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What’s All This Talk About Being Unemployed?

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Are you reading this and wondering to, “Hmm. I wonder what’s so great about not having a full time job anymore?” Maybe you feel like there’s a big career change heading your way or maybe you just plan on standing up in your building and shouting “I CAN’T TAKE THIS SHIT ANYMORE!” and you’re wondering what you’re gonna do with the new lifestyle that awaits you.

Have no fear, my friends! Since I have been unemployed for a whopping 42 days, I consider myself an expert when it comes to all matters of “DEAR GOD HOW COULD THIS HAPPEN TO ME?” and “HOLY SHIT, HOW WILL I FEED MY CHILDREN?”

Take a deep breath and read on for some helpful tips on how you, too, can cope with the tornado that’s about to obliterate your life.

Enjoy the Stillness

This will be a great time for you to relax and unwind!

No more annoying work emails, texts or Google chats to juggle. Just pure, deafening silence and the overwhelming feeling that nobody needs you or your pesky skills anymore. Great news! You’ve just become completely irrelevant!

Sure, you may get a text or two that first week from your old coworkers who are looking for one of your old files, but don’t worry. Their silly questions will soon cease, and you will be left with nothing but a dark abyss of suffocating quietude.

Bask in the Free Time

With all your new free time, you can do crazy things like Google “Is quietude a real word?” or “How much do people actually pay for a classy escort who refuses to make eye contact and only agrees to touch shoulder to shoulder while fully clothed?”

Sometimes I’d spend my time lying in bed, but not filling my day with sleep. Psh! No way! That’s when all the nightmares come back! Instead I’d chose to stare into my open closet and think about all the chaos existing right in front of me.

There was a scarf that was about to fall off the top shelf. I could get up, fold it back together and place it where it needed to go, but why? Would the scarf actually appreciate all my hard work in the end or would it just unfold itself eventually and slide down to the floor like a spineless mother fucker?

With the entirety of your day completely at your disposal, you can do new things you’ve never tried before like drinking whisky at 10am, smelling your area rug to see what tears smell like or taking a walk to check the mail but only with one eye open to see if being partially blind would be worse than what your life has become now.

Chase Your Dreams

Sleeping can become a whole new activity after losing your job. What was once a time for peaceful rest and relaxation, occasionally peppered with a whimsical work dream or two, can become a productive session of hashing out all your inner fears, worries and frustrations.

Didn’t get to tell your boss what an awful poop face he was before you left? Don’t worry! You’ll relive the moment when you learned you were no longer a good fit for the company a hundred times over when you’re brain tries to shut down and get some rest!

Sleeping pills can be helpful, but remember that your inner demons only become stronger when fed mild narcotics and now your boss will be looking at you with three beady eyes, wearing that truly awful sweater you’ve always hated and rolling his eyes at you while you corner him in the dream-Pita-Pit to tell him what an asshole he was to you.

Instead of tossing and turning in bed and remembering all the good times you and sleep used to have, try getting up in the night and starting a vigorous activity. Tripping over your personal belongings box that HR lovingly collected from your desk is a great way to heighten your awareness of your new reality.

Let those stubbed toes and bruised shins remind you that you no longer have to deal with your favorite pen cup being locked up in a far away office. It’s right there in your room, along with your old notebooks, your oatmeal bowl, your stupid badge reel and that bold colored Sharpie you used to use to sign everyone’s birthday cards with. It was so festive! It made your birthday wishes POP right off that damn card every time.

Take a Risk

You know that dream job you’ve always wanted? No, not the one you used to have that gave you such purpose and confidence in your life. I’m talking about the new dream job that pays you in real United States money that you can use to buy paper plates with.

No more will you be focusing on an unattainable fantasy job. Soon every job posting you read will become an unattainable fantasy that will only get your hopes up while encouraging extreme narcissistic behavior as you stare at your resume and all your past career accomplishments day in and day out.

These postings will also trigger inner conversations with yourself where you may ask, “Am I too old to become a welder?” or “Where the hell is my nearest welding school? If I become a welder, can I customize my own mask? Wait a minute, if I become a welder, will I also have to be an exotic dancer to make ends meet? When will Target start carrying wide-necked gray sweatshirts again?”

Sometimes you’ll find a job you’re actually qualified for and begin to think that maybe all this happened to you for a reason and that reason is so jolly, old you can actually do a job where you’re appreciated, valued and can grow your skills.

You’ll cram yourself into old career wear that hasn’t been out of the under-the-bed box since 2009 and think to yourself, at least if I’m unemployed and have less money for food I may get to lose a few pounds.

Maybe you’ll wow the interviewer with your tales of wild event marketing success or masterful task organization. Maybe then some other candidate will come in and wow them even more and you’ll get that super-fun phone call where you get told that they’ve decided to go with someone else.

It’s gonna be fine. Just think. You weren’t finished with season 3 of “New Girl” yet anyway! Now you can REALLY apply yourself to crossing that task off your list.

Appreciate What You Have

If you’ve been working at least six months for a place that didn’t pay you in car wash coupons, you’ve most likely accrued a little unemployment money to draw on. What better way to get acquainted with all the in’s and outs of your state government than to attempt to wrestle away a mere 52.9% of your former salary from their cold, dead hands?

Even after you certify that you are not a seasonal farm worker or disabled veteran, there will still be plenty of opportunity for you to question where your meager funds are actually being delivered and what horrible cardigan will Ms. Tiffany, the employment placement specialist, will be wearing today?

You will have lots of chances to visit your local EDD office and ask yourself if you look just as crazy and disheveled as ol’ Wall-Eyed Tim who was once a maintenance man, or Man-ish Grannie Who Doesn’t Have Access to a Computer so she needs help getting online to print out a form.

This is what desperation looks like and you will soon realize that these have now become your people. No longer will you recap your kids’ baseball tournament for your standing desk neighbor or talk about how short that weekend felt with your friendly co worker. Now you will get to talk about which 1-800 EDD phone number works best at 8 am versus 8:15 and if you’re lucky, Tiffany will give you a free manilla folder for your paperwork because she’s worried you’re gonna lose something and that makes her nervous.

The manilla folder will be the thin, cheap kind that isn’t brightly colored or even freaking TABBED like the ones in that one drawer at your old office. But don’t let your mind go there. Just thank Tiffany, insert your paperwork, and stride away with your head held high.

Savor Your Relationships

This season in life will be like exposing an angry nerve ending to all the people around you. You may need a little practice with keeping your cool.

If a neighbor casually approaches you while you’re holding a 6-pack of pineapple cider and a wheel of Brie, just admit the fact that you are now unemployed. For the love of God, do not cry in street. It’s only 10:30 and you have a lot of “New Girl” to get crackin’ on. Your neighbor will understand and totally not think you’re a crazy person. I promise.

Your friends and old coworkers may text you to check up on you. Be careful not to overwhelm them with all your free-time deep-thinking . Many of your friends are still working full time jobs and they won’t understand you when you ask things like “Why does this hurt so bad?” and “When will the darkness just take me away?”

If you get the chance to run into your old coworkers, be cool and collected. Do not, I repeat, DO NOT grab their lapels, shake them wildly and demand to know who’s been sitting at your desk. Your old desk does not belong to them. They can’t stop the dumb-dumb loser-heads from sitting in your chair and getting their greasy mitts all over the pile of “Employee Good Job Shout Outs” you left behind.

Simply smile and exercise your new skill of stealthily changing the subject whenever anyone asks what you’ve been up to. Trust me. They don’t really want to know how you cried when you watched Nick and Jess break up and Nick called her on the phone to ask her about Dirty Dancing and please God, can you just climb into the TV and live with all the roommates on “New Girl” because you know that you’d only be out of a job for like, 5 episodes, then you’d get a call on your wacky-cased cell phone about this great opportunity and everything would be ok.

Remember That — Everything’s Going To Be OK.

If not now, later, and if not later, then eventually when you’re dead or too old and senile to care.

Even if you’ve lost your job, your confidence and a large portion of your self-worth and dignity, remember that time will still move on. You may spend a large portion of it feeling sorry for yourself or questioning why the bad guys got to win, but you can’t change the past. All you can do is hunger for a future where your life has meaning again. Like they say, “Keep moving forward!”

Honestly though, there are people rooting for you and pulling for you. Even if it’s just because they’re sick of always having to pay for lunch or tired of having to give you a pep talk again about how not awful at life you are…they really do care.

Be good to them and remember to thank them for always cheering you up, giving you good hugs and buying you manicures and margaritas.

High fives from the debilitating quicksand pit of unemployment and self-doubt! Let’s make this season the best it can be!

Look At Me, I’m Sandra Dee

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Look At Me, I’m Sandra Dee

I’m one of those girls who loves the movie GREASE. This fact kind of irritates me, because it’s one of those “No duh. So does every other girl your age.” facts. And if you’ve read this blog at all, you’ll know I kinda gravitate towards the unique side of things whenever I can.

But it’s true. In high school my best friend, Becky, and I would rock out to the soundtrack in my Hyundai Sonata and pick our favorite Pink Lady to impersonate.

Our fave was Marty Maraschino…”Like the cherry…” She was the prettiest Pink Lady. She was the best dresser. And she was the classy one who had no lame high school boyfriend to drive her crazy. No way. She set her sights on the fancy-pants TV host and she totally rocked that amazing jade dress at the dance-off. She was awesome, intimidating and in no way represented anything close to who I was!

A good friend once gave me the GREASE VHS tape that also came with the movie script. I was so freaking stoked. True, I already knew most of the words by heart, but still…now I could read along and know exactly what Kenickie said when he got all mumbly.

On a sadder note, go here if you want to see what Kenickie looks like now. ::shudder::

You know when Sandy decides to totally ditch her prudish Australian look and turn up the sass to win Danny’s heart? She puffed up her hair, grabbed a tube of red lipstick, and worked the SHIT out of some tight, black leather pants. It’s totally my favorite scene.

Sandy, Grease, Finale

Get your sass on, Sandy!

I taught myself the little dance she does down the stairs when I was 16 and I can still pull those moves off to this day.

Perhaps my love GREASE is what led me to this “Sassy-Sandra” phase of life. True, I haven’t started smoking, but I did find myself buying tight pleather leggings today from 11 Main because who the heck knows when I’m going to need to bring in the da’ noise, bring in da’ funk?

Oh look! Just in time for Mother’s Day too! I can totally wrap these up and write my kids’ name on the “From” tag” and be totally set.

Oh look! Just in time for Mother’s Day too! I can totally wrap these up and write my kids’ name on the “From” tag” and be totally set.

A feisty girl like me must always be prepared.

Next up, grabbing that dream guy and flying away in my car over a carnival…

5 Things I’ve Learned on My Way Back to Z

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It feels like spring outside and it’s still January! I feel a little bad for the earth, because from what I hear, this early heat and lack of rain is actually really, crummy news, but today, it’s hard not to want to be outside just reveling in it!

January has been bringing about lots of changes in the ol’ Jenny-sphere.

I eat green stuff so rarely, I normally take pictures of it to prove it to people. Here's me eating my first salad (mixed greens) in 2015.

Look at me! I’m eating healthy things! I eat green stuff so rarely, I normally take pictures of it to prove it to people. Here’s me eating my first salad (mixed greens) in 2015. Way to go, January!

I’ve actually had this blog post started for a while but every time I’d get it going, it would make me think too much and I’d question what I was trying to say. This is actually one of my favorite things about this blog. It really makes me comb through my thoughts and sort through the real issues and struggles I’m having. Hooray for self reflection!

Then all of you (hey, mom!) get to read through the melee and get a sneak peak into my crazy head. Lucky you ;)

This month, in addition to moving to a cozy new house in the neighborhood I’ve always wanted to live in, I’ve gone through the fun process of changing my last name back to my maiden name. I was asked by my ex if I’d ever considered dropping his name, and that sort of triggered this huge process of paperwork and inner-wrestling.

Here are a few things I’ve learned through the process:

1 – My HR/IT/payroll team is not super-stoked about the whole name change thing. It messes with my paycheck, my email, my benefits, etc. It makes a whole lot of work for them.

If you’re considering changing your name at your workplace, don’t expect this group to cheer and high five you. Prepare to drop off your paperwork and run.

2 – Go by the social security office FIRST, before the DMV. I did these steps backwards and luckily, I had a very nice lady at the DMV point out that if I didn’t change my name with social security first, it’d stall my whole license thing. No bueno.

Shout out to a class act DMV lady. She also told me as I was leaving, “Hey! Nice picture!” I’m hoping she was sincere. I nearly ran a stop sign on the way to my DMV appointment because I was busy practicing my smile in the rear view mirror. My vanity in 2015 is remaining 100% on point with the previous years so far. No changes to report there.

3 – Changing your name is one thing, but being asked by your ex to change your name is a whole different pile of worm faces. I think my pride was the main thing that felt stepped on. To me, it was something I wanted to initiate on my own, since it was my very own name.

But I had to remind myself that to him, it was his very own name first, so he probably felt like he had just as much a right to ask for it back as I thought I had to keep it until I was through with it.

Everyone likes to be the person in control and calling the shots. And in this case, I wasn’t. It made me grumpy and snippy and took many hours of sleep away from my life. But wrestling with my own lack of control in life is nothing new, and once I realized I was being a prideful little twerp, it was easier to just own it and then let it go.

In the end, who really cared? I certainly wasn’t keeping the name because I still wanted to be married to poor guy. Oh no. I’d made that super clear in 2013.

A good friend replied, “Oh! I thought you’d have changed that a long time ago.” Then I felt  a bit like a doofus. Why the crap sticks was I still using his old name anyway?

In my head, I was keeping it to match my kids, because that’s what another divorced friend had done. At the time I made the choice to keep it, it seemed logical and I really didn’t give it much thought.

I mean, do kids really care if their mom’s last name matches them? I’ve never been one for huge family monograms or vinyl appliques of “FAMILY NAME HERE – Established 2000” decor, so it’s not like they really see my name all over the place.

And when they call from me school pretending to be sick so they can come home and watch Cartoon Network and eat Goldfish crackers in their pajamas, they don’t ask to speak to ::Insert mom’s full name here::. No. They just feebly say “ Mommy….I don’t feel good. Can you come get me?”

(Yes, I’m talking to you, Future Violet who’s gone ahead and found my old blog and is reading them to see what kind of a dork I was. I knew you were faking the WHOLE TIME! But I was letting you fake it because sometimes I know we all just need a freaking day to just veg. But don’t think you can do that all the time. Sometimes you need to just suck it up and power through your day. I love you. You are even prettier and more clever than I knew you would be. Mommy loves you.)

4 – Our freaking name is EVERYWHERE…oh my word. It’s going to take me forever to get my name changed throughout the world. It really is incredible when I think of all the online shopping sites, utility companies, social media networks, email addresses, banks, that have my old information.

5 – I had to practice how to sign my old name. A lot. It was like my hand forgot how to write the letter Z. It’s also a trip to hear my work pals call me “Jenny Z.” again. I haven’t been called that since I was 17! It’s so strange.

I’m certainly not the same Jenny Z. I was back then. It’s like I’m Jenny Z. 2.0! Or maybe, Extreme Z! Now with 30-something lumpiness, stretch marks from baby times and a snazzy divorce under my belt!

Well, it’s not all bad. I have run a 5K. (THE WHOLE THING!) And I’ve eaten an entire veggie sandwich. With vegetables, NOT a veggie fake meat patty, people! These are things the old Z would never have done. And I’m much better at drinking wine now. Ooh! And ballet class! I’ve also started doing ballet. Suck it, old, lythe, captain of the cheerleading squad version of Jenny Z! You couldn’t pirouette to save your life. LOOK AT ME NOW, WORLD!

I guess my last takeaway is that I am extremely lucky to have the support and love from the people I’ve surrounded myself with. They root for me no matter how weird I’m acting and they are always looking out and encouraging me to make healthy, safe and positive choices for me and my kiddos. I appreciate you all a ton and I know my life wouldn’t be this great without you. Thanks for being amazeballs.

PS: Please note that I really have no absolute opinion on whether or not ladies should change their name after a divorce. So don’t think this post is a reflection of the ONE WAY I think it should always be handled.

It’s never bothered me when ladies kept their married name or when they’ve gone back to their maiden name. If I could have convinced the world that being called “Jenny of Mermaidia” was as cool as I thought it was, I’d totally have run with it.



The Questionable Things, Holiday Edition Ver. 1

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It’s been a while since I’ve outlined my thoughts on those oh-so-popular activities that were all the rage, but the holidays are almost here, people! And they are reminding me of so many trends and traditions that I just don’t get.

Of course, this blog was never to change your opinion on stuff. You can go right on ahead loving your suburban chicken coops, sewing your hand crafted doo hickeys and riding bicycles in public. Really, let the record show that I will never severe a friendship if you do these things that just seem so strange to me.

But, you guys…the holidays are so weird! Especially now that my kiddos are going between my house and their dad’s house. I’m super happy I’ll get to see my favorite little faces this year (Woo!) and I want to be sure it’s a better Christmas than we had last year. (Seriously. They fought ALL DAY. It was awful!)

“Merry meltdown, mom! We’ve decided to get you migraine and an excuse to put us to bed early so you can cry on the couch with wine. Love, your kiddos!”

But not this year!

There are a few things I will be avoiding this season.

::insert Grinch-like eyebrow waggle here::

Suck It, Elf On The Shelf

There. I’ve said it. And you know what, I’ve always hated that creepy little token of mischief.

I know some moms who’ve tried to add it as a new family tradition because they are awesome and love the idea of their children waking up to joyful moments. Their kids would scamper around the house, hunting for the mini dirtbag to see what trouble he’d caused in the night.

But then they got burned out. Or maybe one night, they were too busy dealing with laundry, dishes, packing lunches, etc to remember to move the elf, and all hell broke loose.

Those moms have now affected over to my side. The side that says, “Elf…I don’t care if you come with an adorable storybook, creative packaging or if Target put you on sale! You can just stay the crap away from my house cause this mama’s got no time for your tomfoolery!”

And by “no time for your tomfoolery” I do NOT mean I am unwilling to commit copious amounts of time to the goal of surprising my kids. Oh, heeeeeeck no. Trust me. I am quite good at wasting time as I doodle on their mirror with dry erase markers or surprise them with mystery Post-It notes. I’m all for a good “spend time to surprise them and make their day” activity. (I write this after I just dug through my couch cushions looking for tooth fairy money. Plus, I had an accomplice write the handwritten note so my seven year old Sherlock wouldn’t be able to make out my handwriting. Oh, no. I LOVE planning and giving my kids a thrill, people!)

But the Elf on the Shelf? I think the whole thing got really sketchy for me when I read that he was in your home to watch you. Then he’d go to Santa and tattle on you. That’s how Santa knew if you were naughty or nice.

I’m gonna just tell you straight up that I find that totally creepy. What? A weird looking doll is WATCHING ME and plans on tattling on me in the night? Sweet Jesus…Isn’t that Satan’s job? Hashtag “The Accuser”, hashtag “Bible story reference”, hashtag “Revelation 12:10”. It would be so awesome if that Bible verse was something like “And the Lord said unto them, ‘Stop killing yourself for weird holiday traditions. Unless you’ve got lots of free time and your kids love it. Then go right on ahead. I honestly don’t care. Just love each other already, OK?”

Yep, I know. I’ll stick with writing my blog.

But simmer down friends who love Jesus and also their little red elf. Let me guess; you made the tradition less creepy and personalized it for your home and your faith? Well, of course you did! Here’s my slow clap of appreciation for all your wondrous ways, you super mom, you!

Or maybe you just said “Meh. We just make the elf do silly things and we don’t do the whole “tattle to Santa” thing. Whatevs. You work your butt off to make your kids smile and this is something I can stand behind.

I just personally can’t sustain that level of magic in my own home. And I think the doll is kinda weird looking.

A Real Live Tree!

I have never had a real, live Christmas tree, just an artificial tree. And when I’d go to my Arizona grandparents’ house when I was little, they’d have an artificial tree too. Real trees were just not done in my circle of life. Blame it on the desert conditions or whatnot, but nope – I’ve never had a Christmas with a real tree.

And they kind of freak me out. There’s just something so unbalanced about real nature that makes me unsure about the whole idea.

You see, when I was young, my mom had a certain “spot” for her ornaments on our tree, and it was like our tree (“Count Christmas”, as he was lovingly referred to) knew that too. There’d be the perfect little indent at the top for Grammy Belle’s antique ornament. It was nice and high and out of reach, which was a good thing, since I was a lazy six year old who’d insist on squeezing between the tree and the edge of the dining table to get to my seat, making the whole thing shake dangerously.

I have lots of ornaments that my parents saved for me from when I was a kid. There’s Kermie, Strawberry Shortcake, my Winnie the Pooh “Baby’s First Christmas” ornament and my kindergarten gift exchange present of Sesame Street ornaments, still with the original curly ribbon my mom tied on so we could hang them on the tree. My tree is not the glamorous “matchy-matchy” tree that so many of my friends pull off with a gusto! Oh no…my tree looks like a kindergartener got loose and decided to hang all sorts of random stuff on there. And I absolutely love it.

But those old ornaments, and plenty of my new ones (shout out to my stuffed sock monkey ornament–hey!) are heavy little guys. And there’s just no way a real tree’s branches could hold them safely. Do I understand that a tree in the forest can hold and sustain life in its branches? Yes. Yes, I get that. But for some reason, I’m more worried about my ceramic Kermit than a bird’s nest. And for that you can shun me all you’d like.

Storing an artificial tree is a pain in the butt. Especially when you’re in single parent mode in a two-bedroom apartment. “Welcome to my home! There’s old faithful, wrapped in his red-zippered storage bag on the left to greet you when you come to my front door…” The trashiness rankles me to no end. My only hope is that my visitors can’t see over the storage wall because they are too short or that it’s too dark outside. Tall people in the daylight are out of luck.

But back to those crazy real trees. There’s the sap, the watering, the chopping it down (I’d totally have to go buy a damn saw, you guys!) or buying it in some random lot and then tying it to your car to get it home. EVERY YEAR. How are there not more trees all swaddled up lying on the side of the road? I promise you that I’d mess up some knot and my tree would be launched off the top of my vehicle more than once. Oh, yes…I’m sure I could come up with all sorts of ways to screw up that activity.

I say, mad props to those of you who’ve figured out the mysterious ways of capturing a live tree and bringing it into your home. I promise I won’t look at your tree and judge its unevenness or weird branch gaps too harshly. Do I get the allure? Nah. But I love that you love it. And your weird looking tree can’t ruin my Christmas. Carry on and be wonky, I say!

Lasso the Moon

Even if my Christmas trends differ from the mainstream, there are plenty of things I go mainstream on. Christmas movies, for starters. I still would choose “White Christmas” over “Elf” for tradition’s sake, yet I’m learning to allow new Christmas movies into my life.

“It’s a Wonderful Life”? Oh man…you have no idea how big that movie is in my Christmas upbringing. Besides watching it every year (and being allowed to stay up past my bedtime to see the whole, depressing thing on TV) my parents started collecting the ceramic light up houses in the “Wonderful Life” collection.

I’m not lying to you when I tell you that there have been MULTIPLE discussions on how the collection (now complete and freaking enormous) will be distributed to the family after my parents’ death. I need to check my parent’s will to refresh myself on the “Wonderful Life Collection” clause because I honestly can’t remember if my father agreed to split the collection in half (town buildings to this daughter, the neighborhood homes to the other) or if he insisted on keeping the masterpiece intact for all to enjoy.

Ah, the holidays…

One of my favorite scenes from “It’s a Wonderful Life”. And it always made my mom laugh, which then made me laugh as a kid so I could be cool like her and pretend to get the joke.

One of my favorite scenes from “It’s a Wonderful Life”. And it always made my mom laugh, which then made me laugh as a kid so I could be cool like her and pretend to get the joke.

Well, Hello There, Sunshine

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There have been a lot of new people coming into my life since I’ve last visited you here on the Blogorama back in July. Do you ever have streaks like that, where it feels like you’re meeting a ton of new people or growing surprising new friendships all the time?

I absolutely love it. And you know what? I’m super ready for it.

Over a year ago, when my divorce was first making the headlines in my social circle, I really wasn’t surprised when 99% of those people headed for the hills. No matter what you say, or what you try and promise, divorce naturally makes people choose sides, and my side was more icky and hard to digest than my ex-husband’s. #TrueStory

But that was OK. I really don’t ever think I was super shocked at the great exodus. I’m sure I would have done the exact same thing, so I hope this doesn’t comes across as me blasting them for their choice.

But it certainly left my life much lonelier than before.

Even as an extrovert, though, this particular and sudden loneliness was so peaceful and quiet, it really was awesome and not as suffocating as I once would have thought it would be.

As the months passed though, I became acutely aware that my list of friends who I could text or reach out to when my heart was broken, my kids were driving me to madness or my mind was blown by that one crazy scene on “Scandal” was very small. No worries, I told myself, This is just one of the costs of my choice. Time to suck it up and continue to move forward.

Then all of a sudden, new people started popping up and laughing with me, listening to me and crying with me. I’ll admit that I was scared that they’d am-scray as soon as they heard more of my story, but I was amazed when they stuck around after learning detail after embarrassing detail.

These new friends have watched me break down crying in hallways or meetings; they’ve held my hair back as I puked unceremoniously for hours. I’ve received texts and messages where they just wanted to check on me or tell me something funny that happened to them at all hours of the day. We’ve quoted “30 Rock” at each other and have taken long walks and hikes through the park. It’s all been amazing and I’m incredibly grateful.

The other night I got to meet a fun group of new people and while it wasn’t exactly the occasion for revealing all my heart’s secrets and oddities, it was a great opportunity to practice being a good listener and an observer. It reminded me that we all long to be surrounded by safe and loving people who really know us.

The safe people in our lives are the ones who know all our dirty deeds and quirks, yet they still choose to stick around and love you. These people don’t see you as a project person who they need to fix, change or tolerate. They just choose to accept you as you are.

I’m not sure I can say I’ve always been a friend like that to other people. I can totally remember times where I was investing myself in people’s lives with a secret mission to help them heal or change. I thought trying to get them to “better themselves” was me being a good friend.

Blech. I really don’t want anything to do with that type of friendship anymore.

I’ll admit that I sometimes miss getting to present the pretend “clean and tidy” Jenny that I was in the past. To me, my old friendships were places for perfection and purity. There was no room for being real, unless it ultimately added to the shining perfect picture that I was working so hard to portray. Hangouts were a time to be “on” and funny and pretty and clever.

Sure, my old friends could be real with me, and many often were, but it just made me feel more responsible to be the one who had it all together – the strong one who could be a good example and lead them through the shit in their lives. Cause if I was truly a woman of God, then my life would reflect super-awesome stability, right? My relationships would be shining examples they’d make Hallmark movies about!

But this was never true. There was always something missing from those friendships. And now I know it was me being authentic, even when it meant showing people my icky, scabby side. You can’t expect super-awesome connections when you’re only offering 40% of yourself, you know?

Now my new relationships get hit with the firehouse of Jenny-ness and holy crap…they haven’t left yet. What an amazing and pleasant surprise.

I was worried that if I was on full blast, I wouldn’t have room for others to be on full blast too. In my past, it could never be BOTH people who were having meltdowns or stressful times. But I was totally wrong about that. When you’re operating in full-reality mode, everyone can be having crazy times! In fact, it’s kind of rare that people AREN’T having a ton of super-crazy stuff going on. And it’s not smothering or overwhelming when you go into it knowing that things may get messy and snotty and totally gross.

I don’t quite understand all of it yet, but I just know that it’s been really good.

Thanks, everyone. It’s been a pleasure to meet you.

Seems Like a Great Day For A Biblical-Sized Freak Out, Doesn’t It?

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I was out of Red Bull this morning — sugar-free Red Bull, to be exact — and apparently it was enough to cause me to lose my mind.

Well, that’s not completely true.

Honestly, I was losing my mind last night as well and when I realized I had woven the F-word at least three times into my conversation with my nine year old. You know you’re crossing over into “Mom’s-Gone-Loco” mode when your kid doesn’t even blink anymore when you drop the ‘ol F-bomb.


Before you start flooding my comments section with lectures or placing anonymous phone calls to CPS, let me just take a moment to remind you that dropping the F-bomb on my kids is not a normal adjective that I like to employ. Yes, even when they sigh and flop and fuss in response to me telling them to get in the shower.

Yes, kids…ANOTHER SHOWER! You just spent eight hours at summer camp and your face smells like old cheese. You played hard and need to bathe. You do not live in the 1700s where bathing was a luxury and rarely occurred more than once a week. Welcome to the future. Welcome to a time of Dippin’ Dots, WiFi and erasable ink pens. Welcome to my rules and my expectations. NOW GET YOUR ASS IN THE BATHROOM BEFORE I LOSE MY F…. MIND!

See how things escalate there? I know. It’s not pretty.

In the midst of shower-mageddon last night, I realized that a large majority of kid-stuff missed the car ride from dad’s place to mom’s place, or whatever politically correct terms you’re supposed to call those places. (“The townhouse” and “The apartment” I think is what I’m supposed to be referring to them as so I don’t cause undo stress on my children’s fragile sense of belonging.)

Honestly, I find that more confusing. What if one day we live in the same type of lodging structure? How do we delineate between the two then? “Kids, did you leave your shoes at 123 Maple Drive or are they in your room at 567 Elm Street?” or “GUYS! Hurry up! I need to hustle and get you over that tan house where you also reside!” Ugh.

You know, there are just some people who know where your buttons are. And no, I’m not referring to the kind of buttons that make you smile and laugh (Puppet shows starring common socks with googly eyes, gummy candy and new shoes). Nope. I’m not talking about those little gems.

I’m talking about those OTHER buttons. (Hence my reference to the F-word above.) The buttons where the letters have been rubbed off because they’ve been triggered one too many times. The buttons that are all grimy and sticky and when they get pressed, they get stuck down into the keyboard and just cover your screen with middle finger emoticons. (Crap, now I’m sad my keyboard doesn’t have a middle finger emoji button. And here I thought we lived in the future.)

It could be someone in your family, a coworker, your kids, an elderly driver, a weird friend or perhaps your ex who knows just where those buttons are hiding. And no matter how long it’s been, they seem able to traipse through all your walls of barbed wire and whizzing defense mechanisms and just *BAM* initiate the melt-down sequence that you’ve been trying so desperately to avoid.

Here’s where you say, “Well, Jenny, you know that we are responsible for our own choices and actions. No one can be blamed for triggering your crazy. You are ultimately responsible for your own reactions.” And here I say, “Well, yes, maybe that’s true, but shut up right now cause this is my blog and I’m in the middle of ranting.”

In the grand scheme of things, a kid forgetting his shoes at the other parent’s house is not a crises.

Your other kid forgetting her camp shirt and swim goggles there is not a giant deal.

Both kids leaving behind their swim towels when they have a swimming field trip the next morning? Again, not the end of the world.

But combine that with anti-shower kid flops, running out of cheese in the middle of making quesadillas for dinner and a united kid-refusal to turn off Minecraft?


Do you ever overhear yourself talking and think, “Who the crap is that? She sounds like a total shrew!” Then you realize that it happens to be YOUR MOUTH making those nasty barking sounds and you feel like a complete ass-hat?

Check out that doofus. She can never seem to tuck her ears in right.

Check out that doofus. She can never seem to tuck her ears in right.

Cue my early morning snap-fest which only served to feed the impression that I’ve lost my mind and now everyone from my “old days” must simply bear with me for the sake of “Doing what God wants them to”.

There’s a certain facial expression that comes with that decision and I’m not sure if you people realize you’re making it, but you are. You totally are…This is of course if you choose to make eye contact with me at all.

But my ex is not as lucky as old friends I see only once or twice a year. He’s got to deal with my face once a week, or more than that if our children are feeling especially amnesiac and leave their crap behind.

The sigh and the expression that says “Mommy’s now just someone we tolerate because we all have to. God help us all.” is a sure-fire way to deploy my bitch-missiles. Fine, fine, fine, they were already armed, loaded and steaming on the launchpad by the time “the look” appeared but you get my point.

I hate feeling all prickly and cranky. Especially when I’m at a time in my life that’s actually really, really good! I have made some new friendships that have blown me away with their authenticity and care. I am super happy with my job and I love the team I get to work with. I got to listen to Glee in the car and NO ONE ROLLED THEIR EYES or made gagging noises! What a beautiful time to be alive!

In the midst of an emotional cluster fuck, most people have a few go-to options that they like to use to help recalibrate.

For some, it’s exercise like boxing, running or even yoga. 

Sometimes I’ve chosen running too and it really does help distract me from being upset with the issue at hand and instead I get upset about how awful running is. Works like a charm, but I’ve never had the feelings of prickliness just completely dissolve as I sweat like a steamed up hot dog.

Lots of times, we run to other people and hash out the whole story.

These sessions are made way better with wine, soft Kleenex (screw you, cheap knock off brand) and a good set of listening ears on the other person’s nicely shaped noggin. But again, I’ve had lots of vent sessions with people who have then just made me feel worse about myself, so using your friends as a “Get Out Of Misery FREE” card, can be tricky.

Driving is also kinda my jam.

But at 8:45 with a work meeting in less than 30 minutes, that wasn’t an option for me this morning.

Oh, but my favorite “reset button” is sleep.

You know the type of sleep where you fuss and cry so much that you finally just collapse and go mildly comatose? Totally similar to an over-tired toddler throwing tantrum – I totally specialize in that type of sleep!

It reminds me of my favorite Bible stories. Ha! And here you thought I was now a Child of the Damned! Fooled you! Hang with me here…Or you can follow along in I Kings starting in chapter 18 if you’d like.

So this guy named Elijah had just kicked some serious butt with the whole “Your-god-Baal-versus-my-God-Jehovah” thing. He even got a little sassy in that story and taunted the Baal priests by telling them to shout louder because maybe their god Baal was asleep or travelling. (If being a smart-ass is allowed in God’s kingdom, then I’m totally on the right track!)

The story goes on with lots of fire and a good, soaking rain storm that the place had been needing for quite some time. All good things.

But then, in dramatic Old Testament fashion, shit got real again and Jezebel was bent on making Elijah’s life a living hell. Well, she was bent on slaughtering him with a really sharp sword  just like he had just done to all her humiliated Baal-priests after the aforementioned showdown, but you catch my drift.

So he freaked out and ran away by himself into the wilderness. He started with a friend by his side but then flounced off all alone. Then he sat down under a broom bush (or tree, depending on what fancy version of the Bible you dig) and threw a giant-ass hissy fit. He yelled and cried until he tuckered himself out and fell asleep.

But when he woke up, he felt a little better. God had the courtesy to let him sleep it off and sent an angel down to start a fire and make Elijah a snack. What a guy!

Today, I got a moment to flop down on my big, puffy bed, and fall asleep too. I had to set the timer on my phone because I still needed to go to get up and go back to work. I kinda doubted an angel of God would be there assembling my Lunchable for me after all my dramatics.

I also made myself a chai in the vain attempt to replace the caffeine I had lost from the lack of Red Bull in my fridge that morning.

Yep. I felt a little better.

But you know what really helped me most of all? Getting a chance to come here and write it all down. For me, it seems to be the best way to get some perspective and really distance myself from all the emotion and frustration of a situation.

I won’t be skipping my other methods of coping (a surprise phone call, snuggles from my kids, wine) but I really appreciate this place where I can go and dump it all out, sift through it for the realities, and then take it all back in again and move on to the next thing that’s headed my way.

Thanks for being here. I hope you find what works for you when you are needing peace and comfort too.


Contrary Ways

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Mary, Mary, quite contrary,

How does your garden grow?

“With silver bells and cockle shells

And pretty maids all in a row.”

When I was two, my mom picked out nursery rhyme wallpaper for my new bedroom.

My room was awesome! Besides the super-cool nursery rhyme wallpaper that my mom would read to me as she tucked me in at night, I also had a fancy walk-in closet that later served me as a clubhouse, my Morse code practice room, and a secret hiding space for the treasure box where I stored that one neon friendship bracelet Aaron S. gave me on a whim in 9th grade.

When I was little, I had absolutely no idea what it meant to be contrary. I just liked the way the words sounded when they came out of my mom’s mouth. I was also in the dark about what the heck a cockle shell was, but I still liked the “Mary, Mary” rhyme the best. There was also one on my wall about Little Boy Blue, but he seemed like such a slacker at his job, it was hard for me to root for him.

As I grew up, there were always popular bands, TV characters, even flavors that everyone around me seemed to gravitate to. I don’t know why, but I often tried to pick the opposite of what everyone else liked, just so I could feel original or special.

When everyone liked Dylan on 90210, I chose the Jason Priestly poster for my wall.

When blue Squeeze-Its came out, I tried to stay faithful to orange, even though I knew blue was way cooler looking.

Odie was my favorite character on Garfield and Eeyore was the best of the Winnie the Pooh gang.

The first anti-pop culture stand I took was when I was about 10, when the band The New Kids on the Block emerged on the scene.

I decided that they were totally lame-balls, and I made it my full-time job to make fun of them whenever I could. Shaming people because of their music choice became my ticket to cool-town and I proudly made jokes at everyone’s’ expense and sassily plugged my ears in defiance as I skated to their song at the local skating rink.

I was such a big meanie-face! But then again, they were boys, and at that time, famous boys were still incredibly icky (and unreachable) to me, so they were easy targets. Plus, I was still into the Debbie Gibson tapes I’d been rocking in my walkman for the past two years so really, one could easily question my musical tastes.

Recently I’ve seen my nine-year old follow in my young protestation footsteps as he decided to take a stand against hot lunch. I have no idea where he got the idea to protest so actively against his school’s nutritious and honestly, pretty damn healthy, lunch choices but he is 100% committed to his cause.

I even got a call from his teacher during this past school year where she told me that my son had been so successful in making fun of hot lunch, that some girls refused to eat their food anymore because they were so worried he’d end up making fun of them.

::face palm::

Shaming kids so bad they refuse to eat? UGH. This is not the type of “leadership” his dad and I have been trying to encourage in the boy.

We had a talk about his campaigning but my mini-activist refused to change his position on hot lunch. I finally got him to understand that he needed to stop making kids feel like doofus’ if they had to eat hot lunch and he agreed to reign in his demonstrations and jokes.

Now we’re in the midst of summer camp and guess what? They serve the EXACT. SAME. FOOD. as the school’s hot lunch! Ha! He still chooses not to eat the lunch but decides to fill up on snacks he brings from home or the camp snacks that are somehow “acceptable” to his activist palette.

My son also has been known to choose things in purple or pink, just because he knows people expect that to be a “girl color”. He loves to be contrary and today, I’m going to love to be contrary too.

It really does amaze me sometimes to see people get so INTO causes. My Facebook feed is a Petri dish of people who are speaking out about organic food, local farming politics, parenting preferences, natural childbirth and of course, the damn San Francisco Giants. (Blech)

But one trend I’ve seen so much of lately is a curious hatred of something I hold quite near and dear. So it’s time that someone stood up to the bullying and took a stand.

Greetings face!

Greetings from…my face!

Here’s my truth, people: I have zero problems with posting pictures of myself on my own or with my kids or friends on random channels of social media. Commonly referred to (with disgust, might I add) as a “Selfie” the self-collected photo method isn’t really new to the photo taking world, but for some reason, it’s gained a whole new anti-following of people.

One of my favorite pictures I had of my best friend and I in high school was a selfie we took with my mom’s Canon Joy automatic camera. Our faces were kinda washed out from the giant flash that was mere centimeters from our face, but it was still a great shot! It lived on the sun visor in my car, firmly attached with Garfield stickers.

Most of my selfies these days stem from the sheer lack of humans around me. #SingleMom


My kids are used to the “Hey, guys - smile!” thing by now. Oh, and hey! Look who's being contrary?

My kids are used to the “Hey, guys – smile!” thing by now. Oh, and hey! Look who’s being contrary? Turkey…

But I love capturing photos of random daily events or when my I feel like I need to grab a picture of my kids because they seem to grow bigger every day. Sometimes I want a picture of myself because I managed to have a great hair day. You know. The important stuff.

I hate that people automatically think you’re incredibly vain whenever you post selfies of yourself. Is it true for my case, absolutely. 100%. If there is a camera around, I want my face all up in that business!

But you know, I love seeing your face too! So if you want to post pictures of yourself with the whole awkward arm thing and your friends cheek to cheek, go right on ahead! The duck face is kinda weird, so if you’re going to join my selfie-love train, I’d rather see you smile, but you know what, I’m not in charge here so you do whatever floats your boat.

Love and cheese-balls,



PS: This is the level of photograph I get when I ask others around me to take a picture. This one was by my seven year old daughter. Note the finger in the upper corner? The awkward and unflattering posture I have? At least I managed to hit the shuttlecock. Boom. Not everyday you get to include that word into a blog post, eh?


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