Saturday, December 24, 2016

A Word About My Birthday

Hello Readers. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.  Yes, in the spirit of the holiday season—you know comfort and joy and peace and harmony and all that---SGIA is squeezing in a bonus post prior to the big Bachelor season premier on January 2.  It’s been a short time since we last chatted.  In fact, if you’re getting here worrying about Nick’s impending Bachelor season, please see the post prior to this one.  SGIA Rates the Ladies.

Oddly enough, however, I was not driven to write today by our favorite reality series.  You see, my birthday falls at the beginning of December and, as many people at my stage of life are so inclined to do, I wondered what I’d accomplished, if anything, over the past year of my life, indeed over my lifetime.

Normally, one would find cause to celebrate one’s date of birth, although I often feel as if my own mother should celebrate in my stead in light of the fact that she gestated me and eventually endured the pain of childbirth for not only me, but my twin brother on that date.  What in the hell do I have to celebrate? 

Rather than feeling glad this year I awoke to greet the date of my nativity with quiet introspection—even a bit of sadness.  At any rate, I’m choosing—for my own edification mostly—to sort out my feelings here for all of the Internet to see.  If you’re more partial to my anatomy jokes and filthy puns, please skip this post and tune in next week when the Bachelor starts.  I’ll be back on my reality show horse by then.  If you choose to continue reading, please humor me.    

As I was saying, I awoke feeling a bit sad on my birthday.  It wasn’t an overt sadness; rather, it was the intangible kind of sadness we all experience on the occasions we know something is simply “off” in our world.  It was like when Luke Skywalker gets a bit twitchy every time Darth Vader is nearby.  Try as I might, like the captain of my high school girls’ cheerleading squad, I simply could not get my arms around it no matter how badly I wanted to.  I was upset and I could not figure out why.

There were many factors operating there, I suppose.  First off, anyone with a December birthday can attest to getting short-changed in the gift department so close to the big Christmas season:  a season that seems to expand every year like the collective American waistline or the collagen-filled lips of the Real Housewives of [insert major city here].  “Christmas” used to be three weeks away from my birthday but now there are just three weeks left to shop until Christmas Day. 

Hell, if you’re too lazy to drop the egg nog and get up off the couch, you’re a laptop keystroke or two away from enduring a grueling two hour wait for home delivery of just about anything you want (including more egg nog) from Amazon Prime.  It’s amazing and horrifying all at the same time.  

Incidentally, I’m convinced that Mrs. SGIA is about to get her own drone assigned to her by Amazon Prime.  There were fewer bombs dropped on Dresden than the number of packages that have been dropped on my front porch since that bullshit was invented. 

So, what’s bothering me about my birthday?  

Maybe it’s the gift thing. 

There are many iterations of the gifting process for a December birthday.  Throw in a twin brother (I have one) and a very modest upbringing and my birthday gift usually resembled an effort to literally and figuratively split the baby between my big day and the impending bigger day three weeks down the road.  As an adult, I can tell all of you with a straight face that the only thing that I really want for my birthday these days is to be left alone to do exactly what I want to do for the entire day.  I have a very Jack LaLane-like habit of attempting a feat of strength on my birthday every year.  Granted, I don’t pull a rowboat filled with beautiful women across Lake Travis with a rope in my teeth (not this year, anyway), but an extended run or hike usually suffices to narrowly convince me each year that I haven’t aged at all.

Fortunately, I’ve been blessed (at least for now) to be able to purchase just about anything I want for myself in real time rather than waiting for my birthday; and other than a couple of obsessions involving German cars and Swiss watches which I’ll discuss in a moment, I really don’t want for anything material.  Sure, I own the obligatory hand-tailored lawyer suits (blue, pinstripe, etc.) and ties which I avoid wearing unless I absolutely have to look pretty, but the majority of the time I’m wearing one of 2 pairs of jeans, a pair of Carhart work pants, a pearl snap shirt, and (cowboy) boots.  

The instant material gratification that my life provides me is a comfort that I did not know for many years prior and it certainly wasn’t a comfort I knew as a child.  I’m also not arrogant or naïve enough to think that all of it couldn’t go away in a moment’s notice.  So it’s not the gift thing that is bothering me. 

Maybe it’s the age thing.        

As I contemplated my impending age change, I couldn’t help but think of my father.  How did he define “success” and what were the great joys of his life?  He was, and is, a bastion of consistency and has chosen to lead by example for his entire tenure as our father rather than lecturing me and my siblings about life’s great mysteries from the comfort of a Lazy Boy chair and a glass of bourbon.  By all standards, he is a blue collar worker who sacrificed a lot of his own comforts for the sake of his family.  

Unlike me, I never—literally never—saw him buy anything for himself other than a pair of inexpensive running shoes and shorts when he decided to begin running at the local health club.  I suppose that could be construed as selfish, but with the perspective on my childhood my life now provides me, I now realize that it was more about being there to socialize with my friends and me who literally lived at the health club after school and in the Summer.  Staying in shape was incidental. 

I recalled when my father turned my age and, as any child is apt to do, used his life as a measuring stick against my own.  And while I cannot measure up to my father in more ways than I can, I believe I have essentially achieved what he sacrificed in order to for me to have the opportunity to achieve.  I take great comfort in knowing that he (presumably) views me as a successful product of his (and my mother’s) wishes for me. 

So, it’s not the age thing that’s bothering me. 

Maybe it’s the twin thing

Most people’s reaction when I reveal that I have a twin falls into two categories.  The first, and inevitably annoying category always involves one of the following questions, “Can you tell what he’s thinking and feeling all of the time,” or “did you ever switch places on your teachers,” or something equally as fatuous.  The answer to all of those is a simple “no.”

The second, and far more complicated reaction, is a comment on how “neat” it must be to be a twin and how “special” our relationship must be. 

For those of you who have been reading me since 2009 (yes, 2009) when I started this blog, you’ll scratch your collective head trying to remember when, if at all, I have written about being a twin.  Sure, I’ve mentioned it in passing or when it’s a necessary detail in a story, but I have never written about my relationship with my twin brother. 

Frankly, there is no relationship.  We live less than 6 miles apart in Austin and I rarely see him with the exception of brief, ten minute stints where our paths cross at our parents’ house or perhaps at one of my nephews’ extracurricular events—which I am informed of usually at the last minute in a coincidental call to my parents who happen to be getting ready to attend. 

I have never given or received a birthday gift to or from him.  We don’t call each other.  We don’t have dinner.  We don’t socialize.  We rarely, if ever, occupy the same room.  He doesn't find me remotely interesting and he hardly thinks I am amusing.  

As disheartening as all of those statements are, I could not provide any of you with a reason as to why.  You see, I tried—really hard—for years to mend a relationship that I had no idea was as broken as it is.  I apologized to him for whatever it was he thought I’d done to wrong him.  I wrote him several letters—all of which were unrequited.  I spoke to mutual friends, family, his wife, and others seeking an intervention.  None of it has worked.  In fact, over the past 10 years or so, his demeanor toward me has gone from indifference, to mild annoyance, to (as it stands today) outright vitriolic hostility. 

I used to lose a lot of sleep trying to figure it out.  I used to have hope that the relationship would simply right itself much the same way a rocking ship eventually steadies itself and again begins   to move forward rather than aimlessly listing from side to side in danger of capsizing.  However, over time I have come to realize the simple truth.  

Occam’s Razor, which may be stated many ways, stands for the proposition that the simplest explanation for any problem is usually the correct one.  The bottom line and the simplest explanation is that my brother just doesn’t like me.  He doesn’t like me as a person, a brother, a friend, a twin, a lawyer, a blogger, or a human being.  Period.  That's just the way it is.  I suppose I accepted that reality some time ago. 

It’s not the twin thing that’s bothering me. 

So what is it?         

The only thing perhaps more joyful and inspiring than watching a child run is actually being that running child.  There is great joy in watching a small child experience even simple things for the first time.   A sunset, a roller coaster, a jack in the box, or even the feel of sand between the toes can elicit unabashed, uncontrollable joy and wonder in the face of a child.  As we move through life our once sharpened senses are dulled.  Our experiences arm us with knowledge while simultaneously robbing us of our ability to be unabashedly and uncontrollably surprised.  This is true of our first steps, our first kiss, or our first glimpse of the Grand Canyon.    Eventually, the bar we need to reach in order to experience that sense of wonder is raised, with few exceptions, well beyond our reach.  The dust settles and the view clears for miles around. 

I am no longer a small child and, run all I may run, I cannot replace the feeling I once had sprinting down the basketball court or gritting my teeth with all of my strength as I ran as fast as I could physically run for the white paper banner 100 meters down the track.  I can no longer experience the burst of energy that went through my body when I jumped above the rim and dunked a basketball through the hoop or the rush of spiking a volleyball over the net and watching it zing past my opponent’s outstretched arms leaving a divot in the sand.  I no longer struggle to put on a tuxedo, tie a tie, wonder where I will get into college, or pray that the girl that I like will call me back.  

I mentioned earlier that I have a bit of an obsession with Swiss watches (I own 13) and German cars (I have owned 14 of them over the years).  My aforementioned twin brother would chalk that all up to my desire to appear “important” and to “impress” other people.  However, that’s not at all what is at the heart of my ownership of those material things. 

I have a significant appreciation for and a fascination with the craftsmanship and quality of those particular watches and cars.  They rival all of their competition and consistently perform at the highest level possible.  They are beautiful, carefully made, and as close to perfect machines as can be made.  I think of that attention to detail, the countless failures, and the trial and error that spawned the incremental improvements that ultimately lead to the end product each time I look at the time, fasten my seatbelt, or put my car in gear.  

Swiss watches and German cars are far from status symbols that I covet in an attempt to pretend to be something that I am not.  Ironically, my affection for them stems from the fact that they are a manifestation of something I can never be.   They maintain a level of precision and balance that I can never attain and they are the result of conscious, deliberate planning, design, and execution.  In other words, everything my life is not.  

So, am I depressed and what was the result of my birthday self-examination? 

I’m not depressed.  Far from it.  Allow me to summarize my birthday epiphany.  In the holiday spirit, I’ll close by tying it all together in a neat little bow for you to unwrap. 

I realized that experiencing the inescapable lament of life’s irreversible mistakes, lapses in judgment, and horrendous failures is a necessary and worthwhile undertaking provided it is not an exercise completely in self-loathing.  Indeed, dwelling on the past for the sake of regretting the past is a useless exercise.  However, it is impossible to deny that the sum of a person’s past is undoubtedly the foundation for his future.  

The goal is the attainment of perspective rather than the loss of hope.  The goal is reaching a level of comfort that allows a person to truly accept himself for who he was, who he has become, and where he is capable of going.  There is a comfort in finding a favorite chair in the house or sitting in a lawn chair in the driveway and yelling at people to get off the lawn.  Remember that the next time a cranky old man yells at you to get off his lawn.       

I’ve now reached a place in life that defines many people and I have seen that place hit people around me hard enough to cause them great worry, even panic.  I, myself, do not consider myself a member of either the great worry or panic camps, yet there is a constant sense of urgency in my thoughts.  There is a restlessness that I cannot quiet.  What am I---and apparently many others my age—seeking?

The short answer is more Life. 

I realized in what alcoholics refer to as a Moment of Clarity that the life I have lived so far is no longer a life of endless possibility.  I am no longer closer to the starting line than I am to the finish line gathering wood and bricks to build my house.  The house is built.  

My existence has, for the first time, become “my life”.  And that realization is one that includes the harsh reality that many of the dreams that once drove me forward have now vanished or are relegated to nothing more than mere impossibility.  They are stories for high school reunions or anecdotes for my children to hear.  The life that I saw for myself as a young man, the life that was filled with possibility, the life that was meant to be something great now resides somewhere beyond where I exist.  I am “here” and this is my life.

As I put the finishing touches on this post, it is now Christmas Eve in Austin, Texas.  There is always something a bit odd looking at Christmas lights or strolling through the Trail of Lights in Zilker Park and sweating because of the temperature outside.  None of the Christmas classics blaring over the radio seem to contain lyrics that fit my reality.  The weather outside is far from frightful and snow is nowhere to be found in any other place than on my television screen.  It almost makes me want to fly elsewhere to really experience Christmas.     

However, upon second thought, it is strolling through the Trail of Lights in Zilker Park and sweating because of the temperature outside that makes Christmas . . . well, Christmas, here in Austin.  It is the exception to convention and the unique juxtaposition of snowflake lights, plastic snowmen, and a jolly fat guy in a heavy red suit and fur-lined leather boots amongst green grass, mild temperatures, and Christmas shoppers carrying bags of gifts from the storefront to their cars in shorts and t-shirts that makes me love the holidays in Austin and the Texas Hill Country.  It is the same juxtaposition of my continuous and inevitable aging and my increasing appreciation of the simplest things in my life that makes me content with who I am. 

I realized that it was not sadness or disappointment that I felt at all.  No.   Rather the feeling was tantamount to the feeling a person has on the first morning he awakes when, after grieving for some time, he no longer feels sadness over the loss of a relationship, a great betrayal, or a staggering tragedy.  

Rather than relief, there is almost a sense of surprise and an immediate counter-intuitive longing for the sadness that has for all recent memory dominated every thought and tainted every experience for a long while to return to the void its (seemingly) sudden absence has left behind.  Fortunately, it is usually a peacefulness, a happiness, that eases its way into that void, eventually, over time. 

The eventual total and complete loss of my youth is something I cannot avoid.  I am praying that peace, contentment, and happiness will all ease their way into that void and I pray that the perspective that I have gained through age will allow me to foster that process.  I pray the same for all of you, no matter what stage of your life that you are in on this Christmas Eve. 

Take care of yourselves.  Stay safe.  Appreciate what you have beyond what things you possess.  Use your Christmas money to indulge yourself in something simple that you love.  Tell at least two people that you love them.  Hold the door open for a stranger.  Have a happy and safe holiday season, a Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year.  Thank you all for making my life a bit more fulfilling and a lot more interesting over the past year.  We'll chat on January 3.   


Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Bachelor Nick: Some Guy Rates the Ladies

**Something weird is going on with the font and format on the blogger website.  It apparently looks fine on a smartphone.  I apologize and am trying to fix it.  Enjoy it anyway!  DP

Hello and Happy Holidays, Readers.  I trust your Thanksgiving went well and that you're all busy stressing about the remaining two weeks before the biggest gift giving holiday of the year.  Granted, this years' Mounted Singing Bass hasn't really presented itself as the best generic gift yet, but I'm sure you'll all figure out an adequate replacement.  Certainly Brookstone has plenty of back massagers in stock.  

It's been a while since we last spoke, and for that I'm regretful.  If you must know--and you must--I had a couple of off season posts to post, including one about my birthday, but the revelation of this season's group of incredibly generic potential temporary finances and Neil Lane ring borrowers snuck up on me.  I felt compelled to judge them based solely upon their brief (and monolithic) biographies and head shots.  I'm looking forward to this post and, like Nick, I'm excited to get it up.     

A few things struck me when I read through the bios and looked at the headshots.  First, as I mentioned above, this is an incredibly generic group of women.  Each bio could literally be printed, shuffled in a top hat, and placed beneath any headshot.  The group is exceptionally racially diverse as far as the standard lily white bevy of Bachelor babes goes, but they all appear to share the same brain.  

Second, there are a lot of really young women considering the 36 years our Bachelor has been tooling around the Earth in search of his special someone for the ages.  Granted, 36 is a few numbers shy of the women he's slept with on the air in order to "find love," but who's counting?    

I'm glad to be back in action and I'm looking forward to your comments and feedback this season.  I'll do my best to predict the top girls based on my male brain and intuition, but I have to admit that no one really jumps out at me on the list.  Without any further ado, let's get to it.  

Nick.  Why does the ABC wardrobe department insist on dressing these guys like The Transporter? And why does Nick's hair look like a toupee?  The smug look on his face says it all.  You can sense a vacancy behind his eyes.  My guess is that he's going to get a big cup of his own medicine poured down his throat this season.  By the way, it's worth mentioning that this guy is 36 years old.  36.  That's like having a 16 year old on an elementary school playground.  This should be interesting.  

Alexis.  She’s the first one out of the gate and she doesn’t disappoint.  She’s an “aspiring dolphin trainer.”  As if that “occupation” isn’t ripe enough for ridicule, those of you who haven’t taken the time to read through the bios yet will be glad to know that she is far from the only contestant with an affection for our intelligent mammalian seafaring friends.  She’s marginally attractive and chose a flattering blouse color for her headshot. On the upside, you can’t spell “Alexis” without S.E.X. We’ll see how she does.  Maybe Nick can make her tread water while swimming backward before jumping through a firey ring.  

Angela here is a model who . . . you guessed it . . . likes dolphins.  When asked “What's your worst date memory,” Angela cites an incredibly awful time when “A guy put down the name as "Batman" while we waited for a table. So immature.”  

Immature?  Maybe.  Hilarious?  Absolutely.  Let’s hope, for her sake, that she has a sense of humor.  

Astrid.  She too is a lover of dolphins and doesn’t want to die old and alone.  That’s quite a revelation, Astrid.  I’m not sure I know anyone who wants to die old and alone, but thank you for sharing that with us.  I’m certain Nick will appreciate it.  The lowcut, skin tight shirt is very provocative; however, and if the old and alone comment doesn’t evoke the pathos you’re seeking, I’m certain your plunging neckline will gain Nick’s attention.  On second thought, she might be brilliant enough to realize the thought-provoking contradiction between the fresh, youthful exuberance depicted in her headshot and the gloomy picture she paints in her bio.  Maybe she did that on porpoise. 

Dolphin Joke #1.  You’re welcome. 

Briana.  Believe it or not, she also loves dolphins.  Perhaps that’s because, like a dolphin, she has no upper lip.  She dolphin-itely needs some collagen injections.  Dolphin Joke # 2.  You’re welcome again.  She has a confident and attractive head shot however.  If she can distinguish herself from the other dolphinophiles without getting sloppy drunk she may stick around a bit. 

Brittany probably loves dolphins but she definitely hates snakes.  We’ve gone from loving sea mammals to hating reptiles in a matter of seconds.  You think she could have Orca-strated a consistent response for the audience, but I don’t want to create a Fish-ue where none exists. (Dolphin Jokes #3, 4)  

She’s very attractive.  It appears that her naughty librarian glasses fell off of the Croakies she’s wearing around her neck.  For Nick’s sake let’s hope she’s not afraid of the Trouser Snake. 

Christen.  She’s the child of non-traditional name spellers who earns her living as a wedding videographer.  Strike one.  She either hates big weddings or—more likely—knows EXACTLY what she wants when it’s finally her turn to abuse the venue staff and A/V people at her own wedding.  Her biggest fear is “failure.”  Life suggestion for you Christen:  narrow your biggest fear to something less amorphous.  You’ll save yourself a great deal of disappointment.  Oh, and get one of those eponymous necklaces so you can point to it three times a day when you’re asked to spell your misspelled name.   

Corinne went with the overly broad and intentionally vague job description “business owner.”  I’m sure that, like Christen above, she’s also afraid of “failure.”  She wants to be Snow White.  Let’s hope that’s because she wants to dance cheerfully with dwarves and find her Prince Charming.  If Nick’s luck on this show is consistent; however, it will be because she likes to be imprisoned and  remain catatonic.  

Props on getting your entire bare sternum into the head shot, Corinne.  Nick's not usually a blonde guy if you look at the extremely well-established cross section of women he's run through on this show, but she may have potential.  As far as her career description is concerned, I wish she had been more Pacific.  (Dolphin Joke #5.  Yes, they are going to get worse). 

Danielle L. “Small business owner” who loves The Notebook.  No shit.  The Notebook is the "R,S,T,L,N,E" of the Reality Show.  Granted, none of these people (besides Nick) are old enough to remember when Wheel of Fortune didn't automatically give contestants those letters in light of the fact that everyone picked them by default, but it should just be a given that all of these contestants love The Notebook.  

When asked, "What is your favorite all-time book and why?" She answered, "The 5 Languages of Love! Discover yourself, your relationship needs. It's beneficial in all relationships (friends, lovers, co-workers)."  Good Lord.  Deplorable grammar aside, she's certainly one of the most attractive women based on the head shot, and props to the undoubtedly male photographer who suggested she "turn to the side a bit" during the shoot, but I could never bring myself to date a women whose favorite book of all time was a self-help book about relationships.  Let's hope Nabokov's Lolita ranks a close second on her list.     

Hey Nick, when a woman’s favorite book is a self-help book designed on educating men about why women feel unloved and how to fix it, it’s time to run.  Feel free to adhere to custom and sleep with her first.  Go get ‘em, Tiger. 

Danielle M.  Nurse who also loves The Notebook and would pick R,S,T,L,N,E on Wheel of Fortune if given the opportunity.  Unfortunately for Danielle M., the dead relative contestant whose life changed for the better is now a staple in the Bachelor Barn.  She'll be faced with whatever horrible tragedy caused his death  in her first one-on-one date with Nick.  She's attractive and is likely more mature than the rest of these dunces in light of the educational requirements for her career, the fact that it's a real job, and the fact that she's suffered from and (according to her) overcome a significant loss.  I'll give her a pass on that weird V string thing on her shirt. 

Dominique.  From the sublime to the ridiculous.  She's a “Restaurant Server," which means waitress outside of reality questionnaires.  If she could (serve?) lunch with three people alive or dead she would invite her grandfather, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Jesus – and would eat burritos from Chipotle.  This one definitely deserves a dolphin joke (#6).  Jesus and Leo DiCaprio at lunch eating burritos?  Why, that's the SEAL-iest thing I've ever heard.     Ok, so that's technically not a dolphin joke, but deal with it.  Nice smile.  We'll see if Nick can get past the lack of ambition.   

Elizabeth "Liz".   Her guiltiest pleasure is picking her nose while driving.  She considers golf boring and it angers her.  The juxtaposition of those two facts is astounding.  She's really attractive, though, and I'll give her the benefit of the doubt and assume she has a decent sense of humor.  Well, at least I was going to to that until I read her response to "If you could be any fruit or vegetable, which one would you be?"  Her answer?   "A grape so I would get better with age." 

Liz, old grapes either become raisins or they rot on the vine and stink.  Grapes are an ingredient in wine, which does get better with age.  Ok, so metaphors aren't her strong suit.  Hopefully, she'll show Nick what is.  Let's just hope they don't let her drive on their first date.    

Elizabeth.   "What is your greatest achievement to date? Not just one thing.  My life has been a journey of achievements that only I would appreciate."  That's very millennial.  Even Nick will likely need more than that if he's going to keep her around after he sleeps with her.  

Read that again:  "My life has been a journey of achievements that only I would appreciate."  Mine too, Elizabeth.  Mine too.  

There's an entire generation of her waiting to run things in less than a decade.  God help us.  

Hailey.  Her pose looks to be an attempt at seduction; however, it comes across as pensive.    Who is her favorite author? "Dr. Seuss – he was such an inventor. He said that when he couldn't think of a word to describe something, he'd just simply make it up."  

Apparently, Hailey also employs the same technique in her day to day life.  She doesn't understand the word "quit."  Then again, there are probably a lot of words that she doesn't understand.  She's probably baffled when she attempts to read anything that doesn't have short sentences ending in monosyllabic words that rhyme.  I'll give her a bit of a break.  She's  Canadian.  If her equivocal head shot is any indication, she'll be kicked OOT of the mansion in ABOOT one episode.

Ida Marie is from Harlingen.  That's deep deep deep in South Texas.   Her answers to her bio questions are an indication of the effectiveness of the Harlingen Independent School District's educational standards.  When asked, "What is your favorite all-time book and why," she answered, "I need to read more books."  She doubled down on that answer when asked "Who is your favorite author?"  Hell, even the Canadian can read Dr. Seuss.  On the up side, she thinks strawberries are “sexual.”  An illiterate who equates coitus with fruit.  She'll do well.  

Jaimi.  She's a chef who follows the ever popular "Pesco-pollo-lacto-ovo-paro-tarian" diet.  If Nick has any sense his first question will be, "does that include tubesteak?"  Incidentally, I challenge any of you reading this to find another place on the internet containing 7 dolphin puns and a trouser snake and tube steak reference.  Your chances of finding that are better than Jaimi making it past the cocktail party. 

Jasmine B.  "Who is your favorite author? Steve Harvey."  



Jasmine G.  Loves Olivia Pope from Scandal because "she's such a power woman."  Incidentally, Olivia Pope is the only competition that the dolphin has with respect to the admiration from this group of ladies.  It's interesting that her take on Olivia Pope is that she's "power woman."  She's reluctantly locked into a secret affair with the married President of the United States and is routinely manipulated and lied to by all of the men in her life who use her as little more than a sexual pawn, a patsy, and a surrogate to cover up felonies that would land any person in jail or on Death Row.  She's forced to deceive the only people who are loyal to her and almost always picks her own self interest over theirs.  She doesn't sound very "powerful" to me.  Details.  

She's pretty, though, and the spice-themed name should separate her from the pack--well except for the woman with the exact same name.  Wouldn't it be funny if Nick kept her around and then eliminated the other Jasmine and on their first date he told this Jasmine that he kept her around because he too loves Steve Harvey literature?    

Josephine.  She apparently escaped from the barn after enjoying a hearty bucket of oats.  Perhaps it's the angle of the picture.  Why the long face, Josephine?  I heard when they asked her to do a phone interview she had to decline.  She was a bit horse.  I love the Stevie Nicks dress she selected for the head shot photo.  

When asked, "If you could be any fruit or vegetable, which one would you be," she answered,  "Something disgusting so nobody eats me!"  I love it when I see someone's wish come true.  The good news is that she's likely happy she can now choose to use the Women's Restroom at Target is she wants to.   If she is transgender, perhaps he can Flipper (Dolphin Joke #7).

Alright, all of that is a bit harsh.  For the record, I'm certain she's lovely.  

Kristina.  In my opinion she has (by far) the most attractive headshot.  Nick needs to tap the brakes before driving off the Kristina cliff, however.  When asked, "If you could be someone else for just one day, who would it be and why,"  she answered,  "My biological mother. I'd like to know what she was going through when I was young and if choosing alcohol over kids was worth it." 

Ouch.  Unfortunately, that sharp stick is likely to poke its way out of the leaf pile at some point in any relationship she enters.  Being abandoned as a child leads to all kinds of insecurity, control, and trust issues for the poor soul who was abandoned.  It speaks volumes that she chose that answer over all others knowing it would be made public.  Let's hope she's put that far enough behind her where she can give Nick a fair shot should he choose to date her rather than just bang her.  Let's at least hope she's in denial about her true feelings.    

Lacey looks like an anorexic Jennifer Anniston.  I mean that in a good way.  Nice smile, pleasant face AND she actually likes Shakespeare.  She has potential provided we ignore the outfit she has left over from her days as one of Madonna's background dancers.  Lacey, you're an adult now (barely).  Lose the prom dress.   

Lauren has sexy, supple shoulders and she wants us to know it.  She's a 30 year old "law school graduate," which means that she either failed the Bar Exam or hasn't taken it yet.  Having a law degree and not taking the bar is like owning the key to a Ferrari but not the actual Ferrari.  For her sake, I hope she gets off her ass, takes the exam, and passes.  

When asked, "If you could go anywhere in the U.S., where you would you go," she responded,  "State parks, like Grand Canyon or Utah."  First of all "Utah" is not a state park.  It is a state that contains five NATIONAL Parks.  Second, "Grand Canyon" is not a State Park.  It is a geological formation in a National Park located, in part, in the State of Arizona.  Now we see why she hasn't taken the bar.  Details are important in the practice of law.  Off the shoulder shirts won't win a trial.  

Lauren also loves rock formations.  While this happens to be an excellent opportunity for an anatomy joke, I'll pass in the name of consistency.  Here goes:  

Lauren also loves rock formations.  I assume she's especially fond of the ones that look like dolphins  . . . or Olivia Pope from Scandal. 

Michelle.  "If you wanted to really impress a man, what would you do and why? I would take him kayaking because it's one of my favorite hobbies."  Perfect.  Nick should ignore everyone and go kayaking with her.  Great smile and great face.    

Olivia (the Bachelor contestant, not the one on Scandal).  She's from Alaska.  When asked why she didn't just stay in Alaska and marry an Eskimo she said she would have but she just wasn't that Innuit.  Boom.  Eskimo Pun.  

Do you know what you call the ratio of an igloo's circumference to its diameter?  Eskimo Pi.  I heard Olivia has a gay sister.  Apparently, she's from the Klondyke.  Alright, I have more Eskimo jokes but I think those are sufficiently insensitive to offend several persecuted groups.  For the record, Olivia is exotic and pretty and Alaska is freaking gorgeous.  In a room full of generic Jane's I, for one, would head over and talk to her.     

Rachel.  She’s an attorney from Dallas who wants us to know that she passed the Bar Exam on her first try.  News Flash, Rachel:  80% of people who take the Bar Exam pass on their first try.  

Unfortunately, my personal biases make it impossible to be either impressed by or interested in an attorney from Dallas.  Hopefully, Nick will feel differently.

Raven. Fashion Boutique Owner whose name actually suits her.  She looks like an Anglo Norah Jones and may be a possible top 3 if she's equally as intriguing as her name and appearance.  Nick is a brunette guy and she's a brunette.  She and Kristina are the only two that really jumped out at me.  He'll likely keep a blonde or two in the mix too for good measure.  

Once upon a Bachelor dreary, while drinking Lone Star, weak and weary, 
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore— 
    While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping, 
As of Neil Lane gently rapping, rapping at the Fantasy Suite door. 
“’Tis some visitor,” I muttered, “tapping at my chamber door— 
            Quoth Chris Harrison and nothing more.” 

Sarah.  A headshot bubblier than a glass of champagne.  “What's the most romantic present you've ever received? A star named after me, just like in A Walk to Remember because I hadn't told him I liked that, he came up with it.” 

Bless her heart.  First of all, will allow anyone to name a star after anything for $14.95.  That's also known in most circles as "a rip off."  Second, of course the guy knew you liked A Walk to Remember.  It’s basically The Notebook with Shane West instead of Ryan Gosling.  

Ironically, Sarah is silent on her feelings about dolphins.  Given the headshot line up, it’s likely I would have picked her out above all of the others as a dolphin lover. 

Susannah.  Second best headshot in my opinion.  Apparently, Susannah likes tattoos.  She has an elephant on her back, presumably because she never forgets anything.  That could be bad news for Nick.   She has flowers on her side and bows on the backs of her ankles.  Getting tattooed is a high risk behavior.  She’s probably a lot of fun.

Taylor.   When asked, “who is your favorite clothes designer,” she answered, “Forever 21.”  Actually, that’s a retail store that sells clothes, Taylor, not the actual designer.    I find it ironic someone named “Taylor” didn’t get the fashion design question right.  Maybe she’s not cut out for it. 

Vanessa.   “If you could be any fruit or vegetable, which one would you be? An onion because they're a staple item and can be found all year round.”  Nice smile and a creative answer that doesn’t contain the words “dolphin,” “The Notebook,” or “Olivia Pope.”  I like her.  However, Nick should be mindful that onions have a tendency to make the people handling them cry.  

Whitney.  Check out the Come Hither Stare.  I believe this is the look that the blank-behind-the-eyes Hailey was shooting for in her head shot.   When asked, “what's your biggest regret,” she answered,  “I don't live life with regrets!”  

Oh, Whitney, Whitney, Whitney.  I believe all of us older than 23 are laughing hysterically at that answer.  Just make sure the cameras and mics are off if you do decide to invite Nick over for a nightcap.  We'd all be horrified if we had to witness your very first regret.   

Well, there it is.  Thoughts?  Comments?  Observations?  For the record, I’m really looking forward to this season.  Sure, the country is split in two politically, but I think the Bachelor brings us all together.  It’s good to be back.  We’ll talk a bit closer to the premier on January 2.  Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Happy New Year.  Be safe.  Be kind.  In the meantime, if you need me, I’ll be mulling around the dolphin tank at Sea World while binge watching Scandal on Hulu.