Sep 2, 2009

9/2/2009 - Housewifery

My propensity for domesticity scares the crap out of me. Sure, coming home from work is nice in itself; but spending an hour barefoot in the kitchen, adorned with an apron, cooking chicken and broccoli casserole while singing to oldies on the radio and watching eagerly out the window for Scott's car brought me a level of pleasure that really ought to be illegal for strong, independent-minded women like myself.

Here I am, mulling over what type of master's degree I should get, dreaming of attaining a doctorate, and loving nothing more than cooking a hot meal for my boyfriend.

I want to have it all.

Sep 1, 2009

9/1/2009 - Five Stars

Like good food or great sex, excellent property management is just one of those things you should never deny yourself.

This week, for the first time in my life, I have had a taste of just how useful a good landlord can be. First, said landlord actually knew how to handle a contract, what with the crossing out and correcting of terms. If I were a single lady who really dug contractual law, and that landlord were my blind date, I would have been totally turned on at that point. With my last landlord I had to suggest to him that we make alterations to my lease so that the stated terms matched the reality; though we got that done, I didn't feel like explaining to him why we should both initial next to all of the changes, so I let it drop and crossed my fingers that I wouldn't have any charges brought against me for breach of contract.

But wait. It gets awesomer.

The day after signing the new lease, returning from dinner, Scott and I ran across the gent who does maintenance around the apartment complex. We had discussed some repairs that needed to be done around our place, and realized that this would be the ideal time to get the ball rolling. we said hello and explained some of our issues, and - pay close attention, because this is where it gets good - the fixerman came over to our apartment right then and there and took care of what he could. He even fixed something we hadn't mentioned - he just noticed it on the spot and took care of it.

Suffice it to say, I am pleased. Because I have a picky aesthetic eye, I was a little uneasy about moving from an apartment that looked really nice (hard wood floors, moulding and baseboards in all the rooms, high ceilings) to a place that was perfectly acceptable but nothing extraordinary. But then, you know what they say...

So there you have it, folks. If I've learned it once, I've learned it a million times: you can't judge a book by its cover. My new diggs are modest on the outside (actually, if you are literally standing outside the apartment, it looks waaaaaay less like an abandoned crack house than my last place; that one was deceiving) but inside the place is totally tricked out. Great management aside, it's a veritable wonderland in there. Inside there's my cat, my kitchen, my love and my excellent - my most very excellent - life.

Aug 31, 2009

8/31/2009 - Energizer

When I was a kid, used to be that I couldn't fall asleep if the towels next to my sink (which I could see from my bed) weren't hanging straight on their racks. I didn't think much of it then, and in retrospect it's kinda cute in that quirky, tweenage OCD way.

But like everything else (belching in public, or lifting your skirt up over your head to show off those kickin' new panties) you grow up and it's not cute anymore. Not one bit.

The bad thing about moving is that there's a lot to do. And the bad thing about me moving is that there's a lot for me to do - or so I think. I lack that innate ability to look at a pile of dirty dishes and say ehhhhh...I'll do that later. Not I. I have to wash the dishes, then take out the trash and sweep the floors and hang some photos and vacuum the carpet and make tomorrow's lunch and run to the grocery store and...the list goes on.

My ability to clean tirelessly is admired by many, but it's a monkey's paw (a concept only recently introduced to me; means you get one much-desired wished granted, but not without great expense; i.e. you wish for a million dollars and you get it - but only after your beloved Great Uncle Alfred kicks it and the insurance payout comes your way). I can clean like nobody's business, but god...I just can't seem to stop myself. And sometimes there's other things I'd like to be doing - like petting my cat or reading a book.

You know. The good stuff.

Aug 30, 2009

8/30/2009 - Throw the Rice

I've been thinking a lot about marriage. Though I've spent my past 23 years actively avoiding giving the subject much thought, the fact that I am at that age where my peers decide en masse go tie the knot all at once makes it hard to ignore.

This being the case (the en-masse marriages, I mean), you will not be surprised to hear that I was recently at a wedding. Considerably more shocking is the fact that I was actually listening to and reflecting on the talk that the officiator was giving. Though the message was something to the effect that a husband and wife should love and honor one another as Jesus loved and honored the church (I'm no Christian, but I'll drink to that), I was particularly struck by the pastor's in-passing remark that we (the attendees) should support this marriage and encourage the young couple making no discouraging remarks about their union. Upon hearing this I thought to myself, Yes, yes, this is wise and true.

For me, this concept is a challenge. Not because I go blathering on about how doomed all my friends' marriages are, but because every time I hear of another 20-something getting married, I cringe just a little bit, thinking to myself that I just don't know. I don't know if we, as young adults, have the capacity to choose a life-parter that we can stand to be around for the rest of our lives. Yeah, we've graduated college and moved out of our parents' houses and everything but really, we're just kids, right?

But the guy makes a point. Acting upon the assumption that we are kind people who generally wish happiness upon those whose marriages we witness, we really ought to encourage the young couples. So long as they're up there tossin' around the I do's and there's nothing much to be done to stop them, what's left but to help them make it through with as little misery as possible? Getting married young has to be tough; getting married young when everybody's telling you you can't make it is probably just a big ol' bitch.

I'm the one on every adventure who hangs back, wringing her hands and saying "I don't know, guys, maybe we shouldn't be doing this;" the one who repeatedly encounters disaster despite attempted feats of spectacular caution. Because I barely trust myself to choose the right outfit to wear in the morning, I assume that few are able to choose the right partner to share the rest of rest of their lives with. I live in perpetual trepedation and find the mere concept of marriage dubious at best - but I've got to give it up for those who proceed with self assurance.

It's a do unto others... thing. In spite of debilitating interest in extreme caution, I hope to be married one day. When I marry, I will be certain of what I am doing. And when someone is certain - as I hope all the young lovers out there are - well, that's something that nobody gets to monkey with.

Jun 15, 2009

6/15/09 - Miss Me Not

Dry your tears, o' blog fans, for soon I will return with changes a-plenty.

May 1, 2009

5/1/2009 - Post-Op

Last night I caved and asked Scott to try and get the splinter out of the bottom of my big toe. It had been hanging out there for a week, doused in Neosporin, swaddled in band-aids, and - much to my dismay - not budging.

So we trained the light of my bedside lamp onto my foot and I lay back while Scott poked and prodded with tweezers and a needle. After some peeps and cringing out of me, he managed to extract a small sliver of something, but more was in there. 

More poking and prodding.

Finally, he got it. Held it up. Studied it. And it looked suspiciously like...

A hair.

A small brown hair, maybe a quarter of an inch long, with a little white follicle on the end and everything; like an eyebrow hair that got lost on its way to my face.

A hair.

In my toe.

On the bottom of my toe.

The end.

Apr 29, 2009

3/29/2009 - Just Like in the Movies

Either way, it was going to end up like I was on some television sitcom. Either I was going to uproot my life, move to some strange city, become fast friends with the quirky gay guy at my new job (who would invariably set out to update my wardrobe and emphasize my most positive feminine features) who would bolster me with snappy encouragement while I attempted to snuffle my way through a broken heart; OR I was going to get an email from my ex-boyfriend minutes into a fresh batch of despair over the job in my current city that I couldn't take because that's where my broken heart lay, and suddenly realize that we wouldn't, indeed couldn't breakup because the past two days were just a complicated, emotionally-wrought fluke.

The second one is what's actually happening, by the way. After two days of spontaneously combusting into tears everything swiftly evaporated leaving me first baffled, then immensely relieved. 

So we're back. We're on. And better than ever.

Apr 28, 2009

4/28/2009 - In Reverse

When I was in middle or early high school, in the muddled middle ages of my adolescent life during which I regularly attended church and youth group in an attempt to be a Good Christian, I found myself participating in a trust fall exercise (Step 1: Get a bunch of peers to stand around and hold out their hands in the form of a makeshift net. Step 2: Stand on a chair. Step 3: Trust your peers. Step 4: Fall backwards, knowing in your heart of hearts that the hands of your trusty friends will be there to catch you). To make a short story shorter, I went into the trust fall with much excitement and a complete lack of reservation (this is youth group, I told myself, these guys don't fuck around!) only to be - yes, you guessed it - dropped. During the trust fall.

Thanks a lot, peers. 

Anyway, since the youth group leader jumped in at the last moment to grab my skull before it was dashed on the ground I emerged unscathed. Afterwards, however, everyone kept asking me if I was okay and I couldn't stop myself from crying; they were being so nice

It's like that, now. I can carry myself with a passable degree of poise and composure until somebody expresses their concern or offers to help and then I'm gone in a siren of wails and a whole mess of hiccups. My friends have been so fantastically, earth-shatteringly kind I don't even know what to do with myself. They've been hugging me, distracting me, offering me their time, their food and their homes. Even as someone who recreationally scoffs at religion, I can say that I am, without a doubt, deeply blessed. One of the women I work with (whom I adore; she's the closest thing I've had to a mentor during my college career) offered to let me and Moxie stay at her house, if we needed it, or to come over for dinner. 

As someone who always wants to take care of things herself, this outpouring undermines my false confidence. The fact that I want to fall into their arms and take up all of their time gets under my skin and reminds me that I'm just a scared kid, desperately in need of some sort of comfort. 

Today I worked on reversing all my plans and fixing up the details so that I could skip town come June. But no. Just as I was panicking because I'd come to realize how good one of the jobs I have a fair shot at here in the city could be for me (but how could I take it, when it meant staying here, where everything hurt?), I got an email from Scott explaining everything, calming all of my fears and snapping everything, suddenly, into place.

This is day three.

On day three, everything has changed.

Apr 26, 2009

4/26/2009 - My Diet is Misery

Forgive me if I turn a hyperbolic phrase; I'm not miserable. Doesn't it have flair, though? Can't you imagine some teenage goth chick with white makeup and black fingernails telling you that in a deadpan voice? 

Don't get me wrong; this isn't any picnic. And there is definitely something keeping me from eating. Since Friday night I have consumed exactly 4/5 a box of Mike 'N Ikes, half a banana and 1 handful of Skittles (why fruit and their candy equivalents are the only thing my stomach will even consider is far beyond me). I just have no appetite. I've been sipping on water to keep myself from keeling over, but other than that the very thought of food makes me nauseous. 

Scott came over today. I'm not sure if that's breaking a breakup rule or not but it somehow settled everything in my brain. I made him tell me that it was over and that he was certain about it at least three times. I cried. A lot. Told him some things, shared some feelings, so on and so forth. And when he left, I felt alright. I didn't throw my back against the door, crumple onto the floor and weep tears of pain and anguish; though if I had done that, it wouldn't have been at all out of my current character. I got back to my homework. I went about my business. And I felt okay.

One of the things I'm finding the hardest is removing him from my physical surroundings. On Friday night, immediately after he left, I went around my apartment taking pictures down from the fridge and his books off of the bedside table. I did this numbly, unfeelingly, since I knew that if I thought about it for a moment I would be devastated, and that if I left it for the next day I might never bring myself to do the deed. I came across one last thing tonight and slipped it into the trash can, willing myself not to think about what it meant to me. 

I'm going to talk about this ordeal and about Scott a lot in the next few days (weeks?). What I want you to know, and what I'm going to try hard to concentrate on, is that the past twenty months have been twenty great ones. Falling in love with and getting to know the guy was some of the most fun I've ever had. I look forward to everything in the future and regret nothing in the past. 

We're going to be ok.

This is day two.

Day two is cloudy, with a chance of emotional trauma. 

Apr 25, 2009

4/25/2009 - Fuel

So yesterday I was thinking to myself about how I'm gonna start blogging every day, least just a little, just to get back in the swing of things for when I graduate and have time/sanity. The everlasting problem is having something to write about; something more than the passing whim that I forget a few minutes later. Well, nothing makes for good writing like anguish, and now I've got my year's supply.

This fucking hurts.

Scott and I broke up last night; a "good" breakup, as breakups go. It was a quiet end. No screaming. No anger. I knew when he told me he was coming over after work. I knew when he walked up to the door. I knew when he sat down on the couch and when he said it. I tried wrapping my brain around this thing I knew - that I knew was for the best, even - and couldn't. The ends wont meet. 

Welcome to: The Breakup Diaries

I don't feel rejected and I don't feel wronged. I don't feel like I'm not good enough or I didn't try hard enough or that I fell short somehow. I know none of those things are true for either of us. I just feel like my security blanket is gone. Scott cushioned me from everything I hated in my life and he handled me when I broke down. When I hurt, I went to Scott. Now I hurt. And I can't do it. I could - he would even take me - but that's not how you do breakups. 

Maybe it would be easier if I felt wronged; if I had thrown him out of the house, hurling his shoes after him and chasing his car with a pitch fork. Then I could feel righteous about my newfound independence and I could buck up knowing that I'm better off without the bastard. The nature of this beast, however, is that we still care for each other. So I still want to call him. I still want to take care of him. I still want him to comfort me. But we can't do these things because again, that's not how you do breakups.

Quick, like a band-aid, I tell myself.

So gently, I told him he should go home and quietly, he left. Having said what we both knew was true (had been putting off, denying), there was nothing more to say that wouldn't take us in circles. 

This morning I woke up before my early alarm. My body didn't immediately recall the previous night, but as it set in a dull pain burned its way into my forearms. This appears to be the physical manifestation of my internal pain: aching brachioradialises. Lame.

Awake too early even for an 8:30 meeting, I dressed and got on my bike and rode around the neighborhood, hyperventilating to myself when the reality hit me too hard. The movement, at least, felt good. Action is how I'm going to deal with this, I know. Sitting still, even sitting and reading, is a precursor only for crying. My guess is that when I move my body sends all its hot vapors to other appendages in need; that way they don't come spewing out my eyes. 

This changes all of my plans. In a way, it's exciting; like an adventure. In another way - the way that seems the biggest and most obvious right now - it's just terrible. 

This is day one.

Day one hurts.

Apr 24, 2009

4/24/2009 - Bedfellow

Scott realized, last night, that the tickling we both felt on our sides as we lay in bed was not our loving, wayward fingers but a small yellow spider.  Thrust suddenly into the light of my bedside lamp, the creature attempted an escape. 

I, ever the scientist, was intrigued and studied him on his journey.
Moxie, ever the hunter, sprang into acute awareness, pawing and snapping at the bug. 

And Scott, ever the the cold-blooded killer, grabbed a tissue and squashed the thing before it could tickle any other poor victims in their sleep.

Mar 28, 2009

3/28/2009 - To Catch a Beast

This one's for Leah (and a little bit for Scott): Moonboat, revisited.

Alone in my thoughts I imagine all men to be helpless and sweet and serene. By day they cajole and demand and tease; by day I comply and accommodate and defend. Recreationally, I escape. Drifting away from droll conversation I capture them in my mind and contain them in a place where I know them to be tame. I imagine them in bed; not sprawled, naked and lurid, but tucked in, curled under the covers, head lolled to one side. I imagine them in this state and see them at last for what they are. They parade as men, all billow and bluster, but asleep they are boys, adrift on some dream.

My boyfriend (my bedfellow) the cunning debater, plays devils' advocate for sport, entwining me in counter-arguments the way a leashed mutt might bind its owner. Girdled by his tether - his overwhelming reason - I collapse, frustrated and pouting. In argument I find that I am too empathetic, ever-willing to accept the other person's point of view. I am an unworthy opponent, incapable of matching the strikes of my lover/debater. He reigns ever-victorious as I grudgingly wave my white flag.

Early mornings, awake, I search him for signs of piss and vinegar. He's only sleeping, however; sweetly dozing, soft and warm. Long gone to REM, he drawls nonsense songs and mutters cryptic answers to my gently prodding questions. My opponent is lost to this sleeping child and I feel, for the moment, that I have captured something great and tamed it; lured it to the bed where I now lay, lovingly encircled in the arms of my beast. 

Mar 9, 2009

3/9/2009 - Liberals in Paradise

And the prize for most vibrant spring greenery goes to...

These Bushes!

Extreme Close-up!

Oklahoma's really been getting into the spring thing as of late, blissfully ignorant of the oncoming cold snap. Today it's spring, tonight it's tornados and tomorrow its winter. All hail the midwestern weather pattern!

I spent the last springlike weekend house-sitting in my own personal paradise. It is an aspiration of mine to one day live in an old home with modern trimmings; in other words, I want all the old-house trappings (examples: mail slot, tiny grate and door for a front door peep hole, wood floors, vaulted ceilings, etc.) without all the old-house troubles (example: wiring from the 1920's). This place had it all - the original wooden floors, the quirky room layout, the breakfast nook - and was beautifully updated with textured walls, painted ceilings and a fully modern kitchen. The fact that all of the radios in the house were tuned to NPR was just an added bonus.

The house also came equipped with four cats (whose names I forgot immediately upon learning them; the one that was friendly to me I took to calling Mystery Cat, or Mystery for short) and two dogs:


Being sweet, eating dinner, inserting herself under your arm for a rub.




Having a cute face, eating slowly and with great suspicion, chewing on Scott, capturing wild possums and rendering them unconscious in terror-stricken stupor so that the house-sitter thinks she's got a giant dead rodent on her hands and starts making plans to call Animal Control up until the moment that - to her immense relief - she witnesses the creature slowly stand up and walk gingerly away.

So that was my weekend (and how was yours?), possum-playing-possum and all. I've returned home to my cat (interests: chewing on crinkly things, tirelessly pursuing all milk-based eats and most other foodstuffs, running maniacally from room to room on urgent business) and a week that seems ghostly quiet, void of most of my regularly scheduled classes. Though there's not much to do, it at least feels a bit like summer. This brings back good memories, and I don't mind spending my time with those.

Mar 2, 2009

3/2/2009 - Educayshun

This morning I finally captured my cat performing the greatest of all his tricks: mouse fetching. If you look real close you can see in Moxie's mouth the white toy mouse for which his sun rises. He harbors a compassion for this creature which my inferior human mind, I am certain, will never be able to grasp.

I shot this photo early in the morning, which left the rest of my day subject to the drudgery of squeezing in readings of a particularly torturous text book. I would have resented this assignment entirely were it not for the following:

"Researchers [in Mexico] leaned...that men, in order to retain their sense of machismo, refused to use contraception, a behavioral choice that resulted in large families that many of the men were unable to support financially. This revelation provided the input for a public education campaign using a macho cartoon penis character to extol the virtues of contraception."

It's stuff like this that makes me laugh out loud and suddenly not mind so much the endless reading assignments that come free with college tuition. Hyterical mental image of "macho cartoon penis" aside, I actually do consider this a relatively fascinating sociological fact and an excellent tidbit for haughty dinner conversation. I'm beginning to nurture the secret sociologist inside of me, so rest assured that I'll be squirreling this fact away for later discussion.

The rest of my reading was only a frustration, as I am one of those people who believes that if they're going to be reading zillions of droll pages, they might as well be reading zillions of well-edited droll pages; which is why I am irritated (and also secretly, smugly, satisfied) to find typos such as the following:

"Listserv discussions can run for up to a week, giving motivated respondents time to provide thoughtful their answers."

"Straight Edgers themselves typically run independent hard-core music labels; they call these labels DYI, or "do it yourself."

Look. I edit the dickens out of every document I submit to anything and I'm nothing but a sniveling undergrad. Let's show some integrity.

But then, as I should probably be studying this text rather than ragging unnessarily on it, I guess I should shut my trap and go apply myself.
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Feb 26, 2009

2/26/2009 - Saves the Day

Super powers that I would gladly settle for:
  • The ability to snatch squirrels off the ground and hold them, just for a moment.
  • The ability to lead massive groups of Humanity in choreographed song and dance numbers. On a whim.
  • The ability to summon objects using The Force. 

Feb 21, 2009

2/21/2009 - Laundry

On Friday afternoon I opened up my dryer to pull out the load just finished. I nearly collapsed in relief when I saw my favorite sweater amongst the toasty, tangled clothes. I had just come home from work - was still in the business-casual garb of the office worker - and knowing that my next order of business was to climb into my giant, warm sweater and a pair of jeans was the greatest knowledge I could ever have. 

Things have been like that lately; no matter how close I get to tugging the hair out of my scalp or punching somebody in the face, there always seems to be at least one part in my day just like that sweater - waiting for me (so warm, so welcoming) in spite of everything.

Feb 19, 2009

2/19/2009 - Plot Twist

Pizza House looks like the kind of place that would serve pizzas with hairs baked into the crust. The same beaten-up, turquoise, 1980-something Ford is perpetually parked out front and inside works a man who looks like he stumbled in off the streets, fell into an apron and picked up a broom. They serve the cheapest and most delicious pizza I've ever wrapped my mouth around, however, so I'm not one to judge.

The shop is staffed by several men whose ethnic origin I have never been able to establish. Their pizza and cinnamon sticks are a gift I give myself every once in a while when I'm particularly stressed or hungry, and when I open the door to pick up my fare they recognize me and greet me with great enthusiasm. The short smiling man asks me about my haircut/my boyfriend/my schooling, or at least this is what I think he asks me; I've never been able to understand the phrasing through his thick accent.

But Pizza House is just how my day ended; here's how it began:

7:07 a.m. my final alarm goes off like a starting gun.

Midmorning, my 7-year-old mentoring buddy invited me to go roller skating with him. My heart soars; not because I could actually accept the invitation, but because the younger generations are keeping my roller skating dream alive.

At some point after 11:00 a higher-up in the echelons of OCU refers to the pile of papers on her desk ask "this shit". I love having the opportunity to hear someone I admire employ a well-placed curse word. 

Near noon a particularly heavy box of papers headed for the recycling bin, a dolly and I ride the wheelchair lift in the Administration building.

One of my bosses gives me permission to borrow any one of the bounty of new nonfiction novels stored in her office. I die a little bit - blissfully.

Late afternoon I witness a young man in the library trying hard to peer over his dark sunglasses at the computer screen in front of him. In the library. 

Moments later, upstairs at my job, I notice a note left by a worker in the office notebook: "I turned the book into Rod Jones." I think somebody forgot a space.

While preparing a mailing list I have the opportunity to listen to the latest episode of This American Life. This is what good radio journalism/art is.

Early evening. I go into class thinking that the only thing standing between me and an all-around ok day is 80 minutes of head-nodding and note-taking. 

7:30, I leave so wracked with tension that my hands are shaking. I am suddenly reminded that confrontation makes me feel like I'm on the verge of a heart-attack.

Wasn't expecting that one.

Nighttime at last. I eat pizza.

Moxie gets his head stuck in a plastic cup. 

Hilarity ensues.

I wash the dishes.

Wash my face.

I call it a night.

Feb 18, 2009

2/18/2009 - The Rose reverse:
Day 3:
Day 2:
Day 1:
The answer to your question is yes, that is a chip canister I'm using for a vase.

Feb 17, 2009

2/17/2009 - Moonboat

Today my cat received a black [toy] ferret in the mail. Lucky bastard. 

When bored in social situations (this happens often) my mind gets floaty and does that thing they do in movies where the voices of other people become muffled and the thoughts in the main character's head are the loudest voice in the room. 

Perhaps this has never happened in the movies you've seen. Just hang with me.

Once my mind has attained floaty-ness and I have successfully tuned out my present company I attend to my first order of business: imagining the men in the room - one at a time - asleep. This isn't something sordid (i.e. imagining them sprawled naked in bed) but, rather, quite innocent. I imagine them tucked under the sheets, head lolled to one side, breathing softly and perhaps smiling ever-so-slightly. 

There's no real telling why I do this, but when I try to rationalize my new peculiar habit I figure that it stems from recent experiences with a.) my boyfriend and b.) my cat. Both have a way of terrorizing me during the day (Scott gets wily and attempts to convince me that he doesn't like ice cream, or that after-dinner fatigue is due to all my blood rushing to my stomach to aid in digestion; Moxie insists on tirelessly pursuing every "crinkly" material in the apartment and rearranging the household items when I am out) but at night when Moxie is curled at my side twitching his paws as he tracks the Giant Rattly Mouse of his dreams, when Scott is on adrift in some night-vision and singing nonsense songs in his sleep, I feel particularly content, perhaps slightly smug. I feel as if I have captured the beasts and revealed them for the sweet, sleeping children that they are; harmless, if only for a few hours.

And perhaps I envision everybody like that; ultimately harmless. And by that, perhaps, I am comforted.

Feb 10, 2009

2/10/2009 - Love Thy Neighbor

If we're going to talk about love, we might as well talk about the neighborly kind.

Today, whilst I was being forced to hunker down in the boy's locker room of the dance school to defend myself against oncoming tornados, my neighbors were setting up camp in our creepy (damp, cobwebby, missing the step at the bottom of the staircase) basement. Upon emerging from the locker room I found a message on my phone from my upstairs neighbor who had called to see if I was home and wondered if wanted to join them in the basement. She assured me that the door to the back foyer (from which the basement can be accessed) was unlocked.

The second neighborly deed done unto me came several hours later, after the mother of all thunder storms had barreled through the city. Coming from wet-but-normal campus, I didn't realize that power had been lost until I poked the button at the cross walk and noticed that the light wasn't changing because none of the traffic lights were functioning. Beneath my umbrella, I made a death-defying sprint across four lanes of traffic and walked at a steady clip toward my apartment, which loomed darkly before me.

Once indoors, I listened to my second message of the day while fumbling around for a flashlight. This one came from my next door neighbor - whom I fondly refer to as Neighbor Keith - asking if I needed any candles. I decided that I did not once I located my super-high-powered-battery-operated camping lantern but, feeling cared-for and protected, I appreciated the thought. 

Unable to bake or do homework like I had planned, I dinked around the dark apartment, swinging the lantern along with me as I swept the floor, picked up clothes and made my bed. When I had run out of things to clean I perched the lantern atop the headboard and lay down on my bed with a book. Moxie came and fitted himself into his usual spot between my right arm and my side. 

It was a like a dark, quiet vacation. We lay there like that for a long time, me wondering if the electricity would come on again or if I should start in on bundling up the contents of my fridge and packing off to Scott's. 

Then there was a click and a buzz and the whir of the air conditioner kicking in. My radio clock flashed midnight and a light came on in the laundry room. Everything powered on, bringing with it the promise of homework to be done, the possibility of baking and the extinguished need to lend a neighborly hand, as people do in times of mild crisis. 

Feb 9, 2009

2/9/2009 - Royal Decree

Valentines day is on the visible horizon, which means that all the single folks of the world are gearing up to get their panties all in a bundle over the whole heart-shaped mess. Come Saturday you'll be counting up all the Facebook statuses wishing you and yours a happy Singles Awareness Day and nodding because you know that I'm right: these guys hold a grudge.

I went through the phase during my insecure high school years, but then I advanced to my equally insecure college years and realized that I would do much better if I just got over it. If you're over the age of 18 and still moping around about being single on Valentines day, then I want you to consider two things:
  1. Being single is  - and I really want to stress this - totally ok. I think most people recognize this, so no need to shout it. 
  2. Valentines day is fabricated and kitschy, right? The fact that you recognize and - if you dare - embrace it makes you an emotionally superior person who is better equipped to enjoy the irony of it all.
I say this not as a self-assured bitch with a boyfriend close at hand, but as somebody who has spent a healthy chunk of time single and survived it. Single or not, you're going to have a helluva lot more fun on Valentine's Day if you just lighten up and take it for what it is: a goofy, over-hyped holiday that is nonetheless a pretty good excuse to let the good people in your life know how good they are.

I'm putting this out there a good week ahead of time so that everybody has a chance to let it sink in and to think about how they will behave on Saturday. I, for one, want to have fun and it would be excellent if I didn't incur hate for doing so. Let's not have any tears or pouting, folks. I can make these kinds of demands because because I am the queen of tears and pouting; what I say goes. 

You cannot escape this.

Feb 7, 2009

2/7/2009 - Thrifty

Yesterday I found out that all the clothes that fit my weirdly-shaped body have been stored - all these years - in the St. Vincent de Paul thrift store on 23rd Street.

As soon as I walked through the door I was exhausted. Shopping in general wears me out and shopping in any kind of thrift or discount store is exponentially worse since nothing is particularly organized or neatly displayed. Instead of browsing you have to sift through racks and racks of mismatched clothes in search of the single gem in the proverbial haystack. (So I mixed metaphors; sue me.)

I had come this far, however, so I started in on my task. Minutes passed. More minutes. And just as I was about to lose hope the clouds parted and the heavenly choir struck up a chord and a beam of ethereal light shone down upon a pair of straight leg brown corduroy pants.

Now, if you have to know anything about me and fashion, you have to know these three things:
  1. I sported (and immensely enjoyed) straight-leg pants long before they were in fashion.
  2. Brown is one of my very favorite colors.
  3. I love corduroy; maybe too much.
Now I was on a roll. Some additional sifting unearthed a green, double-breasted, polyester suit jacket and a brown corduroy purse for $1.25 (I didn't buy the purse, but finding it was a sort of personal victory). I screwed my courage to the sticking place and tried my wares out in the "fitting room." This place, a PVC pipe construct surrounded with heavy curtains, provided privacy enough, but then there was nothing to stop another unwitting shopper from whipping open the curtains while I bent over bare-assed. I was not exposed, however, and the jacket and pants fit like a polyester/corduroy dream. Again, the angels sang.

In the end I smugly signed off on the receipt for $5.25. As someone who believes that no piece of clothing (jeans, suit jacket, formal dress, etc.) should cost more than $10, this part was particularly gratifying. I'm about as poor as they come, but there's nothing about two items of clothing for less than a tank of gas that isn't worth my hard-earned bucks. 

Feb 4, 2009

2/4/2009 - Off Book

I've got scripts. Scripts for when I have casual conversations with casual friends; scripts for when I talk to higher-ups in any given echelon; scripts for talking to teachers, talking to bosses, talking to waitstaff and librarians and co-workers. All these manuscripts are stored in the attic of my mind and when we talk I venture up the stairs and choose the one that most closely pertains to you. If you get wily and stray from your lines, well, then the joke's on you because I will trip all the hell over my tongue and mire you in a mess of words that neither of us can save ourselves from.

If I don't play a conversation out in my head before I have it, it's a lost cause. Something as simple as ordering a sandwich can really get weird.

During the pivitol transitions of adolescent life (going from middle school to high school, for example, or from high school to college) I always imagined re-inventing myself as a more open, talkative person. Any one of my current acquaintances can you tell how that worked out; and now, as I look warily toward the Great Transition In The Sky (from college to the real world) I realize it will never happen.

It's sort of a relief knowing I can remain the way I am, knowing that this is the way I operate. When I need to trick people into thinking otherwise, I'll just grab for the right script and give it a whirl. Sometimes it gets weird, but I realize its probably weirdest for me. And I can stand that.

Feb 3, 2009

2/3/2009 - NPR Smackdown

I love when NPR talk show hosts tactfully put down crazy conservative* callers. Below I have completed a rough (at least vaguely accurate, I hope) outline of a conversation that just took place on the daily current-issues talk and call-in show, Talk of the Nation:

Caller Trent: [Yakka Yakka...something to the effect that if we legalize gay marriage one thing will lead to another and soon we'll all be hugging pedophiles]

Host Neal Conan: I see, so you're talking about the slippery slope theory. Though homosexuals are not like pedaphiles.

Trent: Yes, they are.

Neal Conan: No they're not, Trent. But I accept your point. 

Trent got hung up on. The conversation got continued.

Something about this - this little thing devoid of hoopla or fanfare - makes me feel really, really good about the world. No tolerance for the ignorant; civility for all.

* Not all conservatives are crazy, just some; there are probably about as many crazy conservatives as there are crazy liberals. 

Feb 1, 2009

2/1/2009 - Capital H

Humanity looks nice when it's been edited into snippets - the way you do in music videos featuring songs about how We Are One and Love Will Conquer All. Humanity (capital H) looks unique, then; scruffy, perhaps, but kind. Lovable despite the obvious flaws.

But then there's WalMart on Super Bowl Sunday. This is a whole other sort of Humanity. This is a parking lot full of people who have all decided to come together at the same time to buy gross quantities of food. This is ladies with frightening amounts of makeup, pajama-clad college kids with unwashed hair, screaming children around every corner and faintly stomach-turning aromas emanating from unidentified sources. Humanity, then, is not cute; certainly, there is no sense of kinship or We'reAllInThisTogether-ness. 

Maybe from a distance I could take them; distill each one for scrutinization, appreciate them for their kind hearts, their quirky tastes and their quiet demeanors. All together it seems too much, however. I feel immersed and trapped in something giant, swirling and oddly-scented.

2/1/2009 - Betwixt

Shortly after 8:00 a.m. on Friday morning Scott rolled over in bed and wrapped himself around me. My heart simultaneously rose and sank, for there is nothing more wonderful (to say nothing for warm) than being enveloped by your boyfriend's drowsy limbs, and it just so happened that I was sandwiched in by my equally warm and wonderful cat who lay stretched out along my stomach; however, as it was shortly after 8:00 a.m., getting out of bed and preparing for work was a high priority. 

I stayed in bed for as long as I possibly could, then gingerly extracted myself from betwixt my captors and slipped off to shower. I had to pack my breakfast, but I made it to work in time. 

I would give many a thing for every day to begin just that way. 

Jan 29, 2009

1/29/2009 - The Cheesiest

For lunch today I had a quesadilla. Cheez-its were my midday snack. And for dinner? Thick n' creamy macaroni and cheese. I whole-heartedly fear that there may be something seriously defective with my inner wirings. 

And it's in my head, too, these serious defects. In a fit of laziness I stayed laying on the couch after The Office and 30Rock (re-runs; suck it, NBC) and watched Private Practice. I will hand it to you that these night-time soaps are engaging - if not down-right addictive - but you will never catch me saying that they are written with any great degree of skill or integrity. That said, I get particularly harried when I find myself really feelin' a monologue; like, if I weren't being a lazy couch-bum I would be nodding my head vigorously, if not standing up and pumping my fist. 

It makes me question my very being. Here I am groovin' on how much holier I am than this lousy nighttime drama stuff, and then I find myself really going along with it. I don't know how I'm supposed to maintain my lofty and emotionally shut-off position when hit prime-time television shows keep speaking to my soul.

I struggle with this. In the aftermath of a middle and high school career marked most prominently by moody journaling, I live with a complex about my emotions. I question what I really have the right to be feeling and what I'm trumping up to the cataclysmic levels of Grey's Anatomy (where everybody cries about everything, all the time, no matter what); I wonder whether what I feel is good and true emotion or just me searching for attention. 

Sometimes I comfort myself by thinking about The Cosby Show. The one where the wife (what's her name?) finally goes off about how a woman has emotions and she can express those emotions however she wants and whenever she wants because no matter what, they're inside her somewhere and she's feeling them, which means they're legitimate. This comes at the climax of the show, once she's had her fill of all the male characters ragging on her about how she's moody because of her lady-times. 

I want that confidence; it seems like it would do me well. Even if I was moody and weepy and the sort, at least I wouldn't feel bad about it. At least the feeling of emotion at all wouldn't wear me down. But then, I figure (if for no other reason than to wrap this up neatly), that's what I've got the cheese for: to cushion the wiring. 

Jan 8, 2009

1/8/2009 - My Hawaiian Ass

On a rock in a tide pool at a picnic area on the beach in Hawaii I slipped and landed - hard - on my sorry tuckus. Jostled into a momentary stupor, I watched my sun glasses fly from their perch atop my forehead and land in the shallow pool in front of me. My breath was momentarily knocked from my chest and my skull wobbled clumsily atop my neck. 

Even as extreme pain shot through my lower regions,  I was thinking to myself that I had just pulled a truly tourist-class stunt. Admittedly, I was a tourist; but a tourist, nonetheless, who had grown up around oceans and tide pools and really ought to know better by now than to wear rubber-soled shoes while walking on wet ocean rocks. 

I stole a glance at my family happily picnicking on a grassy knoll above the tide pools, thankfully oblivious to my wipeout. I bit my tongue, gingerly transferred myself to a more purposeful-looking seated position atop a dry rock nearby, and began the task of pretending that my coxis didn't feel like it had hordes of munchkins pressing on it from all sides.

Earlier that same day we had visited a place, the significance of which I do not know; all that I can tell you is that it involved a view of a staggeringly high cliff, the ocean below. The scene from the road along was breathtaking in the  looking-at-this-I-feel-tiny-and-insignificant way, not the I-just-bit-it-on-a-wet-rock-and-now-I-might-never-walk-straight-again way. Perhaps more than the view, however, I enjoyed spending a few choice moment patting this fine fellow - a true Hawaiian Ass:

Today (a good week later) climbing stairs no longer induces quite the same degree of burning pain, but there is a definite sensation of having pulled my left gluteus maximus. This makes ascending stairs, bending over and standing on one leg all very uncomfortable. I never noticed it before, but as luck would have it it is my habit to simultaneously bend over and stand on one leg every day to put on my skivvies, socks, pants, etc. Never before have I so desired to remain naked in bed. 

For all that it is humid and warm and green and beautiful, what I liked best about Hawaii was the fauna. Tiny green geckos with red spots and blue gecko eye shadow, hefty wild turkey-looking things, herons grazing with the cattle, sea turtles, wild cats, giant snails, mongooses, striped fish, dolphins, crabs and any number of exotic creatures captured my fancy more than anything else. I feel funny about this, since being hung up on the creatures of Hawaii seems like I'm neglecting to see the forest for the mammalian trees. 

I think there's a little light somewhere in the back of my brian that snaps on when I get around animals, though, and animals were around virtually every Hawaiian corner. Risking sounding like the crazy cat lady I am destined to be, I feel more calm around animals; I think it's the simple act of being in the presence of something that does not speak and that does not expect me to speak to it. 

I like to be quiet; to be in the presence of quiet beings.