Archive for April, 2010

  • Taking Pride In One’s Appearance

    Date: 2010.04.29 | Category: Me, Style | Response: 22

    A few months ago I was having a bad day.  It started with a few small things getting under my skin. Then I went to pull out some clothes from my closet, only to have the whole rack holding all my clothes fall to the ground and land in the swirling mists of cat hair.

    Cursing, I grabbed the first thing I saw, put it on and stomped out the door to work.

    Mark, knowing that there was only one way to restore my good mood, spent part of his day at Lowes buying supplies and then installing a new and sturdy clothes rod in the closet.  When I came home, everything was hanging up and back where it should be. I nearly burst into tears I was so happy.

    After a few minutes of watching me admire my new clothes rack, Mark said “Hey, there are a lot of clothes in there I’ve never seen you wear.”

    “Oh, I wear them,” I said, “You just don’t notice.”

    But, after some browsing through my closet, I realized that he is right. I really don’t wear over half the clothes in my closet. I have confined myself to just the front most items which I wear perpetually over and over again.

    Why do I do this? Well, it took me some time to come to grips with this, but I think it’s because of the following:

    1. As much as it pains the very depths of my soul to admit this, some things are too small. There I said it. And as much as I would love things to be otherwise, those items aren’t going to magically start fitting any time soon. And let’s face it, when I finally get my act together and lose weight, they are going to be way out of style. Heck, they already are.
    2. I pen myself in to a certain style. I have cute clothes – dresses, flowy tops, skirts. I don’t wear them. Why? Because I always wear slacks to work. And in some warped part of my brain I think my co-workers will think I’m weird if I suddenly start wearing nice stuff.  Why do I think this? WHY? The same thing extends to going out with friends.
    3. I can’t stand to get rid of perfectly functional clothing, even if it makes me look like a beached whale and was only cute circa 2002.

    Right now, I’m not getting skinnier, and if I keep waiting, then ‘m going to continue to try to squeeze into tight clothes that make me look horrible. The time has come to do a major wardrobe overhaul.

    But when I shop I have this image of myself and it’s hard to shake. I see something cute and I love it, but I don’t try it on. I think, “that’s not me, but it would look so cute on mom or my sisters.” So I walk by the dress and pick up the fitted shirt and pants and head to the check out counter.

    Now don’t get me wrong. At my core I am a “jeans and t-shirt” kind of girl. But most of the days in the week I’m required to dress business casual, and I like that too. But I’m scared to do it!

    I am surrounded by women who dress beautifully all the time – coworkers, sisters, friends, my mom. Women who are curvy, like me, but I never even really thought about them that way until I really took the time to think about it. Why? Because they know how to dress themselves. And other people think these women are beautiful. They gravitate to them in public, saddle up to them at concerts, smile when they talk to them.

    And the crazy thing is, when I take the time to dress myself that way, I have confidence in myself and stop  worrying so much about my weight and my inadequacies.

    So this weekend I feel motivated. Spurred on by the beautiful women around me (ok, and maybe that episode of Glee where Mercedes sang “I am Beautiful”) I am going to clean out my closet. Really clean it out. And I’m going to go shopping and open my eyes a little bit. Freelance has been kind to me and it’s time I am kind to myself. After all, I’m only 25 once.

    So wish me luck. And hopefully, by Monday, I will feel like a new and confident woman.

  • How Angie Cat Found Her Home

    Date: 2010.04.28 | Category: Angie Cat, Family, Kitties, Sam Cat | Response: 5

    It’s high time I continued the story of how I accumulated so many pets.

    I told Sam’s story here. He was the first.

    After we had Sam for about a year, we noticed a couple things.

    1. Sam was destroying anything he could get his nasty little claws on. This includes, but is not limited to, the coffee table, the over-sized chair, the underside of the couch, laundry and our appendages.

    2. He was always looking to get into trouble and to get our attention.

    Mark thought he was a psychopathic demon-cat. I thought he needed a friend.

    And so I began my crusade for another cat. Mark asserted that our townhouse was only big enough for one cat. I pleaded and pleaded and then pulled out the big guns… “I want a girl kitty for my birthday.” Mark rolled his eyes, sighed and threw in the towel.

    As if by fate, my friend Angela called the following weekend to let me know a friend of hers had rescued a tiny little orange kitten from the alley ways of Baton Rouge. I squealed, Mark sighed and Angie Cat rode with Angela to her new home with us.


    Angie was my cat, so I named her after the Rolling Stones song.

    She was skinny and scaredy and Sam was in love. It was different with two cats. Sam followed her like a shadow and his penchant for sticking his nose in her butt landed him with an upper respiratory infection. She was the answer we were looking for though. Sammy took a liking to her and gave up his awful habit of scratching on the furniture to get our attention (well, mostly). Now he had a friend to scratch on. And Angie? Well she loved him just as much right back.


    Angie is a much gentler soul. To this day most people wouldn’t even know we had a second cat because she hides in the guest bedroom when people come over. But, if you’re patient, sometimes she’ll reward you with an appearance… that is if Mark and I are both home to stand guard for her.

    I call her my little nurse maid. Whenever one of us is sick, she knows and makes her way into our lap and sits with us for the day. Letting us love on her and keeping us warm.


    She has the squeakiest little voice though, and gains weight like no kitty I’ve ever seen. Poor Angie cat.


    She, unfortunately, gets the least attention in the house, but I think she likes it that way. As long as Angie has a hiding spot, access to plenty of food and Sam cat to snuggle with, she is one content little kitty.

    She is definitely a shy kitty all her own, and we love her that way. She, like Sam before her, wormed her way into our hearts and is here to stay.

  • The Ladies Have Arrived

    Date: 2010.04.24 | Category: Dogs, Pets, Puppies | Response: 4

    Here at Leelafish we love puppies.

    Especially border collie puppies.

    Especially border collie puppies that are full blooded siblings of Leela.

    That’s why yesterday, in addition to being a fabulous birthday for Mark, was a day of celebration because my parents’ border collie Gracie had a litter of puppies. And where as in Leela’s litter she was the only girl out of six, this time Gracie made up for it by having five puppies, all girls. And boy oh boy are they cute…. in that new puppy kind of way.

    I mean look at them!
    04-23-10 016

    The one on the top right has a Leela face! (Trying to resist temptation to start a bidding war with the people who have already purchased the one who looks like Leela).
    04-23-10 017

    And you know, I’ve never given birth or anything like it, but I take comfort in knowing that when I do one day I will never have to lick anything.
    04-23-10 003

    And even better than these awesome photos, we have a puppy cam set up so you can check in on them anytime you want to see the little squeakers! You can see it here:

    Now join me in a collective “awwwwwwwwwwwe.”

  • Happy 33rd to Husband Man!

    Date: 2010.04.23 | Category: Family, Love | Response: 12

    I have found that I am drawn to people who were born in the spring and early summer. Over the next six weeks I will celebrate several birthdays of those near and dear to me. In fact, I love people who were born this time of year so much that I married one of them.

    My husband Mark is a great guy. And I couldn’t very well do a birthday tribute post to Susan without doing one for Husband Man.

    And so, to Mark, the top 33 (man he’s getting old) reasons I love him dearly.

    33. Because he shaved the goatee and let his hair grow out after several weeks of pleading.

    32. Because I’m four inches taller than him and he still loves it when I wear heels.

    mark and jessica 2

    31. Because he’s dashing.


    30. Because he loves Southern Maid donuts so much that his grooms cake was made out of them.


    29. Because I finally got the courage to talk to him the first time when I heard him blasting Pink Floyd out of his office Linux computer.


    28. Because he rivals me for goofy behavior (and that’s saying something!)

    27. Because he let me talk him into getting a pet…

    26. And then three more pets.

    25. Because he was willing to wait two years for me to finish college before getting engaged.

    5-6-06 015

    24. Because he’s taken me on some amazing adventures.


    23. Because he had the courage to start his own business.

    22. Because he let’s me pick all the paint colors in the house.

    21. Because when I’m feeling down he always tells me he loves me just the way I am.

    20. Because he’s good with puppies.


    19. Because he waits on me hand and foot when I’m sick.

    18. Because he can fix ANYTHING that breaks.

    17. Because he makes the best spaghetti and meatballs on the planet.

    16. Because he somehow convinced me to go into a cave once.

    Ozarks - 68

    15. Because he has willingly gone to two ballets, the symphony and Phantom of the Opera with me.

    14. Because when I told him I wanted Leela to be a therapy dog he told me he would do it with me.

    13. Because he can eat an entire banana split in one sitting, even if he’s just eaten a full meal.

    12. Because older women think he’s the handsomest man ever.

    11. Because he wouldn’t let me settle for a silver Honda Fit and called down to Baton Rouge to make sure I could get it in the color I wanted for cheaper.

    10. Because he loved me enough to try sushi… and then fell in love with it.

    9. Because he eats maple syrup on his cheese toast.

    8. Because he graciously admitted defeat after declaring he wouldn’t like having a dog or an iPhone.

    7. Because he always encourages my creativity and freelance work.

    6. Because nuns bring him flowers.

    5. Because he asked my dad’s permission before he asked me to marry him.


    4. Because he’s good at snuggling.

    3. Because I can trust him with secrets.

    2. Because he treats me as his equal.

    1. Because he’s my soul mate. No man could ever make me happier or more comfortable. After almost seven years together he is still, most definitely, the one for me.


    I love you Mark, and I always will. Happiest 33rd Birthday!

  • Happy Birthday Susan!

    Date: 2010.04.20 | Category: Friends | Response: 7

    My friend Kelly over at BachelorGirl started a tradition of posting things about those near and dear to her on their birthdays. I was the first to receive this sweet -well mostly anyway- tribute. I was so touched and inspired by her posts that I decided to carry on her established tradition at LeelaFish.

    Today, besides being international smoke out day, just happens to be the birthday of my BFF Susan. Susan and I have known each other since Junior High age. We met at church, because she was homeschooled. But don’t worry, she still turned out perfectly normal. Her mom made sure she went to public high school after all. We continued our friendship throughout high school and ended up being roomies and best friends throughout our time in college and the many years that have followed since.

    So in honor of this great lady, here are 26 reasons why I love her dearly.

    26. That time when we were in boy scouts together and she talked me out of a panic attack when I was stuck dangling upside down off the side of a cliff.

    25. Because she cleaned out the dorm room fridge after she let blueberries ferment in them over winter break.

    24. Because I could always rely on her to “have a crisis” if I needed to get out of a bad date or situation.

    23. Because she throws the best Bachelorette parties!

    Picture 1

    22. Because she is always up for a surprise.


    21. Because we got tattoos together when I turned 18.

    20. She’s a reliable source of fun at Mardi Gras.

    19. Because she was once a badass cocktail waitress and now she’s (almost) a doctor.

    18. Because she makes men’s underwear the sexy.

    17. Because she takes in wayward dogs.

    16. Because we have regularly scheduled puppy play dates.

    15. Wine on the porch + dogs + venting sessions = sweet relief.

    14. Because she helped me fend off a sugar daddy after a bar brawl in Little Rock.

    13. Because she never minded being a third wheel. (Because let’s face it, I think Mark liked having her there as much as I did).

    12. She helped me tackle the trauma of the dorm room, from drunk, vomiting friends to un-dead cockroaches.

    11. Because she forces me to do things like certify Leela as a therapy dog.

    10. Because we spent four years rowing together and she was my pair.

    9. Because she makes the best costumes.

    8. Because she has this thing where she has to rearrange her house/dorm room/ living space once a week.

    7. Because she was with me that time Johnny Rzeznik touched my hand.

    6. Because she is a lifeline on the other end of the text message.

    5. Because she always wants me to spoil the ending of the movie/book/show for her.

    4. Because she willingly cleans out the litter box when I’m out of town.

    3. Because she trusted me to do her Bridal portraits (and because most of them featured her mastiff Nigel and her Air Force combat boots).

    2. Because she encourages me to talk things out with people when I don’t want to.

    1. Because she has been there for me for every important moment of my life and (I hope) I have been there for her’s. Bad breakups to weddings; hangovers to vacations; failures to triumphs. She is indeed the best friend a girl could ask for.

    Happy Birthday Mrs. Susan!

  • A lesson in, um, accounting?

    Date: 2010.04.16 | Category: Weirdness | Response: 6

    Mark and I went to do our taxes last week. Now we have used this accountant for three years, but I had never met her. Mark just always went and took care of everything. But I had to go this time to set everything up for my extra contract income for 2010.

    Having been to an accountant before, I assumed it would be somewhat long and boring, but to the point. Boy was I wrong.

    I knew things weren’t going to go how I expected when we pulled up to a little ramshackle building. When we walked in, the entire place was decorated with floral prints, angels, doilies and unicorns. Imagine Dolores Umbridge’s decorating tastes.

    So we go in and sit down. I make the mistake of asking about a photo of a little kid she has pinned up, (you know, to be nice) and she proceeds to tell us a 15 minute long story about that child and all her baby daddy woes. Seriously.

    The entire meeting continued in this fashion. In fact, here is the text message transcript that took place between me and Susan over the course of the two hours we were there:

    Me: At the tax lady’s office and she is talking to us in baby talk. seriously.

    Susan: Um, have you used her before.

    Me: Mark has. This is my first time to come with him. I may pull my hair out… or hers.

    And there are floral prints and bunnies and angels and dolls all over her office. I’m frightened.

    Susan: Oh Lord.

    Me: Oh my and a 60-year-old woman in green daisy dukes and tie die just walked in. Lol at least it’s entertaining.

    Susan: How did Mark find this lady?

    Me: His mom uses her. This is his third year to use her.

    But she is a gambler and is trying to get us a couple free Goo Goo Doll tix…

    Now we are getting a lecture on Revelations and Right Wing politics. Help me!

    Susan: Ahahahaha! Stay calm. The rapture is coming!

    Me: Now we are getting the rapture lecture. Digging fingernails in.

    And now it’s expensive restaurant food and how salt makes her swell up. Let it be done already!

    Surprisingly though, she was actually fantastic with mine and Mark’s taxes, despite her frequent ADD breaks to say things like “you two will have beautiful children, I love your eyes,” and “This guy (Mark) is just one of these guys that feel like my sons. I just love them. I love them so much I’m going to take $25 off your tax prep fee” (which was hella expensive, btw).

    I later asked Mark if she always talked like this. He said no, that it was particularly worse because I was there.

    Of course it was.

  • Thriving on Chaos

    Date: 2010.04.14 | Category: Family, Work | Response: 2

    I have been on pins and needles all day. Waiting, waiting, then OMG hurry up and proof read this right now or nothing is ever going to be finished ever! Then wait wait, oh good here it is, lay it out, why doesn’t it fit… what can I cut… where’s the photo?! I still have to somehow turn these four documents into one cohesive article, huh?

    And after hours of this, after everything was finally in, I felt like I had been literally running all day. Physical exhaustion has taken over and I feel like melting into a couch somewhere and zoning out to bad television.

    Yesterday was the same way, except that yesterday nothing was making sense in my head. I couldn’t edit, I couldn’t color correct, and goodness knows I couldn’t write. I was filled with irritability and anxiety and not much else could flow in.

    But last night, I chilled. I watched Lost and Glee and read and had fajitas. And even though today was just as crazy, somehow it all worked.

    Maybe it was that sushi I had for lunch? Or maybe it was this awesome “Goo Goo Dolls” Pandora station that plays rock from the late 90s and early 2000’s that makes me incredibly happy and brings me back to my creative high school and college days when a readership of 12,000 weren’t criticizing my every move. Maybe it’s the reading that stimulates creativity, or maybe it’s the laughter and conversation with co-workers that managed to find me today despite all of it.

    I don’t really know what it is. But, as my husband always tells me in times of panic and fast approaching deadlines, “It will always come together. It always does.”

    And so it is.

    It can be a crazy and hectic job sometimes, but I love it.

  • Cuties and Cleaning

    Date: 2010.04.11 | Category: Dogs, Family, Kitties, Photography | Response: 5

    Yesterday was a busy day. It started bright and early, photographing Amelia for her 2nd Birthday photos. She was a natural in front of the camera, and her mom and dad put great effort into keeping the little gal smiling and happy. The promise of strawberries didn’t hurt either. I’ll do a full post on my favorites from that shoot soon, but for now, here’s a teaser.


    Over the rest of the day, Mark and I frantically cleaned house in anticipation of friends coming over later in the evening. Why is that… That I never feel driven to clean unless company is coming over? Then all of a sudden it’s “Oh my gosh we have to pull out the toothbrush to scrub the grout right now?!”

    And I LOVE love love having a clean house. It puts me in such a better state of mind.

    On top of all that cleaning, we had to fight the mad rush of Sam’s to pick up dinner goods. And while I was out photographing Amelia, Mark donned his respirator and mowed and weedeated the yard. By the time 5:00 rolled around, we were exhausted and smelled strongly of that lemon cleaner and grass.

    So we laid down for a few minutes… which turned out to be an hour and a half! I sprung up to get in the shower to prepare for our fast approaching company. And when I got out of bed, I looked back and this scene awaited me…

    The Family

    Yes, that’s Mark and ALL FOUR animals napping with him. I can’t tell you how rare it is that all the critters crawl into the same space and sleep at ease. All that squirrel chasing and window watching must have worn them out. I hated to upset the perfect harmony they somehow established, but upset it I did.

    Good thing the company was great and worth it. Because let’s face it, it’s pretty hard to top a warm, snuggly bed full of animals in the late evening.

  • Bad Day Gone Good.

    Date: 2010.04.08 | Category: Love, OMG YAY! | Response: 5

    Today started out ok. And then I had a rough drive to work, some complaint emails, coughing as a result of pollen and a stomach ache…. so it went from ok to bad. During lunch I was grouchy mcgroucherson and was mad at myself for being grouchy. “I don’t want to do anything!” I declared. Really I wouldn’t have minded sitting in the yard with  a bottle of wine and a box of Samoas and eating away my frustrations, but you know what I mean.

    But I went back to work all the same and geared up for the rest of the day. I had an interview scheduled for an article I’m writing at 2. I headed out and got turned around,  making me 5 minutes late, making more grouchy.

    But then I pulled up and the sweetest old lady came out to greet me. You see, I was interviewing her and her husband about marriage and their faith. They’ve been married 61 years! The interview started out normal enough, but about halfway through the wife started talking about all the  things her husband had done for her in her lifetime. About how she never says it, but he has been an amazing part of her life and she loves him. He kept saying, “awe, nah, nah” and then he teared up.

    And in that moment, while fighting back tears, I kicked the grouchiness. How amazing is it that these two people have shared most of their lives with one another and still feel so deeply for one another? It really touched my heart.

    Not to be outdone, I got a call from Angela last night telling me to check my email. In there was a voice recording of her almost-two-year-old singing. After “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” she started singing “Happy Birthday.” And not just Happy Birthday, but Happy Birthday Jess! Is it my birthday? no. But that fact that she wants to sing to me melts my heart. Angela later told me that she just picked my name out of the blue and they couldn’t get her to sing it to anyone else.

    Click here to hear Miss Amelia sing.

    And the Goo Goo Dolls are coming to Bossier City. Be still my heart. If you knew me in my high school and college years, you know that my love for Johnny Rzeznik knows no bounds. I’ve seen them three times before. During one of the concerts, he reached out and touched my hand. I thought I was going to pass out. Tickets go on sale tomorrow and I have my loyal co-worker Lori stationed at the computer and ready to buy tickets as I will be tied up with a tax appointment. The concert isn’t until June, but I think that just adds to the excitement.

    So here is the the loves of life.

    Now if I can stop coughing up pollen long enough for wine and samoas…

  • Picture Perfect Gift

    Date: 2010.04.07 | Category: Friends, Photography | Response: 5

    For Valentine’s Day, my friend Kelly set up a photo shoot of her and her beau with me. I was a little worried about everything being brown and lifeless, but it turned out to make for some neat photos.

    Blake is an actor, and Kelly was willing to throw herself into wet, muddy leaves so I knew we were bound to end up with some good photos.

    Here are some of my favorites:

    Tree Huggers

    Rocky Walk

    Hey Sunshine

    Falling for You

    Blurring the Lines

    Take a Walk

    Save Me

    Close Up

    They know how to model, no?