Friday, May 21, 2010

Why it's déjà vu all over again

Ok, so not much time to write here. I have a midterm paper due Sunday at midnight that I haven't started and I work tomorrow and Saturday and Sunday and I'm a volunteer usher on Saturday night for You're a Good Man Charlie Brown which seemed like a good idea when I signed up for it four months ago, but whatever. Did I mention I haven't started this paper yet and how do I have a paper due when the class just started on Monday? but I guess that's what happens when you condense an entire semester-long course into two weeks. And I may have had a beer or two (but only two because I am a lightweight, except when I have five which is not the case tonight [really, I swear]) which may explain my altered writing style. Anyway. So James the Tool is out and Jimmy James is back in and that is what you need to know for the moment. James the Tool and I were friends again for about 72 hours before he proved himself yet again to be irreparably a tool, and only that long because we went about 70 of those hours without seeing each other. But that is another story for another day.

And suddenly Jimmy James is sending me google chat messages again, which, really? Because I took him off my chat list back in January when we ended things. So it was sort of out of the blue but not altogether unflattering. And these messages culminated in us getting the aforementioned two beers tonight at the diveiest (diviest?) of divey bars and getting unnecessarily rowdy playing Guess That Tune on the jukebox. All of which culminated in our casually hugging good night, and him saying, "Good night, Charlie Brown." And for this, you would have had to read comments on this post and this post, but basically commenter Kono, whose identity I don't know in real life, has taken to calling me Charlie Brown, which is endearing in a sort of wah wahhh sort of way, but still. No one has ever called me that before and then suddenly, in two days?

"What did you say?" I asked. *Squinty-eyed stare.*

"Uh, I said goodnight, Charlie Brown?" he said.

"But, why did you say that?" *Head tilt, suspicious look.*

"Because you mentioned the Charlie Brown thing?"

"Oh...right..." *Crazy eyes.* "Well, night then." (Next time I'll just throw out a "Kono," see how he responds.)

"So, you know, give me a call sometime, whatever." So casual. Ten minutes later he's texting me, telling me he would have invited me over but he wasn't sure how I'd respond, offering his services as a masseur. When the conversation took a turn for the steamy-- "Well if past history is any indicator," I responded, "you're never going to find out." Booyah! Teach you to not sleep with me ever again. You get the text-version smack down. Anyway that put a pretty handy damper on the conversation. Wah wahh.

Anyway, I'm starting to think James the Tool and Jimmy James are like Superman and Clark Kent. I've never seen them both in the same place at the same time, and as soon as I'm done with the one, the other pops up again to handily fill his place. So, goodnight Clark. Goodnight Jimmy James. Goodnight Kono. And never forget the words a wise man once told me: Wah wah wahh, wah wah wah, wahhhh.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Why anniversaries are not just for lovers

Three years ago today I wrote my very first blog post. It was long and rambling and plaintive and come to think of it, not all that much has changed since then.

Or has it?

Anniversaries, even the kind that don't come with a card attached, are always a good time for looking back and taking stock. How is my life different than it was three years ago? How am I different? Am I different?

Three years ago I lamented my "bad luck" and "worse timing
" with an array of "liars, cheaters, narcissists, criminals, and general all-around assholes." So clearly...well, fine, not all that much has changed there.

But, but! Three years ago I was miserable, hating my life as a poor, impoverished, over-worked grad student. But those days are long over now, right? Remember when I gave grad school the boot, in order to work as an impoverished English teacher in France, and then as an impoverished French teacher in central New York state? I mean, I may not be exactly where I want to be in terms of my career, but at least I don't have to worry about papers and mid-terms and hours of studying a day and the constant, nagging daily stress of being a grad student ever again, right? Hahahahaha! Hahaha...



Oh that. Right.

Master's degree? Why sure, don't mind if I do!

Because with a Master's degree in French literature you can teach French part-time (but only part-time!) at the university level, but not at all at the high school level. Because even though I currently teach college French, I have to pay a ton of money to go back to school so I can get a Master's degree in education so that I can get a full-time job teaching high school French. Which I don't even want to do! (For some reason this all makes sense in my mind.)
So, if you don't hear from me for the next thirteen months or so, this is why.

But still. Today is a day to celebrate. A day for looking back, and for new beginnings. I would love to do some sort of contest to mark the day, but as I find myself once again as an impoverished grad student, soon to be up to my ears in debt, I have nothing to give but my love. (Awwww.) But I ask you, even if you don't usually comment, to stop in and say hello today. And answer this easy question: how long have you been reading here at the Diary of Why? Have you been following since way back in the Boston days? Did you discover me when I was living in France? Or are have you only recently stumbled aground here? (Welcome!)

I do love an anniversary. And until either my luck improves or I decide to lower my standards and become less picky, this is the only anniversary I'm going to be celebrating for a while. So let's celebrate! Thanks for reading, thanks for commenting, and thanks for sharing. I'm still asking why, but it's good to know I have all of you out there to hear me.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Why friendship is a one-way street

If I thought that ending a friendship was as simple as just deciding to do so, I was both right and wrong. After James' toolishness hit last straw levels, I decided I was done. There never was a right time to bring it up with him, and so I simply stopped. Stopped calling, stopped being friendly. When I saw him at trivia I gave him the cold shoulder, and never made eye contact, even though he was on my team, sitting right across the table. He, not being stupid, picked up on it immediately, though he gave no signs of doing so. Instead of asking me what was wrong, he replied in kind, no longer calling or extending invitations. But to all appearances, everything was fine. If we ran into each other he would even hug me. Our former friendship suddenly turned into a limp handshake; a half-hearted attempt at going through the motions, but with all the energy gone. I thought that would be ok; this is what happens when friendships end, after all. But then it wasn't ok.

First, I noticed that he had unfriended me on Facebook (the ultimate relationship barometer.) To say I was insulted would be putting it mildly. James' friend who kissed me once and I rejected back when I first moved here and haven't really talked to since? Even he hasn't unfriended me on Facebook. I mean, really. You really have to hate someone to unfriend them on Facebook, right? What I thought was an amicable separation suddenly seemed like something else altogether. I sent him a brief (Facebook) message. He didn't respond. Ouch.

Then, talking to Y, I found out that what actually happened on my birthday differed quite dramatically from my sister's version of events, and from my drunkenly oblivious memories of what happened. "Yeah, my sister told me you were mean to James and then he left," I said. "That's awesome!"

"Um, no," she said, "we were all being mean to him. Really mean. I think he felt ganged up on. I'm not surprised he left."

"Wait, what?" I said. "I wasn't being mean."

"Especially you," she said. "And your sister, too."

"Oh, well she's like that with everyone," I said. "But I wasn't...I really don't remember saying anything...?"

"It was like, everything he said you would roll your eyes or say something sarcastic. And then your sister was doing it too, and so I kind of joined in when I figured out, Ok, so we don't like this guy."

"Really?" I said, thinking hard. "That's so weird...I really don't remember doing that at all. But yeah, I mean, I was pissed at him, so it makes sense that it would come out like that when I was drunk. But god. Now I feel bad. I mean, I was supposed to be the victim here, and he was the asshole. Now I'm the asshole."

The next week at trivia, I brought Y again, and my friend Canaan, in town for a visit. He was there with a whole group of people, most of whom I didn't know. The vibe was not particularly friendly, and I immediately felt like I was crashing the party. He stuck around long enough to dictate our team name to us, then jumped up suddenly before the game even started and spent the next two hours engaged in conversation at the bar with two girls I'd never seen before. He didn't even answer one question. A friend of his, L., seemed baffled and a bit hurt. "Why would he invite all these people here and then not even hang out?" he asked me. I shrugged, but I thought I might know why.

A couple days after that we had a departmental party at a colleague's house for retiring faculty. I figured James would be there, and half-decided that it might be a good time to pull him aside and clear the air in some way. Or at least address the elephant in the room. I arrived and saw his car parked outside. The place was packed. He barely acknowledged me as I walked in. I poured myself a glass of wine and circulated through the house, trying to find a friendly face. His was the best I could do, and though he projected friendliness outwardly, it seemed a half-hearted attempt, at best. I made my way over, and then I saw her. He had brought a date. He brought a date to the faculty party. I introduced myself to her and made brief, awkward conversation. " S. coming?" I asked, hoping I wasn't projecting too much desperation.

"No, he's in Buffalo," he said, and I felt panic closing in. No one else there was anywhere close to my age, and most of them I didn't know at all. I made desperate loops around the house, stopping occasionally to nibble on nuts and nonchalantly sip my wine, while no one, absolutely no one, stopped to talk to me, or even made eye contact. That was when I started to re-think the whole not being friends thing. If we weren't going to be friends, perhaps we could at least be friendly, because this...this was quickly becoming unbearable.

And so I sent him an e-mail. "Can we talk sometime?" I wrote. "I'd really like to talk. Can we get coffee?" After the unanswered Facebook message I didn't even know if he would respond. But he did.

"Of course, mi amiga," he responded jovially. "I'll be grading papers from 7-10 a.m. on Friday at the coffee shop if you'd like to come by."

And so I waited. I waited from Tuesday until Friday, and then this morning I dragged myself out of bed early, and made it there by 8:45. I optimistically put an hour and fifteen minutes worth of coins in the meter, and even brought some exams with me, figuring maybe I would stay and grade after. I was worried. First I worried he wouldn't be there, and then I worried that I had no idea what in the world I would say. Three days to think about it, and I still had no idea. Better not to plan it, though, I figured. Walking in, my first worries dissolved when I saw him sitting at a table. "Hey," I said, putting my things down.

"Hey," he said. "Brought some grading with you?" I nodded.

"Hey," said someone else. I turned. It was S., sitting comfortably at the next table over. What. The. Fuck. I didn't want to be unkind if it turned out that S. had coincidentally walked in and decided to join him, but I was pretty sure it was planned. I hid my confusion by excusing myself to get coffee. Waiting in line, I fumed. I changed my order from for here to to go. I went back to the table, and for lack of something better to do, took out my grading. James and S. were immersed in their work. No one said anything. I made a brief attempt at reading students' essays, but I couldn't concentrate. It was so quiet. No one looked at anyone. James took out a pair of headphones. Headphones.

No way, I thought. Fuck this.

"Well, I'm going to go," I said, standing up, not two minutes after I had sat down.

"But you just got here," S. said in confusion.

"I think she probably wants to talk to me," James said.

"That is why I came," I said through a tight smile. And stressed about and got up early and put extra quarters in the meter for, I thought.

"Well, he's not going to be here forever," James said, gesturing at S. And what, we're suddenly only talking about people in the third person now, I thought?

Poor S., who clearly had no idea what was going on. "No, I can leave," he said, making a move to get up.

"No no," I said. "I'm going." And I left. No one made a move to stop me. Then I got in my car and fumed, thought fragments swimming through my head. That's it...for real...last straw...I tried...fuck him... My phone rang. I pulled over to take it.

"Sorry about that," he said. (Did he say sorry? Or am I only remembering what a normal person would have said?) "S. wanted to come and he's leaving for Buffalo soon... Let's meet for lunch, ok? Then we can have time to talk."

"I work at one," I said tersely.

"Until when?"


"Ok, well...let's meet at seven. What's quiet at seven on a Friday? The Creeker will be quiet. We can talk there."

"Fine," I said instead of the words I really wanted to say. "Fine."

So there we are, and there he is, calling all the shots again. I don't know what either of us could possibly say to make this any better, but for some reason I am going to leave work tonight, and I'm going to meet him, and I'm going to try again. I'll give it a shot, anyway.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Why rabbits are a girl's best friend

During my recent re-entry into the world of online dating, one of the questions Okcupid wanted me to answer was: If you died and someone went through your belongings, would they be shocked at what they found? (Why this scenario has to involve death, and not, say, a nosy housekeeper, I'm not sure. Way to keep things positive, OkC!) Up until recently the answer would have been no. (Unless that person was my mother, in which case, she would be all, Condoms? Not condoms! Noooooo!) But now, thanks to my friend (who I can no longer call Pete The Present Tease, and who shall from now on be known as Pete, the Giver of Gifts), I have in my possession an object that could potentially cause me moderate embarrassment to mild chagrin, were it to fall into the wrong hands.

I'll give you a hint: What's purple, has bunny ears, and kind of sounds like a coffee grinder?

Well, if you don't know you're just going to have to ask someone, because that's about all I'm going to say about that. Ironically enough, a few months back someone contacted me with a link to their online store, and offered me a complimentary...umm, product...of my choice in exchange for reviewing it on my blog. I did think about it, because on the one hand--free! But ultimately I decided that, though I am all about unflinching honesty and embarrassing myself for you guys, reviewing this product on my blog seemed a bit too blush-inducing, even for me. And now, here I am, writing about it on my blog! I am nothing if not a contradiction, wrapped in a mystery, zipped up in a hoodie.

Yes, Pete proved himself to be the ultimate gift-giver, persisting even after his first attempt sort of...missed the mark. Let's just say the first version he sent was a perfect example of what a guy thinks a girl would like. I'll be honest: it was horrifying. The stuff of nightmares. Like, you want me to do what with that? But after some gentle nudging, and some hints along the lines of, "Actually, I was thinking of something a little more...purple," he pulled through. He even hand-delivered it and spent the night, unlike a certain immature man-child who shall remain nameless, Andrew. So, thanks Pete.

Now I just have to figure out a story for all the recent arrivals to my newly packed house that would explain all this coffee I'm grinding in my room. Cappuccino, anyone?

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Why I don't want to live with my parents, even if they're your parents

My roommate's parents are lovely people. But given that their main residence is in Liechtenstein, I wasn't expecting to see them on the deck right outside my bedroom window when I arrived home from work yesterday. My roommate forgot to mention that his parents are coming to stay for a month. Surprise! As I mentioned, his parents are pretty cool as far as parents go, but they aren't exactly unobtrusive. They headed to bed early last night, which meant that I woke up at the stroke of 4:45 this morning to the sounds of footsteps on hardwood floors and general morning busy-ness. And then I woke up again approximately every half hour after between 4:45 and 8:00 a.m. Clomp! Cough! Toilet flushing! Sink running! Toilet again!

This afternoon I returned home after a five-hour respite at work to find every window in the house open to the cool, gray skies, and the wind whistling menacingly through every room. Hammering noises sounded from the basement. The lawn was mowed, and the house was turned upside down. Dishes lined the counter tops, the sideboard in the dining room had disappeared completely, and new end tables had sprouted like awkwardly placed mushrooms. I went into the kitchen to wash my tupperware from lunch. The sponge had been replaced with a dishrag, and the dish soap had disappeared--returned to its rightful place under the sink, I discovered after some digging. And, I can't complain too much; after all, I should be used to it by now. They were here for what turned out to be six weeks back in September and October, and for another month in December and January. But that's just the thing. They are always here. I see them more than I see my parents--and my parents live on this continent! And I got absolutely zero warning this time, as my roommate apparently deemed it not important enough to mention. And honestly, he's been getting on my last nerve. Andrew was right--I don't trust that guy! But since he's moving out in August, it hardly seemed worth it to say something. After all, his parents can't come to visit again before August (can they???) But, for the sake of my own sanity, I sent off a quick e-mail letting him know that in the future it would be appreciated if he could apprise me of things like his parents coming to stay for a month.

He came home shortly after I returned home from work and I saw him head straight to his computer. His mother stood beside him reading over his shoulder. Whispered consultation in German. A few minutes later, his mother found me in the kitchen. "Oh, you know," she mentioned casually, "it's going to be a full house. Alex's girlfriend is back in the country, and she's coming to stay here for three weeks." Well, it's a party then! Like a month-long friends and family reunion. How fun for you! Because, oh, did I mention that his brother is here too? His brother is here too! But at least I sent him that e-mail, right, or else I wouldn't have known about the girlfriend coming to stay. Good thing he sent his mom in to tell me. Just like a big boy!

An hour and a half later, and there is still hammering coming from the basement. I'm pretty sure they're building an exact replica of their village in Liechtenstein down there, so they'll never have to leave.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Why I enjoy being a girl

So, what do you do when you have a severe case of blogger's block and absolutely nothing of consequence to write about?

Well I don't know what you do, but I'm posting pictures of pretty shoes.

I fell in love with these puppies in the window of an amazing antique/vintage store here in Mythaca while my sister was visiting. It was my birthday! They were gold! And, perhaps most importantly, I could see through the window that they were my size! It was a birthday miracle! But...the store was closed.

So, I dragged my sister back there bright and early the next afternoon. I rushed across the street, squinting towards the storefront window going, "Do you see them? I don't see them! I think they're gone!"

They weren't.

They are perfect and classic and, though vintage, have apparently never been worn. Seriously--no scuff marks, no dings, no wear and no tear. Just gold, strappy, heel-tottering perfection.

Thirty years from now, some lonely and lovelorn girl will probably spot these puppies in that very same storefront window, and marvel over their pristine condition. "It's like they've never been worn!" she will say. Because, yeah. Find an occasion to wear gold strappy sandals here? In Mythaca? Ha! Ha, I say! This photo shoot is all the action they will probably see for a while.

But that's ok. It's enough just to have them, you know? I will probabl
y take them out and stroke them lovingly every once in a while, and promise them that just as soon as that handsome, 6'4" stranger shows up to whisk me off to an evening at the ballet, they will be so there.

And here is where you pretend that I painted my toenails and shaved my legs for you.

You're welcome!

But! That is not all! Because, what is an impulse buy without another, impulsier buy?

So I picked up a vintage necklace, too. What? It was the day after still my birthday!

It really sets off the Target clearance rack top to perfection, don't you think? (Ahem...)

Anyway, that was my day of shopping. Why is it that buying vintage always feels so much more satisfying in a way that buying new never does? Seriously, doesn't scoring something great at an antiques store or even at Goodwill make you feel sort of virtuous and clever and warm inside? No?

(I used to have male readers, but look, there they all went.)

Well, now that it's just us ladies...Where do you love to shop? Have you bought anything really great lately?