Jennifer Ammoscato

Aspiring author. Successful chocoholic. Debut novel "Dear Internet: It's Me, Avery." May 2014

You meet some of the nicest people on the Interwebs

Since entering the world of social media, I’ve been constantly amazed at the connections you can make with people half-way around the world who have shared similar experiences.

Case in point: Jolene, also known as author of the “Valley Girl Gone Country” blog. http://www.valleygirlgonecountry.com/

This California-Arkansas transplant was kind enough to nominate me for a “Liebster” award, which supports blog sites that are just getting going. (Translation: I need more followers. Come on, people! Get your friends to sign on!)

Part of the process is telling the world some random facts about me. (No, they won’t be those kind of facts. Get your mind out of the gutter!)

1.  Describe your blog in five words. Funny. Engaging. Relatable. Entertaining. Honest.

2. What inspired you to start blogging? It’s a wonderful way to vent about the little things—and big things—in life to people who probably don’t care but will politely listen if you include a few swear words to keep it interesting.

3. Do you ever want to throw your hands up in the air and stop blogging? No way!

4. Are you currently in love and with what or who? You bet! My amazing husband!

5. How many times have you been in love? If you count chocolate and boys in grade school, 73.

6. Do you identify as carnivore, vegetarian, pescatarian, vegan, or something I haven’t mentioned on here? Carnivore. I wouldn’t give up my husband’s smoked spareribs for anything!

7. Does internal health or external beauty influence your healthy food choices more? and if you don’t ever choose healthy, tell us why. Internal health. Except when I want chocolate. Or a Cosmo.

8. When you get two spare hours, do you chill or play? Depends what you call working on my novel and following social media.

9. What is your favorite activity? Go ahead, say what you want. Anything where my husband and I can leave the world behind for a while.

10. Sexting, yay or nay? The more inventive the better! (I’ve heard).

11. One wish is granted to you – what do you wish for? Health and happiness for those whom I love.

And these are the 11 (okay, 10) bloggers I’m going to nominate for this award:

http://LaundryorDie.com/

http://lindabloodworth.wordpress.com

www.essiewhite.com/

http://luviniawrites.wordpress.com

http://comecloserseries.com

http://www.jjlitke.com

http://kerryburnett.blogspot.ca

http://marymcleary.com

http://www.chicklitbyzarakingsley.com

http://lydialaceby.com

 

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Dear Men Everywhere: Say it in your head first

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The other day, when my adoring husband looked into my eyes and said, “I love you,” I replied to that man of mine, “Love you more.”

And he said, “Probably.”

Excuse me? What the frick does that mean?

Me: “What the frick does that mean?”

Him: “You know I’m just kidding.”

Me: “The only answer you could have given that would have been worse than the idea that I probably love you more than you love me would have been, ‘Yes, you’re correct. You love me far more than I love you. I win.’”

Him: “You’re not seriously angry are you?”

Me: “I’m going have to get you that book.”

The book I refer to is called, “Know What to Say to Your Wife (or Significant Other) So That She Doesn’t Want to Take A Sharp Object to Your Favourite (Insert Sports Team You Love Here) Shirt…Or A Valued Part of Your Anatomy.”

It’s a sort of men’s survival guide for terrain that’s far more challenging than say, the Mojave desert or even the Everglades without bug repellent. Bah. Those are child’s play. This book takes you inside a woman’s mind.

Chapter 1 is called, “Things You Should Never Say to Your Wife Unless You’re Bored of Living” (also known as “White Lies My Father Should Have Told Me”. It teaches men how to avoid such conversational pitfalls as:

“Do you really think you should have seconds?”

“Your haircut doesn’t look that bad.”

“That’s not the way my mom makes it.”

Any of these are grounds for divorce. And, possibly, the means for her lawyer to plead that first-degree murder charge down to justifiable homicide.

Chapter 2 focuses on mindreading—something that would be of great benefit in the following situations:

“What do you mean you didn’t know that I wanted you to pick up the dry cleaning? Do I have to do everything around here?” (Warning: Just to give you a sporting chance, I’ll tell you that this is a rhetorical question. DO NOT ANSWER!)

“How could you not know that when I said I didn’t care what movie we went to, I meant I wanted to see the one that didn’t involve explosions? You don’t know me at all.”

“I needed you to give me a hug an hour ago and you didn’t. You don’t love me.” (Note: this one usually comes once a month around the same time. Figure it out and, for God’s sake, be proactive. Buy chocolate. And maybe a bottle of wine.)

Chapter 3 is about how sweetly telling a woman that you love her for herself and don’t want her to change involves roughly the same degree of danger as walking into a bear trap.

This is what you say: “You look beautiful just the way you are.”

This is what she hears: “You look like a cow now but I’ll keep you around for your pot roast recipe. Even if it’s not as good as the one my mom makes.”

To tell you the truth, my husband is a smart man and knows me pretty well.

But if I ever did give him the book, then he wouldn’t have to guess why I just sighed so deeply that he doesn’t know if I’m contemplating whether life has any meaning. Or if I should grow out my hair.

So he’ll probably give me a hug just to cover all bases.  Why would I give up that?

Jennifer Ammoscato is the author of “Dear Internet: It’s Me, Avery” which will debut on May 28, 2014.

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Love me, love my dog (or how my husband ruined a perfectly well-trained pooch)

Some days I suspect that my husband married me for my dog. (Oh, sorry, our dog).

When Riley the Wonder Lab met my then-boyfriend, she growled. Then she sniffed a little harder, smelled “Sucker”, and thus began their unspoken agreement. He loves her unconditionally and she lets him. (Yes, yes, darling, of course she loves you too. I’m just making a point.)

Each day, late in the afternoon, Riley lies by the front door, gazes through its glass panels and keeps watch on the house while waiting for her hero to come home.

And, each day, late in the afternoon, she barks like the killer that she thinks she is when his car pulls into the driveway. The death growl ends the moment she hears the garage door open.

At that point, her brain is overwhelmed with the possibilities that my husband’s arrival brings. As he progresses through the house from family room to hall closet to kitchen, she is his happy, wagging shadow. What cupboard door will he open? What magic awaits?

“Does my puppy want a treat?”

That’s like asking if a woman plagued by PMS wants chocolate. (No, I’m not comparing women to dogs. I’m just making a point!)

It won’t stop there. She will lie by her food dish, knowing that he will sprinkle his special brand of awesome on her dinner too. “Care for some steak and eggs with that kibble, puppy?” (Okay, that was my idea. Bad habits rub off. I’m just making a point.)

Riley has become so accustomed to my husband’s willingness to make her meals exciting, that no matter how great they taste to begin with, she’ll eat some and then back away to see what else he’ll do to lure her. He finally began just pretending to add something to the dish by gesturing over it.

And she falls for it. (I love her but she’s not the sharpest knife in the drawer.)

After dinner, she has us (really him) trained to let her out and, when she comes back inside, fetch her a cookie. Once in a while, my husband, tired at the end of a long day, will look to me to do it. No dice.

“You created the monster, you can deal with it.” Before he came along, she had no concept of being fed right from the table, jumping on the couch (that I knew of), or chicken piccata. Now, she’s living the life of…well…Riley.

He pretends to complain about her demanding nature and then scratches her head and rubs her tummy. (Come to think of it, similar to how he deals with his wife.)

In fact, sometimes, I’m not sure who he’s talking about. Not long ago, we were sitting on the couch, the dog at our feet, enjoying the fireplace.

Him: “Hello, beautiful.”

Me: “You’re talking to the dog, aren’t you?”

Him: “I think you’re beautiful, too, dear.”

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The Internet knows what you’re too embarrassed to ask anyone else

DearInternetCover

Don’t try to tell me that you’ve never checked that weird mole on your thigh on WebMD. Or how to fold meringue on Epicurious. And, there’s no way that I’m the only one who clears her search history after looking up how to give a great— (Um, that last one’s not important.)

So says Avery Fowler, the plucky and profane heroine of my coming novel, “Dear Internet: It’s Me, Avery.”

If the Internet is Avery Fowler’s information god, then the website HowTo.com is her Holy Grail. Its live chat option is like having a virtual life coach (named Clementine) for the low, low price of $14.95 a month. Naturally, it’s where she clicks when she figures out that her husband is having an affair. Add into the mix a new boss whose managerial style calls to mind the Wicked Bitch Witch of the West—or the Anti-Christ—and Avery needs all the help she can get!

I created Avery to reflect a society literally attached at the hip (or, more accurately, the palm) to the Internet. We look to it for everything.

Recipes for peanut butter crunch cheesecake (I just made that up but doesn’t that sound good right now?), the quickest, easiest way to lose that last 10 pounds (which apparently involves not eating bananas. Or, likely, peanut butter crunch cheesecake), or what men really like in bed (peanut butter crunch cheesecake. Or just beer. You can’t go wrong with beer).

With Clementine (virtually) in tow, our heroine tackles such tricky questions as dating after divorce, sex once nothing points north anymore, and becoming the new and improved Avery Fowler 2.0.

This will be of interest to women around the world who have been screwed over by a guy. Or anyone who has ever Googled anything. Ever. Or people who live in Windsor, Ontario, Canada (where it’s set).

Yup. That pretty much narrows it down 🙂

“Dear Internet: It’s Me, Avery.” will be available on Amazon.ca and Amazon.com on May 28, 2014.

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If this post sucks, it’s Google’s fault

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I meant to write this blog post yesterday. Really, I did.

But I got sidetracked.

Writing, you see, is an intensive, sometimes soul-sucking process that requires focus, determination and, often, gallons of coffee.

(Or wine. Depending on the kind of writing you’re doing. And if you have a devil-may-care approach to things like typos. And consciousness)

Some days, the words flow like a fine merlot, rich and aromatic. And, yes, words can too be aromatic. “Wine” is a word and “word” is a word. It’s like in math where, if two things are equal, they’re the same. Go look it up.*

Which brings me to my point. Google has devised an evil plan to suck all of society’s energy into a black hole that’s linked to its search bar.

It starts harmlessly enough. You start by looking up how to bake a cheesecake and end up searching for “twerking”.

Seriously! It was the most Googled term of 2013. Really, people. What’s to become of us? I fully believe that, when some alien race finds the smoking ruins of our planet in a few million years, they’ll be able to trace its demise to YouTube videos of “What the Fox Said” and a total lack of attention to the meteor that was headed our way.

So, it’s not surprising that, when I’m casting about for writing inspiration, the siren call of the search bar instead lures me down the following road:

Lazy, Distracted Mind: “Writing’s hard. Wouldn’t you rather watch ‘House of Cards’?”

Responsible, Focused Mind: “We’ll watch it after writing our blog.”

Lazy, Distracted Mind: “But Netflix just released all the episodes. We’ve waited soooo long. We could binge on it and M&Ms. And maybe some salt and vinegar chips.”

Responsible, Focused Mind: “Salt and vinegar chips sound good. But, no! We need to buckle down and get it done.”

Lazy, Distracted Mind: “Hey, what movie did Kevin Spacey win the Oscar for?”

Responsible, Focused Mind: “I don’t remember.”

Lazy, Distracted Mind: “Let’s look it up.”

Responsible, Focused Mind: “Fine! It was ‘American Beauty’. Happy now?”

Lazy, Distracted Mind: “Look, it says he named his dog ‘Boston’? Doesn’t Matt Damon come from there?”

Responsible, Focused Mind: “Um, I think so.”

Lazy, Distracted Mind: “Wouldn’t it be nice to visit Boston. Let’s check out flights.”

Responsible, Focused Mind: “We have to write and then start dinner.”

Lazy, Distracted Mind: “Boston cream pie sounds good right now.”

Responsible, Focused Mind: “I’ll look up the recipe and go to the store.”

Lazy, Distracted Mind: “Don’t forget the M&Ms.”

And that, people, is why I’ll never win the Nobel prize for literature.

Thanks for nothing, Google.

*Did you look it up? If you did, you know that I was referring to Euclid’s Elements, Book 1, Common Notions #1 “Things which equal the same thing also equal one another.” Of course, I believe Euclid was talking about numbers, not adjectives, but whatever. Don’t you feel smarter now?

What was the last thing you looked up on Google? (And, for God’s sake, use some decorum people. Some of us may be eating dinner (or salt and vinegar chips) while reading and don’t want our appetites ruined.)

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A Valentine’s Conversation in Bizarro World

Let me start by saying that I love my husband with all my heart. And, in the event of his demise, I will have an alibi.

A few days ago, we were enjoying a romantic Valentine’s Day dinner when, apropos of nothing (okay, it may have been the wine), I told him that when the end is near for me, I could helpfully arrange for him to join me in the afterworld.

“Because I know you wouldn’t want to go on without me,” I pointed out.

“What are you saying?”

“Maybe I could bake you a nice cake with a little something in it.”

“I don’t think so.”

“But why would you want to live without me?”

“I did before. I’m sure I’ll be fine,” he replied, and resumed eating his appetizer.

I can’t say that it didn’t hurt.

Yes, I did propose what some might call an involuntary arrangement for departing the earth (okay, murder, if you want to get technical), but if he really loved me, he’d be right on board.

Isn’t that the way it goes in all the great romances? Look at Romeo and Juliet. Would it still be considered a classic if those crazy kids had just run off to Palermo instead of making the supreme sacrifice for love? Of course not.

Maybe he just needed a little convincing, I reasoned.

“I’m sure you’ve told me at least once that you want to go first.”

“So you’re prepared to murder me?”

“I don’t think you’re looking at it from the right perspective.”

“I’m not going anywhere until the Brown’s win the Super Bowl.”

“Like that’s going to happen any decade soon.”

“I think they have a chance this year.”

I think he deserves to suffer without me.

I’ve heard of sweet, wonderful women who, when they know that they aren’t long for this earth, thoughtfully leave their husband little notes around the house as to how things work. Some even bestow their blessing on the soon-to-be-widower’s choice of a new mate. “You know, Morty, that Isabelle from up the street, I’ve seen her look at you. I think you’ve got a chance.”

I don’t think so.

If my husband won’t at least jump off the edge for me so I won’t be alone in the afterlife, then he can figure out where I hid the can opener. And the password for the checking account.

“You know you’re going to go first anyway,” I point out. “I’m way healthier than you.”

But if by any chance I’m out the door before him, there will be haunting.

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Knives have no legs

My husband and I have the same favourite expression —“You knew who I was when you married me.”

This catch-all comes in particularly handy at those moments when we know that we’ve (he’s) slid back into the selves that we were (he was) before we got married.

You know, the self that leaves shoes next to the shoe closet but not inside the shoe closet.

The self that abandons a peanut butter-covered knife on the counter after the sandwich is made. (The knife does not have legs. If it had wits, it would be at the end of them trying to figure out how on earth it was going to cross the great divide between the counter and the dishwasher. With no legs!)

The reality is, I know that I married someone who could not care less if the clean laundry sits in the basket in the laundry room all week rather than in drawers and on hangers. (He is surprisingly adept at folding, though. Okay, he crushes it.)

And the love of my life is married to someone who can no more stand a drawer not shut all the way than she could… well just imagine the very worst thing you can think of and multiply it by a billion.

(Note: Seriously, I mean, why not just shut it all the way? It’s just a horrible accident waiting to happen. Someone could hit it with a hip and be maimed for life. Does he want to be responsible for that? And, more importantly, it doesn’t line up with all the nice, obedient closed drawers, and that drives me crazy.)

My husband knows perfectly well that, while I sometimes bitch about cleaning up after him, there’s a part of me that wants to. A sick part that takes joy in making glass table tops shiny, putting things back in their rightful place, and jumping up off the couch—apropos of nothing—to straighten a picture on the wall.

So, he can say things like, “I’d vacuum but I know you’d rather do it,” and he’s telling the truth.

Once in a while though…

This was an actual conversation on lovely Saturday evening after I returned from an afternoon out with a friend. (Well, it was kind of like this).

My husband: “Look, I cooked a wonderful dinner for you because I love you.”

Me: “Why didn’t you do the load of laundry that I left for you after I did the first three?”

My husband: “I didn’t know you wanted me too. But look, I slaved over a hot stove and created a life-changing meal for you because I love you.”

Me: “I thought it’d be obvious. The laundry room door was open. The clothes were left on the floor. In front of the washing machine.”

My husband: “Darling, I don’t always know what you expect. But look, people would pay big money for this meal that I cooked for you. Because I love you.” (Through gritted teeth).

Me: “What did I have to do? Put a sign on it? I mean, Jeez, what else could it have possibly meant?”

You can only push OCD girl so far.

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Don’t hate me, Siri!

I slept alone last night for the first time in ages.

I left my iPhone downstairs, you see.

When I stumbled up to bed, I had felt something wasn’t quite right. Exhausted, though, I ignored the utterly forlorn cry of my very soul and went to sleep.

I awoke in the wee hours and reached under my pillow to find…NOTHING!

I shook off my slumber and felt for it again, this time more frantically. My fingers hit the headboard without touching that familiar smooth, hard outline of my cell phone.

For a brief moment, I think I had the tiniest inkling of the sensation that people say that amputees can sometimes experience. Years after losing a limb, they insist that it aches and even itches. If I closed my eyes, I could almost feel my iPhone in my welcoming hand, ready to serve up my morning dose of CNN, the weather, Facebook and Gmail. Happy to even just tell me the time.

It must have been lonely there, downstairs on the coffee table, without my pillow keeping it warm. (I wonder if Siri hates me.)

There was no question of me staying asleep. I bounded down the stairs a scant few moments after realizing my tragic error. It was already 4:30 a.m. I felt so behind on the day’s current events. People Magazine’s website might have had breaking news about Justin Bieber spitting/egging/brawling. I berated myself with each step: My God! How could I have been so stupid!

In the still, dark living room, I found my iPhone right where I’d so thoughtlessly left it after falling asleep looking for deals on Groupon. It looked smudgier—and a little sadder—than I remembered. I lovingly wiped it with a special cloth I keep expressly for that purpose. I think Siri appreciated that.

I hope so.

I need directions later. I don’t want to end up in a bad neighbourhood because she’s feeling spiteful.

Do we have unhealthy relationships with our cell phones? Tell me what you think below.

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Admit it. You watch the Super Bowl for the Ads

Is there a football game being played February 2?

I believe that some guy named Peyton Manning might be playing. It might be a championship. Who knows?

If the guys aren’t sharing facetime with the Audi “Doberhuahua” or the Matrix’ Morpheus driving a new Kia in one of the $8-million-a-minute TV ads, I won’t notice them.

First downs be damned. I’m one of the 46% of Canadians who will tune in to the Super Bowl to check out the advertisements, according to a Canadian Press poll. In fact, I’m worried the game might get in the way of that. Maybe I’ll head to the kitchen for a snack after each snap. Or check my Twitter feed for updates on the Puppy Bowl.

(Speaking of adorable canines, have you seen the Budweiser lab frolic with the Clydesdale? Come on, people. That’s freaking moving! Tears in my eyes, I tell you. Tears!)

What will Doritos do this year? Will mini Darth Vader be back? I love mini Darth Vader. I bookmarked that commercial. (Yes, I bookmark my favourite commercials. I am not a freak! I am literate. I know when to use “their”, “there’ and “they’re”.)

We want our entertainment in bits and bytes. Quick snap shots. 140 characters, baby! It’s no wonder we’re captivated by a 30-second ad that can make us laugh or cry. Or buy a luxury automobile.

Now excuse me while I go watch Doberhuahua on YouTube. It’s bookmarked 🙂

Okay. Tell me honestly, what are you looking forward to: the ads or the game? Do you have a favourite? Comment below.

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Who’s To Say Pretty Woman Isn’t Art?

While perusing the wondrous selection of books at the Toronto Film Festival facility recently, I came to a dead stop at this title: 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die.

I almost picked it up. Then I thought the better of it.

I love cinema. Other kids played Hide and Seek or Battleship during summer vacation. I stood in front of the movie bookshelf at our library, head painfully tilted sideways, trying to decide between Charlie Chaplin’s autobiography or Life Goes to the Movies. In another life, I’d have been a film reviewer. In real life, I was a book geek (and, needless to say, not one of the cool kids.)

I’ve got to be honest, however. I don’t like the commitment that comes attached to a list that long.

You figure that each film must be at least two hours. That’s a minimum of 2002 hours of movies (damn, I’m a math whiz!). Between work, sleep, eating frozen yogurt and incessantly checking Facebook, when will I fit it all in?

This literary theme calls to mind another book, 1001 Places To See Before You Die. What if, God forbid, I want to go somewhere twice? I’ll feel I’ve wasted time. I won’t enjoy myself.

What’s with all the pressure, people?

Do these authors know something about my health that I don’t? Are they worried I’m going to run out of time? Have they spoken to my doctor?

No. Like everyone else, they just like telling people what to do.

Well it’s not going to work I tell you. It’s not going to work!

I’ve watched Citizen Kane. I’ve also watched Hot Tub Time Machine (against my will—thanks to my husband). Once, a long time ago, I watched The Incredible Melting Man with my parents at the drive-in. I’ve got to say, Citizen Kane does not offer the pulse-pounding drama of Jurassic Park (1 and III only; II was simply unwatchable. I do have standards.)

If I only commit to movies that are considered “great cinema”, when will I ever get to watch Pretty Woman? Some days I just need me some Rodeo Drive hooker shopping scenes (you do realize, of course, that I mean shopping for clothes, not hookers, right?)

Honestly, I put enough pressure on myself with lists, post-it notes, highlighters and, when all else fails, writing on my hand when it absolutely has to get done.

That’s it. No more. I’m not taking on new obligations.

Now pass the popcorn. Twister’s on.

What’s your guilty cinema pleasure? (And no, I’m not talking about porn. Get your mind out of the gutter!) Tell me in the Comment Section below.

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