Sunday, August 30, 2009

Why I've got a whole lot of nothing going on

If you're wondering how things are going here, the answer is, not great. I still haven't found a part-time job to supplement my teaching, for one. The pickings are slim to begin with, and the few jobs I did apply to, I didn't get. I dropped a volunteer application off at the SPCA two weeks ago and even they haven't gotten back to me. I want to work for them for free, and even they don't want me. And, though technically I teach three days a week at the college, it's not like I'm working full eight-hour days. I teach for two hours a day, three days a week. This means that not only is the money situation becoming dire, but I am left with large, gaping chunks of time to fill. Like, massive, yawning caverns of time; motherfucking mountains of time that taunt me, as soon as I open my eyes in the morning, saying, "And what are you going to do todaaayyyyy, Rachel?" And usually, after a quick whirl around the computer reveals no new e-mail, and no new job postings on Craigslist, and no interesting looking yoga classes scheduled for the day, my answer becomes, "Nothing. I am going to do nothing today. Fine. Happy now?" And while technically it might be impossible to actually physically do nothing, you might be surprised how little one can manage to accomplish when one is massively under-employed and friendless in a new town. Nothing means I end up lying on my bed for hours, staring at the ceiling. Nothing is sitting in front of the computer, staring out the window, thinking how familiar this all feels. It feels a lot like when I moved home to my parents' house for six weeks after France. It feels like when I lived in France, pre-Hervé. It even feels a little like Boston, post-James. I've been here before, is what I'm saying, and in fact, I've probably spent the most part of my adult, post-college years in this very same situation. You'd think I'd be used to it by now, but somehow it never feels anything less than soul-crushing.

And leave it to me to attend a giant, alcohol-fueled house party with my roommates (in a bright blue bell-bottomed polyester pantsuit, nonetheless), and spend the entire evening talking to an adorable (if slightly height-challenged) twenty-three year-old visiting from out of town. What, meet age-appropriate people who actually live in the same town as me? When I have a perfectly willing conversation partner that I have already latched onto right here? Let's just say, "I'll catch up with you later, I have to mingle," are words you will never hear me say at a party. Especially when the latchee in question was fun, interesting, and didn't seem to mind my relative height and age advantage, and kept offering me sips from his beer, even when it was the very last beer left at the bash. He and his brother were apparently staying in a tent in our backyard, a fact I was oblivious to until they showed up on our porch as my roommates and I were passing a saxophone around, taking turns squawking to someone's iTunes dance mix right before we left for the party. (There had been some drinking, someone mentioned they used to play the alto sax in college, someone else said, "No way, me too!," someone else said, "Get out! I did too! You know, I think I still have mine around here somewhere..." You know how it goes.) So these two brothers, friends of friends, I think, showed up on the porch, saying, "We were sleeping in the tent, and then we heard a saxophone..." So they came to the party too. And there we were, standing in a giant, cavernous room filled with crazily-dressed people we didn't know, and he turned to me and said, "So what do you do?" And it was just one of those things, those brief, weird connections that never happen when you want them to, or when it would be convenient, but suddenly you realize that you read the same books, and listen to the same music, and think the same t.v. shows are funny, and you can have an actual conversation without having to backtrack and provide encyclopedic references to explain what you're talking about. As soon as I said the words French literature, he said that he bought a Proust novel that he's been meaning to start. To which I replied, "No way, I'm in the middle of Swann's Way right now." (This after weeks of responding to the casual question, So what are you reading? with "Oh, Proust, gah, blech," and an exaggerated eye roll, thinking, Oh my god, they're going to think I'm so pretentious, only for them to reply, "Who's that?" or, "Oh, is she good?")

We all came back from the party together, late, and sat around for a while, the iTunes back on. An Iron & Wine song came on. "Which one do you like better," I asked, "this version or..."

"...or the Postal Service version?" he said. "That's a good question. But I do have a soft spot for Iron & Wine."

And then the saxophone came back out, oh yes it did, and with a vengeance, played loudly and probably unintentionally comically, not by me but by one of the drunker members of our group. And it just went on and on, and it was squawky and loud, my god, so loud, and there was no way I was going to be able to go to sleep with that going on anyway, so I sat up looking on bemusedly as my eyelids drooped. The situation escalated in ridiculousness, and at one point I started laughing and exclaimed, "This is so like Office Space!" And he started laughing too, saying, "Oh my god, you're right," and I was so relieved that I didn't have to explain myself, because at the same time, it was not at all like the movie Office Space in any way that was easily definable, seeing that in the movie there are no mentions of saxophones or wind instruments of any kind. But it was so nice to be on so similar a wavelength as someone else, to only have to express half an idea and have them say, Yes, I know what you are saying, and I think so too. At this point the gap on the couch between us had shrunk to nothing, and we were shoulder to shoulder and bare arm to warm, bare arm. I felt the tension mounting; I hoped he didn't notice I was breathing faster. We talked, heads tilted towards each other, his eyes open and honest and blue/black, almost all pupil. In the dim light he looked more childish than he had before; his scraggly dark blond beard couldn't hide his smooth, unlined face. By the time 5 a.m. rolled around everyone else had finally gone off to bed, leaving us alone in the living room with his brother snoring gently on the couch across from us. We sat untalking and unmoving for about thirty silent seconds before I stood up and said, "Well, I'm going to bed." And I wanted to kiss him, I did. I wanted to kiss him a lot, but that's all I wanted to do and I didn't feel like explaining that, and also, the last time I saw 5 a.m. I'm pretty sure it was because I was getting up to start my day, not ending it. At any rate, I couldn't keep my eyes open any longer, and so I left him and his brother to forgo their tent in favor of crashing on the couches in the living room, and I went to bed.

I laid there in my bed, but I couldn't sleep. Sighing, I kicked off my down comforter and walked into the hallway. I pulled some blankets from the linen closet and took them into the darkened living room, draped them over sleeping bodies. I was right; I saw that he had burrowed himself into a sweatshirt someone had left out, hood and all. Still August, but chilly already. He opened his eyes. "Oh wow," he whispered. "That's so nice."

I smiled in the dark. "So will you still be here in the morning?" I asked him.

"Yeah," he said. "I'll be right here."

"Ok, I'll see you then," I whispered. "Goodnight."

And I went back to bed, pulled the comforter to my chin, and slept without moving for the next four hours.

When morning came, they were gone. Brothers, tent, and car had all gone back to wherever it was they had come from, the only sign that they had ever been there a wrinkled sweatshirt and some blankets folded neatly on the couch.

I showered and dressed, ate breakfast, opened up my computer, checked my e-mail and the Craigslist job postings, gazed vacantly out the window. And what are you going to do todaaaayyyy, Rachel?

Nothing, I'm going to do nothing today. Ok?

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Why it can only get better from here

As a teacher, the first day of school is always a bit of a nerve-wracking affair. I used to have nightmares about oversleeping and missing my class, and what do you know- one time I overslept and almost missed my class. This year my classes are at noon and 1:00, though, so oversleeping isn't an issue. I woke up this morning before my alarm went off, even, and laid in bed another blissful half hour with the covers pulled up to my chin and the cool morning air drifting through the open windows. I did want to make sure I wasn't late, though, and I still had syllabi to copy and classrooms to find, so I got ready in short order and arrived on campus two hours early. After circling through full parking lots for ten minutes, I realized that perhaps they hadn't been kidding at orientation when they said parking was a problem. I moved from lot to lot, finally locating a spot right on the end that looked... well, it sort of looked like a spot. Though it was right next to a handicapped space, and looked like it had at one time been marked with yellow paint that had either faded almost completely away over time, or had been removed. I hesitated. It almost seemed too good to be true- why would everyone else have by-passed this primo (although admittedly sketchy-looking) parking spot unless they knew something I didn't? I didn't have too many other options at the time, though, so I parked and hoped for the best. By the time I had finished my copies and scouted my classroom location, it was only 10:30, so I decided to grab a coffee and hang out in my dark, windowless dungeon office until class. I self-served some Green Mountain French Roast with Hazelnut Creamer into a paper cup and placed it on the counter to pay for it, which set off a chain reaction of the lid popping off, coffee sloshing all over the counter and burning my hand, and my face turning a deep, scarlet red. But still though, I thought, it could have been worse. I could have spilled hot coffee all over myself, or on my new white skirt. (I know, what is up with the optimism, right?) And so, with my coffee cup half full (half full!) I left to waste some time on the internet before class. Once in my office, and having exhausted all my Facebook, e-mail, and Google Reader possibilities, I timed my departure so that I wouldn't arrive to class too early, because then you end up staring at the students and twiddling your thumbs for five minutes, and you know, awkward. So, of course I ended up flying through the door at 12:01, winded, disheveled, and gasping out a strangled bonjour as the students glanced around nervously at each other, wondering what in the farfegnugen they'd gotten themselves into this semester. Whatever, I mean it's not like first impressions are that important or anything. Right?

"Bonjour!" I said again brightly, trying to compose myself. "Je m'appelle Rachel [last name]..." I said, grabbing a dry erase marker and scribbling my name on the board, as several students gasped and interrupted me. "Um... that's not a white board," they said, their voices ricocheting off of each other in their haste. "That's a smart board." Though the board in question was by definition a white board, or a board that was white, anyway, apparently it was not the white board, which was located several inches to the left of the so called "smart board." I wasn't entirely sure what a smart board was, only that it sounded expensive, and like it could probably teach the class for me (and maybe do a better job at it), and that I had just defaced it with green marker. (Though it ended up wiping right off, so all's well that ends well.)

I muddled my way through the next two hours, handing out syllabi and hemming and hawing my way through questions I didn't know the answers to regarding scheduling and placement and online registration before promising to find out the answers and get back to them, and then sending them on their merry way. I then spent an astonishing amount of time (even for me) wandering around various parking lots looking for my car and getting rained on. I wouldn't have minded so much except that I was getting pretty wet (white skirt and all), because of course I didn't have my umbrella. Because it was in the car. (The car that I couldn't find.) I did finally find it sitting in the same wonky parking space I had left it (of course), and hey, what do you know- no ticket!

I decided to count the day as a success.

(And yes, my life is just as boring as this post would indicate, so, you know, different place, same old story. Though I did just see deer! through my bedroom window. I gasped out loud and it froze in place, listening. Then it went away and another one came, and then that one left and then a different one came, and then it peed! A deer peed in my yard! So you see, you never know what crazy shenanigans will happen next. Stay tuned, folks...)

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Why I'm not getting any less single here

We're at a meeting. The guy sitting two down from me is cute. We make eye contact. We say hello. The meeting starts, and I casually sneak a glance down the table. Put your hand where I can see it, I will him. Not that one, the left one. He does. Nothing. Excellent. We pass each other on the way to the kitchen. "Gotta have coffee," he says. "Yes," I agree. Smiles. We break for lunch, and I hear him talking to someone about his wife.

Take this scene, and repeat it over, and over, and over until you're ready to put on your housecoat and go adopt a hundred cats. It's official. There are no cute, single guys my age left. In the world. I'm pretty sure of this, so hear me out. I know, I know... your friend's best friend from college, your husband's co-worker, your grandma's neighbor's lawyer. Everyone loves to count the degrees of separation between them and some great single guy they know. But you know what? I still think it's bullshit.

Here is my theory: I missed the window. I missed that crucial 24-27 window when everyone finds the person they want to eventually settle down with. Coincidentally enough, I too found myself in my most important and most enduring relationship so far between what ages? 24 to 27, of course, almost to the day. And didn't I think I was sitting pretty, then, imagining our future together. And then of course, it all fell apart. Oh shit, I said, and I watched that window closing right before my eyes.

At first I tried denial, and thinking positively. "Boston is a big city," I said. "There are lots of single guys here." And I tried, Internet, really, I tried. You watched me try. Then I said, "Well, Paris is a big city, too." And after six months of trying the best I could do was a very sweet guy who I just couldn't fall in love with. And now I'm here in Mythaca, which could not be called a big city by any stretch of the imagination, but, well, there are lots of grad students here, anyway. Lots of professors and brainy-minded people. And they're all involved in fulfilling, long-term relationships. Isn't that sweet?

Do I even have to mention that my window theory only applies to women? Think about it. If an even remotely attractive and intelligent guy for some reason finds himself single again at 29, just watch how fast he's snatched up.
So why is it that what for him is an asset becomes a liability for a woman of the same age? Because it's the law of supply and demand, people, and an unattached 29-year-old guy is a hot commodity. Meanwhile the market is saturated with women just like me. Intelligent, reasonably attractive women in their late twenties and thirties are a dime a dozen.

You guys usually do a pretty good job of talking me down off the ledge, here, but this time I don't want any part of it. I'm right about this window theory and I know it. Tell me I'm right. Of course, everyone has a story about someone who got married for the first time at 42, or was single her whole life and then boom, she falls in love with the waiter at her 35th birthday party, but as someone in a pretty terrible movie once said, "They are the exception. You are not the exception, you're the rule."

I'm not saying that it's impossible to meet someone after the age of 27, and I'm not saying that no one gets married after 30, because obviously that's not true. But damn, dating is different at 29 than it was at 24.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Why I'll never be a why-not girl

Yet another in a long line of reasons why I should never, ever be allowed on Facebook- his sister's status update: excited for her brother and his girlfriend, about to embark on a year-long trip around the world. Curses. And to think I was afraid that they would get married. I hadn't thought there could be anything worse, but then, here it was.

It should have been me. I should be going with him around the world. He wanted me to, we had talked about it. I had at least a year of school left at the time, and had long since depleted my already meager savings account. I would have to finish school and work like a demon for at least two years- and this being Boston, and my earnings potential being much less than fully realized, probably more- in order to save up enough money to even hope to undertake a thing like that. Financially he was ready and set to go, though I knew never to expect him to help me out in that way, particularly since he could hardly be counted on to pay for dinner without seeing a tic go down on his internal ledger. I told him I wanted to, would love to, but I just didn't see how I would be able in the near future. He said I was being too negative. He said if I just wanted it enough, all I had to do was decide to do it, and things would fall into place. I told him he was unrealistic, but the truth was the idea of it was so wonderful and also so impossible that I couldn't even allow myself to hope for such a thing. He said he still wanted to go, even if I couldn't go with him. I asked him would he really leave me for a year? or six months? or even three months? I couldn't begin to imagine what I would do without him for that long. I was so used to seeing him almost every day, to sleeping next to him almost every night that any absence was practically unbearable. I had grown to rely on him so much, for love, for moral support, for social interaction. I asked what he expected me to do with myself. I said maybe I would want to see other people. He said, you wouldn't wait for me? You wouldn't wait for me for three months? I said, wait for what? What are we heading towards here? I like things the way they are now, he said. You want me to wait for you, I repeated, but what am I waiting for? Are we going to get married? I don't know if I want to get married anytime soon, he replied carefully. What? I said, my stomach sinking. What? I think actually I might not ever want to get married, he said. We were in a crowded bar, and suddenly my eyes filled with tears. Ever the enemy of public displays he steered me towards a dark corner. I think I sputtered but reallys in shock, searching his eyes for the truth. Really? Are you sure? Though he had always been a self-declared commitment-phobe, privately he had talked in the dark about growing old with me. Hypothetical babies were discussed, happily, willingly, and with no arm-twisting involved. Once he proposed to me in a burst of lovey-dovey brought on by a bout of the stumble-down drunks. I told him that he couldn't ask me that then, that he had to ask me again when he was sober. And every day I waited in quiet expectation, but he never did ask again. And now here we were. Or rather, here we weren't. I sobbed and we did tequila shots. So are we breaking up, then? he asked. I don't want to break up. I don't either, I said. But it's not's not fair that you keep me here when you're just going to go off and leave, when you're keeping me from meeting someone who maybe will want to marry me. He seemed to realize this was true. But it is going to be summer soon, we decided. We don't want to break up right before the summer. Summers are the best time to be in a relationship. Vacations and long weekends and water sports and all. We agreed that we were not breaking up, not right now. But before two weeks had gone by, we were over. He broke my heart a million different ways and in the end I just said, enough. And though I know it was the right thing to do, I never stopped wishing it could have been different. I never stopped thinking what if.

What if I had said, screw it, I'm traveling the world for a year with the man I love, and money or not the universe will find a way? The rational part of me knows that the correct answer to this is we would have killed each other before two weeks were out. I am an anxious traveler, prone to bouts of crankiness when hunger and sleepiness and discomfort strike, while he is absolutely intolerant of anyone unable to attain his zen-like level of calm. And now he's living out my what ifs with a why-not girl, and without knowing her I know her already: she is everything I am not. A good traveler, willing to climb rocks and jump off cliffs and pee in holes in the ground with grace and aplomb. (Because, why not?) Never cranky, naggy or mean. Does yoga, has friends and is invited places. Has a good job and enough money in the bank to take a year off and travel the world. Has him.

He was halfway right when he said that things always work out.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Why I'm just going to start telling people to Google it

As I've mentioned before, there are down-sides to being the family's resident expert in the field of what I like to call "edible cooking." It's simple, no frills, and it's certainly not gourmet (though try telling that to my mother), but it hits the spot when dinner time rolls around. (And it sure beats the alternative.) But I'm starting to wonder if it's worth the effort, when even the most basic dinner of steamed fish, cous cous, and sauteed spinach leads to phone calls like the one I fielded from my mother today:

"I was telling my co-worker about the sauteed spinach dish you made, and he's very interested to know the recipe."

"Sauteed spinach is a description, not a recipe, Mom. It's like saying...chopped vegetables, or hot water. You saute spinach- that's the recipe."

"Well how much olive oil do you use? He's worried about using too much."

"So use less, then."

"And how much onion?"

"I don't know, however much you have."

"And how much spinach?"

"How am I supposed to... I don't know, as much as you want to eat!"

"Well ok then," my mom sighed.

"Salt and pepper, and don't cook it for too long," I added helpfully.

Even my sister joined in on the action, asking me if it was easy to make cous cous. (Or coo cous, as my mother insists on calling it, no matter how many times I correct her.)

"Yeah, it's one of the easiest things you can make," I told her.

"How do you make it?"

"Um, you read the back of the box," I said. I mean, really. Let's not re-invent the wheel here, people.

I swear, if my family had been pioneers they would have died out on the Oregon Trail. Forget snake bites and dysentery, with them it would have been, "Well we have this cow but we can't figure out how to get the milk out. We've already tried asking nicely." And, "Sure, we have all this corn, but the leaves and hairy stuff are really hard to digest."

Tune in tomorrow, everyone, to watch me turn water into solid cubes using only the powers of my mind. I will also provide my own recipe for combining a creamy peanut paste with fruit purée on bread to create a tasty and unexpected treat! Don't miss it!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Why life is like a bag of Doritos

Internet, I have news. I am so proud to announce that a Google search of the words doritos sex will yield...

That's right, ME, in the very first spot. I do believe this is my finest achievement.

And what's more, a search of just the word dorito by itself will also find your faithful Diary of Why within the first couple pages of results. I know! But in a disturbing discovery, I realize that just yesterday I was listed 16th for this search, and today...? 21st! Internet, this cannot stand. Help me regain my dorito footing, and gain back lost dorito ground. Here's what you can do: Google dorito. Find the Diary of Why. Click it. With all of us working together we can't fail. Dorito!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Why I'm itchy, and no I did not forget a letter, although I suppose it could work that way too

This post is for Talia, who calls to complain when I haven't posted for four days. Here! I am posting! There is nothing to post about but I will post anyway! Voilà.

Anyway, I haven't been doing so well lately in the realm of what I can only call "non-life threatening yet painful and inconvenient bodily infirmities." It all started with the fleas, or what I can only assume were fleas. Whatever it was, it attacked me while I was calmly sitting at my computer and in the span of one hour turned my lower body into this:

Unclean! Unclean!!!!!

I was just starting to recover from days of constant itching and unsightly welts when I decided to go for a bike ride. In nature. Oh yes, back in the good old days when I was still hanging out on Herve's tiny Parisian sofa, I had grand plans for this summer. "Well, I'm not going to have a lot to do at my parents' house," I told him. "So maybe I'll go biking on the C&O Canal. Maybe I'll go every day! Or at least, you know, sometimes." As you can probably guess, five weeks into my "staycation" here and I had fallen into a comfortable little rut of sleeping until eleven and sitting on my ass all day. Ok, fine, fine! I told myself. Tomorrow I will set my alarm for 8:00 and I will make a sandwich to bring with me and I will do this damn thing. And then... Hmm, why don't I just take the dog for a walk instead? I reasoned. (She seemed pleased.) I tried again the next day, determined to do it this time. The problem being that in order to get there I would have to drive my dad's manual transmission truck. I wrote about my victory over the stick last summer, but alas, victory is fleeting, and I seem to have left my confidence somewhere on the wide and flat roads of Raleigh, North Carolina. Not to mention the fact that in my limited stick shift-driving experience, I have never actually driven alone. It's amazing what a difference a little moral support in the front seat can make, is what I'm saying.

"Are you sure you don't want to come with me?" I asked my dad nervously.

"No, I have some work to do here. But go ahead, you could use the practice," he said, throwing me his keys. "It has 200,000 miles on it," he said when I voiced my concerns. "You're not going to hurt it."

"It wasn't actually the truck I was worried about hurting," I said nervously. I envision myself attempting to pull out on a busy road, cars whizzing by at 50, 60 mph. I stall out in the middle of the intersection, frantically trying to re-start the ignition when I am decimated by oncoming traffic, and I perish in a firey, hot car crash.

"Yeah, I hadn't thought of that," he said. "Well, good luck. If anything happens I won't have a car to come get you."

Great, so I would be alone and unrescuable. I waved goodbye, eased nervously out of the driveway and made it to the end of the street without incident. Then, as I reached the first four-way stop, the ball on top of the gear-shift came off in my hand. You have got to be kidding me, I thought in disbelief. But did I give up? No! I popped that sucker right back on and kept driving. I navigated my way slowly and carefully on country roads, anticipating every stop sign and turn between me and my destination. And here it was, the intersection from my firey hot daydreams. I would have to make a left hand turn, and while the road wasn't extremely busy, the cars that were there were going by at a pretty good clip. And there was someone behind me, impatiently riding my bumper for the last ten minutes. The worst of all worlds. I took a deep breath, pressed down on the gas, eased off the clutch and... stalled, right there in the middle of the intersection. I took a few hyperventilating breaths and turned the key to start the car, only to hear that particularly awful sound that happens when you turn the key and the car is already running. So of course, I turned it again. Ok, the car was definitely already started. Practically dead from humiliation, I threw my arm out the window, motioning the car behind me to go around. The last thing I needed was a witness to my ineptitude. She eagerly skirted around me and sped off, leaving me praying for a few more seconds of respite from oncoming traffic, until I finally managed to jolt and lurch myself onto the main road and once again tooled merrily on my way. Everything was going well until I turned onto the tiny road leading to my destination. A car with a kayak tied to the top crested the hill, and like a polite fellow human being, I pulled over and waited, giving him the right of way as the road was too narrow for the both of us. He waved and continued on by, and it was then that I realized the predicament I was in. I was stopped. I was on a hill. I was stopped on a hill. Ok, no big deal, I thought, pressing down on the clutch and removing my foot from the brake. And then, before I could even get my foot on the gas I started rolling backward at a fairly alarming rate. I slammed on the brake. I took a breath. I started over. My procedure for the next few minutes went something like: clutch, roll, slam on brake. Clutch, roll, slam on brake. Clutch, roll... you get the picture. My options at that point were to roll backwards all the way to the bottom of the (quite large) hill, or figure this damn thing out, and quick, before some unsuspecting person drives up behind me and I either a) die of humiliation or b) roll directly into their front grill or c) (and what seemed most likely) both. Once I figured out the brake/clutch/gas timing I did manage to extract myself only somewhat ungracefully from the situation, and finally pulled into the parking lot at Violette's Locke. I didn't even want to think about the fact that after all this I still had to drive back, and so I hoped to bike myself into a state of such exhaustion that I would practically float home on a cloud of rainbows and endorphins. That was the plan, anyway. And for a little while I did manage to forget my anxiety, as I biked over the gravel path and looked for turtles sunning themselves on rocks and submersed tree branches, and at one point found myself nearly face to face with a blue heron. Except for one or two people I passed on the way, I had the trail nearly to myself. In my backpack I had some water, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and a book, and I let my worries dissolve away in the hopes of passing a peaceful summer afternoon outside. And then I got stung on the neck.

That's right. Something large and buzzy flew into me and then rudely injected its poison into my neck, which I thought was a bit of a low blow, to be honest. I frantically slapped at myself only to realize that instead of fading away, the pain was growing steadily more persistent. I pulled up under a bridge and hopped off my bike, trying to assess the damage. Was I swelling? I was miles from my car at this point, a thought which prompted me to immediately flip the worst case scenario switch, as this imaginary dialogue went through my head:

Oh my god, if I was allergic to bees I would probably die out here before anyone found me!

But you're not allergic to bees.

But my dad is allergic to bees. It's probably hereditary. Maybe I'm allergic to bees and I don't know it! What if I go into anaphylactic shock right now?

You have never gone into anaphylactic shock before. Why would you start now?

Oh, I don't know, only because I'm in the middle of flipping nowhere and my only way home is a truck that I can barely drive even under the best of circumstances! Because my dad doesn't even have a car to come rescue me! Because right now would be the absolute worst time to start being allergic to bees so of course it would make sense that it would happen now! Oh my god, is my throat swelling shut???

After some more quiet hand wringing and deep breathing I determined that I was fine, of course, albeit in a good amount of persistent throbbing pain, and so I got back on my bike for the long ride back to the truck (of potential firey death). And of course I made it home just fine, although not without getting yelled at at a stop sign by the dude behind me who was perhaps not so pleased with my cautious old lady driving style. And I'm sorry guy, but the 4-cylinder truck with 200,000 miles on it just doesn't go much more than 35 mph up hills, so you see it is not entirely my fault. But thanks for the shouts of encouragement.

Anyway, after about 24 hours the pain faded into several days' worth of constant and infernal itching, my god the itching! So, fleas, bee (wasp?) sting, and of course now the nagging and persistent cold sore on the inside of my lower lip that makes ingesting anything remotely salty or acidic an exercise akin to walking barefoot over a hot bed of coals. Mind over matter, mind over m- gah! ack! holy mrghh#$%^! Which led to an awkward moment at my friend Alan's house when he made me a lovely dinner and then opened us a deliciously chilled bottle of white. Don't wince, just don't wince, I thought as I steeled myself for that first, biting sip. I approached the glass hesitantly, trying to casually turn away so as not to draw attention to myself as I swallowed with a slight grimace. (In the few other instances in life that I have made this face I am grateful that the lights have been off. Ahem.) I realized my effort to act casual had failed when I saw Alan watching me strangely. "Well I guess it's probably not what you're used to drinking in France," he said.

"No no!" I said. "It's good! I like it! It's just this cold sore... No, really, the wine's good, it just hurts like hell..." And I mean, honestly. I have not been kissing anyone or sharing drinks and it's summer and I get like ten hours of sleep a night. There is really no excuse for this, do you hear me failing immune system? So between the bites and the stings and the mouth sore and not to mention the problems I've been having with knives lately, and I am something of a hot mess at the moment, all band-aids and ointments and woe.

In other news, Alan and I were watching t.v. when a commercial came on for the Julie&Julia movie. I have mixed feelings about this film, because on the one hand, I love French cooking, love Julia Child, read the book, etc., but on the other hand, I mean, I have a blog. Where's my book deal? Where's my movie? I'm all for the rags to riches, unknown-blogger-makes-big real life fairy tale, but also, why did I not think of this first? So basically, yeah, I'm jealous. "You could do 365 days of Rachael Ray," Alan offered helpfully.

"Oh my god! I could call it the Rachel/Rachael Project!" I shouted. "It's brilliant! I mean, I think it is." And granted, it probably wouldn't make for as good a movie, but would you read it?

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Why the excitement never ends around here

Today's post is brought to you by the word hebetude, my word of the day. Hebetude, meaning mental dullness or sluggishness. When used in a sentence, it goes a little something like: I have hebetude. So you will have to forgive me, because even I in my dull sluggishness recognize that what will follow does not actually count as material of substance. So bear with me, 'cause this is all I've got. And what I've got is...

Hair care disparity! Yes folks, I am a firm believer that like salt and pepp
er, ketchup and mustard, and The Office and 30 Rock, shampoo and conditioner should always go together, nice and coupled up-like. However this is the sorry state of affairs I find in my bathroom of late:

Other than the obvious assumption that someone in the house is suffering an identity crisis and doesn't know whether she wants to be blond or brunette, all you will see here is a rather reasonable number of shampoos, followed by...

Conditioner, conditioner, conditioner, conditioner, conditioner, conditioner, conditioner, conditioner, conditioner, conditioner, aaaaaannnnnnd (dear lord) conditioner. The only explanation I can find is that my sister suffers from a condition (egads with the unintended punnery) that I have just made up called "conditioner malaise." Apparently there is a bottle-shaped hole in her life that can only be filled with the promise of more volume, increased glossiness, and vibrant, long-lasting color. The fix never lasts for long, though, and soon she's on to something stronger, something newer, promising even more unrealistic results. Much like alcoholics hide their empties, the bathroom at our parents' house has become something of a conditioner graveyard where she drops by to dispose of things she'd rather forget, and then takes again off in a squealing of tires and a vague scent of coconut.

I am of two minds about this, as the miser in me delights in the fact that I clearly will not have to spend money on conditioner again for the rest of my natural life. However the rational, anti-clutter, Goodwill-donating minimalist in me screams that you don't buy something until you have already used up the something you alread
y have! (Five boxes of mint tea, indeed.)

In other news...

Hey, it's a cat in a bag! That's pretty cute, right? I took full advantage of the situation and waited anxiously for her to abandon her self-imposed, papery exile (hours; hours I waited), just so that I could say, loudly and disapprovingly, "Ok, who let the cat out of the bag?" My dad let out a brief chuckle. I counted the day a success.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Why I will definitely not be the next Julia Child

It all started because I wanted to make this salad from the Pioneer Woman. She said it's her favorite salad ever. Ever, ever, ever! Four evers seemed like a lot, and we had a lot of vegetables hanging out in the fridge, so I decided to give it a try. Now, it seems she has since corrected the recipe, but at the time that I printed it out it originally said to use two packages of linguine. What with the quantity of vegetables that it calls for too, that sounded like a lot of linguine, a hell of a lot of linguine in fact, and so I decided to use one box, thinking that I was halving the recipe. I see now that in fact I did nothing of the kind, since one box is actually the correct amount of pasta to create a salad for a family of six hungry cowboys and cowgirls (cowpersons?) Two large mixing bowls of salad later, I started to think I may have gotten in over my head.

And then I cut myself. Because at the time, the easiest way to clean the knife seemed to be to slide my finger along the blade. Along the flat side, mind you, but even so that razor edge sliced right into my finger. I yelped and ran to the sink as blood gushed out, and I tried not to attract the attention of my father. Because he had just given me a lecture the night before when I had also cut myself while de-skinning chicken thighs. "Be careful," he said disapprovingly, "those knives are sharp." After I had bled through my third band-aid I could vouch for the fact that those knives were indeed sharp. But after two knife-related incidents in less than 24 hours, I knew I would be getting a lecture of another kind. Because who cuts themselves twice in less than 24 hours? I'll tell you: my mother, that's who. My mother is utterly incapable of being in the same room with a knife without exiting with at least a band-aid, or at worst an emergency room visit. (Though to be fair, that was only the one time, and you can hardly see the skin graft anymore.) The inevitable comparison is one I've spent my life trying to avoid, and so I quietly nursed my pain, leaving the room every few minutes to change the blood-soaked bandage in an effort not to bleed all over the vegetables. Then I had to chop the jalapenos. I knew it would hurt like a bitch if I got any juice in my cut, and so I was careful and thoroughly washed my hands after. I pretty much lost all steam for the project after that, leaving the cilantro, scallions, and cashews for later, and shoving the two giant bowls of salad that would probably go bad before anyone came close to finishing it in the fridge, and called it a day.

I heaved a big sigh and collapsed in front of my computer, lamenting the fact that no one blogs on a Saturday. What is up, people who don't blog on a Saturday? It's like you have better things to do or something. Sheesh. Anyway, then my nose itched, so I scratched it. It itched on the inside, and no I wasn't picking my nose I was scratching it, god. And then I knew something was terribly, terribly wrong. And even as I'm typing this, typing these very words right now, does that stop me from rubbing my eye? No, no it does not. One bloody finger, a watering eye, and a wet Q-tip in my nose later, and I'm forced to admit that maybe some people just aren't cut out for this cooking shit.

And seriously, Pioneer Woman, maybe next time you could think about including the number of servings on the recipe for guidance, so I know to reduce it by 9/10ths, or whatever. We are not all cowpersons here. (Though the boots are super cute and I could really get behind that.)