Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Why my sister and I don't talk that often

My phone rang at 11:20 last night, and it was my sister calling from my parents' house letting me know she was going to sleep in my bed, and asking if her dog could sleep in the bed with her. "Yeah, sure," I said. "I don't care."

"See!" she said. "I knew you wouldn't care, but Dad's all 'Absolutely not, rawr rawr rawr.'"

In the background I could hear my dad rawring. "She said no dogs in h
er bed, she said that before she left, she was very adamant about it. She doesn't even want the dog in her room, she told me to keep the door shut."

"Let me talk to Dad," I said.

"Here," she said.

"Hey Dad."


"You said no dogs on your bed, you said that..."

"Aww, thanks for sticking up for me. That's so nice! But no really, it's fine. Just no bones on the bed, and wash the sheets after."

"Well, she's eating a bone right now, actually."

"Where? Not on my bed?!"

"No... Ok, she said no bones on the bed," he repeated.

"Of course not," I heard my sister say as if it hadn't already happened before, with grotesque results.

"I still can't believe you stuck up for me, Dad. I'm all warm inside, rea
lly. Thanks. Ok, let me talk to Becca."

He handed the phone over, still grumbling to himself.

"Hey."

"Hey."


"You found a job yet?"

"No, you?"

"No. I was supposed to have an interview with this lady, and she told me to meet her by the escalators, but there were like, three escalators. I walked back and forth to all of them but I didn't see anyone fitting her description, and then people started looking at me."

"So..."


"So... that's it."

"So, did you call her?"

"No, I checked through my phone and my e-mail but I couldn't find her information."

"Well... that's pretty weird, huh?"

"Yeah, it just like, disappeared. I don't know what happened."

"And where was this?"

"New Ed Hardy store in the mall."

"Right. I don't know, Becca, I just feel like you kind of give up really easy. I mean, didn't something like this happen before, too?"

"Yeah, it's probably cause I don't really care."

"Well... right. So anyway, did you at least go home and send her an e-mail explaining things?"

"No, I told you, I couldn't find any of her information."


"I don't understand. I mean, presumably you applied to this job somehow, right? And somehow heard something back in response?"

"Yeah, it's really a mystery. It's like someone goes in to my phone and my e-mail and deletes stuff."

"Um, yeah. So, did you search your e-mail?"

"No."

"You know you can search your Gmail, right?"

"No, I delete my e-mail after I read it."


It was at this point that I felt my head start to go a little throbby. "Wait... what?"

"I don't keep anything in my inbox. I like to keep things streamlined."

"But... but that defeats the whole purpose of Gmail!" I sputter. "There's like unlimited storage so you never have to delete anything. That's the whole point!!!"


"Yeah, I don't like the clutter."

"But no, no, you know what you do, right?"

"Nope, no, that's just the way I do things.."

"NO NO NO. Listen to me... no, stop talking, LISTEN LISTEN LISTEN!!!"

[Silence]

"Ok, so, after you read your e-mail what you do is you archive it. Voila! It's not in the inbox but it's still there when you need it. Do I really have to explain to you how Gmail works?"

"Yeah, I'm not going to archive anything. Then it's still there, cluttering things u
p."

"But... but NO! It's not still there! I mean it is still there but you never have to look at it again unless you want to, or unless you need to, like in situations like this."

"No, I just want to get rid of it. I don't want it hanging around."

"What, do you think the FBI is after you or something? I don't understand."

"It's just how I prefer to do things."


"You're just... you're... What is wrong with you??? You don't make sense, you're not even like a rational being, you're like a... goat! Yeah, that's it, you're like a goat that has somehow learned to speak and can sort of function in society, but really, you're still just a goat!"

[Muffled laughter on the other end]

"A goat applying for a job at Ed Hardy!"


"Yeah, I'm going to go," she says, still laughing.

"Tapping out e-mails with your little hooves..."

"Bye."


"Bye."

It took an hour for the vein in my head to stop throbbing. But seriously, what is it about family that can make you go from zero to coronary in seconds flat? Over something as stupid as e-mail? Anyone else in the world and I'd be like, Wow, what an idiot. Oh well. But when it's your family who's the idiot suddenly you're punching pillows and transcribing long, boring phone conversations on your blog for catharsis.


Oh, also, she's twenty-six. But anyway. I guess we're all taking the long way around. So maybe we are related after all.

My sister

Monday, September 28, 2009

Why I'm about to get all introspective, for a change

So. Hi there. How are you? I'm ok, thanks, and feeling a lot less wrist-slitty than I was after my last post (metaphorically speaking, of course). I actually had a pretty good weekend. It's amazing how a couple of days of staying out until four a.m. can change your perspective on things, or at least distract you sufficiently from the issues at hand. (Otherwise known as alcohol! The poor man's anti-depressant! Or... something.) Anyway, your comments really meant a lot to me, and I wanted to respond to each of them individually, but then it sort of got overwhelming, and, well... just, thanks. Thank you. You all had some lovely thoughts slash advice slash encouragement, and I am taking all the things you said to heart, even the ones that suggested that I move to a different part of the country (or a different country)/see a therapist/go on anti-depressants/just lighten the hell up already, god, all of which, although perfectly reasonable suggestions, are impossible right now, for various reasons.

Although there's a part of me that will probably always wonder if I wouldn't be happier somewhere else, I've spent years of my life trying to find that place only to discover that it's just like they say: Wherever you go, there you are. After years of moving from place to place I think I've finally realized that it's not my location that's making me unhappy, it's me. I've been doing so much moving around and starting over the last couple of years that I'd like to try to settle down and focus on where I am, for the moment, and who I am, rather than keep searching for that elusive perfect place that may not even exist.

Secondly, as far as I can tell, depression is for people who can afford shrinks and meds and co-pays and self-help books. People like me prefer to call it "the blues," or PMS, or the winter blahs, or congenital grumpiness, or anything else that doesn't require me to pay $150 an hour for someone to listen to me talk about my problems. I mean, that's what you guys are for, right?

And third, lighten up and be a little easier on myself? Do you even know me at all? Seriously though, you may be onto something there, and you're right, I probably should be a little more forgiving of myself. But then, what would I write about? "So I went to a tango class and it was a little hard, but it's ok because I'm just a beginner. I'm sure it will go better next time!" Or, "I keep sending out cover letters and resumes, and no one wants to give me a job, but I'm sure it's all due to the economy and not to any personal defect on my part. I guess I'll just keep plugging away!" I suppose there's always been a part of me that thinks that angsty, self-deprecating writing is just, well, more interesting. I guess the problem comes when it's not just writing, and you start to internalize all that self-deprecation until it consumes you. Though, really, it's not writing that's the problem. I was self-deprecating long before blogs came along. If anything, blogging about it helps dispel the poison by getting it all out there so I can try to move on. And that's what this is. Me getting it all out there so I can think about it, get some feedback, and try to move on.

Anyway, thanks. Thanks for reading. Thanks for responding. Thanks for the love and even the tough love. Life isn't so bad right now. Thanks for reminding me of that.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Why I may not have money, or family, or success, but... wait, what was I saying?

*Spoiler alert: If you're looking for a funny, light read, today might be a good day to go elsewhere. I recommend Sometimes I Make Lists, Just Humor Me, The Typing Makes Me Sound Busy, Finslippy, or Mimi Smartypants for a guaranteed laugh. Seriously, just go, look away. Nothing to see here but a self-indulgent pity party and some metaphorical wrist-slitting. (Calm down, I said metaphorical.) You have been warned.*

That being said, on with the self-indulgent, sad sack show...


The nature of humans is complacency. The nature of life is to plod along from day to day without necessarily taking notice of every minute change and pondering its implications. Humans are enormously adaptable, and this is a good thing; if every moment was filled with existential possibility, we would never get anything done. But every once in a while there comes a time when you take stock of your life and say to yourself, Holy shit, how did I get here? I find myself asking the same question, after spending five years in Boston and one year in Paris, and then waking up one day in a small town in central New York state, marginally employed, living paycheck to paycheck, and grudgingly driving a car that isn't mine to work, to the grocery store, to the bar, and to anywhere else I need to go because you can't walk anywhere here. I am six months away from my 30th birthday, single, childless, petless, essentially friendless, and I have never lived on my own. Neither have I lived with a boyfriend. Almost one entire decade I have spent sharing bathrooms with people I sometimes don't even speak to, cleaning other people's pee off of toilets and trying to ignore comically loud one-sided phone conversations through paper thin walls. I am almost 30 years old, and I don't even own my own furniture. My bed is a mattress on the floor, and it is not even my mattress, though I do own the down comforter, so thanks, Ikea, for helping me achieve one small step towards marginal independence. I don't have health insurance or a savings account, and so I live one health disaster or one car breakdown away from financial ruin. I can't afford to go to the doctor, and I can't afford to go to the dentist, and I definitely can't afford to buy a new car, so knock on wood that things keep on tickin'. As I've documented, even my best attempts to try to dig myself out of this hole, my efforts to take even the smallest of steps forward have gone unrewarded, and so yes, lately I've been asking myself just what exactly I have done to deserve all this.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
In class I am teaching the superlative, I mentioned to a friend (ok fine, an acquaintance) during a bar room non-versation last night. "Oh, the superlative is cool," he said.

"Yes!" I said brightly. "You see, the comparative is not as good as the superlative... but the superlative... the superlative is the best." And then I had a good hardy har all by myself, because nothing beats a good grammar joke, am I right? (You know you want to drink with me, admit it.) But it got me to thinking about superlatives I once knew... You had superlatives in high school, right? Best dressed, best smile, class clown (which sort of stretches the grammatical definition of superlative to the breaking point, but we'll let it slide). I had one too. I don't even want to tell you what it was, because it sounds so la ti ta, and I don't even want to think about it, honestly, except that lately I can't stop thinking about it, and the rest of this blog post kind of hinges around it, so fine, I will tell you that I was voted Most Likely to Succeed. There. It's in the yearbook and everything, PHS 97-98. Now, I'm sure that no one else even remembers this but me, it's not like everyone else in the class of 1998 is sitting around thinking about me and wondering if I have succeeded yet, thinking, Damn, I knew I should have voted for Molly instead. What a waste. But all the same, I can't help feeling disappointed by the way things have worked out, or rather, the way they haven't worked out. And I know, I know, there are many different definitions of success, although in our yearbook photo, my cohort, Mister Most Likely to Succeed is flashing a fistful of dollar bills at the camera, so I think we can guess what his definition of success is. Although, if a fistful of bills constitutes success, then hey, look at me, I also have four dollars! I totally win. (Yes, I understand symbolism. Moving on.) So maybe... maybe success isn't always about money. Some people consider success to be marriage and kids and... oh, right. Well, so what. I mean, pffffft. You don't have to have money or a family to be successful, right? As long as you are making a positive impact on people's lives, if you dedicate yourself to helping people and working for a worthwhile cause... I mean, no one's going to call Mother Theresa a failure, right? So... yeah. Helping privileged, upper middle-class college students fulfill a language requirement and learn the finer points of grammar that they will immediately expunge from their brains after the final exam in a language they will surely never use... that's... helping... right? No, I am a useful, contributing member of society, I mean, if it weren't for me... oh dear god, who am I kidding. I am less important than one of Britney Spears' purse dogs. But, so what. The only thing that really matters, the only definition of real succcess is if you are happy. And clearly I am, if not happy, at least... I'm... I'm sorry, I can't even pretend anymore. I'm not happy. I'm not. I mean, would you be? Don't answer that.

Somewhere along the line things have gotten away from me. My life has gotten away from me. I am not living the life I used to think I would live, I am not living the life I used to think I deserved. But I don't use words like deserve anymore, just like I don't use words like God or destiny or purpose or plan. Because really? This is my destiny? This is what I deserve? Because fuck that. I am trying my hardest here. I try my ass off every day. I look, I evaluate, I make plans, and I try to make it better. I make changes, I try new things, and I try to make the best of it. I am fucking trying, goddammit, and yet I am still here, and I am still stuck in this situation, in this life, in this person that is me, though sometimes I wish it were any other way. And I know that there are people that are successful, that are happy, and yet even though they may be good people, I still can't think that they deserve it, any more than I don't deserve this. We all play what we're dealt, is all. Some people get the aces. And some of us get a really bum hand.

I guess what I'm trying to say is, Molly, chica, it totally should have been you in that yearbook photo.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Why I guess I'll go eat worms

Dear Hiring Manager For Boring, Minimum-Wage Job,

I was so excited to find your advertisement for a Part-Time Paper Pusher. Because, well, it's a job, and hey- I need a job! It is as if your hiring needs correspond exactly with my employment needs, and really, what are the odds that we would each find our perfect other on the Internet, of all places? So yes, this is truly exciting. But it seems that you are still not convinced, so let me tell you a little bit about myself.

I am a teacher, which means that I possess excellent communication skills, as well as the ability to impose order on small mobs. If a riot ever breaks out in your office, trust me, I am your woman. Additionally, I have also worked as a bookkeeper in a medium-sized corporation. As the sole member of the finance department, I knew exactly how much each person in the company earned and I never, ever gossiped about it, not even when I was drunk. I was also able to use my natural organization skills and attention to detail to quickly and efficiently accomplish tasks while still making time to surf the Internet for at least six hours a day. (Multi-tasking!) Speaking of which, I notice that one of your requirements is "Internet skills," which as I mentioned, I am quite adept at. I mean, it is 2009 after all. I also breathe and digest food almost without thinking about it. (Again, multi-tasking!)

Hiring Manager for Boring, Minimum Wage Job, let's face it: a monkey could do this job. You know it, and I know it. Let me be your monkey. Let me be your monkey.

Sincerely,
Lives in a Glass House, Does Not Throw Poo

[Result: Rejected in the time-honored fashion of never getting back to me, one way or the other. Well I'm glad I spent so much time and energy crafting an elegant and compelling cover letter, jerks. Thanks a lot.]


Dear Hiring Manager For Job That Is Actually Perfect For Me, Not That I'll Be Able To Convince You Of That,

I was so excited to discover your advertisement for Weekend Hired Help for
Your Highly Respected Non-Profit Organization, and not just because I really need the money (though dude, I really need the money), but also because I am fairly confident that I would totally rock at this job. Now let me tell you why.

I have pretty much already done this job. Not in any kind of direct or straightforward way, but if you take bits of my past work experience and patch them together with play-doh and scotch tape, then mush it all into a ball and pretty it up with some fancy prose, then yes, I have definitely done this job before and I am quite confident that I could do it again. My experience as a teacher means that I am patient and good with people. And by the way, did I ever tell you about the time I led twelve teenagers around France? This shows that I have proven leadership abilities, and probably a mild case of insanity. But I'm better now. Really! Also, as a bookkeeper I completed tasks quickly and efficiently with minimal direction from my supervisers, so I am quite comfortable working independently. Unless you are looking for a team player, in which case, and I don't know if you'll believe this, but I also love working as part of a team! Really, I do! Basically, I just love to work. Work, work, work all the time; that's what I would do if I had my way, such a dedicated and passionate worker am I.

Now I will gush about your organization and what fabulous work you do and how I would be proud to be a part of it, because really, I just love to help people. Let me help you help people, Highly Respected Non-Profit Organization.

Sincerely,
Seriously, I'm Not Bullshitting You, I Really Want This Job

[Result: Called in for an interview where I blew them away with my impressive level of awkward, as well as my ability to end every sentence with "um." Surprisingly, they decided to go with another candidate.]

Current status: Dejected with a side of low self-esteem, and a heaping helping of despair. Forecast: Cloudy with a chance of the glums. But seriously, who's a girl gotta blow to get a job in this town???

Friday, September 18, 2009

Why there could be such a thing as too helpful

Well lord knows there's not much going on here, so let's take a little trip down memory lane, shall we? I call this series, A Room With a View:

View from my window in Boston - December 16, 2007

View from my window in Mythaca - September 16, 2009
Yes my pretties, go ahead and gorge yourselves on our wholesome prairie grasses, and while you're at it, would you mind straightening up that overgrown hedge? Thanks a mil.

But by this morning, all lawn maintenance worries were over. When I woke up, everything was different: the lawn shorn, hedges trimmed, the house turned upside down and vacuumed and scrubbed and everything returned to a different place. Dish soap? Look under the sink. Remote control? On top of the tv. (What, you thought the purpose of a remote control was so that you didn't have to walk over to the tv to change the channel? Think again.) It appears that the magical cleaning fairies, otherwise known as my roommate's parents, flew in from their castle last night for a month-long stay. (No, seriously, they're from Lichtenstein, and the two facts I've been able to glean about Lichtenstein are that their women finally won the right to vote in 1989, and everyone there lives in their very own castle. I am only semi-bullshitting one of these facts. Try to guess which one. The answer may surprise you!)

I stood in the kitchen in confusion this morning after finally having located the dish soap, my newly washed cereal bowl dripping in my hand. Where is the...thing? The thing you put the dishes on after you wash them...but before you put them away? That...thing? "Oh, hello!" my roommate's mother burbled in her adorable accent. She then indicated to me that a build-up of moisture under the dish rack had over time caused some damage to the wooden countertop. "So I threw it away!" she said cheerily. Well, ok, but...I don't know, something about a baby, re: not throwing it out with the bathwater? In a house where four (and now six) people share a kitchen, with no dishwasher, a dish drying rack is all that separates us from complete and utter chaos. And, really, for the cleaning I have nothing but gratitude. With roommates that tend to turn conveniently deaf, blind, and dumb when it comes to things like overflowing trash cans, rotting food left in the fridge, and dust bunnies so big they've developed their own gravitational fields, it's nice to have such a meticulously tidy ally. But something tells me that when people can barely be enticed to do their dishes under the best of circumstances, making it more difficult for them may not be the best option. And yes, I know that as soon as they leave, I will go out and buy a new dish rack, and return the soap to its rightful place on the counter, and I will leave my toaster plugged in, and I will turn off all the lights left blazing throughout the house during the daylight hours, and I won't find myself suddenly and unexpectedly locked out after becoming accustomed to our usual open door policy, and everything will go back to the way it was.

Until then, I'll keep repeating to myself, It's only a month. It's only a month. It's only... dear lord, it's still twenty-nine more days. Help.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Why nature is alright, I guess

There are only two reasons for extended lapses in blogging, and it's either because life is so damn exciting, or life is so damn boring. I assure you, my excuse is the latter. (I know, I know, for one second you were like, "Well, maybe...?" But sadly, no, I have not developed a new personality or made tons of new friends or attended any fabulous social gatherings in the last five days, so boring it is and continues to be.)

So in lieu of actual content, I present to you Mythaca is Gorges, the photo essay. (Otherwise known as How I spent my non-fabulous, but admittedly fine-I-guess-it-was-pretty-alright Sunday.)





Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Why it takes two to tango (but I can't seem to make it past one and a half)

A couple weeks ago my roommate's brother told me about a tango class coming up. "You should go," he said.

"Hmm, maybe," I mused. On the one hand it sounded like something that I would normally never in a million years do. On the other hand, maybe that was all the more reason to try it. After all, I'm in a new place, trying to meet new people, so in the interest of "putting myself out there," maybe I should give it a shot. "So you'll be there?" I asked him.

"Oh no," he said. "I've already taken the class. But I'll be at the dance after." So I would be on my own then. "I'll send you the Facebook invite."

For two weeks I let the invite languish, not responding one way or the other, clicking on it every once in a while and staring at it glumly. The closer it got to the date, the less it seemed at all like a good idea. I hate dancing. I'm a terrible dancer. I'm too tall. I don't have the right shoes. I have nothing to wear. It's too expensive. I don't want to pay for the four-week session only to hate it and never go back. You should still go, I tried to tell myself. Who cares, just go. But as the first lesson approached, it was looking less and less likely that I would actually follow through.

Then on Friday night I was hanging out at a crowded bar with a couple of my roommates. One of them was pointing out people he knew. "That's the guy from the barbeque, oh, and that guy was at the party in his underwear, do you remember him?"

"Ohhhh yeah, I do remember him," I said.

"And that guy teaches tango," he said.

"Oh yeah, I recongize him from Facebook," I said. "I should talk to him." Two double Tanqueray & tonics later, and he came close enough for me to flag him down. "So you teach tango?" I asked him in my drunkenly bold state.

"How did you know?" he said in a melodious accent. (Argentinian, it turned out.) I explained the situation, told him that I had received the Facebook invite, but I still wasn't sure. "Why not?" he asked.

"Well..." I said into his ear, trying to be heard above the music, "I'm really not a dancer, and I'm too tall. If I wear heels I'll be taller than everyone there."

He eyed me skeptically, drawing himself up to his full height and looking down at me. "You are not too tall," he said. "See, I am taller than you." I stood up on my tippy toes, as if I had heels on, and then tipped over, giggling.

"Ok. It's just a lot of money, especially since I'm not sure if I'll want to continue..."

"If money is a problem we can discuss later," he said. "Just come, don't worry about it. Just come, please."

"Well...ok. Maybe I will," I said.

"Tango is all about feeling," he said, over the loud thumping music of the club. "You just have to feel, like this," he said, pulling me close to him. And in my drunken, loosey goosey, gin-fully blissful state, I did feel it. With his body pressed against mine, he guided me, and my feet knew where to go. I didn't get stepped on, I didn't stumble and pull back and start apologizing, I just felt it. And it felt good. Goddamn, it felt good.

"I have to go," I said, seeing my roommate signaling me from across the room. "My ride's leaving." We said goodbye and he went in for a kiss on the cheek. My mind reverted back to France and so, on auto-pilot, I went in for a second kiss on the other cheek, which I think surprised him. Playing it off, he went in for a third, and then a fourth kiss on each cheek, which surprised me, and for a moment it was like the horribly awkward cheek kiss that never ends. But I didn't care, because I was drunk, wooo!

The next morning I woke up and cringed, replaying it in my mind. There should really be just one universal greeting, I mused. A hug, a handshake, one kiss, two kisses...everyone really needs to make up their mind and just go with it. My mind soon drifted to the brief dance we had shared, and I lingered there, my body growing warm and tingly just thinking about it. Perhaps it's a sign that it has been too long since my body has felt a male touch of any kind, but I couldn't stop thinking about his body pressed against mine, chest to chest, hip to hip, and thigh to thigh. I think I would like to do that again, I mused. Sunday night came, and so off I went to tango class, decked out in a dress and heels.

I walked in and he seemed genuinely happy to see me, greeting me with a smile and a kiss (just one, this time). "You came!" he said.

"Yeah, well... I'm here," I replied, looking around nervously. I quickly realized that there had been a flaw in my logic. What with all the tippy-toe standing and body-pressing and the "No, look, I'm taller than you" going on, I had failed to take into account that, as he was the instructor, I wouldn't actually be dancing with him. All the men in the room were either coupled up or portly, older gentlemen. And, Internet, I was taller than every single last one of them. What's more, his fellow instructor and dance partner was all of five foot nothing, in stiletto heels. When they danced, her head tucked snugly under his chin. I felt more than a little betrayed. Things quickly went from bad to worse. Though we switched partners every few minutes, I kept getting my feet stepped on.

"Men, anything that goes wrong is your fault," the teacher said. "Even if it's her fault, it's still your fault. You need to guide her, and if she doesn't follow it's because you're not being clear enough." Well phew, I thought. That's a relief. "The only thing that is not your fault is if she gets stepped on. Ladies, if you get stepped on, that's your fault." Well, shit. The coup de grace came when I stepped on my own foot, one sharp heel impaling my own, sandal-exposed toe. "Oww, gahh," I garbled, hobbling completely out of rhythm. "No, I'm ok, thanks."

And things only got worse. They kept making us do things that were actually physically impossible for me, as the taller partner, to do. For instance, it is quite easy for a petite woman to reach up and place her hands on her partner's shoulders while also keeping her elbows pressed against his body. But when one is reaching down from above, it's a whole different story, and I'm sorry, but the elbows are just not going to happen. At one point they had the women reach out and place their hands on their partners' hip bones and lean, pushing all their weight against them. Miss five-foot-nothing reached her hands straight out and leaned against her partner, her body in a perfectly straight line, tilted at a 45 degree angle. For me, however, performing the same move would have required hunching down with my butt pointing out to be able to reach low enough to make contact with his hips, and as he was rather portly, finding his "hip bones" would probably have been an hours long endeavor. That was probably a low point. It didn't help that the teacher kept referring to women as "delicate flowers" and "tiny little angels." Meanwhile I felt like a hulking, gawky giantess, like I could squash small villages with one stomp of my poorly coordinated heel. "Look at her tiny little hand," the teacher said, lifting his partner's dainty, childlike paw. "She is a delicate flower, you don't want to crush her." I looked at my own hands, at my fingers, which are longer than anyone's fingers I know, male or female. I wanted to go home.

I stumbled through more never-ending dances, forgetting things I had already mastered in the beginning of the class, mumbling apologies to my partners. For what it's worth, the couple brief times that the teacher stepped in to dance with me, to illustrate some point or another, it felt better. It made sense, I relaxed, and I didn't get stepped on. But it was too late. The damage had already been done. I was right all along- I wasn't cut out for this shit.

After the class, I walked up to him. "So... I'm thinking I might not come back next week," I said. "Is it possible just to pay you for tonight?"

Honestly, I thought he would at least try to convince me to come back. Instead he said, "No, I asked you to come, and you did. If you decide to come back next week we can discuss it then."

"Ok," I said. "I... It's just... I'm really not a dancer."

"I am not a dancer either!" he said.

"Umm, ok... Now you're just a liar," I said.

"No, I never danced until I was sixteen. And you see her, she never danced either. But then we start learning, and then we dance."

"Yeah, ok," I said.

"Well you should stay for the social dance," he said. "It would be good for you to see."

"I think I'm just going to go home," I said. "It's been...a lot."

And he gave me a hug and I walked out into the night, tears pricking at my eyes. It reminded me of coming home from every middle school dance I had ever attended, the abject disappointment, the feeling of complete and utter failure. What is it about dancing that always sends me spiraling into despair? I wondered. Thinking back, other dance lessons I've taken have ended much the same way. Swing dancing? Bad, terrible. Salsa? Absolute, miserable failure. For a little while I hoped tango would end differently, but who was I kidding? I may have moved to a new city and started a new job, but I'm still the same, terribly uncoordinated, terribly self-conscious person I've always been.

So now I'm stuck. I realize that perhaps this is just not for me, and I want to be ok with it. In general, I am all for persevering and not giving up, but at what point is it ok to admit that you are terrible at something, and that rather than overcome your fear, you'd much rather avoid situations where you might encounter that thing altogether? Keeping in mind that my fear is not limited to tango but extends to all dancing in general, and that situations where I might be faced with my fear include bars, dance clubs, house parties, weddings, and the occasional spontaneous chicken dance.

Basically what I am saying is, how can I ever hope to win the affections of a certain Argentinian tango instructor when I am a graceless, clumsy, non-dancing, uncoordinated clod? Ay yay yay...

Monday, September 7, 2009

Why three's company

Internet, I am old. I realize this is one of those contentious statements that will surely infuriate anyone older than me, while those of you who are younger are smugly nodding your heads going, yes, yes you are. (I know you are, don't try to deny it. Let's not forget that I used to be you.) Of course, at what point one can actually be considered "old" is probably one of the most subjective things in the world, but if it's true that you're only as old as you feel, then Internet, I feel old. It's like the world around me keeps getting younger and younger as I watch myself age. (Being a teacher doesn't help this, of course.) Of the five people in my house, I am the oldest, my roommates ranging in age from 23 to 27. And you know how I know I am getting old is this: I have stopped telling people my age. Before, I never had a problem with it. "I'm twenty-five," I would tell people, completely blasé. "I'm twenty-six. I'm twenty-seven." But sometime in the last couple of years, that all changed. Now whenever the subject of age comes up, I put on my best Mona Lisa smile and gaze mysteriously into the mid-distance. And so what did I do this weekend, of course, but yet again spend time in the company of twenty-three year-olds. I can't really explain why, but lately it's been like young moths to a significantly older wiser flame.

So I went to the Brew Fest with my roommate on Saturday, and after sticking pretty closely to his side for a little while, eventually he introduced me to a group of Cronell people that he knew. (Cronell being, of course, Mythaca's premiere institution of higher learning. Google robots be damned!) And then I lost track of my roommate altogether, but it was ok because I soon struck up a conversation with a tall, bearded engineering student, who then introduced me to his tall, not bearded engineering student roommate. And so we walked around together, and they spent the next few hours fetching me beer and escorting me to the portapotty line and generally being very sweet and accommodating, considering we had only just met each other. At some point the three of us stretched out beneath a tree for a rest, and the conversation turned to movies, specifically, top five of all time. I gave the non-bearded one a hard time for having Ghostbusters and Die Hard in his top five. "Oh, what do you like," he said, "The Notebook or something?"

"Oh come on," I rolled my eyes. (Although honestly? The Notebook? Gets me every time. *Sob*)

"Titanic?" asked the other.

"Ok, I have to admit I did see Titanic in the theaters like three times when I was seventeen," I said. "And whoops, I just gave away my age there."

"Oh, I don't know when Titanic came out," they said, looking at each other. "But you can't be more than twenty-five," said one.

I smiled. "I think I love you."

"Er, twenty-seven?" he asked.

"Sure," I laughed.

They looked at each other, becoming visibly more uncomfortable. "You...can't be...thirty?" he said. I just shrugged. "Well she's not going to tell you now," said the other. I smiled inscrutably and gazed off into the distance.

From there the beer fest tapered off, vendors stopped serving, and the conversation turned to other topics, namely, our ravenous and beer-fueled hunger. "We have some Tuscan beef stew cooking in the slow cooker back at the house," they said, which was just so adorable that I had to say so. "You should come, if you want." And, since I was hungry, and I didn't know how to get back to my house, and I seemed to have lost my roommate for good, I went with them, their neighbor coming to pick us all up and drive us back. Walking into their apartment was like being transported back in time: a fridge in the kitchen, another one in the living room just for beer, t.v. held up on boards and cinder blocks, playing an episode of Futurama. It was college all over again. The Tuscan beef stew was, as promised, delicious.

Here is where things start to get sticky, as soon thereafter I found myself tagging along with them to a "party" (a bunch of first-year Cronell grad students sitting uncomfortably in chairs crammed into someone's off-campus apartment), and I realized several things, simultaneously: a) after consuming beer all afternoon followed by a rib-sticking meal, I was no longer able to keep my eyelids from closing, b) I wanted to go home, c) I didn't know where I was, and d) I didn't have my car and had no idea how to get back. Ok, and e) I didn't have a map or f) money for a cab. Things were not looking good. The non-bearded one, who seemed to have won some unspoken coin toss or rock paper scissors at some point during the evening, and thus was allowed to sit next to me while his roommate busied himself elsewhere, offered to walk me home. We borrowed someone's iPhone long enough to figure out where we were, and I pointed to where I lived, and we both decided that it was far. "Yup, that's far," we said, but since we didn't seem to have much choice, we started walking. And so we walked. And we walked. And we walked. We walked across Cronell's campus, we walked past streams and waterfalls, over hill and dale, past deer grazing and undergrads partying and down streets I had never seen before, and still, we walked. Three miles, one solid hour, and two disgusting and fluid-filled blisters later, I was finally home. "Well," I sighed, "let me get my keys and drive you home." So I did. But not before responding to the seemingly innoculous question, "Do you like bluegrass?" with "yeah, sure," and thus getting roped into attending a bluegrass concert with him on Thursday. Though for some reason my "Yes I will go to the bluegrass concert with you" wasn't convincing enough, as he has since re-confirmed like six different times already. Yes, I said I would go with you so yes, I'll go, even if I am regretting it a bit now, yes I know it's on Thursday, yes, just stop asking me already! I mean, I've heard of guys not taking no for an answer, but this is ridiculous.

"We're grilling steaks and corn tomorrow," he and his roommate both told me at dinner. "You should come over!"

Internet, I think I've made new friends. (Help!)

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Why you wouldn't know it from this post, but I teach college students

After a flurry of frantic e-mails back and forth this morning when one of my students alerted me to the fact that one of my TA's didn't show up to their very first session, I finally got an e-mail that made me smile. It definitely goes down as the best e-mail of the morning:
Bonjour Madame,

I think I left my shoes in the classroom. Did you by chance see
them?

[Name withheld out of concern for the shoeless]

If you're feeling bogged down by life's problems, now you can be grateful that at least you know where your shoes are. (Hopefully on your feet.)