Ask Jenny

Vacuuming

January 16, 2020

I had a 7am shift in Beverly Hills. I slept over at Jamie’s apartment the night before, then woke up at 6am, took an orange from her kitchen counter, and left while she was still asleep to make it to my job.

I will remember this as the chapter in my life where I worked five very different jobs. The job I’m currently talking about is at Anthropologie, a French-inspired clothing and lifestyle retailer for well-off women. The store sells a slew of feminine adjectives. Dreamy, bohemian, warm, rustic, romantic, beautiful. During early morning shifts, I usually restock our candles and stationery. This morning, for the first time, I was asked to vacuum and dust the entire store by myself.

A few weeks ago, I was in Mexico City. I was there for my second job, facilitating a workshop on business model design and strategic foresight for students at an interdisciplinary university. What a long, niche sentence. The students were much older and much cooler than me. For dinner one night, my mentor and I ate crickets on a pizza. I always had an intention to work and travel, to meet interesting people and eat new foods. I never thought it would happen this way. But it happened. Then suddenly I was on a plane back, then I was in Los Angeles traffic, then I was buying groceries and listening to the radio, and then at 7am a few weeks later, I was the same person, on my knees, picking lint out of a vacuum, cleaning the floor of a boutique in Beverly Hills at 7am.

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Presently,

October 15, 2019

Presently,

  1. I live in Los Angeles in an artist collective with 28 people. It’s crowded, but I kind of love it. I watch movies and cook family dinners with actors, musicians, dancers, screenwriters, models, designers, and stylists. Everyone is from everywhere else. My own life is full of uncertainty, so it’s good for me to be with friends who are also living for their dreams. We support each other through long days, bad health, insecurity, and the demands of our work.
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The Origin Of Cubism

September 14, 2019

This is a short journal ramble I wrote in February 2019.

If I asked you to describe yourself in one word, you would:

  1. avoid the question and tell me how other people describe you;
  2. say instead what you strive to be;
  3. ad-lib a cohesive story about a word that ties together your most recent narcissisms, even though deep down you know it’s not holistic;
  4. admit that it’s useless because it’s impossible!

Whichever way, I agree.

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Dating

September 14, 2019

This is a rough draft of a story I wrote in July 2018. This draft wasn’t quite right so I was embarrassed to shared it, but today I found it and I guess it’s kind of dorky and cute. I now feel courageous enough to share!

The foyer of the mansion was full of both friends and strangers talking lively. She felt like she needed a short break, so she walked away. For a while, she wandered down hallways with high ceilings and past columns and curious bathrooms. Though she did not care about every door she passed, she did open the many that caught her whim. She peeked into bedrooms, studies, galleries, drawing rooms, libraries, and even music rooms.

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Rare Woman

July 8, 2018

You are very kind and strong and smart, she tells me. But I think you should wear makeup more often so other people might take the time to notice these good qualities too. She brushes bronze dust onto my eyelid as I sit at her vanity. I know what she means. Who we seem is who we are to the impatient people of two-second handshakes. So my mother is honest about her femininity as an advantage. She powders my cheek gently.

Yet our relationship is actually quite untender and ungendered. When we talk, I send her my overoptimistic energy for the future, which she nods to and recognizes, but trades for advice colder than compassion and older than the rations of some sadder hindsight about her youth. I tell her my dreams. I want to learn recipes, the constellations, more degrees. I want my own business. I want my kids well-traveled. I want to write—I want to write about everything—and I want to be an artist. She says I need a supportive, stable, and rich husband. She says this as fact. Being a woman is simply being human but in a biased, suspicious society. It is hard to be alone. No one wants an educated woman where I’m from, she says. But I’m a driven person, which is very different from what most people want out of me. I have had two failed marriages as proof.

A lot of people are selfish. She says this as fact. Most love is not unconditional, so test people and look hard for it. You might not always find it. But don’t give up looking for the people who want for you what you want for you. Hold onto these best friends with everything you have. Care for them in their loneliness, and in your sacrifice.

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Sky Chatting

November 4, 2017

Back when I was afraid of falling asleep by myself, shadows of trees would rock against my bedroom ceiling. I did not want to close my eyes, so I would concentrate on its drywall texture. It was a map of unexplored geography. In the shadows, I imagined the stencils of kingdoms until I was dizzy from concentrating on the ceiling. I would turn away from the dark shapes and try to sleep, but restless nausea met the fear of closing my eyes.

We lived in Federal Way, Washington, back when “federal” was not in my vocabulary. There was a two-bedroom townhouse for you, me, and Robert. Every night, you and Robert went to sleep in the master bedroom. I went alone to my dark, drywall sky. I was afraid to close my eyes. I would go to your room to escape shadowy kingdoms. I could finally fall asleep next to you.

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