Tag Archives: mysteriousness


27 Mar


My apologies for being away, darlings. The International Woman of Mystery has been busy. I wish I could say I was out exploring the pyramids of Egypt of skiing the Swiss Alps. Alas, it hasn’t been quite so exciting. However, I did recently take a business trip to New York City, which has left me feeling inspired.

The trip was unexpected. I got a call from one of my bosses late on a Thursday asking if I could be in the city to attend a weekend conference. At first I was a little annoyed by the last minute request, but then it occurred to me that I’ve never actually spent much time in New York. Nor had I ever traveled there alone. It seemed liked the perfect excuse to take Jenny G. on a little impromptu adventure.

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Casino: Take Two

9 Feb


I’m sitting at a buffet table wearing a chic cocktail gown, engrossed in a mound of crab legs, laughing like a madwoman in a room full of senior citizens wearing Hawaiian shirts, or fleece vests. (Dear reader, a few of them are even wearing Hawaiian shirts with fleece vests.) At some point in my travels I made a gross miscalculation.

Now it’s up to me to remedy it.

After washing my hands of greasy butter, and chocolate sauce from the frozen yogurt machine, I’m also ready to wash my hands of this entire mishap and just go home. But an International Woman of Mystery would never be so easily deterred. It’s a Saturday night. I’ve braved weekend traffic on 1-70 to get here. I’ve still got $25 and I’m wearing a fabulous dress. Ocean’s Eleven, it is not, but something good must come of this.

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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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This Is Unacceptable

28 Jan


My Boston friends have caught onto this blog.

Apparently Katie, that girl that I skied with in Vail, told them about it (I had told her about it in a moment of drunken vulnerability that I now regret), and a few of them were curious, so they looked it up.

I received exactly three emails in the last week from three of those close female friends who read the blog.

One email was generally encouraging – thank you, friend, for that.

The other two emails had a critical edge – subtle, but damaging. There was nothing directly punishing or aggressive in them, but the implications behind their loaded comments hurt when I first read them. It was clear they didn’t agree with the way I handled the breakup, and they didn’t seem to like my Jenny G. persona. I let them know that, to little acknowledgment in return.

It’s possible they’re reading this now, so I won’t republish their comments here. But I will say that their questions and passive criticisms made me feel like they were judging not what I’m doing, but who I am. It felt like they think that the person driving my actions is not someone they particularly care for. It felt like they were saying, “Why can’t you fit the version of who I wish you were?”

It was a familiar feeling. When I was with Mr. Poison, he was often disappointed or irritated by my reactions. He used my faults for ransom. Change your faults or I will leave you was the constant, unspoken ultimatum. I criticized myself based on what we fought about. I put myself down in the hope that it would motivate me to change. If I could be perfect the way Mr. Poison wanted, then he would love me perfectly.

It makes you feel like you are unworthy of love unless you change. If you fall for that, you will spend your entire life changing who you are to please someone else. Of course, they will never be pleased because their disapproval has more to do with themselves than with you, and you will never be happy because you’re putting your love of yourself in someone else’s hands.

This is not to say that we can’t get annoyed with each other. This isn’t to say we can’t ask someone to improve a behavior because it’s hurtful or dysfunctional or unsafe. And this isn’t to say that we shouldn’t want to be wiser, more mature, healthier people.

But my friends’ criticisms, like the ones from Mr. Poison, were not about a behavior. They were about a personality trait. They got down to the bare bones of who I am at my core, and in the moment of truth, none of them liked that so much.

After I got the emails, I re-read my blog, from beginning to end, scrutinizing every detail, every perspective, every event, through the lens of someone who actually knows me. I looked at the posts critically. I searched for points where I could have said something less cheesy, or emoted less and opined intelligently a little more. I cringed at the parts where I could feel some of my annoying tendencies coming out.

And then I thought: this is unacceptable. No one should make me feel this way.

Moving to Denver and devoting myself to this IWOM project is one of the first times I can remember developing myself into the person I wanted to be – not the person I believed I needed to be to receive love and acceptance from certain people.

Changing for yourself and for no one else simply makes you a happier person. It takes the burden off others who feel like you depend on them to make you happy. It allows you to bring so much more joy into others’ lives. It’s liberating to figure out that you alone hold the cards to make you happy just by embracing and enhancing your inherent you. And guess what? It’s been that way all along.

When I started this blog, I honestly did not think my friends in Boston would find it, read it, or judge it. I certainly wasn’t writing it for them. Back then, I think the only person I was writing for was myself. I never really thought about an audience until Jane showed up. Now, I am more aware than ever of that audience. I can’t say it makes me totally comfortable, but if I really want to inspire others through my adventures, I’d better get used to it. I’ll just have to remind myself to continue to stay true to myself.


Mission: Be Elusive

9 Jan


The black turtleneck and black leggings hang limply in the back of my closet. To a pair of common eyes, they might look like just that: old black clothes on a wire hanger.

I retrieve them gingerly and admire them with a reverence usually reserved for a superhero’s costume. I don the catsuit – my catsuit – for the first time in a couple of months. But there’s another step this time. I’m headed out on a mission and this one requires full IWOM regalia. The wig comes off the shelf.

After a series of semi-complicated maneuvers, I secure my new blonde locks on my head. Strap on my tall, black boots. Throw on additional layers of black clothing (it’s a cold day in the city). I grab my sunglasses and my trench.

My mission? To be elusive. I check before leaving my apartment and again before leaving the building. Just to ensure that the coast is clear. My neighbors mustn’t know about my secret identity. Today, I’m hitting the streets, incognito. Continue reading

Ten Things I Want to Be

5 Jan


A few months have elapsed since I first began my transformation from everyday Jennifer into Jenny G.: International Woman of Mystery. I’ve acquired most of the items from my initial list of mystery must-haves. Experienced relative success in creating the proper aesthetic. The foundations have been laid. But this is only the beginning. There is still more work to do.

I’ve brainstormed a bit and have begun to identify the traits I most identify with The International Woman of Mystery. Phase Two entails the refinement of said traits. Starting now.

1. Fearless: A work in progress, to be sure. As previously stated, conquering fear is sort of like eating the elephant. One bite at a time. Having successfully completed my first few missions, I feel hungry for more adventure. I vow to seek out more opportunities that test my prowess and challenge my deepest fears.

2. Elusive: Any good International Woman of Mystery will be adept in the art of, well, mysteriousness. I aspire to be a master of disguise as much as a figure of intrigue. Adopting an alias has been a good start, but now I must become more advanced in my ability to roam the streets of Denver (and The World) undetected. Jenny G. will keep the people guessing.

3. Resourceful: One can never have too many skills, but as a woman of the world, this is especially important. Wherever and whenever possible, I make it my mission to always cultivate new methods for survival and new abilities to add to my repertoire.

4. Strong: Self-explanatory. The International Woman of Mystery must possess prowess on a physical level as much as a mental one. Always ready for battle. I will work on my stamina, my acuity and my overall ability to kick some ass.

5. Zen: As I’ve already discovered through my adventures (and misadventures), it can be tough out there for a woman of the world. The International Woman of Mystery must be transcendent. I will learn to find an inner calm that allows her to stay centered and focused even while kicking ass.

6. Independent: James Bond didn’t become a super agent by relying on others, and neither will Jenny G. I’ve already taken some respectable steps toward claiming my independence, but I must always be mindful not to lose ground in this arena. Gone are the days of relying on a man, my parents or my feminine wiles to save me. It’s time to stand on my own two feet. No exceptions. No excuses.

7. Benevolent: Ass-kicking and international espionage are all well and good, but it seems important not to lose heart. This International Woman of Mystery will find ways to give back and maybe even inspire others with her kindness and generosity.

8. Spontaneous: All these other skills are virtually a waste if I’m not out living the dream. Jenny G. must be ever ready for adventure. Even at a moment’s notice. I’ve never been particularly good at going with the flow. This coming year, I will embrace the impromptu. I will work on following my heart more than my day planner.

9. Stylish: I’ve done some work already toward looking the part, but I don’t just mean the superficial aspects of my new identity. In addition to assembling a classier wardrobe, Jenny G. will strive to exude sophistication on all levels.

10. Confident: There is no such thing as an ill-confident International Woman of Mystery. In this life, my self-assurance is likely to be tested. I will learn to trust in my own ability and stand up to adversity. I can do this. I will do this.

Jenny G.

External Headquarters

9 Dec


After Boston winters, Colorado often strikes me as being not so bad. Even still, after a particularly blah couple of weeks cooped up indoors, I was itching for a mission. Sporting my newly acquired International Woman of Mystery attire, I set about to find an adventure. Sun shining. Big shades on, I sought to do some exploring and perhaps find myself a new home away from home

Every International Woman of Mystery needs an external headquarters. As someone who works from home, I know all too well that a change of venue does wonders for the soul. A woman of the world, such as myself, needs just such a thing. How else to escape the confines of my many disguises (eventually) and debrief after narrowly escaping perilous situations. I wasn’t sure where my external headquarters should be. I just knew it would speak to me when I found it. There would be no Yelp or Google Maps or Zagat guides to aid my search. An International Woman of Mystery needs intuition, anyway.

A long afternoon’s excursion took me to a bookstore, two coffee joints and a cupcake shoppe (it was worth “researching”), before I stumbled upon a European Bistro and Café and I just knew I had found my new spot.

There was nothing particularly posh about it. The walls were lined with faded old pictures. A haphazardly painted mural. Old wobbly tables and chairs. Old books. Faded rugs. Loud speakers playing eclectic music for a crowd of misfits. Just the kind of place a girl can disappear into for an hour or four. Scribble notes from the field into a little black book and sip an Americano or a cocktail, for that matter.

The new headquarters is open 24 hours and since a woman of mystery keeps odd hours, it’s perfect.

It had been a dismal couple of weeks in my world. Lonely and feeling foolishly nostalgic for my old life. But sitting at a table for one next to a small faux fireplace, just observing the other patrons with a mix of curiosity and amusement, I started to feel better.  I felt at home in this city and in my new persona.

I breathed a deep sigh and raised my coffee mug to no one in particular. I felt ready for anything.

Jenny G.


1 Dec


After leaving the salon the other day, with a new haircut glow that was seemingly rivaled only by the sun. It seemed such a shame to waste, in spite of my debacle with Steven Stephenson.

Most of the time, this new anonymity suits me well. That is until I actually want to be seen. I decided I would go for a walk and explore the neighborhood a little bit more.

I found myself rather aimlessly around Capitol Hill, admiring the mixture of historic architecture and modern hipster culture. Having previously exhausted most of the local coffee haunts, I wondered if I couldn’t find a bit more excitement to suit my mysterious wiles.

The answer came to me somewhere around the corner of Pennsylvania and 12th Avenue, when I happened across the Molly Brown House. Now an International Woman of Mystery must keep many secrets, but I don’t mind telling you that once upon a time, my younger self was completely enthralled with a certain major motion picture – Titanic.

It was reminiscence that compelled me to enter the gift shop and purchase a ticket for the next tour, but in the end it was kismet. I went in seeking nostalgia but walked out inspired for the future anew. Turns out? Molly Brown was an International Woman of Mystery to the Nth Degree.

Margaret Brown, as she preferred to be called, was an early Denver resident, a philanthropist, feminist, activist and world traveler. Despite humble beginnings and not even attending school past the age of 13, Ms. Brown strived to make something of herself, learning multiple languages and educating herself in the ways of the world. She ran various charities, hosted high society events and even attempted to run for Senate in the early 1900s. Her philanthropy took her on many foreign excursions. When her marriage went on the rocks, she didn’t let it deter her. She received a cash settlement and used it to travel the world. Booked a ticket on the Titanic, survived its subsequent crash and went on to become a legend.

A new wind in my trench coat propelled me home, as I contemplated Molly Brown’s story. If she could pull out all the stops to see the world, surely Jenny G. could do the same. I already have most of the tools I need, but it’s begun to feel like a case of being all dressed up and having nowhere to go. An International Woman of Mystery without a cause.

Back home at the Mystery Pad, I felt even more restless. I fixed myself a cup of tea. I lit some incense. A candle. I poured myself a glass of wine. I laid on the floor staring up at my travel posters on the walls. I knew just what I needed to do.

I retrieved my passport paperwork from where I’d stashed it weeks ago. I finished filling it out. I put on my best red lipstick and walked to the drugstore where I sweet-talked the woman at the photo counter into taking one last passport photo for the day.

The woman staring back at me from the photo looks different to me. And it isn’t just the new bangs. There’s a twinkle in those eyes that wasn’t there before. A knowing smirk. She’s hungry. Ready for adventure. For revolution.

I filed the papers the next day and started a new savings account where I can start building a travel fund. I have no idea when I’ll be able to make the trip or where I’ll go first, but I’m quite certain it will be amazing when I get there.

Jenny G.


23 Nov


My heart is in my throat. I take a deep breath and do one final pat down: Goggles? Check. Helmet? Check. Gloves? Check. Obnoxiously bright colored flight suit? Check.

I exhale deeply. Time to free-fall.

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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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