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.