Posts Archived From: 'July 2008'

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Thoughts on Food

If you and I ever meet for ice cream at Dairy Queen, please, for the love of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, do not allow me to order a Blizzard. This perennial dessert treat is nothing but dairy disappointment in a cardboard cup.

Monday night I craved ice cream. Despite having half gallon containers of mint chocolate chip and vanilla in the freezer, I opted to hop in my car and drive a short mile to a neighborhood Dairy Queen.

Before pulling into the parking lot and assuming my rank in the drive through lane, I mentally placed my order: a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Blizzard. I excitedly announced my selection while the faceless Dairy Queen “team member” provided the amount I owed and instructed me to pull forward.

Upon arrival to the restaurant window, I forked over the correct currency and, seconds later, spooned into my Monday evening treat. I expected large chunks of a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup mixed in with soft vanilla ice cream. You can imagine my disappointment when those expected chunks were nothing more than pulverized slivers of frozen chocolate. Nary a peanut butter flavor even existed.

I was pissed.

I slurped down a few spoonfuls of the dessert “treat,” but was upset each time my mouth lacked the flavor of a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup.

Never again. I think it’s time to try those hand-spun Wendy’s shakes I’ve heard so much about.

In other food news, one of my favorite lunch time and post-last call eateries is Jimmy John’s. I’ve read that the most popular Jimmy John’s franchise in the country is a few blocks from where I work and attend grad classes: the University of Nebraska at Omaha.

After grabbing lunch at that Jimmy John’s yesterday (for the curious: a No. 4 — Turkey Tom, sans the sprouts — with BBQ Jimmy Chips and a medium lemonade), I walked back to my car, parked nearby in an adjoining lot to a strip club (and Omaha landmark) known as the 20’s.

I wonder how many passer-byers unaware of Jimmy John’s high customer traffic believe the 20’s to be a popular hangout during the daylight hours (especially over the noon hour).

I, too, wonder what would happen should a fellow student, faculty or staff member spot me in the parking lot of the 20’s. Would I need to explain my location? Would my response (“It’s the sandwiches, I swear!”) even matter?

Thankfully, Jimmy John’s delivers.

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The Target Principle

A wise woman — Maya Angelou, perhaps? — once said you don’t often remember people’s words, but you never forget how they made you feel. I have found this to be exceptionally accurate with not just those I love and hold close to my heart, but with one of my favorite Big Box stores.

Yes, it’s Target. (Did I even need to link to their Web site?) But you probably already guessed that. In fact, you may love Target just as much as I. If so, we’re going to be great friends.

I don’t remember the first time I stepped under Target’s signature candy apple red and crisp linen white logo, but I most definitely remember how the experience made me feel: enchanted, engaged, slightly dizzy. Corporate America wouldn’t want it any other way.

The idea that I was surrounded by so many of my Most Favorite Things and things I haven’t yet discovered that would become my Most Favorite Things delighted me to no end.

Lovely items of seasonal clothing, affordable shoes, jewelry and handbags and a wonderful line of hand creams and the like made me tipsy. Target’s stationary and paper goods selection isn’t anything to sneeze at, either.

When select Targets morphed into SuperTargets, good Lord, the experience transformed to the sublime.

But this essay isn’t merely a free advertisement for Target (or SuperTarget, for that matter). It’s what I call The Target Principle. Yes, its name is indeed lifted from the store, but the concept can be applied to life beyond the plastic red shopping carts and in-store Starbucks near every entrance. And the idea came from my mom.

Several months ago she and I were talking about the experience of shopping at Target, especially when your purchases include staples such as shampoo, razors, dryer sheets, milk and, well, staples for your stapler. But as you walk through the aisles, determined to purchase Just The Essentials and sticking to your shopping list, you almost always find a small item, something unexpected that is fairly inexpensive that just makes you grin like a little girl.

As you run other errands throughout your day, your slick Target bags along for the ride in your backseat or trunk, you temporarily forget about the One Item that wasn’t on your list. And when you discover it at home, according to my mom, “it just makes you happy.”

For me it’s something as nonessential as a bottle of nail polish, earrings or a new notebook (the thought of any new paper good causes my palms to perspire and my vision to blur).

And you know, my mom is right. It’s certainly true with the retail experience, but it can easily be related to your work life, your social life, the life you share with your betrothed.

The small, unexpected surprises can make all the difference when the status quo prompts unfortunate yawning and excessive daydreaming. When proverbial sunlight hits at just the right angle and something in life sparkles and shines, it can turn a bland day into a delicious day and make you thankful you are alive.

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Slut Be A Lady Tonight

I knew we were in trouble when the rotund, middle aged woman who bellied up to the bar upon our arrival at 3:30 p.m. consistently slammed countless Jack and Cokes as afternoon gave way to dusk, and dusk gave way to night.

Our story actually begins Thursday night when Matt’s cell phone alerted him to a phone call from a woman, the likes of whose name I still don’t know and don’t care to know. She claimed to be the host and sole proprietor of a rock radio station. The woman requested a lengthy phone interview with Matt on the spot (at the time it was from the back hallways of the Horseshoe Casino in Council Bluffs, Iowa) in advance of his band’s Fourth of July performance at the Roadhouse Garage in Grand Island, Neb. She would meet Matt and his jovial band mates IRL (for the non-savvy Internet users, that stands for “In Real Life”) the next afternoon as guitars, mics and stage lights were checked, checked and re-checked for the night’s performance.

The woman, Matt surmised, seemed harmless enough on the phone.

Not long after the sight of her bottle-blond hair and inebriated grin did Matt and the band realize this “radio host” was anything but she initially portrayed. Truth was, her radio station needed no radio to be heard, but a merely a computer with speakers and an Internet connection.

As she sat the bar, mentally undressing the band members, curling her creepy lips over missing teeth and ordering Jack and Coke after Jack and Coke, she pestered Matt to yet another “interview.” His patience grew thin by then and, without much thought, agreed to a next-day interview that, the woman said, would last two-hours. She offered to meet Matt at his hotel room, but Matt quickly negated that frightening option.

As the band worked through difficulties with their sound equipment, the woman, who claimed to be an expert in these sorts of matters, bleated her unsolicited opinion over the din, only to be met by unwelcome glares from the band. (Later, she also claimed that one of the members of L.A. Guns hit on her for two weeks following a show.)

She mentioned to several members of the Garage’s wonderful staff how she couldn’t decide if, at the end of the night, she would “take home” either the band’s drummer or bass player. What she lacks in personal hygiene and appropriate social behavior she certainly makes up for in persistence!

After several attempts to chat up the band members proved unsuccessful, she offered the opportunity of marijuana after the show. And wouldn’t you know it, it still didn’t work.

I knew it would be only a matter of time until I was identified as The Girlfriend and the woman would attempt to find in me an ally. I’m sure sitting near the stage in an empty booth that seats four, surrounded by discarded band gear probably didn’t help my camouflage, but I’ve attended enough of Matt’s shows as a Fan of One not to mind the intermittent comments from guys who assume I’m Fresh Meat for the evening.

Not before this very night did I consider the female of the species more deadly than the male.

The woman from the Internet shimmied her portly self across the bar and slid into the booth next to me. Her glassy eyes and droopy mouth were all the evidence I needed that I was, indeed, trapped. And as the music blared, the band grinned from the stage as they took childlike delight in my current state of horror.

She knew Matt, the lead singer, was off limits, given my presence that evening. But the drummer is what the woman still yearned for. At 37 years old, she informed me that she recently ended a relationship with a 21-year-old (the same age as our aforementioned drummer), proof positive she could carry on relations with younger men. She mentioned to me the delightful offer of marijuana that went unrequited and still hoped for a shot at something before July 4 became July 5.

She also sought my assistance to get the bar’s patrons on their feet, but, again, her request was denied. After so many head nods and adverted glances, she made a quick exit to the restroom, after which I even more quickly darted from my booth and thanked the gods who shone on me that evening that our encounter didn’t last much longer.

But before she left for the restroom, she mentioned that the two-hour interview scheduled for the next day was, indeed, cancelled. She blamed the cancellation on the delay at which she received a free copy of the band’s CD and her denial to “get off” that night from the drummer, “even though he has been hitting on me all night long.”

Matt took the woman’s bizarre and unsightly infatuation in stride, when later in the night he dedicated AC/DC’s “The Jack” in her honor. And in true form, as the band played on, she leapt to the front of the stage and danced and twirled to a song about a woman and a certain venereal disease.

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Views From Above UNO

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IMG_0051, originally uploaded by wendytownley.

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to climb up inside the well known Henningson Memorial Campanile on the University of Nebraska at Omaha campus. My photos from high above UNO have been added to my Flickr account.

The few people you see in these photos are James Johnson, the UNO faculty member who plays the Campanile’s bells, and Tim Fitzgerald, UNO photographer. In fact, Johnson will perform a Fourth of July concert this year from inside the Campanile.

Huntington Beach

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IMG_0003, originally uploaded by wendytownley.

Savor the sand, the sun, the Pacific Ocean. Photos from our California adventure have been posted to my Flickr account.


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The Written Word

If I know you and we have met, there’s quite a high chance I’ve sent you a card in the mail. Not an e-card (although I have been known to send those on occasion), but a real, honest to goodness, feel it, open it, maybe even save it, card.

It probably wasn’t a staple Birthday Card or Get Well Soon Card or Congratulations Card. Most likely it was a little note, where I jotted down a few, quick thoughts, licked the envelope, affixed a postage stamp and dropped it in the mailbox, destined for you.

I’m not quite sure when or how I developed my affinity for handwritten notes. I’m a healthy supporter of electronic communication, including email, Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, text messages and IM. However, I have quite a romance with finding the perfect card or piece of stationary for my intended recipient and drafting the words in my head as I place pen to paper. I attempt to send at least one handwritten note per day to someone special in my life or who has crossed my path, albeit briefly.

An oversize basket sits in my home office and is packed full with stationary I’ve collected over the years. And that’s the way I look at stationary and note cards when I purchase them at the store (knowing full well that the last thing I need is even more note cards); I’m not simply plunking down my pennies for eight cards and coordinating envelopes. No, I am collecting them, discovering new designs and color combinations.

I absolutely love the United States Postal Service and its ability, for 42¢, to send a handwritten message anywhere in the country. I treasure anything I receive in the mail that’s handwritten and am always excited to check my mailbox those six days a week. (In fact, I think I hear my mailbox calling me now.)

Last weekend while visiting my sister in California I made a point to visit a Paper Source store in Costa Mesa. I’ve shopped their Web site for about a year now but have never set foot into one of their lovely, wood floor stores.

The experience was overwhelming and wonderful. I took such pleasure in being able to touch and turn the note cards, assorted stationary and rubber stamps I’ve only longed for from the screen of my MacBook. In fact, my sister and I (with my urging) ate dinner before stepping foot in Paper Source, as I wanted to replenish my strength for the shopping adventure that lay before me.

It was difficult not to buy out the whole store, so I took my time selecting two lovely sets of letterpress stationary, along with three rubber stamps.

But I would be remiss if I didn’t mention my most favorite, Omaha-based stationary boutique, Pulp. It’s tucked away on a side street in Benson and carries some of the most wonderful pieces of stationary and note cards. Sorry, Hallmark; I’m afraid you just don’t cut it for me all the time anymore.

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Lessons From Memorial Day Weekend

Work days before holidays are like vacation days. Kind of. So many people around campus took Friday off from work, thereby launching them into a blissful three-day weekend. I prefer to save my vacation days for more random dates on the calendar. Our staff of six was down to just two on Friday, so I was able to work on a number of small projects I’ve put off for several weeks, sans continual interruption. All the while my phone wasn’t ringing off the hook and I entered the Memorial Day weekend Friday afternoon at 5 quite satisfied with what I had accomplished.

When possible, shop Half Price Books. A Half Price Books opened in a former Pier 1 Imports location in Omaha a few months ago. I visited Half Price Books Saturday afternoon and immediately feel in love. It’s the most organized used book store I recall visiting. The staff was friendly, as were the customers I continually passed while perusing the shelves. At some point saying “excuse me” to the same fellow customer three or four times becomes unnecessary. For around $28 I picked up six books, four of which are hardbound books. My favorite thus far (and which I devoured in a few hours on Saturday): I Feel Bad About My Neck by Nora Ephron. I haven’t been this satisfied in a nonfiction book for quite some time.

The movie Titanic is too long to watch on TV. TBS aired Titanic from 7 p.m. Saturday to approximately 4:30 a.m. Sunday. With commercials, the film is just awful.

When planning a summer cookout, call ahead. Matt and I picked up loads of picnic goodies at the grocery store Sunday morning. We came home and began to grill. As the coals turned black to ash, we dialed away, inviting friends to join the festivities. Everyone had other plans. At that point, the 64-ounce can of baked beans and the oversized tub of potato salad seemed a bit much. But surprisingly, the pitcher of Matt-made rum-infused booze didn’t go to waste.

When it rains, it pours. And your feet often hurt. We celebrated the holiday weekend at the Anchor Inn on Sunday. We savored their signature Watermelons and made fun of the unusual sunburn lines decorating other patrons’ bodies. An hour after we arrived the sky turned an ill-green color and the rain came pouring down. At this point the adorable Franco Sarto sandals I wore were killing my feet, and I went barefoot. I sloshed around in the muddy grass while sprinting to the car. But only for a little while, as I begged our friend Monty to carry me. The powerful winds caused Matt to lose his beloved Superman baseball hat and the carrying case for his HD camcorder. Ouch. My feet didn’t seem to hurt so bad after that.

The new documentary America’s Marine Aviators is wonderful. The 90-minute film provides an inside look into America’s Marines. I can think of no better feature to enjoy this Memorial Day.

The new Indiana Jones film is terrible. Bad story, bad acting, bad visual effects. George, Steven, Harrison and Co., you should be ashamed of yourselves.

# # #

It Was Just One Little Word

Earlier this week I voiced two, 15-second radio commercials promoting a cocktail party at an Omaha bar. The event is in advance of the “Sex and the City” film release next Friday.

Part of the script had me say the word “cocktail.”

Seemed harmless enough, right?

My boyfriend is producing the radio spots and when he asked me to voice them, I enthusiastically agreed. I’m a huge “Sex and the City” fan.

But I temporarily forgot that Matt has a flair for “the creative.” Using his audio editing software Matt removed the latter four letters of my spoken “cocktail” and reworked the spot to more of an upbeat jingle, also alternating with the word “panties.”

I’m told Matt sent the jingle to the entire building and just learned that one of Matt’s coworkers now uses the jingle as a ring tone on his cell phone. (I have requested royalties each time the man’s cell phone rings.)

Now, if you really want to hear “The Panty Song” (as Matt named it), visit the audio player at the Matt and Ben MySpace page.

# # #

Looking Into The Future

Not long ago I was listening to a local AM talk station. A guest whom I’d heard on countless other radio stations before was about to take calls from listeners, giving them a brief and at times humorous glimpse into their futures.

Her name is Psychic Suzanna. While I didn’t know what she looked like as I listened to her rattle off prediction after prediction, I felt like I knew her, had perhaps met her in the form of other people.

I’m not getting existential here. Her characteristics simply reminded me of other people I have known. The smoky voice, calling everyone “honey” (regardless of gender), the cackle.

I didn’t muster the guts to phone in my request during the half-hour segment, but my ears most certainly perked up when she mentioned the free readings she offers via e-mail.

At that moment I knew I would pose my question. It took four or five days to actually send the e-mail, as part of me was largely fearful of her response. I mentioned I am a writer and asked the following: “What do you see my in future, from a professional standpoint?”

As I approach my 30th year on this planet, I’m most curious about my career as a writer. Years ago a holistic therapist — who didn’t even know I was a writer, mind you — predicted I would write a book, but not until I was married.

While I don’t know the truth to her prediction, the news made me quiver with excitement and anticipation nonetheless.

And so, as the cursor on my screen blinked and blinked and blinked again, I sent the same question to Psychic Suzanna.

Her response is below. It’s certainly brief (and it ends with a preposition, which bugs me), but it is followed by line upon line of motivational prose punctuated with WORDS IN ALL CAPITAL LETTERS (which bugs me, too), sans a period. It is most likely a copy-and-paste job from an overused Microsoft Word file on her home computer, but it’s the thought that counts, right?

You will be in print often. Also there will be some form of teaching and training you will do


Your BREATH is the BREATH OF GOD You Exist ON PURPOSE! You are NOT A MISTAKE, you are DIVINE…. MANIFESTED IN PHYSICAL FORM and when you put yourself down….You are Putting down GOD and those who love you …. Now really how dumb is that!

HONOR YOUR BODY as the VEHICLE of GOD in the world. YOU CANNOT ask Your Body to support You. If you put it down. BE at PEACE with your body and then watch it perform for you

YOU cannot ask anyone to love YOU unless you LOVE and APPROVE of yourself first


1. YOUR THOUGHTS and ACTIONS are POWERFUL …..THEY CREATE YOUR WORLD …….HAPPINESS is not found through another It is only found when you LOVE and SUPPORT the God that is WITHIN YOU!

2. CARRYING yesterdays garbage only draws more garbage to you. It says that garbage is what you expect and God loves you enough to give you whatever YOU expect. Whatever you give your thoughts to. Will Expand.

3. WORRY is an insult to GOD. It is saying that GOD who created the world cannot handle your problems. SURRENDER the worry about the problem and give your mind the opportunity join God in finding you a solution

4. GUILT is a man made emotion to control man. There is no edict from above that said, if you do things the best way you can, and it does not meet others expectations, that you need to feel bad CHOOSE TO LIVE with honesty and integrity. Then guilt and regrets will have no place in your life


PRIORITIZE WHAT IS IMPORTANT. There is no one on their death bed, who worries about, what is in their checking or savings account or what bills they have to pay. They think about who they have loved, who loves them and the lessons they have learned. ASK if what you do will harm anyone. ASK if the decision you make will be something that you will have be proud of in a year

There is saying that has brought me peace and continues bringing me peace ‘DEATH IS LIKE TAKING OFF A TIGHT PAIR OF SHOES’…..We are more than a Physical body…….. First, WE are a SPIRITUAL BEING INHABITING OUR BODY


All problems are lessons. Change how you look at the problem. Then you find the lesson.

At what age do you decide to be old, or get sick?


F alse
E vidence
A ppearing
R eal
S tuck
I n
N egativety

TRY…………… is an excuse for not doing.


The POWER is in THIS MOMENT and in YOU

United beyond Division
Box 2545
Sioux City Iowa 51106
Office 712 276 9349

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Now, a brief update: within moments of posting this to my blog, the following e-mail from Psychic Suzanna (a reply to mine which simply thanked her) landed in my inbox.


Could she have known I was thinking of her, prompting her to send a reply?

Your welcome. Look forward to a good year

IT IS AN HONOR AND A PLEASURE OFFERING THIS ONE FREE PSYCHIC QUESTION ANSWERED Please let the radio stations know you appreciate this service and you love hearing me on the station.ALSO please let your friends and family know of this service

The Lady Of The Evening Goes To Church

What I’m about to share with you really happened.

It’s interpretation, however, is up to you.

But first, a little background.

Each year my mom’s Catholic church hosts a pre-Mother’s Day dinner for the ladies of the parish and their female relatives: daughters, granddaughters, nieces and the like.

In the beginning, when the ladies created the event, they approached the Saturday evening gathering with refined, lady-like taste: a simple meal, demure flower arrangements, tea light candles in the church hall and precious little entertainment. For a church dinner, it was lovely in its simpleness.

In the years since, however, the event has taken on themes and colors and costumes and, oh yes, a little entertainment. (But not that kind of entertainment, you perverts. I’m talking The Electric Slide and the Macerana.)

This year’s theme, “Night of a Thousands Stars,” encouraged attendees to dress as their favorite celebrities.

Blessed with a rather slim frame while cursed with zero creativity, I went as Audrey Hepburn in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.” I found a basic black dress on the clearance rack a few weeks ago, wore my own “pearl” jewelery and topped it off with cheap sunglasses and prom-like gloves from the visual seizure that is Claire’s, “where getting ready is half the fun,” they cry with prepubescent glee. (Almost every shopping mall has a Claire’s, you know. Consider it an escape for the 8-year-old girl living inside you, her eyes glazed over by the assault of pink and glitter and rhinestones. Just thinking of the store reverts me to wearing a training bra and still sleeping with a teddy bear at night.)

Before leaving the house on Saturday I dressed in my costume, sans the sunglasses (because I can’t see without my regular glasses) and the gloves (because I didn’t want to drive in them).

As I approached the church I pulled into a nearby gas station to complete my look. I temporarily slipped off my turquoise fleece jacket, tossed it aside and pulled on each glove. I’ve never worn such accessories before, so I took my time inserting each finger into the snug-fitting gloves, admiring just how fancy I looked.

Not until pulling on the second glove did I look to my right. In the parking stall next to me was a rather dirty looking man. When I say dirty I don’t mean in the sense that his character was questionably unsavory. I mean he looked dirty — as if he’d been working outdoors all day.

I can only imagine what images and hypothetical situations flashed through that brain under his buzzed head as he watched a woman of my age (29, but, I’m told, looking about 19), dressed in a short, black dress, wearing black heels, no nylons, slowly adorning her arms with black, “silky” gloves in a gas station parking lot at 5:30 on a Saturday afternoon.

Thankfully, I didn’t ask and he didn’t attempt to share. When I realized I had an audience, I put my car in reverse and dashed out of the parking lot as fast as I could.

When I arrived at the church hall, I was greeted by a world of twinkling white lights, gold stars and even a red carpet. The place looked fantastic.

I met up with mom, and we both stopped to say hello to an elderly woman who has lived across the street from the church for more than 40 years. We were at first confused by her question.

“Mary Lou, who’s she?” she asked my mom.

“That’s my daughter, Wendy.”

“I know that,” she said. “I mean, who’s she supposed to be?”

Apparently the black gloves weren’t worth the hassle.

My mom and me as the “Night of a Thousands Stars” began.

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