Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Things I Learned in Grad School This Semester

As I sit at my kitchen table writing this, the first thing that strikes me is the lack of books, papers, notebooks, pens and highlighters scattered everywhere.   This is the first time since the summer my kitchen table has been clear (of course except this laptop).  I returned my rented textbooks, threw away past assignments that were useless and filed those that potentially could help me in the future.   This semester is over.   I am loading up my car tomorrow and driving home to Ohio to be with my friends, family and boyfriend--basically the people who mean the most to me.  I'm stoked.  I'll be honest.

Being a naturally self-reflective person, endings always make me introspective.  What did I learn this semester in grad school?  Hmm, a few odds and ends about school counseling: Holland's Code, The ASCA National Standards, the best ways to protect against law suits... But what did I really learn?  Really?

1. I have been and will always been a homebody
I try to leave Ohio and live other places.   I tried to go to D.C. when I graduated from U.D., I tried to go to D.C. when I graduated from high school, and now, here I am, living in Baltimore.  And I hate it.   I don't think it's that I hate Baltimore as much as it is that I love home.   Dayton feels like home.   Columbus feels like home.  I don't know why I keep trying to leave.  I need to just accept I was born in Ohio, I'll probably get married in Ohio, raise kids in Ohio, and die in Ohio.

2. Sometimes calling mom/dad/boyfriend is to feeling good what the atomic bomb is to warfare.
Unfortunately for the people I love, many of the conversations I've had this semester involve declarations of 1) how much I miss them 2) how much I hate grad school or...sometimes I just cry a lot. But it feels really good to know after sitting in class all day being confronted with everything from eye rolls to outright hostility from your classmates feeling stupid and incompetent, someone, albeit someone 400 miles away, thinks you're ok.  And loves you just the way you are (even if you leave all the cabinet doors open and never close the tab on the cereal box).

3. You get no points for being kind or honest
I certainly am not trying to paint myself as a sainted figure, I am not.  See above:  I never close the the tab on the cereal box! I also curse like a sailor, drink like a fish, and secretly find old people really, really annoying. But I can say, unequivocally, I have never in my adult life done something with the intention of hurting, belittling, or taking advantage of someone else.  I know many people who cannot say this.  It just isn't in me to cut someone down.  In my head (or sometimes out loud in the shower) I display wit and oratory magnificence whilst I hypothetically tell someone exactly how they have besmirched the merit of the entire human race.  Take that establishment!  But when the moment presents itself in real life, I just sit and take whatever someone gives me, because God forbid I should make them feel as terrible as they're currently in the process of making me feel.  I blame my mother, who told me she didn't care what else I was as long as I was a kind person.  I guess I took that to heart.  Which is probably why I have been so shocked this semester at the behavior of a few of my classmates.  We're supposed to be school counselors--how are you going to tell a kid not to bully someone when you are a bully yourself?  For real, if you were Charisse's kid she'd give you a spanking.  Obviously they didn't have a great mommy like Charisse.  Many of these bullies have perfected not being kind, but instead the art of stepping on people, taking credit where it isn't due, and somehow, getting away with it a fair portion of the time.  I have all the conniving prowess of a baby deer.  I know that the more I gossip, the more I accuse (even if it's warranted) the more I look like a vituperative cow.    But then no one hears my side of the story.  Yet, the bully on the other hand, is telling everyone high and low why I'm wrong and she's right.  And they believe her! So I lose.  But I'd rather be like me than like her.

4. I don't give a fuck about being a straight A student
They talk a lot about "self-care" in counseling.  Apparently many counselors do so much they don't leave time for themselves.  Many of my classmates admitted they have these tendencies, and will neglect all other things while working on a project.  "Try to achieve work-life balance," our professor urges us.   Shit, honey,  I got this on lock.  There is nothing worth getting in the way of my eight hours of sleep.  I plan ahead so I've never had to pull an all-nighter, but if I was faced with the option, I would leave the project undone and go to bed.  I'll take the bad grade over psychosis brought on by sleep deprivation.  I visited my boyfriend in Ohio before midterm and I only studied the hour I was on the plane, as opposed to you know, studying properly.  Spending an entire stress-free weekend with my boyfriend was SO worth getting a B+ instead of an A on that midterm.

5. Things keep happening to you until you learn from them
I have had issues feeling like an outsider or being bullied my entire life.  The film "Mean Girls" is actually a documentary about my life--I am the girl in the gym who has a lot of feelings.   I think it's because I care SO MUCH what people think of me.  I want to be liked.  I need to be liked.  I am devastated when people don't like me.  This same issue has emerged in grad school.  One part of me thinks, "why always me," but this time, I feel like I figured out what I was supposed to learn.  Some people are implacable and will hate me no matter what I do.  Fuck those people.  Some people don't care enough about me to feel one way or the other. That's ok.  Some people like me.  Yay!   There will always be those three groups of people.  I can't worry about it.   I need to focus on the people who like me, and realize, you know what, I don't like most of the people who dislike me anyway.  Birds of a feather flock together, and I want my gander to be chock full of funny, kindhearted, and down-to-earth people.  Someone else can have the ambitious, conniving, cruel, stupid, boring birds.

6.  I like myself a whole lot
I know, I know!  It's shocking!  I leave the tab open on cereal boxes!  But I'm happy.  I live my life in a way that is consistent with my values, I serve God, and I genuinely want to help others.  What more can I do?  So what if I'll always have a little beer gut, so what if I will never be the homecoming queen... I'm on board the Annie-train.  Even though I say things like that.  

So that's what I learned this semester.  Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you and yours!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Cut and Run

It's been many moons since I've written a blog--and for the most part it's because in my grad program all I do is talk about my feelings to a group of people who quite frankly could give a shit less.  Since this is generally what I have done on my blog in the past, I figured it didn't make sense to double-dip.

I do, however, think the time has come for me to write another blog.

Yesterday sucked.  Can I say that again?   Yesterday sucked.  One of the best friends I've ever known died three years ago yesterday.  His death caused me to question and reevaluate my relationship with God, as well as to run away to Europe.  The anniversary of his death is always a hard day for me, although not something I scream to everyone I encounter to remind them to be nice to me because I am fragile. Thus, when some conflict when down in one of my classes yesterday, I was phenomenally ill-equipped to deal at that particular instant.  Like, great, today of all days.   But it got me thinking...

When is it ok to cut and run?   I will make no bones about it, I am currently MISERABLE in grad school.  I know I want to be a school counselor and working with students makes me happy, but does that mean I have to stay in Baltimore where I am lonelier than all fucking hell? When we work with students who are having trouble, one of the first questions we ask is, "who is your support system?"   I have one.   I have a boyfriend who I love and who loves me exactly the way I am (even though that means I break a lot of shit that he has to subsequently fix), I have a group of friends who can drink with me at Tanks or cry with me as I ponder my place in the universe, still more friends scattered all across the globe but with whom I still share an impenetrable bond, and I have a phenomenal family who are on my side no matter what.   What more does one need in life, truly? If all that is waiting for me back home in Ohio--what the fuck am I doing here?!?!?!

Basically I'm wondering, at one point does my own happiness outweigh inconvenience?  I am thinking of transferring to a school back in Ohio, which, will be inconvenient.   I will have to move, re-apply, and ultimately I will become a counselor later than I would if I just decided to stay and tough it out in Baltimore.  On the flip side of the coin, isn't life too short to spend it doing something that you hate?   At the end of the day aren't the people you love and who love you all that matters?   My friend who passed away touched the life of every single person he met and it was a honor to have known him.  He was gone, however, in an instant.  This reminds me life is fleeting.  If I were to die tomorrow what would I do?  Finish my homework?  Make arrangements so that my furniture could go to storage?  No, I'd be on the first plane, train, bus, rental car, or rickshaw home to Ohio.  Does that mean I have my answer?

I don't know.   I don't want to throw away the time and money and effort I've heaped into moving to Baltimore and starting grad school, but I also know, the only time I feel human is when I'm home visiting or when people from home are visiting me.  Do I want my life to be just a prison sentence for the next 9 months?! I've pulled a ninth month stint before though in all fairness, and I can't remember it as being that bad.  I am referring of course, to the time I spent gestating inside my mother.

And of course some people may say the fact that I'm allowing my feelings to be a possible deciding factor makes me over-dramatic or a quitter or a weak person.  I haven't made my decision yet, but I don't see anything weak about removing oneself from a horrible situation that makes one unhappy.   And I also don't see anything weak about staying and getting what you came for.  

Tuesday, August 7, 2012


I've mentioned it before, but it's worth saying again--I believe everyone has tapes that they play over and over again in their heads.   A demonic little elf inside your head repeating your once fleeting thoughts of self-loathing over and over again until they become as unremarkable and familiar as a lamp or a chair.  My tapes tell me I'm fat and clumsy.  My tapes tell me I'm a disaster literally and metaphorically.  My tapes tell me I'm stupid and I always say the wrong thing in any given situation. My tapes tell me everyone in my life secretly hates me and will eventually leave me to die alone and be eaten by my cat. My tapes are the worst.

Now, these tapes are either on low volume or full blast depending on the time of my life.  Certain situations exacerbate the tapes, for instance when I facebook-stalk people who I perceive to be better than myself and find, much to my chagrin, are indeed much better and proving it with pictures for the world to see.  The perfect girl from my AP government class is engaged and has graduated for law school?  The tapes go up to an 11.

Another instance that turns up my tapes, is unfortunately, my current relationship.  Now let me start off by saying I love my boyfriend.  He's wonderful and considerate and funny and smart and by my summation, damn near perfect.   And that's the problem.   He is nearly perfect and I am just the worst.  I spent the last week staying in his house in Dayton and I found terrifying things.   His kitchen cabinet looks like a pottery barn ad.   Despite the opaque wooden door, the glasses are lined up like toy-soldiers and the plates are stacked with alternating colors.  Also noteworthy, he rolls up the bag instead the cereal box, and turns the tightly sealed bag sideways inside the box to prevent staleness.  I sometimes don't close the cardboard tab! The juxtaposition between his "in control" and my "out of control" is enough for a Dharma and Greg-esque sitcom except I'm not laid back enough to be a hippie. And it makes me feel grossly inferior.  

And it's not just physical organization.   My boyfriend doesn't let bills pile up in the corner until he's so stressed out he cries and calls his dad to talk him through it.  I do though.  My boyfriend doesn't use a hair-straightener to iron his clothes sometimes.  And my boyfriend doesn't get hurt feelings about every insult, real or perceived that has ever plagued his entire life.  So, alright, you get the punchline already, "what do I bring to this relationship?"

Very little.  I actually can't seem to come up with anything.  It's these damn tapes.  So it's a little stressful.   It causes most of our fights and all of my worry.  And why?  Why why why can't I just let myself be happy?  Because I am.  Or I would be if I would stop inventing things to be worried about.   First I was stressed about my job, then I was stressed about leaving my job, then I was stressed about grad-school and now that I'm on summer vacation, having received A's in all my classes, respsonsibility-free I'm worried... that my boyfriend who loves me---doesn't?  Weak sauce.

First things first, I'm going to try to write more in this blog ( I know it's been forever) and I'm doing it not because anyone cares (except for you, Mom) but because it helps me exorcise some of my demons. And gives me a chance to take a long, hard look in the mirror and say, "Enough, crazy!  Also "Your bra isn't hooked right" (I say that to myself in the mirror a lot).

Tuesday, June 19, 2012


--Today, one of my professors commented that she was trying to include some of my "Annie-isms" into her vocabulary. She said this after I said I was "jazzed" about something (I'm not sure what, but whatever) and she said, "I get pretty jazzed about X, too."  Now I've always prided myself on my colorful turns of phrase and I'm pretty "jazzed" others are starting to notice the great care and effort I put forth toward sounding fun and sassy.

I thought it would be a fun little exercise to share some of my greatest hit "Annie-isms" with you.  Now, disclaimer, I did NOT make most of these up.  I am not claiming to have done so.  I just thought it might be fun to read these out loud, and pretend its me next to you, whispering into your ear--but really, I can't whisper so the whole room heard whatever I just said.

Ways to Express Excitement:

-I'm jazzed!
-I'm stoked!
-I'm amped!
-I'm geeking out!
-On board!
-Tots McGoats!
-Big fun!

Ways to describe/demean others:

-That girl be cray cray (crazy)
-That guy is a chotch* or he is chotch*-tastic
* Synynom for "bro" a chotch pops his collar, ironically hi-fives, calls his friends "bro," "brah," or "broski," probably was a member of Sigma Chi, and he has a sense of entitlement because he a) grew up in martha's vineyard and/or is very rich b) thinks he's really good-looking c) thinks he's really smart (he probably is none of these things)
-That girl has been plowed more than a corn field/ that girl's legs have been split more than logs  (she has questionable morals said in a fun, folksy way)
-Bitch, nobody hit your buzzer! (Stop talking, no one cares what you think)
-Pump the breaks (slow down, calm down)
-Slow your roll (see above)
-You're grounded (said to another adult when they're being sassy)
-Hottie Patottie or Hottie Body (someone who is sexy)
-Jackwagon! (a more polite form of jackass--"some jackwagon just stole my barking space" )
-Ass clown (Asshole)

Randos (Random)

-Obvi (obviously)
-I'm sweating like a whore in church! (I'm hot)
-Fomo (stands for "fear of missing out")
-I'm going to pop my eardrums with a ballpoint pen (This is soooo boring or painful)
-under-gunders (underwear)
-beautiful strangers (breasts, as in "Oh wow, my beautiful strangers almost popped out")
-Redonc (Ridiculous)
-No prob, Bob (but, of course)
-I don't know about all that (whatchu talking about, Willis?!)
-Ultra-ed (When one, especially a specific one, gets drunk on Michelob Ultra)

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Make New Friends

I'm usually a pretty bold lass.  I've been known to strike up conversations with total strangers I find to be attractive (which is how I met my boyfriend, but in my mind I've reconstructed it so he approached me) and to always say exactly on my mind even if that is a jerking off motion in the middle of a meeting.   I don't mind drawing attention to myself and sometimes I mind my manners even less.   So, why is it that this past task was daunting beyond all comprehension?

What task you say?   Well, it was only an email.  But this email, involved asking a girl to be my new friend.   It's not my typical M.O. to beg for friendship, but after two weeks and few other promising leads, I'm getting a little desperate.   This particular girl, my parent's and my server at the restaurant we went to just after my parents finished helping me move in to my apartment (so, about two weeks ago).   That night the kitchen ran out of salmon and our order took forever and we were sitting outside and it started raining, just all bad things.  This server apologized and my parents and I after having been dealing with the fucktard movers just laughed and told her that we were having a wonderful, relaxing evening compared to the maelstrom of shit that had been going on the past few weeks.  She started chatting with my mom and dad and I, and when she heard I was new in town (as she herself had been just a few years ago) she gave me her card (she was a lawyer on the side--which shows how bad the economy is) and told me to get in touch with her if I needed anything.   I understood now, and I understood at the time, that this is what one calls an "empty promise."  She was just being nice and polite and she counted on the fact that someone, a grown adult, would never be stupid enough to actually try to cash in the offer.   Well, I wasn't stupid enough.   But I am desperate for companionship and if I can call her bluff and guilt her into hanging out with me even just once--mission accomplished.

Making new friends without current "wing friends" is next to impossible.   Getting dates?  Hell yeah, I could go to Barnes and Noble and walk away with some dude's number and a dinner invitation.  Now, don't misunderstand, I don't think I'm particularly attractive or even particularly adept at flirting--it's just that easy.   Anyone can get dates!   But friends?   It's not weird to ask a stranger on a date, it's super weird to ask a stranger on a friend date.  And it's also much worse to be rejected from a friend date than an actual date.  You can rationalize a real date rejection, "he just wasn't that into me" or, "there is no spark, no chemistry".  How can you rationalize that someone doesn't want to be your friend.   There is only one logical explanation--they don't like you as a human.  It's not that they don't want to bone you, it's that they don't want to occupy the same room, breathe the same air, and drink coffee with you.  Ugh. Talk about a blow to your self-esteem!

Just like money, you need friends to make friends, and damn it, I am a little in the red as of right now.  So, this deficit inspired me to make a bold move. and I kind of hope it doesn't blow up in my face.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

My Few Days in Grad School or Why It is Never A Good Idea to Be Yourself

It's been a year since I left school.   So upon starting grad school a week ago, I was feeling a little shaky and nervous about being back in the academic setting.  One of my biggest concerns, as was my biggest concern in first grade, is still, "But what if the other kids don't like me?"  So, always quick to be the social director, last week Wednesday I organized an outing for the following Saturday, with the hope that if all the students in my cohort got together socially, we would all let down our hair and get to know each other a little better.

A group consisting of me and six other people from my program met up in Fells Point (a frequent hot spot of the young professionals) for dinner and, it was my assumption, drinks afterward.  During dinner, I began to get the feeling that these were not necessarily my peeps.  Like, maybe these people weren't going to be my best audience.  Like, "oh shit, I'm so alone."   First, there was very little letting down of hair.   All everyone wanted to talk about seemed to be classes and homework assignments.   And not "fun" talking like, "Do you think our professor is a lesbian?" or "That book is instant Valium" but terrible, soul-crushing, "I am concerned about getting extra credit" minutia of the worst order.   One of my biggest pet peeves is people who flip out on the first day of class; asking for specifics on distant assignments, inquiries about extra credit, concern over material covered on a test, etc.   Everyone knows the first day of class is a run-out-the-clock situation where professors try to intimidate you into thinking their class will be challenging, but in reality, if you calm the fuck down and let things unfold as they will, everyone is fine.   Or, at least I thought everyone knew this.    I was ok (but annoyed) with the mind-numbing questions on the first day of class.  But not on Saturday night.  Not in a bar.  Not when a sister's trying to get her drink on.

Of course, since I am a well adjusted human being, the way I tried to combat this terribleness and inject a little fun into the situation was by encouraging frivolous talk and drinking.  This may have backfired.  I'm not only one of the youngest in my program, but now I'm pretty sure everyone thinks I'm the booziest.  And the ditziest.  Which sucks, because I promise I'm actually really smart!  And I mean, one can only talk about being passionately committed toward education for youths (youths: how ridiculous is that word?!  It was used so many times in orientation by my peers) so much.   Sometimes you need to make a dick jokes.   And I'm sorry, I refuse to participate in a one-upmanship conversation about who cares the most about suffering children.   Especially when there is a street full of bars in the near vicinity!

So basically the night was a bust.   I got drunk and flirted with the waiter (who brought the table free shots--you're welcome, guys) while comments directed at me ranged from merely boring to almost hostile.   I have been around enough mean girls to know that an insult followed by a "just kidding" is still an insult. Most bitchy comments disguised as jokes concerned my youth, inexperience, and proposed shallowness...but whatever.  It hurt my feelings, I won't say it didn't.  But at least now I don't have to pretend to like people for the sake of civility.   Ya'll opened that Pandora's box, and now...It's on, bitch.

  Everyone ended up leaving around 10 pm after dinner and one bar which was deemed too loud (it was a quiet dive bar with acoustic music).  I convinced one of my other cohorts to stay until midnight, but I was drunk and disappointed and frustrated that no one seemed to like me, so I'm sure I wasn't as "fun" a brand of tipsy as I'd have hoped.

So now, in class I roll my eyes and think, "Who are these people?!" to myself at various intervals, mostly when I hear the word, "youths". Everyone else is shocked and appalled by how insensitive I am, and also is probably questioning my ability to work effectively with children.   So that's fun.  Luckily I have some other avenues of friendship to pursue, but I'm telling you, when meeting new people--if you're me--"be yourself" is the worst advice possible.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Moving and Monkey Business

Moving across the country is always a stressful endeavor.   Especially when the moving company you hired for the very purpose of making your stress dissipate has fucked things up at every turn.  Seriously.   They signed a contract specifying pickup of my stuff from Dayton between the 22nd and 23rd and drop off in Baltimore no later than the 24th.   I still do not have my stuff.   And it was PICKED UP in Dayton on the 24th at 10pm (when they specifically stated they would come between 3pm and 5pm) by ONE GUY whom was responsible for the entire move.   The man my mother spoke with initially when she was deciding whether or not to hire this company assured my mother a team of experts would assemble and disassemble everything, and all we would have to do is point.   No lifting required.  Well... since ONE GUY can't do everything by himself, and they only sent ONE GUY, guess what happened?  Yep.   My dad disassembled everything and then me, my dad, and one recruited volunteer (to whom I will always be eternally grateful) hauled everything out to the truck while the guy sort of "supervised" us and loaded stuff into the truck.   He was pissy and not helpful because he had been called away from vacation when the original drivers had a lover's quarrel and refused to work together anymore (which the moving company neglected to tell us at 3pm when we called, 5pm when we called, 5:30 when we called, and 9pm when we called--each time we were assured everything was fine).  But we all rolled with it.   Accepting that maybe this was a lesson in patience and the driver assured us that he would deliver to Baltimore last Saturday evening at 8pm.

 Well, of course he didn't--and he wouldn't answer his cell and the moving company of course was on vacation for Memorial Day, so we didn't hear from anyone until yesterday morning.   The representative said our driver had been called away on a "family emergency," which is odd because I think he just ended up going vacation like he originally intended.  I don't begrudge a vacation, but he looked in our faces and lied, and then didn't have the cojones to call us and let us know of his change in plan. He returns tonight, so the absolute earliest he could come is tomorrow night.  But I kind of doubt he's coming tomorrow night. And no one at the company has any idea why my family might be upset.  Or what we expect them to do.  Here's what I think we're going to do 1) Call the Better Business Bureau 2) Call the Attorney General's office and report consumer fraud 3) Sue them for breach of contract 4) Let everyone of you know ALL STAR MOVERS is an evil company.  They're liars and incompetent idiots.  Tell your friends.   A pox, I say, a pox!

I've ranted about the moving company, but that's not the only thing that's been making this adjustment so difficult and scary.   As a kid I used to think it would be fun and exciting to jump off the top of the monkey bars, then I would climb up on top of them, look at the grass maybe 6 feet below, and think "what the fuck was I thinking?!".   I would stand up there frozen for a while, not knowing whether to bite the bullet and jump to earn my sister's respect (she was always watching and encouraging me to do things that would culminate in me breaking all my appendages) or whether to seek an escape route.   That's what Baltimore feels like.  I'm at the top of the monkey bars; I've quit my job, moved to a new city, started a new career path, left all my friends, and now I'm in an unfurnished apartment lonely and scared in an unfamiliar town.  Do I jump?   Is it even possible at this point to tell the movers to get my stuff back to Dayton and beg for my old job and apartment?  I've seen Carrie do it in the "Sex and the City Movie" so I'm pretty sure it can be done.  Is there anyone to tell that this was just a horrible mistake?

In my right mind, I don't think this is a mistake.  I am excited.  Orientation was horrible and boring and overwhelming yesterday but I don't know of any orientations that aren't horrible and boring and overwhelming.   I cried every day on the first day of school grades kindergarten through senior year in college (and ok, also when I started my job) so the fact that yesterday was my breaking point and I cried in the corner of my empty apartment and felt sorry for myself for a full 5 minutes doesn't actually mean anything unusual.  I am bad with change, but I obviously felt like the time was right to make one, so really, can I complain?  And I'm sooo scared about making new friends yet a senile old woman came up to me at a coffee shop and chatted with me for like 20 minutes about her daughter's experience at Cambridge in medieval studies, so obviously, even when I don't want to (I had a pretty clear "I'm not interested" look on my face as she approached me) I make friends left and right.  Also I had a beer and played trivia last night with my friend from UD's older brother.

I'm scared and feeling vaguely homeless, but I remain undeterred.  I will make friends.  Everything will work out.  I will jump off the monkey bars.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012


My mom used to say to me, "Just because someone says it, doesn't make it so." Not, as one would think in response to conspiracy theorist denying the moon landing, but instead usually in response to mean names kids would call me.  There have been some doozies.  I have been labeled with a lot of bad titles over the course of my life and I remember almost every single one (being called a cunt by an eight year old girl this year has to be a highlight).   I also, assumably, have received an almost equal amount of compliments--I have a much harder time recalling any of the those.  Although the manicurist the other day told me I had "weak nails but great nail beds," and I'll always cherish that.  I know people have told me many lovely things about myself in cards or at birthdays or in the form of whispered sweet nothings while cuddling on the couch, but they allude me.  Whereas every time I was called "fat," or "stupid," or "selfish," or "spoiled," is so vivid in my mind it's practically time and date stamped.

Isn't it odd the self-perceptions we form?  I associate myself more closely with the combination of the insults than, try as I might, I ever will be able to associate myself with the compliments.   I've said before that I think we think of ourselves as we were in high school.  This is why there are 45 year old women dancing on tables at nightclubs because they still think of themselves as the hottie patotties, and likewise, there are beautiful, intelligent, well-rounded women that refer to themselves as "ugly ducklings".  And who hasn't seen an old man with a pot belly trying to pick up a twenty-somehting in the bar, and maybe, even referencing his illustrious football career which coincidentally ended before the object of his advances was even born.    Years of being unexceptional has caused my self-perception to be skewed apparently,  because I'll say things like "I'm actually very shy" or "I am terrible at meeting new people," which are outlandish enough to illicit groans of protest from anyone in attendance.

One of the best things about moving to a new city is the ability to start over.   The labels and connotations people have hoisted upon you become null and void, and with the help of a "Clueless"-esque makeover montage, you can reinvent yourself into something new.   As I contemplate my move to Baltimore, I'm excited about the prospect of taking some of the newfound confidence that comes from living on my own and excelling at a job with me.  The question that keeps popping into my head, however, is what if I take the other stuff too?   What if I take all the labels and baggage from eighteen years of being the missing puzzle piece stuck under the couch that doesn't really belong anywhere?  

I'm slapping labels on all my boxes with bright pink duck tape, "Kitchen," "Living Room," and the catchall "?!,"  but while some of my bedding might accidentally end up in my kitchen (I really am an appalling packer), the mislabeling that concerns me most of all is the mislabeling I've been known to put upon myself.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Packing Party

My time in Dayton is coming to a close and I have finished my final days at work.   While in my mind this means I should be enjoying the warm weather and behaving like a "lady who lunches" it actually means I should be packing and then panicking at my woeful inability to pack properly. 

My last few days at work were wonderful.  I busied myself doing neither jack nor shit, and gleefully had the inner monologue of, "It's not my fucking problem anymore" whenever a coworker brought up a concern or an issue for the good of the order.  In addition to the blissful lack of responsibility, my coworkers gave me a gorgeous send off in the form of an ice cream party (which is the best kind of send off) and my parents attended like adorable VIP guests.   Everyone chatted happily with my parents and then shared nice things about me, which made me all blush-y and pleased.   I felt the sense of pride and accomplishment I always had after parent-teacher conferences when my parents said that I had received nothing but words of praise from my teachers.  Sometimes, though, when I'm the center of attention, I feel like an autistic person trying to learn and imitate the emotions of normal humans.   While I was very, very touched, I didn't cry or anything, and I wonder if that offended people?   I guess it would be worse to fake cry and be discovered.  For the rest of the night, however, I wondered if everyone knew how much I appreciated them or if they thought I was being a smug little brat.  For all my coworkers reading this, it was definitely the former!  Also, I think I said "shit" in front of everyone, which really isn't that bad when you consider I frequently made the spider-man jerk off motion in the middle of meetings.  Well, only the stupid ones.  Shh, I'm a lady.  

But, that brings me to now.  Every time in my life before now when something has ended in May, it means that it's school ending, and I'm on summer vacation.   This is not the case.  School isn't ending, it's just less than two weeks.  And in order to get to Johns Hopkins and begin this next stage in my life, I have to take the flotsam and jetsam of the past eleven dysfunctional months of my life, organize and categorize it, put it into boxes, and move it eight hours across the country.   I am terrible at this, and it's worsened by the fact that I am just starting to feel settled and like I have friends here in Dayton--and now I have to leave.   I don't know if I'm self unaware, because people have told me otherwise, but I don't think I'm great at meeting people and the nagging voice in my head keeps saying, "no one in Baltimore is going to like you" and I'm saying back, "Fuck.  Are you serious?!  Maybe I should just stay in Ohio then..."

Yesterday, my first day off of work, I was all gung-ho about packing and I got about three boxes in before I realized I didn't have any newspaper or tissue paper to wrap dishes or picture frames in--so my progress was halted.  I decided to just wait until today and then really dig in, but as luck would have it-- today, I have no motivation.  I am avoiding work in every possible procrastinate-y way.   I slept in until eleven, and of course, then a trip to CVS was TOP priority.  Then meeting a friend for lunch seemed really necessary, and then, in the process of packing up kitchen stuff I decided to make cookies so I went to Kroger to fetch the necessary accouterments.  Really?  And JHU thinks I'm smart enough to attend their illustrious institution.  Well joke's on them.

Anytime a decision needs to be made in regard to packing, my decision is to defer to a REAL adult.  Like, "Oh I'll ask Carrie and Ryan" or "I should just wait until my dad tells me how to pack the china." It dawned on me about the fourth time I decided to "wait" on something that it's actually my stuff and my apartment and I'm probably at least remedially capable of coming up with a solution or two.   

I'll take some "after" pictures to show you all the boxes in my apartment, but right now it's barren but still messy and cluttered, which is a losing combination if I've ever heard of one.   Wish me luck, guys!

Friday, May 4, 2012

My cat, puke, and the pills

I know this next statement is a total boner shrinker—but I love my cat more than most people love their spouses.   She is my baby and I have an impossible degree of unconditional love for her, which is terrifying considering she’s actually only a cat.  Can you imagine how much I will smother my children?
                This Monday night I woke up to find my cat puking, which was startling for several reasons; the least of which being that it was louder and more violent than one would expect from a 6 lb kitty.  Being a logical human being, I of course scooped Gracie up and held her like a baby while trying to make comforting noises.  After composing myself, I put her down and went to look for something I could use to clean up the carpet.  I stayed up most of the night listening to see if she would get sick again and typing the keywords “cat” “vomit” “diarrhea” and “why” into google.  Feline leukemia was presented as an option, which I wish they wouldn’t have even mentioned.  That’s like saying that a headache probably means you have a brain tumor.  By morning I was bug eyed from lack of sleep, terrified with worry, and repeating, “it’s going to be ok, baby” over and over to Gracie.  Which I’m sure she appreciated.
I ended up taking Gracie to the vet on Tuesday morning, but not without incident.  Firstly, Gracie hates her car carrier.  I recently bought her a soft sided one with fur lining, thinking she would like it if it felt more like a bed, but regardless, she made a stroke-inducing mewing sound every second she was in the carrier.  Every second.  It got so bad that as I was going down the road I thought I would open the zipper a little and stick my hand into the carrier so I could scratch Gracie behind the ears and calm her down a little.  I opened it just wide enough for two of my fingers, but somehow, I still don’t know how this happened, Gracie shawshank-ed her way out of the carrier and got loose in my car.   Of course, the first thing she did was dart under my legs and curl up on the accelerator.  So here I am, like Sandra Bullock in “Speed” darting in and out of traffic one-handed while trying to scoop my cat up with the other.  I succeeded in getting her off of the accelerator, but then she attached herself to the roof of my car, spread eagled and hissing.   I pulled over and tried to wrestle her back into her car carrier, but at that point her heart was pounding so hard I could hear it.  So instead of soothing her, I ended up terrifying her, so of course the incessant mewing did not stop. 
I had to leave Gracie at the vet while I went back to work, and I can’t tell you how guilty I felt walking out the door as my cat let out her distress cries in the vet’s office.   I found out later in the day when I picked her up that she didn’t have leukemia, or even anything very serious, just a bacterial parasite.  Which required two pills twice a day.  As the vet tech showed me how to give my cat the pills in one graceful movement, I was filled with a false sense of security, “that doesn’t look that hard,” I reasoned.  “I could probably do that.”
Incorrect.  The past few days have been miserable.   Gracie hates taking the pills every bit as much as I hate giving them.  I fumble with my fingers while I try to restrain her. And basically I have all the finesse and competence of a thirteen year-old boy unhooking his first bra. I tried restraining her by squeezing her in between my legs, but that only resulted in a three inch scratch mark on the back of my thighs.  Gracie’s never so much as snapped at me before, and all of the sudden I have angry marks all over my hands and body.  
This morning marked the first time I was able to give Gracie her pills on the first try without her biting or scratching me, spitting out the pill, or gagging.  Still, I can’t help but assume that by the time this is all over my cat will either develop battered woman syndrome and kill me in my sleep, or just hate me forever.  This is the worst. 

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Resignations and Revenge

Like anyone who has ever had a job—I have fantasized about quitting my job frequently, especially when ridiculous things happen.  How empowering and rewarding would it be in to pick up your purse in the middle of being yelled at by your boss, grab your coat, walk for the door and just say, “Guess what?  I quit.”   I’ve had this little fantasy running through my brain every time I’ve been called down to the carpet for something.   Sometimes it’s so vivid in my mind that for a horrifying moment I think I’ve actually said something out loud. 
However, when it came down to actually giving my notice yesterday, the whole exercise was surprisingly civil. And to clarify, for the vast majority of those I work with I have ZERO animosity and I even will really miss working with them.  But for maybe a few key players, I was really looking forward to saying the things I’ve choked down for the past year.  Mostly out of fear of the repercussions, which in my mind always lead eventually to me turning tricks and living in a box by the river.   So when I turned in my little piece of paper, a carefully crafted gracious letter of resignation, somehow it felt like a breakup where you think of all the terrible things you want to say to your ex, but instead you just end up giving him back his CDs and wishing him well.  And while the vindictive, insane part of my brain is kicking the back of my eyeballs screaming, “you should have said THIS!” overall I’m glad I was tactful and diplomatic.
They say revenge is a dish best served cold, and I think everyone at one point in their lives has imagined themselves to be Robert DeNiro’s character in “Cape Fear,” doing sit ups in a jail cell, laying in wait to take revenge upon those unsuspecting fools who wronged you.  My five year high school reunion is coming up, and I can’t tell you how much I wanted to come back with a huge diamond ring on my finger, a lawyer/doctor/Jew/ on my arm, and 30 lbs missing from my frame.   That would show ‘em—all those assholes who were mean to be in High School.  
Another thing they say about revenge, however, is that the best revenge is living well, and the more wisdom and life experience I gain, the more I realize how true that really is. This is why I’m not going to my high school reunion.  And that’s why I have every intention of making sure that I leave work on the best possible terms—instead of ripping off my clothes like the incredible hulk and flipping over desks on my last day.  Because I don’t need to exact revenge for all those times I was made to feel like a child, or the late hours I worked without so much as a “thank you”, or the times I was yelled at over something for which I had no responsibility.  My revenge will be living well.  And in a little less than a month I’ll be in Baltimore.  And I’ll be living well.     

Thursday, April 19, 2012

"Create Your Own Story"

As a kid I used to read those "create your own story" books.  At certain points in the story you had to chose between two plot lines and then turn to the appropriate page.  Sometimes the choice you made would cause the story to end abruptly, whereas other choices would lead you to a happy successful ending.  This was a stressful exercise for me.   It felt like too much responsibility and I always ended up looking ahead to make sure the choice I made would be "the right one."  This is probably a good metaphor to how I make decisions in my adult life.  There is that same panicky feeling under the weight of expectation and certainly the same desire to cheat, look ahead, and make sure I pick the right thing.

Similarly, I play the "what if" game a lot of the time.   I was talking to my friend Ryan last night, and he said he would allow himself to ask "what if" until he had to say it three times.  At that point, he felt he could confidently label it a pipe dream.  For example, "what if I had said x that night" followed by "what if when I said that she said y," and finally "what if when she said y we got back together and then got married."  Three "what ifs" probably not going to happen.  Reasonable strategy.  I, in stark contrast, give myself 500 hundred "what ifs" before there is even an inkling in my mind that what I'm aspiring towards might be irrational.

People generally have two distinct attitudes about life; either there is an order, a destiny, which even free will cannot upset or cause you to deviate from or life is a series of cause/effect situations completely determined by our free will.   I do not want to believe the second circumstance, because if there is no one in the driver seat of my own life but me, I am fucked.   I couldn't even create my own story in a book I read in second grade, how can I possibly create my own life?

I've been grappling with this whole concept recently because I am slightly paralyzed with fear at the thought that I am making wrong decisions.  In the deepest, darkest recesses of my mind, one incorrect choice can alter my life irrevocably--so the decision to sign the lease on this apartment vs. that one might be the difference between being successful, happily married and living in the suburbs or dying from a heroin overdose on a smelly mattress in the projects.   Seriously.  So obviously, I cannot chose the wrong one.  

I don't know why I visualize it that way, but for some reason I have the idea that there is a path my life is supposed to follow, and I must follow concrete steps in order to get there.  Except I don't know what they are, and I won't know until I'm on my deathbed and everything turns out to be shitty.   Like I'm baking a cake with no directions but I better fucking figure it out or my cake is going to end in wasted potential, abortion, drug abuse, and general malaise.   That may be a bit of a mixed metaphor. 

But still, I really would prefer if someone else would create my story for me.  It's 2012, I'm all about outsourcing.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

My tire

I don't remember very much about eighth grade health class and most of what I do remember is about someone asking what "snow-blowing" is and my teacher being a lesbian.  I do, however, remember a diagram we were forced to look at during school.   It was a tire, a simplified version of the "wellness wheel" with divisions for different areas of your life.   Categories like, "home", "friends", "work", "school", etc.  And the point was, when you put too much or too little emphasis on one area, your tire won't roll.  When one area of your life is shitty, all areas of your life become shitty.  I think conversely, the opposite is true--when something starts going well, even the parts of your life that aren't ideal seem suddenly less shitty.

The proof of this was staring me in the face this Thursday when I had dinner and drinks with Claire and Sam.   The three of us have been enjoying nights out since July, right after I started my current job.  The phrase, "what a difference a year makes" doesn't even begin to cover it (and lest you assume I have the counting skills of the guests at a shotgun wedding--I know it hasn't been a full year).  Claire, Sam, and I all had really tough situations this year.  In all areas; family, work, love, housing, etc.   Interestingly enough, as soon as Claire and Sam left the office for their new jobs, everything else seemed to line up.    Like one minute everything is terrible, the kind of practical joke terrible where you get hemorrhoids and a puddle splashes up on you as a passing car drives by.  The only thing they're clinging to is the prospect of a new job and then BAM!, great new relationships, renewal of old ones, ten pounds lost, and for emphasis, a magic dewey glow.  During this period, while it was great to get together, after a while it was difficult to hear about how life had turned around and was fabulous for everyone else when I wanted to do nothing but pull the covers over my head and listen to Matchbox 20.

Last Christmas, in the midst of this, I was so dismal and depressed, I had started going through the stages of grief for my own life.  Denial:  There is no fucking way that it's Friday and I can't stay up past 10pm.  Anger:  I did all the right things; good grades, moral decisions. How can this be my reward?!  Bargaining:  Ok, if I focus really hard on work and a diet, life will give me happiness, yes?  Depression: Matchbox 20. Acceptance: I actually skipped that stage.  Instead, I started looking for my exit strategy.   Happy to say, I found it.

So when I walked into dinner and saw Claire and Sam sitting there--instead of being secretly jealous with grey skin and an even grey-er disposition.  I got to be happy too!   I did some weird pinup shit with my hair, I put on red lipstick...I even made jokes!  And not all of them were self-deprecating (most were, I'm still me).  We laughed.  I told them the story of a lady at my work asking if one of my areas was "diverse" in a stage whisper and how I responded, "Not much diversity, the area is pretty much all black".    Further proof that I have my sense of humor back and don't take myself as seriously as I did a month ago.

I'm pretty much full of all the hope and optimism that has alluded me for the past couple months. Things are going to work out.   That is hippie bullshit I've never believed, and instead I've operated on the assumption that "no matter how bad things are, they can always get worse."  But I believe it now.   I'm going to start completely over, for the second time in roughly a year, but this time I'm not doing it because it's what someone else wants and I don't know better than to argue.  It's because I know what I want. And I genuinely don't give a shit any more.   As I said in the self-indulgent picture I posted of myself with my cool fifties hairdo, "Shut up, bitch.  I'm fabulous." Now if you'll excuse me.  I'm out to get a massage.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

My own private Oz

I get nostalgic about very few things.   I'm not one of those people who is prone to romanticize things that happened in the past, so walking around my old elementary school for example, does not invoke a longing for an innocence long gone by but instead the memory of spoiled milk and being teased for needing a training bra in third grade.   While my peers cried at graduation and wished, "college would never end" I snuck sips from a flask full of vodka cranberry and made fun of the masturbatory aspects of the ceremony with a classmate from the INS program.  I have thrown away all the old love letters, but kept the old gifts from past relationships.  I am not often accused of being sentimental.

One of the few things that does make me sentimental, however, is Washington D.C. My time spent there a few years ago was one of the few times in my life I felt like everything was coming up Annie. That city is my fucking Oz, and I was pretty damn happy not to be in Ohio anymore.   I made professional contacts, great friends, and on more than one occasion, stupid mistakes that I should be too embarrassed to talk about but I'm not because, firstly I have no shame and secondly, they make hilarious stories.  I typically think of myself as someone who plays it safe, so it was fun for once in my life to get giggly and sloppy at Happy Hour on a Tuesday or to have to ride the metro in last night's clothes while the hip moms were on their way to their morning yoga.   When I went back to the Midwest, I said goodbye the the yellow brick rode and settled back into the day to day drudgery of adulthood, but it gives me a huge amount of satisfaction to know I used to be fun an wild and that few who know me now would ever suspect. 

So driving into D.C. Friday after my interview in Baltimore was quite literally like coming home.  As soon as I got to Chevy Chase I started to get tingly with excitement, and seeing the Capitol building in the distance is every bit as thrilling for me as it is for an adolescent boy to see a woman naked (I can only assume).  Adding to that excitement, I had roughly 24 hours jam packed with seeing some of my favorite people.  Friday night I met up with an old friend, to whom all my other friends from D.C. refer to as "my kryptonite".  This is a man I find both irresistible and vaguely terrifying. I get strangely coquettish and tongue-tied and I do this really charming thing were every time when he asks me a simple a question I forget any word I've ever heard in my entire life, and stutter for a while, which probably means his friends refer to me as "that retarded girl". Then Saturday morning, I met up with my old roommate Emily, to tell her all about seeing my kryptonite the evening before, which is exactly what happened almost every weekend two years ago.  She's naive, wholesome, and beautiful to my obnoxious, cynical, and inappropriate and every time I see her I think, "this is what I want to be when I grow up."   She does really adorable things like ask policemen for directions, whereas I got chased down by an angry Samoan parking attendant for neglecting to pay him (I thought it was free on weekends!)

My lovely sister and brother-in-law were also in D.C. visiting a friend of theirs from the Peace Corps, and we met up finally on Saturday afternoon.  Nothing makes me happier than seeing my sister with her friends.   They're all hilarious and I never would have guessed there were others like my sister in existence, but when I was invited upstairs to find Jeanie's friend Kyle in a towel, and I started to apologize for the intrusion, he just waved and Jeanie told me, "We're all very accepting of nudity here, Annie."   So there are more like her.   And what can I saw about James? I used to really not want to like him (because basically I was the adult equivalent of the child who screams to their new stepdad, 'I hate you, everything was fine before you married my mom!') I now adore him with cult-like devotion because he does things like carry me around piggy back so I won't step in dog poop.   

I am excited to (hopefully) be leaving Dayton soon, but I'm more excited at the prospect of being a mere hour from D.C., able to pop in anytime and see my friends, relive my glory days, and just generally be single and in my twenties.  I think my weekend in Oz may have made this ulcer die down a little.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012


I'm pretty sure I am working on an ulcer.   This entire week (and it's only Wednesday) I have been fighting back a feeling in the pit of my stomach that feels like what  happens right after you reach the bottom of the first hill on a roller coaster. I am constantly a deadly cocktail of "nervous" and "terrified".   I have not been sleeping.  I have been eating.   Neither of these are good news.

So why am I the human equivalent of a wet Chihuahua right now?  A couple things.   One of them; my propensity to do things which I know are bad for me.   For example, last night I went out with my coworkers and ordered 10 (they only come in 10, 20, or 50) chicken wings from Frickers.  I promised myself I would eat 5 and take the rest home, but instead I plowed through 9 and would have eaten the 10th but I needed to leave something on my plate to keep me from a level of self-loathing hitherto only see by self-flagellaters during the Middle Ages.  

And I don't mean to limit my symbolic self-flagellation merely to my eating habits.   I also continue to, just as I always have, hang out with people and put myself in situations, that cause an unhealthy occurrence of connecting synapses within my brain.  And lately, it's been even more than usual.   I make up my mind, logically weigh pros and cons, and then I end up doing exactly what I had decided was the stupidest possible option.

  I had an ex-boyfriend (ironically, one of these people who was unhealthy for me) who always used to say, "Judge things by their fruit."  Which I think is actually a good way to cut to the quick of an issue.   Do I feel better or worse when I hang out with this person?  Does this make me happy?  There is no room for justification or excuses in this approach, it's a yes or no question.

For instance, I had a crush on this guy a little bit back, like I doodle his name into my notebook kind of crush.  I thought he might have had a crush on me, but really, he never reciprocated and allotted me only borrowed scraps of his time.  Instead of thinking, "Ok, this isn't going anywhere, and it makes me feel like shit to know I'm so low on his list of priorities,"  I redoubled my efforts, hoping that sometime soon, he would come to his senses and realize I was the cat's pajamas.  Guess what?  That never happened.   Occasionally, I will get together with him, even now, and I lie to myself and say, "I just want to catch up," or "I want to show him how accomplished and okay I am without him," but the real reason (somewhat to my shame) is that I still am hoping he will come to his senses.  Guess how that's working out?  And instead, I feel lame and stupid and pathetic, not accomplished or okay. 

It always puzzles me how other people seem to have their shit together, and I am such a sensitive, crumbly, dysfunctional mess.   And people think I'm intimidating?   Not so much lately.

Monday, March 26, 2012

First Impressions

I had a book about astrology when I was little.  It had a chapter on each sun sign, and under my sign, Virgo, it said, "First impressions are important to a Virgo."  This is extremely true, I wrote a blog about my first impression deal breakers, and there were thirty of them.  With the help of my deal breakers and my strong ability to read people, I can tell within the first minutes whether or not I am going to like someone.  I have never been wrong.  Every time I get a bad vibe from someone, and I try to talk myself out of it under the guise of being a more tolerant person, after much time and effort my first impression is proven right.  Always.  

I understand, however, that not everyone can suss out character instantly, and that first impressions sometimes are incorrect.  So, I am hyper aware of the first impression I make, which results in me lying facedown on my bedroom floor in frustration (also in my underwear) before a first date because I have absolutely nothing to wear.  And why sometimes my college roommate walked in to find four of my outfits strewn out on the floor, because I had to try them all on and then I made myself so late I didn't have time to put them away.   But a first impression isn't only about what you wear, and honestly, I have no idea  how well I do at making a good one.   I think I come off as kind of a bitch--hopefully a well dressed bitch, but a bitch nonetheless.

Shocker alert: I am actually kind of self-concious and shy.  And because of that, sometimes when I meet people, I try to arrange my face in a neutral, reserved expression.   Unfortunately, while this is a coping mechanism and it makes me feel more in control, it also makes me look like I'm angry or maybe like I have a stick up my ass.   I can't tell you how many times I've heard, "When I first met you I thought you were a bitch. But you're totally not!"  Hmm, thanks?  One time a guy came up to me at a bar, with the pickup line, "Hey, my friend bet that you're a bitch, but I said you were probably friendly,"  I responded with, "Nope, your friend was right."

Another funny first impression story: My sister's friend, Jeny, is the nicest girl in the world.   She's a special ed teacher and petite and blonde and maybe 100 lbs soaking wet.   Adorable.   When a mutual friend of Jeanie's met Jeny, he said, "I don't trust that little one."   Jeanie told Jeny about it, thinking it was hilarious and poor Jeny was racking her brain to figure out what she could have said or done.  Possible theory?  Jeny looks like that guys's fiance, who is a little bossy and overbearing.  Which makes it even funnier.

Just today, a friend of mine, sent me an email including what his friend (whom I've met once!) had said about me.   When I met him this FridayI was really nice and friendly to him I thought, and I was in a goofy, friendly (read: intoxicated) mood, so I wasn't nervous and doing that thing where I arrange my face.   So imagine my shock when I found out this is what he said about me:

  "I found her slightly menacing.  Like she had too much power.  It was really interesting.  So...good luck"

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Jeanie and James

I've written a lot of blogs featuring tidbits about my something funny my mom said/did and I also like to feature some of the calm, collected advice my father, (true to his role as the only sane, non-ball of hormones member of the family) has bestowed to me.  But I seldom write about my sister.   I have one.   I know she has been featured in a couple blogs before, for instance Sister Bonding.  But the truth is, sadly, I don't talk to my sister very much in my day-to-day anymore, which is why she doesn't pop up as much as my mom (who I call, email, or text multiple times a day) or my dad (with whom I have marathon phone conversations).  But the truth also is, my sister is one of my favorite people.

Most people who meet my sister comment that they've never met anyone like her before.  She is an odd bird, a strange duck, and someone who truly marches to the beat of her own drummer.  Which is also the title of a song she made up about Henry David Thoreau in fifth grade for a school project.  She used to lead me on countless fantastic adventures; from playing "tightrope" on top of the monkey bars as a little kid, to playing "body parts" at the bar as an adult (it's totally fun, I'll explain it to you if you want).  

If I wrote a personal ad for my sister it would read:
Have you ever found yourself driven by the need to run around your house naked and flail around, disgusting your whole family?   Do you take great pains to play soothing music for your plants because you believe it makes them 'happy' but you break into hives at the thought of making dinner reservations?   Are you loud and outgoing, the life of the party, but actually hate being the center of attention?  If so, I am your dream girl!  You and I should go to an obscure ethnic food eatery which will probably give us both dysentery, and discuss moral relativism and how even trees have souls!

Needless to say, I was concerned about the dirty, smelly hippie weirdo Jeanie would bring home for keeps.   I love love lover her--but she's my sister, so I can overlook a lot of her nonsense and idiosyncrasies whereas in another non-related human these very same qualities would drive me to the brink of insanity (or at least constipation) in the act of trying not to say something bitingly sarcastic to her paramour which would be interpreted as aggressive which would lead to Jeanie being mad at me and my mom asking why I couldn't just be a lady.  Again, I will repeat, I was concerned.  Especially since Jeanie did not date very much in high school or college, so I had very little concept of what she found to be attractive in a member of the opposite sex.  A nudist, maybe?   A drug dealer?   Or worse...gulp...someone who voted for Ralph Nader?!

But thankfully, while her current adult relationship is with a man whom one would not consider to be, conventional, it is with a fantastic gentlemen who fits pretty seamlessly into the family. Which is good news--because she married this one.

Without going into too much detail out of respect for my sister and brother-in-law (yay, I have one now!) who are both intensely private, I want to share a little of their relationship.   They met in Morocco while they were both in the Peace Corps, and in typical Jeanie fashion, interacted further when Jeanie stole food from James's plate citing "friendship" as an excuse.  James, understandably annoyed with food-theft from someone he considered more of an acquaintance than a friend, called her on it, and so obviously, to repair the damage, there was nothing left to do but to actually become friends.  Well, friendship turned to more, and last year they married in a private spiritual ceremony, just the two of them, without any family.  This caused my mother's head to fucking explode, especially having never actually met James. Fast forward a year later; vacations and holidays spent together as a family, and everyone is on board with their arrangement and spiritual marriage--but being conventional folks to Jeanie and James's non-conventional, my family was thrilled to bits to hear that the two of them decided to make it legal.  In the United States.  Like, they can get credit at a mattress store or visit each other in the hospital kind of legal.  And better yet, the fab four were all there, plus his mom and sis, to experience the joy together.  In an Italian restaurant by simply signing a piece of paper.  You know, like you do.  :-)

I wish you both a blessed and happy marriage, Jeanie and James.  And this time, I was very happy to actually be able to be there to experience it's legal consummation (oh wait, maybe that is something else.  No I wasn't there for that--I meant like, legal documents).

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Purples

I have several witty phrases or funny stories that I bust out on first dates.   I tell the story about the airline pilot with the foot fetish to illustrate my friendliness and naiveté,  I do my Jurassic Park spitting dinosaur impression to illustrate my fun, goofy side, and I use the phrase, "my personality is a lot like licorice, you either love it or you hate it," because it's true and also makes the fact that I often repulse people seem quirky to a potential lover--instead of like a terrifying red flag.

The fact that I semi-script out all my first dates notwithstanding, I think it's interesting not only how true the licorice comparison is, but also how I tend to gravitate to things that illicit strong responses.   For example, I think the WORST thing someone can be is forgettable.   I am more annoyed with people  I meet at a party, that when someone mentions their name later I have to say, "who was that again?" than I am with someone who is loud and brash and obnoxious.   So, with all that, it makes sense that I think it's much worse to have things in your life going "meh" than it is to have them falling spectacularly to shit.

Let me explain.  When things are terrible, you can enjoy your misery.  You can grab coffee with friends and bemoan how wretched your existence is, and have them murmur sympathetically.  Or if you're really lonely, you can pull yourself up by the bootstraps and go to the movies alone, because, hell, your pride is already long gone so what are you clinging to?   If you're tragically single with no prospects you can lean into the "Liz Lemon" spinster character and find humor in it.   But if things are ok...there is no recourse.  You cannot bitch or vent, because there are people starving in China who have it SO much worse, and you can't really rally or rebel against anything because the enemy isn't clearly defined.   It sounds greedy to say, "things are ok but I want them to be better," whereas it's perfectly reasonable to say, "My life is shit, please make it stop."

And that's where I am right now.  I'm rocking the house at my job, I love my family, I have good friends--but things feel lukewarm, and boring, and routine.  Don't you feel sorry for me? No, I don't either.   Because everything's ok.   I don't have a case of the blues, and everything isn't coming up roses.  Instead, I have...the purples, I guess.   Whatever's between blue and red.   And people can sing the blues, or they can shout their happiness from the rooftops, but nobody, and I mean nobody, wants to hear someone sing about things going "meh" or "eh" or ::shrugging motion::.

Monday, March 5, 2012

New York and Dayton

I know that many people have a concept of New York City as the big apple, the city of dreams, the city that never sleeps.  After having returned from my trip to NYC, I have to say I'm more with Liz Lemon falsely quoting Jay-Z, "Concrete bung-hole, where dreams are made up.  There's nothing you can do." I don't want to misrepresent.  I did have a lot of fun stomping the pavement and seeing my friend, Katie, and also my homeboy, Steve (albeit briefly).   However, coming back to my apartment (which after experiencing a cramped New York apartment seems like a palatial estate all to my own) I realize that I'm a Midwest girl at heart and all that glitters isn't gold.   And although it may seem like an obvious thing to say, I also realized I'm actually really happy with my life here in Dayton.

 I've written several times bemoaning how I feel like all my friends are more successful, have sexier jobs, have more exciting lives--and I am a failure because I stayed in Ohio with a non-profit job instead of moving to a big city and finding a fancy job.  Katie was one friend in particular who looked like she had everything I didn't.  So before I visited her this weekend, I mentally prepared myself to be humbled by all the glory of her big city lifestyle compared to my safe, modest, existence.   Katie and I picked up where we left off--bawdy humor, scathing observations, and most importantly, the unfiltered brand of honesty that comes from knowing you can say anything to someone and they'll still love you.   The more  Katie and I compared our changing lives, the more I started to realize there wasn't a great chasm between the angst I've had while transitioning to adult life in Dayton, and Katie's own while transitioning to adult life in New York.  There were the same fears, same career frustrations, and the same aching loneliness of being away from college friends and having to start from scratch. I realized, for all the success it looked like she was having--sexy PR job, working the door at rap parties, living in New York--she was just as lost as I was.  And worse, homesick and kind of miserable.  And while lately I've been preoccupied taking inventory of all the success it looks like I'm NOT having--failed relationships, low-paying job, staying in Ohio--I realized that there are also some definite pluses to my life right now.  I'm totally independent (I live alone, I pay my own bills, I have my own car), I have tons of space and privacy, and I am surrounded with the friendly, unassuming people who populate the midwest.

Not that I didn't have a blast taking some time out from the Midwest to enjoy the characters in New York City.  And from homeless men, to hipsters, to trust fund babies, there are some characters.  Katie and I went to a bar on Saturday night in Brooklyn, a hipster haven of sorts.  We walked around Williamsburg during the day, and it was like, "I get it.  You're all very cool with vintage clothing and asymmetrical haircuts"   Anyway, at the bar this evening, low and behold, in walks a women with bleached blonde hair, curled up and pinned in a very 50s style, with a huge fucking red flower.  She was sort of out of place in the sea of muddled brown parkas and tight jeans that make up the hipster uniform, so all eyes turned to her.    When she sat down at the bar next to Katie and I, she began animatedly chatting with the sexy Irish bartender who unfortunately, judging by the wedding ring he was sporting, is off the market.  After a while Katie and I sort of became part of the conversation, and Katie asked innocently, "Do you work here too?"  to our pinup friend.   She was HORRIFIED at the question.   Only later did I learn that Maddie was in fact a bartender slash "fetish model" which I can only assume means she is oft photographer in pasties while being whipped.   But, here's the kicker.  She was offended Katie asked, because our friend Maddie is too hip to bartend in Brooklyn, but instead her steakhouse bar is in Tribecca.   Oh, well, if Robert DeNiro is the one paying you to bring him his whiskey, I guess you're a fucking big deal.

That is exactly what I can't stand about New York.  I don't care how important you are. I don't care if you rub elbows with Harry Connick Jr. or Joan Rivers or Jesus Christ himself, if you have no conversation to offer and no personality with which to dazzle me, I'm done.  Another example of New York snobbery reared its head that same evening.  This guy and his friend (who looked like Pharrell Williams) approached Katie and I later on in the night.   While Katie and Pharrell bonded over her love of rap and his facial similarity to a rapper, I chatted with the other guy, Pete.   Turns out, he was not only a beautiful man, but he was also an investment banker on Wall Street.   La Di Da!   But see, when I got up to go to the bathroom and he's flirting with another girl right in front of my face, then trying to talk to me again, it's like, "Really, asshole?"   I guess because he's pretty and rich, and because I'm plain and poor, he thinks I'll put up with being treated like a silver medal.   Not so.   Maybe next time develop a personality.

So ok, pretentious people exist everywhere, and not just NYC (although its definitely more fun when you have a great friend like Katie at hand who'll make fun of them with you).  And yes, if you have some cash to spend, there are broadway shows, shopping, dining, and cultural destinations in New York City which are unsurpassed anywhere else in the world.  But I don't love New York with its crowds, dirt, and pushiness, I love Ohio.   And lately I've been so busy telling Ohio it's not good enough, sexy enough, intellectual enough (I'm like an abusive boyfriend) I forgot that I do, in fact, love it here.   And I love my life.   And the grass isn't always greener when you realize it only grows in Central Park and Long Island. I love my friend Katie, I love Art and Culture, and I love people watching.  But I also love to sit on my toilet and not be sandwiched in between the wall and the bathtub so tightly I can barely lift my elbows.   So New York may not be for me.   Equally important, you can't look at someones life and assume you know what's going on, no matter how sexy their concrete bunghole is looking.   My trip to New York has made me feel like Jimmy Stewart in "It's a Wonderful Life."   I love you, Dayton, you magnificent bastard.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Business School

They say opinions are like assholes (everybody has one) and that talk is cheap.   Both of these cliched witticisms suggest that you should be careful whose advice you take and that people can present their lives in a way which it decidedly is not.  I am very bad at remembering this.   Unfortunately, to my ever-increasing chagrin, I have absolutely no guile.  None.   I don't lie or even really schmooze or embellish, so I assume no one else does either.

 For instance, when I run into a friend from high school who asks me what I'm up to lately, I always say something to the effect of, "I work a X company in Dayton."  When the person follows up by asking, "Do you enjoy that?"  I say, "Well the pay is a joke and the hours are terrible.  But a job's a job."  Here is what I could say; "Oh I am just fantastic.   College was such a blast, I lived in Berlin for a while and traveled all through Europe!  And oh, I also interned in D.C. for a Senator!  And would you believe it, I got a job right out of college.  I live in my own apartment downtown and I bought myself a new car.  It's so nice to be able to completely support myself. Aren't I fabulous?!"   While none of the preceding was untrue, I will never be able to present my life like this.   Whenever I say something that could be objectively impressive, I always downplay it with, "Yeah, but it wasn't all that glamorous," or "I don't really think I can congratulate myself too much on that.  It's just what's expected of me."  Because that's honestly how I feel.   My father pointed out to me, however, that other people are exaggerating their own fabulousness, and that I am buying it hook, line, and sinker.  And even worse, letting it make me feel inferior.

Recently, I called my father with my weekly sobbing meltdown.  I was complaining about something that happened Friday night.  My parents and I went out to a restaurant in Columbus that one of my Dad's former coworkers owns with her husband.  She sat down and starting talking with us, and then asked me what I was doing and what were my goals.  I told her I was toying with the option of grad school, and when I stated my desired discipline she said, "Well that doesn't make much money, does it?"  Not, do you think you'll enjoy that?  Are you good at that?  Or even, are you excited about it?  Straight to salary.   Which made me feel like seven kinds of shit.   Then she told me I "really must" go to business school in order to be competitive.  Here's the thing about business school--I think it's like thinking for dumb people.  They teach you to reach conclusions which are PAINFULLY intuitive and make "business people" disregard their common sense and all feelings of warmth toward humanity and instead turn people into amounts of money.  That being said, the biggest frat boy idiot jock will probably make three times the highest earning potential in the fields that interest me, so, there is that.   But, I got to thinking, "really, must I go to business school?'

One of Tina Fey's many pearls of wisdom within the book, "Bossypants" is that whenever someone tells you you "really must" do something, it means you don't have to do it.   If you did, it would be obvious enough no one would have to say anything.  So, in reflection, (and through my father's gentle, logical, coaxing) I realized I really don't have to go to business school.  And that's good news, because I would hate it.  It's not a way that I think, and frankly, it's not a kind of knowledge I value.   I almost thought of writing "no offense" after that last line, because it's so deeply engrained in our culture that capitalism and the knowledge of its inner-workings are almost holy, but I disagree and you can choose to be offended if you want.  I know a lot of people who think art is stupid, so whatever, agree to disagree.

Despite my father's reassurances, I just can't shake the feeling that everyone knows something I don't.   I used to laugh at my classmates who chose their majors based on future earning potential.  I felt confident that pursuing my interests with little thought given toward future career plans would lead me to a place that would make me happy.  I'm realizing, however, that those people who said "a liberal arts degree--what the hell are you going to do with that?" the ones I laughed at, may have been right.   It's recently hit me, what the hell am I going to do with that?  And that chaps my ass.   Because while I wouldn't be happy in business school and no amount of money in the future would make it worth wasting years of my life pursing that degree, I also have to admit the lack of security involved with having a liberal arts B.A. doesn't exactly make me thrilled either.

So I do this maudlin soul-searching, what would make me happy, who am I, where do I fit in the universe thing instead.  Sometimes I think I am physiologically programed to be unhappy--that I'm just a grumpy, bitter cynic, and nothing will ever change that.  Other times I think when I think that I'm just on my period.  My point, I guess, if I have one, is that I haven't got it figured out yet.   So if you ask me, I won't tell you I do.   I'm starting to maybe realize a little bit that no one has it figured out, they just are better at hiding it.  

Monday, February 20, 2012

Yellow Springs/Young's Dairy

Columbus, OH apparently has more restaurants per capita than any other city in the United States.  This is not a surprising statistic (and possibly is not a true statistic, I couldn't be bothered it too look it up) when one takes into account there is nothing to do in Columbus, aside from consume.  Shopping and eating pretty much encompasses all that Columbus has to offer in terms of going "out".  Which is fine, because these are my favorite things to do.  

Dayton, however, is like Columbus without the restaurants or good shopping, so it puts me in quite a conundrum.  I never can think of any fun activities to do.  I always imagine there are people throwing pottery or bicycling, laughing jovially in their sweaters, mocking me as I stay in my apartment.   I know some of this is seasonal, but I want to be one of those people who goes to the pumpkin patch or the flea market just to browse, carrying little paper Starbucks cups holding hands with their significant other.  Do you know there are people who pick their own apples and then make homemade apple butter?  And most of them aren't even Amish!  My coworker and her husband took a cheese-making class a few weekends ago.  I really need to up my game.

So, when my boyfriend came up from Cincinnati to spend a lazy Sunday with me, I struggled to think of fun coupled-y activities that didn't include beer, sitting in a restaurant, or worse, just watching "Wife Swap" on Lifetime. I'm basically really lame, but as Patti Sanger will tell you, no one wants to date a lame ass.   My boyfriend and I are still in the stage where he hasn't discovered my true nature yet, so I needed an un-lame, romantic-ish couples activity to further cloak my desire to remain in a semi-comatose state during the weekends.   I ended up recycling a past date and decided it would be fun to head to Young's Dairy in Yellow Springs, then look around Yellow Springs at all the little hippie shops.  Cute, right?

In the car ride up to Yellow Springs I proved to be, as always, a charming car companion.  I spent the better part of the ride yodeling along to Dave Matthews Band, hi-pitch and off-key.  Then I found some gangster rap, and impressed my significant other with my smooth rhymes and slick moves.   I then dazzled him with conversation, like, "how do babies think if they don't know language?"  So, I'm sure my bf was especially grateful to exit the car when we stepped out into the pungent air hanging over the grounds of Young's Dairy.  Obviously, having remembered all the fun I had at Young's during my previous activity date,  I bolted straight for the goat barn.   You can touch them and play with them, but I'm kind of surprised the goats get much love at all because they just look like puppy-mill puppies, inbred and slightly stupid.   It doesn't help that their eyes are so far apart they can see around corners without turning their heads.   After petting the goats and running from the chickens,  I decided I wanted to feed the goats (kind of a disney princess thing, natch) but the pellet dispenser demanded quarters which neither I nor my date had, so naturally I just scooped out the remnants left in the dispenser from the last paying customers and scraped together a decent handful.   I'm telling you,  I'm nothing if not a lady.

After enjoying dairy fresh "Cow Patty" ice cream, my boyfriend and I left Young's and drove a few miles up the road to Yellow Springs.   For those of you who don't know, Yellow Springs is a town for aging hippies, full of ma and pop places, organic eateries, and head shops of all kinds.   The best part about Yellow Springs, however, is that it is a hippie haven, but it's located in the heart of bumble-fuck nowhere Ohio, where John Deere mailboxes outnumber their plain counterparts.  This combination is mind blowing and exotic, like if you were to see Giselle Bundchen shopping at the Family Dollar in Rio Grande, Ohio.  

So my boy and I wandered around, enjoying the local flavor.   We walked into a jewelry store which boasted spoon rings, but left without buying anything because they didn't have toe rings. I grumbled that they should have specified as the sign was misleading.  We also enjoyed a toy store, where the excited clerk told me that LOTR Legos are coming out.  I told him it sounds like another reason a whole population of people will never have a reason to leave their houses.  This was all fun.   The cherry on top of the entire day, however, was finding a small herbal remedy shop.   We walked inside and looked at the various healing herbal teas.   I was thinking I might have to buy some Lady Grey and then I was distracted by little yellow pellets that looked like the fertilizer Scott's Lawn Care used to spray across my parent's lawn.   It turned out to be bee pollen.   I asked the man behind the counter what exactly you did with it.  And he said you ate it and we only didn't know about it because "the western pharmaceutical companies want to pimp their synthetic products."  Sold.   You're supposed to do two teaspoons a day, one at breakfast, one at lunch, and apparently it boosts immunity, speeds your metabolism, is full of nutrients, and "energizes you faster than a Redbull."   I'm going to try it for a week, I'll let you guys know.  If it does everything it says, I'm pretty sure half of my paycheck will go to this stuff, but that's fine, because apparently you can survive on just bee pollen and no other food. 

So while I'm not particularly good at coming up with fun, folksy, couple activities, I'm fairly confident this bee pollen will boost my creativity.  Expect entries about a day spent weaving bonnets or making soap in the near future.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Hey Jealousy

I try very hard not to be jealous, because really, at my core I believe that there is enough of everything to go around, and just because someone has more of something doesn't mean you will have necessarily have less.  So I wouldn't say I'm "ever jealous" of my friends because it implies you want what they have and don't want them to have it anymore--I am instead, "envious" maybe?  Envious because I was to also have nice things?  I think I made up that distinction and really, it's just semantics.

So for those of you who are anti-semantic, I'll just get to the point.   Last night, as I was sitting with one of my best friends at Blind Bob's enjoying the hipster-watching and munching copious amounts of Blind Bob's delicious brand of kettle chips, my friend started talking about her new relationship.   He is wonderful.   He is everything she's ever wanted.   And I am... trying to be a good friend.   Really, I completely think my friend deserves a fantastic relationship, Lord knows she's kissed enough frogs.   But here's the thing.  The whole time as I was listening to her say how they have spent the whole week together in a love coma, it was all I could do to keep a smile clenched in my jaw and my eyes from watering.  

As per my previous blog entry; I love love.   My parents have been married for 30+ years and they still are both romantic and each other's right hands.  And while I never knew what I wanted to be when I grew up, or what city I would want to live, or even if I would be a stay at home mom or career woman--I knew I wanted to marry my best friend and have a marriage like my parent's.  I never had that claustrophobic fear of commitment or the panicky feeling that if I got married I wouldn't get a chance to do all the things I wanted to do in my youth.

But that attitude hasn't amounted to much.   Now it seems like every person who has ever uttered the phrase, "I don't want a relationship" is happily paired-up.  That certainly describes the attitude of my Blind Bob's companion who told me like a week before she met him that she didn't want a relationship and had given up on men entirely. And then there's me.   I have been pretty badly hurt by relationships in the past, and yet I foolishly keep my heart open, just to let the next dip shit who doesn't deserve it tell me why I'm not good enough.

Because I have absolutely no ability to disguise my feelings, and because I didn't want my friend to think I wasn't happy for her because I was half-wincing through most of her gushing, I had to admit the whole situation was hard for me.  I finally told my friend at dinner, in the most eloquent of fashions, "It's not that I'm not happy for you.  You completely deserve this!   And I don't want you to ever hide your joy because you're afraid I'll be upset.  That's not what friends do.  But I just can't help feeling like it's that episode of 'Sex and the City' where Miranda gets pregnant by accident and she tells Charlotte, who has been injecting estrogen into her ass in order to get pregnant with no result.  I'm Charlotte and you're Miranda.  And the whole thing kind of makes my ass hurt."  

I don't mean to be a whiner.   I just have to admit, every time someone at work says, "Well maybe you're just trying too hard at your relationships," I want to fucking throw something.  It's so condescending and really unfair.  Like, easy for you to say when you're sitting on the other side looking at your sad, pathetic, single coworker.  The follow up explanation, "It just happened for me when I stopped looking for it," is basically the equivalent of saying don't think about a pink elephant and one will appear.  Are you thinking about a pink elephant?   What do you mean, now you are?   Well, shame.  

Maybe it's healthier to admit to that you're feeling envious when you are.  Or maybe I'm just a terrible friend.   Obviously, I'm not an authority on this matter--but maybe I will be if I stop thinking about.