Year in review…

YUP. It was coming. You knew it. 🙂 Since I have the memory of a gnat (wait, do gnats have bad memories?)…where was I going with this? OH! Okay. Yes. Apparently I have the attention span of a gnat as well, it is time for the year end blog. I have fabulous plans to be drinking with friends on the Eve of the New Year, so I figured I need to go ahead & post this now.

The other day on Twitter (sidebar: A lot of my conversations have begun this way lately…intervention time?), my friend Jeremy posted a link to his blog of the 12 most memorable events of ’09 for him. He broke it down month by month and I thought that was kinda neat. Unfortunately, I am not that organized and cannot remember things chronologically. So instead I am just posting a random smattering of AWESOME that I happened upon in the 2009th year of our Lord. 🙂

Without further adieu, I present to you (in no particular order)…

Highlights of J.Nicole’s 2009:

Estelle/Solange at House of Blues Chicago: I was front row for this show. All up on the stage sangin’ my lil heart out with Solo and StellyStel. Both ladies put on amazing performances. My videos that I took also got shoutouts from both ladies via the Twitter and Estelle’s blog! 🙂

Jazmine Sullivan at House of Blues Chicago: We were damn near front row for this. If you have never heard Jazmine sing live, shawdy you are missing OUT! Her voice is crazy ridiculous and the concert was definitely NOT a disappointment!

The Birth of Collin James [last name redacted]: One of my favorite cousins, Danielle, gave birth to one of the most flyy baby boys in this world right now. Watching her journey of motherhood as well as Collin’s growth has been a tremendous highlight of my year. (Note to self: Mothers series…)

Learning that my biffles was pregnant with twins: She and I have grown apart in ways over the years, but that doesn’t make me any less excited. I can’t wait for my nieces to get here! 🙂

Attempting to become vegetarian: This was quite possibly the best idea I had all year. It wasn’t as harrowing an experience as I thought it would be. Once I get my financials in order, I’d actually like to go back meatless…well, I think I’d keep fish in the diet this time.

VEGAS with mis amigas cheetas: This was a fun, much needed trip. I learned things about my sistafrens & myself on this trip that have proven to be invaluable.

Summer and Fall Tour with Le KC: Indianapolis, Des Moines, Allegan, Milwaukee, Chicago, and New Orleans. GREAT times with: Jenny Rae (!!!), Lisa, Erin, Shari, Nichole, Kylee, Evan, Jenny sans Rae, Michelle, Davey, Jeremy, Blake, Ally, LindsAy, LindsEy, Sarah, Panalee, Abby, Nicole, Kelly, Jenna, Tiffany, Casey, & many others who I may be neglecting to mention here. Charge it to my terrible memory. All of the fun and adventures shared with these folks can be summed up by one word: Fajitas.

Jill & Kate @ The Underground Lounge: This could have been coupled with the KC stuff, but I didn’t want to negate their awesomeness like that. Yes, J&K are KC’s background singers, but also are pretty dope singer/songwriters in their own right. This night was filled with fun, friends, & booze. All of the ingredients that I need for a good time, haha!

Widening my social circle: All those folks I named up there, PLUS all of the people I’ve connected with in a more local setting have enriched my life like WHOA (yes I’m bringing that back in 2010…you’re welcome) this year. One of my goals of the year was to meet new people and stretch that circle, I’d say mission accomplished!

Reconnecting with old friends: Three words: Thank you, facebook! 🙂

New Orleans: Yes I went there for KC, but that city now owns my heart. I fell in love in the short time that I was there and need to go back ee-mee-JUT-lee! 🙂 Cafe du Monde. The French Quarter. Bourbon Street. The architecture. The history. The spirit of the city. The spelling of words that normally end in -o with -eaux. Yes! J’adore N’awlins!

Oktoberfest in LaCrosse, WI : Any event centered around drinking as much as you possibly can for extended amounts of time is All. Right. Wit’. Me! (c) Janet Jackson My friend Jenny Rae extended her hospitality (once again) and invited myself and the Veep up for this celebration. We had A BALL! Cannot wait for the 50th anniversary next year!

Tony Lucca @ Martyr’s: I’ve loved him since the Mickey Mouse Club. I refused to let another year go by where Tony was in my City & I hadn’t seem him live. He put on a great set & was SUPER nice when we spoke to him afterwards. He never did get JC on Twitter tho. Haha!

Speaking of…TWITTER: This microblogging site has my heart. I follow some crazy hilarious folks! It has also kept me abreast of current news, introduced me to some folks I’dve never met otherwise, & offers me a place to rant about the most random of subjects. I am a social networking junkie and twitter is everything I need and more to feed that habit.

100 Books in 100 Days Even though I failed and had to rework my course, I must say that a book a day was pretty awesome. I got to read some stuff that I may not have checked out otherwise. I also got to connect with people via the blog. I plan the keep the book blog alive even though I’ll have to retool the name a bit. Any suggestions? OH! How about Journey Through the Pages…lame? Yeah, I guess it is.

Soundcheck w/ the Sunshine Band: I feel like I overuse the word amazing, but there’s no other way to describe that experience. This was one of those “best in life” things. I will never forget it. All thanks to Jenny Rae.

Jenny Rae: I’ve mentioned her here several times throughout this thing. Maaaaaan, what to say about this chick. I absolutely adore her. If I liked girls like K² I would try to take her to Vermont and wife her, haha! Seriously though, she has gone from being a #fan to friend. We’ve had some amazing experiences this year and I only hope have more as the years go on. She’s definitely God sent and blessing in my life!

Leaving d3Vry: YESSS LAWD! I was so stifled and ill tempered when I was there. I’ve only had my freedom papers for three weeks now, but damn it feels good! Bittersweet, but definitely a needed transition. There’s a palpable change in my spirit since I’ve released that demon, haha!

Moving into my own apartment: When it happened it was totally unexpected, but so damn organic that I could NOT let it pass me by. Like the old song says, “God bless the child that’s got its own…” YES HONEY! There’s no better feeling than working a full 8 and then being able to come home and not have to see anybody. No talking. No awkward shuffling. Just peace and quiet and comfort and home. Walk around bucket nekkid as much as you want to. Burrow under your covers and ignore the world for as long as you want to. Yes. Freedom is great!

Well, that’s it. My year in review. Hope you enjoyed… 🙂

Superficial…

The above clip is one of my favorite Cosby show episodes. About 8 minutes in, I die laughing. Especially when it comes to Maxine Reid’s part…DIG DEEPER! DIG DEEPER!

In all seriousness though, I feel like that should be a mantra for the friendships that I am maintaining right now. Dig deeper. I feel like nearly every relationship I hold with someone is superficial. We talk about so-called deep issues, but always gloss over them with jokes or witty banter. I can honestly say that I have so many things that I would like to share with my friends to get feedback or just to get off my chest, but I hold back.

It’s amazing how much I close up the closer that I get to a person. It’s a running joke between my friend Ally and I about how when we were strangers I told her nearly everything about my life. Now? She says it’s like pulling teeth. It’s not that I don’t want to share stuff, it’s that well…

I don’t want to be Debbie Downer. I don’t want to be the [REDACTED] of someone else’s life. I don’t want people to feel like they have to avoid me because all I talk about is my unhappiness. Truth is, I am in a place where I am grateful for most things in my life, but am hella frustrated and upset with the major things [relationships or lack thereof, family, money etc.]. Every once in a while, I’ll let loose and go on a tear about these things, but most often I keep it to myself. Which is not good for my sanity, lemmetellyou!

I often wonder how to broach this conversation with my friends without coming off offensive. I don’t need to know every detail (nor do they need to know every one of mine), but I could sure use someone to talk to during my “on the bridge, ready to leap moments”. I think that’s my main reason that I started blogging. Most people were unaware of my blog when I first started back in 2004. I used to share a LOT more back then. Somewhere along the line though, I decided to be on my Leo steez and share my links with people who knew me in real life. With that openness came stiflement. I want to make a promise to myself to not hold ish back on this site anymore. Hell, I’m paying for the webspace [oh yeah…did I mention my new domain? ;)] so I should be able to say what I want without fear of reproach or judgement, right?

Yeah, I’m emo & listen to Fall Out Boy…

I hate Christmas. Whew! *wipes brow* I’ve said it. I honestly haven’t been “into” Christmas since I was about 11. By that time, I knew there was no Santa, gifts were nice but I preferred money, and wondered how in the hell Mary & Joseph survived winter in a manger to deliver 6lb, 8oz. baby Jesus. For years, I kept up the charade like I just loved the holiday season and couldn’t wait for it to come around. The truth is I just love the (contemporary) music and candy canes.

My family was never one for these grand Christmas traditions once my grandmother (maternal) died. It’s pretty much been every family doing their own thing and being lucky to catch one another on the day. I used to make it my goal to go see everyone, spread Christmas “cheer” and try to encourage family togetherness. That shit is exhausting. Nowadays, people are lucky if they get a 15 second Christmas call. And don’t even get me started on the mass Christmas texts, it is not even noon and I’ve received double digits already.

Who knows? Perhaps when I fall in love, get married, and/or have some babies my stance on the holiday will change. But for now? I’m a mean one…Ms. Grinch if ya nasty! 😉

The Blue Line…

I think 2010 will be the year of none of my post titles having anything to do with the subjects in the actual blog entry. I began this practice a little early though 😉 I wanted to write this yesterday, but I was still wound up. Truth be told, today I”m still slightly wound, but much less so than yesterday.

At 10:30 am CST yesterday, my sister called my cell. I had just got through ranting about how I hate when people call my cell during work hours, but instinctively I knew I needed to answer it. My sister doesn’t call me that often and when she does, it’s not during work hours because she’s working those same hours. Anyway. So I answer and she says, “Jeanette. *long pause* Granny just called me & said Daddy has been taken to the hospital.” Yeaaaaah, my heart dropped into my Marc Jacobs wellies at that point. I hung up with her & went to tell my new boss that I needed to leave early. Again. (Last week I was vomitrocious all up in the workplace. No bueno.)

In the midst of tryna be strong & wait for my sis to call me back with details, I broke COMPLETELY down in her office. Looking back it was kinda hilarical because all she had was like one napkin for me to blot the snot. While in her office, I also called my sister from another mister Trina to come pick me up & take me to the hospital after I heard back from my sister about dad’s condition. After solidifying plans with her, I went to the restroom to clear my head & call Meera. Both of these chicks tried calming me and I appreciate the hell out of them for it.

I was losing my mind sitting at work. So I hit up the Twittuhs and let loose this whole stream: So my sis just called me & says daddy was rushed to hospital. Thankfully @trinderella is coming 2 get me from wrk so I can fig out what’s going on. But of course I am sitting here thinking of THE WORST possible things because tis what I do. Freaking myself out is a skill I’ve honed for 27 years now. At any rate, I need y’all to pray that everything is okay. Pray that nothing major is wrong. Pray that my daddy makes it thru this. Pray that I make it thru this. I need to call my mom (divorced) but don’t want to til I know what’s going on exactly. Just had a freakout in my boss’ office. Waiting is killing me. Halfway ready to walk to Oak Park right now. Thank God for friends like @trinderella & @mirz112 who tried to calm me down. I’m a daddy’s girl to the core. So I’m SHOOK right now. The @replies back were like a healing balm to my soul. Made me so happy that I was acquainted with each and every one of those people. I mean not that I wasn’t before, but it just validated my choice of letting them into my life! 🙂

After about fifteen minutes, I decided that I couldn’t wait for my sister to call me back and I was leaving work NOW. I called Trina back and asked her to come get me as soon as she could. I’ma tell you how I know this is my girl and she has my back. She is on vacation and basically doesn’t have to move from off her couch if she doesn’t wanna. But she was willing to drive downtown, through snow, to help a sista out. I decided to not make her drive all the way down and instead take the CTA train to the burbs near the hospital my dad was in. That train ride was quite possibly the longest one I’ve ever taken. It probably didn’t help that I was underground with no cell service for a third of it.

When I finally emerged to the land of the cellular signal, I had hella missed calls, texts, etc. One of them was an update from my sis: “Room 447”. I started crying on the train. That allayed my fears of the worst happening. Got to the end of the train line, hopped in T’s whip, & journeyed to the hospital. As we’re parking, my dad calls my cell. I told him we were on our way upstairs, so I’d see him soon. Got in the hospital and after a false start (no thanks to the incompetant, Lil Duval lookin mofo @ the info desk) was hugging my daddy in no time. Both his blood pressure and blood sugar were sky high. He is apparently diabetic (recent onset), but he knew his pressure floated up high every once in a while. He stopped taking his BP pills because he was having adverse effects from them. When he told me that I wanted to punch him in the thoat (yes, THOAT)! My aunt, who’s a RN, laid in to him once he revealed that little fact. It was a good thing that he went to the hospital when he did because this post would have never been posted otherwise. I would probably be somewhere lunching hard core, in a padded room on suicide watch.

My father is my world. He has had my back through situations that no one else had. If anything serious would have happened to him, I would not have been able to survive it, real talk*. The reason I was so freaked out though was because a couple years ago, my friend Christina and I were sitting at work, playing text twist & not answering phone calls as usual. About an hour into our work day, Christina got a call (on her cell) from her mom that her dad had been taken to the hospital. By the time she (Christina) got there, he was dead. He had no major health issues with which they were concerned and it was completely out of the blue. Oh and did I mention that this happened around Christmastime? Yeah, so I was duly freaked out.

So when I get a phone call from my sister (who’s not a crier, but is crying) in the middle of the work day, my mind immediately jumps to “OMGNOTMYDADDY!” *sob face* mode. It doesn’t help that less than six months ago, we had a possible cancer scare with my mother. I’ma need neither one of them to not get so much as a paper cut for like the next 20 years. I’m not strong enough to handle anything that could lead to permanent damage to either of them to happen right now.

*As an aside that has nothing to do with any of *points* that up there, why do people say “real talk”? What’s the opposite, “false sign language”? I’m a perpetrator of the “real talk” phenomenon at times (see above), but I mainly use it in jest.

Fajitas.

So I think I may have mentioned here a time or two that I stan unapologetically for one Miss Kelly Clarkson. Well her record label partnered w/ Apple to create this game/app for the IPhone/iPod called Open Mic. It was a karaoke style game in which people competed to win an awesome prize. What is this prize you may be asking? Welp, the launch of the app coincided with the launch of her fall tour. So the winner of the contest in each city would win a chance to do soundcheck with her band, tickets to the show, & meet and greet passes. Several people I knew entered and won the contest and it was an awesome experience per their accounts. I don’t own any Apple products, so I never had a shot at entering the contest. But oh how I wanted to enter!

Well fast forward to a few months into the tour when my friend Jenny Rae decides to enter the contest. We knew a bunch of people who were going to the last show of the tour, so she decided to play for that one. She decided that if she won, I was going to be the “winner” and sing at the soundcheck. Since I have NO shame, I was totally on board with the idea. Plus, I didn’t think we had a snowball’s chance in hell, so I wasn’t worried about having to actually sing. Did I mention this show was in New Orleans? Yeah, now would also probably be a great time to mention that I’d never been to NO, right? So I was hoping we’d win so I’d have an excuse to go to New Orleans all randomly, but I wasn’t so convinced that we’d really do it.

We’re playing the game and are in first place. Yippee skippee! Then all of a sudden, people started using this cheat and were posting these outrageously high scores. It wasn’t long before Jenny Rae was no longer in first place. Boo. I’d given up on New Orleans and was pretty bummed to tell the truth. So one Friday my Wisconsin gals came down to go to a show and spent the night. A few hours after they left, Jenny Rae calls me like “OMFG WE WONNNNNN!” Cue my jigga whaaaaaa?? face. I was flummoxed! Apparently, RCA had chosen us as the winner on that Friday, but since Jenny Rae hadn’t checked her email she had no idea.

I was in shock from the time she received that email until I stepped foot in the French Quarter last Saturday. It still didn’t really sink in until I was in the arena. Other folks that I knew who had won were able to sing a different song than the current single “Already Gone”, so I was hoping to be able to do the same. I had it all planned out from the ridiculous head gear to the band intros to dance moves. It was going to be EPIC. Unfortunately for me, a mere three shows before I was to sing RCA put the kibosh on changing the song. I asked her security guard to put in a word for me just in case, but I figured it was a long shot.

Whatever, I still got to sing, so I couldn’t be too bummed. I didn’t really know the words to “Already Gone” nor did I care to learn them (wasn’t really a big fan of the song), so I toyed with the idea of singing Beyonce’s “Halo” (same melody, different words) instead. I was all set to go through with that plan, but changed my mind at the last minute. Anyway, so show day comes and Jenny Rae & I travel to the venue hours before the rest of our caravan. After struggling to get in contact with her bodyguard & tour manager, Blackberry issues, and crazy stalker fans, we finally get inside.

Once we’re inside, they run down the rules and say Kel may actually be in soundcheck. Nothing is certain because they had their end of tour/holiday party the night before and she was recovering, haha. Tim, the tour manager, told me he’d get a signal from Jason when they were ready for me. Meanwhile we were just hanging out, watching the band do their thing. Even if I didn’t get to sing, that alone made the experience worth it. She has some REALLY talented musicians working with her. Her musical director, Jason Halbert? Is. The. MAN! They added a couple new songs into the set and watching him set up the melodies so effortlessly made me a convert. Also made me wish I could play an instrument.

So at one point the band is joking around and someone from the back yells at them to stop teasing. Jenny Rae nudges me and tells me to look behind us and see who’s here. Eeeeeyyyuuuuuuupppp, you guessed it Kelly Gatdamn Clarkson. Awesome. So she was going to be sitting there when I went onstage. Tim comes over and says, “Oh yeah…by the way, she’ll be watching you.” Wonderful. I wasn’t nervous until he said those words. Then like two minutes later, Jason gave the signal and it was time for me to go onstage.

Walk up to the band and am immediately hugged by her background singers Jill and Kate. I met them at a show of theirs in Chicago (I was so drunk) and was kinda jazzed that they remembered me. So I’m up there getting prepped and I look out into the crowd where she was sitting. No KC! Whoop! Jason explains that we’ll run through the song twice. The first time just a verse & a chorus. The second time, the full thing. There was a teleprompter with lyrics (HOLLER!), so I’d be fine. I ended up getting three chances instead of the normal two. Something happened on the second run and we had to stop. I sorta fake bitched out the band and it was kinda hilarical. Get through the last run and I’m done. More hugs from J&K and then I’m off stage. 🙂

Then I hear “Kelly, did you want to run through blah blah blah…” Are you shitting me?! I thought she went backstage or something and wasn’t out there. Nope. She was there the whole time. Just moved seats. So she gets on stage and is like “OMG! That was GREAT! What’s you name? I didn’t catch your name.” I’m thinking I didn’t throw it, but respond with my name. She says, “Jeanette, that was AWESOME!” I thank her for lying and then they continue with soundcheck. Holy friggin moly. She did “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” and “I Never Loved a Man” by Aretha. Both were amazing. She was doing a lot of riffing to give the band a feel for how she wanted things to sound. Sounded amazing. There was also a lot of laughing & joking between her and the band. You could see that it wasn’t a boss/worker relationship, but one of friendship.

KC left after getting those songs together, but band was still working out stuff. Soon though, they were done and Jenny Rae & I were just sitting there. We were supposed to be lead back out by her security, but Brian must’ve gotten lost or something because he never reappeared. So we wandered back out and found our friends. Then I told this above story like 4 times. After a bit it was time for the meet and greet. It was super brief, but highlights include KC telling me my SC was awesome again, offering to flash me for some of my beads, and taking a pic with the fansion sign. Good times!

HOLY COW THIS WAS LONG. Sry folks. Haha.

Quick updates…

– I got a new job and I started it today yesterday (clearly didn’t publish this on time). I will never speak about it full out on this blog. I want to keep it.

-Last weekend I went to N’awlins and got to experience something really awesome. I’m hoping to blog about it soon.

– I bought a domain. This blog & my book blog are hosted on subdomains of it already. I am hoping to come up with a pretty layout and debut it in its entirety by the end of January.

– I am also starting a book club w/ my friends. Praying that it works out well.

– Did I mention how excited I am about this new job?! BECAUSE I AM! I wanna yell from the rooftops in my *Oprah voice*, but it’s too cold outside.

– Speaking of the cold, seriously winter? You wanna start now? LAME!

– I have drafts that I’ve written since my last post, but have been too busy to clean them up and publish. I know. LAME!

Look out for awesome N’awlins experience blog by close of business Sunday. 😉

Bittersweet.

I’ve got good news! Effective December 11, 2009 I will no longer work for the online university that majors in careers. I’ve been offered and accepted a new position at a company that I dare not name in any sort of round about way. I want to keep this job, haha!

Ending my time at D3vry is going to be bittersweet to be honest. I am thankful to be getting out and into a job where I will actually have work to do that doesn’t revolve around my farm or aquarium. I am thankful to be getting a boss who knows the meaning of the words tact, couth, and confidentiality. I am thankful to not have to drive more than 10 minutes (TOTAL!) daily to get to work. I am thankful for the opportunity to have new adventures and meet new people.

There are things though, at my current place of employment, that I will miss. I will miss April and her loud phonecalls to her daughter every morning. I will Reid and his other worldly movie trivia knowledge. I will miss Sean and his snarky commentary. I will miss Vicki and her kind spirit. I will miss my brain twin, Brianna and the laughs we share daily. I will miss hearing Breanne hum off-key in the cubicle next to me. I will miss Chauna and our whiteboard chats. I will miss Maddie and her infectious grin. I will miss the quiet kindness of Kate K, Anthony, & Kate B. I will miss Stopa’s laugh and brownies. I will miss the fierceness that is Michelle’s wardrobe. I will miss Traynor’s sarcastic, biting humor. I will miss Cory’s Muncie accent. I will miss Benedetti’s frenetic pace as she moves through the office. I will miss Eric’s “Spanish Phrase of the Week”. I will miss Giedrius’ quiet strength and low key humor. I will miss Nicole’s sickening shoe game. I will miss Chloe’s “Howsit goinnnnn?” I will miss Krystina and her shundos! I will miss Niesha and our code name filled rants. I will even miss JP and her attempts to make conversation even though sometimes there’s nothing to say. I’ll miss Tammy and Tondrea coming by my desk to joke about “gettin’ us free”. I’ll miss Treshenna, Nina, & Pam’s daily hellos. I’ll miss Shawnte’s insistent lunch requests. I’ll miss the numerous phone calls I make to Trina daily. I’ll miss Necol and her clipart filled emails. I’ll miss the cousins (Glenn and Danielle) and our family meetings in Glenn’s “office”. I’ll miss Rich the facilities guy and his jaunty walk. Barbara the cafe worker and her surly attitude. Violet the cafeworker and her short order cook skills. Maria the cafeworker and her ability to make the BOMB crossan’wich.

What it comes down to is that I will miss nearly everything about this place. I know I’ve complained A LOT about my job, but it isn’t all bad. I just needed to move around and be challenged. It was not happening here, so I had to move on…