Jenfest 2011

I love throwing parties.  It’s pretty much the highlight of my life.

I’ve been throwing a Jenfest every year since 2003.  This year will be the ninth.  Every year I go over budget, and lose about a month of my life to ridiculous details, planning and souvenir-making.

Daydreaming about Jenfest starts somewhere in February.  I’ve long had a dream of renting the Roxie and having a movie night complete with appropriate games, songs and refreshments.  The long-coveted fantasy Jenfest is a giant concert starring my favorite band, Pulp*. I still have hope that that dream may come true…

This year I was planning a Guerrilla Outdoor Movie Night on Broadway.  The plan was to project a movie on an unrented building and take over the adjoining parking lot with camping chairs, blankets, and a popcorn machine.  Sounds fun, right?  The idea of a Winona Ryder (my favorite!) film festival was bounced around.

Obsessed with details and an experienced event planner, I asked myself, but where will people use the bathroom?

The bar next door was the obvious answer.  But people would have to buy a drink there to warrant using the bathroom, and then the party would be at the bar next door to the outdoor movie, not at the outdoor movie.

Here 17-year-old me shows off my port-a-potty achievements and a really terrible haircut.

The only answer was to rent a port-a-potty.  Now, I’ve been dealing with port-a-potties ever since 1999 when I was on port-a-potty duty for the camp we organized that earned me the highest award a Girl Scout can earn: the Gold Award.  If I can do anything, I can rent a port-a-potty!

With no awards to earn but the exciting goal of an awesome Jenfest, I emailed for a quote.  A port-a-potty would cost $195 for the day; $450 for the VIP edition. Well that leaves $5 in the reasonable-but-impossible-to-stay-within-Jenfest-2011-budget.

I mulled this over for a few months.  As I’ve mentioned, I’ve been over budget on Jenfest for years in a row.  This year I knew that I really needed to stay within my budget.  After all, there are bicycles to buy and dentists to visit — expenditures arguably more important and appropriate than an outlandish birthday party.  Even if throwing it is the best part of the year.

Approximate Jenfest expenditures over time.

Besides the cost, I also had to weigh all the time I usually devote to planning and throwing the party.  I have a livelihood to make, which is both time-consuming and occasionally (ha!) stressful. Did I really want to add on top the commitment of my usually extravagant Jenfest that always winds up one of the most stressful days of my year?

Seems silly, doesn’t it? Give yourself the gift of spending a bunch of money and time on an awesome party and one of the accompanying gifts is a bunch of stress?

With all these factors bouncing around in my head and time running out, I finally bit the bullet, made the grown-up decision and planned a low-stress romp around North Oakland with the inspiration of the bad hair I had in 1999 and the book, Bad Hair, which my friend Nancy Brown Lady Barber had lying around.  Let the venues handle the logistics (like the bathrooms, food and drinks) so I can relax and enjoy good food, great friends, yummy cocktails and my — GASP — thirtieth birthday.

It’s no outdoor guerrilla movie, but it will be fun.  Join me on August 3rd at 5pm.  Check out the over-the-top event website** for all info.

Hope to see you there!

*Pulp is coincidentally touring this summer!!  But not in the US, sadly.  And, double sadly, not anywhere I traveled to. 🙁

**There are some expenses I just can’t avoid…like spending ten or so hours photoshopping my face into an event-website-invitation.  Not familiar with Jenfest invites over the years?  Check out the Hall of Fame.

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