JenFul Playlists – December 2013 and January 2014

Music notes

I’ve decided to post playlists every two months instead of every month since they were cluttering the archives. I also suspect these are posts that I care more about than my readers, but I’m going to do them anyway because I like tracking my music listening habits. And if I introduce just one reader to their new favorite song it is totally worth it.

You can listen to the playlists in the Spotify players below if you have Spotify installed. If not, the playlists are listed in text below that. As always, you can follow me on Spotify here and view my other playlists here. I’ve commented on a few highlights below.

December 2013

January 2014

Highlights

Royal Teeth – Heartbeats
There are two other version of this song I’ve heard, one by the song’s writers, The Knife, and the other by Jose Gonzalez. Strangely enough, it took me years, YEARS, to figure out that Jose Gonzalez was singing the same song as The Knife because that’s how completely different their versions are. This version by Royal Teeth is more similar to the original version, but I almost like it better for some reason I can’t quite explain.

Eminem – The Monster
I’ve only listened to maybe four Eminem songs in my life, but I like this one. (The other three being “Lose Yourself,” “Not Afraid”, and “Love the Way You Lie.”) There’s no doubt he’s a skilled wordsmith, even if he doesn’t always use those powers for good.

Enrique Iglesias – Escape
I know this song came out over ten years ago, and it’s auto-tuned in a non-ironic way, but I couldn’t get it out of my head for a week. So I must mention it here.

Idina Menzel – Let It Go
I don’t have kids and I don’t hang out with anyone who has kids on a regular basis, so the latest Disney movie Frozen was off my radar when it first came out. However I kept hearing things about how good it was, so I finally saw it and it was indeed as good as everyone said it was. The soundtrack is excellent as well, and I hope this showstopper sung by Tony legend Idina Menzel gets the Oscar.

Bruce Springsteen – American Skin (41 Shots)
I love a lot of things about living in America, however one of the things I do not love is knowing I could be shot at any moment for no good reason. This Springsteen song is basically about that fact.

December 2013

Ingrid Michaelson – Parachute (Acoustic)
Royal Teeth – Heartbeats
Kylie Minogue – All The Lovers
Russell Taylor – War of Hearts
Ashley Monroe – Can’t Let Go
Jason Mraz – 93 Million Miles
Hunter Hayes – I Want Crazy – Encore
Skyler Stonestreet – A Little Taste
Bad Books – Forest Whitaker
Mecca Kalani – Feel Me
Danielle Bradbery – The Heart Of Dixie
Mary Lambert – She Keeps Me Warm

January 2014

Eminem – The Monster
Enrique Iglesias – Escape
Walk the Moon – I Can Lift A Car
The Band Perry – DONE.
Idina Menzel – Let It Go
Bad Suns – Cardiac Arrest
Matt Hires – Honey, Let Me Sing You A Song
Vance Joy – Riptide
A Great Big World – Rockstar
Matt Hires – A –> B
Cathy Heller – We Will March On
Anna Kendrick – Cups (Pitch Perfect’s “When I’m Gone”) – Pop Version
LeAnn Rimes – Gasoline And Matches
Kacey Musgraves – Follow Your Arrow
The Fray – Love Don’t Die
Bruce Springsteen – American Skin (41 Shots)
Foster The People – Coming of Age
Graham Colton – Mixed Up
Kitten – Kill The Light
The Pierces – Secret
Allie Moss – Late Bloomer
Young the Giant – Mind Over Matter
Hozier – Take Me To Church
Backstreet Boys – Show ‘Em (What You’re Made Of)

Evidently, I could totally do porn

I was in line at the bookstore in December when a man tapped me on the shoulder, handed me a business card, and said, “Here. They pay money,” and then walked off before I could get a good enough look to identify him in a line-up. This is what the card said:

Voluptuous Modeling: Sexy has no size!!!

Yes, that’s right, I was solicited to do porn while buying Christmas presents for my family. If there is any doubt in your mind as to what this business is about, please refer to this blog entry I discovered when I Googled the email address on the card. In short, the blogger followed up to find out what the deal was and learned that the deal was indeed porn. Notably, at first I thought the email address was “money-CAN-hurt” instead of money-CAN’T-hurt” which was probably my brain’s way of warning me about the situation before I’d even confirmed what the situation was.

While I should probably be offended that someone wanted to exploit my body, I was mostly just flattered that someone thought my body was exploitable. I could totally do porn! I didn’t know that! It’s the strangest Christmas gift I’ve ever gotten. I’ve been various degrees of overweight my entire life, so there have been very few years when I’ve been a size that matches the default “pretty” setting of society. Fat women can be beautiful, but it’s a beauty that has to be defended. It’s a beauty you have to convince people about or that you even have to convince yourself about. Like every time you go outside looking good you’re saying, “Why yes, despite all the rumors to the contrary you can be large and attractive!” Pretty thin people never have to defend themselves this way. Everyone knows thin is the default pretty. These days I’m not as fat as I used to be, but not as thin as I used to be either, so my own approval rating of my body is somewhere around 65%. (A lot of that is due to my feet though, not my ass.) Despite that mediocre self-appraisal, someone else thinks I’m masturbatory material. And despite myself, I have to admit it boosted my spirits. I have absolutely no intention of following up on it, but it’s nice that I’m the one who gets to say no instead of being the one “no” is said to.

Granted, porn is not always about being pretty. I don’t know that much about porn, but I know there is some crazy ass shit out there. Literally. I also know an overweight porn star would likely be categorized as a “fetish,” which is kind of insulting in itself. I can understand why other people might be offended by receiving a card like this, particularly if they didn’t consider themselves overweight to begin with. It’s not great to know someone wants to exploit you, even if it’s strangely reassuring to know you’re just as exploitable as the next girl (even if she is a size 0).

What I found most jarring about this experience is that it throws into question a motto I tend to live my life by, which is “You wouldn’t care what other people thought of you if you knew how infrequently they did.” I usually think about this when I’m sweating on the elliptical at the gym or if I’m dashing to the mailbox in my pajamas. “Don’t worry about it, Jennette. No one is watching. You are not the center of the world.” But in this case someone did notice me. They looked at my body and instead of thinking, “She’s fat. I’m going to ignore her,” they thought, “She’s fat. I must approach her!” That bookstore I shopped at must have been in Oppositeville. Or it might be that I am not as invisible as I think. Whether that’s good or bad depends on who’s doing the looking.

But sometimes it’s just nice to be seen.

Reasons for Regain #2: I stopped weighing myself

Scale

I don’t remember when I stopped weighing myself regularly, just like I don’t remember when I stopped cooking. (The recurring theme of my Reasons for Regain series might be “not paying enough attention.”) During the years that I lost weight and maintained it I weighed myself daily and tracked my progress. Originally I used the FitDay program to record my weigh-ins, but at the beginning of 2010 I switched to an Excel spreadsheet. I never installed FitDay on my new computer, so I don’t have access to that old data and thus can’t find the exact day I stopped tracking.

Weighing myself daily forced me to be aware of my weight. When I was losing weight, I was very happy to be aware of my weight. “I’m getting thinner! Weeee! You are so awesome, Mr. Bathroom Scale!” However when I started to slowly gain back weight I was not very happy to be aware of my weight. “Oh, screw you, Mr. Bathroom Scale! Don’t forget who pays for your batteries!” So, it’s not that surprising that all that negative reinforcement around weighing-in made me stop weighing-in.

The Excel spreadsheet shows that I went through fits and bursts of tracking. I tracked all of January 2010, but then dropped off and didn’t weigh-in again until March. After that the next weigh-in wasn’t until August…of the next year. l’m fairly certain I must have stepped on the scale sometime in that 15-month gap, but I wasn’t writing it down, which is probably just as important as the weighing itself. If you don’t track your data it’s hard to see where you’ve been and where you’re going. Instead I was stepping on the scale, thinking, “Oh, dear Lord,” stepping off, and trying to wipe the whole thing from my memory. And it looks like I was successful at that!

In 2013 I had four bursts of weight-tracking, which is the most for any year in the spreadsheet. However each burst doesn’t seem to last more than a month. The ends of these bursts usually end with my weight ticking up several pounds, so I think I got discouraged and gave up, whereas if the weight had continued to go down I’d probably have kept tracking.

I’ve been tracking my weight every day since December 31, 2013 and I’ve been successful in losing several pounds. I plan to continue tracking for the rest of the year, even if I get bad news because ignoring a problem unfortunately does not make it go away.

Update on Reason for Regain #1: I stopped cooking
I’ve continued to cook more of my meals this year. I’ve found that:

  1. I am still running the dishwasher more than I used to.
  2. I am not going to the grocery store nearly as often as I used to, but when I do I’m spending more money. When I wasn’t cooking I’d usually dash to the grocery store for a few small things to eat every few days, mostly because I wasn’t planning in advance. Now that I plan, I can stock up on everything at once.
  3. However, I’m still not planning everything. I’ve been eating a lot of peanut butter sandwiches lately because they are quick to assemble and I figure the protein from the nuts offsets the carbs in the whole-grain bread. (And if it doesn’t please let me just live in ignorance, ok?) So, I could definitely work more on the whole “planning meals in advance” thing.

Adventures at Pigeon Forge, Dollywood and the Dixie Stampede

Pigeon Forge

I didn’t have any expectations for Pigeon Forge, Tennessee when I arrived there last September. One of the things I like about taking trips with my mom is that she plans everything and I just have to show up. So when I drove down the main drag headed for out hotel I was surprised to see, well, every damn thing I saw.

Iceberg

There was the Titanic.

Titanic

Complete with iceberg.

Upside-down house

The upside-down mansion.

King Kong

King Kong, of course.

Jurassic Jungle boat ride

And let’s not forget the Jurassic Jungle Boat Ride…

Shark door!

…a shark door…

Indoor Skydiving

…indoor skydiving…

Hillbilly Village

…and Hillbilly Village.

Strangely, I did not see any pigeons or forges, though there were way too many miniature golf courses and go-kart tracks to picture here individually. Basically, Pigeon Forge is a whole lot of WTF. Or as one of my Facebook friends said, Pigeon Forge is like Las Vegas vomited on Tennessee.

We’d ended up in Pigeon Forge because my mom and I had determined that Dollywood was halfway between Indianapolis (where she lives) and Chapel Hill (where I live) which made it drivable for both of us. The carnival atmosphere in Pigeon Forge was a surreal unexpected bonus to our travel adventures.

We stayed at the Clarion Inn, and I don’t normally rave about hotels, but this place was fantastic, especially for the price. The staff was friendly, there was free breakfast, the room was great, and I’m not surprised it’s the #1 rated hotel for Pigeon Forge on TripAdvisor. We even had a balcony with this view:

Jesus

Yep, a big-ass cross sits on the hill behind the hotel, and in the other direction is the Harley-Davidson store, so they’ve got motorcycles and Jesus covered.

Dollywood

Dollywood

Going to Dollywood isn’t something that’s been on my bucket list, but since it was located in the right place geographically I was like, what the hell, let’s go to Dollywood! Whenever I’ve mentioned Dollywood to someone since this trip they always ask, “What’s it like?” which is not something I’ve heard people ask about Disney World or Six Flags. It seems like most people have heard of Dollywood, but they’re not sure what’s there. I’d say there are four types of attractions at the park: shows, shopping, rides, and food.

Shows
When you enter the park you can grab a pamphlet that details what shows are playing at what times. When we went there were at least nine different things you could see, ranging from live musical performances, a couple of movies, and even a birds of prey show.

String band

The string band was my favorite performance because the musicians had good chemistry and cracked jokes during the show. I’m sure they’re sick of telling the same jokes four times a day all season, but I guess that’s how you pay the bills.

Birds of prey

The birds or prey show was great too. We were able to look at the birds close-up before the show perched behind glass in their own booths. Then during the show they flew around above our heads and were generally magnificent as birds of prey tend to be. After the show you could go up to the stage and hand one of the birds a folded dollar bill which he would snatch from your hands and stuff in a donation box. It was terribly amusing no matter how many times he did it. I’m sure it’s also made their fundraising results skyrocket.

Shopping
I was not prepared for the amount of shopping you can do at Dollywood. There is a section of the park called Craftsman’s Valley where you can buy practically anything that can be handcrafted. There was a blacksmith, a glass blower, a wood carver, and more. Most of these shops had someone on display making new products, so you could watch them practice their craft. They even sold huge items like grandfather clocks that you could have delivered to the front gate to be loaded into your car. I don’t know who would go to Dollywood to buy a $2000 clock, but I guess someone must be doing it. Even outside of Craftsman’s Valley there were lots of stores selling clothing and various souvenirs. It could be pretty easy to spend a lot of money beyond your admission price at the park.

Rides
Dollywood has a couple roller coasters and other carnival type rides, but my mom is not the roller coaster type so we didn’t go on any of them. The only one we would have considered was the Dollywood Express train ride through the mountains, but it was closed the day we visited. It seems like Dollywood has enough rides to keep kids entertained for several hours, but if thrill rides are your thing you’re probably better off going to Six Flags or King’s Dominion.

Food
There is food everywhere at Dollywood. There are several sit-down restaurants to break for lunch, but there are also tons of stands where you can grab food and go. A lot of it is typical southern fare. Be aware of the kettle corn mafia though:

Kettle corn mafia

The ducks live in a pond nearby and you will have to fight them for every last kernel of kettle corn.

We spent all day at the park, arriving about an hour after they opened and leaving about 45 minutes before they closed. It was a fun, full, tiring day and I’m glad we went. I don’t feel like I necessarily need to go back, but if an opportunity arose I might.

Dixie Stampede

The day after Dollywood my mom and I climbed a very steep path in the Smokey Mountains. Later that evening we attended the Dixie Stampede Dinner Attraction in Pigeon Forge which involved fire and horses and food and did I mention the fire?

Dixie Stampede menu

The Dixie Stampede takes place in a huge horseshoe shaped auditorium that must seat around 1000 people. It’s big y’all. You buy a ticket in advance with a seat assignment, and then every scoots down the bench to their proper spot where a plate and napkin are waiting. Then a waiter runs back forth in front of the table serving food before and during the show. The menu is on your napkin if you’re curious.

Dixie Stampede menu

I must admit the show is rather spectacular just as the poster says. It starts out with a woman riding on the backs of two horses who jumps through several rings of fire. They’re really out to wow you. The show featured several other trick riders, a pig race, and ostrich race (which seemed straight out of Swiss Family Robinson), a lumber jack competition and various other crazy and entertaining feats. All of this while you get to stuff your face with both chicken and pork loin. The show also sets up a competition between the North and the South, represented by the two sides of the auditorium, so you get to root for your side during the races, though not without some hesitation if you’ve got the South and you remember that whole history-of-slavery thing. It ended with a tie when I was there, and I suspect it might always end in a tie so no one feels like a loser.

Even though the fire tricks were amazing, it did cause me slight anxiety because the auditorium didn’t have that many exits and there were lots and lots of people there. So if the place were to catch on fire, I’m pretty sure there would be a massive tragedy on hand, particularly because it was difficult to get out of your seat.

Preshow

While the show itself was enjoyable, I didn’t like the fact that they tried to milk you for every dollar you had. When you’re admitted to the building they make you have your picture taken in front of a fake background and then try to sell you a picture of yourself before the meal. They also have a one-hour pre-show where everyone gets packed into tables in a large room, which wasn’t that comfortable. It’s also a way to make you pay $4 for a small drink served in a tiny souvenir boot cup when you get thirsty. Then on your way out of the show you have to exit through the gift shop. I definitely got the sense that the owners had bills to pay, and they were going to find any way they could to pay them. I’m sure insurance must be expensive for a show where people are jumping through rings of flaming fire.

All in all my trip to Pigeon Forge was a great experience. I don’t think I’d want to live in that hyperbole of a town, but it sure was fun to visit!

5 Ways to Cope with a Bad Amazon.com Review

A sad little one-star review

So, you’ve written a book and it’s finally been published. There you are visiting the Amazon.com page of your special darling for the 58th time today just in case the rank has increased, and then you see it. A one-star review. A ONE-STAR REVIEW! How? Why? Who would do such a thing? How could someone go online and tell everyone your baby is ugly? It is the most horrible thing ever (after genocide and natural disasters and a thousand other horrible things).

I understand. I’ve been there. Here are five steps I use to cope with a bad Amazon.com review.

1) Lean on your inner circle
It is important for every writer to have an inner circle of at least 2-3 friends who you can contact when someone has been nasty to you. Preferably these people should be other writers who have also experienced attacks on their work, be it as a blogger or a published author. Email these people when something bad has happened to you and they should be able to do several things. First, they will validate your feelings and assure you that, yes, you are completely right to be upset by this and, man, that reviewer is a real asshat. Second, they will empathize with you. They might even tell you their own horror stories which could be much worse. Third, if you’re lucky, they will also have a great sense of humor which they shall use to mock and ridicule your critic, which will leave you both laughing and feeling much better about the whole thing.

It is extremely important that the members of your inner circle keep your communications private. If any of what you say comes out in public you will look like a KRAZY PERSON with a capital K who needs to grow a thicker skin. Engaging a one-star reviewer in public is a very bad, no good idea. Just ask Anne Rice.

2) Read bad reviews of awesome books
Think of the book you love more than any other book. The book you wish you’d written. The book you’ve reread over and over. Now go read the one-star reviews for that book. I assure you they exist. There is someone out there who hated that book with as much passion as you loved it. They are the people who think To Kill a Mockingbird is the “worst book of all time” and that Pride and Prejudice is “a horrible and confusing story.” That doesn’t necessarily mean all bad reviews are without basis, but it does mean that not every critic is in line with popular opinion. Just because someone trashed your book doesn’t necessarily mean it’s garbage.

3) Congratulations! People are reading your book!
Congrats! Someone has read your book who feels absolutely no need to suck up to you or spare your feelings. That means someone other than your friends or family have read it! Of course, if it was one of your friends or family who left the one-star review you’ve got bigger problems than a one-star review. Be happy that your book is out there in the world meeting new people. Yes, some of these people are jerkwads who will feel the need to trash talk your book on the Interwebs, but it is also meeting people who will love it and ask it to hang out with the other cool books on their bookshelf which is where the real party is happening.

4) Your bad reviews make your good reviews look more legitimate
Have you ever stumbled across an Amazon.com page for a book that has forty five-star reviews? Didn’t you think that was kind of fishy? It seems rather unlikely that all forty people who read this book could have loved it that much. It seems much more likely that forty of the author’s friends left glowing reviews to support the book. Whether you like it or not, when a bad review appears on your Amazon.com page it casts the other reviews as more reliable. It makes it look like people are giving their honest opinion, even if that opinion is not a five-star one.

5) Visit LeastHelpful.com
LeastHelpful.com is a collection of “Daily Dispatches from the Internet’s Worst Reviewers” and it will make you laugh. It will also make you realize tons of people have gotten much worse, stupider reviews than you. Take comfort in that.

Hopefully after following these five steps you will feel much better about that one-star review that’s marring your Amazon.com page. My sixth unofficial tip about one-star Amazon reviews is this: Don’t read your one-star reviews! Seriously, why torture yourself? There’s nothing you can do about it. Why should you care what an anonymous person with little accountability thinks about your book? It’s better to focus on all the people who do connect with your book and whose lives are a little bit better for having read it.

Keep reading: 

Want second helpings? Devour more entries in the archives.

 
 
Chocolate & Vicodin: My Quest for Relief from the Headache that Wouldn't Go Away Half-Assed: A Weight-Loss Memoir

Jennette Fulda tells stories to the Internet about her life as a smartass, writer, chronic headache sufferer, (former?) weight-loss inspiration, and overall nice person (who is silently judging you). She was formerly known as PastaQueen. You can contact her if you promise to be nice.

Disclaimer: I am not responsible for keyboards ruined by coffee spit-takes or forehead wrinkles caused by deep thought.

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