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I Yam What I Yam (so says Popeye)

When I was first married and took on the surname of my husband, I often got quizzical looks when I met new people.

“Jenny Gardiner,” they’d say as they shook my hand. “That name sounds familiar.”

Of course I knew why it was memorable. Because everybody knew I had been blown up in a ski boat a few years earlier while my beloved husband–the intended target–watched helplessly from the shore.  I was the hapless victim of my former fiancé, a fellow supermodel. Well, not really. This was on a soap opera. All My Children, circa 1984: I was one half of the star-crossed couple that enjoyed very little bliss, wedded or otherwise, over their tortured four-year courtship.

Sometimes having a common name can lead to uncommon problems. A couple of years ago a friend was on his way to an elegant wedding when he was pulled over by the police. Seems a routine run of his license plate revealed that he shared the name of a local criminal with a number of warrants out for his arrest. My friend, wedding-bound and attired in black-tie, sat nervously in his car with his entire family until the cop could ascertain that he was not the felon in question.

Nowadays, I enjoy the many alter-egos I never knew I had with the help of my search engine of choice, Google.

Originally I Googled myself to find out if someone owned my domain name. As a writer, I thought it might be useful to own it outright. I was dismayed to learn that I am already owned, by an androgynous minister of Parliament in Australia. Damn, it’s bad enough that I can’t own my own name, but now when my “adoring” fans (or worse-yet old boyfriends!) Google me, the first thing they’re going to pull up is a picture of an impossible-to-discern man/woman who might just send them running for cover.

Once I clicked onto Jenny-the-androgynous-one, I became hooked. I had to see what else I’ve been up to in this world. And I’ve learned Jenny Gardiner is quite the talented woman. I am a Scots fiddle tutor somewhere in Scotland (I assume that’s where Scots fiddlers fiddle.) I’m also an actress, whose 2003 blockbuster film, Queen City Blowout–with the lamentable tagline: Drugs, Death and Bratwurst–may well have been direct-to-video. I just hope it’s not hard-core porn. It’s bad enough that people already think I’m a man.

So what other crazy things have I been up to? Well, for starters, I’m the assistant treasurer and uniforms coordinator of the Saint Mary’s Old Girls Netball Club (affectionately dubbed SMOG) in Wellington. I am pretty certain that netball is like basketball, and I think this is somewhere in New Zealand. It looks like a sport I might enjoy as they wear these adorable tennis-style skirts instead of gym shorts. Must be because I’m in charge of coordinating uniforms and all. Oh, and the upside, based on the pictures from their website: it’s a very good looking group of women. At least I’ve made up for the whole androgyny thing.

Some of my other skills include mixology. I got a rave review for a mean white sangria I concocted at an art-gallery-turned-chic-café in Portland, Maine. My secret ingredient? A wine-poached pear. Evidently the double-maceration does wonders to boost the buzz in the punch.

Onward, though, as I have careers and alter-egos awaiting. Library media teacher at the Terman Library in, oh, darn, I’ll never know where, because Google couldn’t find it. Well, it did indicate that the library might be closed due to budget constraints, so I guess I got the axe.

My husband Robin and I (I have a husband named Robin? Wait till my own spouse hears about that) evidently have naughty cats who have scratched up our wood-chip wallpaper. Which leaves me to wonder, exactly what is wood-chip wallpaper, and why would I want it? Further, why would I want it enough to contact an internet helpline for suggestions on how to repair it?

 I’m a jobs coordinator with the Learning Skills Council in Bedfordshire and Luton. England, I suppose. Good for me, helping to boost local employment.  Oh, and a social worker, also in England (though I look again a bit like that man/woman from Australia.)

I’m a basic skills social worker who enjoys writing. Writing? Another Jenny Gardiner who writes? Oh, no, that’s her colleague. I read the wrong line. Phew.

I came in 84th place in the over-55 division of the Great Scottish Walk. Twelve miles. Not bad. Except 84 women beat me. I wonder how old the ones who finished after me were. Not to be outdone, in Edmonton, Alberta, I ran the 300-meters in just under 45 seconds. That can’t be too bad. The website said it regretfully didn’t have the results in the naked 200-meter run. Let’s just hope there aren’t any pictures of that!

My husband Phil (!) and I own a farm in Australia and my other Australian husband Trent and I have a straw farm and a snazzy eighteen-wheeler in which to haul it. Apparently there’s a lot of me’s in Oz.

In addition, according to a news-hires listing, I have  “vast and diverse experience in all areas of accounting” and now work for Catering Services International. Well, I do love fine food.

Okay, so I did find a blog of a 14-year old Jenny Gardiner who proudly declares that she loves “getting pissed.” Getting pissed? At fourteen! And her boyfriend Chris says that he’s happiest when he’s getting pissed with his girlfriend. She wants “to be a glamour model or sumfink to do wif being a social worker or counciler (sic)” and mentions something about thanking her psychiatrist for fixing her problems. Yikes! I hope she learns to pay more attention in her language arts class in the meantime.

Well, I’m proud of all of those Jenny Gardiners out there. Not a stripper (not counting the naked 200-meter dash!) or hired escort amongst them. As an added bonus, no arrest warrants. It seems that those stewards of my name the world over are keeping the rest of us out of trouble. Thank goodness. Now, if I can only get back to my writing. And whatever you do, don’t bother looking for me at S/he’s an imposter, trust me.




Categories: News

Play the Ball Where the Monkey Drops It

I swore I’d never blog.

“An exercise in navel-gazing,” I always insisted.

“Time sucker,” I’d throw in for good measure, just in case I felt the tug of the lure.

But then I got sucked into the blog vortex, first group-grogging, then meandering around the blog world and discovering all sorts of fun people who blog (see my blog-roll, which I swear I’ll put together soon!), and damn if I’m not feeling the time is right for me to start up a blog.

But the problem was, what to choose as a theme? I mean, I’m a writer, but I didn’t want to be dispensing writing advice. That’s too dime-a-dozen. Plus people can go to Strunk and White if they have questions on grammar. Not that I bother to go there, but I do have the book gathering dust on a dresser upstairs. Besides which just because I write doesn’t mean I’ve got any great advice to dispense to others. Though I can fake it if you pay me well enough!

Luckily I didn’t have to look very far for inspiration. I’ve written a column of humorous slice-of-life essays for my local paper for several years. I’ve got story ideas/essay ideas/etc out the wazoo. And advice? I’m always ready with some useless ditty that will not help you lose weight, become a better human being, or solve world hunger problems. 

So I started thinking about what useful knowledge I impart to my kids all the time, being the sage parent that I am. And the phrases I return to time and again (usually when one kid is arguing that one of the others is getting unfair special treatment) are: “It all comes out in the wash,”  and “Play the ball where the monkey drops it.”

I figured any blog with laundry mentioned in the title would send people running for the exit signs. Including me. Same goes with a blog that involves housework, cleaning, or anything that involves drudgery.

But the monkey thing, I liked. First off, I have a thing for monkeys. My oldest always toted a Curious George doll wherever he went when he was younger, and I grew to love monkeys because he did. Plus long ago when I was young and could hike without my heels killing me, my husband and I hiked through the Virunga National Park in then-Zaire (now Democratic Republic of Congo) and saw monkeys and gorillas, and I went totally ape over apes. (We were actually charged by a handsome fellow who looked just like this!)

So the line seemed a natural.

But the philosophy behind the phrase really makes sense to me. I was in a very long queue at Barnes and Noble one time years ago and couldn’t help but eavesdrop on some folks in line in front of me. The woman was talking about her husband golfing while on vacation in Thailand or something, and she said there were signs on the golf course with this admonition on them. Seems that monkeys run amok on the courses there, running off with golf balls, even when you’re putting for par, those batards. So the rules evolved that you just play the ball wherever it gets dropped.

And life is like that, I think. You take a hit, you pick yourself up and keep on going. Play the ball where the monkey drops it. Reality spliced with a little humor, which is what I’m all about.

It’s my philosophy, and I hope you’ll be amused to join me as I embark on this navel-gazing venture…although I promise not to ever expose my navel because it is far too fleshy and no one needs to see the muffin-top, ‘k?

Categories: News