Monday, June 28, 2010

Why it's hard to make lemonade when life gives you rotten onions

Today was one of those days. First a rotten onion fell on my pants. They were white pants. Now they are white pants with a disgusting brown rotten onion stain on them. I mean, really. Who does that happen to; who has a rotten onion fall on their pants? And, perhaps more importantly, who in this house left an onion to rot only for it to adhere stickily to the perfectly good, non-rotten onion placed casually on top of it, only to un-adhere itself dramatically onto the first pair of white pants it sees? It might have been me, I don't know.

Then, not fifteen minutes after the onion incident, I broke a glass. A glass that someone (definitely not me this time) ((I think)) had placed precariously, tipsily, and I think we can all agree, incorrectly, into the dish drainer, which I barely touched when it then toppled onto the kitchen floor and shattered into a million little pieces. And is it just me, or do you get that mom voice in your head every time you break a glass, and it says, "Stop, wait. First, go put some shoes on." And so you do, and not because your mom told you to, but because you're barefoot and it just makes sense. Then you come back, and you're picking up the shards of glass and that mom voice is saying, "Now be careful, you don't want to cut yourself," and you're like, "Mooooooooommmm, I'm thirty years old for god's sake, I'm not going to--aw, christ, motherf--OWWWWWW!" And suddenly you're bleeding and surrounded by glass shards and there's rotten onion juice on your pants and then your spend the next hour and a half on the phone with "Ricardo" from HP tech support because the sound on your laptop has suddenly and mysteriously stopped working. And your computer is no longer under warranty so Ricardo wants you to pay $99 for unlimited tech support for one year! What a deal!

When I mentioned to Ricardo that I was loathe to spend money when I wasn't even sure he would be able to resolve the issue, "Ma'am, I can assure you, I assure you I can fix it."

"Because I've already done a bit of research on this and I've tried reinstalling the drivers and someone already told me that I need to do a system recovery, but I don't want to do that if I don't have to, so if you're just going to tell me that I need to do a system recovery..."

"Oh no, ma'am, there is no need for that. I guarantee you I can fix it and you will not need to do a system recovery."

Ricardo seemed so confident in his ability to fix the problem without me having to back up all my files and painstakingly re-install all of my programs, that I let him talk me into the low, low price of $49.99 for fourteen days of phone support. I gave him my debit card information and sat back to let him work his ghostly magic, watching my cursor float around as he took control of my computer, relieved to have finally turned my problems over into the hands of an expert. For 90 daytime minutes, I watched him do everything I had already tried.

"Ricardo, I already tried re-installing the drivers, it didn't work," I told him.

"Ma'am, I just need to isolate the problem, ok ma'am."

When that didn't work, he tried it again. When that didn't work, he had me re-start my computer. Then log in to our session again. Then re-start again. Log in. Then more fiddling with drivers. Then more re-starting. He seemed genuinely stumped.

"Ma'am, I think you are going to have to perform a system recovery."

"But, Ricardo, that is exactly what I said I didn't want to do. I mean...that is the part I already knew. You told me...I mean, you told me...!"

"I am sorry ma'am, I really thought I could re-install the drivers, but I have tried three different ones. I think it is probably a hardware issue."

"And so...what then?"

"Then you have to send us the laptop and it will be three nine eight dollars."

"Wait, how much dollars? I mean, how many?"

"Three nine eight, ma'am, three nine eight."

When I expressed my dismay, he left me with this bit of free advice: "Well ma'am, maybe you could just use the computer without the sound."

And the person who comes up with the pithiest retort to this gem wins a prize*, because I certainly did not think of one in the moment.

Long story short: one free consultation at Best Buy and one $40 external sound card later, and I'm back in the game, baby. (If by "game" you mean listening to something other than those annoying mom voices in my head. Which I am. With headphones. Not the voices. Er...yeah.)

In conclusion, I'm think that HP probably stands for...what... Huge Prick? No, too complimentary... Hollow Promises?
Heartless Prevaricator? Hugely Pernicious? In any case, I am taking all future business to my best bud, Best Buy.


Sunday, June 20, 2010

Why I am the Charlie Brown of dating

How do you feel about open relationships? he texted me the other night.

Well this doesn't bode well, I thought, my heart sinking a little, and I was right. Since our first go-round last winter Jimmy James has performed a complete 180 in his misconceptions of me. Back then, for some reason he assumed that because I was "reserved and shy" (his words, ugh) I was some kind of tightly wound prude who thought that having sex with him meant I should start picking out wedding dresses. Since then, I seem to have set him straight on the matter, albeit unintentionally, by mentioning one time that I was planning to hang out with my out-of-town friend that night. Yes, a guy. No, not my boyfriend. A hook up? Do you really think I would tell you if it was? But as it turned out, I didn't have to tell him. Though I stuck by my story that I was just hanging out with my friend (which was true), he wouldn't let go of the idea that I was hooking up (which I suppose was also true). I played nonchalant and didn't try too hard to convince him otherwise, since he seemed to get such a kick out of the whole thing. Instead of repressed prude, he now saw me as some kind of sexual free spirit, and it's funny how someone's view of you can change so completely and still be so off mark. I'd gone from Charlotte to Samantha practically overnight in his eyes (though he may not have put it that way), and he seemed thrilled by the whole thing. "Good for you!" he exclaimed, his delighted laughter devolving into giggles. "That's great that you have a hook up. No really, I mean it!" I just shrugged, still neither confirming or denying anything. Looking back, that should have been my first clue. What can I say, I guess sometimes I go willfully color blind in the face of waving red flags. And it's not like I actually thought anything would happen with him, anyway. We were just having a beer, for god's sake. And then another night, and another beer. Lately I've been seeing him about once a week or so, though I always end up feeling like an afterthought.

He likes me more this time, he said; I'm different than I was before. More laid back. He thinks I've changed, though I haven't. He just never bothered to actually get to know me, before. He still hasn't really, now. And so we hang out, and it has quickly evolved into a pal-sy kind of relationship, hanging out with him and the guys, and a hug at the end of the night. So, fine. So, we'll be friends. (Can you please not sock me in the arm like that though? I'm not actually one of the guys, and that kind of hurts.) So, fine, except that through all the buddy-buddy stuff, he would occasionally get started with the flirty, sexy text messages, which, also, fine. I would playfully respond, taking secret delight in the fact that maybe, just maybe, he wanted to take this friendship thing to another level. Which would also be fine. And just look at me, a model of laid-back-itude and hey, man, whatever, it's cool. But then.

Open relationships?
I texted back. Bwargh? Huh? Or maybe something marginally more coherent. Why?

No reason, just wondering, haha.

No, it did not bode well.

Hanging out with him last night, it was me and four dudes and all the farting and masturbation conversations that that inevitably entails. But fine, I will happily borrow his friends for a couple hours on a Friday night given that I currently have, like, maybe one friend of my own here. (Ahem.) At the bar we finally had a moment to talk alone, and it started innocently enough. "I found an apartment," he mentioned. "Me, my friend Al, and this girl."

"That's great," I congratulated him. "So who's this girl? Someone you know?"

He immediately went all coy and vague and eye-darty, obviously hoping to get a rise out of me, which, perversely, only made me want to prove to him the ponderously heavy weight of exactly how much I did not give a fuck. I refused to take the bait, changed the subject. When he mentioned the price, though, "For a three bedroom?" I exclaimed incredulously. Here came the shifty eyes again.

"Actually, it's a two bedroom..." he said, leaving me to do the math on that one. This time it was him that changed the subject. "You know," he said, "if you're interested in any of my friends, I wouldn't have a problem with that..."

I hadn't thought it was possible for this conversation to get any worse, but then, here it was. "Uh, what?" I said.

"You know, I'm just saying... It wouldn't bother me. Like, my friend Al said he thinks you're pretty cute..."

"You want me to get with Al?" I said, my mouth agape. "You think I should be with Al???" Not only was I not at all interested in the Al in question, but we are not even the kind of people one would look at and think, Now they would make a good couple. The idea of it was just preposterous. Not to mention that I had said all of five words to the guy. "With Al?" I repeated dumbly.

"Or any of my friends," he said. "I'm just saying, if there's anyone you're interested in..."

I quickly ran through the options: friend one--has a girlfriend, friend two--moving to Florida next week (with his girlfriend), leaving...yeah. Al.

"I don't understand. Why are you saying this?" I said, silently pleading with him to stop, hoping my voice didn't betray the hurt that was building by the second. Not wanting to date me was one thing, but to try to pawn me off on his friend like an old shoe... I felt myself sinking into my bar stool.

"So, this person that I'm going to be living with," he said in response, "is actually a person that I know pretty well..."

"This girl," I said. "You can call her a girl, I already know it's a girl."

"I met her after you and I stopped seeing each other, and at first I didn't think it was going to work out, and then she moved to Pittsburgh. But we kept talking, and well...we're both kind of doing our own thing now, but she's going to move back here. Maybe. I mean, it's not definite. I hope she does."

"With you," I said. "She's going to move in with you." Trying to rationalize the fact that he wouldn't even have sex with me, because that was moving too fast. Moving in with her. Trying not to be hurt by it. Failing.

"Why are you telling me this?" I said dumbly.

"I didn't want you to be shocked when it happens. And, you know, I've been having a good time hanging out with you. I like getting a beer with you, and hanging out with my friends with you. And I know it's hard to meet people here, so I want you to still be able to hang out with my friends if you want. And, you know, I think you're really great and I'm obviously really attracted to you, I mean, that's obvious."

He expounded, insisting over and over how obvious his attraction to me was, when as far as I was concerned, that was the one thing that wasn't obvious at all. Like saying black holes are obviously black. I mean, maybe they are, but how do I know?

My thoughts were a muddled mess; I didn't know what to say. I mumbled something about just being friends, then. Or continuing to just be friends, rather, since we were never anything but in the first place. "Just as long as you still help me move," I said, not quite joking. (Priorities, people.)

"Of course! Definitely!" he responded, too enthusiastically.

And that's how we left it. We said goodnight and I came home a whirling, swirling mess of emotions I couldn't even identify. Was I sad? Angry? Indifferent? I didn't know, but whatever I was, I was a lot of it. Out of all the whirling, swirling thoughts, here's what I am left with: there is bad luck, and then there's me. I know it's sort of what this blog is based on, but even I think this is starting to get ridiculous. Charlie Brown, Kono calls me. Synonymous for some lumphead who takes a flying leap at a football and lands flat on his back every time. Someone who thinks that maybe this is it, this time they're not going to yank the football out from under me, this time they'll play nice and I'll kick that football as hard as I can. Someone who never, ever learns. Wahh wahhhh. Poor Charlie Brown.

There's some new age-y theory out there that says, in essence, you get what you give. You are putting something out there, sending messages to the universe, whether you know it or not. Now, I am of the opinion that this is a load of horseshit. It's a convenient way for successful people to congratulate themselves while easing their white, middle-class guilt because poor people must want to be poor. But still. After a while this so-called "bad luck" does start feeling less like a bizarre string of coincidences and more like...well, a pattern.

So what do you think? Does Charlie Brown secretly want that football to be yanked away at the last second? Does he think he's not good enough to kick the football? Is his expectation of failure a self-fulfilling prophecy? Or is Charlie a hapless bystander in a cruel and senseless universe, and Lucy a devious bitch who should have been socked in the face long ago?

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Why I'm against secondhand sex

I haven't posted in nearly a week, after not posting for nearly a week before that, which hearkens back to the bad old grad student days of yore when everything was all work, work, work all the time with nary an interesting tale to tell. And here I am again, and if I maybe snootily hoped that a Master's degree in teaching would be somehow less, ahem, rigorous than a Master's in French literature, I was wrong, and I heartily apologize to high school teachers everywhere. At the moment I am over-worked and under-entertained, which doesn't make for very interesting blogging, and for that I am sorry.

So, things are pretty status quo, here. I ran into James the tool unexpectedly on campus the other day, and he quite literally ran away from me. ("Late for a meeting, gotta gooooooo..." was all I heard as he scurried past, his words fading as he receded into the distance.) I saw Jimmy James again last night, and he is just as shruggingly non-committal and impossible to read as ever.

I am writing now from my friend Canaan's mom's house with a fluffy white pooch snuggled up next to me and two turtles clunking around noisily in their tank. I am house-sitting for the next two weeks, for which I am inordinately grateful, as just yesterday I was rudely awoken at 6:13 a.m. (not that I'm keeping track or anything, ahem) to the operatic sounds of passionate lovemaking. Yes, again. And I tell you what, as irked at my roommate
as I already am, knowing that he and his girlfriend frequently enjoy really good sex does not make me like him one bit more. Not one little bit. (Haaaate. Am so full of haaaate.) Knowing that they choose to participate in this activity in the room that opens onto the same hallway as mine, when he has his own very secluded bedroom clear on the other side of the house does not help matters any. I am very tempted to mention this to him, since their inconsiderate sexing is messing with my (already deprived) sleep schedule and also makes me feel all funny on the inside, but...horrors and uncontrollable blushing. Things are already tense enough without admitting that I've been an unwilling witness to their every recent sexual climax. Egad. I'm thinking I'll just let it go for now and hope that by the time I go back in a couple weeks the girlfriend will have sexed herself into an acute case of laryngitis.

I have a sneaking suspicion, however, that my readers are not as inhibited as I am. Let's take a poll, shall we? Knowing that I am already on, let's say, not the best of terms with my roommate, and that I only have to live there for another month and a few days anyway, would you a) say something? or b) suck it up for the next month for the sake of relative roommate harmony? And sub-a, would you *asterisk- be polite? or &ampersand- say something snarky? And sub-b, what if I tell you that (parenthesis- it's really effing loud, and ~squiggle thing- there's no way it can be that good; bitch has gotta be faking.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Why home is where your peace is

Fairly shortly after my roommate's entire family showed up for their month-long visit and home improvement blitzkrieg, I found myself checking the Craigslist apartment listings. At first it was just once in a while, taking some notes and sending some e-mails, but pretty soon it was every hour, frantically hitting refresh and praying something new had appeared. Anything that looked remotely promising tended to be both beyond my means, and guaranteed to be taken before I could even get out my first e-mail inquiry. But still, I kept trying. I saw a lot of places. So many crumbly, falling apart, carpeted (gag), stinky, dimly-lit places. There were even more places that I didn't see--I got stood up no less than three times (but a peek through the windows and/or a quick chat with the neighbors revealed that I probably didn't want to live there anyway.) I almost gave up hope. Then I woke up one night and realized I was becoming way too familiar with the vocal stylings emitted by my roommate's girlfriend as she approaches sexual climax, and so I continued my search with renewed fervor. The end result is this:

Internet, I found it.

It's furnished, all utilities included, and quite a bit more than I wanted to pay, but you know what? It's mine. And perhaps more importantly--no one's parents live there. And, Internet, it is gorgeous. There's hardwood floors, a remodeled kitchen, and tasteful landscaping. There's a deck and a grill and a cute little cafe table and chairs under the trees. This apartment is perfect. This apartment makes me want to be a better person. It makes me want to make scones and brew coffee in a French press and drink it outside in the garden. It makes me want to compost and grow vegetables and sponsor a child and go to yoga every day. Not that I will do any of these things, mind you. But I want to.

These pictures don't really do it justice (but once I move in, prepare to be inundated.) So for now you'll just have to take my word for it. Here it is, my little slice of heaven:

I move in August 1st.

Thirty years old and living in my own place for the first time. What else can't I accomplish this year? The mind boggles.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Why I may always be a Marylander, but I don't have to talk like one

I can be a tough nut to crack, humor-wise. Something has to hit me just right to make me laugh out loud. (You know, because my sense of humor is so sophisticated.) But when I saw this out-of-the-blue bit in 30 Rock, it tickled me just the right way:

Watching this, I had a sudden flashback to the spring of 2001, and the first time I ever lived outside of Maryland. I was studying abroad in France with a bunch of girls from all over the country. (All you boys who were too cool for French missed out, for real.) One of my friends there was from New England--Worcester, actually ("Wusta")--and for the life of me, I couldn't figure out why she kept making fun of the way I talked. "But, I don't have an accent," I would say. "You have an accent." And in response she would say, "Say it! Say 'boots' again! Say it! What are you going to wear, Rach? Your beeeeewwts?" And then she would crack up like she'd never heard anyone say the word boots before. "Then what, are you going to go heeewme and clean your reeewm?" It got pretty annoying.

"Oh, what," I would say, "you're going to clean your rum?" The fun never stopped.

After watching this video, I can confidently state that at some point during the eight years I have been away from Maryland, I finally lost the accent that I never knew I had. Thank god. 'Cause that accent is idiawtic.