I Told You So: A Story of Puberty, Cole Sprouse, and Vindication

When I was twelve, I was an odd duck.

We sort of already touched on this before, but there are some things that I haven't been willing to admit, especially on such a public, permanent platform. Things that very few people in my past know, thanks to the fringe benefits of being a military brat who moved every three years and was able to shed my past humiliations like a second skin. And the people who do know respectfully and lovingly only bring it up once or twice a year, when we meet for family Christmas and they remind me how I wore denim Hedwig overalls well past the age of acceptability while insisting that Avril Lavigne's choppy fringe was the height of cool.

They remind me of those things, as well as the Sprouse notebook.

I want to preface this by saying I've loved writing ever since I could hold a pencil. When I was in first and second grade, I used to scribble out clumsy family newsletters that informed the readership (my very tired mother) about the comings and goings of our dog, Addie. When I got a little older, I would write short stories where my friends featured as mermaids and princesses. And during my dark years – sixth and seventh grades, the years of homeschooling and extreme Catholicism, respectively – I wrote about boys.

More specifically, I wrote about my own budding, repressed sexuality through the lens of a preteen girl whose only exposure to heartthrobs and the male form was what I was spoonfed by the Disney channel. Characters like Gordo from Lizzie McGuire and Ron Stoppable from Kim Possible (yeah, I lusted after cartoon characters, don't act like you haven't, we all thought Kovu was hot as hell and he wasn't even human) were all well and good, but I wasn't here for a mop of curls or hand-sketched freckles. No, I wanted a little intellect with my man, a hint of snark and a head of shaggy, too-trendy blonde hair to compliment the confusing combination of full cheeks and smart, grown-up sounding one liners.

I wanted Cody and Zack Martin, the titular twin ten's who were living a literal dream life as they had the run of an entire freaking hotel.

The-Suite-Life-of-Zack-and-Cody-6I hardly feel I can be blamed.

That in itself wasn't weird. I feel like a ton of girls had crushes on Zack and Cody at that time, which was good news for them since the Sprouse twins built an actual empire (seriously, Sprouse Bros was a multi-million dollar brand for awhile) fueled by this fanbase.

No, the weirdness came in when my love of writing married my love of the Sprouse twins, and combined altogether with my lack of access to a computer.

Thus, the Sprouse notebook was born.

In short, I was writing fanfiction before I even knew what fanfiction was. In one of my short stories – stories that at first favored Dylan Sprouse, though as I got older gravitated more towards Cole – I met them at a meet and greet and a slip of paper with my email address written on it fell out of my pocket. Totally normal and plausible, right? From there, Cole/Dylan just had to meet me, so he emailed me asking if we could 'be friends.' Yes, that's right – none of my stories were explicit. Remember the repressed sexuality from before? I in fact went out of my way to clarify that 'we just hung out, didn't kiss or anything, just held hands a little.' Gotta leave room for Jesus, even in my fantasy scenarios!

This was all bad enough, of course. You'd think that with such precious, incriminating content, I'd be careful to keep my writing hidden and discreet. WRONG! I was proud of that shit. So proud, in fact, that I bought Disney magazines and cut out pictures of the Sprouse twins to tape onto the lime green cover of my composition notebook like some terrifying preteen serial killer collage. And then I showed it to people! I proudly let my best-friend-and-cousin Mary Margaret read some, if not all, of my stories, and nodded very seriously as she offered feedback. Oh my god, it was bad.

But that's not all.

Without going off on a tangent, my family and I were Hurricane Katrina people who didn't properly evacuate in time. This means that when we realized the ferocity of the impending storm, we had just enough time to grab our most prized possessions and hop in our Eurovan to take off to higher ground. Naturally when my mom told me to grab 'anything that I could fit in a bag,' I grabbed my two composition notebooks. One of which… was the Sprouse notebook.

Yep. My twelve-year-old brain counted that among my top two most valuable possessions over my photo albums and international diaries.

Anyway, that was all a long-winded way of saying that I was a weird kid with weird hobbies who crushed on weird Disney channel stars with weird haircuts. I have since been appropriately teased and (lovingly) shamed for my past hobbies as a Sprouse fangirl, and as I grew up, moved on to lusting more acceptable 'hot guy' guys. And yet I could never quite let it go when people would bring up the Sprouse notebook – we'd all have a laugh and it would settle, and then I'd go '… but I mean, they're cute. And smart! And funny! Did you know they go to NYU?' Their answering facial expressions were always akin to a big fat 'Sure, Jan,' but my love for the Sprouse twins – while dimmed – did not die. It just sort of chilled out into something nostalgic and cute, something that, while embarrassing, was an essential part of my early adolescence.


And then Riverdale happened.

And then Cole Sprouse was cast as Jughead.

And then.

And then I was vindicated.








But besides all of the deep and brooding sex appeal of his character, Cole Sprouse is also an absurdly amazing actor for the scope of this show. The entire show is great, much to my surprised delight, but Cole Sprouse has seriously graduated from Disney Channel bush league to the subtle, nuanced performance of a serious actor. He's dark and layered without coming across as tryhard or grating, and when he plays sad, you genuinely forget that you're watching an actor and instead watch as a teenager falls apart.

And all of that is a long-winded way of saying… I told you so. I freaking told you so.

Now let's all get together and wait impatiently for season 2 of Riverdale.



Guest Spot: Jennifer Muses on Blogging

I love reading. I would be perfectly happy if I made my living sitting in a comfy chair reading a book, eating twizzlers, gummy bears, gummy worms (really anything in the gummy varietal), sipping coffee or tea (getting fat, obviously) all day long. When I was a kid they had RAD days at school. That stood for Read All Day, and they were my favorite!

Reading a book is like walking into a whole new world, becoming an expert on a whole new topic, or discovering a totally different thought process. Like anything else, reading gets tiring, but guess what you do then? You make a fresh cup of cocoa and read something else! It’s fantastic!

For a while, I thought it was just the art of story telling that I liked so much because I would get hooked on different TV shows too. But I’ve recently realized that it’s not the story; it’s the books. It’s not the feel of the pages or the “cozied up on a winter day” atmosphere (though that doesn’t hurt). There’s something about a book itself. How much work gets put into a book. Someone poured their heart and soul into those words because they felt those ideas needed to go out into the world. It’s not the half-assed, careless, hack blogger spending 10 minutes haphazardly throwing together their partially formed thoughts out onto the interwebs. Someone took time and put real effort into it. It’s as close as you can get to eating brains without becoming a zombie.

When I was a kid, I dreamed of being a writer. I wrote a whole novel and everything. It was terrible. Thank God it was before I knew to make computer back-ups and it got wiped out, but I spent hours in my bedroom clacking away on the keyboard as only the most unbalanced and awkward of adolescents could. About 6 months ago, it dawned on me that thanks to the internet, I don’t need permission to be a writer. That realization empowered me! And filled me! And moved me to action!

It was the wrong action. I started a Mommy blog called “word2umothers” (I’m clever like that). I paid for the domain and everything. The problem is, I don’t LOVE being a mom. Go ahead and judge, you have my permission. I am a mom, I do the best I can and I love my son with a ferocity that I didn’t know I was capable of. However after a long day of cleaning up spills, accidents (you parents know what I mean), wiping boogers, begging my toddler to get into the car, out of the car, pick up his toys, stop roaring at the top of his little lungs, not to mention all the agonizing over whether I’m doing a decent job at it, it’s pretty much the last thing I want to think of.

However, I LOVE reading. It’s been my go-to past time since forever. About a month ago, I re-realized my love of reading. I read an article on the Facebook that said if people spent as much time reading as they did on social media (ironic much?) they could read 200 books a year. 200! There were facts and statistics and numbers crunched and I wish I could direct you to the article because it really was a good one. But, alas! that was last month and I can’t remember what I had for breakfast, so we’re up shit creek there.

Now, I don’t spend THAT much time on social media. All I have is Facebook and Instagram, but I have applied this and I’ve already completed 4 books. I’m working on about 3 more with another 3 or 4 on the waiting list.

So I’m going to be like every other millennial. I’m going to live my dream, dammit! I’m going to read books and haphazardly throw my partially formed thoughts of them out onto the interwebs. I hope you enjoy… you know, if you like that sort of thing.


Reader without a Cause
(told you I was clever)

(I will post a link of this to Facebook, I will post a link of this to Facebook. I will not chicken out.)

Jennifer is an IT professional, a mom, a friend, and despite what she may think, a writer. You can find more clever brainfood from her at her blog, Reader Without a Cause.

Belinda Blumenthal vs. Wonder Woman: Who is 2017’s Foremost Feminist Icon?

GalleryChar_1900x900_WW8_52ab8f656e8b93.53907551© DC Comics

It’s a monumental period for women’s representation in the media. Rey and Jinn from Star Wars, the ladies of Game of Thrones, the cast of Hidden Figures, Jodie Whittaker as the first female Doctor. This influx of well-written, inspiring women is awesome and long-awaited, and yet none of them are quite as vital, quite as badass as two female leads in particular: Diana of Themyscira, better known as Wonder Woman, and the titular character of Rocky Flinstone’s breakout erotic sensation, Belinda Blinked.

That’s right, girls and guys. This is a Feminism-Off between Wonder Woman and the queen of pots and pans herself… Belinda Blumenthal.

Let’s start with the basics. At her core, Wonder Woman is an Amazon, born of the Amazonian Queen Hippolyta, clay, and sheer willpower. She has an unflagging moral compass, unparalleled combat skills, and has proven time and again that she is not above paying the highest price – self-sacrifice – for the sake of the greater good.

And then there is Belinda. Belinda, who has managed to climb up the lube-slippery rungs of the pots and pans industry with her delicate, skilled hands and weathered such horrors as self-aware Brazilians and the papery, pancake-thin breasts of the Duchess of Epsom. Despite these obstacles, she has still managed to come out on top (literally) in a male-dominated industry.

So how do these women hold up in the face of modern feminist standards?

Wonder Woman is literally a superhero, which earns her major points since every large-scale superhero film to date has featured a male protagonist. Her film has shattered the glass ceiling of the testosterone-heavy comic book world and paved the way for future kickass female super-characters. She also dedicates her life to fighting off global-scale threats to save everyone, which is very cool and embodies the feminist tenet of equality. Anything a man can do, so can she. Her aforementioned moral compass keeps her on the arrow-straight path to justice and ensures that she strikes a balance in her own actions, meaning she is conscious of the means she employs to achieve her ends.

On the other hand, we have Belinda. Belinda is a scrappy, self-motivated sales director at Steele’s Pots and Pans, a cutthroat company where you must be willing to do heinous things for the greater good. Unlike Wonder Woman, Belinda has absolutely no moral compass and will do anything – seriously, anything – to achieve her ends. There is no act too depraved, no penis too small, no dildo too black. Her story is one of female triumph as she shatters a glass ceiling of her own: that of the pots and pans industry. She is the spirit of modern-day feminism, with a no-holds-barred attitude and no qualms with rolling her sleeves up and getting dirty. Really, really dirty.

As for each character’s outside support, it couldn’t be more different. Wonder Woman has her Lasso of Truth, her bullet-proof wristguards, and the entire Justice League in her camp, whereas Belinda has her raw sexual charisma, tumbling tits, and a veritable menagerie of bizarre friends to back her as necessary. If it came down to Aquaman versus Bella, you better believe I’d put my money on Bella to blow her way out of any situation with a finesse that Aquaman’s brute strength just couldn’t beat. And if her mouth failed her, that ear-bleeding accent would definitely debilitate her attackers long enough for her to escape.

It’s a close call, to be sure, but after careful analysis the verdict is that Belinda Blumenthal, for sheer pluck and determination, is the embodiment of feminism in 2017. Like any good feminist, she is unintimidated by her male counterparts and impervious to any attempts at slut-shaming. She’s a #girlhelpinggirls, using her status in the company to connect with and support fellow feminists like the short-lived Donna, her balding friend Giselle, and her lover Peter’s wife Christina. She can take a beating (as evidenced by everyone’s crude, horrifying handling of her cervix) and remain standing.

She’s tough, resilient, and hungry for more. And while the same can be said for Wonder Woman, Belinda’s lust for life (and penis) as well as her willingness to do anything to get what she wants makes her 2017’s feminist icon.

10 Things I’ve Done This Summer That Aren’t Go to the Beach


July is half-over and we’re waist-deep in summer now, meaning my Instagram feed is one beach picture after another. Everyone is so tan and hot, drinking out of coconuts and captioning it all with a jillion dolphin emojis, wearing their triangl bikinis and abusing the Juno filter. Meanwhile I’m Jelly Clarkson since this move is taking over my life and I have not yet been to the beach or gotten a proper tan.

But that isn’t to say I’m not making my own fun. In fact, I’m going all kinds of places and doing all sorts of things in lieu of relaxing on the coast. Here are just a few.

10 things I’ve done this summer that aren’t ‘go to the beach’:

1. Flown from Maine to Tennessee with an overly excited toddler chattering nonstop and a fussy infant strapped to my chest

3. Watched Lucy watch Moana 308528 times

4. Watched Lucy watch Trolls 308529 times

5. Stared up at my ceiling late at night panicking about how I let Lucy watch too much TV and she’s going to grow up with some sort of social handicap

6. Lounged beside Lucy in her kiddie pool and pretended I was somewhere tropical by ignoring the loud reenactment of Finding Dory happening mere feet away

7. Tried to convince Orie we should adopt a St. Bernard

8. Failed at convincing Orie we should adopt a St. Bernard

9. Finally started watching the series Supernatural only to stop halfway through the first season and spend the ensuing several weeks trying to wash my face with my eyes open in the shower because demons

10. Kissed Orie a lot even though he won’t let me have a St. Bernard

11. Failed at applying self-tanner but succeeded in giving myself temporary vitiligo

12. Bought a house.

My Eyes Are Up Here (Not On My Husband’s Face)

In the last few weeks, I’ve learned a lot about grown-up-hood. Specifically, a lot about house-buying. Like how many steps there are to house-buying, and how you’re not allowed to skip any or do them out of order. I’ve also learned not to drive through that really expensive neighborhood ‘just for fun,’ because then all of the houses you can afford will look like sorry consolation prizes in comparison.

Another fun thing I’ve learned is that sexism is still alive and well.

This likely seems unnecessary to state, since sites like Buzzfeed and Bustle are loaded with trendy, fired-up articles about microaggressions and instances of men saying ‘hello’ to women and overstepping their goddamn boundaries.

Professional man and woman giving hands greeting“How about you have a nice day, shitlord?”

While I don’t at all think that the fight for gender equality is done, I do tend to live my life in a bit of a bubble where I am lucky enough to escape being an actual recipient of sexist behavior on the regular. I know it’s not the case for everyone, but I’m trying to set the stage here, so be cool.

Anyway, I dragged my family (all four of us) to go talk to a mortgage guy and kindly ask him to please give us hundreds of thousands of dollars. I had all of my questions ready and I had all of the necessary info stored on my phone; I was prepared, and I was gonna wow this banker guy and get my dollars.

This was my plan, anyway, until I sat in one of the chairs across from him and realized very quickly how this meeting was going to go.

It’s important for you to know that while I was introducing myself and being engaging and asking a few opening questions, Orie was sitting in his chair with his eyes glued to his phone. I didn’t mind, since he was grappling with a customer service rep and attempting to finagle a good deal. But it’s important to note that I was the engaged party and my husband was literally not paying attention.

So the meeting starts.

Mortgage Guy asks some basic questions like names, address, social security numbers. I give him all of those answers but I notice that whenever he asks a question, he directs it to Orie – or, rather, the top of Orie’s head, since Orie’s eyes are glued to his phone screen. Half the time I answer, the other half Orie glances up to chime in. At this point, I’m a little annoyed, but willing to believe that it’s all in my head.

Then it’s time for Mortgage Guy to explain FHA and USDA loans. This means a lengthier monologue from Mortgage Guy on how loans work and once again, I’m engaged: eye contact, nodding, interrupting to ask a few questions and take notes on my phone before looking back up and maintaining eye contact. During most of this, Orie is still fixed on his phone, brow slightly furrowed and clearly focused on his screen.

And still. Mortgage Guy speaks to Orie, and directs all questions to Orie.

Now I know it’s not all in my head and I’m getting pretty pissed off. This is also when the baby – remember how there were four of us? – starts to fuss and all of my instincts say ‘alert, alert, pick up baby, it be cry.’ But nope. I double down. I stare directly at Mortgage Guy and ask a few more questions, noting that he is now looking at me – but only to glance between me and the baby with very faint discomfort in his expression.

Here is the point where I concede that I could’ve been reading too much into his expression. Maybe it wasn’t discomfort; maybe it was concern, or confusion, or a building fart that he was holding in. But he was definitely looking at me now, and only in relation to the crying baby. There was no way in hell I was going to pick up that baby. He and I had entered a game of Crying-Baby Chicken, and I was going to win.

And I did, sort of, since Orie was quick to swoop in and grab Atlas, soothing him expertly and being every bit the stellar dad and equal partner that he always has been. At this point I sort of wanted to seize Mortgage Guy by his tie and say ‘DID YOU SEE THAT? A MAN IS CAPABLE OF CARING FOR A CHILD, JUST LIKE A WOMAN IS CAPABLE OF DISCUSSING FINANCES AND HELPING MAKE MAJOR DECISIONS FOR THE HOUSEHOLD.’

Instead I kept my mouth shut and endured another ten minutes of being patronized by Mortgage Guy, though the moment we get to our car I burst into an infuriated ‘oh my god did you see that?!’ to Orie. This is never a good idea since he is notorious for missing conversational nuances like these and tends to explain away my frustrations.

Except not this time. He laughed a little and said, ‘yeah, it was weird, you were looking at him and asking questions and stuff and I was just on my phone, but he kept looking at me.’

I swear, it was so fucking validating to hear Orie say that. I nodded so hard in righteous indignation that my neck nearly snapped. I couldn’t believe it, how blatant the preference to deal with my husband had been, even when Orie was so clearly not paying attention, even when I was the one asking all the questions. It weirdly made me feel seventeen again in the company of adults: belittled, ignored, treated like a minor aggravation to be told ‘that’s nice, honey, but the adults are talking.’ It was really rich, seeing as I was the one responsible for our credit and our down payment, and yet the only time he had seemed truly interested in my presence was when the baby had needed to be calmed.

I wish I could say that I went in and said something, or even that we won’t be working with Mortgage Guy again since we found a better, less sexist banker to work with. But I can’t, since I didn’t say a damn thing, and we’ll be going back to Mortgage Guy once we’re ready to put in an offer on a house.

But next time I sit down across that shiny wooden desk, I’m going to trust my instincts and stick up for myself when he tries to talk through me – and if I feel my own fart building, you better believe I won’t hold it in.

1164843-Attractive-brunette-smiling-business-woman-sitting-on-a-chair-wearing-business-suit-while-typing-on--Stock-PhotoShe is smiling because she just let one rip in the name of dismantling the patriarchy.


HTLYT Answers Your Questions: “How Do I Look Hot In a Bikini Despite Cellulite?”

Fatty female hips© Refinery29

“How Do I Look Hot In a Bikini Despite Cellulite?”

This question was submitted by Natalie, which, firstly, hello Natalie, it made me insanely excited to get this question because it made me feel like I was running a legitimate blog with an actual readership instead of whatever the hell this is. Secondly, this question resonates deeply with me – as I’m sure it does with most women – because I have been fighting the cellulite battle since I was twelve years old.

The answer, though, is one you probably won’t like, since it was one I personally hated until very, very recently. And my answer is simply:

Put on the bikini.


You did it.

You look hot as hell.

I mean, sure,  you can definitely go grab a sarong to tie it around your waist, or grab bathing suit bottoms with a ruffled skirt to hide your ass. You can even get teeny tiny little shorts with the aim of hiding your butt-dimples, but then the shorts squeeze too tight around your thighs and wind up making you look somehow worse than before.

Those are all things that I’ve done before to hide my cellulite, which I considered my worst physical feature. I’ll never forget when, in high school, my friend Sarah put up a picture of my butt on Facebook and some shitty guy commented ‘looks like it was hit with a bag of nickels.’ That set me back a few years and I always packed that stupid sarong whenever I went to the beach or pool.

But weirdly now that I’m 10 weeks post-partum after baby number two and my body is 100% in worse shape than it’s ever been, I am more comfortable with it than ever. I don’t know if it’s because I’ve finally stopped trying to swim upstream: I just sort of stopped caring whether or not I was the hottest girl at the pool, since I’m 24 now and I’m never gonna be as perky-breasted or tan as the 18-year-olds again. But hey, I look pretty good for a mom of two, and my cellulite isn’t that bad. I work out, I eat right, and I’m doing the best I can.

So really, this is a semi-depressing answer that isn’t really an answer at all. Because I sure as hell don’t know how to completely eradicate cellulite. I only just learned how to embrace it.

(PS Natalie I love you.)

Sometimes, You Move.


Sometimes you move, and it takes up entirely more time than you thought it was going to. And sometimes you have an infant who doesn’t like sleeping through the night, and your partner in child-rearing is still in New England while you’re in charge of waking up 6 times a night to stuff the pacifier back into said infant’s mouth. And sometimes you have a toddler who is highly demanding, since she misses her dad and she misses her ‘stuff’, but the dad is in Maine and the stuff is in Maine and you’re playing the Distraction Game by overpromising your time and focus every day. And sometimes you lose your glasses twenty minutes before you’re meant to catch the bus to the airport, so you wind up flying cross-country while your glasses stay with your stuff and your spouse up in freaking Maine. That’s extra unfortunate, since you need your glasses to write, and writing is the only thing that makes you feel productive and connected to the outside world.

Those are all times when you keep opening your browser and typing in ‘Google Docs,’ just to stare at a blank white digital page for ten minutes before realizing you have been defeated. You have nothing worthwhile left to give, since you are slightly delirious with exhaustion – to the point where you keep seeing little moving dots at the edge of your vision and every time you think it’s a bug, but blessedly in this house it never is.

Sorry, blog, for skipping last Wednesday blogday. Sorry, blog, because I will likely skip the next one as well. Sorry, Rocky Flinstone, for failing to rehash S3E3 of My Dad Wrote a Porno. Sorry, reader (hi Mady), for failing for deliver anything entertaining.

Soon I’ll be back to my usual nonsense.

Until then, I will sleep. At least in brief, half-hour bursts.