Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Why I wish I had a clone, or at least a twin

So, before I got distracted by a whirlwind of birthday fun and end-of-semester paper writing, I believe I asked the Internet a question, yes? And it went a little something like, summer plans: France or Massachusetts? Of course it was a bit more complicated than that, and there were all sorts of variables and conditions and stipulations and it was all enough to make my head spin. Luckily my readers are a bit more level-headed than I and probably not apt to make flappy hand gestures or emit shrieks of terror when faced with a fairly straightforward a or b type decision. The final count was seven votes for French summer camp in Amherst, and four for study abroad trip to France, or five if you count one vote submitted by text message. (This isn't American Idol, Jamie, you may not text in your vote!) And really, I love my readers. And you know why I love my readers, readers? Because you perfectly represent the two sides of my personality; the one side that thinks bills and excellent experience and resume builder, and the other side that just wants to put on a striped shirt and a beret and go skipping tra la la down the Champs Elysées, because who needs money when you have Paris, baby??? You guys are kind of the angel and the devil on my shoulder, and did you know my sister actually has tattoos of an angel and a devil on her shoulders? Which is neither here nor there except that it kind of seemed to fit, and I probably never would have had a chance to bring it up otherwise. So anyway, I mulled, I considered, and I dwelled a little bit for good measure. But really, I had already made my decision. I mean, you want me to pay you to work? Indentured servitude, even indentured servitude in France, just doesn't float my hypothetical boat.

So, summer camp! Water balloon fights, popsicles and campfires. Skits and songs and...grammar exercises! Amherst it is!

Or...was.

The very next day I received a phone call from the France program. Just as I was opening my mouth to say thanks but no thanks, she dropped this bomb: Since the co-leader of the trip has a bit more time in her schedule, she has agreed to take the Wilderness First Responder training. (Sucker!) So I wouldn't have to. Which kind of threw me into a tailspin. And instead of saying, "Fantastic, I'll take it!" I said, "Oh, great! I'll...have to get back to you." I am not the type to flit back and forth between decisions; once I've made one I'm usually pretty firm on it, having already convinced myself of all the relative merits of the side I've landed on. Plus the timing of the Amherst program would allow me to go on a road trip in June with my friend Jamie, who is moving to Seattle, and yay, roadtrip!!!! And I've never been on a roadtrip out west before, or to Seattle, and I had pretty much already determined that this would without a doubt be The Summer of Rachel. Fancy free with no responsibilities, no bills, no rent to pay and a whole summer in front of me, and who knows if or when this will happen again?

But then the devil? angel? on my other shoulder started whispering in my ear, and it was just one word over and over. France. A month-long, all expenses paid trip to France. Granted, it wouldn't exactly be a vacation, in fact I was pretty sure it would end up feeling a whole lot like work by the end, but could I really turn it down? It would mean no road trip, and it would mean turning down another job that I really, really wanted. And instead of feeling so incredibly lucky that I actually had to choose between two amazing opportunities, I just wanted to pound my fists against the ground and cry like a baby because I wanted to do it all, dammit! But unless I can manage to clone myself in the next four weeks, there's no way to do both. And so I got a hold of myself. I looked at some pictures of previous France trips on the company's website. And then I saw this:



And, well...

A bientôt, baby.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Why I hope this year will be better than the last

The last night of my life as a twenty-seven year-old was by turns uncomfortable, strange, awkward verging on mortifying, and, I suppose, if you were to force it out of me, also a lot of fun. Which, really, is everything anyone could want out of a birthday, isn't it? Unless all you wanted on your birthday was to not experience a) male rejection or b) public humiliation, in which case you would have been vastly disappointed. It was a mixed bag, all in all, but I think in the end the good outweighed the bad.

My best friend Talia was sweet enough to risk life and limb on the Chinatown bus ride from hell and spend my birthday weekend with me. Friday night we headed to the Cantab, where Tom joined us for some drinks and live music. Shortly after we arrived I spied a quite cute and yet also intensely familiar face near the front door. I desperately tried to place where I had seen him before, and then it hit me: he was a dead ringer for Don Hall, my short-lived and ultimately disappointing undergraduate Halloween fling, and also more subtley for a darker-haired, more alive Jonathan Brandis (may he rest in peace). But no, it was more than that; I had seen him before, him himself, and at this very bar nonetheless. It must have been at least a year ago, but I had seen him playing in a band here, and after having stared at him onstage all night long his face was still imprinted in my mind, a year later. My heart jumped; I had to talk to him. This...this had to happen. I just wasn't sure how. First things first, I decided, and ordered another beer. Then I caught his eye with an extended glance over my shoulder. It seemed to work because he came over and ordered a beer, standing right next to me. Standing right next to me! But for some reason I couldn't do it, couldn't make myself turn and look at him, talk to him, not yet. In a minute I will, I thought, in just another minute. Then he walked forward a few feet to get a better view of the band, and the opportunity was lost. Damn.

Meanwhile, due to Talia's insistance that I open my gifts at the bar and not in the privacy of my own home, the bartender caught wind of the fact that it was my birthday and told the singer of the band, who at that moment called me out on the dance floor. My sudden horror and red-faced confusion was only amplified by some old guy standing right in front of me yelling, over the clapping and shouts of encouragement, "Show us your hooters!!!!" I reluctantly and dazedly stumbled through the parting sea of dancers to the middle of the dance floor where the singer proceeded to serenade me with a jazzy and souful birthday tune, as everyone looked at me expectantly. Oh god. I couldn't just stand there like some red-faced statue; I would have to dance. This posed a problem, however. Because contrary to what some people will tell you about my dancing ability after a few gin and tonics, under normal circumstances, I do not dance. Not at all, not even a little. And especially not after only a beer and a half and an entire bar watching my every move. I frantically gestured to Tal for help, my best friend who I've known for fourteen years, my best friend who wide-eyed shook her head no, and remained solidly on her bar stool. Luckily Tom responded to my plea and joined me on the dance floor, as I half-heartedly shook my hips for all of twelve seconds, and he whipped out his camera to capture the worst twelve seconds of my life for posterity. I held out as long as I could, roughly the aforementioned twelve seconds, before I fled to the safety of my bar stool and my beer, my sweet, sweet beer, who would never leave me nor forsake me. It was a little while before I could even pick up my beer, though, as my hands seemed permanently cemented to my face. This cloud had a silver lining, though, because the aforementioned cute musician guy nudged my arm, saying, "She's singing to you," and pointing to the singer. Indeed she was. Though I had fled the scene, she continued to sing to me, wishing me birthday happiness. I know what I wish for, I thought. "Wow," he said, "you were really embarassed out there!"

"Yeah, heh," I said.

"They do that all the time for birthdays. I've never seen anyone walk out in the middle though!"

"Really?" I said. "Never?"

"Nope."

Oh god, this just keeps getting worse, I thought. I will surely never, ever live this down.

I eventually moved past my embarassment, however, enough to tell him that I thought I had seen him here before, and did he happen to play in a band? Indeed he did. He played here every Thursday night, drums. His name was Justin, he was 34, and he was reading Proust. We had to shout to hear each other over the music, my mouth right next to his ear. I had to forcibly prevent myself from putting his entire ear in my mouth, it looked that delicious. At one point in our conversation he shushed me for a drum solo, someone else's drum solo, as he air drummed, grinning like a maniac, and I waited. I had dated a musician before; I was familiar with the air instrument playing, the giddy, rapturous expression of pure delight at some particular musical turn of phrase, and so I waited. We continued our conversation, and I told him what I do in life, and he told me about Proust. I tried to tell him about a book called How Proust Can Change Your Life, ask him if he had heard of it, but instead he said, "I'm having a really hard time hearing you, Rachel. Let's talk during the break." I said ok, thinking, did I just get ditched? Did I just get ditched on my birthday? No, I assured myself, I'm sure that's not it. It was really hard to hear each other, and he's trying to listen to the music. I'm sure we'll talk more during the break. But then the break came, and he was at the other end of the bar, and not looking at me. The next time I looked, he wasn't there at all. And somehow I can't help feeling like Don Hall has screwed me over twice now, and why do I do this to myself?

To whom it may concern: All I want for my birthday are the last remaining shreds of my dignity. I think I saw some scattered on the bar room floor. Thanks.

I decided to cut my losses, and we headed to the Enormous Room for more expensive drinks and a swanker setting. Tom bailed, but Tal and I grabbed some fruity and potent beverages and settled ourselves on a couch for some serious lounging and people watching. We became engrossed in gab, hands gesturing wildly, and hardly noticed the two guys who sat down next to us, flanking us on either side. They must have been waiting a while to try to talk to us, trying to find a break in conversation to get a word in edgewise. When they finally did, I turned to the blazer-wearing guy next to me with reluctance, not particularly eager to talk to him. I gave him short answers, not wanting to get involved in a long conversation. When he said, "So, where are you from?" I sighed, thinking, do we really have to do this?

"Maryland," I said.

"Where in Maryland?" he said.

Oh god, please don't make me play this game. "Montgomery County," I said.

"Where in Montgomery County?" he said. Thinking I'd call his bluff, I told him. "No way!" he said. "Really?" And he named our mascot and the ecology magnet program I had spent four years in.

"Wait, you went there too?!" I said. "No way!!!" A tiny town of 5,000 people, and a high school with a student population of 600, and it turns out the guy sitting next to me in a bar 463 miles away went there too, was in the same magnet program as me, and graduated two years before I did. As soon as he said his name I recognized him, remembered vaguely who he was. We named people we knew, our old teachers. We had been on the track team together. Crazy. He and his friend were both at Harvard, almost done with their PhDs. There was no love match on either side, Talia on hers or me on mine, and so eventually they left, and Tal and I left shortly thereafter. Before that, though, at his request I gave him my e-mail address, and he actually e-mailed today. Said it was nice to meet me and Talia and he hadn't kept in touch with anyone from high school after leaving, and he had enjoyed talking to us.

So, humiliation, mortal embarassment, and rejection aside, I guess overall it was a good night. In any case, my first day as a twenty-eight year-old was a vast improvement, with gorgeous weather, shopping and a movie with Tal, and dinner and drinks (and even a little bit of dancing) ((a very little bit)) with some friends later in the night. In any case, cupcakes, presents, and free drinks always make turning another year older go down a little bit smoother.

So here's to twenty-eight, and high hopes for an exciting, adventure-filled, and drama-free new year. Cheers!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Why I can't wait for the summer

Ok Internet, I need help, and fast.

I was hoping it wouldn't come to this, was hoping that I wouldn't make the cut for both, but it seems that I have received two very awesome and highly competitive job offers for summer employment and I can only accept one.

Job #1 is a position as French instructor and group leader for a summer "academic adventure" trip in France. (Did I mention it's in France?) The trip comprises an "adventure" portion, a classroom portion, and a homestay/community service portion for the kids. The entire trip is about 26 days, but including orientation/debriefing/wilderness first responder training (?!?!?!) it ends up being between 4 and 5 weeks long for me. The pay? The pay is diddlysquat. But it does include a free roundtrip plane ticket to France (did I mention it's in France?), so I'm not complaining too much. However, apparently the offer is contingent upon me completing my wilderness first responder training (?!?!?!), for which I would be required to dedicate about 70 hours of my time and also pay roughly 50% of diddlysquat, just for the privilege of bearing sole (ok, half the) responsibility of a group of hormonal and probably drunk-with-freedom adolescents for 24 hours a day times 26 days for roughly the pay of diddlysquat. The person I spoke with said she understood the financial burden this wilderness first responder certification could pose, and she would see about "getting me a discount." To which I say, hmmm, how about free? Otherwise, my next alternative is...

Job #2, French instructor for a prestigious summer language program (aka summer camp for nerds) in the ultra-glamourous Amherst, Massachusetts. (Please try to stifle your envy, I can't help it if I'm so lucky). Job #2 has the distinct advantage of paying nearly two and a half times diddlysquat, and probably not requiring me to immobilize anyone's spinal cord/figure out how to deal with a homesick student who has also been struck by lightning. This program is also linked with a quite prestigious and well-respected institution in the field of language learning, and would probably look damn good on a resume.

I already know which way I'm leaning, but we all know I'm a flighty, indecisive sort who can't even go on a date without running to ask the Internet's opinion first. So, tell me, what should I doooooo, Internet?

(And lord help you if you don't tell me what I want to hear).

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Why I only date guys with tan lines

Well, a couple more weeks have gone by, and he's back for more. After some of the comments people left about him on the last post, I think it's now fairly obvious that he's not in fact reading my blog. So if he's going to keep initiating inane g-chat conversations with me, then I'm darn well going to keep posting them. So, without further ado, I give you...Greg:

Gregory: hey ray, do you tan? i mean like, go to tanning beds? i want to know how you keep your tan.
me: how i keep it?
Gregory: yes. you have amazing skin
me: well, thanks. no tricks here. this is my winter white
Gregory: you're amazing! we'll have a contest to see who tans the most this summer. naturally of course.
me: oh yeah?
Gregory: yeah!
me: well you better get started.
Gregory: fine. i'm going outside right now. naked.
me: heh. better use sunscreen. so you don't damage...parts
Gregory: oh those parts are durable.

Can we keep in mind that I met this guy once, for two hours, over six weeks ago?

And if I have such a "lovely presence" and "amazing skin," then why wouldn't he have asked me out again? Not that I would go out with him again, at this point. I mean, durable parts? It would be like dating a used car salesman. Next he'll probably be talking lube jobs and rear end adjustments. No thank you.

Anyway, I hear skin cancer's a bitch, so I just hope his parts are under lifetime warranty. 'Cause no one wants to date damaged goods.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Why you will know me at least 50% better after this post

Well, I'm not sure what I've done to deserve this honor, but after nearly a year in the blogging world, I've received my very first "tag." At first I was a bit hesitant, because, a meme? Are you sure? And, if we're of the same generation, I don't know if you remember back in junior high (or middle school, if you prefer), when it was cool to only wear your backpack on one shoulder, and social death came to those who wore it on both shoulders, and then all of a sudden it became cool to wear your backpack on both shoulders, and it was a very confusing time for all involved. This is how I feel about memes. Is it like wearing a backpack on one shoulder? Or on both shoulders? I'm not sure and frankly I'd rather avoid the question altogether. However, not knowing the etiquette that goes along with being tagged, I would hate to offend anyone, so here I am, embracing the meme. You should embrace the meme too. It turns out it's actually fun, much like the discovery that the wearing of backpacks on both shoulders is not only cool, but also drastically reduces the number of scoliosis cases each year, not that I would know, and not that my left shoulder is noticeably higher than my right shoulder, or anything. But there you go, something you didn't know about me before, and it's a freebie. And now, let the meme begin!

What was I doing ten years ago?
Ten years ago I was enjoying the last few weeks of my senior year of high school, and becoming increasingly sentimental and nostalgic (as I am wont to do) with each passing day. I was looking forward to going away to college, and blissfully ignorant of the fact that I was mere months away from being smacked upside the head by the calloused and ring-bedecked hand of "the real world."

Five things on my to-do list today:
-8 a.m. phone interview, on my day off, and in French, for a summer job that sounds totally awesome, and no, I'm not nervous at all, why do you ask?
-2 p.m. coffee date with Hugh, which I really, honestly do not want to go on and am sort of dreading, but feel obligated since I've already cancelled on him once.
-Write three pages of Roland paper.
-Then write another.
-And then one more. Voilà, that's five pages! And only thirteen million more to go.

Five snacks I enjoy:
My shopping list generally starts out with important things, like:
-cookies
-ice cream
-beer
and ends with:
-bananas
-grapes
(All part of a healthy, well-balanced diet).

Five bad habits:
-Continuing to experiment with caffeine once every few months, thinking, "maybe this time it will be different," when really, I should know better by now.
-Talking about how I'm a delicate flower who can't handle caffeine, when hello, nobody cares.
-Cracking my back. It always feels better in the short-run, but in the long-run, I think it just makes it worse.
-I say "ok" a lot when I'm teaching my French class, a fact that I had to have pointed out to me, because I didn't even know I was doing it. Like, I end almost every sentence with, "ok?" Which, I don't know if you've noticed, is not even a French word.
-Does blogging count?

Five places I have lived:
-(Suburban town), Maryland. (Umm, I'll be moving back there soon, and given that my hometown is substantially smaller and less anonymous than Cambridge, I'm thinking that perhaps I shouldn't give the stalkers any fodder. Hello, stalkers? You hear me? Helllloooooo???)
-Historic St. Mary's City, MD (site of the fourth permanent settlement in British North America, Maryland's first capital, and remote, desolate hellhole)
-Westminster, MD (home to a small, private, liberal arts college, the Carroll County farm museum, and the heroin capital of the country!)
-Grenoble, France (Jan-May 2001 and Sept-April 2002-03)
-Cambridge, MA (Sept 2003-present)

Five jobs I have had:
-Baby-sitter extraordinaire from age 12 to 18
-Library page (I love how this title makes me sound like an attendant in the king's court, when really, all I did was put books back on the shelves)
-Bean girl at Smokey Glen Farm. My main function was to stand in front of a massive iron cauldron of beans and suffer rejection for three to seven hours straight. Because let me fill you in on a little secret of the company picnic industry: no one wants beans. Perhaps it's the catchy song, but somewhere along the way we've all had it ingrained in our collective unconscious that we should avoid beans at all costs. After all, no one wants to be that guy (or that girl, but let's be honest here) that ate beans at their company picnic and then tooted all over their coworkers. Man, I hated that job.
-Bank teller in a Wal-Mart. Ok, so I worked in a Wal-Mart, but I never worked for Wal-Mart, ok? It just happened to be a bank inside a Wal-Mart and...ok, I thought I was over it but apparently I'm not. Let's move on.
-A brief stint as an employee at the Pet Palace in the mall, where they kept puppies and kitties in cages, and I'm haunted just thinking about it. Apparently this trip down employment memory lane has degenerated into an exercise in shame. In my life I've worked in a Wal-Mart and in a store propagating puppy mills? I must be the devil! But I'm better now, I swear. I don't have a car and I bring my own bags to the grocery store! I'm a concerned global citizen. Really!

And I'm up to five already, and I'm just getting started. I guess I'll have to wait until I get tagged again to tell you about my fascinating forays into such lucrative enterprises as pool cashier, interlibrary loan substitute, girl paper boy, English teacher in France, French teacher in the U.S., waitress, and bookkeeper.

Well, I hope you have found this as entertaining and informative as I have. I, for one, have learned that, man, have I had some really shitty jobs in my life. Let this be a lesson to you: if anyone offers to pay you $6.25 an hour and tells you all you have to do is stand outside in the hot sun next to an open flame for seven hours/drag this 50-pound cauldron over to the next picnic site/count out four dozen live crickets and put them in this plastic bag/feed the snake/remove that piece of trash someone dropped in the tank, but be careful, it bites...JUST SAY NO. And remember, no matter where you work, it could always be worse. You could work in a bank branch in Wal-Mart. (No offense to bank tellers and/or Wal-Mart employees. I love you all!)

And now, for the business of "tagging." I don't even know that many bloggers, so let's just say, do it if you want to. And then leave a comment here to say that you did it, so we can all join in the fun. Oh, except for Tal, you're tagged for sure. And Jamie, you too. Have fun, everyone! Ok?

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Why a year is a long time, and not very long at all

If I could borrow a line from one of my favorite blogs and twist it to my own uses: "Mid-April has so many anniversaries. Columbine. Waco. Oklahoma City. Virginia Tech." And, one year ago today, James and I broke up. "Break up" really is the best way to describe it; it's like a compound fracture. And after the initial nauseating, breath-taking agony, then the bone has to be set, and you go through it all over again. You immobilize the limb, try not to bump it or jostle it too much; you are cautious of it, you protect it, and keep your distance from anyone who might inadvertantly knock against it. Then the cast comes off, and you look in horror at the white, withered limb, atrophied from disuse. But eventually you start using it again, you sit outside in the sun, and to anyone else, it looks normal. And for the most part it is, although it still aches every once in a while, and every time it rains. 

It's funny, the anniversaries you remember, keep track of, and those you don't. When we were together, we never celebrated our anniversary. We didn't even know what our anniversary was, what it would be. When you're not married, what do you consider the most important first? The first date? The first kiss? The first time you sleep together? The first I love you?

Our first date was on some forgotten day in mid-May. Our first kiss a couple weeks later. He asked me if he could call me his girlfriend on his roommate's birthday. He told me he loved me on his birthday. And then, three years later, our last kiss. A night like any other night. It was brief, business-like, the kiss. I was upset, and so I gave him a quick, dry-lipped peck, and he left. His roommate was waiting in the car, there was no time to make up, anyway. But I didn't know it would be the last kiss. I didn't know yet. It was a night of lasts, wholly unavoidable and unchangeable, and I didn't even know it yet. Then, the last phone call. Then, the last e-mail. 

And then all of a sudden it was firsts again. First minute without him, first hour, first day. First year. And it's ok, I'm ok, but it still aches, every once in a while. Please excuse me. Allow me just a bit of sentimentality today. 

The little cracks they escalated...Before we knew it was too late.

Lies, by Glen Hansard, from the movie Once

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Why is everyone a critic?

So far I've only received one response to my craigslist posting, from Shawn, who says:

ok...you have waaaaaaay too much time on your hands

Dear Shawn,

Not really. I knocked it out in about half an hour, after American Idol and before working on my 25 page research paper, entitled "Objets d'échange: Le rôle de la femme dans les chansons de geste du moyen age." What did you do tonight?

Though I do appreciate you taking time out of your obviously packed schedule to inform me of your disapproval. As a total stranger, that kind of caring and concern mean a lot to me.

Love,
DoW

It's ok. Someday I'll meet a man who appreciates my bad poetry. Right? Right???

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Why tofu never tasted so sweet

In spite of Erin's warning tale, I have taken a shot at my own "Missed Connection" missive:
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
O Whole Foods guy,
your name is Guy,
I don't know why,
but I think your eyes
are the nicest eyes
I've ever spied
on a Whole Foods guy.

They are not blue,
but a brownish hue,
and I admit it's true
I would even buy
overpriced deli tofu
just to talk to you,
O hunky Whole Foods Guy.

O Whole Foods Guy,
or is it Guy?
as in "oui oui,
j'adore ce Whole Foods Guy."
How can I make you see
that you're my favorite employee?
O helpful Whole Foods Guy.

I would walk a mile
just to see your smile,
and I linger a while
when I'm in your aisle.
I want to say hi
but I'm too shy,
so I just sigh.

O hunky, handsome, helpful Whole Foods Guy!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
So tell me, would you be flattered if an anonymous someone posted bad poetry about you on the Internet? Or would you be more...creeped out? And what is the proper next line after "I'll have a pound of sesame tofu, please?" (Seeing as how, "Oh, and by the way, do you have a girlfriend, or a boyfriend for that matter?" sounds a bit incongruous).

Now I remember why I got into online dating in the first place. Because online, they really do wear signs that say "single." If only life in the deli aisle could be as clear-cut.

Now if you'll excuse me, I think I just developed a craving for macaroni salad...

Monday, April 14, 2008

Why every good story needs a punchline

So I was at the CVS pharmarcy on Friday evening (a rip-roaring good time, and highly recommended), waiting for my prescription for eye de-nastifier, and looking for something to help while away about fifteen minutes. I looked to the magazine rack in front of me and scanned over the Peoples, the Us Weeklys, the Home & Gardens, until my eye landed on a bright orange booklet, titled Knock Knock Jokes for Kids. Ahh, I thought. This will be amusing. But, is it me, or have knock knock jokes changed since we were kids? Are they less funny? Or is it that they're a bit more...obscure?

Knock knock jokes that left me scratching my head in bewilderment:

-Knock knock.
(You know the drill).
Gorilla.
Gorilla who?
Gorilla your dreams.

Wait...Gorilla...your dreams? The fuck?

I think perhaps they have the wrong animal. Gopher. Gopher your dreams, now that makes sense, right? But, gorilla? I want to know who's responsible for editing this piece of shit.

-Knock knock.
etc.
Rudolph.
Rudolph who?
Rudolph the Fresno reindeer.

This one...I have no explanation for this one. I've been turning it over in my head every which way, and I've still got nothing. Who is this Fresno reindeer knocking at the door? And why won't anyone let him in? Maybe it's a West Coast thing. Are there any Californians out there who can explain this to me?

After becoming thoroughly disgusted with what passes for children's entertainment these days, I waited in line to pay for my now ready prescription. I must have inhaled a piece of dust, or asbestos or something, because something tickled in my throat, and I gave a half-hearted cough. The man behind me in line jumped on this like a cheetah on an injured gazelle, saying, heartily, "So, what are you in for?" in this tone of imagined solidarity, a sort of we're all in this together brand of false kinship.

My first thought was, "Did that line sound suave and cool when you heard it in your head? And did it suddenly turn very creepy and all kinds of wrong when it came out of your mouth? Because I am waiting in line at the pharmacy for my prescription, my private, confidential prescription, and there are so many possible answers to your question, and none of them are good. What if I had diarrhea, huh? Or a yeast infection? Or fucking staph infection of the eye? And I know I'm looking cute and vulnerable right now with my sad, Bambi-like dilated pupils, but I just heard you give your birthdate of 1962, which makes you at least 15 years too old for me, sir, so let's not get all chummy and conspiratorial over the sordid details of our respective medical histories."

And though I replied with something along the lines of a mumbled, "Not much," and went back to studiously inspecting my fingernails, now I know what I should have said. "Gonorrhea." Ba dum bum.

Now there's a punchline that's funny every time. Children's book editors take note.

Have a great day, everyone. Work hard, do a good deed, tell someone you love them, and most of all, don't forget to get out there and gorilla your dreams.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Why there's a boulder on my shoulder and I'm feelin' kinda older and I tripped the merry-go-round

"I can't believe this is the first time you've done this," he kept saying.

"Yeah, well..." I chuckled nervously. "Will it hurt?"

"It'll sting a bit going in," he answered. Then he looked deep, deep into my eyes. "Very nice," he murmured.

Looking back into his eyes in the darkened room, I felt a warm flush spread from my head to my toes, and I started to sweat. My stomach flipped and felt queasy, and then I swooned...

The light flipped quickly on, and the next thing I knew the room was swarming with doctors in white coats, my feet propped up, cool towels on my pulse points, and a plastic cup of water placed into my trembling hands.

So, I went to the eye doctor today, and in the continuing tradition of having odd reactions to common medical procedures, I fainted during the eye exam. Or, rather, I almost fainted, but that doesn't sound nearly as exciting, does it? Apparently it's quite common, as people have varying reactions to the drops used to dilate the pupil. Which was of small consolation to me as stars blurred out my vision and I contemplated whether or not I was going to vomit all over the doctor's clean floor. (I didn't).

"It's ok," the doctor said. "We can finish this another time."

"No!" I said. "I'm never doing this again! Let's finish it now, I'm feeling better. Really."

And so finally, after much poking, prodding, and flipping inside out of eyelids (which almost made me vomit just thinking about, gah), he finished. Diagnosis- blepharitis. (Um, ew?)

Although I wasn't making that first part up. He really did take unusual interest in the fact that this was my first time at the eye doctor, and that he was the first person to ever see my retinas. He also seemed impressed by my extraordinary vision, but now I'm just showing off. Sorry. He was probably less impressed with the staph growing under my eyelids, though, so it all evens out. (Ick!)

I walked out of the office into the cloudy, overcast day, and flinched. Gah! So bright! Why is it so bright?! And of course I didn't have my sunglasses with me. I was noticeably the only person squinting and shading my eyes from the non-existent sun, and I walked down the street like that, squinting and scowling, and creeping people out with my freak alien eyes. (It's nearly impossible to squint without scowling, have you noticed? Try it sometime).

Then I arrived home, and my first thought, before food, before a nap, before I even checked my e-mail (and you know that's serious) was, I must document this! For the Internet, who have seen me in all my saddest states, lest they not believe the creepiness of my freak alien eyes, and would be inclined to underestimate the general patheticness of my current state of well-being. Well, doubt not, Internet.

I came home, and this is what my eyes looked like!:


Just kidding. This is what they looked like. And this is what I felt like:

Then I felt a little better:

And then I finally felt well enough to smile again:

And, well, that was my day. How was yours?

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Why I'll be moving my blog to a new, secret location. Contact me for details*

So, I went out with Greg over a month ago, right? We played Boggle. I didn't write much about it because I thought he might be lurking somewhere out there in Inter-space (like outer space, but with more porn), reading my blog. But I wasn't sure. Two weeks went by without a word. Then one day he struck up a casual gmail chat conversation. Pleasantries were exchanged. Then two more weeks went by. Then another gmail chat. And, well, it appears he may be trying to tell me something. But again, I'm not sure. What do you think?

Gregory: hey ray way
me: heya. what's up?
Gregory: just got home. engineering sucks. how are you today?
me: i'm doing ok
Gregory: uh oh, phone call
me: k
Gregory: i'm back

me: ok
Gregory: so anyway, my verbalistic friend
me: verbalistic?
Gregory: oui
me: how's that?
Gregory: you like words
me: true
(Wait, you know I like words because we played Boggle, or because you're reading my blog?)
Gregory: you're very expressive
me: how....so?
(Oh my god, he's totally onto me!)
Gregory: facial expressions. am i right?
(Ok, so maybe he's not onto me?)
me: i am? i wouldn't know
Gregory: i think that you have a lovely presence
(Also, hitting on me?)
me: well thanks. you do too
Gregory: we both do. i think that your slim figure and height add to it
me: ahh
Gregory: yes. ahh
(Ahhh!!!!!!)

So, is he onto me? Am I just paranoid? (But it's not paranoia if they really are out to get me!) And what possesses a guy to by turns ignore you, hit on you, and still not ask you out on a proper date?

Speak now or forever hold your peace!!!!!!


*Totally just kidding. We all know I'm much too lazy for that.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Why a picture is worth a thousand words, but never the right ones

The other day I was reading someone's blog (shocking, I know), and she said that checking her ex-boyfriend's flickr stream was the only way she had of knowing that he was still alive.

Ah, now there's a thought, my brain said to me. But James never had a flickr account. Ah well.

And then something shifted viscerally inside of me as my subconscious piped in with a "But..." and my conscious answered back menacingly, "But what?"

"But," said my subconscious meekly, in a very small voice, "didn't he used to have a smugmug account?"

"Yes," my conscious said, defeated. "Yes, you're right. He did."

From that point it was just a quick search through the e-mail archives and I had all the information I needed. My heart pounding, I pulled up his page. Perhaps I would finally get to see some pictures from his big trip backpacking through southeast Asia. Maybe I would see what he's been up to for the last twelve months. At first glance not much had changed. There were Halloween albums, Turducken albums, New Year's Eve albums. There were locked albums, too. Christmas 05, Old Orchard Beach, New Orleans 06. That was ok, I knew what those were. Those were us. There was a France album, too, unlocked, but to look at it you wouldn't have even known I was there. Not because he had deleted any pictures, but because he hadn't taken any of me to begin with. 16 days, 206 pictures (on his camera), and only two of us, taken at arm's length, at my insistance, I'm sure. The rest, blurry nighttime pictures of bridges, stained glass windows, and him in front of the Eiffel Tower. In retrospect, it is perhaps a fitting symbol of our relationship. But hindsight is always 20/20.

I continued forward in time. There was a Vietnam album, but it was empty. Updated Jan. 11, 2008. Why set up an album and then not put any pictures in it? I wondered.

There was a Maine album, updated May 29, 2007. I clicked on it, expecting to see him, and maybe his sister, at his parents' house. I thought maybe I would see some pictures of the kids. But I didn't. Instead it was the poison my subconscious already suspected, and my conscious wanted to ignore. There was a girl. There was a boat. There was him.

A girl. A boat. Sunglasses, smiles, and wind-blown hair. She was shorter than me. His head angled down to rest on top of hers. They were smiling. He was clean-shaven. Only six pictures, but I clicked through them again and again, trying to find answers to questions I never asked, never wanted to ask. In an ideal world, a world where everything is either black or white, in these pictures he would be holding signs, and they would say things like: Her name is _______________. We met ______________. We've had sex ____________ times. Instead I tried to piece together bits of a story that was killing me with its incompleteness. Him reading a magazine. Her posing in the rigging of the mast. Her in a pink sundress. Her. There was one sign, resting against a folding chair on the side of the road: Homemade Whoopie Pies. Regular and Peanut Butter.

May 29, 2007. A month after we broke up. A month and a week. Fine, a month and ten days, if you want to split hairs. A month and ten days...A month and ten days after we broke up, I was still crying at night. After a month and ten days, I was still writing things in my journal, like, "Every day I wake up and I walk around feeling like I've been punched in the gut. I go about my life, or what's left of it, trying not to double over from the pain." And the coda of all these journal entries, dozens of them, the same, tireless refrain: Is he hurting, too? Does he regret, does he ache, does he still think of me every day? And suddenly, almost a year later, the answer I always knew deep down, but never wanted to admit. The answer assaulting me, not even in the comforting simplicity of black and white, but in all the shocking violence of color, of pink dresses, blue skies, and mirrored sunglasses. No. No, he wasn't. No, he didn't. No.

There was one last album, though. Browsing through an album labeled Boston Graphitti (sic), hoping to find any more clues, I was shocked to see a face staring back at me. Mine. Four times, in fact, at the very end. I remembered taking them one morning after James had gone to work, and before I left for school. The photographic equivalent of a note left in the pocket of a favorite pair of pants. And like that note, turning up at the most unexpected of times. Did he even realize they were there? I wondered. Did he upload the pictures from his camera in a hurry and walk away without realizing? I suddenly felt very grateful that I'm not the kind of girl to leave more risqué surprise pictures on her boyfriend's camera. Phew.

No danger of that, though. Just me, fully dressed, with shockingly short hair. (When was my hair that short?) First picture: blank stare. Second picture: piercing eyes. Third picture: pursed lips. Fourth picture: my face obscured by my hand, thumb and two fingers outstretched in that universal symbol for I love you.

As sick as I felt, and as much as my stomach ached, I took a small comfort in that, in those four pictures. All I've wanted these past twelve months is reassurance that what we had was real, that I didn't imagine it, that it existed. That ending a relationship doesn't erase what you once had, that the last three years don't become a black hole, an unspeakable void. And though we don't talk, we will still continue to be a part of each other's lives, each other's pasts, even if only in the form of folders filed away neatly, 2004-2007. And no matter how many folders he adds, no matter how many photos he takes, and no matter who he's with, I will still be in there, somewhere, too, and he'll be there, and we'll be smiling.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Why I swear, it wasn't rigged

The votes are in, and at final count we have 15 for, and only one dissenter, with whom I am inclined to agree, being of the doubting persuasion. But neverthless, I am a woman of my word, so James, if you're reading, just let me know where and when, and we can go about flaunting the laws of physics and the space-time continuum by having our second first date. (But will we need a De Lorean?)

And now...the moment I assume everyone has been waiting for, knuckles white, on pins and needles, edges of your seats, etc...The distribution of prizes! Or, well, prize. Exclamation point!

So, in all there were 23 comments, disregarding the fact that, well, quite a few of them were from me. And so I plugged those numbers into a random number generator, hit go, and voilà! Lucky number 16!


So! Scrolling down...

Counting, counting...

I hope it's not me...

That would be embarassing, and also a pain, cause I'd have to do it all over again...

And then what if it was me again?

Wait, here we are! And the lucky winner is...Talia!!!!!!


And ironically enough, the very comment where she mentions coveting the recipe holder. Which is why, though Talia is my best friend and all, I swear this wasn't rigged. Besides, I had already left a comment wherein I stated my support for Alan to win. Sorry, Alan! Maybe next time. Now, Talia, you're going to have to leave a comment that's the equivalent of a Price is Right contestant getting called on down, with the screaming and flailing arms, or everyone's going to be very disappointed.

Happy weekend everyone, and thanks for playing our game!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Why flattery and free gifts make the world go round

To file under the category of history repeating itself, I opened my e-mail today to find this in my inbox:

Hey Rachel,
I went on an easily forgettable, internet-facilitated date with you in the beginning of February at Bukowski's. You were very cool and looked fetching, but I was distracted and all out of sorts that night. I remember being bummed on the ride home because I wasn't able to be very engaging. But here's the thing: the day leading up to that night was seriously so draining and it was impossible to be my very cool self: had spent ten hrs in a computer lab on stats problems with annoyed classmates, had to run to davis sq in the snow only to have to run back to return roommates keys, didn't eat, freezing walk to inman, etc. I had put the disappointing night behind me but happened on your blog today and was reminded of how thoughtful/interesting/funny you are. Would you be open to giving me a second chance, like a second first date? I'll totally pay for drinks. If you're not interested, I totally understand but I had to give this a shot. Awesome!
-James


So, it's happened again, although luckily it seems the damage in this case is minimal. I mean, thank heavens I wasn't inclined to wax poetic post-date, leaving a trail of snark in my wake, a hobby I have admittedly been known to indulge in, oh, once or twice or twenty-seven times (at current count). Not that I would have, obviously, because as his e-mail shows, he's clearly a very nice guy. (Hi, James!) However, it is still an uncomfortable feeling, knowing how vulnerable, how exposed I am to every guy I've ever dated (or even not dated) through Okcupid. Because, as I finally figured out, all you have to do is google my username, and through a fairly straightforward series of mouse clicks, you are led straight to my blog. This blog. Where I share my innermost secrets, my past traumas, my fears, unflattering post-dental work video footage, and my deepest most profound thoughts on...bikini waxing? What the hell was I thinking??? So, yeah. Vulnerable. Of course several months ago when I originally found out about this little glitch, I immediately freaked out and set off to nip it in the bud, ASAP. The problem going back to a comment I had left on someone's blog years ago, using the same username that I use on my online dating profiles. And the profile I used to leave the comment leading back to this blog. So I sent this blogger, who happens to be a Big Blogger, a desperate e-mail detailing the situation, and ending with a breathless plea for help! Please help! You must delete my comment or my life will be ruined!!!!!!! Or something along those lines. Being that said blogger is a Big Blogger, I didn't necessarily expect to hear back from her at all, however she did reply, and was quite sympathetic. However, she said that for some reason on entries that were more than a couple years old, she didn't see a way to delete comments, that they had, in effect, become permanent, it seemed. (Horrors!) But she would look into it and see what she could do. At which point, the adrenaline having subsided and finally being able to think clearly again, I sent her another e-mail saying, "Or I could just change my online dating username, now that I think about it. Haha!" And she said "Yes, I suppose that is better than moving your blog to a witness protection program," and then we both had a good chuckle. So then, of course, I did that, or rather I sort of did, which is to say that, long story short, ultimately I didn't. What I mean is, I changed my username on my Match account very easily and with little fuss, however to affect the same change on Okcupid would require deleting my entire profile and starting from scratch, and well, I am lazy. So ultimately, I did nothing, figuring, google? Pfffft. Who's going to google me? Because, I figured, if nearly a year of singledom has taught me anything, it's that I am clearly not that scintillating. But! Apparently I am, if perhaps not scintillating (and clearly light-years away from titillating, but a woman can dream), at least I am google stalker-worthy, and I will take what I can get at the moment.

All of which is just a roundabout way of saying, of course...Help, Internet! What do I do? Should I go out with him again? Is there really such a thing as a second first date? What about my dating vacation proclamation? Or do self-imposed curfews and dating restrictions go out the window when free drinks are on the line?

Your options are:
a) What are you thinking? Clearly you do not need another James in your life, as it could prove to be confusing, and ultimately, weird. Stay away!
b) What are you thinking? He called you fetching and thoughtful/interesting/funny, which is three more compliments than you've ever received before in one e-mail. Give him another chance!
c) Meh, I don't really care. I'm just in this for the prizes.

Did I just say prizes? I did, apparently, though I kind of took myself by surprise there. I hadn't really thought about it, but after it came out, it seemed like a good idea. What do you think? A little incentive, let's say. Leave a comment with your vote, or your non-vote, as you prefer, and I will pick a winner at random who will have their choice of these fabulous prizes:


A brand-new recipe holder from Hallmark (classy!), which comes with 26 recipe cards, but unfortunately only holds 24 recipe cards, which...well, let's just say I hope someone got fired over that one. I mean, it's not rocket science here, Hallmark. The lucky winner of this prize will even receive two recipe cards already filled out with two of my favorite recipes! (Which, since you're already going to have to throw away two cards anyway...But no! I'm a good cook! Sometimes...)

For the less cutesy gift-inclined (or more male) voters, I have this:



A brand-new portable radio with headphones, which I swear, came free with my purchase of blemish cream. Not that I...use...blemish cream...It was for a friend...I swear! Anyway, I bought it unaware of the treasure residing inside, and was quite shocked when I brought it home and opened the box. And thought, "Well, that explains why the box was so big, and also why I just paid $10 for blemish cream." I thought it was just really good blemish cream (for my friend!), though honestly I could have stood to pay $5 less and not received a free crappy totally desirable piece of plastic modern technology.



So, Internet, do I go out with this guy again? Let's say I have to receive at least five yays, and I'll consider that a sign that the dating gods want me to give him another chance. So vote one, vote all, by this Friday 12 p.m. EST! My future, and potentially valuable free prizes, rest in your hands. Oh, and Internet, have I told you lately that you're beautiful? Well, you are. Vote today!