Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Why the more things change, the more my hair stays the same

The last seven days have been spectacularly un-blogworthy. I've noticed that at this time of year, other people tend to post Christmas re-caps and state their New Year's resolutions, but the fact of the matter is the holidays around here are not particularly merry, and I'm pretty sure no one wants to hear about how I plan to eat more fruits and vegetables in 2010. In fact, I'm going to be honest with you: this is pretty much a throwaway post. I just wanted to knock that last post down from the top spot, because GAH. And also, GAH. I mean, the reactions and the comments were great; so great, and I value each and every one of your perspectives and advice, even the person who called me "icky." Which, fine, I guess she didn't call me specifically "icky," rather the act of sleeping with "someone you barely know," which I hardly think is the case here, especially since I am not sleeping with someone that I do know. But my point is that I appreciate even that comment, since it just shows that there are so many different people and ideas and thoughts and opinions in the world. And with that many people and ideas and thoughts and opinions in the world, the "right" answer can only be the one that is right for me. (I am not sure what that answer is yet, by the way, just that whatever it is, everything is going to be pretty much alright. Or, you know, it won't. Neither one would surprise me.) Anyway, like I said, I value the feedback from that post, but I'm sort of sick of looking at it, and sometimes I worry about first-time readers clicking over and whoa, emotional and dramatic and revealing waaayyyy too much personal detail, am I? Well, here, let's talk about something much less pathos-inducing, like...

In other news, MY HAIR. On Christmas day my sister's boyfriend got a hold of a picture of all of us taken on some Christmas years ago, and immediately started laughing. "Your hair," he said. "You still have exactly the same haircut!" And yes, yes I know I still have the same haircut I did when I was five, I AM AWARE. I immediately jumped to the defensive. "Oh, what, should I cut it all off, bleach it and dye it pink, then?" I said, not so subtly referencing my sister's latest failed strawberry blond venture. "Uh, no," he said, taken somewhat aback. "Um...no." This came at a touchy moment, as I've been feeling particularly un-pretty lately: haggard, broken out, and just plain old, and so I decided something had to be done. In lieu of other, more drastic, and more costly measures, I headed to Target and left with a pack of Crest White Strips and a box of hair dye. I used to dye my hair on a pretty regular basis, but at this point it's been my natural color for years, and so I hesitated to do something too drastic. I carefully read the advice on the box: For best results, stay within a shade or two of your own hair color, and if you are hesitating between two colors, go with the lighter one. I did this, and ended up with a color creatively titled "light brown." That's right, I spent $10 to dye my hair the exact same color it already was. A final analysis reveals that it is now actually slightly more light brown than it was before, but not so that anyone other than me would be able to tell. So, now I am old, broken out, haggard, and I have boring hair. No wonder my new (fill-in-the-blank) won't sleep with me. (Ba dum bum!)

In other other news: I got a text from North Carolina guy the other day. Remember him? We met, crushed, hooked up? (Icky! I am so icky!) Well, I did actually see him again after that. Did I forget to mention that? I may have accidentally-on-purpose forgotten to mention that. So, I saw him when he was in town again, last month, and then felt bad about it because I didn't know where things were going with James. Jimmy. Whatever. As it turns out I still don't know where things are going with Jimmy/James/whatever, and this other guy, Pete, sent me a text asking if I would be around on Jan. 2nd or 3rd. He wants to give me my Christmas present. (I've already asked, and no, apparently it's not a euphismism.) A Christmas present. I'm pretty sure even my new (fill-in-the-blank) Jimmy-James isn't giving me a Christmas present.

And the plot thickens...

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Why is he acting like sex is a four-letter word?

I've always been pretty good at identifying the exact moment a new relationship dies. Even if the nails aren't all yet in the coffin, even if nothing specific has been said and we are still going along, acting our roles and playing our parts, I can still hear that death knell ringing from miles away.

He is no longer playful and sweet. Our "relationship" has suddenly aged by years overnight. We've gone from mix cds and non-sequiturs to perfunctory phone calls, dry-lipped kisses, and absolutely no sex. Now when we go to bed he gives me a peck on the lips and a "'night babe." Oh, we've talked about it, sure, and come to no useful conclusion. Sex complicates things, he says. It speeds things up, heightens emotions. He just wants to get to know me better, first. He wants to be sure. He wants to do it, don't get him wrong; he really wants to. But he doesn't just jump into these things lightly, and he doesn't want to be pressured into it, either.

When he first said it a couple weeks ago, I was ok with it. Just another week or two, he said. And so I waited. But it's been two weeks, and he's still saying it. And now he barely touches me at all. Now he just goes to sleep. We should be passionate, mad, crazy about each other, but instead we are both on the defensive, both waiting to see how this thing will turn out, steeling ourselves for the end.

Oh, it's all in working order, if that's what you're thinking. Some early reconnaissance showed everything to be of the correct size and proportion. Fully functioning, too, as I found out in another, apparently acceptable, non-intercourse sex act. Because that's ok, but apparently penetration would be too intimate.

"I feel like..." I said, my face turned away in the dark, "I feel like you're not even interested in me, like you're not attracted to me at all." I tried to keep my voice steady, but every other word hinted at tears.

"How can you say that?" he asked. "I tell you all the time that I think you're beautiful; I send you texts telling you how sexy I think you are." That's true. Hey gorgeous, he'll say. Hey beautiful, hey sexy, hey angel face, doll face, peaches, precious, peanut. He has a hundred names for me, and not one of them is Rachel.

"I just want to wait until I'm sure the time is right," he said.

"But how will you know?" I said.

"I'll know when I know," he said. "I'll just know."

"Well I wish I knew what test it is that I'm supposed to be trying to pass."

"We've only been together a few weeks," he said. "Would you typically be trying to have sex at this point in a relationship?"

Way to turn it around there, I thought. He might as well have said, Are you always this much of a slut?

"That's not a fair question," I said. "There's no such thing as 'typically.' And besides, usually it would just happen, naturally."

"Yeah," he sighed. "Yeah."

So is that it? I wondered all day yesterday. Is it over? Hours and hours went by and I didn't hear from him, and I was sure it was. But then he texted, said he was having a crazy busy day. And so we've been carrying on in the usual way, only it's not fun, anymore.

He called me tonight, asked me when I am going home. Tomorrow, I told him. For a week. Are you going home tomorrow, too? I asked.

"I'm on my way home right now, actually," he said. "I was going to leave tomorrow, and then I would have spent the night with you, but I have to get home tonight. I just have so much stuff to do."

"Oh," I said. "Oh."

Then he brought up our conversation from the other night; he felt weird about the way we had left it. And so we tried talking about it, but talking only made it worse. To me, it feels like a power play. He has the upper hand and there's nothing I can do to change that. Either he will continue to withhold, or he will eventually decide that the time is right and in a grand gesture of benevolence finally grant me the "gift" of his sex. But I don't want it like that. There is no good outcome here. We're both backed into a corner, and the only way out is away.

"So, I guess we'll see how it goes when you get back," he said, hesitantly. Because suddenly we are awkward, ill at ease with each other.

"I guess so," I said.

I said goodbye and fell back onto my bed, and instead of picturing his smile, his lips, his broad shoulders, the only thing I could think was, It shouldn't be like this, it shouldn't be this hard, it shouldn't be like this.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Why you should not read this post

He will not read this. He says he doesn't want to read and I will take him at his word. If he ever changes his mind I will delete this first. This doesn't need to be seen. This is my neurosis, my paranoia, my self-doubt. This is a journal entry-turned-blog that probably should have stayed a journal entry. But, like every worry that niggles relentlessly at my insides, I know I will feel better after I get it out. This is my magma, my lava, my bile.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I am happiest in the moment right before he walks through the door. The anticipation is exhilarating in its possibility, and in comparison reality can only ever pale.

I want more, already. It's never enough, and I can feel myself greedy, ever expanding, with always more space to fill. It may not even be possible to fill it, maybe no one can. Alone I was small and manageable, but then he came and now I am huge, vast, limitless. I try to hide it but I am ever hungrier.

In a fitting bit of irony, now that I think I am maybe, at long last, finally over my ex-boyfriend, I meet a boy who's maybe still in love with his ex-girlfriend. I asked a question last night and got him talking, talking, talking, not looking at me, lost in space, and for a second I thought how easy it would be to be a shrink. "And now you're going to think, 'Oh, here's this guy who's still in love with his ex-girlfriend,'" he said. No, I thought. I didn't until you just said that. But now I do.

"Aww, you'll find someone," he said to me later, jokingly, perhaps, but I recoiled as if he had hit me. I don't know how he meant it, but it hurt like a blow. It's not me, he was saying. Was he saying? I don't know.

That old dose of reality.

James. His name is James, because, of course it is. It feels wrong to call a grown man Jimmy. It feels right to call him James, but so right it also feels wrong. No easy solution. I've tried both, hesitantly, and settled instead on "babe." We've fallen so quickly into the parlance of lovers, though we aren't, not yet. We sleep wrapped around each other like lovers, share morning breath kisses, but he wanted to wait. Another week dictated by biological imperatives, and we are still waiting. Soon? Soon. When? He leaves and I never know when I will see him again, though that is my own insecurity talking.

At first he seemed too good to be true, and maybe he is, but now we have gotten used to each other, and maybe he is bored with me, and we haven't even slept together yet. Except for all the sleeping next to each other. Just enjoy it, I tell myself. Enjoy it while it lasts, for as long as it lasts. That's all you can do. It's all about expectation after all. If you expect it to last forever you will be disappointed. Expect it to end tomorrow, and every day it doesn't is a gift.

I have been alone for so long. I cannot reconcile these two parts of myself. It's all or nothing, and the girlfriend part of me grows, is gluttonous, and consumes the single part of me so that there is nothing left. If anything were to happen I would have to start over again from scratch.

My girlfriend, he called me last night. My friend, he corrected himself. My girlfriend, my friend, my girlfriend, my friend.

I am lost, shrinking, somewhere between the two. I am lost, waiting for someone to find me, to call my name, waiting to be found.

Is this too much? Too honest? Too soon? And so I share it with a thousand strangers on the Internet, and he will never, ever need to know.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Why I'm out of the blogging closet

It's not that I have writer's block, exactly. I'd call it more a crisis of conscience. To be more specific: it's feeling stranger and stranger to continue writing about someone behind his back. I'm entering murky waters here. In the over two and a half years that I've been writing here, I've never felt the need to censor myself. For the most part, I give it to you straight: the good, the bad, and the tear-stained and ugly. Every once in a while over the past two and a half years, I've wondered what would happen to my blog, my writing, if I ever started dating someone for long enough that keeping my blog a secret from him would start to feel like just that: a secret I was keeping. I never came to any reasonable conclusions, and up until now, it hasn't really come up. The closest I came to that was Hervé, but he was easy: I knew the whole time that we were only temporary, and he didn't even speak English. It was just easier not to say anything. And now, in light of new events, I find myself wondering all over again. Not that I am ready to 'fess up to everything with my new guy, not at all; there will be no gun jumping here. (Or so I thought.) (Foreshadowing!!!) But now I have to look at everything I post as something that may potentially be read by him someday, and that is a weird, weird feeling. How would he feel reading what I've written about him so far? I have to hope that he would be ok with it, considering it's all been fairly glowing and complimentary. But what if you discovered that, unbeknownst to you, specific details of your personal life had been spilled all over one small corner of the Internet? And what if, say, you had probably never even read a blog before? Would you find it all baffling? Vaguely disturbing? Unsettling? These are all things I have been thinking about lately. So far my guy has been very lovely and loving and laid-back, but you never know what someone may consider as going too far. You just never know with people, do you?

It will all have to come out eventually, I decided, if things keep going the way they are going. But not yet. I will know when the time is right, and it's not now. (I thought.) But you know what happens to the best intentions. One minute you're watching youtube videos of whistling puppies and surprised kittens and dogs riding skateboards (and seriously, if those videos don't turn you into a mushy, sobby blob of molten goo then you are made of stone, people, stone!) and then you're saying, "Hey, you want to see a video of my sister's dog barking while my dad plays the harmonica?" And then you open your video folder and click as quick as you can, but not quick enough, because then he says, "Hey, what's DoW contest?"

"Oh, um, nothing," I say. "Hey, look, it's my sister's dog!"

"Was that your ex-boyfriend?"

"Um, no, it's my old roommate."

"So, what is that?"

"It's...I didn't want to tell you yet."

"Oh. Ok. Well, I won't push it."

"Oh," I say, relieved. "Thanks."

"But you'll tell me later?"

"Yeah."

Then we watch a video of a hedgehog eating a carrot. "Are you moving?" he asks quietly, looking down at my leg.

"What?" I say, confused. "You mean, am I physically moving right now? Am I moving my leg?" I do tend to have a fairly annoying knee jiggling habit, and so I look down, but everything appears still for the moment.

"No, I mean...are you moving away?"

"What? No. I have a lease until August. Why?"

"Well, you said you didn't want to tell me yet."

"Ohh. No, that's not it."

"Are you dating someone else? Did you kill someone?"

"Wha-? No, look...fine. I didn't want to tell you yet, but, well...I have something to tell you."

"Yes?"

"I... I have a blog."

"Ok."

"And...I write about my life, and well, lately...I've written about you."

"Ok."

"Everyone really likes you!"

"Yeah?"

"Well, probably mostly because I keep telling them how great you are."

"I'm not that great."

"Well, anyway...that's it."

"Ok. Well, I won't try to find it or anything."

"Oh...ok."

"Can I ask you a question?"

"Sure."

"What is a blog, exactly?"

So, at least now that is out of the way, and he was much less horrified than I had feared. What I didn't anticipate was exactly how uncurious he would be about it, freaking out a bit when he thought I was going to pull it up. "No, don't show me!" he said, flinging his arm over his eyes as I reached for the keyboard.

"I wasn't, er, going to," I said, slightly baffled.

I mean, wouldn't you want to know what kind of rumors the person you were dating was spreading about you all over the Internet? But then again, as I find myself saying over and over...this guy is pretty much the exact opposite of any guy I have ever met before, so perhaps it's only fitting.

So what do you think? Is this a carte blanche to keep on writing the only way I know how- open, honest, and uncensored- without fear of repercussion? I don't know. What I do know is this- the boy is still pretty great, and this blog is back in business, baby!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Why I am not used to this

On our third date he gave me a mix cd. On our fourth date he brought me chocolate and gave me not one, but two (TWO!) back massages. We hung out at my house and listened to music. We went out for sandwiches and then came back. We kissed, we cuddled, we watched Spinal Tap. In other words, it was pretty much the perfect day. It is weird to have found someone this good. My carefully constructed defenses are breaking down bit by bit, but still, it is weird. I am not used to this.

I am used to oafish, selfish, hot and then cold. Guys that are aggr
essive, or stingy, or pathological liars. I am not used to presents, compliments, and back massages, and honestly, my first instinct is to brush them off, to brush him off. What Groucho Marx said about not wanting to belong to a club that would have him as a member- I get that. Completely. If he likes me this much, clearly there must be something wrong with him. My first instinct is to search out the flaws and magnify them. "Oh, he's a right-leaning independent." "Oh, he misspelled 'you're.'" But these are not reasons, these are excuses. These are my walls, my defense mechanisms. But when these are the worst flaws I have been able to find, then clearly the problem isn't with him.

He's a clown. He makes me laugh. You know how in high school sometimes they have those Mr. (X) High School contests? He was Mr. High School (or as I like to call him, my little pageant winner). In college he was the only white guy on the step team. I thought this was so awesome that I asked him to show me his step moves out on the driveway, and he was kind enough to grudgingly (oh so grudgingly!) comply. In short, he's funny, he's nice, and he's just plain likeable. I am not used to this. But I am getting there.


He still hasn't let up with the questions. I've gotten used to the non-sequiturs, but every once in a while he will still surprise me. The other day he called me a couple hours before he came over. "How do you feel about peanut butter?" he asked.

"Really?" I asked. "You had to call me just to ask me this? I'm trying to get out the door for a job interview, and you want to know my opinion on the topic of peanut butter? I mean, this couldn't have waited? Well, fine, I guess. Yeah, I like peanut butter, is that what you needed to know?"

Two hours later he showed up at my door with chocolates. They were filled with- you guessed it- peanut butter.

I am officially an ass. He, for some reason, doesn't seem to mind. Which makes him, sort of, a little, dare I say perfect? I dare not. But it does make him really, amazingly, overwhelmingly good.

I am so not used to this. But I am getting there.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Why I'm bewitched, bothered, and bewildered

So, in addition to confusing your and you're (also to/too, and there/their/they're, but hey, who's judging), it turns out that he works in sales and also coaches the lacrosse team at the local community college. He also plays volleyball and lacrosse competitively, a fact evidenced by a strong chest and lovely broad shoulders. (And Internet, I love me some broad shoulders.) Some Internet sleuthing turned up the fact that during his college years, in addition to graduating on the dean's list, he was elected Captain and MVP of his lacrosse team, and President of the Student Athletic Leadership team, and that's, umm, just a little bit hot. All that aside, however, it turns out that we don't really have much (read, anything) in common. He: hunts. Restores classic cars. Says he's an independent, but gentle probing reveals fairly conservative (gasp! ick! horror!) leanings. I've never seen him without a hat on. He doesn't really read. He likes music, but... different music. Internet, he has never eaten Indian food. I know. I know!

And yet... and yet... He's out there. He's weird, man. But he makes me laugh. On our first date he bombarded me with questions. When was your last relationship? Do you like to cuddle? Once I blinked back the shock, I decided to roll with it. Two and a half years ago. Yes. After we said goodnight he sent me a text: I have more questions for you. I smiled. I bet you do, I replied. We planned for a second date on Wednesday, but on Monday he texted, said he would be driving through Mythaca in a couple hours and hadn't eaten yet. Did I want to get something to eat? He didn't want to wait until Wednesday to see me. On our second date he asked me what my dream wedding would be like. (Weird! he is so weird!) "Haven't really thought about it," I said. Though obviously he had.

"It's just I've been to so many really fancy, boring weddings," he said. "What do you think about a theme wedding?"

"Like a luau?" I said dubiously.

"Or like a sock hop," he said. "Or something cool."

"A sock hop?" I replied increduously. "No. No way."

Then he invited me to his friend's New Year's Eve party, over a month away. I mumbled thanks and remained non-committal. One thing he didn't do was kiss me, though I would have kissed him, had wanted to ever since the first date.

On our third date he gave me a mix cd and invited me to come hang out with him at his parents' farm, an hour away. "I don't know if you'll want to drive down there and back," he said. "But, you could just spend the weekend there."

I gasped, choked a little, and then politely demurred.

He never lets me pay. Never, not once. After insisting that I at least pay for the movie last night, we hip-checked each other all the way to the ticket window, where he slid his card under before I could even get my purse unzipped. I know that as a good little feminist this should make me angry, but as a partially-employed French teacher in tough economic times, I am merely relieved, and grateful beyond words. And, really, I have not talked about money with him, just the fact that I am looking for a part-time job, and suddenly he turned serious and said, "Well if you ever need anything- and no, I mean it, money, anything- you tell me." I turned prune-faced and head-shakey, because of course, of course, I would never take money from him, not after three dates, not after three years, just, no. And it's not that he has so much money, because I'm pretty sure he doesn't, and I don't think he was trying to show off or impress me either, it's that he's just that...nice. Which is scary, because I'm sure he could find plenty of people out there to take advantage of his niceness. But, like I told you: he's weird, man.

He seems almost unbearably simple sometimes. He has simple tastes, simple desires. But then, he does have dreamy blue eyes and the most lickable smile. He texts me regularly throughout the day, and part of the night too. At first I hated it, but now I find myself looking forward to that tell-tale beep-beep of my phone. He's two years younger, playful, cute, and puppy dog eager. Internet, he made me a mix cd. And really, I don't know what's going on right now, I just know that I'm having a hell of a hard time concentrating on these damn tests that aren't going to grade themselves.

Oh, and after the third date- he kissed me. All I have to say is: more, please. More.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Why I left my heart in Seattle

Seriously, what is that?

Strangely, not the best combo.

The best ten minutes of the trip. You can't tell, but this is a swing zip line. So much fun.



This is me. Swinging. And shrieking. Cinematography by Jamie. (Thanks for humoring me, darling.) Video editing by me.


Saturday, November 28, 2009

Why hipsters are trouble

Thanksgiving in Seattle - A Reverse Chronology

Friday Nov. 27 10:32 p.m. EST: HOME. Thank god. That's it, I'm never drinking again. Or flying again. Maybe.
8:49 p.m.: Seriously, is there no barf bag in here?
8:47 p.m.: Turbulence. Tuuuuurbuleeeeeence.
5:14 p.m.: Advil not working.
12:32 p.m. CST: Why the FUCK am I in Houston? Seattle to New York via Texas, really? I shake my fist at you, Continental!
7:42 a.m. PST: "Bye, Jamie! Smooches! Thanks for everything! By the way, do you have any Advil?"
7:10 a.m.: Underwear, underwear...where is my underwear? "Hey, psssst. Wake up. Are you hiding my underwear? Well, I don't know why you would, but...oh wait, here it is. Well, anyway, that was fun. If you're ever in Mythaca...well, anyway. Bye."
3:57 a.m.: "So, are you a slut?"
"What?! I mean...what do you think?"
"No...I don't think you are. I didn't expect to get your clothes off so easy, though."
"You're kind of an asshole, aren't you?"
"Yeah."
3:33 a.m.: "Yes, you have to wear it, and no, I don't care if you can't 'feel anything.'"
3:02 a.m.: Oh, hey...guys. Oh, you're...going to stop to chat, are you? Going to...sit down right next to us on the futon, eh? Oh my god. Please, please just go. Oh ho ho, you think this is just hilarious, don't you? I may be drunk but this is still completely mortifying. Yes, good, you go away now. God.
3:01 a.m.: Annnnnnnnd here they are.
2:47 a.m.: "I don't know, Jamie's roommates haven't come home yet. Oh, yes, a sheet, brilliant. Like a cloak of invisibility! Or...not."
2:32 a.m.: "You know, when I first met you I thought you were a lesbian."
What?! Oh my god, is it possible he's already found my blog? "What?! I mean, umm, why?"
"Well, I didn't know you don't live here, and you were always sleeping in the room with your friend."
"That's bullshit, I told you I didn't live here the first time I met you."
"Umm, yeah, I was really high when I first met you."
"It was nine in the morning."
"Yeah."
2:21 a.m.: "You know how I knew? You let me tap your foot under the table all night."
"Wait, you knew that was my foot? And you just kept tapping it? I thought you thought it was the table."
"Yeah, and you let me. I was like, well, if this girl is going to let me tap her foot all night..."
"Well, I...but...that was my side of the table! I had nowhere else to go!"
"You liked it."
"What?! I...fine. I liked it."
2:15 a.m.: "You know, I've wanted to kiss you since I met you."
"No way, really? But you acted so...aloof."
"Oh, come on. If I had pursued you, you never would have been interested."
"That's not true."
"Well, anyway, I just know that I saw that face, and I was like, I want to kiss it. And those bangs..." (Seriously, the bangs again??? Note to self--hipsters love the bangs.)
1:53 a.m.: "So should we get out of here?"
"Yeah, let's go."
1:24 a.m.: Seriously, another pitcher of PBR?
1:12 a.m.: "I've just seen a face I can't forget the time or place when we first met she's just the girl for me and I want all the world to see we've met. Woooo woooo wooooo woo woo woooooooo!"
12:03 a.m.: Karaoke? God, I fucking hate karaoke!
Thursday Nov. 26 11:59 p.m.: "You know, I think I've drank more PBR tonight than I've ever drank in my whole life. Like, cumulatively. I think I may have had it, like, once or twice before, but usually I don't even touch it. But you know, it's actually not that bad right now."
"You're adorable!"
"What?"
"What?"
"What?"
"Nothing."
Wednesday Nov. 25 10:14 a.m.: text from Jamie: awww. be aloof. that gets em every time. :)
10:03 a.m.: text to Jamie: He is cute. and I am super awkward. Oh well
9:58 a.m.: "Hey."
"Hey."
"Um, you don't live here, do you?"
"No."
"Oh. I don't either."
"Ok."
"Well, uh, bye."
8:31 a.m.: text from Jamie: Attractive shirtless man on my couch!

Annnnnnnnnd scene. I'm going to chalk this one up to a life lesson. Though from now on I'll probably think twice about hooking up with some black-glasses-and-tight-pants-wearing, curly-haired, PBR-swilling, pot-smoking, knows-exactly-how-cute-he-is hipster. Fucking hipsters, man. Trouble.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Why I am jet-lagged and happy

I went out on dates Thursday night, Friday night, and Saturday night, and they went, in order, something like good, meh, and pretty good. And in answer to your question, Internet, because I know you're dying to know, she was very sweet and totally not intimidating in real life. She's going to introduce me to some of her Romance Studies friends, because you can take the girl out of the French literature grad program, but you can't take the French literature grad program out of the girl. Plus, if I ever get too nostalgic for my grad student days, there's nothing like hanging out with a bunch of over-worked PhD students to remind you why you got out in the first place.

Anyway, I figured the best thing to do was to cram in as many dates as possible before I went out of town for a week, because- oh! I didn't mention I was going to Seattle?

Internet- I am writing to you from Seattle right now! And I am thrilled to be here. It's my very first time visiting the Pacific Northwest, and I am being hosted by my dear friend Jamie. Last night she took me to see the most spectacularly beautiful view of a city by night that I have ever seen:


Er, well, it wasn't actually like that, it was more...


Um, yeah. I guess you had to be there.

Alright, well, my crappy camera and I are going to go get some coffee. (I hear that's what you do here.) Cheers, everyone, and if you don't hear from me before then, have a very, very happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Why I'm through with men

Internet, my "social life" (and I use this term loosely) has been very much, how should I say...sucking lately. After a brief period of uncustomary optimism regarding my ability to meet people and make new friends in this town, some of the friendships I thought I had formed have quite suddenly faded into the woodwork. And it always stings to lose a friendship, no matter how new it is, particularly when this person goes away with no explanation whatsoever, leaving you to speculate on what, exactly, it is that you could have done wrong. But with no other logical reason at hand, I am forced to chalk it up to a When Harry Met Sally thing, and accept the fact that maybe, just maybe, guys and girls can't be friends after all. Which, unfortunately puts a dent in my aforementioned "social life," since every single person I know in this town- friends, acquaintances, colleagues, and everyone in between- are men. I am not sure why this is, and at first, I'll admit, I thought it was pretty great. For some reason I've always felt more comfortable around men than women. In college I had a couple girl friends, but most of the time I was hanging out drinking beer and watching Comedy Central with the guys. There's just something more accepting, more relaxed, more non-judgemental about hanging out with guys vs. girls. Whereas with girls you have to work your way up to a certain level of trust and intimacy, with guys it's just there, automatically. And it's not just here. In France last year, I lived with Patrice and Fred, and from the moment we met we got along like clams. There was no introductory period, no warming up to each other. I moved in and they treated me like one of the guys- teasing me, teaching me about soccer and chess, asking me about my love life. Then I (begrudgingly) moved out and into an apartment (that I hated) with a girl, and spent the next two months making awkward conversation and avoiding eye contact over the breakfast table.

I am not sure why this is, why I feel so ill at ease with girls I don't know well. Perhaps it's that I automatically assume that they will hate me and thus react accordingly- like a nervously clucking chicken. But, I swear, sometimes girls do automatically hate me. I wish I were making this up, but it's happened more than once that upon meeting someone new, in a work situation or whatever, said girl will eye me up and down, say, "Wow, you're so skinny," whereupon I nod, or shrug, or make some vaguely apologetic gesture, and then she will add, dryly, "I hate you." Wow, I just met you, I'll think and scuttle away, nervously bobbing my chicken head. And then I'll tell myself I don't want to be friends with someone like that anyway. And plus, it definitely wasn't a boy who looked me straight in the eye while I was cutting a rug at my very first fourth grade sleepover and told me, with an air of utter disdain, "You. Look. So. Stupid," and thus ruined dancing for me forever. And so, yes, I am nervous around girls, desperately craving their acceptance while simultaneously ducking and covering in anticipation of their ultimate rejection.

[And, wow, re-reading this, it is fairly clear that I am one hot mess. How I've made it 29 years without ever going on meds I'll never know. (I do know- it's called being poor and in denial. Moving on!)]

At some point it started to seem safer to cultivate friendships with guys, but when one of those friends confessed that though he was married, he was in fact quite attracted to me, and another of those friends tried to make out with me, and yet another of those friends has gone MIA for no apparent reason, though ultimately it is probably related to the fact that he is a guy and I am a girl, and the potentially mixed signals and/or hurt feelings that this sort of situation might generate... well, it was at this point that I started thinking to myself, Damn, I need some girlfriends.

I should confess here, in a seeming non-sequitur (but don't worry, I'll bring it back around), that after a wonderfully refreshing and nearly half-year-long hiatus, I recently bit the bullet and put my profile back up on Okcupid. I've written before about my love/hate relationship with Okcupid (mostly hate, in recent history), but after yet another Friday night at home alone, I was lonely, desperate, and I didn't know what else to do. The problem being, that if I had trouble finding appropriate guys to date in Boston, I quickly realized that in a town the size of Mythaca, it would be nearly impossible. After performing a thorough search, I found maybe one guy I would even consider going out with. Two, tops. And so I found myself clicking over to the girls' side of things. Just to see... I told myself. And voilĂ ! The very first match listed was a 28-year-old Cronell PhD student in romance studies, who speaks French fluently. Also, she's gay. But that shouldn't matter, I told myself. Go on, what do you have to lose? And so I sent her an e-mail, saying, "I hope this doesn't sound weird, because I'm not gay, but I am fairly new to town, and it sounds like we may have some things in common." And she wrote back! She was very warm and sweet and thanked me for my e-mail, and said she would love to meet up for a drink with me, and it sounded like we would have a lot to talk about. So! I have a date! A date with a lesbian! But, Internet, there is a problem. And the problem is: this girl is ridiculously hot. Like, smokin' hot. Like, holy-mother-of-A.J. Langer-from-My So-Called Life-meets-Mary Louise Parker-from-Weeds-with-a-head-of-model-hair hot. And this is not based on just one picture, either. This is based on, like, ten pictures, each one hotter than the last.

What if she hates me? What if she thinks I'm boring? What if I am passive aggressive and awkward and overly self-deprecatory? What if I sweat my way right through my shirt? Internet, I think it is safe to say that I am freaking out here. I only have two days to figure out what to wear!

Oh, and I also have a date tonight with a tall guy who confuses your/you're and has already texted me about a bajillion times, and suffice it to say that I am not really concerned at all about it. I'm feeling pretty cool, calm and collected about this one. I know what to say to guys, how to act, what to do.

But a girl! Heavens to Murgatroyd. I just hope I don't screw this up.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Why iLove my new iPod

So, then this happened. This being a flat tire that left me stranded in a parking lot in the farthest reaches of the Mythaca College campus due to their policy of banning faculty from any remotely convenient or proximate lot any time prospective students and their potentially tuition paying parents come to visit. ("Oohh, honey, what a lovely school! And look at all the free parking!" Lies! All lies!) And instead of going home after class on Wednesday afternoon, which is the only place I really wanted to be, I found myself having this conversation twice over with first my mom, and then my dad: "Are you sure I can't just drive it to a garage...? How flat? Flat flat... Yes I know there's a spare in the trunk but... Yes I know there are instructions with it but I just don't... No, there are no boys around. God." Well, the mountain will just have to come to Muhammed, I decided, and so I called several garages only to be told they don't do roadside service, and did I have AAA, by any chance? Then I had a stroke of inspiration: I would call campus safety! A nice campus safety officer would come and help me change my tire and then I would be on my merry way. Except, apparently they do not "do" that sort of thing either, but they would transfer my call to the garage. The garage: closed ten minutes ago. I blinked back tears and as a last resort called the parking office. Because, it's sort of related, right? I was parked. And I wanted to...not be parked. The sympathetic lady on the phone oh dear-ed a few times and then said that they don't "do" that sort of thing either, but had I called campus safety? Or the garage? Were there any boys around? Oh! By any chance, did I have AAA? At which point I said fine. You win. "Hello, AAA? I would like to become a member of your illustrious and reputable service. I would now like to present you with my address and credit card information. Got it? Good. Because I'm going to need you to send someone out right away..." So then I waited an hour for someone to come and put the spare on in two minutes flat and then basically felt like a miserable failure of a human being. I hate perpetuating gender stereotypes.

The tire, it turns out, is unrepairable! Of course! One new tire, please! And do you why it was unrepairable? Do you know why this happened? (Other than the nail that I can only imagine was placed in the road specifically for my benefit, pointy-side up and cartoon-like by a cackling and mustache-twirling villain.) No, it happened because I am an idiot and the universe hates me. Ooh, look at me, universe! I am making a frivolous and fiscally irresponsible purchase! Screaming it out to the world like the idiot that I am. And what do you know- the very next day the universe is all, Do Not Pass Go, Do Not Collect $200. Actually, you know what? Why don't you pay $200, just for kicks. Since it seems you have all this money floating around, mwa ha ha...

Universe? I hate you.

But, you know what I don't hate? That's right, it's my new...




iPod Touch! It's like an iPhone, only without, you know, the phone bits. And with 32 gigs of storage!


I love it so. I don't know if you can see this, but this is me reading my blog on my iPod Touch while typing a blog post on my computer and whoa. The possibilities boggle the mind.


This is my iPod Touch's retarded older brother red-headed stepchild wow, there really is no PC way to say this, is there? (But then, you wouldn't expect me to be PC when I'm talking about Apple products, right? Get it? PC? Haaaa.) Anyway, this is my old mp3 player. As you can see, it's roughly the size of my face and it weighs about as much as a can of soup. See how sad it was making me?

If I had to listen to one more person say, "What is that thing? Is that a Walkman?" I don't know what I would do. Although, honestly, this was a pretty great little mp3 player and I used it consistently for five years without a problem. I don't know anyone whose iPod has lasted anywhere near that long. In fact, that's why I waited so long to replace it, because the damn thing just would not break. In the end, I decided to switch when it became so outdated that the software it came with wasn't compatible with Windows Vista. So, though I had a pretty good library built up, I could no longer put anything new on or take anything off, and so essentially what I had was an mp3 player-shaped paperweight. That looked like a Walkman. And so I stopped using it. I would only take it on particularly long car rides, or on airplanes. And even then I would keep it tucked away in my purse in shame.

And now I have my lovely new iPod Touch, although I have to be honest and say that I haven't actually used it so much, yet. Or really at all, other than the initial puttering, hitting of the on/off button and saying Oh good, it works. And now I'll turn it off. Because to get use from it, I would probably need to leave the house. Which...I guess I haven't been doing so much of lately. But...outside is scary, guys. Outside is where the sharp, pointy nails are! In any case, I'm sure I'll get motivated to leave the house soon. And if not, I bet there's an app for that.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Why it's never too late to become an elitist snob

I've never been one to be swayed by slick packaging and hip advertising trends. I mean, I like John Hodgman. Am I the only one? Plus, the whole "let's beat up on PCs" campaign just makes me want to root for the underdog. In fact, I've pretty much gone my whole life trying to avoid buying Apple products. So, you're telling me that it's more expensive and I can't right-click? Thanks, but you'll have to pry my PC from my cold, dead, double-and-right-clicking hands. Similarly, for Christmas five years ago when my then-boyfriend hinted about getting me an mp3 player I said, "An mp3 player but not an iPod." Probably for the same reason I resisted joining Facebook for so long and steadfastly refuse to "tweet" anything. Just to be contrary.

All of which is to say, of course...
Welcome to the dark side

...that I should be receiving my order in 1-6 business days.

Oh how the mighty have fallen.

Because sometimes when your life sort of sucks, and you live in a small town in the middle of nowhere, and you have no savings account, no health insurance, and haven't worked full-time in going on four years now, the only thing to do is make a fiscally irresponsible purchase. Because, it's a quality of life issue, you will tell yourself.

Oh, I didn't enter into this lightly, believe me. At first I asked myself, Is this something I can reasonably ask my parents to get me for Christmas? What if I tell them that this is the only thing I want for Christmas and my birthday? For the next five years? Then I thought back to Christmases past and realized that, no
, it was not at all something I could reasonably ask for and with any degree of certainty expect to receive. And so I took matters into my own hands checkbook APR gauging credit card like the nearly 30-year-old adult that I am.

But what form has my new found elitist snobbery taken? Care to take a guess? Is it...

(in order of least to most fiscally irresponsible)

an iPod Shuffle?
an iPod Nano?
an iPod Touch?
an iPhone?
a MacBook?

What about you, Internet? Are you an Apple person or a PC person? Have you gone or would you ever consider going to the dark side? Inquiring minds want to know.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Why sometimes a compliment is just an insult in disguise

For Halloween last week I dressed in a '60s dress and white go go boots. I've actually worn this costume several times before. The beauty of moving around constantly, you see, is you can recycle old Halloween costumes and no one is the wiser. I balked at the $40 price tag of those boots four years ago, but they've actually turned out to be a pretty solid investment. I think I'll move again next year just so I can wear them again. Anyway, I used to do the frosted pale pink lipstick and light blue eye shadow combo for authenticity's sake, but a quick look at previous years' photos showed me that that shit does not look good. I don't know who can pull that look off, but it's not me. I figured I was already at a disadvantage because I wasn't going as a "slutty" '60s go go dancer, but I had long since come to the realization that without cleavage, I would never be able to dress as a "slutty" anything. Plus, the dress used to be my grandmother's in the '60s, so while it was super cute and flower powery, it was still fairly modest. Given my relative disadvantage, I figured the least I could do was make sure my makeup looked good. So I threw out the frosted shit and got friendly with some liquid eyeliner and dark smudgy shadow, put on a coat of my regular lipstick and gloss and clomp-squeaked out the door in my $40 plastic boots. Pros: polyester and plastic are warm. No need for a coat tonight. Cons: dear god air, I need some air. Can't somebody please open a window?

So I'm standing around at this hot-as-balls party, and there's about a million people, most of whom I am towering over in my platform clomp-squeaker boots. So I am feeling a tad circus freakish (Yes, nothing to see here folks, just a six foot tall woman
, let's move it along), but not altogether bad about myself. At least my makeup looks good, I think, and so I am feeling relatively fresh and sassy and ready for whatever. So when some guy says to me, "Has anyone ever told you..." I get all revved up. Ooooh, a compliment! I think.

"Yeeeeeeeeessssss," I smile. "Go ooooonnnnnnnnnn..."

"...that you look like..."


"Yeeeessss?" I purr.

"Kathy Griffin?"


Across the room a record scratched and a roomful of dancers coll
ectively stopped and let their mouths fall open, and then slowly buried their heads in their hands. Or maybe that was just me. "No, no no no," I murmured into my palms, shaking my head slowly back and forth. "No no no no no!" I brushed away tears and finally removed my hands to face my assailant. He looked fairly stunned.

"What?" he said. "I...I like Kathy Griffin."

"Never..." I said.

"She...she's really funny," he stuttered.

"First of all," I said, "she's not funny. Second of all, you never, ever, EVER tell a girl that she looks like Kathy Griffin."

"I...I'm sorry," he said. "I'm not from this country." And he shrugged his shoulders with a helpless, "look at me, I'm a foreigner in a strange land" sm
ile.

Puh-leese, Pradeep. I have played that game before, the "oh woe, what is an American girl ignorant of your customs to do?" charade. But unless Indian tastes in humor and asthetics tend toward the bizarre and macabre, then I have the distinct feeling that I'm being punked right now.

In retrospect, it was probably my fault for trying to
do cat eyes eyeliner.

But really, Internet, I have to interject to insist here that I look nothing, and I mean
nothing at all like Kathy Griffin.

Although...



Yeah? Who's funny now, Kathy Griffin? Look at these jazz hands! Who's funny now???

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Why sometimes you date, and sometimes you say, eff it, I haven't had sex in four months

Ok, ok, I'll put you out of your misery. The results of the two truths and one lie contest are in, and the only person to get it right was SV. Although technically she did guess twice, once as "this is what I wish happened," and once in classic Clue-the-movie type fashion, "but this is what I think really happened." Well guess what, SV- today is the day your wildest dreams (about me) come true! What can I say, your wish is my command. All of which is to say, of course, that...

...number one? Yeah, totally happened. And was just as quickly retracted and blamed on excessive alcohol consumption. (Four! whole! beers!
Consumed steadily over the course of four! whole! hours! Methinks someone doth exaggerate his drunkenness when it is convenient for him, is what I'm saying.) The whole thing has long blown over by now, and we are both pretending it didn't happen, while continuing a friendly flirtation from a safely removed distance.

And on to number two, which is also, of course, true. Without going into too much detail, I will say that it was a) fun while it lasted and b) ultimately doomed. Because as it turns out, contrary to my previous hypothesis, there is one cute, single guy my age left in the world, and he happens to live in North Carolina. Oh, right. That. And I knew that, but I still managed to somehow conveniently ignore the fact that he would be leaving after the weekend. So that when he left, rolled out of my bed in the morning with barely a goodbye, it still felt like a rejection of sorts, even though, my god, Rachel, get a grip, he doesn't live here, let it go. And though "We'll be in touch" probably means different things to different people, in his case I'm guessing it means either "I'll send you a text the next time I'm in town" or "You'll never see me or hear from me again." Only time will tell.

Though there is something to be said for developing a massive, heart-pounding crush on someone who's hot, smart, and bitingly funny, and then finding out that, really? The hottest, smartest, most bitingly funny guy I've met in a long time wants to sleep with me? And, this may reek of low self-esteem issues, but yes, given those circumstances I will take my clothes off every time. Which, thankfully, is not that often, as hot, smart, funny guys are increasingly rare these days.

As far as number three- what, go on an actual date with someone when I can just fall into bed with him the first chance I get? Ha! You guys give me waaaaaaay too much credit. But, for everyone who voted true on this one- thanks for giving me the benefit of the doubt and assuming I'm not a slut. Or maybe you just figured the chances of me humiliating myself on a date were much higher than the likelihood of me getting any play. In which case, meh, you're probably right. This was clearly a fluke, and I'm sure I will soon be back to my usual bumbling, celibate self.

In other news, happy birthday today to my best friend, Talia! If you get a chance, pop over to her blog and wish her the very best.

Me and Tal, summer 2008
...and now I'm dead. By the time you read this, Tal has in all likelihood killed me for posting this picture. Avenge my death, Internet. Tell my story! Don't let me have died in vain!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Why coming clean has never felt so good

Bless me Internet, for I have sinned. It has been three days since my last confession. Internet, I have been holding out on you. Things have happened and I have been sitting on that information, waiting for...what, I don't know. Well, I do know. First, I was trying to finish up that damned never-ending saga. (Slave drivers, you!) Second, I have become acutely conscious of who reads this blog, or who might read this blog, and the ramifications thereof. That and the fact that I tend to get very, hmm, how you say, loose-lipped when I drink, which, given my state of under-employment and overall lack of responsibility, is more often than not. (Do I like to write? Yeah, sure, I love to write! What do I write? Well, actually, I, umm, I have a blog. Oh, ha, no, actually, you can't read it. No, seriously...you can't. [Shut up, Rachel, shut up, shut up!]) But I need to come clean. Or at least, mostly. And so, in tried and true two truths and a lie format, this is what I've been hiding from you. (Or is it...?)

1. Married Guy broke down and confessed his crush on me.
2. I hooked up (Doritos style) last weekend with a new guy, previously unmentioned on this blog.
3. I went out on a date last weekend with a guy (who may or may not have already been mentioned on this blog) and- surprise, surprise- managed to spectacularly humiliate myself.

Ok, Internet, now it's up to you. Which is the truth, and which is a blatant, bald-faced lie? Cast your vote now!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Why I wouldn't want to be nineteen again, part five and final (oh my god)

Three times this story should have ended already, and hasn't. (Click for parts one, two, three, and four.) Three times I had the chance to gracefully bow out of the game, as it were, accept defeat, and exit with my dignity intact. But I didn't. Instead I pestered, antagonized, sent ridiculous poems, and inadvertently mocked his father's chosen profession. But for some reason that wasn't enough. I had to take it to the next, penultimate level. I know now what people mean when they say they they hit rock bottom. I hit bottom, and in a way I'm thankful, because now I can see those boulders coming from a mile away, and I make sure that I bail out long before I get there.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
After the poem incident, I felt bad. I wanted him to know I was sorry. What's more, I wanted him to accept my apology. And then, when that didn't happen, I just wanted him to acknowledge my existence. I would see him online from time to time. "Hi," I would write. "Hi, hey. Hi." But he never responded. After first I figured I deserved this. But then a couple months went by, and I tried again. "Hey, hi. What's going on? Hi." Still nothing. Now I started to get angry. How can I apologize to him if he doesn't even acknowledge my existence? I fumed. I know he's not that busy. I know he's there, ignoring me. One night things came to a head. I sat in front of my computer, once again rebuffed, and livid about it. There he was, ignoring me, acting like I wasn't a human fucking being with feelings, I mean god. And then all of a sudden, I had an idea. It was a brilliant, awful, genius, terrible idea. In one brief second the entire plan laid itself out before me from start to finish, and I may have cackled in perverse delight. The plan was elegant in its simplicity and would fulfill two very important functions: Information Gathering (aka getting to the bottom of what actually happened the night he kicked me out of his kitchen), and Revenge. So, I had this idea, or actually, the idea pretty much had me, and basically it went: Well if he won't talk to me, maybe he'll talk to someone else... Throw in some creepily tented fingers and witch-like cackling and you pretty much get the picture. Mwah ha ha ha ha...

Within the hour I had an invented screen name with accompanying profile information. But on top of that, I had created a whole new identity, complete with background, career aspirations, likes and dislikes, and family history. Her name was Alicia4084 (pronounced Aleesha), and I made sure that she would be just Jeff's type. To wit: he was a biology major at UMD. Alicia, conveniently enough, was a biology major at UMBC (far enough away for him not to know much about it, but close enough to elicit secret hope for an eventual meeting). Alicia had just broken up with her boyfriend, who was sort of a jerk, and was wondering where all the nice guys were. Jeff often bitterly lamented the fact that women "always choose jerks over nice guys," and conveniently enough fancied himself one of the "nice guys." They also shared quite similar tastes in music, books, and food. In fact, it was almost uncanny how much they had in common. (Mwah ha ha ha...)

Now I was ready to put the plan into action. I went through it in my head, and it seemed nearly fool-proof: First, the introduction. Create a pretext for finding his instant messenger profile online and wanting to chat with him. Next, establish a rapport, discover how much you have in common. Build trust. Talk past relationships. Share Alicia's story and get him to share his. Get him to admit that the reason he freaked out and and ran was because he liked me too much (the only possible reason, in my mind). Then, when he thinks he's discovered the woman of his dreams and absolutely must meet her as soon as possible, Alicia disappears forever, never to be heard from again. (Perhaps not the most satisfying form of revenge, but the best I could do at the moment.) That was the way the plan went in my mind, but I knew that anytime your plans depend on the unpredictable reactions of another human being, things were bound to go wrong. What if he didn't respond to Alicia's first message? What if he responded but didn't want to talk? What if he talked but didn't want to talk about past relationships? What if he didn't fall wildly head over heels for her? There were just so many variables.

I planned for every possible contingency, and then one December evening, home at my parents' house for the holidays, I put the plan into action. To my absolute astonishment, it went off without a hitch. Like, it went better than I could ever have possibly imagined. I hadn't anticipated how eagerly Jeff would accept Alicia as a trusted confidante and start spilling his guts. Then I realized I had inadvertantly hit upon the magic formula: take a lonely guy, give him an attentive audience, ask him about himself, and then just try to get him to stop talking. Rapport? Established. Trust? Built. Did he fall for it? Hook, line and sinker. What's more, he fell for her, Alicia. "You know, you're really pretty cool," he started out saying. A couple days later and he said that talking to her had been his best Christmas present of all. She was just so easy to talk to, after all. And they had so much in common. And then, that was when things started to go unexpectedly...awry.

Alicia mentioned her ex-boyfriend, the jerk. "Well, the last girl I dated turned out to be a total psycho," Jeff said, "but you seem pretty normal, so far." My stomach lurched. He was talking about me, I knew it! But...a psycho?! Maybe some of my actions had been ill-advised, unfortunate, even, but clearly I wasn't a psycho. I was just...misunderstood. Right?

"A psycho?" Alicia said. "That sounds like a story. Do tell..."

And tell he did, and this is where the whole thing starts to unravel in a tangled, gnarly mess. It was at this point that I started to realize why you should never listen in on phone conversations or press your ear against doors in an effort to hear what people say about you behind your back. Because sometimes you probably really do not want to know. But not having the luxury of hindsight at this point, I forged on ahead, growing more humiliated with each new revelation.

"Well, we worked together, and she asked me out one day. And she was ok I guess, but she wasn't really that pretty. My last girlfriend, at U Conn, she was actually really pretty." My confidence dipped down past my stomach and landed near my knees; my reaction wavered between horrified nausea and indignant outrage. Me, not pretty enough for him? Oh really? "Anyway, it was fun for a while but I wasn't into it and she kept pushing it. Plus, kissing her was like kissing a wall." The last dregs of my former self-assurance rushed out of my toes, leaving me simultaneously jelly-legged and brimming with anger. A wall? Me?! What I really wanted to do more than anything was retort, "Me?! Are you kidding? You, you were like kissing a wall. You were the one who didn't know how to kiss, not me!" But I knew I had gone much too far for that. There was no coming clean now; I mean, if he thought I was a psycho before... I shuddered to think what would happen if he ever found out. And so I kept up the pretense, and as it turns out, Alicia was very interested in what he meant by that wall comment. Would he care to elaborate? "Well," he said, "there was just no feeling in it. With my last girlfriend it was like we were trying to go down each others' throats all the time." Alicia hoped that this was just a metaphor, but kept quiet, this time. Jeff told Alicia about the e-mails, the poem, the clinging. Alicia said that yes, she could see how that could have been annoying, but it sounds like this girl might have just been trying to be friendly, and perhaps her actions had been misunderstood. "Yeah, maybe," he said noncommittally. Alicia finished the conversation and made up an excuse to get away as quickly as possible. She logged off for the last time, and I started to cry. Then I printed out the entire pages long transcipt of our conversation for future reference. (No use letting all that emotional barbed wire go to waste, when I could very handily torture myself with it over the weeks and months to come.) I tongued my wounds over and over again, refusing to let them close and heal. His words echoed and reverberated off each other in my head. "Psycho." "Not that pretty." "Like kissing a wall." "Psycho." "Not that pretty." "Like kissing a wall."

Soon, though, once again my grief and humililation turned to indignant fury. I wasn't pretty enough for him??? Who did he think he was? Him! Jeff! The pale-haired, pink-skinned, cantankerous, prudish, bespectacled, tee-totaling dork! I raged. And then, bit by bit, I finally did what I should have done so many times before: I let it go.

I learned my lesson the hard way, and I learned it without the benefit of self-help books or romantic comedies, but I finally learned it. And it goes, Sometimes He's Just Not That Into You. And you know what? That's ok. Because there are much (much) better guys out there, and some of them will be into you. And they will think that you're not only pretty, but beautiful; fucking hot, even. And they will not only enjoy your kissing but it will make them weak in the knees and mush-brained, and you will make them lose all power of rationality and intelligible speech until all they can do is softly whimper, "Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god..."

I may sometimes complain about getting older, but I wouldn't be nineteen again for the world.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Why I wouldn't want to be nineteen again, part four

I waited a full three days after he kicked me out of his kitchen to call him. Finally, my heart in my throat, I dialed. "Hey, I haven't heard from you lately," I said. "What's up?"

"Nothing," he said defensively, "just been busy is all." But when I prodded, "Oh that," he said. "Yeah, I just don't think it's going to work out." I took a breath and sputtered "but buts" like a lawnmower starting.

"But why?" I finally got out.

"You're leaving for school in a couple weeks," he said, "and I'm not looking for a long distance relationship."

"But it's only 45 minutes away," I said, believing that at this point I could still change his mind, that the game was still winnable, if only I could come up with the right arguments.

"I know, but I want a girl who lives close to me, who I can hang out with on a weeknight or whenever, who's just...there."

"So you're telling me you want a girlfriend who lives on your street?" I ask. "Anyway, I live 45 minutes away now, and we hang out on weeknights. I don't understand..."

"And plus you're starting over at a new school, you're going to meet lots of new people..."

"I won't!" I insisted.

"You will, and you don't want to be held back by a guy like me."

"But, what if I do?"

"Look, it was fun, ok, but... anyway, I have to go. It's my dad's birthday and we have like a million people coming over. I don't have time for this."

I hung up the phone in disbelief. That had not gone at all according to plan. But underneath it all, underneath the hurt and the outrage, something was becoming clear to me: he was scared. Yes, that was it, he was scared of his feelings for me! I had seen enough sappy movies by now to know how this worked. Guy meets girl, guy freaks out and pushes her away. Now it was up to me to gently reel him back in. With a little bit of time, I knew, he would realize his mistake, realize I was the best thing that had ever happened to him. Where was he going to find someone better than me? Him? Puh-lease!

I somehow made it through those next two awkward weeks at work and then left to start my sophomore year at a new school, where I did not suddenly develop a new, bubbly personality and meet "lots of people," as predicted. I was lonely and homesick, and I reached out and sent him an e-mail. And he...didn't answer. I fumed. I was obviously going to have to try harder here. I sent him another e-mail, not so subtley guilting him and goading him into responding. Something along the lines of, I am here (sniff!), all alone (sniff!), and you can't even take five minutes to write back to me! And then, he did write back. And it was...not good. He was pissed.

I had knee surgery and I'm on pain pills, I'm still working at the pool and I'm in school full time, and every spare minute I have I'm studying chemistry, because school doesn't come easy for me like it does for some people, he said. I will not be guilted into responding to you. If you can't handle it, that's your problem. That was the gist of it, anyway. But now I was pissed. How dare he speak to me like that! I sent an indignant retort saying that I wasn't aware that he had had knee surgery and I hoped he felt better soon, and that I didn't think I had done anything wrong except want to be his friend, and he wouldn't be hearing from me anymore, good day sir. And oh, if only I had left it at that. If only...

How are you guys feeling about a part five to this story? No? God, fine. You guys are like slave drivers. Don't you know how hard this is for me to write about? Don't you know it is late here and I need to go to bed? No? Fine.

So, fortunately or unfortunately, however you want to look at it, it turned out at this juncture that I discovered a portal into Jeff's mind. Sort of like that John Malkovich movie, except instead of a hidden doorway my portal was a young lifeguard named Mary who worked at the pool with Jeff, and who also happened to be good friends with my sister. Mary became Jeff's sidekick and confidante, and he would tell her things, things about me, that she would then tell my sister, who would in turn tell me. Things like, for instance, he felt really bad about the mean e-mail he sent me. He was on a lot of painkillers at the time and well, he regretted what he said.

Well now, this is an interesting turn of events, I said. Or thought to myself. Or said out loud to myself. What? I had a lot of alone time, ok? Anyway, rather than take it for what it was, I decided that, even though he didn't know that I knew that he was sorry, I should let him know that all was forgiven and there were no hard feelings. I wanted to wave a white flag, submit a peace offering of some kind, as it were. But how? And suddenly, I knew. And it was brilliant. (And here is where I start to cringe...) I decided to e-mail him a poem. A poem I had written in high school. About my foot. It had actually gone over really well in our social studies class when our teacher had for some reason instructed us to write a Shakespearean sonnet for homework. I decided to show him what I thought of his assignment and wrote an ode. An Ode to My Foot. It, perhaps not surprisingly, got a lot of laughs, at the time. (Some excerpts from the opening lines: "My foot is a very dear friend/It has been with me always, it will be with me 'til the end," and the closing lines: "And every time I wear a sock, shoe, or clog/I thank god that I am not a frog.") So, Jeff's dad was a podiatrist. I started the e-mail saying that I had actually gone to a podiatrist myself recently (I left out the part about the nasty toenail fungus that occasioned the visit) and that it had got me to thinking about him, because I knew his dad (who I had never actually met) was a podiatrist, and hey, did he want to hear a poem I wrote about my foot? Well, say no more! I closed with what I thought to be a very Seinfeld-ian "Hey, what's the deal with podiatrists anyway? You go to med school for all those years, you pick one part of the body to focus on in minute, excruciating detail for the rest of your life, and it's the foot? Well, it could be worse, he could be a proctologist, hardy har har!"

I'm cringing right now thinking about it. I mean, obviously. Obviously this was a horrible idea. If I had asked anyone, anyone before sending it... Anyone would have told me it was a terrible, horrible idea. But you have to remember- I had no friends. I was on my own, and so I sent it, and the absolute worst part was, I honestly thought that it couldn't fail. I never had that oh shit moment after sending it; I thought it was golden. I mean, this was my white flag, waving. And then he replied. And then... oh shit.

He said what anyone could have predicted he would say, what I should have been able to predict if I had stopped for a half a second to think about it. He said he was proud of his dad and grateful for all he had been able to do for him, sending him to college and all, by being a podiatrist. Oh, and also? His dad had had colon cancer, and if it wasn't for proctologists he might not be alive, so he was pretty damn grateful for proctologists too. He never mentioned the poem.

I briefly considered dying of shame and humiliation, but when that didn't work out I sent a very short e-mail basically saying, I'm sorry.

And, again, that should have been that, except that it wasn't. Oh no, it's still not over yet, folks. Seriously.

And really, I'm sorry to do this but... stay tuned for part five and my brilliantly humiliating downfall. Really this time. This story must end!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Why can't it be me?

This is not the story I promised you. This is a different story altogether. I am sorry. I am all over the place. But while you are waiting for the end of the Jeff saga, you might as well read this. Starting...now.


It is six weeks after I first searched his hand for a missing wedding ring. He is wearing it now, and I am at his house. His wife is out of town, and the small house is full of six of his freshmen students, there for dinner, his two dogs, and me. He gives the kids root beer and pops open a microbrew, for me. I feel strange drinking in front of the kids when they can’t, but I don’t want to bring more attention to it by saying something, so I sip quietly and try to hide the label. “This is Rachel,” he introduced me when they came in. “She teaches French,” but they seem confused, and I can see them trying to figure us out.
Is she the wife? I ask questions and bumble around his kitchen, making it clear that I am a visitor here, as well, and I can feel everyone relax slightly, now that everyone’s role is clear. One student arrives late and it starts all over again. “Where do you guys keep your trash can?” she asks, and instead of saying that it’s not my trash can, I just point. He talks, dropping “my wife” this and “my wife” thats, and the new arrival looks back and forth between us in confusion. I keep my face neutral, and I can see the wheels turning. A few more seconds, and her face registers the exact moment she realizes that he is talking about someone else.

A simple dinner of pizza and salad turns into an arduous process; these kids don’t know what they’re doing in the kitchen, and everything takes three times longer than it should. But we sit back and let them at it. He reaches out and touches my arm as he walks by. “Come sit with me in the living room,” he says, “it’s too hot in here.” And we do, drinking our beer on the couch, and they are the kids, and we are the grown-ups.

Finally we eat, and they all go stand in the drizzle outside over a fire making s’mores. I stay inside and clean up. He comes in to hand me a s’more. “Where do you guys keep your plastic wrap?” I ask him. Homemade pizza, salad picked from the garden, s’mores over a fire, root beer. He gets two guitars out. It is all so wholesome.

And finally, they are gone, piling into cars and backing down the long, windy, country drive, waving goodbye. “Can you stay and talk a few minutes?” he asks.

I sit down on the couch, and he flops safely on the floor. I don’t want to be disappointed, but I am. The dogs are cute and in our faces, and they’re dachshunds. Of course they’re dachshunds. Because I have always said that one day I would have a dog, and that dog would be a dachshund. Maybe I would even get two dachshunds, I have always said. His are black and brown, male and female, small and smaller. They are named after two tempestuous Mexican artists and lovers. “Here Frieda,” I say. “Here Diego.” They love me and jump on me, give me kisses. “If I get two dogs, maybe I’ll call them Ted and Sylvia,” I say.

“Didn’t she put her head in an oven?” he says.

“Dogs can't open ovens,” I say. "I think it will be fine."

His name is James. Because of course it is. Of course.

The phone rings and he ignores it. He cuddles with the dogs and gives them treats. The phone rings again. “Do you need to get that?” I ask.

“It’s probably my wife,” he says, getting up.

“Hi, honey,” I hear him say. He comes back in and sits down, gives me a look that says, “This will just be a minute.” It also says, "shhh." “If I tell you something, will you promise not to get mad at me?” he says. “I had some of my students over for dinner. Yeah, Nick came over to help me, but he just left. I’m just hanging out with the dogs now.” He looks at me, mouthes “I’m sorry.” I raise my eyebrows and look away. She doesn’t seem happy that he had people over without telling her, and he gets up and takes the phone into the bedroom. He’s in there for a while.

“Sorry if that made you feel awkward,” he says, joining me again.

“Well, yeah,” I say.

“It’s just that she would freak out,” he says. “But it’s only because she doesn’t know you. If she had met you she would be fine.” Somehow I don’t think this is true. I haven’t met her because she never comes out with all of us to the bar, to happy hour, to trivia. “She doesn’t like to go out,” he says. “She prefers to stay home.” He tells me about how they met. They got married at twenty-three, and had been together since they were nineteen. “I just figured it was time,” he says. "Do you want to get married one day?" he asks, and I feel like punching something.

Now he is yawning, and I take the hint, saying I should go. It is barely 11:00. “I’m so tired,” he says. “I’m not usually up this late,” and I know he is telling the truth. He stands, pulls me in for a hug. It is lovely and excruciating.

“Thanks so much for helping out tonight,” he says. “I owe you, big.”

“It’s nothing,” I say.

I get in my car, drive down his long, windy, country driveway, and wonder how it is that someone else ended up with my perfect life.