Tag Archives: misadventure

Casino: Take One

8 Feb


The other day when I was dress shopping and the salesgirl, Lu, recommended I go to the casino town of Blackhawk, it reminded me of something I hadn’t thought of in a long time.

Back in high school, my friend Nikki (the one I saw at Christmas) would sneak into the casino on the Native American reservation, all by herself, and play poker all night. She got pretty good, and I think she paid for a European trip from her winnings.

At the time, I didn’t think much about it, except that I was little jealous she got to go to Europe. It was just one of those odd little things Nikki did by herself and didn’t really talk about. With the hindsight of several years, I am now in awe of Nikki. Gambling— and winning! – as a 17-year-old female in our small town was pretty bad ass.

I wish I had let Nikki influence me more as a teenager, when I was impressionable and more likely to emulate her confidence and healthy risk-taking. Now, with a clearer view of things, maybe I could glean some inspiration from her adventures.

Thanks to Lu, the suggestion of going to a nearby casino was percolating in my mind. What better way to channel my inner Nikki than try my hand at a poker table?

I’ve never been to Vegas, or even a casino, but that doesn’t mean I’m so naive to believe that I can just walk into a casino and win my first hand of poker – or win at any game for that matter. Going to Blackhawk wouldn’t be about gambling my way to an international trip as Nikki had done; it would be about challenging myself to dabble in the world of gaming while maintaining an air of confidence, and maybe even a little mystique. It would be about modeling the behavior of a really cool woman.

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Living On A Whim: Part Two

19 Jan


I rolled over in a groggy haze. There was a figure in the corner, dressed only to the waist. I pulled the comforter up over my shoulders, and buried my head in the pillow. The figure spoke.

“Hey Jennifer.”

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Mission: Learning to Cook

12 Jan


Another cold night alone in the Mile High City. I wander from room to room in the Mystery Pad searching for something to occupy my evening. Jenny G is restless. The International Woman of Mystery abhors boredom.

I peruse the usual options: movies, books, television, various Internet rabbit holes. But tonight I find none of these options satisfactory. I need something more stimulating and challenging. A mission perhaps. Something death-defying and harrowing to really get my blood pumping.

I decide to cook something.

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The Hair

12 Nov


My Jennifer,

Your mother told me about the happenings with [Mr. Poison] and now you are in Denver, Colorado. I am sorry you have hurt, but you have the courage and adventure in your life now. You can begin a new life.

You are a good woman. [Mr. Poison] was not as good as you. I said to your mother many times.

I send you this check for you to buy something nice (impractical).

Sincerely and love,
Aunt Petra

My Great Aunt Petra was the only one of my mother’s four aunts who never married. When Aunt Petra was my age, women in Hungary didn’t even dream about not being a housewife; Aunt Petra rebelled and instead moved to New York, where she eventually directed a small art gallery. Though she dated frequently, she never married because, according to my mom, “Petra didn’t want to spend her life waiting for a man to come home from work.” I didn’t know a lot about Aunt Petra, but I always kind of admired her. I wish I had appreciated her perspective more.

I carried Aunt Petra’s note in my handbag as I walked to the upscale hair salon where I was about to cash in on her encouragement to do something nice and impractical for myself.

It was one of those perfect afternoons in late fall, an unseasonably warm day where the whole city seemed to be alive in one last celebration before winter. A warm wind caught my hair, and I felt like I was in a movie montage, on top of the world. I thought of the woman with the sleek bob who had recommended this hairstylist. Maybe I should get a bob, I thought, and became giddy with the thought of a total transformation.

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5 Nov


When I chose Denver as my new homebase, it never even occurred to me that the public transportation in this metropolitan city might not be quite as stellar as that in Boston. I knew there would be no subway, but Colorado has such a reputation for active and environmentally conscious people, I imagined they’d at least have a decent bus schedule and an accessible light rail. But it turns out, not so much.

After a couple weeks of trying to get places around the city via unreliable buses, of standing around at bus stops to change buses in a storm and then still having to hoof it multiple blocks to where I actually wanted to go? My inclination was leaning a little more toward over it. As mysterious and European as it initially seemed, I was feeling more and more like an International Woman of Mystery would never put up with this crap. One cannot spend hours sitting on a bus every day when there’s a whole world to see. It simply isn’t productive. Not when I need to be out kicking ass and saving the world.

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The Apartment: Part Two

20 Oct


Continuing the transformation of my abode. Yesterday was the excursion, today: assemble.
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Batgirl’s Wedding Bell Blues

28 Sep


Last weekend I had to go to San Diego for a wedding of a long-time childhood friend. For as long as I can remember, we’d been promising to go to the other’s wedding, and though I don’t talk to her much anymore, I don’t break my promises.

Maybe I should have broken this one.

Have you ever been to San Diego? It’s hard to walk between neighborhoods. Downtown is a narrow range of chain stores and restaurants built for nondescript tourists. Cruise ships and military vessels dirty the water; the city in its entirety lacks substance and soul.

It was a beach wedding at a fancy hotel on Coronado Island (I was not staying anywhere close to that). The wedding itself was beautiful – a plethora of roses and carefully tied chair bows, thoughtful table centerpieces, and a graceful, three-tiered cake. Everything was understated and perfect, so controlled it made you anxious.

When did weddings become the acceptable replacement for kindergarten show and tell? The couple’s choices say, “Look what I have!” and all the guests think, “I wish I’d had that” or “Mine will be better!”

For show and tell in kindergarten, I once brought a miniature bicycle my older brother made for me. At the time I was struggling to learn how to ride a two-wheeler so Alek twisted some stray wire into a little bike that I could keep in my pocket for courage. He even spray-painted it purple, my favorite color. I loved that little bike and brought it everywhere, so naturally I thought my classmates would love it too.

When I showed it, the kids whispered as I shyly told about how Alek made it. After I sat down, Amber Bauer showed her brand new American Girl doll, with its white stockings and tiny patent leather shoes, the perfectly ribboned hair. After class, all the girls wanted to play with Amber.

This wedding was Amber’s American Girl doll: nice-looking, expensive, coveted. And I was the kid playing in the corner, wondering why no one was interested in my pocket bike.

In the two hours between the ceremony and cocktail hour, the guests freshened up and socialized in their suites. Since I didn’t have a room, and didn’t know anyone, I thought I would explore the community. At first, I enjoyed looking at the colorful beach houses of the San Diego affluent, but once I hit the main strip of independent shops and restaurants, my heels were bleeding from my shoes and my hair had became tangled in the salt-water air.

I showed up to the cocktail hour disheveled and starving. I was so hungry that I shamelessly stood near the kitchen doors so I could pounce on the appetizers as soon as the servers brought them out. When the tuna tar tare came out, I was standing too close to the doors, and I fell over when they opened, spilling my white wine all over my dress.

How could I show my face after that? The rest of the night, I felt permanently blushed. At one point, I finally found myself in a circle of women who looked about my age and didn’t seem to care that I’d just humiliated myself. I walked away less than a minute later, too bored to hear them talk about the merits of a shared bank account.

For the rest of the night, I occupied myself with memories of the wedding I was supposed to have, and the unrequited love that drove me from Boston, and how little I had to show for my life.

At dinner, I sat at a “singles” table that consisted of the bride’s 45-year-old alcoholic, chain-smoking uncle, a couple of cousins on their phones, two empty chairs and the ring bearer and his older brother.

Later, at the bar, just buzzed enough, someone asked me who I was and I told him, “The International Woman of Mystery.” He was less than intrigued.

I stayed long enough for the cake and to make an appearance in some photos to prove that I had been there. Before 10 o’clock, I was back in my rented room downtown, ruminating on the tar tare incident.

Boy did I feel sorry for myself. I am not proud of that. I wish I were the kind of woman who could have made the best of a dull situation, who could have found something interesting to do, who could have enamored guests with her mystery, who would never think about pitying herself. I wish I were the kind of woman who could turn her bike into a Batmobile.