Posts Filed Under nothing to do with parenting.

How Jessica Simpson became my new hero

by Janelle Hanchett

Well, now. That’s not a sentence you hear every day. Even Jessica herself might be a little surprised to read that one.

Or, perhaps even more alarming, she might not.

Anyhoo, the other day on the trusty cardio machine I was reading my trusty trash magazines and I saw a picture of Jessica during her baby shower. [Um, how much did she rake in for letting People Magazine cover that one?] And as I saw her I thought to myself “WOW. She’s gained some WEIGHT.”

And then I read that she served deep-fried Twinkies at her shower, which triggered in my trusty little brain a vague recalling of some chatter a few months back about how she said on Jay Leno that she was craving some ghastly brownie creation involving cookie dough and Oreos.

And all the sudden, I kinda started to like her.

I mean she’s not up there with like, say, Jane Austen or my grandma, but she’s further up than most famous pop singers.

Sure, I have never actually listened to a song she’s sung. (She does make music, right?)

And I don’t think I’ve ever actually watched a movie she’s made (there was that one with the car and water and super short shorts…that I never fully watched…Duke something?).

And she doesn’t strike me as the sharpest tool in the shed.

And I have a feeling we may have slightly different approaches to life (considering she sold her baby shower to People Magazine).

And I wouldn’t really suggest my daughters aspire to be like her, per se.

HOWEVER, despite all this, she’s my new hero – say, for the week – because she’s somebody in Hollywood who finally acted like a fucking human during pregnancy by eating too much and getting fat. Like the rest of us.


Finally somebody who doesn’t look like they’ve placed a small basketball in their Gucci dress and called it a baby, with perfectly toned arms/legs/ass/head (can a head be toned?)…happily announcing “I’m due any day!”

While we all watch, gagging from our living rooms at the sight of such horridness (I mean SHIT, ANGELINA, EAT)…sitting there 8 months pregnant and wondering how the hell we’re gonna get off the couch, since we just ate like everything and pretty much can’t move even when we haven’t just eaten. Everything.

Finally. A chick in Hollywood who gets fat like a normal person.

Oh yeah. Yeah yeah yeah I know. Health. Yes. Of course. Not every woman gets fat.


But most of us do.


Or at least, we feel fat. And we gain more than we wanted. And we don’t do Pilates and yoga and ride bikes and swim and eat quinoa and roasted eggplant til the day we deliver.

Most of us eat shit and get fat and hope to God that the whole breastfeeding-burns-calories theory holds water.

And so, I commend you, Jessica Simpson, for representing the poor choices women make during that special time. And for discussing it on national television. And in People Magazine. Even if you did get millions for it.

Of course, now I hear you’ve already sold your post-baby weight-loss journey to some weight-loss company, which means we have suddenly somehow already lost touch with one another, which is kind of sad.

We had some good times, you and I.

It was good while it lasted.

But no matter how thin you get, no matter how many 5Ks you run 4 months after your baby’s born, no matter how soon you divorce your latest flavor, and no matter how BAD your next entertainment endeavor is… I’ll always remember you as The Actual Hollywood Human Female who ate horrible things during pregnancy, got fat, and admitted it.

Like the rest of us.

So cheers to my new hero.

Gooooooo Jessica!


Did I really just write a blog post about Jessica Simpson being my hero? Somebody help me.


Can we please talk about THAT THING?

by Janelle Hanchett


So last week I didn’t write any blog posts because my computer broke, but the week before I didn’t write any blog posts because I was too pissed off to write.

And what, you ask, happened to piss me off to such an extent?

Well, now, that’s the fun part. Because nothing happened. Nothing at all. Nada.

Unless you count THAT THING. That thing that happens once a month. That thing that turns me, within seconds, into a stark raving mad specimen of humanity – a walking nutjob.

I’m fine. And then OMG I’M NOT.

That thing that makes me want to punch strangers in the throat for chewing too loudly, cry, scream, and eat all simple carbohydrates in a five-mile radius. That thing that makes me question the meaning of life while weeping at a car commercial and screaming at my kids to please STOP MAKING NOISE. To which they respond “Mama, I’m reading.”

Oh yeah. You know what I’m talking about. They call it “PMS.”

For the record, I think that is the stupidest name IN THE WORLD for such a thing.

I have some better ones. More descriptive. Accurate.

Such as: “Pissed off, Maniacal and Starving” or “Pending Marital Separation” or “Psychotic, Melodramatic, and Seething,” or “Pardon My Satanic-nature.” Those are just some ideas.

You think I’m kidding? You think I’m exaggerating? I’m not.

“Pre-menstrual Syndrome…” Bullshit. That sounds so innocuous, like it ain’t that big of a deal. Well I’m here to speak for those of us women who TURN INTO MONSTERS for a few days each month and pretty much have no capacity to change it. I’m always slightly amazed my husband hasn’t left me after that “special time.”

Men, listen up. This shit applies to you too.

At any rate, check it out: once a month, about a week before my period, I’m sitting there minding my own business when all the sudden, out of freaking nowhere, drifts into my reality a dark, cold haze. It enters every cell of my skin, right through to my bones. I feel it sinking in, a discomfort. An irritation. Like a fly buzzing just outside my ear. I feel it course through my veins. An anxiety. An angst. And I want to break things.

When it hits my ears they become more sensitive. When it hits my brain it becomes confused, scattered, anxious. When it hits my eyes they begin to only see the shit that annoys me. They see only negative.

And when it hits my heart, my heart gets heavy. It becomes a thousand pounds. My emotions burst from it in quick flashes of pain and agony and existential contemplation. What IS the meaning of life? Why AM I here? WHY do I yell at my kids so much?


Why am I married in the first place?

Why did I ever get married?

Why do I have kids? Do I like my kids? Why am I so fat? I wish I were 20. Why aren’t I 20?

I need a scone.

And always there’s that FLY. It’s buzzing. It won’t shut up. It MUST SHUT UP.


It’s never shutting up.

It’s here. “People Must Surrender,” because I’m fucking insane. For a few days, I am insane. Women who get PMS like me should get a break from their lives. We should get a handicapped parking spot. We should get special pills and massages and a camp or something with nothing but silent people, trees and hot tubs.

Why? Well, I’ll tell you why. Because once a month:

  1. I am not responsible for the shit that comes out of my mouth. I don’t even know who the fuck is saying it but I KNOW IT AIN’T ME. That bitch is crazy.
  2. I am not responsible for the shit I put into my mouth (which makes me not responsible for the stuff going in or out of my mouth, which is slightly alarming).
  3. I want to crawl in a hole and weep and die, though it’s unclear to me exactly why.
  4. I cannot recall why anything in my life is the way it is and I’m pretty sure it’s ALL WRONG. (But there’s nothing you can do to fix it so don’t even try because it’s never getting better and that’s just the way it is you fucktard.)
  5. I am no use to my husband (because it’s all his fault).
  6. I am no use to my children (because they’re so irritating I can’t spend more than 5 minutes near them).
  7. I am no use to my boss (because it’s hard to think when you suddenly realize your life isn’t worth living).
  8. I am no use in class (because my neighbor’s face is irritating me somehow).
  9. I am bloated. And nobody likes that. But I can’t drink water or get to the gym or do anything other than eat simple carbohydrates and sugar and caffeine because I’m comforting myself with food and beverage even though I’m going to regret it and I’m getting fatter by the fucking minute but OMG there’s that FLY and it WON’T STOP BUZZING PEOPLE.

Dude. No really. Let’s start a PMS camp.

Some medical site describes the emotional PMS symptoms as follows: “tension, irritability, mood swings or crying spells, anxiety, depression.”

I can summarize this in everyday language, and it pretty much summarizes my whole PMS experience, played out repeatedly, day after day, until suddenly, as fast as it came…it’s gone.

“Fuck you you irritate me please don’t leave me ever my GOD why are you so annoying no wait I’m sorry I’m such a bitch I want to move to Borneo forever oh my god I’m hungry.”

It’s good to be back. In more ways than one.

Things I would write on bathroom stalls, were I the type of person who wrote on bathroom stalls.

by Janelle Hanchett


Gonna be honest, I enjoy reading the vandalism in bathroom stalls. I mean when the hell else do you have that much entertainment while peeing?

Well, unless you consider watching a toddler remove the contents of a bathroom vanity entertaining. If that’s entertaining, I get entertained daily. But I find it more annoying than entertaining.

And there’s always a lovely variety of little bathroom memos, depending on where you are, of course. Dive bars and music halls always provide some super riveting stuff involving penises and who loves whom (I’m sorry, I couldn’t help myself with the “whom” thing) and all that nasty dirty stuff. My favorites though are the I’m-hammered-and-weepy-because-I-just-found-my-boyfriend-kissing-some-slut-so-now-I’m-going-to-write-horrible-things-about-him vandalism. You know, like “Johnny Smitherman gets it on with farm animals.” And then his phone number.

At my college, there’s like cultured vandalism. You know, English majors getting all deep and shit, quoting Whitman and whatnot: “And your very flesh shall be a great poem.”

I’m sure old Walt is elated. “I sound my barbaric yawp over the pissers of the world.”

And the Jesus people. “Jesus loves you.” I always want to write back “Jesus wants you to stop defacing other people’s property you fucking dumbass.”

But I don’t.

Actually, there are all kinds of things I’d like to tell the general, young, female idiot population in bars and music halls [how do I know they’re idiots, you ask? Because they’re writing in bathroom stalls]. You know, I’d like to just write a few words of wisdom and little tidbits of awesome.

I wish I wouldn’t say things like “little tidbits of awesome.” I mean shit. Not only is it meaningless, but I sound like a geeky old person when saying it.

Oh well. The cool ship sailed a Long.Time.Ago, as I have demonstrated for you folks on more than one occasion.

Anyway, here are a few things I’d write on a bathroom stall, were I the type of person to write on bathroom stalls:

  1. Ladies, someday you will stop being so competitive with each other, because you will realize other women are not the problem. MEN are the fucking problem.
  2. Oh come ON, admit it. You love it when Cyndi Lauper comes on the radio. You also love “Born in the U.S.A.” by Springsteen. So stop trying to be so cool.
  3. Speaking of cool, that hipster guy you’re with? Yeah, he’s totally boning your best friend.
  4. No, honey. No. He is never going to leave his wife for you.
  5. You think you’re hiding it, but we all know how drunk you are. And we think you’re an idiot. And no, you can’t dance. You are not smooth. Not smooth at all. You do not have moves like Jagger.
  6. Even when you’re doing that super-slinky I’m so hot don’t you wanna nail me dance? Yeah, it’s still bad and we still think you’re an idiot.
  7. I realize you’re 21 years old and easily excited, but really sweetheart, there’s no need to squeal EVERY SINGLE TIME you see your friend across the room or OMG THAT ONE SONG comes on.
  8. Less perfume. Less make-up. Less hair-flipping. Fewer fake tans. Fewer lower-back tattoos. Fewer walks of shame. Better world.
  9. This will suck tomorrow.
  10. Most importantly, if you flirt with my oddly attractive husband one more time because I’m older and less hot than you, my stretch marks and I will kick your teeth in. And then, I will write about it in the bathroom stall.

And with that, lil’ ladies at the bar, I bid you “goodnight!”

Haha. That was fun.

And please vote for me…would ya? I won’t write about it on any bathroom stalls, I promise.

The Office Survival Guide for people who probably shouldn’t be allowed in offices.

by Janelle Hanchett


So that 401K post got me thinking about my experience working in a law firm in Sacramento. It was an amazing job with uniquely interesting and good people doing seriously awesome work (natural resources conservation). I was proud when they hired me right out of college (as the receptionist), and I was proud to do other administrative work for them for almost 8 years.

However, since it was my first real job and they hired me at 23 years old, I did a bit of, um, “growing up” in that place.

Alright I was completely freaking clueless, though I thought I knew pretty much everything. I was like a walking law suit with a loud voice and questionable judgment.

But I knew it ALL.

I was 23. Duh. The Age of Omniscience.

Anyway I thought I’d share with you some of the most impressive lessons I learned at that firm, not in order of importance. So here we go.

The Office Survival Guide for people who probably shouldn’t be allowed in offices.

  1. Be nice to the receptionist. Receptionists are people too.
  2. You think the receptionist isn’t listening. The receptionist is listening. She knows pretty much everything about you and your mom and everybody else in the office, on account of everybody assuming she isn’t listening.
  3. Do not wear black bras under white blouses to work.
  4. Do not wear low-cut trousers and g-strings to work.
  5. “You cannot just say everything you think to the attorneys you work for.” (Yes, that is a direct quote.)
  6. Copy machines have top-loaders. (Wish I woulda known THAT little tidbit before I spent that summer internship in college making copies by hand, one by one. If I ever find the bastards who watched me do that all summer without telling me about the top-loader – I’ll kill ‘em.)
  7. The “reply-all” email feature can ruin your life.
  8. So can your potty mouth.
  9. On a related note, there is no sarcasm font.
  10. If you set up your cubicle in accordance with Feng Shui principles, you will not work more productively, but everybody will think it’s cool.
  11. Burning popcorn in the microwave will make it stink for the duration. Nothing will fix it ever. Buy a new one.
  12. The most annoying expressions in the world are: “At the end of the day;” “playing catch-up;” and “touch base.”
  13. Oh, and “paradigm shift.”
  14. You will cringe when you hear yourself saying these things but you will not be able to stop.
  15. Talking on the phone while chewing is not okay under any circumstances.
  16. There’s always somebody who knows more about whatever it is you think you know everything about. That person is in the room with you right now.
  17. Emergency drills are scary, much scarier than the ones in grammar school.
  18. {In the case of a real emergency, I would run full speed out of the building giving no thought or concern whatsoever to those around me.}
  19. “Lower your voice” is uniformly solid advice.
  20. Extreme pressure generally turns an ordinary project into an absolute disaster.
  21. If you are wondering at all if you should say something, you shouldn’t.
  22. The computer is not broken. You did something wrong. Re-start it. You’ll be fine.
  23. If you think the project is going to take a week, tell your boss it’ll take four.
  24. Even if you have no idea who or why a person is calling you, but they claim to be “returning your call,” assume they are correct and roll with it.
  25. Some people walk around with paper on their heads and do other such silly things. You cannot do these things. People already think you’re weird.
  26. Take notes as if your life depended on it, even if the note contains: “10/10/07: George told me about his trip to Madagascar, detailed incident with monkey.”
  27. Don’t skip.
  28. People frown on skipping in the workplace.
  29. Also ballet moves. Total no-go.
  30. You will become the woman who shows everybody pictures of her kids and talks about them too much. You will. Because you miss them.
  31. Accept that you will never become completely professional. Aim instead for “professional enough to not get fired.”

It ain’t glamorous, but it works for some of us…

Happy Cubicle Day! (It’s not actually cubicle day. But it is in my head.)

You are not your 401K.

by Janelle Hanchett

[why yes, that was a Fight Club allusion. thank you for noticing…]

So…I’ve been thinking of something to write. Usually, blog posts pop into my head like random inappropriate thoughts and form into more elaborate inappropriate thoughts, err, I mean “blog posts,” as I drive or sit in class or pretend like I’m listening to somebody. Sometimes things come to me so suddenly they actually make me laugh out loud.

I admit way too much freaky shit on this blog.

But lately, I don’t have much. I explored the cracks of my mind in search of something interesting – and after finding nothing, over and over again, realized I am officially uninspired.

Does that ever happen to you? Yeah, it happens to me.

I’m just like not enthused. Not amused. Barely even interested.

This happens to me every February. Yes, I know, weird. But I have proof (which I won’t go into because it involves my past life of drinking and rehabs. Oh shit. I just said it.)…just trust me, I hit this insane existential LOW every February. Check out the post I wrote last February:  “Dude. Sylvia Plath put her head in the oven over this shit.

Good times.

A few people have mentioned “seasonal depression.”

I don’t know about all that. I think I have seasonal “Fuck this noise. I’m bored. And by the way, what’s the meaning of life?”

A couple days ago as I was getting dressed in the gym locker room, I heard a couple of 60-year-old women (more or less) discussing retirement. Their conversation went something like this:

“So how’s retirement?”

“Oh, it’s great.”

“Yeah? I have 6 more years with the State before I can retire.”

“Yes, I worked for 27 years then bought myself out of three so I could retire.”

“My husband’s doing that. He’s pulling from his 401K to buy himself out so he can focus on his other job while our son’s in college and put his retirement money toward that.”

“Good thing to do…”

“yeah, but I just cannot stand my job anymore and it’s so hard to think about 6 more years. I’ll be 67.”

“But retirement is so important. You don’t want to lose that money!”

And they went on and on like this discussing 401ks and retirement and “roll-overs” and all kinds of shit I should understand but don’t…and how many more years they or their partners had to put in to be free from the jobs they’ve held for 20+ years.

And because it’s February, I felt my soul shrink into the weird plastic gym mat beneath my feet (you know? The ones with the holes in it?). Alright that was dramatic. The truth is that I felt weirder and weirder as I listened intently to them talking about “staying on” to put a son through college and blah blah blah. All I could think about was 30 years at the same job doing administrative work for the State of California and holding on through all that to “retire” comfortably. To be like old and comfortable or whatever. With well-funded children.

Screw that. I’d rather be comfortable now.

And also, let me just say right now, online, in public: Kids, if I can put you through college, big yay. If not, I am not going to get a second job or sell my organs on your behalf. Rather, you will take out student loans and get grants like every other self-respecting child of the working class. I did it. Your grandparents did it. Your great-grandparents did it.

I realize that last statement officially makes me the most horrible parent on the planet, but I don’t think all good life or intelligence hinges on going to college. And I don’t think it kills a person to take out some loans for their education, thereby making a personal commitment to the deal. There are many, many ways to develop a brain – college is by no means the only way. Some would argue it diminishes the brain.

What the hell am I talking about? I get side-tracked.

In all months. Not just February.

Oh right. Here’s the thing: I’d rather be poor pretty much forever doing something I love – and never having anything other than contentment to show for it – than slaving day in and day out so SOMEDAY I can enjoy my life.

I have a 401K. At my last job, I put into it each year like a good girl for 6+ years, more than the recommended amount, and it’s at a nice healthy number right now. So haven’t completely ignored the whole thing. I just don’t obsess over it or make life decisions centering around its growth. Sometimes I wonder if I should, but I’ve accepted that that sort of thing just ain’t in me. I will never be the person with a fat retirement.

[I will, however, most likely have a kick-ass collection of existential literature.]

The way these women sounded…it was like they were LIVING FOR THE END OF THEIR JOBS. Like life was going to start at retirement – when they’d finally be free. It was horrible.

Somebody should tell them they’re free now. And always were free.

(As long as they’re willing to be poor.)

It all makes me wonder what this is all about…life can’t possibly be 30 years at a job with one 2-week vacation a year, holiday bonuses, the occasional raise, and cubicles – then retirement. It can’t!

Dude I’ve written way too much. Sorry.

Guess I did have a few things to say.

The good news is that for me, this crap passes. It always does. And to be honest, I don’t think it’s all bad to feel gray and dull and bored sometimes. This world tells me I should be entertained and stimulated and motivated all the time – and if I’m not, there’s something wrong. I better go buy that new gadget to entertain me, or run out and get that pill to fix me, or drink to amuse me. Or eat to pleasure me. Or do whatever…something!  to make it right.

How about just sitting with the wrong until it’s right again? How about pulling from the deepest recesses of my person to find meaning and strength, until it rises again to the surface?

I know that doesn’t work for everybody.  I know anti-antidepressants saved my life at one point. But this? Ah, this is just the universe opening me up for the good that’s on its way.

Cause it’s coming. It always does.

22 Comments | Posted in nothing to do with parenting. | February 22, 2012