was not able to figure it out on my own.
Riddle: Paul is 20 years old in 1980, but only 15 years old in 1985. How is this possible?

TS: Paul was born in 2000 B.C.E. {sarcasm on} I totally figured that one out by myself. I did not have to Google it or anything. {sarcasm off}

• • •

Heather Marsten asked:

What items would you place in a time capsule to represent your life and the times you live in?

TS: A computer, a Smartphone, and a (broken) CD. Also the book Goodnight, iPad! If you haven’t read Goodnight iPad!, it is a great book for anyone who loves Goodnight, Moon! And likes parodies.

Goodnight iPad
Goodnight iPad (Photo credit: Jagrap)

• • •

Leanne Shirtliffe of Ironic Mom asked:

Besides dancing, what’s something goofy that your mom does that drives you a bit insane? What’s your favourite book? If you could visit any country in the world for one week (for free), where would you go and why?

TS: It drives me crazy when my mom won’t get off of the computer because she says she is “working” when she is really just blogging. I mean, I need to play my video games! I don’t have a favorite book but one that I just read and really liked was the Gone Series. If I could visit any country I would go somewhere in Africa because I’ve never been to that continent before, and it seems like a cool place to go.

• • •

pegoleg asked:

How do you envision the next 13 years will differ from the first 13?

TS: I think that in the next 13 years not much will be different except that technology will continue to develop faster and people will use it differently. We may even get A.I. (Artificial Intelligence). Who knows?!

[Mom jumps in] Tech, I believe Pegoleg is asking on a more personal level. How do you think your life will be different in the next 13 years. You know like… where do you think you’ll be between now and the time you are 26?

TS: Ohhhh! I will continue leaning in school and hopefully learn more about math and science. Hopefully, I’ll go to college somewhere. Don’t know where. Not worried about it yet. But I imagine it’s in the plan. Maybe land a job in sciencey-computery stuff. I imagine I’ll have a few roommates and live like the guys on Big Bang Theory. I’ll be the coolest one. Whichever one you think that one is.

List of The Big Bang Theory episodes (season 4)
List of The Big Bang Theory episodes (season 4) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

• • •

lexiesnana asked:

If I want to impress my 13-year old nephew and also look really cool in the adult world what should I focus on in music and video games? Also what is your favorite Olympic sport and why.

TS: If you want to impress your nephew, you need to understand Minecraft and the importance of collecting diamonds and red stone while avoiding creepers. Some adults like Minecraft, too. But most adults will think you are a dork. To impress those adults, I’d recommend getting some kind of Apple product and learn how to do little fixes like when your iPad freezes. Adults are very appreciative when you can help them with any kind of technical support. They will think you are a wizard or something.

My favorite Olympic sport is fencing because I fence!

 • • •

skippingstones asked:

Is the alternate drive on your computer (D drive on my crashed computer) something that can be taken out and put into a different computer? Or does it have to be accessed and copied?

TS: I’m a Mac.

• • •

August McLaughlin asked:

 If you could dedicate a song to your mom and one to your dad, what would you choose and who would sing it? And what song best depicts your childhood?

TS: The song that best depicts my life is “Bangarang.”

[NOTE from RASJ: Listen at your own risk. And turn the volume on your speakers down.]

I wouldn’t dedicate a song to my parents.

I would just buy my mom a steak and my dad some golf clubs.

I know what they like. Trust me on this.

• • •

Galit Breen from These Little Waves asked:

How do you feel about your mama’s blog?

TS: I think it’s cool, but she spends wayyyyy (that’s 5 bold y’s) too much time on it.

Stay tuned for the last installment of Tech’s scintillating answers to your questions.

Tweet this Twit @rasjacobson

NOTE from RASJ: So many people responded to my call to ask TechSupport questions, that his answers will show up in three parts! Thank you all so much for helping to defuzz his brain a little bit. And for allowing me more time to work on my book. Tech will respond to any and all responses. Please check out some of these great writers’ blogs. Especially if you have never heard of them before!

Tech Support 2012

Dear Everyone:

As many of you know, I went to overnight camp for 4 weeks this summer. Yes, I changed my underwear. And yes, I brushed my teeth. While I was away, a bunch of you wrote me advice and shared stories either about your experiences at summer camp or other funny stories. Thank you for those letters. Mail matters while you are at camp. I read the whole, thick bundle my mother brought on Visitor’s Day – including Penny’s multiple pages of The Places You’ll Go, which is one of my favorite Dr. Seuss stories.

{sarcasm on} Thank you also for the birthday questions. {sarcasm off}

I have never hoped no one would comment on my mother’s blog before.

Responding to your questions was time-consuming fun, and it helped me get into school mode.

I guess.

I hope you like my answers.

If you don’t, please take your complaints up with my mother.

After all, this was her idea.



 • • •

Joan asked:

What are you doing on your actual birthday?

In the morning, I will wake up, play on my iPod for 30 minutes, play on the computer for an hour, eat breakfast, then play on my iPod until my Mom freaks out and tells me to get off the iPod or she will throw it out of a window.

I will then switch to the iPad.

• • •

Ricky Anderson asked:

Why does iTunes make four copies of every song I own?

I’m not quite sure why it does that, but I have this same problem. I have however found two solutions. TuneUp will fix incorrect song information, remove duplicates, and find missing album art. While the second option, Tagalicious, will not get rid of duplicates, the interface for finding missing album art and fixing song information is much more intuitive than TuneUp’s. Personally I recommend getting the free trials of each and finding which one you like best.

• • •

Nora of Together They Would Travel asked:

What do you think of looks awesome… if you’re a girl.

• • •

georgettesullins asked:

Do you plan to return to camp next year and the next year?

Yes. Forever. And ever. I plan to be staff one day. Wouldn’t you want to see this every day?

Wouldn’t you want to go to here? • Photo by TechSupport 2012

• • •

Val of artyoldbird asked:

Allowing for the years when you probably couldn’t read, how many books have you so far read in your lifetime and what was your earliest favorite?

It’s funny you ask that because I keep track of every book I ever read in my life! So far, I have read 87,783 books. My earliest favorite was Goodnight, Moon!

• • •

Alex Jones of Liberated Way asked:

Can you survive without television and Facebook for a month?

Of course. Did you not see that this year I went away to sleepover camp for four weeks? Instead of being online, I played baseball and water-skied, went rock-climbing, participated in mass programs, and went to Arts & Crafts. It was no trouble being away from the Internet.

Mostly because I had no access to Wifi.

• • •

on thehomefrontandbeyond asked:

How can I sound up-to-date and savvy about tech stuff if I am not up-to-date and savvy & want to impress my tech savvy 21 year old?

The easiest way is to become savvy. Just look up some computing terms (like RAM or lossless compression) and learn their meanings. Then you will not only sound savvy, you’ll be savvy!

• • •

checkinoutlife asked:

What type of music do kids your age listen to? Can you tell me some of the bands you listen to? Do you listen to the same music as your friends?

Most kids my age are into music I don’t like that much, like rap or Justin Bieber. I don’t listen to the same music as (most) of my friends. Personally, I like dubstep, a kind of techno(ish) music. My favorite group who produces dubstep is Skrillex. Check it out. (Just skip the ad.)

Betsy K.W. gave me a killer bunch of research questions. She clobbered me wrote:

In the early 90s I worked for a company called Silicon Graphics which was founded by Jim Clark. What did he and his graduate students invent and where did they invent it (what university)? What industries used (use) this technology and what do they do with it (three examples, please)? What are two other companies that Jim Clark was chairman/founder of and what did the companies create? And a bonus question – When did Jim graduate high school and where did he go to college?

Jim Clark was an early computer geek who invented a geometry engine which is a hardware accelerator used to render images. He invented this in Silicon Valley in 1979 at Stanford University in California. People use this technology in computers, web-browsing and fast-rendering of 3-D images. Two other companies he helped develop were Silicon Graphics Inc. and Netscape. Netscape created a web-browser and Silicon Graphics created computer hardware. Clark was a high school dropout. He did go to Tulane University and eventually earned enough credits to go to University of New Orleans.

Assuming he’s still alive, I’m guessing he’s pretty rich.

Part dos is coming soon to a blog near you!

Tweet this Twit @rasjacobson