3… 2… 1… LAUNCH!!

If you are reading this, it means you have successfully followed the intricate trail of clues I have left for you. You have traversed the labyrinth, stolen the golden chalice, and released the blind falcon. Or perhaps you clicked on that link back on Blogger. Either way, I say good show, old chap.
So… welcome to my new home! In keeping with this weekend’s Oscar theme, I need to rattle off a list of important people who came together to make this happen:
Where do I begin? Well, first of all, enormous thanks go to Kris Dresen for coming up with an amazing design concept, and making my dream of being a comic super hero finally come true. The girl has mad skillz, y’all, and she’s not afraid to use them, particularly when bribed with single malt scotch. And another big thanks to Haemi over at Web Divas for taking that design and giving it life. She’s like the Dr. Frankenstein of the blogosphere. It’s alive! Plus, neither rain, nor sleet, nor California mudslides could stop her from coding. Word.
Next, I’d like to thank my parents for giving birth to me, although if they had held off for a few years, I’d be younger now. But they were selfish, selfish people.
Uhh… who else? Who else? Oh – my agent for believing in me when no one else did. My trainer for helping me pack on 20 pounds of muscle for the role, which will soon turn to 30 pounds of fat. Howard Hughes, for being crazy. My friends, for letting me write down every conversation we have and change all the parts that make me look bad.
Wait! Don’t start the music yet! I’m not done!
And finally, I want to thank the folks who so kindly stop here for a visit every now and then, leave funny and interesting comments, and make this crazy blog worth blogging. Thanks for dropping by – I hope you come back soon! Artichoke dip is in the dining room!

On Aging: I Loves Me Mammy

The last time I went to my gynecologist, she told me that I should start getting annual mammograms in the next year or so. At first, I kind of laughed, thinking she was joking, but as she wheeled her stool back and snapped off her latex gloves, there was not even the slightest glimmer of a smile in her face.

“A mammogram? Me? Uh, I’m sorry, maybe you read my age wrong on that chart – that’s a three, not a four.”

“Early detection is the key,” she chided, as she handed me a brochure entitled, Ten Myths About Mammograms. I don’t know about you, but when I curl up in bed to read some myths, I like them to include sons falling in love with their mothers, women with snakes for hair, and people having their livers eaten out each evening by vultures. But tales of breasts being flattened in vices really just don’t spin my wheels. I don’t know, maybe it’s the whole Greek vs. Latin thing.

I guess on some level, I am relieved to know that my breast health will finally be in the hands of a professional, because up until this point, detecting breast cancer was apparently entirely my job. I always dread that question during my annual checkups:

“Now, are you doing your monthly breast exams?”

“Well, I suppose that all depends on how loosely you define the word, ‘exam.’ Maybe a pop quiz, or an open book test every now and then…”

As she sat there stone-faced, I made a mental note to deduct some points from her score due to poor stirrup-side manner. I just feel so darn guilty when she asks me that question. It’s kind of the same feeling I get when the dentist asks me if I floss. My answer is always the same: “Well, I don’t floss as much as I should… three or four times a week, maybe.”

And what I mean by that is, “I flossed three or four times a week for the two weeks prior to this appointment, and now I will drop back down to flossing only after eating corn on the cob or spinach quiche.”

[On a side note, is it just a strange coincidence that all my gynecologists avert their eyes while doing my breast exam, or is that the industry standard to make women feel more comfortable? I mean, I guess it might be a bit disconcerting if they gazed intently into my eyes during the whole procedure, unless dinner and a movie were involved, of course. But I am paying them good money to make sure I get the full works – oil change, fluid checks, fill the tires, and change the air filter – so a glance down every now and then to make sure things are where they’re supposed to be might not be a bad idea. I’m just saying.]

So I guess when all’s said and done, I should probably be looking forward to my first mammogram, when I can finally relinquish this burdensome responsibility to someone with some medical knowledge that didn’t come from WebMD. Well, in the meantime, I’d better start brushing up on my mythology:

Myth #1: Mammograms are painful.
Fact: Although the procedure may cause slight discomfort, it is very brief and the benefits are great!

Hoo boy, I can see this is going to be a real page-turner…

The Gods Must Be Crazy

I’m a glass half full kind of gal, I really am. Not in an insipid Pollyanna “Grey skies are gonna clear up” type way, but I just find that I enjoy life more when I’m not playing the victim.
But c’mon, people. I’ve now been unce, tice, fee times a victim. I was taking out some mad cash this weekend, planning on blowing it at the Super Duper 40-Lane Mega Bowling Alley, because as Natasha said, “Bowling is the new karaoke.” When I saw my checking balance, it seemed off, but I’ll readily admit that I’m not the best about balancing my checkbook. So I told myself to make a mental note and check it again on Monday.
So Monday rolls around and I’m out celebrating President’s Day by working, which is obviously NOT what our forefathers had intended. Clearly Abe Lincoln wanted me to be getting 50% off all previously reduced items at Nordstrom’s, but instead, I was one of the working stiffs keeping this country running on Monday. In any case, after enjoying a nice slice of cheese and mushroom pizza at the food court, I moseyed on over to the ATM to check my balance. Now this time I was certain – it was even lower than it was on Friday, so something was up.
Of course, my initial thought was: those sunamabeetch robbers stole some of my checks, and are writing bad checks all over town! So I quickly transferred all my remaining funds over to my savings account, which even at the time I knew would do me no good since I have overdraft protection. But it somehow made me feel less helpless. I probably should’ve just pulled out the maximum amount in cash just to have it on hand, but I wasn’t thinking clearly.
As soon as I got home Monday, I called my bank (and happily, they have a 24/7 customer service desk – even on silly bank holidays!) to get a list of my recent transactions. As I was running through the list, one item in particular jumped out – a $450 check to a certain storage company in Milwaukee that is housing all the stuff I couldn’t fit in my little Chicago apartment. I thought, “Hmm. That’s odd. My monthly bill is only $45. I wonder if the bank made a data entry error.”
Oh, Jenny. Sometimes your naïveté is charming. But not right now. Now it’s just plain tiresome. The customer service rep pulled up the digital check image (I heart digital imaging. So much.), and quickly realized that someone had added a zero to the end of my $45. They didn’t bother to try to change the written part, I guess because it’s a little bit harder to turn “Forty five and 00/100 ——-“ into “Four hundred fifty and 00/100——-.”
Now, I don’t have to worry about my $405 that this certain storage company, which I should mention is a Public storage company, ripped off. Because even if they won’t pay me back, my bank will, and then sue their asses to get it back. But I just had a good laugh with that bank customer service rep. We laughed and laughed as we said to each other, “Exactly how stupid are these people? This is a nationwide chain! And they took $405 more of my money than was owed them. It was deposited into their corporate account – did they think I wouldn’t figure it out? Ha ha ha ha!”
Since I like to watch a lot of crime TV, I got all Law & Order and tried to figure out all the different scenarios: was it a dirty bookkeeper? A disgruntled employee who stole $405 in petty cash and wanted to cover it up? A really, really stupid franchise owner? Will we ever know? I can’t be sure, but I am sure that I’ll get my $405 back. And I’m also certain that, if my belongings are actually still there and I haven’t been paying for an empty storage garage for the past two years, I am most certainly not keeping them there any longer than I have to.
But what I am not certain of is this: what cosmic forces did I really piss off to have warranted a robbery, permanent deletion of half of my hard drive at work (long story, but the wounds are still too fresh to discuss), and now check forgery, all in a one month span? And more importantly, do I need to sacrifice a virgin to appease them? Because I’ll start combing the local chess clubs, I swear to you. Just say the word and point me in the direction of the Kraken.
If it weren’t for the fact that these annoying events keep giving me something to write about, I might be a little more upset about them. But let me tell you, if that certain public Storage company doesn’t give me my GD $405, I’ll release a firestorm of my own. I now have several web domains at the ready, in the event that they want to do this the hard way: www.[storage company]sucks.com, www.[storage company]stolemy$405.edu, www.dontdobusinesswith[storage company].net, and of course, www.ihate[storage company].org.
Hell hath no fury like a Sicilian scammed!

On Aging: A Wrinkle in Time

As children, I’m sure we all remember defiantly laughing and rolling our eyes when our parents would warn us about making funny faces, threatening that they “would stay that way” if we didn’t stop. In my eight-year old naïveté, little did I know that decades later I actually would be paying the price for all my playground-renowned grumpy old man grimaces and tongue-wagging wide grins.

Now, my face – no longer plumped by the elastic collagen of innocence – acts as a form of silly-putty each morning. But instead of replicating brightly colored characters from the funny papers, my face bears the mirror image of my wristwatch, or the seams of my pillow, or my cat’s tail, or whatever unfortunate surface I happened to be laying on overnight. Sometimes I am forced to catch the late train in order to give my skin enough time to finally bounce back to its former shape, lest the local townsfolk think me a deformed freak and revoke my street parking privileges.

Over the past several months, I’ve had three dreams that involved me getting Botox injections. Only one ended badly, with the Botox forming gigantic lumps in my forehead that floated freely beneath the surface of my skin. But still, my wrinkles were gone, so even that dream didn’t turn out all that bad.

This past Christmas, my brother and I were watching TV at our parents’ house and some E! Entertainment special came on about celebrity plastic surgery. I half-jokingly made a comment to my brother like, “Huh. Maybe I should get me some of that Botox,” at which point he looked at me quite seriously and replied, “Yeah, you could probably use a little right there.”

Now, in case this isn’t already clear, let me outline some important points for any of the gentlemen who might be reading this right now. There are a few questions that women ask that should never, under any circumstance, be answered in the affirmative, including, but not limited to:

  • Does this make me look fat?

  • Was she prettier than me?
  • Do you think I should get Botox?

Look, I know this makes me look fat, I’m aware that she’s prettier than me, and yes, I know I should get Botox, but really, how did it benefit you to confirm that for me? Was that a good idea, or a bad idea? It is not a new phenomenon for women to ask questions that can only end in a fight, so you’d think by now people would have learned their lines.

The correct answer to my question is, “What? Don’t be ridiculous! Why on earth would you get Botox? You’re way hotter than any of those plastic-faced anorexic models!”

Okay, wait. The thought of my brother saying that to me just totally skeeved me out, big time. So perhaps the correct answer is to never ask stupid questions like that in the first place, particularly in the presence of the person who used to draw mustaches on your favorite doll (Oh, Red Baby, will you ever forgive me for leaving you in the toy room unattended? I’ll never abandon you again, my sweet transgendered daughter).

As much as I’d like to be able to look you all in the monitor and say that I am appalled at the very idea of injecting botulism bacteria into my face, simply to live up to the beauty standard that Hollywood has set, clearly the fact that I am having recurring pleasant dreams about Botox speaks otherwise. But there’s one thing more powerful than even my feminist ideals that will prevent me from going under the needle anytime soon, and that is the overwhelming fear of a horrific, disfiguring result.

While I don’t consider myself to be someone who constantly yearns for the approval of others in life, for some reason, I have discovered that I strongly seek their approval in death. This is the reason I won’t skydive – truly, it’s not out of any fear of heights, or because I just don’t want to. I think it would be an amazing experience, but not amazing enough to counter my fear of this conversation:

“Oh god. When did it happen? Jenny was so young. Was it a car accident?”

“No, she went skydiving and her parachute got caught up in some electrical wires. It was over quickly.”

“Wait, she was skydiving? Are you kidding me? Why the hell did she go skydiving – she works in marketing!? She’s not even athletic!”

“I… I have no idea. She thought it would be cool, I guess.”

“Cool. Yeah, that’s real cool, all right. I’m sure she looked real cool all tangled up and electrocuted. What an idiot.”

”No kidding. Total moron.”

“You going to the wake?”

“Nah, not for that bonehead.”

“Me neither. Let’s go get a smoothie.”


When I think about the idea of getting Botox, a similar scenario plays through my head, except this time, instead of dying in some power lines, I imagine my face horrifically scarred beyond recognition. I’m not proud to admit it, but it isn’t some moral, Gloria Steinem-esque outrage against agism that prevents me from juicing up – it’s really the fear of having to explain that my deformity was caused by pure unadulterated vanity.

So for now, I’ll continue to take my Vitamin E tablets, drink eight glasses of water a day, and get plenty of rest each night. Oh, and I’m going to see if I can start sleeping on my back from now on, too. Those wristwatch lines are murder on the complexion.

On Aging: Seeing Spots

As another birthday looms near, I find myself approaching my mid-thirties, which, according to my friends, is the time when we finally stop focusing so much on the things we want out of life, and begin convincing ourselves that we never really wanted them in the first place. But for me, each new birthday signals a changing of the guard, of sorts. A time for me to try to pass on something I have learned to a younger generation, so that they might benefit from my squandered youth.

With that in mind, I launch my new feature, On Aging – a series of brief observations on what it means to watch your body fall apart before your very eyes. Enjoy.

Along with an uncontrollable urge to cry at any sports-related movie – even though I hate sports-related movies – my thirtieth year also gave me the gift of vision. Before I turned thirty, I never looked for physical signs of aging, which I suppose is partly because there weren’t all that many to be concerned with.

But magically, as though given the sight of the Oracles, the day after my thirtieth birthday, I looked into the mirror and saw through the mist of youth, revealing colors and lines in my face I had never before witnessed. Recently, I was discussing this phenomenon of self-observation with my friend, Vivian:

“So, this is weird – I thought I found liver spots on the back of my right hand yesterday.”


“Yeah. But then I licked them and realized it was just some melted chocolate.”

“Jenny, why in god’s name would you lick something you suspected to be a liver spot?”

“On the outside chance that it might be chocolate.”

Bad Influence

Last week Natasha and I were out at a karaoke bar, preparing our set list for the evening’s theme, which was “Fire.” Seamus takes his karaoke very seriously, so he likes to mandate themes, which must be strictly adhered to each week.
“How about We Didn’t Start the Fire?”
“Oooh – good one! I think I’m gonna do Hot Stuff and Ring of Fire.”
The bartender came over to get our drink order – I asked for my usual scotch and soda, and Natasha ordered… a ginger ale.
This was a bit out of character for Nat, since her tastes typically lean toward vodka tonics or Cosmopolitans. Concerned for her well-being, I chimed in: “Hey? What gives? We come to a bar and you order a ginger ale? You sick or something?”
Nat dug around in her purse looking for her wallet, and said, “I need to stop drinking for a while. I’m getting a little out of control.”
“What are you talking about? How are you out of control?”
“Jen – ever since you moved to Chicago, my health has been suffering. I used to cook at home more often, work out more, take vitamins…”
“Whoa, whoa, whoa! Surely you aren’t blaming me for your vitamin intake?! Nat – no one is more concerned with your iron levels than I am, and you know it!”
“No, no. You’re right. I’m just saying that lately when you and I hang out, things tend to get a little crazy.”
“Crazy? Look – who helped mend the fences between you and Seamus so we could all hang out together? Who started the Roll the Die Tuesday Night Supper Club and logged all our restaurant reviews into my Sony Clié PDA, which was subsequently stolen in the robbery? So we indulge in the fire water and take Lambada lessons every now and then. We’re all having fun, no one’s been thrown in jail, so what’s the big deal?”
“Jenny, need I remind you of the spectacle we made of ourselves last weekend?”
“I’m certain that I have no idea what you are talking about, Natasha.”
“The leather bar? Furry G-string? Any of this ringing a bell?”
Oddly, it did ring a bell. A soft and distant bell, that with each passing moment became louder and louder. And the longer I reminisced, the more that bell started to sound like the booming bass and pounding dance rhythms of DJ Warden spinning at The Penitentiary, one of Chicago’s oldest leather bars.
Here’s how it all started: Natasha’s boyfriend, Farnsworth, invited us to see his friend’s band play at a local bar. Nat told me it was some sort of benefit performance for the Tsunami victims – and if there’s anything I like more than live music, it’s live music with a cause.
As Nat told me about this philanthropic event, she smirked a bit and said, “But I just want to give you a heads-up. The band is playing at a leather bar.”
“Oh, okay. So, are we talking the biker kind of leather bar, or the gay kind of leather bar?”
“The gay kind. Or maybe gay bikers, I’m not exactly clear on the details.”
“That’s cool, but am I going to get thrown out if I wear my Gap jeans and a turtleneck?”
“No, it’ll be totally cool. Farnsworth says it’s a really inclusive type of a bar. I’m sure it will be a diverse crowd.”
“Will I see men in buttless chaps?”
“Are you sure?”
I have since learned not to trust Natasha’s judgment on such matters of fashion.
Nat and I pushed the doors open like a couple of gunslingers walking into a saloon, and were met with a veritable sea of black leather. The place smelled like a chummy mix of new car, cigarette smoke, and Red Bull. I hadn’t seen so many studded leather sailor hats since Seamus took 2nd Place in that Village People impersonator contest a few years ago.
As soon as the band stepped on stage, everyone went wild. The crowd sang along to the old classics: Everybody Loves a Muscle Boi and There’s a Porn Star Shining Down on Me. The bass was booming, people were jumping, the scotch was flowing freely, leather was crunching. And best of all, I knew I was helping make a difference to people halfway across the world.
Natasha had to shake my shoulder to snap me out of this smoky stroll down memory lane.
“I don’t know what the big deal is, Nat. We all had a good time. Everyone was dancing, and drinking, and laughing. What’s so bad about that?”
“Jenny, I realize you had a bit to drink that night, so this may be a little foggy in your memory, but perhaps you blocked out the part where you kept stuffing dollar bills into a man’s fur-covered G-string.”
“Don’t talk to me like I’m crazy. I know what I did – it was only two dollar bills, and it was for a good cause.”
“And what cause might that be?”
“Hello? The Tsunami victims?!”
“Uh, Jenny. The cover charge went to the charity. That man had nothing to do with the Tsunami victims. He came there in that fur G-string.”
[reflective pause]
“He did?”
“But… he was on stage. With the band…”
“Uh, yeah. That’s because he was a stripper, Jenny. And you stuffed dollar bills into his fur G-string.”
“Well… what do you know?”
[another reflective pause]
“Uh, bartender? Cancel that scotch – can you make mine a ginger ale, too?”

I Love VD

On this glorious holiday, when we celebrate all that we love, I want to bring the mood down a little and get serious for once. I may joke about the flowers and chocolates, but Valentine’s Day is a very important holiday that should be celebrated with all the honor and respect that Mr. Hallmark intended when he came up with it in his marketing boardroom. Oh wait, that was Sweetest Day – scratch that last part.
It’s funny, but Valentine’s Day always makes me think of my grandfather, because he had a charming way of speaking his mind and pointing out what was most important in life. Every Valentine’s Day, he would send me a little card with a hand-written note – just a sentence or two – that would bring a smile to my face and make me feel like the most special girl in the world. I kept them all in a little satin covered box that once contained an Easter bonnet he bought my grandmother when he was courting her.
All of the cards would begin with, “Dear Jenny, always remember this:” Some of the notes that stuck with me are:

  • Enjoy life’s sweet surprises.
  • Inspire the life of a child.
  • Sleep late, dream more.
  • If I could, I’d bathe in chocolate.
    Wait a minute – okay, so maybe my grandfather didn’t really write these. Maybe instead of hand-written notes, these might be the wrappers from the bag of dark chocolate Dove Promises I just ate. And maybe instead of a satin covered hat box, I just dug them out of the trash.
    But the sentiment is still the same.
    My point – if I must have one – is this: it is important to recognize and honor the ones we love, whether it is triggered by some greeting card holiday, or by the fabricated memory of a relative. Too often, we take our loved ones for granted, and forget to tell them how we feel. So with that in mind, I’m going to do us all an enormous favor by telling everyone we love that we love them, en masse, right here and right now:
    Husbands, wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, parents, brothers, sisters, children, second cousins, friends, co-workers, mail carriers, teachers, bus drivers – we all love you. We just wanted you to know that we love you a lot, even though sometimes we don’t say it enough. I mean, we love you so deeply that sometimes we just get a little crazy, you know? It’s like, we love you so much that we don’t want anyone else to love you. Not the way that we love you.
    So I guess what we’re trying to say is… please come back to us. Please? We promise we won’t do those things that drove you away in the first place. We told you that we’re getting help for that, so why won’t you believe us? You know, we would love you a lot more if you weren’t such a frickin’ nag. No wait, we didn’t mean that. Just please say you’ll take us back. We know you love us, too. Oh god, we love you so much.
    Happy Valentine’s Day!
  • The Way We Were

    Don’t be that way.
    We knew it couldn’t last.
    I mean, it was bound to happen.
    All good things must come to an end.
    So dawn goes down to day, nothing gold can stay.
    I’ve been thinking about it for some time now. I like it here, but I just need a change of scenery. Staring at the same thing day after day after day starts to bring you down, you know?
    So I’m doing it – I’m moving away.
    No, not from Chicago, sillies! From this little blue and green and tan home at Blogger that has served me so well over these many months.
    I just feel like we need a bigger place now. You deserve something pretty. So with that in mind, in the next week or so, I will be relocating to a new home at a new address.
    Now, based on personal experience, I know that accepting change takes time, which is why I wanted to give you some advance notice of my move. I want to give you time to let it sink in so you can consider how this change will affect you, and how we can work together to make it a successful transition.
    But, trust me on this one – you’re going to love our new place! It has a better school system, it’s way bigger than this place, and has a much better view. My new home is gonna be so cool – it will have stock tips, a recipe board, a word jumble, Classic Asteroids®, free virus patches, and a live feed into the Big Brother house!
    Then, in Version 2.0 (to be released in late July), I’m going to develop an online dating service strictly for bloggers called blotch.com. You don’t get to pick who you date – I just randomly pair up two people in my blogroll. So maybe you’re already married, or maybe you live in New York and she lives in Dallas – I need you to just trust me on this one. Bubbe knows best.
    Oh, shoot – can you hang on a sec? My cell phone’s ringing.
    Talk to me. What? But I thought you said… Yeah, but when I signed the contract we… No, I know we talked about the recipe board… How much? Uh, no, just try it again – I’m sure it will clear this time. No, it must be some mix up at the bank. Let me make a few calls. Yeah, okay. Later.

    Okay, due to an apparent miscommunication, my design team has just informed me that actually none of those things will be on my new site. But wouldn’t that be awesome?!
    So that’s the good news, but here’s what breaks my tender heart – with this new change of address, all your old comments will be wiped out, blown away into the infinite blogoverse. This pains me to no end because I’ve so enjoyed reading all the funny, intelligent, and downright bizarre comments you have kindly left over the past several months.
    I contemplated asking you to all remember precisely what you said each week, and in which order, and then recreate those comments exactly on the new site, but then I thought that might be a little too time consuming to orchestrate.
    So instead, I’m just going to encourage you to do what I’m doing: take a walk down memory lane. Thanks so much for hanging out with me here, and I do hope to see you at my housewarming party. Please bring a dish to pass and RSVP, regrets only.

    Cupid Is As Cupid Does

    When I walked into my office building yesterday, my path to the elevators was blocked by an enormous red and white sign near the security desk that said:
    “Win a free dozen roses and a box of chocolates from ExecuCorp Properties! Drop off your business card today at the security desk to be entered into the drawing! Flowers and chocolates will be delivered to your office on Valentine’s Day!”
    Now, I’ve done some lonely things in my day, like ordering a birthday cake with my name on it when it’s not really my birthday, or eating a pint of cookie dough ice cream while watching Love Story with my cats, but sending myself roses and chocolates on Valentine’s Day? That’s just plain sad.
    While I found this contest to be a bit bizarre, I’ve learned that sometimes my judgment is off, so I consulted the best resource I knew – my friend, Hap. Hap is an expert when it comes to all things Valentinian because he works for a singing telegram company. This is his busiest season of the year, as you might imagine.
    I called up Hap so he could weigh in on this great debate: registering for free roses – pathetic or not?
    “I would never use the term pathetic.”
    “Then what would you call it?”
    “Desperate and sad, maybe, but never pathetic.”
    “But how lame is that? I mean, that’s almost as bad as sending a singing telegram to myself.”
    Hap’s eyes lit up: “I could get you a discount if you don’t mind a Barbershop Trio. Our baritone has strep.”
    “Hap! You’re missing the point! Is it, or is it not, a sad state of affairs that my building is already anticipating that no one will send me a Valentine this year? I know this contest is about me – someone must have told them! I mean, can you just imagine the humiliation if I actually won?”
    [Cue dream sequence]
    Our main character, Jenny, is sitting at her desk, feverishly typing away on a marketing proposal that is due in two hours. In her trash can, we see a banana peel, a Cheetos wrapper, and an empty Starbucks cup. Suddenly, we hear a commotion coming from the front of the office – people chatting, desk drawers slamming shut, chairs swiveling, necks craning – a handsome delivery man enters the office carrying one dozen perfect red roses and an enormous heart-shaped box of chocolates wrapped in a delicate pink bow.
    “Delivery for Miss Jenny!” says the man in the brown suit, a smile stretched across his face.
    “For, m- me? But, I… oh my goodness!” squeals our blushing heroine.
    Her co-workers curiously gather around her desk, anxious to share in the excitement that unexpected gifts bring.
    “Who’s it from? Who’s it from, Jenny?” screams one woman.
    “I don’t remember you mentioning anyone special in your life! Oooh, you’re so secretive!” giggles another.
    “Oh, they’re just lovely! Someone must really love you!” titters a third.
    Exhilarated by all this sudden attention, Jenny coughs a bit, then sheepishly mumbles, “Well, I… we just started dating recently. This, this is really all so unexpected.”
    “Let us see the card! What does the card say?”
    “Um, it just says…”
    “Read it to us! What does it say?”
    Realizing she is now deep into the deception, Jenny wipes her brow, and then says, “It says, Dearest Jenny, I adore you…”
    Jenny nervously looks up at her colleagues, searching for reassurance, and feels a swell of pride as they all eagerly nod, hanging on her every word.
    She continues, “Dearest Jenny, I adore you. And think you’re beautiful. And very smart. And funny. And each moment I spend with you is like an eternity in Paradise.”
    At this last line, Jenny closes her eyes and presses the card to her chest. Just then, a male co-worker snatches the card out of Jenny’s hand and reads it aloud: “Happy Valentine’s Day from… ExecuCorp Properties! We value your business!”
    The card drops from his hand and flutters in slow motion to the ground.
    Jaws drop, and an initial hush passes over the crowd, followed by machine-gun bursts of hysterical laughter. Jenny’s co-workers all point at her as they double over, tears streaming down their faces.

    A blonde woman from sales pries the box of chocolates from Jenny’s hands, throws it to the ground, and starts stomping on it. A skewer of butter cremes collects on her stilettos. The new billing clerk grabs the flowers off Jenny’s desk and passes them around the crowd. Her co-workers rip the heads off the roses with their teeth, and spit them out at Jenny’s head. They are oblivious to the thorns, as thin streams of blood trickle down their chins.
    The ghoulish visages of her colleagues spin around her like blurry merry-go-round faces, their teeth stained crimson with blood and rose petals.
    She feels she is going mad.

    “Jenny loves the building! Jenny loves the building! Jenny and ExecuCorp, sitting in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G!”

    Hap yelled into the phone, “Jenny! Jenny! Hey – where’d you go there? Look, I gotta get going soon – telegrams to deliver, and all.”
    “Oh, yeah. Well, I just wanted the opinion of an expert. I mean, sending yourself candy and roses. Isn’t that the stupidest thing you’ve ever heard?”
    “Yeah, totally stupid.”
    “See, that’s what I thought.”
    “So… how many cards did you drop in?”
    “Good girl.”

    Jenny Eats Crow. On a Stick.

    I found this in my inbox when I got home today. Note to self: Do not play literary chicken with talented poets.

    Dear Jenny,

    I usually unkindly judge poets who, after a few pints, jot poems on bar napkins and rush to make them public. Alas, I felt a certain challenge by your entry this morning to dash off an ode to a stick. So, without ado and with the rush of irish ale, here it tis.





    wild wind breaks branch
    carries all weak things
    to new rest against fences
    plastic bags paper wrappers stick
    this stick finger thick
    memory of a hand
    a wave in all that’s left
    no stones.