Tuesday, July 26, 2011

TOOLBAG TUESDAY

My favorite comfort food is Kraft Mac and Cheese.

If I’m sick or hungover, or having a bad day, or it’s a day of the week that ends in a y, I’ll happily powder cheese it up in a bowl as big as my face.

And nobody better say anything about that shit.

But Danny had a problem with the blue box. Specifically, he a problem with his wife, my friend Jessica, eating what he thought was too much in one sitting.

Danny and Jessica had been together for two years and were married for just six months when Danny’s true colors came out. (Date for at least a decade people!!!)
Danny was a control freak.

Now, there are some good things about control freaks, like they always have clean clothes on and show up places on time.

But when the freak comes out in regards to someone’s KRAFT MAC AND CHEESE INTAKE???

OH HELL NAW.

Jessica didn’t even see it coming. Like most 20-somethings, she made an ooey, gooey delicious pot and ate it until she was full, and put the leftovers in a Tupperware container in the fridge.

Danny came home, surveyed the amount of leftovers, and popped a blood vessel.

He actually took the plastic container and marched into the living room where Jessica was watching TV, and waved it in her face.

“THIS? …IS ALL YOU HAVE LEFT?!!!?” Danny asked, angrily, shaking the container. “THIS MUCH??? RIDICULOUS!!”

Jessica was taken aback.
“What are you talking about?” she said.

Danny was irate.

“YOU KNOW, MY FRIEND BEN CAME OVER THE OTHER DAY AND I MADE MAC AND CHEESE AND WE BOTH ATE IT AND HAD MORE LEFTOVERS THAN WHAT YOU HAVE BY YOURSELF!”

"So what?" Jessica asked.

“DO YOU KNOW HOW FAT YOU’LL BE IF YOU EAT LIKE THIS???” he asked, still waving the container like a fist.

(Jessica, for the record, weighs no more than 120 pounds.)

Danny decided the conversation was OVER and walked back to the kitchen as Jessica moved to their bedroom to watch TV away from the effing macaroni police.

(Blue box blues indeed!)

That particular confrontation ended up being instrumental in them splitting up (thank God), a clear sign that Danny was out of control with his need to be in control.

Because while some control freak behavior could maybe, sort of, kind of be twisted around to be justified…by a long shot…like demanding that you take down a Facebook album of you and your ex’s vacation (uh…whatever), blowing one's top over Kraft Mac and Cheese leftovers will never be OK.

If I were Jessica, I’d buy the FAMILY PACK, eat my fill and pour the rest into his (well-polished, lined up perfectly under the dresser) shoes.

Right near the toe, so he wouldn’t see it, he’d just feel the squish.

Omg he’d totally freak out.

-Jenny

Saturday, July 23, 2011

On death

I read somewhere that if it were possible, most people would NOT want to know the exact day they're going to die.

There are pros and cons for each position. (Uh…for those people neurotic enough...me...to actually think about it.)

Pros for knowing the exact day you’re going to die include being able to LIVE IT THE EFF UP every single day until that time.

Go ahead!!!! Get drunk every day!!! Go skydiving!!! Try crack!! (kidding mom.)

Of course, knowing how you’ll die is the clincher in this cryptic “pro” (Amy Winehouse)…so maybe you shouldn’t try crack.

But still. I imagine knowing the exact day you’ll die would make you feel invincible until that day.

Another pro for knowing the exact day you’ll die is being able to say goodbye to everyone you love.

Or finally making a move on the guy (or girl) you like.

BONUS: “Screw birth control!! I’m gonna die tomorrow!!!” (kidding again, mom.)

On a more moral note, you could also settle any arguments that you don’t want to bring with you to the afterlife.

But there are cons, too.

Because while everyone knows they’re going to die one day (panic attack! panic attack!) having an exact date could make you a crazy basket case, rocking back and forth until that day, scared to leave the house.

Or not wanting to make any new friends because, really, I’M GOING TO DIE TOMORROW WHAT’S THE POINT???

(That would be no way to live.)

As such, my preferred choice (and that of the majority of Americans surveyed in a 2008 study) is to choose NOT to know.

Pros include sheer ignorance; you’d wake up every day with a "business as usual" mindset.
You’d still do laundry, save money, eat at Subway, plan vacations.

Another pro to not knowing is that you wouldn’t have to tell everyone teary goodbyes, with suffocating tears and choking hugs.

Because in my last moments on Earth, I’d rather not see people crying, especially not my twin sister, Joy, because when I see her cry it physically affects me.

And then, if I was able to say everything I always wanted to say to everyone, maybe I’d forgot to tell Katie about how I’ll always remember the time that we did this or that and I’d have that annoying ARGH feeling and my last emotion on Earth would be that I was mad at myself.

(That’s no way to live either.)

Which is why people say never to hold grudges, and let people know how much you love them and appreciate them everyday, as if it were your last.

That is exactly how my friend Carly Donohue lived, right up until the day she died this week, at age 27, from a freak crash while riding as a passenger in a boat/plane thing.

It was unexpected, and she didn’t get to tell anyone goodbye. And she certainly had no idea that when she woke up Wednesday morning that she wouldn’t go back to sleep in her own bed ever again.

She didn’t have all her friends and family lining up to say their last goodbyes and tell her what a wonderful spirit she was.

How she always saw the bright side of things.
How she saw the best in everyone, and truly left everyone smiling.

Carly could very well be looking down at all of us shaking our fists asking why, why why such a good person was taken too early
(If so, I hope she’s flattered at how much she was loved).

But at least she let people she met know how much they meant to her, which I hope gives everyone a little bit of peace.

I still have a framed picture she gave me of us together on my dresser – a going away gift when I moved from South Carolina to New Orleans last year.

Of course, I wish I could have told her how much I appreciated her friendship. And how I wish she could have visited New Orleans one more time so we could dance in circles together. (things we did while drinking)

Above all, I will never forget how she made me feel better during a really bad time in my life (the first few months I moved to New Orleans) and she didn’t cut me off and tell me I’m a big, whiny baby.

(A friend in your darkest hour is a friend indeed).

And I’m glad she doesn’t have to see my (or anyone else’s) choking tears and heavy hearts, because she was never one to wallow or be sad about anything life threw at her during her time here.

I’m glad Carly’s last memories of her friends are of good times and laughter, and I will remember the good times and laughter I had with her until the day I die, too.

(Just don’t tell me when that day is.)

Rest in peace pretty girl.


Love you always.


-Jenny

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

TOOLBAG TUESDAY

I once seriously wished I could snap my fingers and the “breakup conversation” with my then-boyfriend would be over.

You know, "over" without actually having to start it.

Maybe I could skip town, I thought. Maybe I could find a job in Alaska and then say I don’t do long-distance.

(I may or may not have gotten this idea from an episode of Friends where Chandler tells Janice he’s moving to Yemen because he was too chicken to break up with her.)

I wished I could just disappear, too.

But, like going to the dentist, breaking up with someone is one of the necessary pains of being an adult.

Man, if only I had balls like Daniel.

He dated my friend’s friend, Jane, for three years and broke up with her without telling her to her face.

He wrote her a note instead.

A “Dear Jane” letter, if you will, on the kitchen table next to the Sears catalog.

There was no real example or any elaboration.

In it, Daniel gave one reason: “We want different things.”

Then: “I won’t be there for the next three days, so you can move out.”

THEN: “And take the dog.”

Jane read the note front and back – twice - and called Daniel but his phone was off.

She found out later that Daniel had GOTTEN A HOTEL ROOM FOR THE NEXT THREE DAYS, taking a “see no evil” approach.

I can just imagine him closing his eyes and sticking his fingers in his ears while humming “LA LA LA” for the whole three days as Jane moved all of her things (and their dog) out of his house.

FACE THE MUSIC, DANIEL!!!!
Geez

Like most toolbags, Daniel had blindsided her.

By all accounts, they were a happy couple and even planned their future together. He was 37 after all and seemingly ready to settle down.

He insisted she quit her job four months earlier so he could support her while she got her Pilates certification.

He insisted she decorate his whole house, top to bottom, making them a little love nest.
This was something Daniel also addressed in his breakup note:

“I will reimburse you for all the things you added to the house while we were together.”

Ugh.

And that’s how, Jane, with no real job to speak of and no family anywhere near her, had to move all of her things out of his house all by herself.

In three days.
A day for each year they were together.

To make matters worse, she moved in with the only friend that could take her:
Their neighbor.
Who lived RIGHT ACROSS THE STREET.

The temporary quarters didn’t last long, but long enough for Jane to grow livid every time she turned down their street and parked on the opposite side of the road.

I think she should have gotten her own hotel room instead, a penthouse suite that allowed dogs and her random furniture to be moved in and charged it all to his account.

And only tell him in a note.

-Jenny

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

TOOLBAG TUESDAY

Little girls everywhere dream about how their prince will propose.

Will he get down on one knee?
Will a camera capture the moment?

My personal preference: Will there be champagne involved?

Ha.
(Kidding mom.)

Most little girls would be envious of how Richard proposed to my friend Camille.

First of all, they were on horseback (SWOON)….on a beach (DOUBLE SWOON.)

It was on a cruise to Mexico where they disembarked for the day and several of the passengers rented (rented? Is that the right word?) horses to ride along the beach…at sunset.

Camille and Richard had dated for a year or so, and while he had a bad boy streak and, uh, a temper, Camille still thought he was her prince charming.

At Richard’s lead, they took their (rented) horses over to a quiet spot away from the others in the group, dismounted, and Richard got down on one knee right there.

“YES!” Camille exclaimed, genuinely surprised by the proposal and how beautiful the whole thing was.
Maybe Richard had a soft spot after all.

They took pictures and kissed and Camille thought what a perfect engagement story to tell their grandkids.

They got back on their horses and Camille directed hers at the group down the beach, but Richard said he wanted to explore the other abandoned side of the beach more.

“Richard, the guide said not to go past those rocks,” Camille said.
Pssssh who cares what the guide said?” Richard said, already trotting.

“Well, I don’t want to get lost or get in trouble,” Camille said. “Please Richard, let’s just go back.”

She looked at her flashing engagement ring, wanting to show it off to the others.

“This moment was so beautiful, I don’t want to ruin it,” Camille said to her brand new fiancé .

“NO! STOP BEING A PUSSY!” he said and walked his horse over the rocks.

“RICHARD!” she screamed as he clamored off.

And that’s how, not even five minutes after the most perfect engagement ever, Richard called his fiancé the P word because she didn’t want to bring her rented horse to a part of the beach in Mexico they were specifically told not to go.

They were still fighting when they rejoined the group later, to the point that Camille didn’t even announce they had gotten engaged because they WEREN’T TALKING TO EACH OTHER.

JERK.

They don’t write fairy tales about that.

In fact, Camille and Richard closed the book on their “fairy tale” a few years later and never made it down the aisle.

Which is a good thing because no one wants to hear an engagement story about how their grandma was called the P word.

Or why she doesn’t ride horses anymore.

-Jenny

Monday, July 11, 2011

Twin tattoos

For two years straight, my twin sister, Joy, and I told our mom that our matching tattoos were Henna.

We were 18 years old and totally allowed by law to get ink done, but our mom had already said in passing that if we ever got tattoos, she would PERSONALLY drive us to Children’s Hospital to get a Tetanus shot.

“Children’s hospital?” we said, unamused. “We’re 18 years old.”

“STILL!” our mom said. “They wouldn’t turn you away.”

She saw my tattoo first.

Joy said it’s because I never bothered to pull my pants up, which is true.

(Joy would routinely mouth “TATTOO” and make gestures with her hand from across the room, after I bent down to feed the family dog.)

“What is that?” my mom asked one day when she was visiting me in college.

I was standing, bent over the desk in my bedroom reading an email, and my lower back was exposed.

(IMPORTANT NOTE: Our tattoos were done light years before the movie Wedding Crashers was made and the term "tramp stamp" existed.)

“It’s Henna,” I said immediately, surprised by the genuis of my lie.

“WHATS. HENNA.” my mom said as I pulled up my pants.

“It’s…like temporary ink,” I said.

“No, that’s real!!” she said, walking over to inspect my lower back. I ran to the other side of the room.

“Tattooing isn’t even allowed in South Carolina!” I said. “You can’t even get one here! So how could it be real?”

(Answer: We got them done in New Orleans, during the summer we came home after our first year of college. Also, they have since changed the law in South Carolina. They have tattoo shops...but only in industrial zones.)

Somehow my mom believed me then, or ignored it, until she saw Joy’s tattoo by accident one day, months later.

“It’s…Henna,” Joy said, because I had told her what I had said, and we needed identical stories for our identical tattoos.

“I looked up Henna on the internet and it’s supposed to go away after a few weeks,” our mom said.

“Um.. I keep getting it redone,” Joy responded. Ha.

The issue was dropped again.

Years later, probably after a few beers, we finally admitted that OMG mom, yes they are real tattoos and no, we did NOT get them done in an alley with dirty, broken needles.

The guy that did my tattoo had a tattoo on his face and neck, though.

It was a tattoo of a hand, coming up his neck looking like it was grabbing the side of his face, the way someone would do to you in a threatening manner.

(Take your right hand and grab the left side of your face...with your wrist by your neck and your thumb on your cheek. It had long nails. Creepy.)

I asked the guy who had such a hold on him that he would need to get a tattoo like that (the devil?) and he told me it was none of my damn business. Ha. WHO HURT YOU??? I wanted to ask while shaking him.

Joy and I flipped a coin to determine which one of our friends would go with us in the tattoo room (only one friend allowed per twin).

And then I was up first, and I straddled a chair so my tramp stamp lower back was exposed.

“Hold your breath,” I heard the man with the face tattoo say.

I did.

He started the whir of the machine and it didn’t really hurt at all, except for the swiggles in the lower case cursive "j’s" Joy had drawn for us.

“What are you doing?” face tattoo asked me a minute later.

“Holding my breath,” I said, still holding my breath.

“I said DON’T hold your breath!” he said. “You’ll pass out!”

I exhaled and then freaked out a little about how I’M GONNA PASS OUT? REALLY??? But I never did.

When he was done, I actually felt an odd sense of empowerment, more alive than before I was inked.

As such, I pumped Joy up appropriately. “I doesn’t hurt at all!!!” I said. “Piece of freaking cake!!!”

Joy straddled the chair.

Yet, once the whir started, all Joy could do was cry.

She buried her face into our friend’s armpit who was standing in front of her. She whimpered, and her tattoo started to bleed, where mine had not.

“Excuse me…sir...,” our friend cradling Joy’s face said. “Is there a way you could maybe take a little break?”

“No.” he said immedialtey.

I realized he must have thought Joy was the biggest wuss ever for fussing over two squiggly J’s, and he had an entire hand on his face. With nails.

Joy survived thank GOD, and our matching tats are still looking good even after ten years.

(Joy obsessively puts sunscreen on hers because she said she’s NOT getting it retouched.)

I told her she could always just keep getting Henna in its place.
Our mom would love it.

-Jenny

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

TOOLBAG TUESDAY

Paul Simon wrote a song once, about 50 ways to leave your lover.

He gives very matter-of-fact pieces of advice, with no hoopla or overly complicated conversations.

("Slip out the back, Jack; make a new plan, Stan; drop off the key, Lee; get yourself free").

However, Paul Simon doesn’t mention the seldom-known method Matt used to break up with my friend Jennifer: USE A PRIEST.

Maybe Paul Simon couldn’t get ‘priest’ to rhyme with anything good.
(All I can think of is ‘yeast’.)

Ryan was 26 years old, super funny and Jennifer fell for him. They had known each other for two years, but decided to take it romantic two months before The Holy Spirit intervened.

It seemed like a good idea at the time (but it never is) to have Ryan move in for financial reasons.

He was paying too much at his apartment and Jennifer hated her job and they talked about perfect it would be if he moved in with her and paid rent and bills so she could quit her job.
Her total rent and bills was less than what he was paying).

They got along great, after all, and she said he was the most passionate person she’s ever met. She could never get tired of kissing him.
She wouldn’t mind marrying him.

There was one thing that they didn’t have in common, though: Religion.

Ryan was a devout Christian, and routinely played video games with the priest’s son.
Jennifer hadn’t visited a house of worship in a long time.

One Sunday, Ryan invited Jennifer to church for the first time, the same time they were weighing the pros and cons of him moving in.

Jennifer said Ryan was insistent that she go with him to church that day and he told her she was going to meet some “REAL Christians."

She was nervous; this was North Carolina after all. They named an airport after Billy freaking Graham.

When she walked into church that day, there were 10 people total in the pews.
Jennifer said she and Ryan were the only ones under the age of 70.

She nervously accepted a flyer with horrible political views when she walked in. The priest’s son was the keyboard player in the band and he was staring at her.

Jennifer recalls, “I was waiting for them to break out the snakes.”

Jennifer isn’t one to be a conspiracy theorist or anything, but she said the minute the priest began the sermon, she knew it was directed at her and Ryan.

Perhaps because the other 70-year-olds don't need to hear the message of “living in sin.”

Jennifer said the priest began with, “Unholy doesn’t mean evil…it just means common. And it’s common these days for young people to live together without being married.”

This was all very convenient, Jennifer thought. The priest was seemingly looking straight at her.

She looked at Ryan, who’s face was looking straight ahead.

“And the Bible says you shall not fornicate, lest it be with your wife,” the priest added.

Jennifer said the 70-year-olds got uncomfortable. After an hour and three horrible songs later, Jennifer questioned Ryan on the way home from the church.

“DID YOU TELL THE PRIEST THAT WE WERE TALKING ABOUT MOVING IN TOGETHER?” she asked. Ryan said no.

“It seems pretty coincidental that he decided to have an entire sermon about ‘living in sin,’ the one day you invite me,” Jennifer pointed out.

Later that day, Ryan did say that he mentioned something about it to the priest’s son, when they were being dorks playing video games.

(As a raised Catholic, I don’t understand how priests are allowed to have kids, but I'll Wikipedia it later.)

“YOU TOLD HIS SON? HE TOLD HIS DAD!” Jennifer said. “THAT’S WHY I HAD TO SIT THROUGH THAT HORRIBLE SERMON!”

Ryan swore that he asked the priest’s son directly after mass if he told his dad anything, and the son said no.

Jennifer said that was bullshit, the son spilled the beans, but Ryan insisted that “because they are such upstanding Christians, there is no way he would lie about it.”

Jennifer rolled her eyes and was going to argue with Ryan about it, when she realized it didn't matter.
Ryan was already taking the priest’s message to heart.

He said that it MUST have been God sending them a message.

Ryan said that it was wrong for them to be together and live together and have "lust in their hearts."
(F.Y.I., they had already, uh, done it.)

Ryan left with an empowering sense of Holiness that day. He had been touched by God, after all, via the tiny North Carolina church.

It didn’t stick, though.

Once Sunday was over, Ryan got back in touch with Jennifer, which only resulted in fights and angry text messages over the next several weeks until their relationship was deader than the animals left behind when Noah's ark took off.

So much for love thy neighbor.

-Jenny

Pretty sure it’s always awkward

I got laid off last Friday. And not in a good way.

For one, I was completely clothed. For two, I cried. (NOT sexy).

OK, jokes aside. I got laid off for real. And I did cry.

Google “economy” to figure out why this happened: Budget cuts, a shitty economy, journalism jobs falling by the wayside. (Oh how I love being a statistic!!)

No matter how much I try to put the scene out of my head – you know, the scene where I get laid fully clothed -- it still comes back, eerie, like a flashback Dumbledore conjurs up in Harry Potter with smoky mist all around it.

I often think about it while viciously squinting my eyes.

“There’s no easy way to say this…” the boss started.

Of course this all happened on a Friday. Beware of Fridays. Just like in the movie Office Space.

“We find it's always better to fire people on a Friday. Studies have statistically shown that there's less chance of an incident if you do it at the end of the week.”

And Friday it was! A Friday before a long weekend, too.

It was barely 9 a.m. when I was called to the boss’ office, with my boss and the HR lady sitting there, solemn.

It was casual Friday, we were all wearing jeans.

I won’t get into their sound bytes about “corporate cuts” and “eliminating my position,” because those are reserved for another other scene in my head entitled “panic attack 2011.”

But I was told this was effective immediately.
“What about the stuff I was in the middle of working on?” I asked, since I’m a sucker work-a-holic.

“We’ll take care of it,” my boss said. “But I appreciate your integrity.”

Then: “You can go clean out your desk now.”

I stood to my feet, shaking, when the HR lady told me about trivial things like how I need to return the parking lot pass and file any expenses.

And then she said the other reporters and editors had been shuffled away from where my desk was so I could clean it out in peace.

OH MY GOD. THEY PLANNED AN ENTIRE OPERATION. I wondered what the others were told.

Did they know at that moment I was throwing mountains of papers into the trash can?

I wondered if someone had brought in donuts to lure them away from watching me.

I cleaned my desk in record time. If someone had gone to the bathroom for a…uh…number two…for example, they wouldn’t have even seen me leave.

I’ve had plenty of enough time by now to go over what happened (and over and over and over and over). I’ve compared notes with other friends who have been laid off (AMERICA!!! EFF YEA!!!) And I’ve come to the realization that there’s really no non-awkward way to lay people off.

One friend said he got an email that he was laid off. WHILE HE WAS ON VACATION. Another friend, who’s five feet tall, said she was actually escorted out of the building when they told her they didn’t need her anymore.

I suppose I should be grateful that I was laid off at the beginning of the day, not to waste another minute chasing down interviews, even more grateful for the severance package I got.

But the whole thing still doesn’t sit well. Because, while they said it was a “recent” decision by corporate to get rid of my position, why did my boss OK a big feature story for me two days before???

Whose idea was it to quarantine me from everyone else???

My dad says it doesn’t matter and I need to move on, which I’m trying to do. Have you ever been laid off? There’s a range of emotions, almost like a breakup. Sad, anger, fear, resentment, a hit to my pride.

What do I say when people ask me what I do? That I’m “retired?”
What about all those work clothes in my closet again??
How the EFF do you even file for unemployment??

And now, I’m shocked with boredom.

I’ve been working full-time for the past six years, see, ever since I graduated college.

I don’t think I’ve ever been at home at 2:30 p.m. on a Tuesday with quite literally nothing to do, no one to answer to.

But here I am, 2:30 ON A TUESDAY, with no one to answer to, in pajamas, figuring out my new life.

I’ll try and blog about my new job search, in case you, too, have been laid off, or worse, and we can navigate the unknown together.

In the meantime, if you wanna buy me a beer…I’ll let you.

-Jenny
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