My Best Friend with Fur

Jackson Kenard Jensen

October 2003-July 2020

Two weeks before we planned to travel to Australia for a month, my husband brought home an ugly little kitten one of his colleagues had found in a box between her building and the next. He was a scrappy little thing with an abnormally large, elongated nose and skinny head. I thought he was ugly. I also thought my husband was crazy for wanting to adopt a kitten right before we went away.

Long story short, a friend kept him for that month, and when we got home, Jack, named after one of our favourite Sims (The Sims) bullied his way into our lives and our hearts. He became my best friend with fur.

Continue reading “My Best Friend with Fur”

What to do when it’s too cold to go outside

I consult Google for a lot of stuff and most of the time my query auto-completes before I finish typing. It’s always comforting, in a way, to know I’m not the only one looking for clues on how to wall run in Star Wars Jedi Fallen Order or what to substitute for barely in the soup I want to make. Today I googled “What to do when it’s too cold to go outside” because it’s minus everything out there but sunny, and like my cats, I need to be outdoors every day. But when the air hurts your face, it’s just not fun. Ask Jack. He actually rocked back, whiskers twitching, and turned away from the open door. He’s a smart kitty.

Continue reading “What to do when it’s too cold to go outside”

How I’d Like to Die

This past Saturday, my husband and I enjoyed lunch at a café we’ve only ever visited for dessert. I knew they had a menu of something other than ice cream and I’ve heard good things about the sandwiches. In the mood for something new—and when it comes to food, “something new” is fully half of my mood—I suggested we give it a try.

After finishing the first half of my sandwich—a baguette with turkey, bacon, avocado, mayonnaise and alfalfa sprouts—I sat back, patted my stomach and said, “If I died right this minute, this would be a perfect last meal.”

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I’d just eaten bacon and I’d ordered a real Coke. Not the diet stuff; the one with sugar in it.

If asked to choose a final meal, I’m honestly not sure what I would pick, but it would probably be something fried. Something deep fried. Chicken, maybe. With potato salad and biscuits and coleslaw and apple pie and soda with sugar in it. Or maybe sweet tea. Or a slab of rare prime rib with a heaping pile of mashed potatoes, gravy and peas. Pizza would be amazing, especially if it was extra cheesy and piled high with pepperoni and jalapeno peppers. You’d have to promise to execute me soon afterward, though. Pizza no longer agrees with me. Continue reading “How I’d Like to Die”

Aggressive Thrills

Did you know they now call rollercoasters “aggressive thrill rides”? I didn’t either, not until confronted with the sign posted just inside the cattle corral that wound back and forth in front of Skyrush, the  tallest, fastest and longest coaster at Hersheypark. Completed in 2012, Skyrush towers over the park, the large golden arch demonic in its glory. I should have known that when I said “one rollercoaster” to my husband that he would pick that one.

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I should have known.

Shuffling through the turnstiles, I battled with the usual pre-coaster jitter. Holy crap, I’m going to die. The rails would buckle and twist just as my car hit that crucial turn. My harness would fail. My heart would slam to a stop and refuse to beat—ever again. I wished I’d had surgery, or that I was pregnant. Anything to get out of the ride. Beside me, Husband bounced on his toes, gripped my hand and smiled that smile he smiles when he’s really, really pleased.

I had to go on the ride.

Here’s a description of what awaited me within a double locking harness:

After climbing 200 feet into the air, you’ll touch the sky before flying downhill at 75mph in the winged seat coaster train. Skyrush will take you to the very edge with four high speed turns, five zero-G airtime hills, and the highest drop in Hersheypark!

I don’t know what sounds more awful: the two hundred feet, the seventy-five mile-per-hour speed or the five zero-G airtime hills. Even the winged seat coaster train sounds terrible. Why did it have wings!

Mercifully, my impending death came quickly. The line was short and after a mere twenty minutes, we were seated. I turned to the woman next to me and apologized in advance for deafening her. I was going to scream. I knew I would scream. I wondered if I’d be able to talk afterwards—if I hadn’t fallen from my harness, reached the stratosphere in a free-soaring “winged seat” or simply died after the first drop.

The ride to the top of the two hundred foot drop is pretty quick, which is a good thing. One of the worst parts of a rollercoaster ride is that clack, clack, clack to the top of the first rise. Too much time to worry about falling backward or wonder what will happen after the crest. Here’s what happens at the crest of Skyrush’s big climb: the track disappears. It’s, like, gone. You cannot see it. For a split second, you are poised, mid-air, with no view of how you’ll get down.

I might have died in that moment. Then my body plunged forward and I yelped. And then I shut my eyes because, holy mother of God, if I wasn’t already dead, I would be by the time we hit the first turn. Beside me, my husband began a litany.

“Oh, fuck.”

We left out seats. I rocked up to meet the harness, catching air for the first of five THRILLING times, and then gravity caught a hold of me again, pushing me into the seat with the force of seventy-five miles-per-hour. I’m sure there’s a formula out there to calculate that force. He said it again, “Oh, fuck”, and we slammed to the left, or maybe the right. The world rolled. I thought about opening my eyes and managed to slit them, just a bit. Wind tugged at my lashes and threatened my contact lenses. I squeezed my eyes shut again and gripped the handles at the front of my harness with everything I had in me.

“Oh, fuck.”

We rose up and slammed back.

“Oh, fuck.”

We whipped left and right and around and around.

“Oh, fuck.”

Zero-G.

“Oh, fuck.”

When would it end?

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One of these things is not like the others

See the expressions of my companions? They’re not smiling. They are GRIMACING. Air is pulling at their faces, tugging their lips wide. They are not having fun. They are convinced, like me, that we are all going to die and it’s going to be the messiest, most painful death in the history of amusement park rides.

We didn’t die.

But I did have a little trouble walking when we got off the ride. I’m pretty sure that if my bladder had been full, I would have wet myself. As it was, I stumbled on rubbery legs toward the exit. One of my knees buckled. Later in the day, my legs would start to hurt from the tension of that interminable sixty seconds of aggressive thrills. Husband’s legs hurt, too. And his arms. He might have kept his eyes open (so he could announce every looming thrill with an “Oh, fuck”) but he was as thrilled terrified as I was the entire time.

He bought the official photo, of course (see above). He has a collection of these. He always gets the keychain and delights in showing his wife’s terrified face to anyone and everyone. While my knees were buckling, he was sharing the “after” picture on Facebook (see below).

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We celebrated the fourteenth anniversary of our wedding this past weekend. I… I just don’t have a comment for that.