Lost in the mail

The post office lost a package that I sent to my mom last month. It would be a lot more interesting if it had been destroyed in a truck fire or stockpiled by a delivery person who was too lazy to finish their route or ended up on that desert island with Tom Hanks in the movie Castaway. Unfortunately, I have no answers as to where it went. It’s just plain lost.

USPS Tracking

As this screenshot from the tracking page shows, the package was dropped off and accepted at a Chapel Hill post office at 4:17pm on September 17th. It departed the post office for a sorting facility at 4:57pm and then…nothing. It got sucked into a black hole or fell behind a machine or was stolen or something. It’s sad little bar code was never scanned again.

Ironically, I mailed another package via first class mail to my dad on the same day and it was delivered fine. I used Priority Mail for my mom’s package, which is more expensive and supposedly more reliable, and it’s the one that got lost. And before anyone accuses me of playing favorites with my postage fees, the reason I didn’t use Priority Mail for my dad’s package is because the box was too small for the Click-N-Ship labels I use to print postage at home which let me avoid the long lines at the post office. My mom’s package was larger, so I used Click-N-Ship, which doesn’t allow you to print first class postage.

The package was in truth a yellow, padded envelope that contained a 2GB USB drive and a note to my mom. That’s it. Nothing of huge value, so I don’t think anyone would have purposely stolen it. How badly could someone need a USB drive? I needed to send my mom some files and this was easier than trying to explain DropBox to her. The files aren’t that personal, so I’m not too worried about someone finding the drive and looking at them. The real pain comes from the fact that it was my favorite USB drive! It was the New Balance branded drive I got at FitBloggin’ several years ago. I only sent it because I thought I’d get it back at Thanksgiving. And now it’s gone forever :( It is sort of maddening knowing that the USB drive still exists somewhere out there in the world, but I will probably never find out where. It must be truly horrible to lose something that’s irreplaceable and beloved, like a pet or a child.

I did try to get the post office to find the package. I called the customer service line on the 24th, a week after the package was mailed. They assigned me a case number and said someone from the post office where I mailed the package would call me by the end of the day tomorrow. No one called me. I then called the customer service line again on the 26th and they said someone would call me by the end of the day tomorrow for sure. No one called me. At this point I started humming that Blues Traveler song, Runaround. Since the USB drive was easily replaceable, I gave up at this point. If I’d been more motivated I probably would have gone down to the post office and demanded answers, but who has the energy or time for that? This organization loses about $1 million dollars a day. I don’t think they care too much about losing a USB drive on top of that.

The nice thing about Priority Mail is that it’s automatically insured for up to $50, so I was able to file a claim on the USPS web site. They require some sort of proof of value, so I took a picture of the receipt from Staples where I bought a replacement. You have to swear that everything you submit is the truth, which made me a bit paranoid. Would the post office come hunt me down if they found a USB drive cheaper somewhere else? I submitted the claim on October 3rd and it was approved on October 7th, which was waaaaaaay faster than I’d anticipated. I was ready to wait 60 days for that thing to go through. The check came in the mail the next week.

USPS check

Of course this begs the questions, what if the check itself had gotten lost in the mail? Would I have had to file another claim about that?

Wilmington, North Carolina: The sequel!

When my mom visited me last month we decided to visit Wilmington, North Carolina like we did last year and see some things we’d left unseen. First up…

North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher

The North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher is at the end of a long road that is not on the way to anything else. You are never going to accidentally stumble upon this place. If you end up there, it’s because you purposely wanted to visit or because you got unbelievably lost.

Jelly fish

That said, it was worth the trip. It’s a mid-sized aquarium, smaller than the Baltimore Aquarium my parents took me to as a kid (where a bird pooped on my dad’s head in the tropical rain forest exhibit), but larger than my mom and I thought it would be. It’s very kid-friendly. There were interactive exhibits scattered throughout the building where you could play games, hunt for fossils, and more. There was even a shallow pool where you could pet horseshoe crabs and manta rays. Yes, I touched a manta ray! And I forgot to wash my hands before I had dinner later that night, but miraculously did not contract any diseases, thank goodness. They also had one of those spiral wishing wells that I loved as a kid, and still love actually, which is why I sent a penny off to spiral down it magically.

The aquarium is also home to Luna, the albino alligator, who is one of only 50 known albino alligators in existence.

Luna the albino

There was also the skeletal jaw of a megalodon, a creature I am very glad is extinct, because it could open its mouth as wide as I am tall.


The Fort Fisher location is one of four aquarium/aquarium-like locations in the state, one of which is my pier!

Jennette's Pier

Yes, they spell Jennette the same way I do! Jennette’s Pier is in the outer banks, which is something like a four hour drive from Chapel Hill. I did drop by Jennette’s Pier in 2009, but it was still under construction at that point, so all I saw was a sign. I’d like to get back there eventually, but don’t know when I will.

We stopped by the gift shop on the way out, which is where I bought a magnet that has little turtle floating in it.

Turtle magnet

I’ve started buying a magnet whenever I visit someplace new. I put them all on my refrigerator so I can be frequently reminded of all the cool trips I’ve taken. The collecting is coming along quite well:

Vacation magnets

The only down side is that when I travel home with them I’m paranoid that they’ll get too close to my computer hard drive and erase my data, or demagnetize my credit cards. Nothing awful has happened yet, but I’m hyper vigilant about it.

Kure Beach

After visiting the aquarium we headed to Kure Beach, but stopped to gawk at a seaside wedding among the trees on the way there.


As we continued on our way we would pass large, two-story, beachware stores every block or two. Instead of having a Starbucks on every corner, they had these brightly colored buildings advertising end-of-season sales. I don’t know how they stay in business. I guess the flip-flop industry is way more profitable than I assumed. My mom got so distracted by a large, pink store in the distance that we nearly slammed into the back of a car that had stopped to make a left turn. These buildings are road hazards!

We lucked into a great parking spot near the Kure Beach pier. It took us a minute to figure out how to get onto the pier though because the chain link gate we thought was the entrance was locked. It turns out you have to go through a building to get onto the pier. I suppose this is so they have a chance to sell you souvenirs and fish bait. Please don’t get the two confused! We arrived about an hour until sunset, so the pier was really busy. My mom said that was because the best time to catch fish is at sunrise or sunset. Coincidentally this is also the best time to kill wasps, which I learned during my moving-in experience four years earlier.

Kure Beach pier

As we walked to the end of the pier we noticed there was a pelican just chilling out on the top of a wooden shelter.

Kure Beach pelican

After that we headed back to the hotel. The next day we took a day trip to…

Mrytle Beach

The only thing I knew about Mrytle Beach is that it was the place the mother wanted to retire to in the movie October Sky. I know that’s totally random, and I have no idea why I remember that particular detail about that movie. It takes a little over an hour to drive there from Wilmington, and then it took us awhile to find parking. We finally settled on a spot by a parking meter and fed it lots of quarters before heading to the boardwalk.

Myrtle Beach

Mrytle Beach has a nice little boardwalk, though it’s nowhere near as massive as the one at Ocean City, Maryland that I visited as a kid. Still, it’s a good place to watch the ocean, take a walk, and buy an ice cream cone in one of 50 flavors. There was a ferris wheel, an arcade, and other attractions like a Ripley’s Believe it Or Not museum that had a cardboard box in front of it that said “Free Kittens” that would then blast a loud sound at you when you peered in.

We only stayed for an hour or so before heading back to Wilmington, and then back to Chapel Hill the next day. Overall it was a great trip and I’m fairly certain I’ve washed off all the manta ray germs on my hands by this point.

Uh, my bad, but I don’t actually like to be called Jen.


When I named my blog JenFul several years ago someone told me that would make people start calling me “Jen.” I laughed and was like, sure, right, whatever, that is totally not going to happen. If you understand the concept of foreshadowing at all then you’ve probably figured out that, yes, actually, that did totally happen. People call me Jen all the time–in emails, in Facebook comments, and even once or twice in person. And it’s kind of driving me crazy.

Jen is a perfectly lovely name. I have at least three friends named Jen. There’s Jen L. and Jen S. and Jen T. and I would happily have brunch or drinks with them any time and let them sleep on my couch if they ever so desired. However, I myself am not a Jen. I’m just not. I’m Jennette. When I was a kid I was Jenny, but that didn’t really fit and wasn’t unique since every other girl my age was named Jennifer and many of them went by Jenny too. So when we moved during kindergarten I switched to Jennette and I have never looked back.

I like that my name is unique enough that I rarely ever run into any else named Jennette or Jeannette or Jeanette or Johnette or what have you. But it’s also not so weird that people haven’t heard of it before. It is difficult for people to spell correctly, which is annoying, but I’ve become used to that over the years. However that’s also partly the reason I chose the name JenFul for my blog because I knew no one would ever be able to spell my first name correctly in a domain. I figured jenful.com was easier to remember.

Unfortunately this means people that interact with me mainly through my blog have started calling me Jen. And it’s totally my own fault! I wish I could remember who told me this was going to happen because they were extremely prescient and I should have listened to them. Sadly though, I don’t know what to do about it. I supposed I could move my blog over to jennettefulda.com and hope people can find it by Googling. Google is smart enough to suggest that you spell my name correctly, which has earned them my eternal love.

Google spells my name right

I do like the nickname JenFul a lot though. If people were calling me JenFul instead of Jen, I would be fine with it. But they’re not. So someday when I have some free time to redesign all my web sites (like in 2018) I might change the blog name. I dunno. In the meantime, if you write to me, please don’t call me Jen. Thanks! I should probably add that to the FAQ on the contact form, but no one seems to read that anyway. (NO! I DO NOT WANT YOUR GUEST POST! GO AWAY, PLEASE!!)

That will teach me not to make late-night grocery runs

I saw something sail past my face into my car before I’d even finished opening the door, but it was a dark and rainy night, literally, so I couldn’t see what. I thought it must have been a leaf or a moth, but that was wishful thinking because what had actually jumped into my car, literally, was–

A FROG!!! A $#&*%^#* FROG!!! IN MY CAR!!! HOLY FREAKING $%^$^!!!

So, um, I was a little freaked out.

Not my actual terrorist, but close enough

Usually when I’m walking through a dark parking lot I’m worried about another human being forcing his way into my car, not an amphibian. I looked inside and saw the small yet slimy creature chilling out on my dashboard like it was his favorite lily pad. I put my groceries on the front seat and left the driver’s side door open while I went around to the other side. That’s where I found a straw in my trash which I used to start prodding the trespasser out. The vanilla shake I’d gotten at the drive-through might not have been the best caloric decision, but it was totally worth it at this moment. Unfortunately, it’s kind of hard to herd a frog because instead of letting me push him he’d make a sudden leap without me knowing exactly where he’d land (please, please, please, not in my hair).

Then I noticed that the guy I’d helped find Sensodyne in the dental hygiene aisle had strolled out of the store and was giving me a look which probably meant, “I hope this crazy lady didn’t poison my toothpaste.” I blurted out that there was a frog in my car, because when you have a frog in your car you feel a deep need to tell everyone that, “Oh my freakin’ God, there is a frog in my car. Can you believe this actually happened?” By the time he came over all we could see were the moist impressions the creature’s little froggy legs had left on my dashboard. “Geez, I hope you find it before it dies in your car,” said Mr. Sensitive Teeth who was about three frog-leaps ahead of me in this game because I hadn’t yet contemplated what a dead frog would smell like in a car parked in hot, summer weather.

I couldn’t see the frog, so I got in, started the car and said a small prayer that nothing was going to leap into my face as I was driving down the road. though that would make for a hilarious accident report. That’s when I spotted the little leaping menace wedged between the windshield and the dashboard on my far left. I opened the door, poked the frog with the straw again which caused it not to leap outside, but onto the shoulder of my buckled seat belt. Finally with a final poke it leapt outside and I slammed the door as fast as I could. Well, I’m 99% sure it leapt outside. I guess we’ll know in a few days, won’t we? If not, the next thing I’ll be buying from the grocery store is air fresheners.

Like the back of my hand

Evidently I really do know the back of my hand like the back of my hand because I had a minor freak out last week when a mole magically appeared on my left hand.

New dark mole

I’m 99% sure it was not there during the prior 33 years and some-odd months of my life, but suddenly it was there. At first I thought it was just dirt, but it wouldn’t wash off. It wasn’t a scab either because I couldn’t pick it off. It was either a new mole or someone had tattooed a dot on my hand while I slept.

It didn’t have any attributes of skin cancer (see the A, B, C, D, E of skin cancer here), so I was just going to write it off as one of the many weird things that happens when your body ages. It must be the next step after the development of that one, curly dark hair I have to pluck off my chin once a month. Not much longer until I’ll need to trim my nose hairs, right?

Then something even weirder happened. The mole got magically lighter!

Magically lighter mole

Fortunately I had taken a photo of the dark mole two days ago in preparation for blogging about it, so I have proof that this happened and I’m not hallucinating. But seriously, what the hell is going on here? I’ve heard of freckles lightening and darkening depending on how much exposure they have to the sun, but this thing changed color instantly. Is it going to get dark again? Disappear completely?

Has anyone else had this happen to them? Are there any dermatologists reading that have experience with magically disappearing moles? I’ll be keeping an eye on it, for sure.

Keep reading: 

Want second helpings? Devour more entries in the archives.

Chocolate & Vicodin: My Quest for Relief from the Headache that Wouldn't Go Away Half-Assed: A Weight-Loss Memoir

Jennette Fulda tells stories to the Internet about her life as a smartass, writer, chronic headache sufferer, (former?) weight-loss inspiration, and overall nice person (who is silently judging you). She was formerly known as PastaQueen. You can contact her if you promise to be nice.

Disclaimer: I am not responsible for keyboards ruined by coffee spit-takes or forehead wrinkles caused by deep thought.

My latest tweets

My latest tweets

Twitter: jennettefulda

  • New blog post: Wilmington, North Carolina: The sequel! http://t.co/sOfRt0Vjke
  • Have somehow managed to injure my lower back, because there's not enough pain in my life as is.
  • Just saw 3 political ads back to back which amounted to "You're awful!" "No, I'm not!" "Yes, you are!"
  • I guess I wasn't the only one having trouble with level 655 of Candy Crush because I suddenly have 50 moves instead of 35.


Life in Quarantine for Ebola Exposure: 21 Days of Fear and Loathing - NYTimes.com
I tend to stay at home a lot, but 21 days stuck in my apartment would drive me crazy.

Buy Experiences, Not Things - The Atlantic
Money can buy happiness if you spend it on experiences, not things.

The Man Who Smuggles Trader Joe’s into Canada
I'd heard of Pirate Joe's before but this article gives a real in-depth look at it.



Sign up for my email newsletter and stay informed about the latest news and events.


Learn to run...online! Up & Running online running courses