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.