Sleep experts say you shouldn’t have a smartphone in your bedroom. That research was validated last night when I fell down the kaleidoscopic rabbit hole held within the confines of an iPhone. The problem is compounded if you have a pair of earbuds within reach, which I did. Here’s all the flotsam that rattled around in my brain when I awakened at 3:30 in the morning, but couldn’t immediately fall back asleep.

“I heard Dancing in the Dark today. That’s a totally underrated Springsteen song. If I were a celebrity of any renown, I’d go on that show Lip Sync Battle with The Rock and Chrissy Teigen, and do that song. Wait, is it The Rock or LL Cool J? I think it’s LL Cool J. But The Rock has been on there, right? I think so. So I’d go on there and dress like a sexy girl version of The Boss in a tight white tee shirt and Levi’s and the big belt buckle and rock the shit out of that song. Then pull up my own guy version of a Courteney Cox at the end to dance with me on stage. Like who would that be? Maybe Jonathan Groff or that guy who played Danny Zuko in Grease Live! But what was he actually wearing in that video? Was it a white tee shirt, or was that just on the Born in the U.S.A. album cover? Let’s find it.”

Bruce Springsteen – Dancing in the Dark

Definitely worth two watches. “Barry said he was at the concert where that video was made, and that everyone knew some girl was going to be pulled from the audience to dance. I think he’s making that up. Where was this video made?”

Googling “where was dancing in the dark video made.”

“Sure enough. St. Paul Civic Center. Not surprising, he’s been to every concert. Yeah so it’s not a tee shirt he’s wearing, but like a collared white shirt. Superstar me could definitely make that work. I can’t believe no one has done this before. It’s SUCH a great idea. Maybe it’s because it’s so old. And I’m so old. I’m old enough to remember when Bruce Springsteen blew the roof off the place on David Letterman’s last NBC show. What was that? Like 1992? 1993? College for sure. Remember that summer when you used to hang out with that guy Jeff and go over to the Beta house and watch Letterman at 11:30 and then go drink beer on the roof? That was awesome.”

David Letterman Last Show on NBC Part 7

“This is incredible. Paul is tearing up that organ. I should rephrase that. I completely forgot about the drummer. What was his name? Anton Fig! And the dude playing the sax, who is he? I remember him from some old bits. The guitar player too. Remember when Dave would call the office worker he could see in the window across the street? What was her name? Meg? God, was Letterman good. I miss him. Except I saw that picture of him on the beach in Barbados, and now he looks like goddamn angry Santa Claus. We are all old. I haven’t watched the real Glory Days video since probably it was on MTV. I think he was wearing a purple shirt.”

Bruce Springsteen – Glory Days

“How did I remember he was wearing a purple shirt? I don’t remember this baseball intro though. Maybe I do. This is a good song. Hey, there’s Max Weinberg. I always liked him. Dude, those 80’s progression lenses, though. [Shudder]

“Letterman always had fantastic musical guests. Paul Shaffer knew every good band. He got me into the Spin Doctors before the Spin Doctors recorded that horrific song, Two Princes, that played on the radio every ten minutes, and ruined them for me for life. But before that they were really good. I should watch that.”

Spin Doctors – Little Miss Can’t Be Wrong (Late Night with David Letterman – 1992)

“There’s Anton again. I wonder if it’s weird with two guys playing drums at the same time? How did they decide if the World’s Most Dangerous Band was going to play along with the musical act? They’re all so damn talented. How cool of a job would that be to go do every night? I wonder what other great performances were on Letterman? I should Google that.

“This EW article has some good ones, but goddammit scroll. Why is it reloading every time I try to get down farther? Warren Zevon number one? Not bloody likely. Ooh, Foo Fighters’ Everlong. I remember that was right after his heart surgery. I watched that live. I think my mom was staying with me after David was born. Sonny and Cher? Seriously? Why won’t this stupid Sonic Youth video pull up? This article is annoying. Fix your website, EW. Idiots. Paste Magazine: 25 Great Musical Performances on David Letterman. What the hell is Paste Magazine anyway? When did that become a thing? Pixies. Never was into them. Counting Crows, Round Here…God I HATE that effing song. No. Hey Pulp, Common People. That’s a good song. That’s on The Mixtape playlist on Apple Music all the time. How good is The Mixtape on Apple Music? That gets me through everything tedious.”

“This. Is. The. Shit. 1995, wow. I never knew what that singer looked like. He’s brooding and cute. He’s smoldering. Yum. And tall. They are killing this. Fabulous lighting too. Paul’s band isn’t sitting in, they’re just owning it themselves. The girl plays the two finger keyboard. I could do that. Blown. Away. What else is on this list? Janelle Monáe. Huh. Let’s give that a whirl.”

“That girl can sing. You can’t just be a good singer, you have to work it, and she does. But I thought the article said she danced on Dave’s desk. I don’t see that. Why isn’t she dancing on the desk? Lying article. Bob Dylan. Meh. Johnny Cash. Always good. Beastie Boys. Fuck yeah. Green Day, Basket Case. Which Green Day song even is that? They all sound the same. Paul McCartney. Well of course he’s on the list. First time he’d performed in the Ed Sullivan Theater since 1964? Well that’s intriguing.”

Paul McCartney – Get Back (Late Show with David Letterman – 2009)

“Oh I remember this. Holy crap. That’s Broadway and 54th. How many people are out there watching this? How many streets are blocked off? That must have been a complete cluster fuck. I’ve been there, there just isn’t that much room. Wow, this is seriously great. How adorable is Sir Paul? He never ages. I wish I could see him when he comes to town. Wonder how I can win tickets? I want like the front row experience without paying $700. Impossible. This is from 2009. You know what’s great? There are maybe a handful of people out there recording it with their stupid phones. Everyone’s just soaking up the performance and the energy of the crowd instead of trying to capture the moment. Leave the video to the professionals. Take pictures with your mind. All you’re gonna get is shitty sound quality and grainy video of the back of people’s heads and THEIR phones. Or even worse iPads. People who shoot video on iPads are the worst of all mankind. Ok that was fun. Who else is on this list? They’re raving about this Future Islands. Who is Future Islands? That’s not the same as The Lonely Island, right? I don’t entirely get them. David enjoys them a lot. Though Andy Samberg has grown on me since Brooklyn Nine-Nine. And the SNL Digital Short they did with Natalie Portman is maybe one of the most brilliant things ever on TV. Let’s see what the Future Islands are.”

Future Islands – Seasons (Late Show with David Letterman – 2014)

“Ok one chord in and I’m hooked. These guys are phenomenal. Is that a guy playing bass or a girl? Who is this singer? He looks old, but acts like a 20-year-old. Who is this fucking guy? How have I not heard this band? This synth stuff is totally my jam. How do they sound this good with just drums, a synthesizer, and a bass? No guitar. Amazing. Dave went absolutely ape shit for them. And this is toward the end of his tenure, when he’s basically just phoning it in. This band, though. The bass player looks like Marla Hooch, and you’ve got disco legs lead singer guy who looks like a gym teacher, and a keyboard player who looks like your company’s IT guy. Yet they hit it out of the park. What now? Mutemath. What’s Mutemath? Wasn’t Cake on Craig Ferguson once and really good?”

Mutemath – Typical (Late Show with David Letterman – 2007)

“Hey, these guys dressed up for the show. I wonder how rock bands decide which crappy old tee shirts to wear to their shows? Huh, you don’t see keytars often, but it works for them. This is a good song. I need to go add this stuff to my Apple Music playlists. But it’s 5:11. I should probably reset my alarm for 6:45 to buy an extra half hour of sleep. If I can sleep. How the hell am I going to go back to sleep?”

© Jennifer Alys Windholz  2016

Bloomin’ Onions

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPeople who eat aggressively fragrant food (think fish, burnt popcorn, fried monkey) in a closed area (think office, airplane, jail cell, or anywhere with limited ventilation) are the absolute worst. Like I put them up there with war criminals, Carrot Top, and people who drive under the speed limit in the left lane. Subjecting your officemates to this kind of  brutality is inconsiderate at best, grounds for immediate dismissal at worst.

Several times this month someone has brought something infested with raw onions from the building cafeteria into our shared workspace. Its invisible and odiferous cloud instantaneously suffocates all of the breathable air in the suite. It spreads faster than a prairie fire, and before you can take cover or react, the noxious fog kicks in the door to your sinuses, bitch slaps them into submission, and threatens to take over your very soul.

And like a tree-hugging dreadlocked second cousin (or confederate-flag wearing step-brother – choose a metaphor based on your political persuasion) at a wedding reception with an open bar, not only is it offensive, but it lingers for hours. Short of a full-on biohazard suit, there is no escaping it. Today I tried to ward off the smell by liberally spraying Static-Guard (a necessary evil here in the Sahara-dry northern winter) over the wall and around my desk, hoping the onion-eater would take note. It masked the smell for about a minute, and then it was back, again relentlessly assaulting my senses.

Thankfully I had to leave early to work from home for the rest of the afternoon so I could give David a ride to his job at Papa Murphy’s, where onions are a given. I’m not sure how to go about preventing this from happening again. I could take the classic Minnesota passive-aggressive route, which would entail posting a sign in the break room or leaving an anonymous note on the reprobate’s desk (i.e. “Your onions are hurting everyone around you.”) Or start a petition to ban onions from the cafeteria, which would negatively affect those who eat onions responsibly.

What I fantasized about today was walking over, taking the plate from the person’s hand, dramatically stuffing it into the trash can, and emptying an entire fire extinguisher on top of it.

Would that be wrong?

© Jennifer Alys Windholz  2016

Nowhere To Go But Up

What with all the year-end compilations, best ofs, and tributes scattered about the web on this, the last day of 2015, I thought I’d put a twist on things, and for your reading pleasure, share what was probably the low point of my year. If you have a weak stomach, I implore you to look away now, for those of you who choose to soldier on, don’t judge.

My husband’s mother passed away in July. Losing a parent is never easy, but they were very close, and the preceding weeks had been incredibly stressful. She died on a Wednesday, was buried on Friday, and our first day back to work was the following Monday.

My commute to the office is pretty easy, no more than 20 minutes on an average day, and I set out on this bright summer morning, feeling pretty good given the circumstances. As I drove though, I started to feel a little shaky. I hadn’t eaten much over the weekend, was fairly run down, and thought maybe some breakfast to settle my stomach wouldn’t be a bad idea.

After a brief McDonald’s drive-through detour I was back on the road. After a few bites of a Sausage McMuffin it became clear that food wasn’t helping. I put the rest of the sandwich back in the bag, and continued onto the freeway. I really didn’t feel well, began to sweat, and tried to will the queasiness away in a futile mind over matter exercise. At once the entire construct of my digestive system rose up in fierce opposition to my attempts to stomp it into submission. I could almost hear the chorus of Do You Hear the People Sing as the contents of my gastrointestinal tract overturned horse carts, furniture, and cannons, and rushed onward wielding torches, demanding to be liberated from the restrictive confines of my body.

My brain, in a race to counteract this massive internal revolution was racing to find a solution to the impending and unstoppable upheaval while driving at 65 miles per hour in rush hour traffic. The McDonald’s bag! I grabbed it, and smartly threw up into it, without a second to spare. Crisis averted. I’ve always been a graceful puker. Ask my friends about Wiederholt’s Supper Club. But I didn’t count on the aftershock. No worries, right into the bag. It’s all good, I figured I’d make it into the office, splash some water on my face, and carry on.

One thing I didn’t consider was the structural integrity of a McDonald’s bag. You don’t need to be a physicist to realize that the thin paper construction of said bag is not sturdy enough to withstand a sudden influx of heavy moisture, but my mind wasn’t focused on the mechanics of the situation. Next thing I knew the contents, still on their radical journey for freedom, broke through the bottom of the bag, and were deposited all over my leg.

At this point the scene shifted into a Kafkaesque nightmare that should have been musically overlaid with Adagio in Strings. Covered in puke, with only one or two meager napkins available to mitigate the damage, I began to retch violently, and pulled off onto an exit, threw open the door, leaned over, and began to vomit somewhat outside the car, while circling around the ramp like a carnival ride from hell until I got to the point where I could come to a complete stop and properly weigh my options.

Cars were lined up behind me, and it didn’t take long for me to deem the situation a Grade A Cluster Fuck. Continuing on to work was out of the question, finding a gas station would only prolong the agony, so I decided to return home. I got back on the freeway, in the opposite direction, and for good measure christened the westbound onramp as well, my head feeling like it was being whirled around at zero gravity. Battered and spent, I pushed the button to call home. Thank God for Bluetooth in the new mini-van I was driving, purchased not more than two months ago. So much for that new car smell.

My 12-year-old son, Cameron, answered. I explained to him in a tone that commanded blind obedience, that I needed him to meet me in the driveway with a roll of dry paper towels, a roll of wet paper towels, a young priest and an old priest, a rag, garbage bags, Febreze, carpet cleaner, and whatever kitchen, all-purpose, or bathroom cleaner he could round up. Thankfully he didn’t question it, and when I mercifully arrived at home, Cameron, Justin, and Alex were all waiting outside with puzzled looks on their faces. Once they saw the horror that had transpired, they quickly backed off, and didn’t ask questions.

While my dog howled at the door, super excited at her great fortune because I came back home, I set out to clean up what probably should have been handled by a team of professionals who disinfect murder scenes, occasionally loudly demanding more wet paper towels. When finished, I turned the garden hose on myself, threw my clothes in the washer, took a decontamination shower, and fell into bed, texting my very patient boss that I was probably just going to call it a day.

I woke up a few hours later, battle-scarred, but ok, a victim of stress and exhaustion that had manifested into one wild ride. And that, my friends, is not how I want to remember 2015, which was otherwise a fairly good year.

© Jennifer Alys Windholz 2015


Raging Dull

By all reasonable accounts I should be on Cloud Nine* today. The Kansas City Royals, my lifelong team, bereft of a championship for 30 years, won the World Series on Sunday. All I have to do is think of Eric Hosmer’s mad dash home to tie Game 5 in the ninth inning, and I get a huge smile on my face or start to tear up. Instant happiness. Last night I went to see Jim Gaffigan in concert with my husband, oldest son, and BFF. We had a great time. He was fantastic. Quote from one of our favorite bits, “Is this worth it?”

But someone today served me up a full-on slice of rage with a side of loathing and an indignation chaser. Literally everything is pissing me off. Granted, even when I’m even-keeled I don’t easily suffer fools, but that’s not usually something that turns my day upside down.

Alex had some questions about the show this morning. “What did he talk about?”

Me: “Hot Pockets.”

Alex (eyeroll): “Did he talk about airline food?”

Me: “No.”

Alex: “Good. Because that is getting REALLY old.”

Eight years old, going on…me. I think that sort of sums up what’s wrong with me today. I don’t have any patience for anyone who is rehashing the same old shit. What set me off started before I’d even left my house this morning – a fairly innocuous comment on a post about the Gaffigan show my friend tagged us in on Facebook.

“…looks like youre hanging out with a bunch of Weiners!”


For the record, my name is Jennifer Weiner. Pronounced “WINE-er.” When I write I use my maiden name for my byline so I’m not confused with the relatively prolific author of the same name. Jennifer Weiner has done rather well for herself, so it wouldn’t be terrible, but no need to create undue confusion. Receptionists at medical offices often ask me if I’m her. Note to Jennifer’s publisher – receptionists at medical offices must be very into “chick lit.” I sense a marketing opportunity. You’re welcome for that free bit of insight about a key demographic. I read Jennifer Weiner’s first book, Good in Bed, a title for which I suffered a fair amount of grief. It was okay, and that’s not a knock against her, but it’s a genre that’s just not really my thing.

I digress. The “weener/weiner” comment is just so ridiculously unfunny. I mean, could you pick any lower hanging fruit than making an obvious joke out of someone’s name? It’s not my name. I wasn’t born with it. My kids get mocked for it constantly. My oldest son, now a sophomore in high school, used to be terribly bothered by it. A baseball pitcher, he intentionally hit a kid once as a 12-year-old when he heard the kid call him “weener” before a game. When I found out why he hit the kid I wasn’t even mad. I was impressed with his control and situational awareness. He’d cleanly retired the first two batters, then plunked the kid with precision on the first pitch with two outs. Now he embraces the taunts, lets his friends call him “penis,” which has taken away all the power of the chirp. You can do that as a 15-year-old who lifts weights and is unafraid of anyone. It’s a little different for younger kids who haven’t developed any coping mechanisms.

I don’t know this person. She’s probably perfectly nice, but her comment annoyed the hell out of me. Not because I was offended, but because of how fucking immature and stupid and preposterously unclever it was. If it were a good joke, I probably wouldn’t have cared. I respect a well-timed and funny insult at my expense. But I have no tolerance for the trite and cliché. I later replied to her comment with a single word. “Hilarious.” She “liked” it. That angered me even more. Because that remark was dripping with sarcasm. And it went completely unrecognized.

The check-out lines at Target over my lunch hour were long. And things went from bad to worse because when it was my turn, the slow cashier handling my lane was replaced by the chatty cashier. I always purposely avoid this woman’s lane. She’s worked there for eons, and she insists on commenting on every item you purchase. I plastered a smile on my face, and prepared for her shtick. As she slid the pizza crusts, pizza sauce, and mozzarella cheese across the scanner, I assumed the crash position, bracing for impact.

“Makin’ some pizzas?”

Oh. My. God. Are you some kind of fucking psychic? How the amazing Kreskin did you know that? No. Way. That was. FAN-Tastic. Seriously, chills.

“You know, there’s a recipe for a cauliflower pizza crust. I haven’t tried it, but I need to. I need to stay away from the carbs. The cauliflower is low-carb. I’m supposed to be on a low-carb diet, but everything is made outta carbs! I’m a diabetic. My sugars are just way out of control. Crazy high. I see you got that 25% off apparel coupon on Cartwheel. Lady in line earlier didn’t know about it and I told her all about it. She didn’t have the app and went over to customer service and set it up. I used mine the other day.”

This is a test, God. Right?

Mercifully that exchange ended. In the parking lot a cute two-year-old boy was not being controlled by his mother, and slowly walked right in front of my car as I was trying to leave. Move out of my goddamn motherfuckin way, you little bastard. (My God I’m watching too much Veep. I have Selina Meyer mouth.) Before going back to the office, I decided I needed a little pick-me-up, so I stopped at Starbucks for some iced tea. Ran straight into a brick wall of upselling purgatory. 

Barista: “So are you having anything for lunch? A hot sandwich? Fruit parfait?”

Me: “No, just tea.”

Barista: “That comes sweetened, but we can make it unsweetened by special request.” 

Me: (Special request? That sounds overly complicated. Do I have to fill out a goddamn form or something? We’ll leave the sugar out of your tea, but only after you complete Schedule 2530-IT in triplicate.) “Unsweetened, please.”

Barista: “For only 50 cents more you can upgrade your Grande to a Venti.” At this point she’s waving cups at me.

Me: “Fine.” (If that will end this transaction. Please.)

Barista: “Anything else for you? We have fresh gingerbread cookies out of the oven!”

Me: “No thanks, I’m good.”

Barista: “Do you like music? We have the new Andrea Bocelli CD.”

Me: “That’s ok.” (I haven’t listened to a CD since 2006. Do they still make CD players? You don’t grind the coffee with a mortar and pestle, why are you selling CDs?)

Probably I should not be allowed around anyone for the rest of the day, for the safety and well-being of everyone involved. Unfortunately I have a meeting tonight, and I have to deal with my own children, which is always interesting. Thank goodness it was dark when I drove home at 5:00 in traffic. That’s always a mood booster.


*What is Cloud Nine anyway? What right does Cloud Nine have to be so damned haughty? I bet it just kissed ass all the time, and probably backstabbed the hell out of Clouds Five and Seven to attain its exalted position. Cloud Six is all, “That was my idea, bitch. Thanks for sharing the credit.”

© Jennifer Alys Windholz, 2015

Forever Royal

2015WorldSeriesTonight is the first game of the World Series. Let me clarify. Tonight is the first game of the World Series, which for the second consecutive year, includes the Kansas City Royals. To the untrained eye that may not be of significance, but to a lifelong baseball and Royals fanatic, it’s a scenario that has been, for many years, beyond comprehension. Last year’s trip to the World Series was like a dream. Now it just feels like a long, soothing drink of cool water after an exhausting drought. In short, amazing.

Despite years of measured optimism by some sports media, it was impossible to bank on the Royals’ unparalleled farm system eventually paying dividends. We watched too many homegrown prospects turn into elite players, even superstars, only to be traded or outright released when keeping them around became too expensive for the Royals meager pocketbook. Carlos Beltrán. David Cone. Danny Tartabull. Johnny Damon. Jermaine Dye. Zack Greinke. Bitterness and cynicism smothered hope.

For someone who grew up listening to the perpetually contending Royals as a kid on a transistor radio before going to bed on many a summer night, culminating in a glorious World Series win in 1985, the long slide into oblivion has been a decades-long exercise in frustration. So many Royals moments are lovingly stored in the scrapbook of my mind, and were taken out periodically to review lustfully when watching an endless string of losing records and mediocre talent. Anyone remember Sal Fasano? Gil Meche? Pat Tabler? Wally Joyner? Bob Hamelin? Jimmy Gobble?
Those snapshots are what sustained me as a Royals fan. My brother and I were watching the game on TV on the hot July afternoon when George Brett came tearing out of the dugout like a freight train when his seemingly game-winning home run was recalled after Billy Martin and the evil Yankees complained about a little known rule about pine tar on a bat.

I worked at my small hometown radio station in high school, a Royals broadcast affiliate, and loved game days when I’d put the game on the air from pre-game through the scoreboard show, recording promos and post-game wrap-ups. Sometimes when listening to announcers pause for a station identification, I reflexively recite, “You’re listening to Royals baseball on KRSL/KCAY, Russell, Kansas.” Admittedly though, there were more than a few Saturday night shifts during the regular season when a long-running or extra innings tilt pushed past my normal 10pm sign-off, cutting into the time I’d be able spend with friends until my midnight curfew, and I’d root for just someone to win in the name of finishing the damn game so I could leave.

George Brett has been my baseball hero for as long as I can remember – the day he retired was essentially the day my childhood ended – but Bo Jackson was simply the greatest physical specimen of an athlete I’ve ever seen. When he announced he was undergoing treatment for a hip injury I had a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach, as if I knew it marked the beginning of the end. In college I worked at a hospital where the orthopaedic surgeons who handled sports medicine for the Kansas State University athletic teams were always doing rounds after a full caseload of routine hip replacements and knee scopes. That evening I was working in the admissions office, and stopped one of them on his way back from the surgical floor. I asked him if he’d explain Bo’s injury to me. From what he’d seen in news reports, he said even with the best possible surgical outcomes, that a return to the MLB as the same unstoppable force he’d been seemed unlikely. It didn’t matter. The organization wasn’t going to wait around for him and pay his salary to rehab. Bo Jackson did return to baseball, but the doctor was right. He wasn’t the same player during two partial seasons with the White Sox.

There were some high points during the long wait for the return to the post-season. I was at Kauffman Stadium for the Major League debut of Brian McRae, son of 1980’s great, Hal McRae. He hit a double. My friend, Terri, and I waited around like groupies after a game watching ESPN interview Mr. Brett after an exceptional day at the yard, and swore he was looking right at us the whole time. And when Johnny Damon was called up in 1995 at age 19, I knew he’d be a superstar when I first saw him go from first to third with the graceful speed of a greyhound. That 1995 season they played pretty well. I spent a lot of time at the stadium, heading there after work, buying a ticket for a crappy seat and scampering down lower after the first few innings when it was evident that there would be plenty of empty space. By that time Kansas City had bailed on the Royals, which for me was sad. This is when I grew to despise the Kansas City Chiefs. Kansas City had been taken over by a sea of obnoxious red and yellow. Royal blue was nowhere to be found. I enjoyed watching former Minnesota Twins Greg Gagne and Gary Gaetti play outstanding baseball for KC, to the chagrin of my Minnesota friend and die-hard Twins fan, who later became my husband.

When I moved to the Twin Cities it was before video on demand or satellite radio. I missed the familiar voices of Denny Matthews and Fred White, and struggled to adjust to baseball in a new market. We returned to Kansas City for games periodically, and I’ve remained true blue, but have raised four boys who have grown up in Twins Territory. I can’t fault them for being Twins fans. They’ve had Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau, Joe Nathan, Torii Hunter, and Johan Santana. Not to mention some winning seasons. All I had was fond memories of Willie Wilson, George Brett, Mark Gubicza, and Dan Quisenberry. Ironically the Twins have had their own struggles with losing players who’ve gone on to tremendous success. And now when my 15-year-old cheers for the Royals, he’s accused of being a “bandwagon jumper.” To silence his detractors, he proudly posts photos of himself at the K as a five-year-old.

There was a point in time, maybe during a brief Twins play-off run, perhaps after Joe Mauer personally answered letters that two of my kids wrote him, which I thought was an incredibly kind gesture, that I almost picked up a Twins t-shirt for myself. It was right there in my Target cart. And I walked maybe an aisle or two with it in there when I stopped, and thought, this is not who I am. And I returned it to the display. My kids can wear their Twins gear, and I’ll support them, but I couldn’t turn my back on the Royals after all this time.

It’s odd to be invested in October. I’m not used to the butterflies. But whatever the outcome, this team is just so much fun to watch. All year. Not that I wasn’t proud to be a Royals fan before, but when someone notices the signed Eric Hosmer card on my desk at work, or comments about the blue KC visor that I wear when I walk my dog, or shouts out to my sister and me while we were wearing Royals gear in New York during the ALCS, I smile a little bit bigger these days, not sheepishly, and say, yeah, that’s my team. Always has been, always will be.

© Jennifer Alys Windholz  2015

Helping The Community

Certain social media sites are so lame with their overreaching analytics. A suggestion popped up on my feed last week, noting I had checked in at the Indiana State Line on December 26, 2014. I did. Mostly just to let interested friends and family members know of our progress as we traveled home from Pennsylvania on a Christmas road trip. Facebook wants me to “Help the Community by Writing a Review.”

A review of my trip to (it was more like over) the Indiana State Line? Seriously. I noticed there are no current reviews of the Indiana State Line, and actually only 6 other people have even checked in. What would that review even look like? I wonder…

Rhoda T.

Sad to say that the Indiana State Line just doesn’t measure up to the other State Lines in the area. The trees were way less scenic than in Pennsylvania. The roads barely felt paved.

Zena H.
Ended up here because the queue at the Michigan State Line was ridiculously long. Indiana has the same rating yet there was no queue. We were sceptical at first but it was not bad. Pleasant overpasses. Signage there when needed but not overwhelming. You pay about 10 dollars more in tolls for Ohio, so this was overall a decent place with pleasant experience.

Vincent L.
If you have a predilection for Midwestern State Lines like me, look no further than the Indiana State Line. I come here weekly on business and only really ever stay on the Interstate – comprised of a fine gray Valero asphalt, sometimes topped with a delicate dusting of snowfall, four lanes for just the right amount of comoditá (comfort). So wonderful! There’s nothing quite like rolling into the Petro in Richmond after you’ve finished your amazing crossing. I haven’t been stopped yet, but the speed limit will be the death of me.

My only gripe would be that it is an expensive State Line. Current tolls are over $12.

Kalee J.
Where do I begin? Shall I start with the bumper to bumper traffic because of a trooper pulling over a pick-up on the side of the road? Or maybe the painfully awkward billboards advertising Tom Raper RV? Um, hello? Trigger warnings please. There are a lot of people that that could effect them very much seeing that. There is no craft or thought put into this State Line. Extremely mediocre for the prices, they don’t even have a median, just a slab of cement so youd be better off going to the gross county line a few miles away.

My main issue here is that they’re sign out front is extremely misleading. It led my party to believe that Indiana was the “Crossroads of America,” which was the main reason we decided to go here in the first place. Turns out when we got into Indiana there were no other American states at all, just Indiana. Not what we expected. UMMMMM… try again.

The manager at the visitor center was extremely rude and uncooperative when we raised our concern. It was clearly a miscommunication on both of our parts. The advertisement/sign was so unclear, but we could have asked more questions to clarify. However, she wasn’t about to budge on the toll. Until we made it perfectly clear that we weren’t about to pay for something we didn’t sign up for, at which point she gave us some coupons for free coffee. Atta girl. She didn’t want us getting ratchet up in her state. And believe me, we were on the verge. Her sarcastic and condesending mannerisms were completely off-putting.


Kevin L.

so disappointed as a resident of evansville. two bad state lines on both sides, and i dont know which is worse, kentucky or indiana. at least indiana has good gas stations but theyre not very close to the interstate! thats THE ONLY good thing about indiana.. is the gas stations… lets move on from there…

the scenery was some of the worst I have ever seen… the place was DIRTY…I.E. your first clue… you dont want to know whats going on back off the road. the litter, roadkill, piled up snow, fencing… all dirty …

went for a “road trip” i suppose… they give you this idea that its some kind of destination.. oh my god, one look and we all turned around.. and went back.. didn’t even want to be in the state.. raining the whole time … wow.. this was beyond BAD…

a friend got the map which was DROWNING in red stateness, couldn’t even finish looking at it.

and the whole time all we wanted was to look around, and we couldn’t even see anything until we were almost done and ready to leave… the visibility was INCREDIBLY bad…

NEVER go here. save your time and money.

it’s awful, there’s no good state lines to go to around evansville😦 if someone can prove me wrong, please do. but in the mean time, someone needs to save evansville from bad trips.

Jessalyn R.
My boyfriend took me here for my birthday, and I was very impressed. I rode in the passenger side, and it was soooo good! I got to see the viaduct and the welcome signs! Their “visitor information center” is wonderful as well!

Ada K.
This place was recommended to me by 2 of my friends from Baltimore, where we are from.

I haven’t been to Indiana in awhile, so it was nice to have a place that was given the thumbs up in advance, as well as all of the wonderful reviews on social media.

I have now been twice to the Indiana State Line, and each time was fantastic. The first trip, for a Black Crowes concert. Perfection! The second trip, to see a specialist in Indianapolis for my strabismus. Awesome! My husband drove both times as I couldn’t resist seeing everything again. It wasn’t too crowded, so you could probably end up driving in at 7pm on a Saturday night with no problem, but we always check the GPS just in case. We will be back!

© Jennifer Alys Windholz, 2015


Channeling fashion bloggers, some snarky genius on Instagram started a new account called @FashionDads. Do yourself a favor and check it out. The write-ups are satire, but I think the photos are real. Because other than JLo, no one other than dads show that much leg. Or wear that much denim. Or mustard. Or Hawaiian print.

The only thing I hate about the whole thing is that I didn’t think of it myself.

While giving full credit to the mind behind FashionDads, and to my brother-in-law for starting the trend of sniping these photos, I can’t resist a borrowing the idea for a little fun with some personal photos. These would more accurately fall into the category of NapDads. Sorry Dad. Mom says you guys are spending our inheritance anyway so it won’t matter if I’m written out of the will.








© Jennifer Alys Windholz, 2015





Mousetrap Car Debrief

Not really the science fair, but the same principles apply.

Not the science fair, but the same principles apply.

Earlier this month I wrote about my high school freshman’s physics assignment. Here is the sum total of what my child learned from the mousetrap car assignment: Nothing.

Ok maybe nothing is a stretch, but I know that I got more out of it than he did. Here’s what I learned from the mousetrap car assignment. I will apply this knowledge to the next set of children who go through this torture assignment. Because one of the most important pieces of any idiot group project at the office or at school is the Lessons Learned debrief. That’s where you track all your dumbass mistakes and swear on the name of all that is good and holy that you’ll walk through a river of fire before you ever put yourself through this agony again.

  1. No matter how much of a non-helicopter “do it your own damn self” parent you try to be, you’ll still end up involved with the mousetrap car assignment. Make it as easy as possible on yourself and your student. Don’t reinvent the damn wheel. Find something on Wikihow, Pinterest, or YouTube, and follow their specs to the tee. I found out way too late in the game that you can even buy mousetrap car kits on the web.
  2. Work this shit. Cameron, who will be a freshman in three years, can invest in his college education by making these bad boys and selling them down by the downstairs bathroom where rumor has it all the weed smokers linger and other illicit dealings take place. 200+ kids in physics classes at $50 a pop (a VERY reasonable price) for a completed mousetrap car would turn a nice little profit. Work it for all four years of high school? That’s a hell of a nest egg.
  3. Self-awareness is important. If your kid knows he’s not up to doing this on his own, make sure he partners up early and quickly. Go find Sheldon Cooper or Malcolm in the Middle. Or the kid with the engineer mom.
  4. Unless your child has NASA ambitions, this assignment is not about building a mousetrap car. Because who the fuck needs a mousetrap car? Toy designers have come up with working Hot Wheels cars and race tracks for a reason, namely so you don’t have to MacGyver your own ridiculous hillbillyass car toy out of Bic pens, balloons, and CDs. This assignment is about taking other people’s ideas and executing them to the best of your ability. Think that’s not a real world application? Ask Nikola Tesla how he feels about Thomas Edison.
  5. Find your minions – parents, lab partners, peers, teachers, or the people at Ace Hardware, and command them to do your bidding. This goes way beyond Physics. David might be a step ahead of me on this one.

Anyway, I still don’t know anything about physics, and I’m not sure my kid does either. Well played, Eastern Carver County Schools.

© Jennifer Alys Windholz, 2015


There Will Be Blood

Sometimes after picking kids up from three locations after school, helping with homework, making dinner, dealing with your freshman’s stupid mother effing mousetrap car project, and trying to figure out why a microwave that was working fine a minute ago just up and died, you pretty much end up phoning the rest of the night in.

Cameron: “Mom, if you type in the coordinates 52.376552 and 5.198393 on Google Earth it shows a guy dragging a body into the lake.”
Me: “Okay.”
Cameron: “Mom, seriously, look at this.”
Me (glancing at an aerial view of a deck and a splotch while cutting up strawberries): “Yeah, I don’t see anything at all.”
Cameron: “Really, it’s there. Look! I’ll zoom in. You can see the blood trail.”
Blood Trail?Me (yeah, sure, that might be a body): “Gross.”
Cameron: “I know!”
Justin: “I wanna see the blood trail.”
Cameron: “No, you can’t.”
Justin: “Why did Mom get to?”
Cameron: “Duh, she’s an adult.”
Justin: “Show me!”
Cameron: “Fine, but don’t blame me when you have nightmares.”
Justin: “Where is it?”
Cameron: “Right there, see all that blood by her head where he’s dragging her into the lake.”
Justin: “Yeah.”
Alex: “I didn’t get to see! Let me see!!!”
Cameron: “You can’t, you’re too young.”
Alex: “Well ha ha, I saw anyway.”
Cameron: “No you didn’t.”
Alex: “Yes I did, I saw the blood trail.”
Cameron: “No you didn’t.”
Alex (crying): “Yes, I did!!! Mom! MOM!!! Cameron, let me see it!!!”
Cameron: “NO!”
Alex (turning violent): “Cameron!!!! It’s no fair, LET ME SEE IT!!!”
Cameron (evading a lunge): “NO!”
Alex (jumping on Cameron): “Yes!!”
Cameron throws Alex to the ground, Alex starts wailing.

Would moms of girls ever make that demand?

Update: Upon further review, the Google Earth photo of a body being dragged into a lake is an urban legend. It’s apparently a very wet black lab whose trail of water makes a wooden dock look red. Don’t try telling Cameron this, however. He’s 100% behind the dead body theory.

Not Building A Better Mousetrap

I enjoy reading about science, exploration, and research. My grad school focus was in healthcare administration, but the human biology, anatomy, and physiology coursework was what intrigued me the most. I like to think of myself as reasonably intelligent, but when it comes to practical applications and understanding the physical sciences, I have the intellectual ability of a table lamp. I couldn’t engineer my way out of a paper bag.

I recently tried to help my sixth grader with his science assignment. It was about principles of light and reflection. I’m a photographer. I know exactly how to bounce flattering light onto a subject, how to diffuse and filter light, how to use angles to illuminate certain areas of someone’s face. I can pass the Farnsworth Munsell 100 Hue Test, which measures how the eye distinguishes colors, with 100% accuracy. I understand angles of incidence and light absorption. Can I explain how or why any of this happens? Not a chance.

“Using the information you’ve learned about the propagation of light, explain why light reflects off of a mirrored surface, but not off of a black velvet surface.”

Um, because it DOES. Duh.

Does he look like a future astrophysicist? Either way, he won't be getting much help from me.

Does he look like a future astrophysicist? Either way, he won’t be getting much help from me.

I bring this up because yesterday I received a lengthy email from my freshman’s high school physics teacher about an assignment that is due next week. In lieu of a semester test, students are to create a car powered by a single spring mousetrap. The kicker was her little paragraph insisting that this project is a wonderful way to spend time with your child, and it must be completed by the student, but parents may “brainstorm ideas, use power tools, glue complex pieces together.” (Snort!)

It’s fair to assume that David will be earning his grade, whatever it may be, completely on his own. I got to thinking about how shitty this assignment is. You know damned well that there are parents out there who are engineers, mechanics, and so forth who will sit down with their kids, and even if they are not doing the project for them per se, will know exactly what insight to offer to create the Aston Martin of mousetrap cars.

Flashbacks to my own junior high science fairs, where my mom and dad, who were business majors, and employed a certain laissez-faire type of parenting, never helped me one iota with any project, from conception to execution. So my sad little “Is It Magnetic?” project with household objects glued to a poster board and a string attached to a marginally working magnet, that was hastily rendered the night before it was due, had no chance against the exhibits displayed by the progeny of local pharmacists and professors who showed up at the Colby High School gymnasium with working nuclear reactors, prototypes for flying cars, and fleshed out proofs of Fermat’s last theorem.

“Wow, you did this all by yourself? I didn’t even know they sold heavy water at TG&Y. Nice work!”

© Jennifer Alys Windholz, 2015