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.