Tuesday, January 15, 2013

2013 and Beyond!

Wow. I haven't been here in a long time. Let me catch you up on me, if you're still out there....?

So my last post was in July 2012. It is now January 2013. In short, the summer was fabulicious. Hot, sweaty, fun - everything a summer, and sex for that matter, should be. I interviewed for a job at a firm in St. Paul in July, they made me an offer, and I started in late August. It is an EA/OM job (Executive Assistant/Office Manager) job for those not in the acronym know. It is close to home (yea!), filled with lovely people (yea!), has tuition reimbursement (double yea!), and is quite simply the most boring job ever. Yes, it is on par with the Pink Cubicles of Death but without the CO2 poisoning. I have been toughing it out because 1) it is better than NO job, 2) a friend of mine from the hedge fund put in a good word for me (they weren't ALL assholes, just two of them were - and they were bee-yaches, if that narrows it down for you), and 3) it is so close to home I can bike or even walk to work. It fills all my work-life-balance requirements but is a total career killer.

Yes, I know I said I wanted Foot Loose And Fancy Free but I am out of FLAFF money so, a reality check arrived in the mail and there were very few zeros before the dot, if you get my drift. I need a real job, a lucrative job, while I still have a mortgage and a kid I have to put through college (at least partly). That being said, I now need a better paying job because while this one has so many perks/soft benefits, it has very little hard cash benefit. I'm working in a break-even environment, people. They also don't really have any WORK for me to do so most days I come in late, spend 90 minutes working out over lunch, check some e-mails, and leave early. Do I feel guilty? Yes. Have I asked for more work? Yes. Do I need to look for something that is going to keep me busy and challenged and offer some career growth and increased cash flow? Yes, yes, yes and who is this person you ask? This is me. See how multi-faceted I am? Who knew.

So am I still JennyUndecided? Or do I need to change my blog to JennyCorporateConformist? Or maybe JennyStillFiguringItOut? Or even JennyBabyNeedsANewPairOfShoes???

Sigh - Jenny, Undecided

Thursday, July 19, 2012

The Wild

A short story, written by moi, whilst at the Iowa Summer Writing Festival. Enjoy.

Winters are fierce in this part of the world and few can tolerate them, but for those who can the rewards of spring are many. Charlene was born here and her mother taught her how to survive the harsh winters.  She taught her how to hunt and track animals, which berries and plants could be eaten, and how to avoid predators. Charlene had exceptional instincts as well which kept her alive when others would have perished. Charlene could not imagine living anywhere else and she looked forward to the rebirth she experienced each spring when the earth softened and the plants began to push their way through its crust, reaching for the warmth of the sun.
Spring did not come without sacrifice, however. Shedding the long, heavy, coat of winter also required relinquishing something back to the earth that was now providing for her again. This, too, Charlene learned at her mother’s knee. Some years it would be something small, like a rabbit, or a fox. After a particularly hard winter it would be something larger. This year was different though. Winter was mild and spring came slowly, unfolding one leaf at a time, without urgency. The sky and land were bathed in watercolors and she did not feel rushed to start anew.
The lover Charlene took the summer before was languishing next to her in bed and she didn’t mind. Most years her lovers were gone by this time. They always seemed surprised when it ended but that was their own fault. The signs were there, if only they’d paid attention. Charlene breathed in Jack’s scent as she watched him sleep. He opened his dark eyes and met her gaze.
“Coffee?” he asked.
He rose, naked and strong, and went to the kitchen. He moved in long, graceful strides. She curled into the warm spot he’d left and dozed.
“Charlie, coffee.” Jack called. She normally did not tolerate pet names given by men, but she didn’t mind with Jack. His voice carried affection and she enjoyed being in his favor.
She rose slowly and stretched her long limbs. She wrapped his flannel shirt around her, not bothering to button it, and joined him in the den. They spent last winter in this den, curled on the soft rug in front of the fire, entangled, feeding off one another’s warmth. Jack had her coffee waiting and they sat together on the couch and drank in silence, watching the sun rise. Charlene’s skin was smooth and her long black hair was streaked with gray, belying her age.
Jack stood and took her cup after she’d drained it, spilling the last bit on her hand. She licked it off.  She watched him cross the room and disappear into the kitchen. Charlene’s mother told her, when Charlene was a child, a man would come for her one day.
“The Winter will be mild,” her mother said, as she braided Charlene’s thick hair, “and he will be strong, stronger than even you, and you will submit to him. He will find you when it is your time. He will provide you with offspring and you will provide him faithful companionship. This is the promise the man makes to us, and we to him.”
Charlene waited each winter for the man her mother spoke of to arrive, growing lonely in the years since her mother passed and her sisters scattered with the wind. She took a man each summer, hoping he would be the one, but in the end they were weak and served only to keep her amused during the long cold season. She was always happy to see them gone in spring.
 Now she found herself wanting this man to stay through the spring and into summer, through the harsh winters she knew would come again. She felt a visceral pang below her belly when she thought of him leaving. Jack came from the kitchen but stopped short of the den, standing instead in the dining area, feet planted.
“I know about you.”
Charlene paused, but only briefly. Her pulse quickened.
“What do you know about me, Jack?” She turned on the couch, her steely blue eyes narrowing and locking on his dark face, reading it. He looked different now, dominating. The veins in his neck pulsed. His shoulders were drawn back and the skin on his broad chest was taut. The hair on her neck rose.
“I have heard about your…”
“My what, Jack?” she cut in. “My lovers?” She stood now and moved slowly toward him, dropping his shirt to the floor so they both stood naked. She wanted to be closer, in case her instincts had somehow failed her, and he wasn’t the man her mother spoke of.
“Your appetite.”
“Oh really?” Charlene licked her lips and began to circle the table, moving closer to him. “You have heard the old wives tales of wild women who devour their men, is that it? Who howl at the moon and run with the wolves?” She was inches from him now, her hot breath against his neck, her lips drawn back in a snarl. He stood firm and she did not smell fear.
“Stories run wild here, Jack, that’s what runs wild.” She wrapped her long arms around him and pressed her body against his. She still did not know. “And do you believe those stories, Jack?” she whispered into his ear.
Jack reached up quickly and put his hands around her throat, pushing her away from him, restricting her air. His eyes were black now, his face contorted.
“Yes, I do. That is why I’m here.”
Charlene dug her long nails into the flesh on his arms and dropped to her knees.
“To kill the beast?” Her strangled voice held contempt.  She started to faint and as shadows seeped into the corners of her vision, she wondered why she hadn’t sensed this. Suspicious by nature, how had she allowed herself to be captured, and now killed? She thrashed and let out a low, throttled howl as he pressed harder on her narrow throat.
“No,” Jack released his grip on her and she dropped to all fours, gasping for air, “to tame her.” She hung her head, her long, dark hair dusting the floor as she rocked back and forth, chest heaving. He sat on the chair nearest her and reached down, gently stroking the back of her head until she caught her breath. Jack lifted her chin and stared into her wild, beautiful face. He was the man she had waited for. Charlene felt a rush of relief, and arousal.
“Next winter will be long, and cold.” She nuzzled against Jack’s leg.
“I know.”
“We will have to be…prepared.”
“I know.” Jack petted her softly. Charlene rose to her feet and they walked, pressed close together, to the bedroom.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Tree House

A tree fell on my house last week. Two trees, actually. Here is what happened, to the best of my recollection...

It was a dark and stormy night, the rain came down in sheets of silver and the wind blew ferociously, howling, urgent and mournful. Suddenly, a tree fell on my house. Then another. The End.

Okay, there was slightly more to it than that. My son had crawled into bed earlier that night because of the foul weather and so I was sleeping light to begin with (he dreams at full tilt). Around 4:30 AM I heard a loud creaking sound, followed by an ever louder CRACK, which I assumed to be thunder. Then I heard the tornado sirens go off and noticed the wind was blowing rain in the bedroom window. I got up to close the east-facing window and during a split second flash of lightening, I saw a mammoth tree branch brushing up against my window. That branch had no business being up against my window. I was startled, of course, but had always figured the massive maple in my back yard would eventually lose a branch or two in a storm like this one. Not knowing the extent of the damage, I decided it would be best to move into the living room in case more branches came down. The tree was, after all, likely to fall directly on my bedroom should it come down altogether.

I woke my son from his undoubtedly heroic adventure and gently told him there was a storm and a tree branch had fallen so we should sleep in the living room. I leaned in to close the other open bedroom window, a south-facing window, and saw there were tree branches hanging from the roof over that window as well. That caught me off-guard, but didn't scare me. It made sense that a large branch could have been blown there as well. Another flash of lightning revealed more massive branches in the backyard, against the play house and as far down as the shed. Now I started to panic a little. It was very disorienting in the dark with no power, the wind blowing, rain coming in the windows, and a house that now must look like something out of Little Shop of Horrors. I hurriedly closed the window, picked up my son (no small feat) and moved to the living room, which is an east-facing room. That was the last straw. I looked out the front picture window and saw tree branches hanging down from the roof there as well. Keep in mind this meant my entire house was covered with...well, tree. I was sufficiently scared now that I had figured out the ENTIRE tree must have fallen on my roof. The tree was at least sixty feet tall and probably as wide. It was a monster that had shaded my entire house, my deck, and at least half of my back yard. It was, I thought, my friend.

By now my son was feeling my panic and so he started to panic. That actually forced me to calm down. "It's okay, honey, we will just sleep in the basement, that tree won't get us down there," I reassured him. We scrambled around for a flashlight (cell phones are pretty good substitutes) and made our way to the basement. I picked the spot that seemed least likely to crumble under two tons of tree (yes, it weighed that much, at least) and we huddled there together, under a blanket, talking about what an adventure we were having! Once the sun came up we made our way outside to survey the damage. Yep, the tree had completely uprooted, crushing the deck and landing squarely on top of the bedroom where we slept. I think the deck is likely what kept the tree from actually coming through the roof. It absorbed a great deal of the massive weight of the trunk and slowed down the fall. Another tree, an older, scraggly pine, had also uprooted and fallen aross my power and cable lines and landed on the roof of the garage. This was less spectacular yet still had an element of danger due to the proximity of the power lines.

Now the neighbors were out. The fire department was out. The opportunistic tree removal and roofing companies were out. We all stood around a for a bit, slack jawed and gaping, wiping sleep from our eyes and marveling at Mother Nature's wrath. Then, I did what I always do in crisis situations - I made some phone calls and took care of it. I had both trees removed, by crane no less, by five o'clock that day. I had a roofer out to patch the few holes to keep further rain damage from occuring, and I made my claim with my insurance agent. I also managed to get my hands on a soy latte, make a trip to the Metro State library, do a load of laundry, and have a couple friends over for dinner (they were still without power). In the end, all that mattered was that we were unharmed. Insurance will handle the damage, I will plant another tree. The adventure continues...

-Jenny, Undecided

Saturday, June 16, 2012


It is here! We are halfway into June and I'm already afraid of how fast it is going to go. South Dakota in late June, Iowa for a week in July, Michigan for a week in August, camping weekends, and now another class at St. Kate's I am interested in - Jump Starting Your Memoir Writing Business. ACK! I think my son put it best when he said, "Mom, I don't want summer to go really fast." I agreed and told him to help slow it down we needed to just enjoy every day as it came along. I am trying to take my own advice but it is difficult when I'm so EXCITED about everything that is going on!

I went to a book reading by Ann Bauer (http://www.theforevermarriage.com/) on Thursday night at Common Good Books on Snelling (excellent bookstore, you should shop there). Ann is teaching the courses in Iowa that I am taking and a mutual friend introduced us (Dorie LaValle author Mary DesJarlais, http://marydesjarlais.com/index.cfm/pageid/20). It was inspiring to hear a published author talk about the writing process, the roadblocks, the nitty gritty of just WRITING IT DOWN. I bought her book and am looking forward to reading it, but I had to hide it from myself until I am done with my two finals this week and the novel I have to read for my Intro to Creative Writing class.

I'm starting to fret a little bit about going back to work in the Fall. Not about finding work, but about actually having to go to it. Ugh. Temping is still an option but the money sucks and it is usually painfully boring. On the up side though I would probably have plenty of on-the-clock time to write and usually meet more than a few interesting characters. I could find another permanent office management type job that pays better and I could squirrel away some more cash, but...that really sounds exhausting and I know I would just want to quit again next summer so, not really fair to the company. On the other hand, nine months of outstanding contribution should be worth something to them, right?? Anyways...undecided. I have an informational-type interview next Friday with an advertising agency so maybe something part-time or flexible will come from that. And, there is still more school. I am registered for Fall classes already, eight credits, and that will be harder if I am working. BOO to working!!

Haven't heard back from that attorney yet. Will probably follow up next week. It probably is a good idea to get it all straightened out, lest I really do commit some crime later in life and have this thing lurking around in the FBI database. Will keep y'all posted. Enjoy your summer, one day at a time.

The adventure continues...

-Jenny, undecided

Thursday, June 7, 2012


That was the charge that appears on my fingerprint record that came back from the FBI. For those of you not familiar with the penal code system, ADW stands for Assault with a Deadly Weapon. To be more precise, the charge was "ADW other than a firearm." So, you will be happy to know, I assaulted someone with something deadly that was NOT a firearm. I'm trying to remember now what that weapon was though... A knife? No, too bloody. A hammer? Ick. Could it have been that time I tried to run one of my ex's over with my car? I don't remember being arrested for that. I know. It was my smokin' hot cleavage that was so deadly. I must have clobbered some clown with my C cups (shit, back then I was so skinny they were probably only A's!) and got pinched for it.

Seriously, people. I did not ADW anyone. I may have forgotten which years Carter was in office, the name of my first ex-husband's third wife, and that really good guac recipe I used to know, but I did NOT forget ADW-ing someone and getting arrested for it. Now, that is not to say I never got arrested. I just didn't get arrested for THAT. So I did what anyone would do in a situation like this. I got on the Google-machine and e-mailed the first local attorney who came up under the search results for "expungement attorney." I e-mailed him a brief and, I like to think, witty synopsis of my ordeal. I assumed he would be dying to meet someone such as myself; you know, someone with such mad e-mail writing skills and such a sordid past. Wrong. I never heard from him and, instead of moving on to the next Google result, I called him up and inquired (again) over the telephone if he could help clear up this, ahem, little misunderstanding.

When I got him on the phone he claimed to have received my e-mail and claimed to have instructed what I imagined to be some lackey summer intern underling to get on it. The shock in his voice when I said I had not heard from anyone was, well, it was imperceptible, but I can really read people over the phone that way. And the slur in his voice may have disguised it. My own personal Frank Galvin (The Verdict, 1982, for those of you who do not worship Paul Newman like I do) was on the case! I PDF'd the FBI report to him as soon as we hung up and...well, that was about two weeks ago and I haven't heard jack from him. But what do I know? Maybe cases of false allegations against under-aged girls using aliases in California twenty-five years ago take more than two weeks to straighten out.

In the meantime, I will forge ahead with my plans to, well, pretty much do nothing. Oh, and I am actually enjoying drawing class so you know, just disregard that last post. I got an A+ one one of my assignments so I shelled out $200 to have it framed. What? I'm totally worth it. If I can figure out how to get the picture from my phone to my computer to this blog, I will post it. We both know you are dying to see it.

The adventure continues...

-Jenny, undecided

Monday, May 21, 2012


Drawing is fucking hard and I suck at it and I hate it. I used to really enjoy it, you know, when I was a kid and could just let my mind wander and scribble my visions on paper and people would pat me on the head and say things like, "Oh! What a good little artist you are!" and, "What a lovely horse you drew! That is a horse, is it not?" and other positive, encouraging shit like that. Oh the halcyon days of childhood lies. Not now. Now it is all about SEARCHING LINES, and TECHNIQUE, and PERSPECTIVE, and DEPTH, and a whole load of other crap that I know nothing about and clearly am incapable of creating.

I had to sign up for an additional four credits to be eligible for student aid so I thought signing up for Intro to Drawing would be a fun, no-brainer, easy summer class. I mean, remember, this is something I thought I was GOOD at. Something I thought I ENJOYED. Who knew how wrong I could be?? In a mere two weeks I've learned to hate it and now I'm mad that I've been poisoned against it. I will never again be able to look lovingly at my chicken scrawls and feel the warm pride I once did. I'm relegated now to seeing only what isn't there. The LACK of persepctive, the futile search for the SEARCHING LINES that aren't there, the incompetent COMPOSITION.

On the upside, it is only drawing, and unlike say, brain surgery, you get credit just for showing up and trying, even if you have absolutely no talent and your work sucks (like mine does). And it is a condensed summer course so it is only six weeks long, the first of which I missed, and we are now halfway into (read: over) it. It will be a short, brutal reminder of my shortcomings, which is fine, it is good to know I don't have to decide whether or not to write AND illustrate my books. The writing, or should I say drawing, is on the wall. Thank God I'm witty.

-Jenny, Undecided

Thursday, May 17, 2012

my advice

my advice

my first husband, he was a boxer
who liked to bring his work
home with him.
my advice is
not to marry
a man who brings his work
home with him.

my second husband, he was a bartender
who wanted to be a weatherman
who wanted to be an actuary
who settled
for being an operations manager.
my advice is
not to marry
a man who just settles
for what comes his way.

my third husband, he was a ditch digger
who didn’t really like to work at all
but would rather play videogames
and drink beer
and be handsome
and be charming (because
oh! that he was)
my advice is
not to marry
a man who doesn’t like
to work. (no, no. no matter how charming, no
matter how handsome.)

my boyfriend, he is a CPA
who makes sure that things balance.
my advice is
get a boyfriend.

-Jenny, Undecided