Reasons you should not let your friends determine your New Year’s Resolutions

…particularly after drinking cheap Greek wine, which shall, from this day forward, be known as headache wine:

Jenny’s New Year’s Resolutions
1. Drink Thai bubble tea and like it
2. No more fires
3. Make Natasha happy
4. More bowling
5. Get tattoo (possibly henna)
6. Less human interaction
7. More technology
8. Less eyeballin’
9. Break up with Dr. Greene (again)

Happy New Year everyone!

Friends don’t let friends drive. Ever.

No Adjustment Necessary

Dear Esteemed Male Co-Worker:

During my short tenure here at Valhalla Inc., I have developed a great deal of respect and admiration for you as a colleague. You possess a wealth of knowledge about the company, you are always willing to lend a helpful hand, and your chipper attitude makes it a joy to come to work each morning.

Because I hold you in such high regard, I know that you will understand that this letter, while incredibly difficult for me to write, is essential to the continuation of our successful working relationship. I am certain that you are not aware of this, but over the course of the past few months, I have noticed that you have a habit of adjusting yourself when you are talking to me. I think you know what I mean, so I would prefer not to have to spell it out any further than that.

I’m sure that this is an unconscious habit, developed over years of working almost exclusively with men, so my hope is that by calling attention to it in this letter, you will be able to break the habit. Quickly.

I could probably overlook an occasional shift here and there, particularly if you attempted to do it discreetly. But are you aware that on December 13, during a fifteen minute conversation at my desk, you adjusted your anatomy four distinct times? When I first noticed this habit, I thought that maybe you had a rash, but since this has continued for the past three months, I can only assume that you either have a raging STD that will most likely cause dementia, or you are just a chronic self-adjuster.

I don’t want you to feel that I’m attacking you here – I’ll readily admit that I’m part of the problem. I have a heightened sensitivity to people calling attention to their private parts in a work setting. I prefer to imagine that my co-workers – just like my relatives – all have bodies that resemble Ken and Barbie dolls, i.e. sexless and smooth, without appendages or orifices of any sort.

So you see, when you continually draw attention to the fact that you possess something that needs adjusting, it upsets the balance in my mind, and distracts me from being the best worker I can be.

What I am proposing is a phase-out plan – similar to the Nicorette Three Step program – so that you can shed this habit once and for all. For the first week, you are allowed three adjusts per day, provided that they are not directly in my line of vision. During week two, we’ll drop down to two daily adjusts. Continue this plan through week three as well. In week four, limit yourself to just one shift per day, which I would recommend scheduling during your train ride in. Then, by week five, you will be free of any urges to touch your pelvic area during the workday.

I understand that breaking any long-time habit involves a few setbacks here and there, so I don’t want you to be too hard on yourself. Just make sure that you continue with the program, and set some goals for yourself that are Specific, Measurable, Agreed-Upon, Realistic, and Time-Bound. That’s the S.M.A.R.T. way to break any habit!

I look forward to a long and successful working relationship with you here at Valhalla Inc., and am confident that you have the willpower and commitment to accomplish this goal.

Best regards,


Just Call Me “Lefty”

I now have another item to add to my ever-growing list of: “Reasons I may need to someday saw off my own arm.”
I checked in to the hotel in downtown Seattle late Wednesday night because our plane was delayed, the car rental company couldn’t find my Hummer, the hotel had me sharing a room with my co-worker, and so on.
So after a very long journey, I finally got into my room, hung up my clothes, changed into pajamas, went to the bathroom, flushed the toilet, and heard… nothing. You know, the usual routine.
With the sense of dread and frustration that always accompanies a malfunctioning toilet, I quickly tried to assess the situation. When I pushed the handle down, it just kind of loosely jiggled back and forth, clearly serving as nothing more than a decoration. I could see that this trip was starting out really well.
Fortunately, I’ve seen a few episodes of Extreme Home Makeover, so I took the toilet tank cover off and noticed that the little chain that is supposed to be attached to the handle was curled up nicely at the bottom of the tank. Beautiful.
It was late, I was tired, I had to flush, so I did it. I pushed up my sleeve and dunked my arm – up to the elbow – into the toilet tank water.
Hotel. Toilet. Tank. Water.
With the speed of a ninja, I grabbed the chain and looped it back onto the handle, so the toilet once again functioned as god had intended it to.
This bears repeating: my arm was submerged up to the elbow in hotel toilet water. Oh sure, I tried to convince myself that the water in the tank was actually clean. It was the only thing I could do in order to build up the courage to dunk my arm in there in the first place. I knew it was a lie then, and I know it’s a lie now. Exactly how much antibacterial soap do you think it takes to kill the germs of 100,000 previous guests?
And now that I look more closely, I may not even have to saw it off, because it seems to be dissolving into a smooth little stump pretty well on its own. Guess I’d better start learning how to type with one hand. Dammit! Why didn’t I think to dunk my left arm in the water?

Holiday Translator

What time is it? = When can we open the wine?
When is company coming over? = When is the absolute last minute before I have to change out of these pajamas?
What a unique gift, Jenny! Where did you get it? = I wonder if they accept returns without receipts?
So boys, was Santa good to you this year? = Please give me affirmation that I’m a good aunt and that your affection can be bought.
I can taste the cod, but is there also a little cinnamon in this? = I must determine this unholy combination of flavors so that it never crosses my tongue again.
Well, I’m wiped out. I’m going to bed. = I’m going to flip through 160 channels of digital cable for the next three hours or until my eyes bleed, whichever comes first.

Come Fly With Me

Happily, the flight to Seattle was only about two-thirds full, so I was able to sit in a row with an empty seat between my neighbor and me. Not that he wasn’t nice – he seemed perfectly lovely – but I gots to have my elbow room.
About 45 minutes into the flight, I noticed a very unfamiliar smell. This caused me great concern – I’d prefer to not smell anything at all when I’m locked and loaded inside a 737, but an unfamiliar smell is even more disturbing. Luckily, having previously worked in the travel industry, I knew exactly how to handle the situation: I discreetly tugged at the flight attendant’s skirt as she walked by and said, “I don’t want to alarm you or any of the other passengers, but I detect a very strange odor coming from the back of the cabin. Having previously worked in the travel industry, I feel certain it smells like bioterrorism. Are you familiar with the scent of anthrax?”
“Smell? Oh, you mean the food? We’re just about to serve dinner.”
Food? With smell? On a plane? Last I checked, pretzels and windmill cookies were pretty much odorless, so what the heck could be wafting from the back cabin? As it turned out, we got a meal on this flight. A hot meal. I truly cannot recall the last time I was on a flight that served a hot meal, but maybe that’s because I truly cannot recall the last time I was on a flight that took this farging long. Over four hours in the air? Are you kidding me? Isn’t there some jet stream we can hop onto to save us half an hour or so? Don’t we have turbo on this hunk of junk? Press that red button. Who’s the customer here? I said press it!
But getting back to the food, I got pretty excited at the prospect of a hot meal since I was feeling a little peckish from my long wait in the airport. I was waiting for what seemed like forever to get my meal, so when the flight attendant came to my row and asked if I wanted dinner, I flashed her a big smile and nodded eagerly.
“Would you like beef Stroganoff or chicken with rice?”
Oh god.

Please tell me that she didn’t just say Stroganoff. She couldn’t have. Maybe I’m a little delirious due to the thin air. Maybe she said something that sounded like Stroganoff.
I ran through all possible variations of that dreaded phrase, desperately hoping to find one that seemed more feasible than beef Stroganoff:
Would you like meat dough and cough?
Would you like teeth showing off?

Would you like cheap blow? F off!

I had to face the fact that while all of these alternatives were vastly more appealing than what I thought I heard, this woman was, in fact, offering me creamed meat on top of fat wet noodles.
“Chicken with rice, please.”
The flight attendant dug around in her cart for a minute before she turned back to me and, with one simple sentence, became my mortal enemy.
“I’m sorry, it looks like we’re out of the chicken. Can I get you the beef Stroganoff?”
Not many people know this about me, but there are few things in life I hate more than beef and noodles. Add a cream sauce to that and I’m moments away from ripping out my own tongue with a spork. I don’t know what it is – maybe I had some sort of repressed traumatic childhood experience involving chipped beef – but the sight of beef Stroganoff alone makes my throat snap shut. And don’t get me started on the smell.
Apparently this trauma showed on my face, because the flight attendant told me to hold on, and said that she’d check up front to see if they had any chicken left. I sat patiently and silently, praying that the front of the cabin was stocked with beef eaters.
During my eternal wait, I did what anyone would do in similar circumstance – I made my neighbor extraordinarily uncomfortable by staring at his chicken and rice dinner. I followed his fork from plate to mouth with each bite. Just as I was about to ask him if he was going to eat all that zucchini, I was spared the indignity by the arrival of my very own lukewarm plate of chicken and rice.
As I devoured my chicken and tried to avert my eyes from the woman in the aisle next to me eating the beef Stroganoff, I noticed a little slip of paper on my tray. I picked it up to investigate, and found that it was a prayer card, of sorts.
It featured a mountainscape in varying shades of calming blue, and said:
I will be glad and rejoice in you;
I will sing praise to your name
O most high.
Psalm 9:2
I thought perhaps some renegade nun was on board, slipping little messages into random dinners, until I noticed the Alaska Airlines logo on the bottom of the paper.
So… what’s that all about? I distinctly recall requesting an aisle seat, bulkhead section, and no proselytizing on this flight. I began to get truly suspicious when I reached into the seatback and found a copy of The Watchtower.
Maybe it’s because I’m not a churchgoer, but whenever I see little cards with religious sayings on them, I think of funerals. When I think of funerals, I think of dead people. When I think of dead people, I now think of Alaska Airlines. Is that really the marketing message they were hoping I would take home with me?


My brother, upon finding me, his wife, and our mother in the kitchen drinking wine at 11:30 this morning:

Brother: “Jeez – what a bunch of lushes. It’s not even noon yet!”

Mom: “Yeah, I guess this doesn’t look good, does it?

Me: “I’m not worried. I know I don’t have a drinking problem because I’m very controlled about it. Aside from the holidays, the only time I drink is when I’m alone or sad.”

Overheard in the Elevator: Christmas Wish

Woman 1: “We took Jessica to see Santa last weekend at the mall – my god what a madhouse!”

Woman 2: “Oh, I can imagine. How old is she now?”

Woman 1: “Six.”

Woman 2: “So what did she ask Santa for?”

Woman 1: “She told him she wanted to be funny.”

I’m not sure why, but this conversation both warmed my heart, and broke it simultaneously. I hope Jessica gets her wish.

Anticipation Is Making Me Wait

Ahhh, Seattle. Where to begin? I missed you all so much, that I’d like to relive my whirlwind tour of the Pacific Northwest by taking you along with me, step by step. From airport to hotel, hotel to client, client to hotel, hotel to airport, airport to airport, and airport to home. I just wish you hadn’t packed so much luggage. What, were you planning on moving to Washington?
So let’s begin: okay, so I’m not really in Seattle yet. In fact, I’m nowhere near Seattle. I’m sitting at Gate L4 in O’Hare, killing time now that I’ve arrived two hours prior to departure, and exposing my nether regions to untold volumes of radiation seeping out of my laptop. That’s okay, odds are, I’m probably not going to be using these eggs anytime soon.
I know I’m here really early. I can’t help it. There’s nothing I hate more than rushing to the airport, stressing out about possibly missing my flight. Well, I suppose there are a few things I hate more than that, like maybe irradiating my ovaries, or eating beef with noodles, but right now, my priorities are a bit skewed.
In preparation for my trip to Mecca, I decide to test out an O’Hare Starbucks latté so I can compare it to a Seattle Starbucks latté once I arrive. I am expecting to have my mind thoroughly blown once I step off the plane in Seattle. Do they have Starbucks vending machines? That would really be something. I don’t think it will be too hard to top this one, since the barista-in-training first made my latté with caffeine instead of without, and then on his second attempt, he gave me whole milk instead of skim. I don’t really object to the whole milk, since I’m from Wisconsin, and therefore have the ability to drink milk straight out of a cow’s udder if I’m thirsty enough.
Okay, I’ve never really seen a cow’s udder, but if someone dared me, I might drink some milk out of one. If it was squirted into a Black Russian. Come to think of it, isn’t there an actual drink that’s made with scotch and milk, or did I just make that up? I should know since Natasha and I took bartending classes together. But I’m getting a little off topic here. The point I’m trying to make is that all my research indicates that a latté should be 25-47% better in Seattle than in Chicago. And if it isn’t, you can believe I’ll be writing a letter to a certain CEO of a certain coffee company.
While waiting at the gate, I witness a reunion of sorts, as a giggly young woman, about nineteen years old, recognizes the woman standing by the gate as a former classmate of her older sister.
“Oh my god! Didn’t you go to school with my sister Rhonda? Ha ha ha! What are you doing here? Ha ha ha!”
The woman looked a little uncomfortable with this display of unbridled giggling, wiped the corners of her mouth with her hand, and said, “Yes, I remember Rhonda.”
And, although she was dressed in an Alaska Airlines uniform, the woman felt compelled to answer the giggly girl’s question, so she gestured to her outfit, raised her eyebrows, and said, “I work here.”
“Oh – so are you a stewardess? Ha ha ha.”
The woman adjusted the strap on her briefcase, smiled and said, “They don’t call us ‘stewardesses’ anymore.”
“Ha ha ha! What do they call you?”

“Flight attendants.”
“Oh. Ha ha ha!”
Later I glanced over and saw the young girl enthusiastically teaching the flight attendant how to crochet. The giggly girl is actually quite sweet.
A dapper man in a grey fedora was standing near the garbage can, looking around suspiciously. He pulled something out of his bag, looked around again, and kneeled down by the garbage can. As I looked up, I noticed that he had slapped a giant sticker advertising some website onto the garbage can. I took note of the URL and will look it up later.
In preparation for my long trip, I walk over by the bathrooms and plug my laptop into the only available outlet in all of O’Hare. A woman with short black hair and an iPod starts pacing in front me, looks nervously at her watch, and asks me if I’m going to be using the outlet for very long.
I told her that my laptop battery was down to 18%, and I was about to go on a four-hour flight, so I kind of needed to charge up. I felt slightly guilty about my non-charitable response, particularly since my laptop was actually at 32%, but what’s more important – writing blogs, or listening to U2? I don’t think there’s much debate there.
The man standing behind the counter at the gate grabs the microphone and announces that our flight will be delayed approximately one hour, due to weather problems. His eyes glance to the left as he says this, so I am certain that this is a lie, but have no choice but to begrudgingly accept his deception.
Once my laptop is charged up, I wonder if the giggly girl would teach me how to crochet?

Shop Til You Drop

I have never really considered myself much of a risk-taker. Sure, I’ll abandon the occasional job without another one lined up during the worst recession my generation has ever seen, and once I bought and ate a cheesesteak from a guy standing on the side of the road, but for the most part, I like to play it safe. I always wear my seatbelt, avoid standing near trees during a thunderstorm, and never mix ammonia with bleach. So that’s why I still can’t figure out what daredevil spirit possessed me this weekend when I decided to do something that nearly cost me my life:
I went to a Toys ‘R Us at 11:00am on the last shopping weekend before Christmas. By myself.
I am a horrible procrastinator when it comes to holiday shopping, so I pretty much had to complete 90% of my shopping this weekend.
Since the list of presents for my nephews didn’t seem too intimidating, I wasn’t overly concerned:

1. Adam – Army guys and Lego’s
2. Elliott – Yu Gi Oh! and science stuff
I’m going to a Toys ‘R Us, for crying out loud – how hard can it be to find these items? Oh, silly little Jenny. Was I ever really that naïve?
First stop, army stuff. Adam likes battleships and army guys, so I headed straight for the G.I. Joe section. To my right were the little G.I. Joe action figures – they were all displayed in nicely sealed two-packs: one good guy and one bad guy in each. I grabbed the first one I saw – G.I. Joe vs. Venom – and although it looked pretty cool, I suddenly noticed the pack that was hiding behind the first one I grabbed. Wait! That one seemed even cooler because the one guy had a mask, and the other guy had a saber. Stop the press! The one underneath that one was better yet because the one guy had a grenade launcher and the other guy had antennas. Hold the phone…
Overwhelmed by the options, I threw all of the little G.I. Joe’s to the side and looked to my left, where all the big G.I. Joe’s resided. The first one I grabbed was the talking G.I. Joe. Let me tell you – the times, they are a changing. When I was a kid, talking dolls had a string in their back that you pulled, and a few different mechanical phrases came oozing out of some holes in their stomach. Eventually, the string snapped and you were left with a mute doll that looked like it had been blasted in the belly with a sawed off shotgun.
Now, the latest Talking G.I. Joe actually has a mouth that moves when you press his chest. I know what you’re all saying – “That sounds so cool!” Hold on to that thought for a minute, because you may reconsider. Here’s the thing – when you press Joe’s chest, his mouth actually opens, and he utters one word. Then you press his chest again and his mouth opens, and he utters one more word. Repeat this process three more times and you have just heard the creepiest sentence ever spoken.
Joe’s dead blue eyes stare through you as his cavernous mouth gapes open, and he says:
[press again – demon mouth opens]
[press again – demon mouth opens]

[press again – demon mouth opens]


[press again – demon mouth opens]


I was thoroughly traumatized by this evil G.I. Joe, and vowed never to inflict his terror upon my nephews. I let my mom buy it for them instead.
I decided to hold off on the army guys, and look for some of the educational toys that Elliott had requested. He’s a boy genius, so he asked for some LeapPad Magic School Bus Does Trigonometry thing. When I asked for some assistance, a poorly paid and under-enthused stock boy grunted in the general direction of the Imaginarium Station, which is where all the smart toys are located.
I’m not sure if it’s intentionally designed this way, perhaps so that you can never escape, but the Imaginarium Station is laid out much like the hedge maze in The Shining. I walked down one corridor and found all the overpriced LeadPad books. Then a left turn took me to the science section, littered with telescopes and Sea Monkeys. Another left turn and I wound up near the Dora the Explorer Vocabulary Builder section. A quick right led me straight into LegoLand, which is directly in front of Cheap Lego Knock-Off Land.
Wait – did my brother say Elliott likes astronomy or geology? Does he like bugs, or was that last year? Are Pokémon and Hi Hi Puffy Amiyumi the same thing?
With each wrong turn, I started to feel my body temperature rise, partly because I still had on my huge winter coat and a turtleneck sweater. A steady trickle of sweat began to drip down my back, as my breathing became more and more shallow.
Over the loudspeakers blared the shrill voices of children singing on the Nickelodeon Christmas Album, interrupted only by the squawking commands of Toys ‘R Us cashiers looking for price checks and stockboys.
“Christmas, Christmas time is here. Time for joy and time for chee- ANGELA PLEASE REPORT TO THE CUSTOMER SERVICE DESK IMMEDIATELY. ANGELA TO THE CUSTOMER SERVICE DESK -I still want a hula hoop!”

My vision started to dim, and my mouth got very dry, so I knew I needed to get some fresh air quickly. I turned left to exit the Imaginarium Labyrinth and ran head on into a woman and her four children arguing over which Lego set to buy. When I spun around to avoid them, I was trapped by three people waiting in line to do price checks at the self scanner.
As I struggled to squeeze my body between an overloaded shopping cart and a Lincoln Log display, I felt my arms go limp and my knees start to buckle. My last words before hitting the ground were, “Yu Gi Ohhhhhh…”
I’m not sure how long I was out, but when I woke up, all I could make out was something red and furry chuckling and moving toward me. I rubbed my eyes and said, “Santa? Is that you? I… I’ve been good this year. Did you get my letter?”
When I wiped the drool off my cheek and put my glasses back on, I saw that it wasn’t Santa moving toward me, but a sale bin of Hokey Pokey Elmos that I must have set off on my way down.
I brushed myself off and stumbled toward the nearest exit, revived by the blast of wintry air that met me. Once I made it back home, I did what I should’ve done all along – stayed inside the confines of my home and purchased all my gifts online. Clearly, if the good lord had intended me to interact with live human beings, he wouldn’t have given me DSL and a secure Visa card.

My That Was Bigamy

I’m not proud of what I’m about to tell you, but I feel like I need to bring you up to speed on some recent changes in my life. During my business trip, I cheated on my husband. I never thought I would meet someone who excited me as much as Orangehat does, but sometimes life throws you a curveball and you just have to make lemonade.
His name is Seattle, and I love him more than I’ve ever loved anyone in my life.
I just never thought my life would end up this way. I take marriage very seriously, and once I commit, I commit wholeheartedly. But things have been a little rocky between Orangehat and me lately – he seems distant, silent, absent. Sometimes I look at him on the train and wonder who he is. It’s almost like looking into the eyes of a stranger.
Next week will reveal all the intimate details of my love affair, but I just wanted to make sure that you heard this first from me, and not through the tabloids. This isn’t just a casual fling – it was truly love at first sight – I fell head over heels for Sea (that’s my nickname for him). I can’t say that I feel good about the fact that I’m throwing away everything Orangehat and I have built together this year, but I just wasn’t feeling fulfilled in that relationship. Sometimes you have to take risks in life and follow your heart.
In fact, I really have my co-worker Tiffany to thank for my newfound bliss. Throughout the whole trip, I kept telling her how much I loved the city. So at one point, out of sheer frustration, she turned to me and said, “Well if you love Seattle so much, why don’t you just marry it?”
Marry it? Me and Seattle? Hitched?
A few scotches and a blood test later, I found myself at the Seattle Courthouse, waiting behind two fuchsia haired teens, one of whom looked to be pregnant. Before I signed the papers, I grabbed Seattle’s hand, turned to him, and said, “Babe, are you sure about this? I’ve got baggage, you know. I’ve got flaws. I’ve got a husband back home. I mean, are we really ready for this kind of commitment? I just don’t want you to ever regret…”
Seattle held my face in his gentle hands, put his finger to my lips, and said, “Shhh. Jenny, look at me. Look at me – I’ve never been more ready in my life. If I can wake up next to you every day for the rest of my life, I’ll be the happiest city in the world.”
My mind is swirling right now, so I can’t write much more. I’ll fill you all in next week, but right now, I’ve got to start planning our honeymoon – we’re going to Portland!