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Blackjack Night!

Tonight is blackjack/poker night and it could be one of the best games ever. In quite the crazy coincidences, John and I are bringing 5 people to poker tonight. So, seven including us. Guests are always welcome, but we've never sprung this many on them all at once. Our friends Steve and Sarah that are visiting from Seattle, my friend Mike from World Hum who's moving to DC to work with USA Today, one of Steve and John's friends from BARGE who's writing a poker book, and the publicist for FSN who I sometimes work with, and is setting up the big pokerdome launch.

Three hours till we leave. So, I'm going gangbusters to finish the damn Vegas book.

Be guarranteed I will never ever write a guidebook again. Ever. That said, I want to write something about Pasadena. I'm not sure what format yet. Maybe I'll do a website, I don't know. Ssshhhh. I didn't just start a new project, I swear I didn't. It might just be a travel article.

In other news, Jockstrap has gone to the printer. I have truckloads of PR to do on it. It comes out at the end of May. I have a consulting gig to work on next week, and pressure to get my girlfriend guide book off of the back burner and under BROIL. All is well. I'm busy, I'm happy.

Current: Pasadena, CA
Next: ????


Mush Alert: don't read if you hate the sap

I know some of you don’t like to hear about the boyfriend. But, since this relationship has passed the new stage, giddy moments of happiness have been replaced with discussions of compromise and responsibility. While the uber-romantic in me has been slightly overwhelmed with (the usually male) thoughts of wow, this is it, time to relinquish all movie-induced love fantasies—I had a moment last night to put the lid on those loose runners.

We were at the Stanley Cup playoffs in Anaheim with our hockey-loving friends, my first game ever, and the teams had just taken the ice. I sat down to get ready for what was next, and John told me to stand up. The national anthems were starting and he was up, hat off, and held over his heart. Canadian singer first, then ours. Now, I'm a harsh critic when it comes to our National Anthem being played or sung. I have more stringent personal views about the way this song should be respected than I have procedures for putting together the perfect baked potato. Go ahead and laugh, but as I was trying to decide whether or not Lisa Tucker from American Idol was doing a good job, equal thoughts of importance were emerging. I kept peeking at John out of the corner of my eye, hand still on his heart, and thought—THIS is why we're together. This one little eency weency thing puts any doubts to rest. I don't have to be embarrassed or freaking out that he's singing. I don't have to nudge him with a disapproving eye to take off his hat. I don’t have to feel alone in having my hand over my own heart while I look towards our flag. He just does it, exactly the way I like it, because he is who he is.

I almost told him last night how happy this made me. But I didn't. Thought I'd surprise him here instead. Even if everyone else is laughing at me.

Yes, I'm a nutbag. But I'm his nutbag, and for the record, the USC Trojan Marching Band plays the best National Anthem of all time. I cried the first time I heard it. I was a freshman, had barely been on campus at all, and had just survived Band Camp. They walked a small section of the band to the baseball field and we were standing by the dug out. It was night. The stadium lights shown down on us with nothing but darkness and quiet beyond the spotlight. A single snare started the drum roll before the horns came slowly in. Nobody sang. It was one of the most moving moments of my life, and while I'll probably forget everything else that's ever happened to me over time, there's no forgetting how I felt in those few minutes, tears streaming down my face.

I'm a sap. I know it. Leave me a lone.

Current: Pasadena, CA
Next: No plans yet for May


Crazy Week

Stuff going on:

1. Early am house clean to Jump Little Children Magazine cd. John did at least an equal half of the clean if not more.

2. House is sparkling, pictures look great, heater is broken, I went a bit nuts on the dryer, but other than that, all is well. Ready for guests. (Old Charleston, SC and Vintage Vegas pics framed and on wall)

3. Repair guys in and out of here for three days straight including today and tomorrow.
4. Vegas book final final final - argh!

5. Freelance deadline 1 this week nearly done - coolio.

6. Late on my Men of Poker article for Woman Poker Player, BUT BIG CONGRATS TO GAVIN SMITH For winning the WPT Player of the Year award. This time last year I was interviewing him for pPlayer/now CardSquad and asked him if he played with any of the big time pros, he laughed and said he was one. Now he's got plenty of big wins to prove it! I eat my hat, what can I say, I was a rookie. At least I'm pretty sure he won. No press releases or links have been out on my quick search. Hurry up folks.

7. Favorite line of the day: It's Tuesday, but feels like Thursday. It's April, but it feels like May, and I can't even remember March.

8. Poker this week is going to be a blast. We've got our two Seattle friends in town, and I've got another friend who might come up as his last poker bite before moving to DC.

9. John got a really short hair cut. Says he's wearing a hat tonight.

10. We've bought two drapes for the glass front door and both have failed.

11. Sold one WR Marketplace ad this morning.

12. Have one happy consulting client this week. Here's his testimonial if I haven't already shared.
“An hour with Jen Leo is worth a year of work on your own. It’s as enlivening as listening to a team of brilliant marketers bounce around fresh ideas tailored to you. If you want book sales, get this woman’s brain working for you.” —Joe Quirk, Sperm are from Men, Eggs are from Women
13. Friends blogging away and getting ready for their trip to the World Cup. For all things World Cup related, including making bets, go to: World Cup Blog.
14. Meet me at the LA Times Bookfest this weekend!

Back to work.

Current: Pasadena, CA
Next: ?? No plans but I predict a SF trip in May.


Working for Six Apart Makes Me Hungry

One of my new gigs, and current deadlines is writing for SixApart, the company that owns blogging software MoveableType, TypePad, and Live Journal. My specific project is to write up brief synopses of featured blogs on TypePad. I love it. Repeat, love it. To sit around and read blogs? Come on, now. It's the best.

At this very minute, I'm reviewing a blog called StickyRice.

Food blogs are, dare I say, a dime a dozen. They're so hot right now. And travel writers take to them especially well. A bunch of my friends have their own food blog. (Tea and Cookies, Mary Ladd's Food Finds, Eating Suburbia, Dirty Sugar Cookies, and someone who I should become friends with—The Traveler's Lunchbox) Not to worry, of all the blogs I am doing and want to do, and as much as I love to eat and talk about what I've been eating, I have zero interest in writing a food blog. Weird, eh?

This one is different. StickyRice is dangerous for me. It makes me want to go to Hanoi just for lunch, a month of lunches. I want to eat Xoi Ga right now so bad I don't know what to do. And then that makes me think, when, how, and who will go with me? John doesn't travel, practically hates it. I don't think he'd even eat at a Vietnamese restaurant here in Pasadena. Maybe. Highly doubtful. So, how will I keep inspirations like these alive? How, when everyone is off doing their own thing, do travel dreams come true? There are a bunch of people I could talk to on the phone about stuff like this, but that doesn't really cut it. Sean P is the only guy in town where we can indulge in talk of at least a few weeks in Hanoi. Maybe even make one realistically happen. At some point. In the next year. But Cuba... But Bali... But...........

Current: Hungry in Pasadena
Next: Hanoi in my dreams.

House Update

John's working on the house this weekend. I'm still bounded by deadlines, but doing back to back laundry loads at the same time. Things we've got going on:

1. Him putting a gazillion gold and platinum records away. He says they're not really valuable at all, but we can't have them out because people walking by all our windows might think they are and break in. They do look impressive. But when you have three closets full of them, they're just in the way. Look at me being a music ignoramus. That reminds me...

2. Dinner party tonight. One of John's very good friends from the music business is having an intimate birthday bash. Everyone there will be in music, show biz, or politics—the three things I know zero about. Can't we just talk about travel, blogs, and poker? Well, I tell you what, I sure am going to power read some current event blogs so that I do know what and who people are talking about during dinner. Lets hope I don't make an ass of myself. It's very hard for me to keep my mouth shut for a whole evening. But I'm definitely smart enough to know NOT to talk about stuff I don't know a thing about. Like public policy.

3. We have our first visitors coming this week! (My dad doesn't quite count since we weren't set up or both here). And these dear friends are from our Vegas life, so yes, we have tons in common and will have heaps of fun. But I've got two deadlines to accomplish by the time they arrive. Then two small ones following. Can it happen? Yes. Begin the all nighters.

4. I'm going to my first hockey game Tues. Anaheim Vs. Calgary. I hope I get to see a fight. And I double hope the hot dogs are good. Woohoo!

Current: Pasadena, CA
Next: No plans....


Back from Vegas

Sorry, friends. I have at least one or two good stories from Vegas, but no time to tell them.

We got back to Pasadena last night.

Tonight is poker/blackjack night.

And I'm crunching on two deadlines. One in panic mode, the other steady as she goes.

Hang in there with me this week.

Current: Pasadena, CA
Next: Las Vegas, NV


Vegas, Baby!

This day on 4/18/06 in Vegas:

  • WPT 25k started at Bellagio, there will be two day ones.
  • Red Rock Casino opened
  • Found out Treasure Island Poker Room is hosting fun games like Crazy Pineapple ($4 & $8), Badugi ($3 & $6), and the Tangerine Mixer ($3 & $6 Holdem, Omaha High, and Crazy Pineapple)
  • Having dinner with Gavin tonight after the tourney lets out
  • I'm soaking in the new Vegas news - Riviera sold, New Frontier turning into Montreux based on a famouns Swiss resort.

and I'm holed up in the Golden Nugget working on the finishing the Vegas Book. Yes, I'd like some cheese with that wine. But I was extremely happy to hear on the news that a kidnapping was averted in front of a Vegas grade school.

Current: Golden Nugget, Las Vegas

Next: Pasadena, CA


Written Road is Looking GREAT!

My blog for travel writers and travel lovers is really shaping up. We've added book ads, and now, a new Marketplace. I think it looks great. And wow is it cheap. $50/month or six months for the price of five. Darn cheap in online advertising terms.

Now I just need to sell it! My admin guys at BootsnAll hired a new ad guy, Brett Walker. He's been a super help, and he'll be on it, too.

Anyway, check it out when you have time. But you have to look at it from the home page to see the cool picture (and also how nice the site looks with book ads up). I've been blogging on Written Road for four years now. That actually seems like two lifetimes since so much has changed for me in that time. Back when I started it, I was living in this itsy bitsy studio in Eugene, Oregon. Hanging out with my friends, trying to figure out what was next. I had recently done seven months of traveling and all I knew was that San Francisco was way too big for me to settle down in. I was waiting for Sand in My Bra to come out, and pretty much just killing time.

Now look, practically five books later I'm helping other authors get their books launched. It's neat to look back every once in a while. I can only wonder where the next four years will lead me.


Settling In

John made it home fine, and not as wiped as I expected. So, now I can tell you what the surprise present was. A big wooden executive roll top desk. I love it. And luckily, he loves it, too. It sits in the Great Room, that's what I'm calling our second room. They billed this place as a 2 bedroom, but the second room is more of an all purpose room. It's our favorite room in the house becauase of all the windows. One wall is all windows. Four of them. And they open up inwards with a screen that looks out to the side yard. It makes it feel like a porch or verandah. As close to one of those as I'm going to get, anyway. This is where I work, even if my desk with all my things, will be in the back.

Our dining room table is in here, and John's big (Oak?) desk.

There are a lot of things we need. But we'll focus on piecing things together once we get back from Vegas next week. We'll be gone Sun - Thurs.

Other than that, it's work, work, work. I'm busy, and I like it. And believe it or not, I even like getting up at 6am-6:30am.

Happy Passover to everyone celebrating.

Current: Pasadena, CA
Next: Las Vegas (April 16-19)


John is Coming Home Today

This is good. We're both excited for him to see the new house. Unfortunately, I'm slammed and don't have time to do another haul from the old apt, or set up his present *exactly* the way I wanted to.

But the house is great, just as it is. The Little Old Lady is a happy one, whether anyone is home or not. Like John, she is happiest when it's sunny outside.

My brain has been working overtime while he's been gone. So, it'll be good to have him here so it can slow down some. I guess that's what happens when you're alone in a house....the world of over-analyzing shows it's ugly backside.

I played some SNGs last night. Had a few cashes. Enough to take $100 out of Full Contact Poker.

I have so many things to do today, it's crazy. But man, I can't wait for Vegas next week!

Pasadena, CA
Next: Vegas, NV (4/16-19)


Lets Just Make a List

Squirrels I saw chasing each other on Paloma St: 2
Big black bird I saw picking at a dead squirrel on Sierra Bonita: 1
Bees I saw outside the screen to the Great Room: 8
Friends telling me I have unclaimed funds due to me: 1
Number of people in the movie theatre with me when I went to see Failure to Launch: <20
Assignments that are due this week before Wed: 5
Assignments due this week after Wed: 1
$ I won in a $20 SNG Sunday Morning: $80, or is it $79?
Days till John gets home: 2
Number of weeks since I've seen him: 3
People talking to me about needing to marry him: 4
How many of these people were John's ex-landlord: 1
Minutes I had to sit there and take it from said ex-landlord: 32
Neighbors I've met: 3
Restaurants I went to with my Dad: 3
Times I've run the new dishwasher: 3
Days till we go to Vegas: 7
Friends telling me this was next week, not next month: 1
People that can sit at our dining room table and have a chair and a matching plate and placemat: 4
People who've seen the inside of the new house since I moved in: 5
Times today I thought about how tired I am and how it must be related to not enough excercise: 3
Freelance gigs I acquired this week: 3

Gotta Go. I hope everyone is having a great weekend. I want to have Sunday breakfast and poker over here this weekend. Lets check with John and see who's game. Battleship, baby!

Current: Pasadena, CA
Next: Vegas (April 16-19)


The new house gets rave reviews

Leigh and toddler Reilly came over to the house today. They love it. Plane and simple. Reilly wouldn't stop dancing in the living room. Some Van Morrison, some Beatles. All the things to play while John is gone, since he's music sensitive. Yeah, the house is impressive with nothing in it. But the neighborhood helps. We walked around tonight at dusk and it seemed like every other drive way was home to either a BMW, Audi, or Mercedes. But I did see one Porsche. No chance to meet the neighbors today, but I was chuffed they waved at me through the window yesterday.

I woke up this morning Skyping John about the place being haunted. But I've since figured out that these are both heater and fridge noises. Most of them. We'll see how I sleep tonight. I know I'll be scared, but hey, nothing I can do about it except keep breathing. I think it's best to keep the knives in the kitchen.

I don't really know what to talk about. If I tell you the new things going on, someone will come down here and shut off my internet. So, best to wait and see which ones pan out. People, I like being busy. Some of you will just have to get used to it.

That said, I think I'll play some poker. There's no relaxing me tonight.

Oh yeah, the movers are supposed to come tomorrow morning. I hope I hope I hope.
AND, Leigh checked out John's surprise piece of furniture at the store today and was shocked at how little I got it for. If he doesn't like it, we could probably sell it for 3X the price I paid. Only, he better love it or else I'll take it. But seriously, don't fake it John, if you don't like it you can sleep in the garage. LOL. See, I have to practice acting like a settled down woman of the house.

My dad comes this weekend. He'll be the first guest. It'll be great.

Current: Pasadena, CA
Next: Vegas, Baby! (April 16-19)
John: Vilnius/Amsterdam (April 8-11)


Ummm...I'm exhausted

Yes, believe it or not, it happens to even me. I seem to be on the receiving end of a fair amount of compliments lately. A good share of them have to do with my enthusiasm, energy, etc. Thank you very much if any of you are reading this. However it's moments like these I wonder where it goes.

It happens. I get tired. I'm worn out right this very minute, and there's still lots to do on both the old apt and the new house. I love the new house. It fits. But we're not quite fully up and operational yet.

The movers cried rain and didn't do the big haul today. But, I did talk him into coming over just to bring the bed and a little table and chair so that I could work now that this is the only place of the two that have internet. So, that's what I'll be doing tonight and tomorrow, catching up. I'm excited about new projects I have coming in, but I need to balance the day with finishing up the old ones, too. We're sooooo close! We being me. Hey, I'm all alone in this gorgeous empty house, I need to talk in the Royal sense.

Ok, thanks for following along. I have no idea where the cameras are, but I'll find them, and start taking some pictures. John, I know you're reading this, so - the news is that we have a leak. In the kitchen right where the counter hang out spot is supposed to be. Mark knows and the roof guys will be coming once the weather dries out.

By the way...I'm in the process of revamping so it can be a one stop shop for all my action. Books, Mags, JenLeoLive, and my other blogs, events, etc. I want to try a little podcasting, (Larry swears to me the editing is easy as pie), but I'm not quite sure what would be a good topic. All the things that I do, or just one of the things that I do? Something entirely new? Just whatever the heck I'm surfing/reading/hearting -- I don't know. I have to think about it a bit. Now that John puts me on blog restriction now and again... I need a new venue. Ha Ha. Anyway, I'm open to suggestions. Maybe It'll be "word of mouth" related.

Ok. Thanks for reading this blog and not bugging me online. I need a few days to catch up.

Next: Vegas, Baby! (April 16-19)


Keys to the New House!

I'm sitting on the floor of the new family room. The Cable Guy has climbed up the telephone pole and is doing his thing. We're getting our TV line in just to the left of the fireplace. That way, when we get the flat screen, it can go above the mantel. Until then, it has a short stretch to the wall opposite the front windows where the current TV will go.

I'm so excited about the new house I can hardly believe it's happening. Last night when I got back from SF I went straight to pick up the keys. I've been taking trips back and forth this morning, and I think I'm up to my third, but I can't be sure if it's not the fourth. I love doing the move myself. Since I'm going at my own leisurely pace, there's no stress at all. I don’t even mind carrying the boxes! Can you believe I said that? ME—doing manual labor—and liking it—HA! Absolutely unheard of.

The bathroom is unpacked (but we need new towels and accessories)
The kitchen is 3.75 done. Dishes are in the dishwasher as I type.
Nearly all of John's packed boxes and bags are in either of his two closets. And nearly the whole palette of my stuff is in my closet.

The movers come tomorrow at 10am for the big stuff. Big Man with a Big Van. I can't wait. We're going to have one little side trip…

As if things couldn't get any better, I found a WiFi coffee house owned by two sisters less than a mile from our new place. Millie and Liz. AND their shop just also happens to double as a consignment/used furniture store. So, I bought John a surprise present. I did ask if I could buy him something large, and I offered to tell him what it was while I had it on hold, but he was brave. Obviously I can't mention what it is here, but it is pretty big. And it will go in the Great Room. That's what I've named the second room that we're going to use as a dining room/poker room/library. It has six windows in it, four of with line the long side of the wall and look out to our side yard and a pine tree.

Last night I discovered the best thing ever. The windows open up inward like glass shutters. There are screens, so you can have the windows open looking out at the pine tree and yard. It is my favorite thing about the whole house. It's like an indoor verandah and it'll be amazing once the weather warms up. I might even put a bird dish out there. Go figure. I've never thought much about a bird anything before, but it would really be something to have some birds playing in water or eating just outside the windows.

OK, cable guy is done and we have internet. That's all that matters. I'm going to sign off and go bring another load in. I just found out today that David Farley is in town for a reading tonight at Distant Lands. Travelers' Tales Prague. I'm going to go over there and meet Jeff Booth, editor of Student Traveler. He was kind enough to ask me to write a travel podcast article for their next issue. I finished it last night. It'll be great to meet up with some travel folk. And I'm only 2.5 miles from the store!

This is the best.

Current: PASADENA, CA!!!
Next: Las Vegas (April 16-19)
John: Vilnius...but there's whisper of him coming home early.

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