Wednesday, December 23, 2009

How the Sterger stole Christmas

Some would argue NYC is one of the most beautiful cities in the world, a man-made marvel of metal meets skyline. Looking down however, it’s a third world country with a concrete floor. And at Christmas time, the place is nearly sickening. All the money spent on elaborate decorations and bags filled with expensive gifts for their loved ones, the people here seemed to be far from spreading Christmas cheer. The stores were jammed with women arguing over the last few small sizes, Century 21 was the very personification of greed and overindulgence, and the no one even gave the Salvation Army bell-ringer a second glance. For a city boasting one of the biggest trees and lighting spectacles in the world, I still couldn't help but feel.. Empty. That’s because I don’t live in Whoville, but a Grinchopolis full of Grinches.

Maybe that's because there were no "Merry Christmases”, no ‘Happy Holidays." It was "here's your receipt now get the f*ck out." Bah hum bug indeed. Sure, people could blame the economy or the painful cold, but in reality the city had no one to blame but itself.. I'm living in the most Christmas-like city in the country, maybe even the world.. but is it the kind of Christmas anyone really wants to be reminded of? Where happiness isn't measured by the family and friends and love in your life, but on your gift giving abilities. Somewhere in some bible passage, the Three Wise Men are shaking their heads in disgust.

Christmas has always been a rough time of year for me. And in NYC, especially tough. Sure it sucks being away from home, but there is a completely different reason I dread it. You see, as I've grown older, I've outgrown most of my childhood ailments. Once, a horrible asthmatic, I had come to control it to the point where I could exercise without getting winded, and even run outdoors. But there are some things it seems I will never outgrow. Arguably by some standards, two of the happiest things on earth besides maybe Disney World are my Kryptonite.

I'm allergic to pot, and Christmas trees.

Many a Christmas concerts in the Gulf Coast Girl Choir found me keeling over in the middle of “Silent Night” like a soldier that had locked his knees a tad too tight. And the other? Well, that’s a story probably better left out of the blogs, but it certainly was a science experiment gone bad let's just say that.

So, when my roommates were toying with the idea of buying a Christmas tree for the holidays, I had a few words to say about it. Not only would I end up spending more than the twelve days of Christmas in the Emergency room, but I wasn’t about to be the lucky a$$hole that got to clean up all the pine needles those things leave behind. Maybe they could get a fake one I, I suggested. But, they weren’t having it. They had always had real trees growing up, and insisted that a piece of plastic would never compare to the real thing. As if!!! I argued that fake trees were not only cleaner but a lot more cost efficient. They told me I was, “being Jewish.” Regardless, the lines had been drawn, as my roommates swore I had waged an all out war on Christmas. I warned them that if they brought a tree in the house, they would come home to a vacant living room. I’d take everything: the big screen, the couch, the tree… all of it. I would even take the roast beast. It wasn’t that I was trying to be a Grinch, but I had to put my foot down sooner or later.

The next day, City Hall was putting on a local outdoor Christmas production, with a fairly good lighting display. On my way home, I was texting and carrying an armful of bags, not to mention trying to make my way through the crowd of onlookers that had gathered in the streets. The guy’s voice on the loud speaker was way too cheerful and way too annoying for my tastes, especially given the long day I had just spent in the city.

And if there is one thing I can’t stand.. Its NOISE, NOISE, NOISE!!!...

Not really paying attention to where I was going, I tripped over a large power cord. I really didn’t think twice about it - until I realized all the lights on stage had gone off. The music had also stopped. And the entire crowd was staring in confusion. Turns out that one cord led to the generator - the power box that lit the whole damn thing. And my amazing grace and Clark Griswald-esque genes had disconnected it from the hordes of electrical sockets it was powering. I looked around to make sure no one had seen my transgression, and promptly hauled ass. I had just killed Christmas.

I felt guilty. But more so, because I hadn't even stopped. It was a drive by Grinching.

Is this what I had become?

With weeks leading up to the main event, I was working 60 hour weeks and sleeping maybe 4 hours a night. So when I finally had a day to myself, I decided to get out of the house and crash a Christmas party. My Partner-In-Crime has become my right hand man in these kinds of situations, because we always seem to know how to enjoy ourselves in even the crappiest of conditions. But this party? This would be our biggest challenge yet.

Maybe it was because this party was hosted by a "friend" of a friend of his.. Whom I shall refer to as Ebenezer Scrooge to protect the less than innocent. And I call him this with good reason. The weird thing is that the guy is the very personification of Christmas in NYC and possibly the greater United States.

Everyone had heard his name and knew it. Hell, if you played a word association game, the word Christmas and it were synonymous it seemed. But that's all it was. A name. A facade. In reality he was a shell of a man that desperately needed a visit from the ghosts of Christmas past present and future.. to show him just where he was heading. At this rate, even Jim Carrey couldn't bring humor to this ending.

After the awkward meet-and-greets with various members of Ebenezer’s inner circle, I mingled around the room popping in and out of conversations. Or lurked just far enough outside that I could still make out the ridiculous malarkey these people were talking about.

"Well, I'm currently conversing with Jake right now, but I will be over shortly to continue our extensive discussion on... "

What? Was this a joke? Who talks like this besides maybe Sheldon from Big Bang Theory? I did my best to contain my outright laughter and eye rolling. While people sat around discussing their 401Ks and having occupational circle jerks, I continued to try my best to simply blend in. But being the only girl in the room not wearing tights, or sporting a giant stick up my ass, it became clear my efforts were to be fruitless.

Then one of the guys sporting a sweater ensemble that would have embarrassed Mr. Rogers put his glass down on the table. The condensation ran down the sides, and began to pool at the bottom.
Me, the queen of movie/TV/pop culture references says.. in my best Larry David impersonation I could muster.. "Sir, do you respect wood?"

My "P.I.C." burst into laughter, while the rest of the room stared at me rather indignantly. Tough crowd. I promptly grabbed my glass, my sense of humor, and left the room. Just then, I bumped into Mr. and Mrs. Scrooge, Ebenezer’s parents themselves. The sad thing was, the Scrooges were anything but. They were good, hard working, modest people. So how had their son come to be such a ruthless jerk? When did they decide to change his name from Damien?

As I watched in disgust at the way the youngest Scrooge treated and looked down upon others, I couldn't help but pity him. While he probably had more money than God, his soul was empty. And through his designer suit which probably cost more than my parent’s mortgage, his insecurities began to bleed through its rich material.

Just then, as some Whos would say .. “My Grinch heart grew three sizes that day.” Of course it was more likely just a good bra. But that hardly sounds magical. There was still a definite shift in my mood.

Maybe Christmas meant something more.

I spent the next couple of days lost in my soul, searching. That, and the 16 or so inches of snow we were being pelted by. I couldn't help but feel like I was trapped on some sick reality show, like, "I'm a Southern Girl.. Get Me Out of Here."

So with suitcases in hand, I made my way to LGA and bid the city and the miserable slush farewell. And 2 and half hours later, I touched down to 70 degree weather, and my smiling parents who met me at the airport.

Walking into my old room, it’s hard for me to imagine how it used to be. A treadmill now stands where my computer desk was, the very place I did all my work for Sports Illustrated for back in the day. My bed had been replaced by one of those quirky “Get Abs quick” machines, whose effectiveness remained to be seen thanks to my grandmother’s excessive holiday baking. And on the wall where my old high school band picture once hung, was a giant flat screen TV. Well, I guess not ALL changes are bad. I dropped my bags on the floor, and pulled down the Murphy bed my parents had assembled in my room. As I laid down on the “bed in a box” bedspread, my cat Vegas jumped on the bed as if to ask.. “well, where the eff have you been?” But then, he quickly snuggled in next to me.

Finally. I was home.

Sometimes the things that mean the most to us are the things that are simply the most familiar. We take comfort in them, and the security they provide us with. It comes without ribbons. It comes without tags. It comes without packages, boxes, or bags! I’m sure one day I will be able to bear the coldness of New York and not resent it for holding me captive in the long winter months. But until then, Lutz is.. and will always be home. We may not have a Fifth Avenue, or a Macy’s the size of a theme park, or all the bright lights of the big city. But, I still have the Sterger family Christmas lights, the country bar, and the Beef O’ Brady's. And that all suits me just fine.

And being home, and with the people I love most in this world???.. Well, that’s the best present money can’t buy.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Doppelgängers and Woosels

I'm still convinced the easiest way to meet people in NYC is through mutual friends. It’s nice having a set of references out there to put your mind at ease about the caliber of company you're keeping. And, it sure as hell beats hanging out with a guy that only wants to f*ck you or eat your brain with a side of fava beans and a nice Chianti. So one night, a good girlfriend of mine took me out for a night on the town with some other friends of ours, who brought along some of their friends-- who happened to be very attractive males.

So the first of the bachelors, being a true gentleman, comes and picks us up in the car to spare us from the heinous weather. It was one of those dreary days between fall and winter (which I have come to call “shwinter”.. you can decide why). In shwinter, it does nothing but rain and temps hang out in the low 40’s. He was a good looking successful dude, just a tad older than we were. At least he was fun to be around and hot, in a very rugged Hugh Jackman way. We girls sprinted to the SUV in our five inch heels (WHAT?? I will take every spare inch I can get!) and cocktail dresses. Luckily I have practically become an expert at sprinting in stilettos, so aside from the occasional flipping of the umbrella I was practically Jackie Joyner Kersee. There in the car, the three of us were laughing and catching up on the gossip of our mutual friends when we arrived at Bachelor Number 2s place.

In the dark and dampness of the night I couldn't make out many of his features. That is, until he got inside the car. He was manpretty, but even more shocking to me: His close resemblance to my very first boyfriend. I had just met my first doppelganger.

In a city as big and vast as NYC, it’s not uncommon to see slight variations on people you know. That girl that used to make your life hell in grade school. Your best friend from college. But this one for me??.. The very first boy to break my heart.

You always remember your first true love, that is if you're even old enough to remember it. Some people argue at that age, you're too young to know what love is. Looking back, I'm still not sure I did then, or even now. But I do know at 16 years old, with hormones raging it’s hard to not get wrapped up in all the emotions of a relationship.

Phillip was everything to me. He was my best friend, my bowling buddy. And the first guy to ever really treat me like a girlfriend. Don't get me wrong, we were both still very young and ridiculously retarded when it came to understanding the opposite sex. But, we genuinely cared for one another.

He had big brown doe eyes and a genuine smile, not to mention a good old southern boy tan that had only been achieved with many hours of manual labor in the hot Florida sun.

But this guy? The doppelganger??.. He was different.

His eyes were big and round, just like Phillips. But his soul was empty. His smile screamed mischief more than s genuine friendliness. And his tan? Well, more than likely.. The result of countless hours in a tanning bed and good genetics.

The doppelganger flirted shamelessly with me in a sandbox like fashion. You know, the kind of flirtation that involves throwing insults and backhanded compliments at a girl like we did back in preschool. But when my southerness and big feelings got in the way, he quickly moved on to his next prey. I watched as he whored himself out to all the different girls in the room to make me jealous. Really? C’mon dude, what is this.. High school? I was far beyond the stage of playing games.

He was evil Phillip, as all of the crappy qualities in Phillip had seemed to have manifested themselves in THIS guy. Suddenly, all of Phillips shyness, introversion, and naivety didn't seem so bad.

"You know, you're a ridiculously attractive guy,” I said, “But your personality downright disgusts me."

"So.. Can I call you?"

So he was both evil AND delusional. I got out of his car and haven't spoken to him since. Sure from first glance he had looked like a man I once cared about, but all looks aside, he was no one I'd want to trust with my feelings.

I guess it’s okay to have a type, but dating a doppelganger is downright dangerous because while they may look familiar you're dealing with a totally different beast. And evil Phillip was not a beast I was willing to deal with.

Maybe that's why I've had so much trouble dating in NYC. The cultural barriers I am trying to overcome are just vastly different from anything I'm used to from that good old southern charm. Instead its brash statements and humor laden put downs.. And I'm supposed to swoon?

I don't THINK so.

A few weeks later, my girlfriends and I were out at a bar on a Saturday trying to catch a few college football games. I was scouring for a table, when I happened upon one with seven empty chairs. The eighth one was occupied.

"Excuse me," I asked, "is this seat taken?"

The man spun around to answer me. And my jaw dropped.

My head did one of those double takes you only see in sitcoms. Sure he was good looking, tall dark and handsome.. But that wasn't what garnered my reaction. In fact, there's plenty of tall dark and handsome running around New York. The problem is the better majority of the ones I've encountered have been assholes. No, the reason my jaw dropped was the fact I found his features eerily familiar.

He was a doppelganger for the Perfect Stranger.

For those of you wondering whatever happened to the Stranger? Well, even I really can't answer that. We really just never worked out. He was far too career focused, and perhaps even a little lost in life to even dream of pursuing a relationship. And to be frank, I'm pretty sure the perfect stranger was less than perfectly honest. But, aren't most men?

I sat down at the table, and kept the new doppelganger company as he waited for his friends to arrive. The two of us were both huge college football fans, so we had plenty of fun exchanging barbs over a few beers.

Sure the first may have been a total asshole, but this one almost seemed like an improvement on the Stranger. He wasn't guarded, or jaded, he just seemed like a good Midwest kid that just loved life. Turns out, "Iowa" was a transplant to this cement jungle just like me, and having just as hard of a time adjusting.

After a long day of college football and a few too many beers, I made my way back to Hoboken. In two days, I had met two strangers resembling two different people I had found at two different stages in my life that couldn't have been more polar opposites. Turns out you can find all sorts of things in NYC, including stunt doubles of our very own selves brave enough to take on this tough city. Maybe doppelgangers really aren't all that bad. Maybe they're what we choose to see them as: foils to compare one another with, to really see the good and bad in people. They teach us you should never really judge books by their covers, because while they may look similar from the outside, the stories they can tell will be completely different. And who knows. Maybe this one was just beginning.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Jenn on ESPN's Page 2

Admin Update

Instead of a usual blog this time, Jenn wants you to go check out the interview she did with Lynne Hoppes over on ESPN's Page 2.

Jenn goes into a variety of topics ranging from her college days up to the December Cosmo issue.

Click here to read the full interview

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Legend of the Lone Ranger

Humans are without a doubt creatures of habit. No matter how hard we try to break our patterns and predictability sometimes the results are just inevitable. The same applies for relationships. No matter how hard we try to move on or get past someone, sometimes were just drawn to individuals more so than others. Even if we got burned the first time, most of us are too sentimental and too optimistic to not want to give things another shot if the opportunity presents itself. I like to call this the “Mosquito Lamp Theory.”

Even though we have mosquitoes and such creepy crawlers in NYC, they're still not nearly as prevalent as they are south of the Mason Dixon line. They make spending time outdoors an absolute nightmare on those hot summer nights. I can't tell you how many Fourth of Julys I spent covered in insect repellent, and smelling like Deep Woods OFF. Not only was it greasy, to the point you spent most of the night covered in shreds of grass, but it was also highly flammable. Come to think of it, yeah, we weren't very bright back then were we? So we used to also have these great inventions called mosquito lamp. I'm not sure exactly how or why they work, but supposedly it has something to do with the varmint’s attraction to the light. It’s just so shiny, and bright that they can't help but go towards it. The problem for the bugs lies in the fact that once they touch the light they meet their untimely demise.

Personal friendships are no different. Once we reach a certain point in our lives, barring an extreme geographic relocation, we have probably already met the greater majority of the people we will call our friends. Sure there are exceptions to the rule and a random addition every now and then, but for the most part our social networks are pretty stable.

What about romantic relationships? Well, those are pretty predictable too. We encounter the same people over and over again even in our dating cycles. It’s really the same series of people making cameos throughout our lives in different capacities and roles. Even the ones we wish would just go away for our better well being, still manage to hang out on the outer rims of the circle. They enter orbit at various times, make their presence known, and then disappear again until the next time the planets align. It’s the circle of strife. That no matter how hard we try to avoid certain individuals, there are certain people that have inexplicable influences over our lives and draw us to them. Thus, the “Mosquito Lamp Theory.”

No matter how shitty the break up, or how messy the outcome, for some reason or another, with or without marital obligations, children, pets or baggage, we can't help but encounter these people.

There have been numerous times that I've dealt with this cycle, most of which I concluded didn't deserve a second glance. But there are those people you just can't help but fall for over and over again, no matter how poisonous they were the first go around. We forget their bites, their stings, and their ability to crush us to the very core because of certain electricity we can't deny that draws us back in.

Sure we can blame our past failures on bad timing, meddling third parties, or simply bad decisions, or you can go with the fact that sometimes people just don't know how to treat one another. But if you remember how badly it stings and what it felt like to get burned, are you willing to take the chance on something again just because you remember how awesome it once was? My friends talk about how jaded I am in terms of relationships and trusting men in general. It’s not to say I'm damaged goods it’s just that I've seen too many of them get burned by the opposite sex.

There have been numerous blogs written about a certain “ex” and I that just can't seem to avoid each other. Not only are our industries intertwined, but we generally have always had good chemistry with one another. Too bad were also complete commitmentphobes. Me-- the girl that leaves before dawn, like I'm one of those vampires from True Blood. And him-- well the quintessential Playboy. He's the kinda boy your mom loves to death, but only because you've spared her the stories of the heartbreak he’s caused. He.. is the cowboy. The guy that rides into town, wins over the townspeople, gets the girl, only to leave again and ride off into the sunset. He means no harm. It’s just his nature. He's untamable, except maybe by the one girl that gets him. That one girl.. is me.

So when John Wayne called me up the other night, quite unexpectedly, I was flabbergasted. It was one of those phone calls, where you try to string together a complete thought, and instead emerge with a bunch of random nonsense syllables. How on earth did this kid have this kind of power over me? Still, after all these years??
Turns out he’d called to tell me that he would be in town that weekend.

And had a relatively open schedule.

And he wanted to see me.

Preferably over dinner.

John and I have been here before. I have had dinner as both a date, and as a Wingman. And the second one nearly broke my heart. Then, there was last May’s walk in the rain. And that was the last I had seen of him. So why now? After all this time? Had the boy finally come to his senses and seen what was in front of him? Or was he still out gallivanting with his random conquests and reaching new western frontiers as cowboys tend to do? I marinated on his invitation for the rest of the night and barely slept a peep. Part of me still hated him for stringing me along all these years, all while singing my praises to everyone, including his own family. The other part of me couldn't help but see some small flame still flickering between us.

Now the only question remained.. Did I dare go towards the light??

After playing out the different potential scenarios in my head, I decided to take John up on his offer. My typical date night attire was jeans and a t shirt, but this particular night I had had events to attend and was still done up to the nines. Sure, I could’ve slipped into my blues and some cowboy boots, but part of me wanted him to see me like this. Too many nights in a ball cap and jeans were what had landed me in the “friend zone” in the first place I decided. It was time for John to realize what he’d left behind.

That night I ventured out to our meeting place: a quiet spot, for the two of us to not be seen or harassed in public, because well.. he gets harassed by creepy old dudes far more than I do. There, in the candlelight of the softly lit restaurant, I quietly sipped my wine. And waited and waited. And waited. An hour later, and no sign of the cowboy.. I finally had had enough. I paid my check, and went home.

The next morning, my phone erupted with texts from John, explaining that something had come up at the last minute, and that he was truly sorry for standing me up the previous night. And that, he “would love to see me that night.”

Dare I respond?

I sat on those texts the rest of the day, and debated with myself.

What to do? What to do?

If I continued to allow him to do this to me, there was no chance he would ever respect me. Here was a man I had grown to see as one of my closer friends, as someone who got me. But in reality, maybe he only "got" him, and I was the only one that got “us.” Still, I agreed to his terms and told him I would meet him that night. As dusk turned to darkness, I sat on my couch and watched the Yankees game. 10 pm rolled around and still no word from the cowboy. He had done it again.

That’ll do Jenn.. That’ll do.

I had had enough. It had been since my senior year prom that I had been stood up. But even as an adult, I still don't think rejection hurt any less.

Since that incident, John and I have exchanged a few texts but I have really just allowed things to lie. I don't need an explanation or an excuse, though I'm sure he’d find one. No, instead, I just ignore it, and let the chips fall where they may. While some of you may disagree with my course of action, I still stand by my decision. Besides, it was only a matter of time before he would mosey through town again. Only next time, I wouldn't give him a hero’s welcome. I still care about the kid, but I’ll be damned if I'm just going to sit around and pine over something I can't have. Rather than sit around and let the same relationships orbit around me, perhaps it was time for this cowgirl to discover her own new horizons, to find new uncharted territories. That's not to say I’d have to write John out of my story all together. But I definitely knew it was time to close his chapter. And by all means, learn from his story’s example.

And the moral is..

Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be cowboys. Because you'll never know whose heart they'll break.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Are you there God? It's me, Jenn

When we last saw Hewlett, my beloved laptop, he had been having many a technical difficulty. He was forever giving me the blue screen of death, the waiting hourglass, and sometimes just downright shutting down. Still, I never gave up on Hewlett and he never seemed to give up on me. No matter how many times I rebooted him, or turned him off in an effort to preserve his memory.. He always came right back to me.

Sure, he was a little slow at times, and his "G" key had ceased to stop working, which is quite problematic btw if your last name is Sterger. But.. I loved him anyway.

Then one night, as I finished my latest writing assignment, Hewlett finally gave up the ghost. His screen went black, and then.. He was gone. For those of you wondering where all the new pictures and blogs have been, I have a confession to make.... I've spent the past three months or so, not necessarily in hiding, but more so taking the time away to get to know myself again.

You see, sometimes things happen in life that we don't expect. Not every situation goes as planned. And the events surrounding August 7th, 2009 have left me in a real state of discontent and worry.

In an effort to reinvent myself, in a cut throat industry that was becoming more and more competitive the deeper I swam, I made the decision to go against the grain and remove my implants.

For reasons I explain in the upcoming December 2009 issue of Cosmopolitan magazine, it was a difficult, yet necessary decision. And true to form, life handed me several curve balls along the way.

The article was the final collaboration between my Hewlett and me, our grand finale of sorts. Given our time together these past few years it only seemed appropriate that he close this chapter of my life with me. Some may say I'm being overly sentimental over just a piece of hardware. Some would even argue that I shared the same sentiments about my breasts. They wouldn't be entirely wrong. But we can't help the things we find an emotional attachment to, even if to some they seem just an ordinary material object.

I recently recovered many of the files I thought I had lost when Hewlett crashed. Only now, I realize that they were just that: files. Memories I had just carelessly filed away never thinking I would ever need them the way I do now. I made an adult choice to get rid of the very things that were perhaps the only reason I started out on this journey. I then decided to bare that decision, along with my confusion and my soul for the public to bare witness.

Will I catch flack? Of course. Will the haters attend my public tar and feathering? Without question. But will a select few readers actually take the time to get to know the real me, the girl behind the boobs, now that I've again shared my greatest secrets and fears in a most vulnerable state? Well, that's what I'm hoping for.

For the real story, the real heartbreak, and finding the real me among the ruins, be sure and check out the December 2009 edition of Cosmo magazine, on stands now. And as always your comments are welcome.

And to my many online fans, thanks for your continued love and support. I am, and always have been eternally grateful.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Perfect on Paper

I guess a lot of you are wondering why my blogs are no longer about my romantic life. Due to a series of unfortunate events, my romantic life has taken a back seat to my own personal health, well being, and career. Things which will all reveal themselves in due time I suppose. That's not to say there haven't been any developments or people of interest in my life; it’s just that I've just decided to take things at a “Less than Medium Pace,” Adam Sandler.

This is the tale of two guys. One was the perfect man on paper. You know the kind… they are seemingly perfect in theory, but the kind you would inevitably lose interest in for a thrill with some dude who wears graphic t shirts that are far too tight for him, rides a Ducati, and keeps LA Looks in business with his excessive hair gel usage. This ‘Perfect on Paper’ guy’s “Manfax” report was impeccable: A good upbringing, a solid family. A self made man, who owned his own business. He could've probably retired at 35 if the economy quit crapping the bed. He was extremely good looking with chiseled features. All in all a great catch. But, something wasn't there.

He didn't laugh at my jokes, or even get my sense of humor. His palms were always drenched in my presence. The only response he could usually muster was the word “cool”.. even if it was a statement regarding a recent hypothetical root canal. And he was always trying to find a reason to "stay the night." Um, sorry dude. But with the issues I've got going on I'm bout as asexual as a lamp.

We went on a few dates, but they were more awkward than enticing. There just weren't any fireworks. Sure, he could easily be the Ken to someone’s Barbie dream house, but for a girl like me.. Well, it just wasn't going to happen. The Ken doll and I eventually just faded into obscurity, what with my busy schedule and his. I just feel like the whole situation was too forced. It was one of those; I should have feelings for you because you're hypothetically the perfect guy. And the truth is.. He really is. Too bad, the person he is perfect for.. Just isn't me.

Then, there was the quiet guy. The kinda guy that goes out of his way to make you feel like you’re the only woman in the room that he even notices. He doesn't want anything or expect anything in return. He loves you on your bad hair days, and even your "bad brain days" as I've come to call them when you just have to shut yourself off from the world. His concern for you exudes everyday… your good days and all the ones in between. He gets what you do and who you are but would be just as happy if you taught high school band for a living so long as it made you happy. The main problem I had with the good guy was his glass half empty life. It seemed he always needed reassurance that I wanted to see him, that I wanted to spend time with him, that he was good enough for me. For a guy with so much to offer and so much genuineness.. Good grief! Why was he so insecure?? He was Charlie Brown.

The truth is I liked him. And liked him a lot. He was a good man, that Charlie Brown. But the timing was all wrong. As callus or brash as it may sound, I don't have time to solve anyone else’s crises. I'm struggling enough just dealing with my own. Thankfully, I have amazing friends and a supportive family to get me through everything. It was unfair for me to drag someone through the mess that has been my life. If you can't give someone everything they want, then why make them waste their time on some dream that may never come to fruition. After all, if I wouldn't subject my cat to it, why a human being?

I called one such friend on a less than perfect night, to give them the update on my situation in NYC. After listening to my stories about Ken and Charlie, he unloaded a barrel of truth on me that hadn't been done since my days with the Perfect Stranger.

"Jenn, can I be honest with you?” he asked. “And I mean this, in all sincerity. You're a real douche. You date guys that don't deserve you. One cheats on you, one lies to you, one leaves you for a Hooters waitress and another uses you as a replacement girlfriend til his old one comes back. You date down, Jenn. And why?? You're an amazing girl, with a lot to offer someone. I just hope one day you find yourself in all this mess and are happy. You're like Anna Scott, dude. You spend all your time dealing with these schmucky high profile guys and stupid fist pumpers that are either intimidated by you, don't deserve you, or are too damn immature to understand you. Why won't you just find your Hugh Grant already? The boy standing in front of a girl, well... You know how that goes. Instead you go for what everyone expects you to and not what makes you happiest. You're like the quarterback who dates the cheerleader just because it’s practically an arranged relationship."

The sad thing was, my friend was right. It’s sad when the things that make us happiest don't make any sense. Not to the people around us. Or .. Anyone for that matter. But if I was going to be completely honest with myself, how happy was I… REALLY? I shouldn't have to defend the decisions I make, nor will I. Mainly because sometimes we can't explain why were drawn to certain things over others. Girls will always chase what’s bad for them, just for the thrill. Until one day we wake up, and maybe the games aren’t so much fun anymore.

I still don't think Charlie Brown understands why we can't be anything more than friends. Aside from a minor misunderstanding, there was no blow out, no fight, it just ended. It’s not like I found someone else or just wasn't that into him. In fact, he's an amazing guy. And in turn, he deserves a great girl. And under different circumstances, that girl very well could have been me. But under the strains of the real world and the hand I have been dealt, I'm just a less than ideal version of myself. And if I can't give someone my best, than I would rather give them nothing at all other than my unconditional friendship. But, once feelings are hurt and exposed, let's face it.. There's no going back to “just friends.” He wanted so badly to try and save me from my problems, and situations that are just better left for me to deal with on my own. What Charlie never realized was I didn't need him to be some knight in shining armor. I didn't want him to ride up on his white horse and treat me like a princess. I mean, that's all fine and dandy. But at this stage in my life, I just want someone who is willing to stand next to me and remind me that I'm not alone, and roll with whatever adventure life hands us.

Until I get my life straightened out, there will be no happy ending, no prince to ride off with. But if I have learned anything these past few years, it’s that sometimes the journeys that teach us the most in life are the ones where we go it alone. Only then, do we come out stronger and better versions of ourselves.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Death to snuggies

For as long as I can remember, I have never been a fan of sleepovers. I was that annoying kid that never wanted to stay over at anyone else’s house. I always left early at slumber parties. And I never, ever wanted to stay over at my boyfriend’s houses. It had nothing to do with them seeing me the next morning or the fact I'd have no makeup on and a terrible case of dragon breath. No, actually it had to do with the fact I couldn't sleep next to someone. I couldn't sleep in the same room with someone. I was a snugglephobe.

The sleep disorder didn't just apply to boyfriends. It went so far as friends.. And well, anyone. Except for my cat, Vegas, but that's because she minds her own space too, and typically just sleeps on her designated blanket. Personally, I just hated lying next to someone, even if that someone was my significant other. But that doesn't make me a frigid bitch. Maybe when I'm ready to sleep I want to actually sleep. But if I'm next to someone I feel like I have to be conscientious of my space and respectful of theirs.

When I go to sleep, it’s like a showdown at the O.K. corral. And this bed ain’t big enough for the two of us. Maybe I just like my space. I can't explain my weirdness or the logistics of it. I just enjoy being able to stretch out and lay where I want, without feeling like I'm intruding on someone else’s personal space.

It wouldn't be so bad if I didn't always end up with a cuddler. No matter how big or how bad ass the guy, I always seemed to get stuck with the kid who had once been the runt of his litter or had mommy separation issues. You know, the kind that doesn’t sleep next to you, but practically on top of you. Maybe I could sleep stomach to someone, but why the need for full body contact? They were like puppies that weren't properly weaned from their mother. I mean, I'm laying next to you. Isn't that enough? Why hump my leg? And given the size ratio between the guy and me, it was only a matter of time before they rolled over and it was.. Bye bye Jenn.

Most people can trace their phobias back to a certain point in their life. And while this one stems back as far as childhood, I remember an instance more recently that totally put my snugglephobia in full throttle. A few years back, I had dated this guy for a few months when we ended up staying out late and drinking at a club for a buddy of his birthday. I had been the designated driver of the group, so drinking was kinda out of the question. I was also dead tired when we rolled out of the club in the middle of the night. Not wanting me to drive home by myself in the dark, he insisted I stay at his place and just leave in the morning.

So I snuggled into his giant king size bed and relished in my ability to finally get off my feet. He slipped his left arm under my neck, and the two of us quickly dozed off to sleep.

But not for long.

You know how a dog has those super vivid dreams? The kind where they twitch in their sleep in hot pursuit of a cat or possibly a mailman? Well, apparently, I was dating Rick "Wild Thing" Vaughn because his left arm not only quivered in his sleep, it heaved a mid nineties heater just behind my shoulder blades. 3 1/2 innings later I was beginning to lose my patience with this starter. His strike zone was a little high. And he liked to pitch around the outside corner. I laid there watching the clock tick away at the early morning hours, praying they'd call this game on account of rain, wet dreams, or something.

Finally, at 5 am, as the sun began to peak through his bedroom shades, I had had enough. 6 innings, 5 K, 96 pitches later.. I called him out. I grabbed my shoes, my purse, and took my base. And I didn't walk, I ran. That would be the last time I slept next to someone for a long, long time.

Not having a steady boyfriend, these have been moot issues. If I have gone on dates, I've made it perfectly clear that the date ends when I'm ready to go to sleep. And said sleep will take place in my own bed, and no one else’s. Guys have farted. Guys have peed on me. Hell, drunk girlfriends have peed on me. People have sweated on me like they were participating in that weird hot room yoga session. Not to mention, it’s quite disgusting to wake up in someone else’s discarded dinner from the night before, post-digestion of course. If people have so little respect and awareness of their space and actions in their sleep, it made me wonder what I was doing in my dream state of mind.

What if I was bitch-slapping people? Or kicking them senseless like I was in that old school Street Fighter game?

Sleep is the one time a person has zero control over their actions, and also has zero recollection of them. I found this out the hard way, when I was prescribed Ambien a little over a year ago. For one, sleep eating became a real problem, especially when my roommate made his amazing pumpkin pie. I woke up the next morning, and he was less than pleased. I'd watch entire television programs, but couldn't remember anything past the opening credits. It made me very thankful for my DVR.. And some nights, I'd sleep walk butt-ass naked through my apartment. Luckily, no one but one of my girlfriends witnessed this.

Maybe I could train myself to sleep next to someone, with a Snuggie or a body pillow? But as I soon discovered, Snuggies are really just weak sauce backwards robes. And if anyone saw me wearing it, they’d swear I'd joined a cult. But the body pillow seemed to have real potential.

As I laid down for the first night in my bed with my surrogate sleep partner, I said my prayers and hoped for the best. There in the darkness of my room, I tried my best not to toss and turn. But something in the back of my head didn't seem to want to relinquish our sleeping quarters, even if it was only to a giant pillow. 3 hours of wrestling and unrest later, I tossed my fluffy sleeping experiment onto the floor. Sleep comfort my ass! And finally drifted off to sleep.

I know what you're thinking. How on earth have I ever been in a long term relationship? Or had slumber parties? Or ever survived band camp?

The answer is.. I dunno.

But last week, after spending countless hours on set and commuting, it finally happened. A buddy of mine offered to let me crash at his place. It was some god awful hour in the morning and I was really dreading the early morning commute back to work. So he told him he was more than willing to stay on his couch and pony up his bed for me that night.

One problem. By the time we made it back to his place it was probably 4 am or so and there were what appeared to be two dead bodies on his couch. Turns out a few of his roommates’ friends had just had one too many and didn't feel like trying to trek it home. After surveying the situation, we came to our conclusion: We'd have to sleep next to one another. I debated with my inner self about actually going home, but cabbies make a practice of ripping people off in the middle of the night, especially if you're going to Jersey. And forget about taking the trains! Only the most derelict and blacked out drunkards took the train back to 'Boken after midnight. So it looked like I was stuck there.

As we laid down on his ginormous bed, I practically drew a line down the middle.

"Look," I said. "I have a real big problem sleeping next to people. I'm doomed to live in a house that is set up like the old 1950's ones. You know, with the two beds. I just have this thing about my personal space. I know it sounds nuts, but I haven't slept next to someone in ages. So I apologize if I kick or scream or rattle off random bits of my deepest darkest secrets in my sleep. And as for you. Just.. Keep your hands and feet in your space and we will be just fine."

He gave me an odd look and laughed at my awkwardness.

"Just go to sleep ya nut job. We both like boys, so this shouldn't be an issue."

I'm pretty sure he was lying about the second part, but I laid down nonetheless.

I put my head down on his comfy pillow and began my staring contest with the being I had come to know as my archrival.

"So. We meet again ceiling."

I gave the textured ridges of the hardest stare of my life, but finally conceded my defeat.

Then... I woke up.

Rays of sun shone through his blinds, and I knew I had done it. I had actually fallen asleep! I hadn't kicked anyone, or punched anyone. And let's face it; girls don't fart, so I hadn't embarrassed myself there either. Maybe there was hope for me yet.

As I did the walk of shame home in the previous days clothes I couldn't help but laugh at myself. What had I been so crazy about? I had survived a night in bed with another human being, and given the cold weather - I think I almost liked it.

What?... This Southern girl still needs a space heater. ;)

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


Being from the south, I've grown accustomed to the sweeter things in life. Sweet potatoes, sweet corn, and of course sweet tea. Down south, even in a city as urbanized as Tampa, they serve their tea so sugary sweet you need something salty on hand just to avoid going into sugar shock. I'd drink the stuff until I was sick.

Then, Sharon Richter, my nutritionist told me how many calories I was ingesting in beverages alone. It was like being told Santa played Satan in the off-season. Or that the Easter Bunny’s favorite hobbies included boiling his own kind. Or that the Tooth Fairy may have left you dollars under your pillow, but she also farted on it for good measure. (No wonder I was always getting pink eye.) In short.. I was devastated.

Then I discovered this amazing thing called Splenda. I had used the stuff on occasion before, but never really took a liking to it. They say if it sounds too good to be true it probably is. A zero calorie sweetener? That did the same job as sugar without the fat ass? Rigghhht. What was the catch? I’ll come down with some incurable cancer, or maybe a thyroid disorder? But, everyone I knew was praising its greatness, so, why not?

Before long I was putting Splenda on everything I ate. I mean things that don’t even warrant Splenda… like… vegetables. I figured if a little was good, a lot was even better. It became an ongoing joke between my old roommate and I about just how much I would go through a day. He’d spill some while baking… then wipe it into a nice little line and asked me if I wanted to “hit it.” That is when I realized, I had a real problem.

My name is Jenn, and I’m a Splendaholic.


This city is so cold, cut and dry with zero compassion it seems. Its not that the people here take delight in others misfortunes, they simply just don’t care either way. So for an outsider, this town can come across as very cynical.

Me? I’m a brutally honest girl, but even that doesn’t stop me from sugar coating things every now and then. Some people up here seem to appreciate it, while others loathe its usage entirely. Now I'm all about being real with people, but being a pessimistic hard truth a$$hole…is just not what I had in mind.

Up here, there is a girl in my circle of friends we’ve all come to affectionately refer to as.. Eeyore. Despite having lost a ton of weight recently, and getting a new hair cut, she was still one of the least confident and albeit most miserable people I know. She’d go on dates with men, and report back to us the next day….

Us: How’d your date go?
Eeyore: It was fineeeeeeeeeeeee.

Us: Well, what did you do?
Eeyore: Went to dinner. Had some wine. Prolly
never see him again. (Oops, I lost my tail. Thanks for noticing meeeeeee…….)

Ok, so I made up the last part. But, you get the picture. It was just a slew of man-hating and socially destructive patterns we had come to expect from her. The problem was… Eeyore didn’t hate men. The person she was really unhappy with was herself.

People who shoot down hope, the cynics, the people unhappy with their own existence yet… doing NOTHING proactive about their situation, well… I just don't need them. I prefer to think of myself as one of life’s cheerleaders, only without the outfit or any dance skills. After all, sometimes we could all use someone to reassure us that everything will be ok. Do you think Obama got elected by telling people how $hitty the next four years of life in America would be? Of course not. He got elected because he promised “change.” He calmed our fears. He told us that while things may seem bad, they would inevitably get better. And what else could he really do?.. He kind of inherited this mess. While kids used to dream of being the President of the United States, now we have ten year olds who are like… “No, that’s ok. I’d rather be a florist instead.” How were we supposed to know that an eight year ruling by an oil tycoon would send this country into such a downward spiral? I mean, he could hardly run the Texas Rangers, he knew jack shit about the internet and we expected him to be the leader of the greater part of the free world? I don’t THINK sooooo. Maybe Robin Williams was right: “Some men achieve greatness. Others get it as a graduation present.” Though you can't blame one man, you can certainly blame the administration.

So in a world overrun by negativity and bad things happening to good people, what are we supposed to do?...

Have faith. Have hope. Be positive. You have to have hope. Just remember, that no matter how bad things are, they could always be worse. My parents have always said that I was never “just a little kid.” I was a little adult. I wanted to belong in their conversations, their world. Well, the real world as I came to discover… really sucked. So my mom taught me how to play the “Glad Game.”

“You have to tell me 3 positive things, or things that make you happy, before you can launch into whatever nasty barrage you were about to pummel me with,” she said.

And sure enough. It started to work. It became a part of me and my mother’s rituals. Sometimes the lists came rather easily, other times .. not so much, but we always seemed to manage and it made the day so much easier.

So when things got a little more than I could handle recently, I decided to bring back the “Glad Game.” It not only made my days easier, but it improved my interactions with others as well. The business people who liked to play the close-minded devil’s advocate all the time. The girls with their man-hating sessions. (Guess what? You’re just as crazy as men are. Why do we kid ourselves?) And the coworker that just can’t seem to be anything but a Debbie Downer. They now had to either list of three GOOD things about the day, about life, whatever or you just don't pick up their call. It’s not about being a Pollyanna or being delusional. It’s about having a good relationship with yourself and being able to cope when life throws you some massive curve balls.

After coming to grips with my addiction to Splenda, I’ve really toned down my usage of the stuff. After all, there is still a lot that we don’t really understand about it yet, and the critics and nutritionists are still pretty skeptical. I guess like most things in life, artificial sweeteners are best used in moderation and with managed expectations.. Whether you’re sugar coating your oatmeal, your ice tea, or just a bad day, it’s always best to use it sparingly, because who knows when the day will come you may need that little something extra. So when the cynics, Debbie Downers, Hard asses, and curveballs come your way, just smile, nod, and take them with a spoonful of Splenda. At least then you can still fit in your favorite pair of jeans.

And that’s proof that a little sugar really does help the medicine go down.

In a most delightful way.

Monday, September 14, 2009


Kids, ever since I moved to NYC I've made no bones about how the city could change a person. Sometimes for better, sometimes for worse.. but like Alice down the rabbit hole, you always emerged from the other end a whole new you. As I reflected over the past year of my life, I reminisced about the roller coaster ride it had been. I won't lie. It kind of resembled an E ticket ride at Disney world. However, through all that turmoil and excitement, I had never really grown to love the one place I was supposed to call home.. my apartment.

Don't get me wrong, it was a beautiful space, with a view they'd show in most movies. And while people would tease that I lived in New Jersey, I would always counter them with a glance at my unobstructed view of the NYC skyline. And that they, those stuck up Manhattanites, no matter how great their view was.. Still had to look at NJ. I think it’s safe to say the joke’s on them.

A funny thing happened though when I started to pack away all my pots and pans. I almost felt a little.. sad. Sure my ‘Super’ was anything BUT super, not to mention a real bitch on wheels. In fact, at one time I’m pretty sure I threatened to pay my rent to her in one dollar bills just to watch her count them all. Or all the times it looked like a bomb went off in my kitchen because my cheftastic roomie decided to ‘kick it up a notch.’ Or the fact that my door guys were usually so blitzed they barely knew who was coming or going. But it was still the only home I remotely knew.

Piled knee deep in work projects, moving day arrived rather quickly. I watched as three men with an assist from my best friend and my father loaded my life onto a truck and sent it to its new destination: a mere mile away. But far more practical, and convenient in location than my previous apartment. And in this economy, who can really blame me? Besides, when I look at my upcoming schedule I'll be on the road more than I'll be in New York. It looks like it’s the gypsy life for me. Much to my father’s dismay, Vegas, my cat is still a refugee at my parents’ house where she pretty much rules the roost over the three Dobermans and countless other critters. And has the undivided attention of both my sister and grandmother who have to take turns watching her eat. What can I say?? She’s used to being an only child.

I thought when I left Florida I had rid myself of things like stifling heat, nasty humidity, hurricanes, and tropical storms, but true to form, Mother Nature kept me on my toes that weekend. The truck had barely parked in front of my new place when the rain arrived, introducing Tropical Storm Danny. Lord, I thought, please don't let this be a sign of the things to come.

My new roommates were all at work, so I was free to unload my stuff without disrupting them. I unlocked the door and was greeted by Rex, a dog the size of a bedroom slipper with bladder control issues. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm a huge animal lover, but having been raised with big dogs, I'm definitely a bit biased. Besides, once dogs get small and start fitting in purses, they are more fashion accessories than anything else. Rex and his excitability would take some getting used to. But until then, I put him away in Alicia’s room so he wouldn't get stepped on by the movers, or worse.. loose on the streets in Hoboken.

I watched as the first of the boxes came in. Things were actually moving along quite smoothly until we got to the box spring. While my older building had had the convenience of an elevator system, the new place was a good old walk-up. On any given day the extra set of stairs would be a nice edition to my workout, but on moving day these stairs were a real bitch. After finagling with the stairs as much as they could, my father and the movers made their decision. It would have to come over the balcony.

One problem: my room didn’t have a balcony. That left us no choice but to go through Rapunzel’s room. I call her this mainly for her princess-like mannerisms, Pollyanna mindset, and the excessive amount of hair this woman has. Real or fake, she’s pretty much the envy of most women around her for it. She is the Jenn Sterger antithesis.. in short.. the girly-girl. The kind you would swear still owns a collection of dolls, the variety of which “guy’s girls” like me would love to do nothing more than microwave just to see how tolerant plastic was of low volume radiation. The mere fact she has a balcony only makes this analogy even more accurate.

My dad walked down the hallway and opened the door to the princess’ sleeping chambers when he was greeted by a less than pleasant site.

There, sprawled out in the middle of the bed was a man face down in the sheets. Oh yeah..

And he was also butt naked.

My father quickly shut the door.

"Holy shit," he said. "Someone's in there. And he's definitely not wearing anything."

My dad knocked on the door several times, and called out to the man, but there was no answer.

"I think he's dead," said my dad.

I shook my head and opened the door. Sure enough, there lay the Naked Man in all his glory. Where most people would call his nudity a flagrant foul, I’m going to use this as more of a time out to explain WHY there is a naked man in my apartment. You see, Naked Man and Rapunzel have been dating for several years now. I’d seen him over at the place many times; he just usually wasn’t modeling the Emperor’s new clothing line. But since he was in the off season his schedule was much more relaxed and his wardrobe apparently just followed suit. I walked into the room and threw a blanket over his Seth Roganesque hairy bare ass to save my stomach contents from seeking their nearest exit. Then, I tapped his foot.

"Um, Naked Man? Yeah…… hi. Were trying to move my things in today and were going to need to use Rapunzel’s balcony since some things won't fit up the stairs. Really sorry to wake you, but I was kinda under the impression everyone was at work."

I finished my diatribe and threw Naked Man his drawers. A few moments later, he emerged from the cave and went about his walk of shame to his own apartment down the street. I had just survived my first encounter with the Naked Man.

I wasn’t the only roommate moving in that weekend apparently. Enter Craig. We’ll call him that.. because well, that is where Alicia and Rapunzel found him: On Craig’s List. Finding roommates online is almost as intimidating as online dating. Wait… actually.. it's worse. After all, you have to share a living space with these people. The guy that used to live in Craig’s room we affectionately referred to as Borat, only because none of us could really understand how to pronounce his name. He traveled a lot though, so he more used the space for storage than anything else. Never mind the fact Alicia had gotten nosey one time while he was out and found ice picks, duct tape and rope in his room. We decided he was either a guy with an affinity for rock climbing, or perhaps was a serial killer in training. He turned out to be the former, but also ended up moving out to live with his girlfriend. Craig was his last minute stand in. I’m still not quite sure how I feel about the whole situation. But as long as he isn’t a complete slob or an ax murderer I think I will be ok with it eventually.

The rest of the furniture made it in rather quickly and easily. Then the real fun began.. Unpacking.

Sara and I unloaded all my bedding and linens, and then began the arduous task of finding homes for all of my clothes. We started piling away my shirts and underwear into drawers. But something wasn't quite right. For some weird reason, my drawers kept slipping out. Just then a bottle of shampoo fell off my dresser and began to roll across the floor, rapidly gaining speed before it stopped at the opposite wall. I picked up the shampoo bottle and walked it back over to the dresser. Why on earth had the bottle rolled clear across the room?

Just then, it dawned on me.

"FML." I said.

"What?"asked Sara as she approached me. "What's wrong?"

"Sara. Look."

I put the bottle back down on the floor and watched as it once again rolled across the floor and slammed into the wall.

You know that moment, when your picture perfect dream of your new place, new car, new girlfriend… when you discover their secret, giant flaw that forever would haunt your image of them??.. Well, this was that moment. If I had been born with one leg vastly shorter than the other, or perhaps had a budding career in skateboarding or any other extreme sport for that matter, my discovery would have been beyond exciting and awesome. But I was none of these things. So instead, I heard the sound of glass shattering as I came to the ugly realization…that I was living in a crooked apartment.

“Jenn, it’s not the end of the world.. it will just take some getting used to. Well, that and a few wedges and blocks of wood from Home Depot. So 9 blocks of wood and 4 door stops later my room was brought to a happy equilibrium.

The next few days were spent cleaning, painting and sprucing up the place. And if I must say so myself, just the addition of a little bit of color and elbow grease has taken the place from a 3 … to at least an 8. It certainly is no high rise renovation, but it definitely has character. Now it’s cleaner than it’s been probably since Bush Sr was in office, and W was still destroying a baseball franchise. It’s got more layers of paint on it than the girls on “Rock of Love,” but it’s still a work in progress. Just like life. You can analyze all the cracks, and nicks, and dents… or you can accept them as just a part of the process. A home and life are simply what you make them. And with a little hard work, effort, and love… well.. the results can be priceless.

And that kids… is how I met my roommates.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

The Couch

It’s no secret that athletes are some of the most superstitious people you’ll ever meet. They’re the guys that won’t shave their beards in a run for the Stanley Cup. They’re the guys who step over the first base line when they take the field. And of course the guys who won’t wash a jock strap or some other vital uniform part just to not jinx a winning streak. They are not only willing to compromise their own personal hygiene, but also the olfactory senses of those around them, just to perform these repetitive acts that any doctor with the proper training would say border on the diagnosis of some form of OCD.

But to say these behaviors and fears are unfounded might be a tad naive. Just ask the Boston Red Sox. After selling off Babe Ruth for a Broadway Musical, they and their fans endured 85 seasons before winning their next pennant. And what about the Cubbies?.. Haven’t their fans suffered enough? They have a sign in the outfield of Wrigley that says how many games since their last championship, and sadly enough just watch the numbers tick away every season. And then.. there’s poor poor Cleveland: the city that simply can’t catch a break in any sport it seems and where the phrase “taking the Browns to the Super Bowl” is more fitted for bathroom jokes than sports headlines.

So it’s no surprise that athletes’ superstitions have rubbed off on their fan bases. After all, when you eat, sleep, and breathe a certain team you can’t help but revel in their wins and mourn their losses. My father is no exception.

When I transferred to Florida State in 2004, my parents sent me up to Tallahassee with a washed up old living room set. It wasn’t in awful condition, but it certainly wasn’t fresh from the showroom floor of a Havertys. It was one of those beat up old couches that had seen the wear and tear of having teenage daughters with obnoxious parties, weaning a pair of Dobermans through the “puppy stage” and a clan of cats who were seemingly always marking their territory. After countless shampooing and sewing sessions later, the cushions had definitely seen better days. The ottoman, though easily moved on wheels, sagged in the middle because it was one of the dogs’ favorite sleeping spots even though her ass would barely fit on it. And the pillows?... Well, they were a rag-tag set of whatever was left, and a few editions after a run to Pier 1.

Even with all her beatings and markings, this couch still possessed powers much more far reaching than any of us could have ever predicted. That is.. until Sept 5, 2005. While some of you may recognize that as the date I was discovered on national television, my father will forever remember it … as something else.

The day the Miami Hurricanes fell to the Florida State Seminoles.

For years, this was always a day that was circled on my parents calendar, as they were both die hard ‘Canes fans. My sister and I were products of the Butch Davis, Dennis Erickson, and Larry Coker eras. I’m pretty sure we even had cute little Miami outfits our parents would dress us in to attend games. With all this Green and Orange pumping through my family tree, one would assume I was the black sheep of the family by attending Florida State. But after I showed Mom and Dad the potential cost to attend the “U” versus the Free Ride I had been offered by the ‘Noles… my Dad decided to let that slide. No word yet on whether or not I will be left out of his will though. Once I was on campus, it wasn’t hard to fall in love with the ‘Noles. And boy, did I fall hard. My wardrobe began to consist of whatever the newest tee was at the bookstore, and those obnoxious gym shorts with ‘Noles embroidered across the ass. And like that, the transformation was complete.

Fast forward to September 5, 2005… that fateful Monday night. Though it was hardly an offensive display of talent, the game proved to be like any other match up between these two teams - a bitter fight to the end. Only this time, for the first time in five years the outcome was different. After a dynasty of Wide Rights, a Wide Left, and a Bowl Game for good measure, the ‘Noles finally defeated the mighty Hurricanes. Some ‘Noles fans would say it was simply our time. But not me… I knew the real reason behind our victory: the green couch. For years my dad had insisted, that as long as his ass was on our green couch, the ‘Canes could not lose. He even found this to be true while on the road. If the ‘Canes were in a crunch, he would tear apart the entire ‘A’ Terminal of Hartsfield International Airport looking for a green chair, which he usually found in Delta’s crown room. Should said chair be occupied, even by a mammoth of a human being, my dad would throw down for that piece of furniture. And what about attending games in person??.. Well, I’m pretty sure he even had a green stadium cushion he brought along. While all this may seem a little crazy and over the top, you could trace everything back to… the green couch. Maybe… just maybe he was on to something.

The next year’s match up was a repeat of 2005, only this time in the Orange Bowl… a stadium I so fondly remembered from my childhood that had clearly seen better days by the time I was in my early twenties. The teams 2007 meeting resulted in a Miami win at the arm of a kid named Kirby Freeman. Yeah, the same Kirby Freeman that would complete 1 of 14 passes, for 86 yards, and 3 interceptions against NC State the following week. So how did Miami pull off the upset at Doak??... Simple. The Couch was back in Tampa, as I had brought it home to my parents while I was on the road working for Sports Illustrated and Sprint.

The following year, my parents added an extension to our house so my grandmother could come live with us.. and with her.. came all her stuff. Including a nicer, never-been-pissed-or-chewed-on furniture set. But her couch was flowery, and what you would expect your grandmother to own.. and blue of all things. Come to think of it.. maybe that’s why the Gators were on their National Title streak two out of the last three years. Remind me to move that damn thing the next time I go home. And as for the ‘Noles/’Canes outcome, well… with the Green couch shoved deep into the corner of a climate controlled storage center… well, the ‘Canes were simply no match for the Seminole Nation.

Fast forward to this past Saturday. My buddies and I were all settled into a little booth at our favorite sports pub taking in week one of college football, when my phone’s text message alert went off. I still can’t decide whether teaching my mother to text was either the smartest or dumbest thing I’ve done, but she’s actually gotten quite good at it as a means of secondary communication. Though I’m sure there may have been a few punctuation or spelling errors, the text read something like this.



I couldn’t help but laugh. Maybe there was something to all this hocus pocus. I guess I would find out soon enough.

As it turns out, finding movers on short notice over a holiday weekend proved to be a much more difficult task than previously thought. So the couch would remain there, in the cold corner of the storage room for one more match up. When Monday night rolled around, I texted my mother: IF THE CANES GO DOWN TONIGHT, MY FATHER WILL HAVE NO ONE TO BLAME BUT HIMSELF. AND HIS ASS FOR NOT BEING ON THAT GREEN COUCH.

Four quarters, a turkey burger, and two beers later… I knew the answer. As I crawled into bed at my Hoboken apartment in dismay, my father was singing a different tune down in Tampa. He walked into the bedroom where he awakened my mother and three sleeping Dobermans in their bed.

“Well,” he said, “I didn’t need my couch.”

And like that.. the curse was over.

Maybe all this karma crap really is just a bunch of hocus pocus. Or maybe it’s just our way of explaining why certain things in life happen the way they do. It doesn’t explain how bad things still happen to good people and how others reap what they sew, but it goes to show you that maybe life is just in the hands of fate. In reality, were really all just being tested. Our wills to succeed, prosper, survive. But some aspects of life and their outcomes we simply can’t explain. So we use Karma as our virtual scapegoat. Sure, she can be a real bitch, but she can also bring you a little luck too. And like the saying goes, sometimes I would rather be lucky than good. So maybe it doesn’t take a green couch, or an unwashed jock strap, or a crazy prophet with a goat (Google it)… maybe all it really takes is hard work, faith, and luck. After all, couldn’t we all just use a little more of that???

The green couch still resides in a climate controlled storage space off of Bearss Road in Lutz. If any 'Nole fans happen to own a large truck, and are attending next year’s match up.. I might be able to get you the access code to the unit. I’m not saying I believe in all this junk.. I’m just saying.. I have a score to settle. :)

(To Be Continued… 2010)

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Admin Update: 1-900-BALL-TLK -- Hot Sports Chat with Jenn Sterger

Yes, Jenn's alive and well. She's just busy rebooting. :) She'll be back blogging soon though.

This video from 12 Angry Mascots ought to tide y'all over for a little while longer:

Wednesday, August 05, 2009


I was in the middle of another romantic epiphany blog when it happened again. Kings of Leon’s “Use Somebody” suddenly went into an impromptu techno remix that only played one note, my mouse no longer worked… and then.. there it was.

The Blue Screen of Death.

I first saw the Blue Screen of Death last November. I didn’t really think too much about it. Just figured it was one of those buggy things that PC’s got every once in a while. So I upgraded my firewalls, upgraded my virus protection, and went about my own business. But then it happened again sometime mid February. And again in April. The Blue Screen of Death was becoming far too regular a visitor to my beloved laptop.

Ordinarily, I would just take Hewlett (my computer), to my buddy Erick and let him tinker with him until he was back in working order. But, I wasn’t in Tampa, and had no plans to travel in the immediate future. So I took Hewlett to the boys over at the Geek Squad to see if they could figure out what was wrong with him.

The diagnosis was bleak.

Hewlett was simply running out of memory and running out of time. Sure, I could buy an external hard drive and milk him a little while longer, but there was no telling when he would surf his final web page or simply give out on me. Here I was, a girl born and raised from the grassroots of internet message boards, and I could barely keep a solid WIFI connection, let alone multitask without sending Hewlett into an electronic seizure. And with all the craziness I had coming up in my schedule, I couldn’t afford to be caught on the road with no access to cyberspace. It was time to face a harsh reality. Hewlett had simply become outdated.

Hewlett and I have seen a lot of adventures (and misadventures) over the past few years. I got him as a Christmas gift from my parents the year I started writing for Sports Illustrated, and we’ve been inseparable ever since. He has seen me through the good times, the bad times, and all the ones in between.

How was I supposed to part with something that had been such a huge part of not only my professional success, but my personal life over the past four years?? Sure his “G” key was a little busted, his speakers were a little rusted, and his memory was at times a little fuzzy, but he always got the job done. We knew the airport security drill like the back of our hard drives, and had become masters of pirating our way through random WIFI connections. But what now?

Hewlett wasn’t the only one feeling the strain the past few years had put on our lives. Between my shooting schedules, upcoming projects, charity work, and meetings, I barely have enough time to sleep let alone take care of myself. And that’s while I was single. My relationships over the past few years had been even more draining, some of course far more than others. I dunno, maybe Hewlett was trying to tell me something. MALFUNCTION: NEED INPUT. Maybe I needed something else in my life. A change, a fresh… something. Maybe it was time.. to say goodbye.

I’m proud of the things I have accomplished in the short four years since that fateful Monday night. People can say I haven’t accomplished much, or downplay the victories I have had, or better yet attribute all my success to cleverly crafted cleavage… but I think they’d be shortchanging me if they did. As some of my colleagues have pointed out on numerous occasions, I wasn’t born into this industry. Nor did I have any real formal training. People work their entire lives to do a fraction of what I have done merely a few years. I was thrust into it overnight, by luck. Ran with it, by chance. And never looked back, with hard work and dedication.

That’s not to say I haven’t had a few missteps along the way. After all, with no fancy publicists, agents, or managers until recently.. I’ve done most of it by myself and the help of a few trusted friends and family. Sure, I will put my foot in my mouth a time or too but I’ve always said I am so much more eloquent on paper. Hewlett has spell check.. grammar check. And a backspace key. Really, what more could a girl ask for?

My parents arrived this week to help me get things in order and make final preparations for the big things ahead of me. After I coerced my dad into reprising his role as Tim the Tool Man Taylor and installing a new air conditioner in my future apartment.. I gave him an even bigger task: One last ditch effort to save Hewlett. My dad is pretty nifty with computers, but something in the back of my mind said this job was just too big for any of us to handle.

As we backed up all of Hewlett’s memories, part of me couldn’t help but get a little nostalgic. There I was…. meeting Brent Musberger in Eugene, Oregon. Shaking & Baking with Tony Stewart and the boys of NASCAR. Falling in love and touching the Ivy on the Walls of Wrigley. There were pictures intermixed of boyfriends past. The ones that were better off friends, the ones that got away, and the ones I couldn’t seem to get .. to just go away. Then, there they were. The infamous screen captures that started it all: The birth of “The Cowgirl.” I couldn’t help but laugh at how things had changed in the past four years. From short shorts and cowboy hats, to power suits and couture dresses. The ‘lil Cowgirl was all grown up. I guess we all have to at some point, right?..

While perusing through the photos I stumbled upon a folder name I didn’t recognize. GHSMB2002. Hm.. that’s weird. I opened the folder.

Sure enough, it was the old me. The one before the plastic surgery, the one before all the heartbreak. The girl who was a hopeless romantic, a prolific piano player, and had one of the biggest cheese grins you have ever seen.

Then it dawned on me.

WTF was I thinking?!?!?!?! I couldn’t disassemble Hewlett. He had served me well, and I was just willing to throw in the towel.. just like that. I don’t think so!!!


So, countless hours later, with a new partitioned hard drive and lord knows what other miracles my dad had worked on the operating table, we managed to buy Hewlett a second lease on life. It wasn’t quite starting over per se, because we’d always have our memories and the occasional glitch here or there. But at least we had a fresh blank screen to work on.. a new hard drive. External hard drive for the old memories.. but a place to start anew and keep the good times coming. Then I thought, maybe it was time to shut down my own operating systems for a little while, and reboot myself too.

Sometimes you just have to start life over with a blank screen and leave the past right where it belongs… behind you, whatever hardships it may entail. Otherwise, you could look around one day and find yourself.. well, extremely outdated. I wasn’t about to tear apart all the hard work I had done in the past five years, only tweak it so I could build upon it to start a new chapter. The road ahead wasn’t going to be an easy one.. but I was prepared to do just that.

Please Stand By Ladies and Gentlemen…..

Jenn 2.0 is LOADING.. .. .. .. ..

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Funny Girl (special bonus at the end)

Ever since I was five years old, I wanted to be a star. I would watch Annie on continuous loop, and knew every word of every song. So much so, that I'd subject my family or anyone that would listen to my impromptu performances, complete with several wardrobe changes in and out of my grandmother’s old fancy dresses. There in front of an intimate audience of about five or so, I'd belt out the words of "Tomorrow" from one side of my mouth. Once I was old enough to reach the sustain pedal, and under the tutelage of our family’s foreign exchange student, I started to play my own accompaniments and even write my own music. With formal lessons, I'd say I had become pretty damn good. Even before I entered kindergarten, I was landing the leads in my preschool’s plays.. All except for Alice and Wonderland, for which I was passed over for not being a blonde. I'm not bitter about it though because the script was absolute crap anyway. Then one day I realized my absolute favorite thing to do while riding in the car on my way to Saturday morning bowling league. My father was driving and had made some off hand comment on something that just hung out there like the perfectly pitched curve ball. So I did what only seemed natural, I swung for the fences. The entire car erupted in laughter. I had made my first legitimate funny.

Turns out I had always been the goofy kid. Always making off-the-cuff remarks to anyone. Some even landing me in the principal’s office after school, like the time I called the boy in preschool a ‘silly ass’, because I had heard Mary Martin call one of the Lost Boys that in Peter Pan. But as my mom was quick to point out.. Peter Pan also didn't have a mother to answer to. Touché.

Quoting TV shows and my favorite movies, I was pretty much unstoppable. Especially if I found the one-liners entertaining and able to improv from. To those who knew me best.. I was the "funny girl."

Twenty years later, I'm still the first one to "go there," sometimes regardless of whether or not the situation is appropriate. After all, life is too short to not spend every minute loving it. And if science is right, I'llsave a ton of money in the future on Botox the more time I spend in stitches now. I was the type of girl who found the humor in even the most serious and inappropriate of situations. Whether with a quirky one liner, or a misplaced metaphor, I'd find ways to make the people around me smile. It was just my way of life.

Then about a year or so ago, I dated a guy in the industry who had an issue with funny women, particularly me. He didn't understand how women could possibly be as entertaining as men, or think they could get as many laughs. He’d criticize my sense of humor and quick wit til no end, all the while telling me.. “Don’t to take it personally.. Girls just aren’t funny.” He’d say I was an "easy laugh," which I found fairly ironic coming from a dude who made his living making fart jokes, song parodies about erectile dysfunctions, and making his poor producer (and my roommate) the ass of his social science experiments. In all honesty, I didn't find his humor as genuine or funny as others, simply because he was never willing to be the ass of his own jokes. Then one day, I overheard a line on the radio that sounded vaguely familiar as the voices around it burst into absolute hysterics.

That bastard had stolen my line. Apparently, I was dating Carlos Mencia.

People all the time cringe when they hear there is a female stand up comedian in the line up. That's total bull$hit. Not all girls tell menopause, “I'm fat,” and baby jokes. No… we tell boob jokes too. We aren’t all brutish, or unattractive either. The more successful female comedians are the ones that are willing to break societal rules and skirt the edges of political correctness. Unfortunately for me, people take my sense of humor as lack of personal awareness in social situations. In which case I say to them.. Lighten the @#$! up. So many women are afraid to go "there," that only a select few will tread the fine line of indecency.

But the thing about comedy no one seems to understand.. particularly women, is.. comedy is ugly. You can't be afraid to be the ass of a joke, whether you're the one telling it or are on the receiving end. I'm a big fan of self deprecation, it keeps you humble. After all, if you can't laugh at yourself, how are the rest of us supposed to without looking like huge a$$holes?

Some people argue that women aren’t funny because they don’t have to be. For men, being funny is ingrained in their evolutionary process. Simply put, men HAVE to be funny. Especially the ones that are less than good looking. Sad, but true. Men have to be funny, to get the girl. Girls simply have to have a sense of humor, to match the guys. So a girl.. with her own sense of humor, her own well of laugh material. Well those girls, are just special I guess.

My main point of contention with the ex was that women and men had different senses of humor. Its just how were wired. Don't get me wrong, I love bathroom humor and will chuckle at a stupid fart joke, but at some point you've gotta get newer more mature material if you want to keep them rolling in the aisles.

What makes a person truly funny is people’s ability to relate to them and the situations they face. They're called sitcoms for a reason. You have to be able to tell a story where your audience will say.. Damn, that's definitely happened to me before. The days of slipping on banana peels has long come and gone. Even living in a city like Manhattan, where every day is arguably a driver’s test road course where anything can and will happen… I dunno that I've ever run across THAT scenario. Ever.

Now you want to talk about sitting on the toilet to do an embarrassing deed and realizing mid-act there's no toilet paper? Now, that's eff my life material. It’s gotta be something we've experienced. Humiliation is best when it’s shared with everyone else. It’s what makes us human.

In order to be a funny girl, you have to be willing to strip away your inhibitions, your looks, and your dignity. Lucille Ball may not have been an absolute sex symbol, but boy could she make us laugh. The reason the country fell in love with Jessica Simpson wasn't for her singing as much as it was her lovable goofy nature and the fact she was willing to reveal her shortcomings and embrace them. At the end of the day, no one cared if it was chicken or fish, because she wasn't afraid to put it all out there for MTV’s cameras.

While it may have cost her her marriage, it endeared her in the hearts of a nation of viewers. Women like Tina Fey and Anna Farris have forged into new territory where women can get just as many laughs as men, as long as they commit to the cause. And as for the brilliance of Judd Apatow style comedy… well, it just proves behind every funny man, is a funnier woman. Just ask his wife and star of Funny People, Leslie Mann. These are the women I love. I love their comedic ugliness, their “go there spirit,” but most of all.. I love their brutal honesty.

To be funny, you have to take chances. You have to not worry about failures, but most of all, you have to be yourself. Bare your soul in its entirety, even the parts that are just downright awkward and disgusting. My life hasn't been all rainbows and kittens, but it has been a wildly entertaining, and fun ride. I often say that my life is one sick joke after another, often starring me in one less than favorable situation after another. Where anyone watching would cringe, yet empathize, because well, we've all been there at one point or another. That's why I don't mind sharing my embarrassments, my triumphs, my laughs and defeats with you all. I'm only human. Sure I've made my fair share of mistakes and goofs, but that's what makes my stories endearing to people I've never met. Besides, who wants to be perfect anyway? Perfect is so ugly. I'm the kinda girl that gets the hiccups at least once a day from laughing. The type of girl who loves a good bathroom scene in a movie, and won't lie I've probably had more than one in real life. (Sorry to ruin the illusion, but girls poop. Were just far more discreet about it.) I'm the kinda girl who stumbles on her own two feet and nothing else. I wear my sunglasses into the club, not because I'm cool, but to mock the a$$holes arrogant enough to think they are. I don't hesitate to laugh when a guy gets punched in the nuts, but that's only because I don't own a pair. I'm guilty of loving a little schaudenfeude, but only because I expect my misfortunes to bring others a tad bit of comic relief every now and then.
Even in our darkest days, there's still always a reason to laugh. After all, it’s when people take life too seriously that they have trouble making it out alive. Girls can be funny too, and I just so happen to be one of them.

Knock, knock..

Just kidding.

This is the video of the skit I did at a recent 12 Angry Mascots: