Graduate Deb Jenny Gardiner returns with a new book!

Today the Debs are thrilled to welcome back Graduate Deb Jenny Gardiner! Jenny Gardiner is the author of the award-winning Barnes & Noble bestselling novel SLEEPING WITH WARD CLEAVER and WINGING IT: A Memoir of Caring for a Vengeful Parrot Who’s Determined to Kill Me. Her work has been found in Ladies Home Journal, the Washington Post and on NPR’s Day to Day. She has a column of slice-of-life essays in Charlottesville’s Daily Progress newspaper. You can pre-order Jenny’s book here and don’t forget to check out her hysterical video of her parrot, Gracie,here! And if you’d like to check out Jenny’s website, we’ve got a link for that, too, right here. Jenny, welcome!

It’s so exciting to be back on the Debutante Ball after all this time—I miss it as well as the regular camaraderie with my Deb sisters. I always felt so honored that Kristy Kiernan tapped me to be in the Deb Ball two years ago—it created so many opportunities and provided a wonderful experience for that debut year. Plus it was such a bonus to be able to share in the experience with other authors going through the same thing. After that debut year you feel a bit more like a seasoned veteran, but nevertheless we’re all navigating the murky waters of publishing together, so it’s wonderful to know that there is this sisterhood out there, the Debutante Ball, composed of many fabulously talented and fun women authors. So thanks for bringing me back into the fold to celebrate the launch of my latest venture, WINGING IT: A MEMOIR OF CARING FOR A VENGEFUL PARROT WHO’S DETERMINED TO KILL ME (Gallery Books/March 16).

I’ve had the chance to get to e-know Sarah Pekkanen a bit through the Ball and I thought she’d get a laugh at this blog post, since we’ve been trying to set up an appearance together, thwarted only by my abysmal memory, which seems to worsen by the minute. I think. But I can’t quite remember…

Help! I’ve forgotten and I can’t recall.

Yeah, I know, sort of a lame take on the iconic 1990’s television commercial featuring an elderly gal with a medical emergency who urgently needed assistance with her feeble self. Thanks to “Life Call,” she had someone who was able to prop her up, and all was well.

So far I’m not in need of Life Call to rescue me from a frail bone-related fall, but I am in dire need of some sort of life call to save me from an increasingly enfeebled brain. They say the mind is the first to go, and my memory–which until recently I’d successfully prodded into action with a regular machine-gunning of reminder alerts on my iCal each day–has taken a day at the beach and decided it doesn’t want to return just yet, if ever.

Thus, I have placed practically my entire memory in the evidently disabled hands of my MacBook’s iCal, which it seems has aged in dog years itself and is failing in its own wretched memory to remind me of all that I can’t help but forget. Two operating systems ago, my iCal reminders worked regularly, even though I overloaded the application with unrealistic demands: most every function of my day popped up to remind me to do it, short of basic hygiene functions such as “remember to brush teeth.” So many demands that while it reliably reminded me, it also crashed constantly. So I upgraded to a new operating system and the failures became rampant. My reminders would pop up for one event, but not for the next. But I’d not remember to check my calendar to see what it was forgetting to remember. The next upgrade failed me even more. I’m a victim of the memory of both me and my fail-safe computer, failing all over the place.

Since my calendar can’t even remember to remember, I’m holding out hope they soon come out with helper dogs for failing memories.

I felt a little relieved after chatting with my friend Tana the other day on the phone while she was preparing to leave for the gym. As she was talking on speakerphone, I heard water running in the background.

“Don’t worry, I’m not going to the bathroom,” she said. “I’m just filling up my water bottle.”

Well, of course any woman with good girlfriends knows that occasionally we all happen to race into the loo while on the phone—it’s a hazard of friendship. So I just laughed and told her it wouldn’t have mattered regardless. We talked for a minute more when suddenly Tana stopped.

“Oh, crap. Where’s my water bottle?” she asked.

As if defining my dilemma for my own affirmation, she did what I regularly do: forgot the simplest of things in the shortest period of time imaginable. It’s what we do best. All day long. And fight it with the meager tools at our disposal to keep us from having to purchase ear horns and walkers and resign ourselves to our dwindling age and capabilities.

The other day I suffered the hat trick of memory shortcomings. First, I lost my reading glasses in the time it took to swap out shirts. A few minutes later, I became vexed because I couldn’t find the enormous pile of tax information it had taken me an entire day to find, which I’d then put somewhere I’d know where to find it. Shortly thereafter, I needed to recall the brand of car I’d rented a few days earlier, as I wanted to be sure we didn’t consider it while shopping for a new car. I’d made a point of remembering the brand. To no avail.

And that’s the thing. I’m always putting things where I know I’ll remember them. And rarely do. I walk to a food cabinet while fixing dinner, forgetting in six short steps what I’d gone there to retrieve. I wake at 3 a.m. with brilliant ideas, but don’t want to wake completely to write them down, certain I’ll recall by dawn. Never do. Yet then I wake up in the middle of the night over mundane things, like forgetting to soak black beans for dinner, only to not be able to sleep, recalling everything I need to remember to do that I haven’t done and worry that I won’t remember to do it. I leave notes everywhere, only to not know where the notes are. I record reminders on my phone. Only to forget to listen to them later.

Maybe life’s pressing needs are actually squeezing my brains dry. Sounds like I could use a good vacation.

A conversation between me and Tana these days goes something like this:

“Did you hear about, oh, what’s her name? Long brown hair, lives up that narrow mountain road.”

“Yeah, the gal with six kids?”

“Exactly. And that dog that smells like death. Her husband played in a band when he was in college—”

“Oh, what is her name? It begins with a P, doesn’t it?”

“It rhymes with my mother’s middle name, I think.”

“What’s your mother’s middle name?”


“Nothing rhymes with Amanda. But anyhow, we’ll think of her name. But did you hear–they’re getting a divorce.”

No! I always knew he was up to no good.”

“Who? Her husband?”

“Yeah. What’s his name?”

Well, you get the idea. We have all the minutiae committed to memory but the barebones facts have evaporated from our gray matter, by some brain-fog that has settled over our memories, doomed to cloak our thinking and force us into some Sherlock Holmesian effort to recall. Our trail of deduction requires mental bloodhounds, and it seems as if our dogs have got up and went.

“Between the two of us we have a brain,” Tana said. And she’s right. Which makes me think maybe I need to simply be paired up with someone, 24/7, from here on out. Because clearly at this point two heads must be better than one.

15 Replies to “Graduate Deb Jenny Gardiner returns with a new book!”

  1. Oh man, this was so funny! Thanks, Jenny, for reappearing here. And good luck with Winging It. I can’t wait to read it.

  2. Oh my – I will be ordering your book today after reading this post! Hysterical…
    Definitely recognize the antics of my own foggy head here! I need to find one of the “helper dogs for failing memories” – can you hook me up?

  3. Hi Debutante Ladies,
    Are you all enjoying the rain and wind that seems to be the main story today, I got the Spring cleaning bug, as it was necessary. We have all been in a mid-winter funk both personally and financially. I know everybody is in dire need of energy, what is energy? Well I define energy as synthesis when the body is functioning on optimum level. I have been dealing with a drop off of energy as a result of my husbands and I inability to communicate on an emotional level. We lack intimacy, and we have children that range in age from 28, 27,almost 24, and almost 18. The first 3 are from my previous marriage,but my husband has raised them, then we had one of our own. She is going on 18 she has more intelligence than the 3 put together or so it seems. She is just an out going person, in todays times that is looked at as a good thing, but for other instances the kids of today are also a bit removed from other areas. The reason I came to this page is because of author by the name of Jenny Gardiner, I found that I looked for company once I lost my Mom, and as “changes” would go, I found myself emotionally needy, and went out to purchase dogs, I wanted 2 from the get go, since I lost a beautiful Yorkie she was hit by a car one Sunday evening. I then went back to the pet store and saw a cute poodle mix puppy with beige face and paw markings it looked like a Burberry designer dog. I also wanted a Yorkie for my daughter, from there my other daughter saw a male Yorkie at another pet store and begged and pleaded that she had to have a dog.
    We fumbled around with the idea of breeding, so we decided yes if i knew today what I know today I wouldn’t go along with it. Granted our female had 5 healthy litters, so that paid for the dogs and the dogs are all charming. With exception of a puppy that we kept. He is protective of us, so I have to be carefull with strangers, people that come into our house he may try and nip if he thinks you might be doing something to us.Otherwise, I guess we have all acclimated to each other, now as though all that is not enough. I became curious about Yellow Nape Parrots. I had been around looking at different ones, but still didn’t understand the many variations. Well like the saying goes live and learn. I would first buy my husband for his birthday one year a Hanhn’s McCaw. It is the smallest of it’s parrot family, he looks like a can of 7UP if he weren’t named Elvis he would have been 7UP. I also bought a Quaker Parakeet before that, she is a good bird quiet and has her own story as well as most things in my possession do. My husband used to sing professionally, and he at times when the mood hits him, which is not often would sing Harry Belafonte the song mentions something about look at Boo-Boo and so that is my bird. The other parakeet belongs to my son’s finance.
    I also have 2 turtles that sit on my kitchen counter, they enjoy many a family conversation with us, they check out The Wheel of Fortune and I think they like American Idol, I think I’ve covered all my bases as far as introductions. But I am in the process of doing other stuff, which is like the gray area that I am not finished with. I want to write a book, on what exactly is a good question. The range of topics I would choose is “How to Not Cook What You Don’t Know”, another topic is “How to Snooze When Not Interested, (and not have anybody take notice”. God bless and don’t sneeze pollen sneezin hasn’t begun just yet.

  4. Hi Jenny,

    will be picking up WINGING IT this weekend in Cville. can’t wait to see you at BANG this Friday. Have you read WESLEY THE OWL:
    The Remarkable Love Story of an Owl and His Girl by Stacey O’Brien?
    great story! see ya.

  5. hi guys! sorry I”m just getting back–been to our first soccer game of the year and only now getting home. Thank you everyone for stopping by and for supporting me! I STILL haven’t read Wesley the Owl but I’ve heard it’s great!

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