Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Why it really is ironic, don't you think? (No, really, it is)

At this year's company holiday party (which I attended alone, dateless, and otherwise all by myself--aren't you proud of me for not chickening out?), I ended up in a long and only somewhat drunken conversation with one of the chef's wives--total girl crush material, and I desperately hoped I was hiding my social retardation enough for her to want to be my new best friend. (We high-fived over our mutually strained relationships with our mothers! "How do you not like your mother?" the guy across the table asked in horror, as she and I exchanged knowing glances.)

And then this happened: "You know who you remind me of?" she said. "Kristen Wiig."

"Um...oh..." I said, no doubt doing something really awful with my face, that caused her to say, "I mean, I hope you take that as a compliment. I really like her, I think she's awesome."

"Um...yeah...That'," I murmured, my face still registering a mixture of shock and disappointment. Luckily we both let it drop at that point, but believe me, it was awkward

Because, are you ready for this? I don't know if you were aware, but this is who Kristen Wiig actually is: 

But this is who I thought she meant:

For the uninitated, that is actually Kristen Schaal, otherwise known as Mel from Flight of the Conchords. Honestly, I don't know why I just assumed that that's who she was talking about. I blame the Kristens-with-double-vowels-in-their-last-names thing. Also, I think I've been a bit edgy about this sort of thing ever since a guy I met at a party told me I looked like Kathy Griffin. You don't get over something like that. 

But, to reiterate, this is Kristen Wiig: 

And this is not Kristen Wiig:

Again, below is the hilarious, talented, and beautiful Kristen Wiig...ok, so this one is not the best example:

Here we go. Much better:

And again, this is who I thought I was being compared to:

I do need to interject here to say that I'm a huge Kristen Schaal fan. I think she's talented and funny and adorable, and I actually had a lot of trouble locating awkward enough pictures of her, since in the majority of the photos I found of her online she is looking pretty and polished. It's just that in that moment, my mind latched on to her Mel persona and couldn't let it go. So this girl basically called me out as the funny-looking funny girl, or so I thought. And right when we were getting along so well!

"Can you believe she said I look like Kristen Wiig?" I griped later to my not-so-secret admirer/new friend, who had been at my elbow all night. 

"Who?" he replied, not so helpfully. I explained. "Um, yeah. So?" he replied.

"Argh!" I replied.

I texted something similar to my sister, who replied, "Nah, she's cute. I liked her in Bridesmaids."

Suddenly the heavens opened and a beam of light shone down on my forehead, which I promptly smacked. Kristen WIIG! Oh my god, of course, Kristen WIIG! Well I love Kristen WIIG! She's beautiful and funny and...oh my god, I must explain this hilarious misunderstanding to my new best friend right away! Except she wasn't there; she had already left. Of course she had, I remembered, which would explain why she had said goodbye and asked for my e-mail address (score!

I explained my life-changing revelation to my not-so-secret admirer/new friend, still at my elbow, who replied, "Um, so?" 

"No, you don't get it!" I exclaimed. "It's like someone telling you you look like Carrot Top, and then you find out that actually they meant Brad Pitt!"

"Why would that matter anyway?" he said. "I've been telling you you look great all night."

"Kristen WIIG!" I exclaimed.

Facebook message sent to new best friend girl I met once and will probably never see again, explaining hilarious misunderstanding: over forty-eight hours and still no response. Not looking so good, folks. Granted, a married mother of three small children might not have been the best candidate for a new friendship. Still though, she lives nearby, and I was super hoping. 

Dates gone on with not-so-secret admirer: one last night, and he has already asked me out again for Friday, and he invited me to a party at his house on Sunday/New Year's Day. (New Year's Eve still looking sad as all get-out, unfortunately. Sidebar--Ok, so I do have an invitation to hang out with a friend of a friend and his friends (got it?), but somehow a pity invite and hanging out with strangers on New Year's Eve just seems sadder than spending the night alone. End sidebar). Not-so-secret admirer is short, chubby, and blond. Also very sweet, and seems super into me. Still though, could I not once be pursued by tall, dark, and handsome? Although, I have already met his friends (date zero, and he already introduced me to his friends!), and we are already Facebook friends. Which, I have the vague feeling may be the two things I specifically mentioned recently as very much lacking in my last "relationship," and why do I have the feeling the universe is laughing at me?

I will give you everything you ever professed to want in a man except, haaa, yeah, you will never, ever in a million years be attracted to him! Mwahahaha...

The universe, she is a devious bitch.                

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Why I guess that's why they call it the blues

In an effort to avoid writing about that again, I was going to basically do a copy-paste of a series of five e-mails sent to me on Plenty of Fish over a 24-hour period from one increasingly agitated dude. His growing exasperation over the fact that I hadn't yet responded to him (gasp! The nerve!) finally reached a breaking point ("STILL no response? Not cool!"), which was followed several minutes later with his final e-mail ("Bye bye"), and did I mention this was all within 24 hours? But then I deleted my PoF account in a fit of disgust, and sadly, those particular e-mails were lost forever, so now you will just have to take my word for it. But seriously, dude was nuts. 

So, you see, I wasn't going to write about that (that) at all, but then someone felt the need to do the Formal Breakup Phone Call, and for once that someone wasn't even me. This delightful conversation was filled with heartwarming gems like, "I just didn't feel like our relationship was going to flourish" (Bam!), and, "I like you, but you can't spend your life with someone just because you like them. You have to love them." (Kapow!) At which point my instinct for self-preservation kicked in. "Hey, you really don't have to explain all this to me," I said. "I mean, I get it. You're not that into me! I've known that for two months now. You really don't have to explain how not into me you are. Just stop." I asked him why he had called me (he didn't want to just leave things the way they were, although he was starting to think perhaps it hadn't been such a good idea), he said he hoped we could be friends (I said, I don't think so, bud), I said good luck, because it's less heartbreaking than "goodbye forever," and he said it too, and if his voice sounded a bit watery at the end, then good. Let the motherfucker cry, I thought. I had held it together this entire conversation, you see (having had weeks to prepare for it), which of course means that as soon as I hung up I burst into bitter, gasping, hopeless tears and spent the remainder of that fine Friday evening on my bed weeping and huddled in the fetal position. But it was ok, because I didn't have plans anyway. Ba dum bum!

So, now I can finally put a lid on this thing once and for all and close with the fucking end.                 

Friday, December 16, 2011

Why I'm glad we're all on the same page here

Dear Schizophrenic Commenters of the Internet*,

I have to admit I was a little confused by some of the comments on my last post. Chiefly because a majority of comments on the post just before that one, seriously, the one right below it, were to the tune of:

"Give that bloke the BOOT!!!!!!"

"It's time to dump his Moroccan ass."

"Definitely drop the boy."

"Yeah, he's done."

"Drop him like a hot potato."

"Do not waste your time."

"Get rid of this guy."

So, message received, loud and clear. And believe me, you weren't telling me anything I didn't already know. Get rid of the guy, I got it! But then, when I did just that (albeit perhaps in a bit more of a passive-aggressive manner than some people seem comfortable with), somehow the general tone of the comments section turned into:

"You came across as very abrupt and off-putting."

"Your text to him was really aggressive."

"Your pattern is aloofness, and defensiveness."

"Poor guy..."

"I imagine he is really confused by what has happened, and probably offended too."

And my personal favorite: "Don't forget that if you're the slightest bit emotionnaly [sic] needy, you will blow things with him, and any other guy."

I mean, I get it, sort of. As a stand alone post, even I would read that and be like, whoa, bitch be crazy. But I've been writing about this guy for a while, now, and I guess I sort of assumed everyone was there with me. But since it appears that wasn't the case, let me clarify: I wasn't sad because he seemed eager to get off the phone with me or because he didn't respond to my provocation at picking a fight. I've been sad for weeks now, because he doesn't want to date me but I want to date him waaahhhh why doesn't he like me??? This is the guy who's kept me at arm's length for the last two months, and let's not kid ourselves--arms length? He's got two arms and a leg in there. So, yes, the sadness and frustration was a cumulative effect reaching last-straw proportions, not because of one phone conversation. I mean, can't you people read my mind? Or failing that, at least my last three blog posts? Jeesh.

Evolutionary Revolutionary suggested sending him an e-mail to clear the air, which, haaa, funny story. After two months of dating hanging out dating sleeping together oh whatthefuckever, I don't actually have his e-mail address. And, as previously mentioned, we aren't acquainted on Facebook, either, so the only way I have of reaching him electronically is through the Plenty of Fish website, and...ehhh, I didn't want to do that. But, after careful consideration, I decided to send him a text. Because goddamn, do you people have a knack for making me second guess myself.

I'm sorry for not answering you, I said. I was afraid of getting hurt, and it just seemed easier.

And then, after checking my phone every five minutes for the next four hours losing myself in my work and completely forgetting I had texted him (haaa!), he finally replied: No problem, I understood your frustration... Hope you had a good time in Philly.

I replied that I did have a good time, and hoped he had a nice weekend as well.

And that, it appears, is that. There's been no further communication, which is as it should be, I suppose. So basically, the same net result as before, only it all feels slightly more civil, now. Still raw, still painful. But civil.

And now is when you all offer up supportive, inspirational, lovely words of encouragement for me, yes? Yes. Or, you know, highlight my most glaring weaknesses, personality flaws, and personal failures. Commenters' choice!

*You know I still love you, right?                      

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Why (I am led to wonder why) I try

It hurts more than it should, considering. Considering it was only two months, considering how little time we actually spent together during those two months, considering that we both knew all along that there was no hope for a future. (Did we? Did we both know that? Or are some of us eternal optimists idiots in that regard?) But goddammit, I liked him. I really, really liked him. And how often does that happen to me? Once, maybe twice a year, I meet someone I actually like, and so when it happens, I cling to it. That feeling that I had lost, that I was afraid I would never find again. And so I let myself get swept away in it, for a little while, until I lose it again. Until it gets taken from me. 

On Friday he called. A rarity (usually he texts), but it happens. Happened. I was waiting for a bus to Philly, off to visit friends for the weekend. I missed his call, just, and called him back. "I left you a message!" he said. Oh? I said. What did you say? "Just wanted to see how your week was and that I hope you have a good time in Philly," he said. Oh, thanks, I said. "So send me a text when you arrive to let me know you got there safe," he said. "Ok? Well I'll talk to you later, bye!"

I blinked at the phone in my hand. A phone call was a rarity, as I said, and this one hardly allowed for time to catch up. Wanted to see how your week was? Talk to you later, bye? I could have said nothing. Before I probably would have said nothing, but this time I didn't.

Why did you call if you didn't actually want to talk to me? I texted.

What? he replied.

But I didn't answer. And neither did he. And that, it seems, is that.

Only, it hurts. It hurts to know that I am not worth the tiniest bit of a chase, even if it would have led straight to a dead end. That he couldn't be bothered. That after two months, this is how it ends. What? 

What, indeed.         

This one's for the lonely
The ones that seek and find
Only to be let down
Time after time

This one's for the torn down
The experts at the fall
Come on friends get up now
You're not alone at all


It comes and goes in waves
I am only led to wonder why
It comes and goes in waves
I am only led to wonder why
Why I try

Monday, December 5, 2011

Why I've been scrooged. Scrooged!

Only one week in and already I'm 0 for 2 in the great "Ask for What You Want" experiment.

Re: Wanting to see the Moroccan more than two or three times a month:

Him: "You will see me exactly the same amount or possibly less, and also, due to our vastly different religious beliefs, there is almost no chance of our having any kind of future together."

Me: "Did I hear an almost? I like the sound of those odds. I accept your generous offer to continue seeing each other casually when your schedule allows for it and 'see where things go.'" (I know, I know. Baby steps.)

The second part didn't even intentionally start out as "Ask For What You Want" (AFWYW), but rather as a casual question at work, namely, "Oh, hey, what days do we get off for Christmas?"

Answer: "What day is Christmas this year? Sunday? So, none, then. None days."

Me: "Um?"

"Oh, and New Year's Day is also a Sunday, huh? Yeah, that's too bad." 

I was tempted to quit right then out of protest, and also spite (so much spite!), for this and numerous other indignities, but, you know. (Homelessness not being on my wish list this year.) And so I stay.

Dear Santa,

All I want for Christmas this year is a better job and a boy who will want to see me as often as two times a week, and maybe introduce me to his friends. But I don't want to ask for too much. I would settle for winning the lottery. 


About to Join the Occupy Wall Street Protesters, or a Convent        

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Why is it so hard to ask for what you want?

Anonymous commented on my last post, "[...]Ask yourself what kind of relationship message you are putting out? You are afraid of getting hurt and so often keep men at arms length. That message comes out that YOU are afraid of commitment as well. That YOU aren't capable of being close to another person, because of your fear."

In an instant I recognized this as truth. The timing of the comment was perfect, because its message was actually something that I have been thinking about a lot over the last couple days. In one of the most surprisingly helpful conversations I have ever had with Pete, he led me to this fairly life-changing idea: If you're not getting what you want, why don't you try asking for it? Ask for what you want. 

My gut reaction was immediate and visceral: No way! With his well-duh question of "Why not?", suddenly, in a flash, I finally saw myself from the outside, saw every relationship and pseudo-relationship of the last few years, and their freakily similar demises: boy meets girl. Girl hopes against hope that boy will fall madly in love with her and give her everything she's ever wanted, all the while pretending she could care less. When inevitably he doesn't give her what she had hoped for in the time frame she would have desired, girl writes off boy forever. He gets vilified as a jerk for not giving her everything she wanted, when the fact is, she never asked for anything in the first place. 

The fact is, the past four and a half years I have been so afraid of not getting what I want that I've been afraid to admit that I want anything at all. I've been so afraid of getting told 'no' that it seemed easier to never ask a question at all. This whole time I've been waiting for "The One," he who would fall madly and deeply in love with me and prove this with overwhelming displays of his passion and also long-term commitment, only after which would I finally feel safe and secure enough to begrudgingly admit that I returned his affections. If this plot sounds familiar it's because it's at the root of every single rom-com ever made, but in real life? PEOPLE DON'T DO THIS. Any kind of relationship is a mutual endeavor and requires effort and encouragement from both parties; it's not supposed to be some big pass/fail test that the guy doesn't even know he is taking. ("YOU FAILED!" "Wait, but...what was the question?" "Didn't you know you were supposed to read my mind? You lose, get out!")

Pete's advice was surprisingly pragmatic. So, I am upset that the Moroccan doesn't seem to want to spend more time with me. Have I asked him to spend more time with me? Well, no, he should just want to! I am upset that he still has his online dating profile up or that he has not Facebook friended me, but have I asked him what he thinks about taking down his profile? Have I sent him a Facebook friend request? Well no, but... "But what?" Pete says. I don't want to be that girl, I think, and then just as quickly I think, wait, what girl? The girl who has a boyfriend? Suddenly it occurred to me that all these married women I see everywhere probably didn't just sit around twiddling their thumbs until someone asked them to marry him, and when he did they probably didn't respond by saying, "Oh, gosh, wow! Honestly I had never even thought about it before, but now that you ask, well, okay!" But, in a way, that's what I've been doing for years. I've been so afraid of scaring guys off that I wait around hoping he'll give me something, and when he does I say, "Well, ok, if that's what you want!" But I have never once even hinted at what I want. 

It seems so revolutionary, and at the same time so astonishingly simple: Ask for what you want. ASK for what you want! It's a new way of life, it's a new way of dating, maybe a whole new me. 

Of course, the downside of "ask for what you want" is that you could be told no. But, as Pete put it, at least then you know where you stand, and you know it a lot sooner than if you keep dragging things out indefinitely as some people (ahem) are wont to do. 

I should mention after my last post that the Moroccan is not a jerk, and he is not just like every other guy. I was disappointed that things weren't progressing as I wanted (even though I had never told him what I wanted), and I wrote that post under the influence of some pretty serious hormonal fluctuation. I am not saying that things are all good, but they might not be as hopeless as they seem (although they also might be). 

Stay tuned for part 2 of the "Ask for what you want" saga, otherwise known as, "But you might not like the answer..."

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Why it's the end of the beginning

In the end, it always ends. It's the Six Week Slow Fade, and by now I can see it coming from miles away. Six weeks being the length of time that my charm remains charming, apparently. It's become so predictable, so routine, that this time I don't even have to hang around for weeks more, wondering if that's what's really happening or if I'm just going crazy, if he's just busy; I don't have to wait around to find out exactly how little he's willing to give me, not this time. It's happened all before. Andrew. Jimmy. Luke. Just enough time for my guard to drop. Just enough time to hope. And then the disappearing act. I tried to hold back this time. I always do, now. I always try not to let myself like him too much. I try to remain a bit apart. Did I succeed? This awful, knotty, crushing feeling that is much more than just wounded pride tells me that I didn't. I let myself get hurt again and I could kick myself, could slap, pinch, pull hair, and I have been, only on the inside where you can't see.

And in the end, contrary to the dire predictions, it wasn't even because he was Muslim, and it had nothing to do with cultural or religious or linguistic differences. I thought that maybe this time I had found someone different, but in the end, he ended up to be just like every other guy. 

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Why my Thanksgiving will be turkey free

This year my sister and I decided fairly last-minute to do Thanksgiving at my house, just the two of us. Our parents are going down to Virginia to see family that my sister and I don't know particularly well, and we both have to work on Friday, and so we responded to our parents' offer to join them with a resounding "meh." Although it was less us "deciding" to have our own Thanksgiving at my house, and more me attempting to lure her out of her anti-social bedroom hidey hole with promises of gratin dauphinois! Butternut squash, brussel sprouts, a whole pumpkin stuffed with bread and cheese and cream! And pie, Becca, pie! The one thing I didn't want to bother with was the turkey. I mean, turkey. Meh. Who needs it? We would have a Very Vegetarian Thanksgiving, I decided, and after way more convincing than you would think would be necessary (I will take care of everything! All you need to do is show up!), my sister finally agreed. 

While I like to keep my gustatory options open, I've been eating vegetarian about 90% of the time for the last couple of years now, and don't really feel like I am missing out on anything. (The other ten percent of the time is reserved for special occasions, like restaurants or pretty much anytime someone else is cooking, and for Bacon Fridays at work. Yes, I may only get four paid holidays a year and one measly week of vacation only after I've worked there a full calendar year, and maybe they "don't do" direct deposit, but by god, there is bacon every Friday.) Plus, everyone knows the best part of Thanksgiving is the carbs and the veggies drowned in butter and cream. And the pie. And the wine. Doing a turkey-less Thanksgiving just made sense for us.

Although just try telling that to some people.

"Oh," my mother said after I told her about our Very Vegetarian Thanksgiving. "Is that because you couldn't get a turkey?"

Well, no, I explained to her, it's that both Becca and I enjoy eating vegetarian. And, you know. Gratin dauphinois! An entire pumpkin stuffed with goodness! Etc.

"Well, maybe your father and I will bring you back some turkey," she said.

Nope! Won't be necessary! I explained. Totally good on the turkey. No turkey needed. Enjoy yours, but, you know, we're fine. 

I thought the matter was settled, but my mother was not giving up that easily. I missed her call tonight and she left a voicemail on my phone. "I have great news!" the message begins. "Your father got a spiral ham from work, so I can give it to Becca to bring with her if you'd like!"

I think I'll wait a while before I break the news that I'm dating a Muslim. The vegetarian thing seems to be enough for her to handle right now. 

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Why I'm looking for snowflakes

Sometimes I think I'm only really happy when things are snowballing. It only feels right to me when we're both spiraling out of control, tumbling towards some kind of present and future happiness, always more, ever bigger. When this doesn't happen, when, god forbid, things sort of just stay...the same, it almost feels like a rejection to me. Why don't you want more? Why won't you fall with me? Must we always walk on tiptoes? I want to run.

Sometimes I think I'm only really happy when things are snowballing. And so, sometimes I think I am never really happy. But still, there are the quiet moments in between. If you keep looking for the snowball you might miss them, but if you pay attention, you might find a snowflake.
"Anti," he said, placing his hand on my chest.

"Anta," I said, placing my hand on his chest.

"Nahnu," he said, drawing me to him with his arms around me. 

"Nahnu," I repeated.

Pronouns are tricky in Arabic. I, he, she...fine. But there's a feminine you and a masculine you. Then there is a different you for you plural (feminine) and you plural (masculine). Then there is they, when you are referring to a group of women, and they, when you are referring to a group of men. My head spun. We is a different story, though. There is only one we. We practiced it again, and I thought, now this "nahnu" I can get behind. I liked the way it sounded. I liked how the second syllable of it sounds like the French for we, which meant I actually stood a chance of remembering it. I liked how every time he said it he wrapped his arms around me, enclosing us in our own little we bubble. And so, without much thinking about it, "I like nahnu," I said, snuggling in. My brain a half second behind my mouth, I only then realized the implications of what I had said. A half second after that, I realized I didn't really care. I did like nahnu. And perhaps, deep down, I had actually known what I was saying all along. By now we were kissing, which is always a good way to gloss over potential awkwardness. But then he stopped. "I like nahnu too," he said. And there it was. Not a snowball, but a snowflake moment. Each one small and perfect and unique.

When you want to run, leap, and tumble with wild abandon, when you want to let yourself fall, standing still can be the hardest thing in the world. In the stillness comes doubt, and the too loud shrieking of your own inner voice. But, if you are very quiet, and you pay attention, sometimes you may find a snowflake.                    

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Why (hi ho, hi ho) it's off to hell I go

In case you were wondering how things with my new job are going two months in, I think it can best be described in list form.

Things that can be found on my desk at work:
  1. a paper calendar, the old-fashioned kind that doesn't sync with anything, for reasons that will soon become obvious;
  2. an adding machine. Who knew that when I was four years old, tappy tap tapping on my grandpa's old adding machine in the basement I was actually foreshadowing my own fut....*snore*.
  3. an actual, I shit you not, Rolodex.
Things that cannot be found on my desk at work:
  1. a keyboard;
  2. a mouse;
  3. and oh yeah, a motherflipping computer.
I mean, there is a computer in the office, of course. A mid-nineties model that we all share that runs our DOS-based accounting program. (DOS. DOOOOOSSSSSSSSSS.) 

There is also a brand-new computer with flat-screen monitor (conveniently in direct view of my boss's desk) that we only use to check our company e-mail account, the address of which ends in 

And before you go getting ideas about ends and means and bootstraps, this is a company with several hundred employees and millions of dollars in profits.

We don't even have voicemail. There's an answering machine in the corner that no one ever looks at and I have no idea how to use. The thing has flashing lights and about five different buttons and not one of them says "play." 

So I guess that's about how my job is going. Any questions?

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Why dating is difficult

While things with the Moroccan are all still for the most part glowy and goofy and good, there is a part of me that knows that this is all still very precarious. The part of me who has seen this all before knows that, historically speaking, this happy, swoony europhic feeling is usually what comes right before the part where I start feeling really, really bad. Pessimistic? Maybe. Realistic? Definitely. 

This is usually the part where I lose all interest in dating other guys and turn all of my attention towards what I think will be (though inevitably never is) the beginning of a promising new relationship. Right around this time, the remaining POF or OKC prospects start looking even worse than usual (and that's saying something), and the desire to actively search out new people to meet dwindles down to practically nothing. But, in the interest of learning from my mistakes, and not putting all my eggs in the same basket, and all manner of other cliches, I decided that until a conversation was had dictating otherwise, I would actively try to continue dating other people. Which is easier said than done (as I mentioned, the POF prospects are looking particularly sad as of late). But when a French gentlemen I met over the course of a couple French meet-ups began e-mailing me, I thought, well, why not. I had already met him and conversed with him, so I knew the date couldn't be that bad. When he suggested a museum one Sunday and I shot him down due to not enough notice and a full list of errands already planned for the day, he backed off. So I figured, what the hell, and a few days later, I asked him out for sushi. He quickly accepted, and so we met in Chinatown after work one night.

I cannot express to you the dull awfulness of this date. The awful dullness. The tedium. The drear. I had thought, you see, that since we had already met and had a perfectly fine time, we were in the clear, but apparently having other people participating in the conversation was a key factor, and one that was sorely lacking this time. It was just awkward, from beginning to end. The conversation dragged, he talked softly, the happy hour crowd was raucous, and it just wasn't good. After dinner he proposed going somewhere for a drink, but I declined, saying that I had a lot of translation work to do. (Bonus points for being true!) He offered to drive me home on his motorcycle, and I again declined. But after about the third time that he asked, and again mentioned that be had brought an extra helmet with him, I thought, You know what, Rachel? Maybe live a little. When was the last time you were on a motorcycle? How bad could it be? (Famous last words.)

If it is possible for something to be both awkward and terrifying, it was. It was awkwardly terrifying, and terrifyingly awkward. With my work pants riding halfway up my shins, and my helmet (no visor) that I realized too late I hadn't tightened enough slipping down the back of my head, I held on for dear life, the cold wind causing tears to stream down my face. At every red light I thought I was going to pitch over his shoulders, and every time we accelerated I thought I would fly off the back. I held on with one hand behind me, as he had shown, and the other I placed hesitantly and uncomfortably on his waist, prompting him to tell me not to "squeeze" him. "Not that you are," he said, "it's just that some people do. They squeeze hard!" Not particularly wanting to be touching him at all, I didn't really have any other choice in the matter, since my quickly formed goal for this trip was to make it home alive and in one piece. My fingers ached from my death grip on the handle behind me, and all my muscles tensed as I concentrated on not "squeezing" him, while bracing myself to not go flying into the back of him every time we slowed down. Half a mile from my house I got a foot cramp. It was the longest six miles of my life. 

Once I had said goodnight and was safely inside my apartment, I laughed a bit at the sheer awfulness of it all, and thought, well, at least we gave it a shot. Can't win 'em all! But then who, I ask you, sent me an e-mail not two days later, asking if I'd like to watch a French movie with him sometime that week? Was it Mr. I-don't-see-the-problem French guy himself? It was. I hedged, not particularly wanting to see him ever again, but thought, well maybe I could go see a French movie in an indie theater somewhere, as long as I made it clear that I would be taking the Metro home after. I asked him what movie he had in mind, and he sent me an IMDB link to some French movie from 1973. So, clearly what he had in mind was a dvd home-viewing situation, and hellllll no, that was not at all what I wanted to do, was this guy kidding? Had he not been on the same, terrifyingly awkward date as me? Guys---I do. Not. Get. Them.

So, fast forward to the very next day post-terrifying sushi date. The bearded Canadian scientist (who had already put me in the just-friends zone) texted me, asking if I had plans for dinner. It was a Thursday night, and I didn't, and so he picked me up and we went to a little Burmese restaurant that he had picked out. The food was good, but the conversation was...rough. He had always been a bit difficult to draw out of his shell, but at least when we had gone out previously multiple beers had been involved, perhaps slightly aiding conversational efforts. He did have a beer with dinner, but it didn't seem to help. He is just generally a very quiet guy, and I found myself straining to ask him questions, and yet thinking, Even as a friend, I'm just not sure if I can do this... I mean, it's not usually so hard to talk to your friends, right? It just felt like maybe we were forcing something that wasn't meant to be. After dinner, he offered to take me to Whole Foods, knowing I don't have a car and can't often get there. I jumped at the chance, and loaded my cart down as quickly as I could with all manner of things my local Safeway doesn't carry (hello, red lentils!) After this, as we headed back, he said he didn't know what else I had planned for the evening, but would I maybe want to watch a movie or something? A bit stunned, I gaped for a minute and resisted my initial reaction, which was to say, "Oh,," and instead fumbled around for an excuse (translations, again!) The fact of the matter was, 1) it was a Thursday night, 2) we had already done two activities (dinner and Whole Foods), on a weeknight, which as far as I was concerned was already more than enough, 3) we had only ever hung out in public venues before, 4) he was supposedly dating someone else, and 5) now he wanted to watch a movie on the couch together?! It just didn't add up.

Safely home, I shook my head and marveled at the mysterious thought processes of men, which come to think of it are probably not all that mysterious at all, and go something like: Penis   Boobs   Penis   Penis   Movie   Penis   Couch   Penis   Boobs   Penis.

So far I'm 0 for 2 in this trying to see other people thing, and I'm running out of options, so for the moment it seems that I still have all of my eggs in one precariously held basket. Let's just hope someone doesn't get hungry for an omlet.           

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Why I don't know why you say goodbye I say salam

When I went to his house he made us Moroccan tea, a complicated affair involving a mix of tea leaves, herbs, and spices brought over in suitcases from the homeland, and stored in plastic bins in his kitchen. Oh, and sugar. Lots and lots of sugar. There was an intricate silver tea pot and those tiny clear glasses with no handle that burn the prints right off your fingers.

When he came to my house, he brought the tea ingredients with him. It was too hot in my furnace-blasted apartment for tea, even with windows open, but he left the stuff here, anyway. "Next time," he said. Next time, I thought to myself, knowing how precarious this all is, but allowing myself to hope, anyway. 

I melt for a man that tells me stories in bed, and he did, in franglais and with accompanying funny voices and dramatic gestures. He told me one that he performed while volunteering in Morocco with a non-profit organization that works with children, and could he just stop already, with all the extraneous heart-melting information that I did not need to know?

He brought me cereal in bed. He puts honey in his Honey Bunches of Oats. He makes me laugh. I make him laugh.  

"Leila sa'eeda," he whispered, before falling asleep. 

"Leila sa'eeda?" I repeated.

"Yes, it means good night. Actually, it means...happy night. Sa'eeda means happy."

"Sa'eeda," I whispered. Sa'eeda.   

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Why the heart is the stupidest of organs

A month or so ago I quit OkCupid cold turkey and, on the recommendation of a friend, went straight for the Fish (as in, Plenty of). While I haven't been exactly blown away by the prospects, I did manage to sort through the guppies and go out on a handful of dates over the last few weeks. But which ones did I throw back? Just to give you a brief run-down, there was:

--the thirty-seven-year-old traveling bicycle-parts salesman; lives 100 miles away in Richmond, VA, but travels through DC frequently on business. Separated, with kid(s)? Surprisingly good-looking, but mentioned church about three times too many for my taste. 

--the forty-year-old graphic designer. Divorced, no kids. Quirky, extremely high energy. When we met he went in for a hug, lunging in with his upper body while kicking one leg out behind him. (There was full leg extension.) Later he would tell me about a "crazy woman" he went on a date with who told him that he "hugged funny." He concluded this story by saying dismissively, "but she was crazy, though." Yes, you keep telling yourself that, quirky, in denial, weird-hugging guy!

--the thirty-seven-year-old bearded Canadian scientist. Divorced with a four-year-old daughter, who lives in Canada. Cycling fanatic. Quiet, slow-talking and soft-spoken, but we share similar tastes in music and food. Conveniently lives less than a mile from my house; rare indeed considering my less-than-central location. 

--the six foot four, thirty-one-year-old Moroccan with an adorable accent. Speaks: English, French, Arabic. Never married, no kids. Doesn't drink. Muslim. Lives a very inconvenient 25 miles away in VA. Likes: soccer (playing and watching), dancing, smokin' the hookah.

Four men, but only one of them makes my heart go pitter-pat. So which one is it? Which wildly inappropriate bachelor sends my traitor heart all aflutter? Why, none other than the Allah praising, alcohol abstaining, suburb dwelling, Green Card winner himself, of course!

In my defense, the perfect-on-paper Canadian sent me a "let's just be friends" e-mail explaining that he had begun seeing someone else. The fact that my primary emotion upon reading this was annoyance that he had "just friended" me before I could do it to him first should tell you all you need to know about our chemistry together. 

Also, I suppose it could be worse. I could have fallen for the Christian who lives 100 miles away. 

So, the Moroccan. At first I was wary, willingness to swill a beer and an aversion to organized religion being fairly high on my list of priorities. But we met, we went to a museum, we walked, we sat, we talked. We discussed religion and lack thereof, and politics, and family. We spoke in French and English and a weird mix of the two. He's the only guy I've met who will ooh and ahh with me over small dogs, and not just the big ones (he actually used the word "cute"), and he pulled out his phone to show me pictures of his co-worker's new chihuahua puppies. He was physically assertive bordering on aggressive, the way he leaned over me, into me, sat right next to me shoulder to shoulder and hip to hip, and had me edging slightly uncomfortably away. I declined an invitation to see a movie with him later that night, needing to go home and regroup, needing space and time to think. We took the Metro two stops together before I got off to transfer. We hugged and said goodbye, and I got up to stand by the doors as the train slowed to a stop. As the doors opened I turned and perhaps too enthusiastically waved goodbye, realizing at the same time how goofy I probably came off, and I cringed inside at my lack of finesse. Such a dork! I scolded myself. Minutes later on the red line, my phone beeped; a text. It was the Moroccan, already. After I waved, apparently the guy sitting by the door turned to him and said, "So sweet!" The fact that this random stranger would say that, and that the Moroccan would pass it along to me, complete with smiley face emoticon, for some reason warmed my heart. 

Once I got home I was ready to dismiss him, but for some reason I couldn't stop thinking about him. He texts me just to say hi almost every day. He calls me "jamila," which means beautiful in Arabic, and tells me he misses my pretty eyes. And this is where the white boys can really take a lesson--I love me some nerdy white boys, but flirting isn't usually their forte. 

In short, the Moroccan is sort of awesome I am sure our cultural, religious, geographic, and lifestyle differences will all work themselves out.  


Bwa! Ha ha ha ha ha!

Seriously though, he is really cute. 

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Why it's my picture and I'll bershon if I want to

Inspired by a post over at Hilarity in Shoes, I decided to post my own bershon picture. You all know what bershon is, right? If not, take a minute, I'll wait for you to catch up. Or you can just look at the following photo, circa 1993, because it will tell you all you need to know and more about bershon. Are you ready? I'm not sure if I'm ready, actually. I can't believe I am going to show the Internet a picture from the height of my (admittedly lengthy) awkward phase. Deep breaths...

Ok, here we go...

No, wait.

Ok, now.

Here I am, thirteen years old, and clearly loving life. Don't be fooled by the disarmingly folksy church lady-ness of my mother, as clearly (as you can see by my expression), she is to be punished for her desire to do things like be proud of me and stand next to me. Don't you know pride is a sin, mother? 

We are all dressed up fancy-like, because I am about to go perform at a band concert. With my clarinet. I am actually a bit surprised I was not forced to pose with it for the picture, but then, there probably would have been actual blood. What's that? Why, yes, that is an extra-large sized lavender silk shirt I'm wearing, how kind of you to notice! What's that, now? I don't seem like an extra-large to you? Well I have to buy it in extra-large because I am tall! God! I mean, no, I didn't say god, I said gosh, mo-ther! (When the real reason is "because all the cool kids are doing it," it's good to have a back-up excuse. Similarly to when my sneakers were no longer white, and I would push my toe all the way to the very end and make my mom feel to make it seem as if I had outgrown them. Worked every time.)

From a distance of almost twenty years (!), I can tell you a few things about this picture right off the bat:

1) Though it may seem that by including not only ours but also our neighbors' trash cans in the frame, the photographer was making a pointed statement on American consumerism and modern decay, I'm pretty sure it was just a coincidence combined with a lack of any and all photographic instinct. 
2) This was not taken on a national holiday, as evidenced by the rolled-up American flag in the garage, waiting for its next chance to billow gracefully hang limply over
the land of the free our front door.
3) The passenger side car door is open, indicating that someone (me) had already gotten in the car, and then was forced to get out of the car again to take this picture, I mean god. Are you people trying to kill me?

I tell you, my mistake was wearing pantyhose. Whenever the pantyhose came out (and pretty much only then), it was, Wait, let me get the caaaaameraaaa! Precious moments, indeed.  

So there you have it, folks. The bershonniest bershon that ever bershonned. Anyone want to fight for the crown? 

Monday, October 24, 2011

Why I would live inside these pictures if I could

The prints are here! The prints are here!

Thank you to everyone who chimed in with advice on this post. Thanks to you I was able to come up with something I really love and that looks great together, if I do say so myself. And without further ado, here they are!

As you can see, with the beige couch and beige walls, that space was in desperate need of a pop of color. Also, you may notice that I went with something slightly different than was dictated by the general consensus. I really loved the Paris cityscape, and so I subbed it for the houses on cliffs photo, which felt like it didn't really belong, somehow, and was also a bit too beige, considering how much beige I already had going on. And voila! The final result. I put them in order of light to dark sky, which I think gives it a kind of morning-noon-night feel. You like? I like. 

Thankfully, I can take no credit for the perfectly level and evenly-spaced hanging of the pictures themselves, a task I was more than happy to hand off to my friend Pete as he blew through town on the way to see his other, realer friends. (I jest. Sort of.) But no, seriously, he knocked out in twenty minutes what would have taken me two hours of hair-pulling and Marge Simpson-like angry grumbling, only to end up with a wall full of crooked pictures and dozens of superfluous and toothpaste-spackled nail holes. Luckily I was saved from this fate, and just look! (Pay no attention to the wonky Ikea lamp! The wonky Ikea lamp is crooked, the pictures are straight!) Ok, so the last two are just a millimeter or so too close together, but I think I can let that go. I'm trying, anyway.

Et voila, a little bit of France in my living room. (Not quite as good as a living room in France, but it will have to do.)  

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Why life ain't grand

The cat/no cat debate came to a swift end today when I crunched some numbers and came to the depressing realization that I can't actually, well, afford a cat. If you think that's bad, here's what's worse: according to my calculations I also can't afford the modest and non-cat-having lifestyle that I currently enjoy. Ba dum bum! Yes, even though I am currently employed (in a job that I despise with the burning fire of a thousand suns) the P&L of my life is stacking up more and more in the losing column. You see, when I first moved to our fair (and hellishly expensive) city, it was with the anticipation of earning roughly 35% more a year than I do now. But we all know how that turned out. You know it's bad when a teacher's salary is now but an out of reach dream. Anyway, as you might imagine, that 35% amounts to a pretty sizable difference when it comes to things like paying rent and student loans and the $14 farmer's market cheese I accidentally bought out of politeness today. 

(I did not even want to go to the stupid farmer's market, you see, because I already had to stay late at my stupid job but my boss had insisted like twenty times over the last week that I must go to the farmer's market after work on Thursday. I considered not going and just telling her I went, but I was worried that it would have been canceled or she would ask me a very specific question or something and then she would know I was lying to her, so blah, I went. After passing by tents selling apples and smelly soaps I spotted a cheese booth. Naturally, I made a beeline, and after sampling five or six different ones from the friendly cheese lady, I pointed decisively to a small wedge and said, "I'll have that one." 

"That will be one million dollars, please," the no longer so friendly cheese lady said, with a gleam in her eye. And what was I going to say? Oh, I don't think the cheese that you and your husband slaved over for months is worth a million dollars? Do you happen to have any less extravagantly-priced cheeses for the budget-minded consumer? There was nothing to say, so instead I opened my wallet and gave her my last twenty.) 

Even with my relatively "cheap" (ha!) apartment in a decidedly unswanky and inconveniently located part of town (complete with back alley views), and even battling the 9-5:30 or 6:00 grind of a job I hate, and even giving up my car, and shopping, and vacations (not that I'll get any paid time off until after I've worked there a full year), this is still going to be a losing venture. In the ongoing battle of Rachel v. Life, I think it's fair to say that I have encountered yet another setback. And this time I'm all out of ideas.             

Monday, October 17, 2011

Why you can have at it with your crazy cat lady cliches. I can take it.

becca: u need a puppy. u would be happier.
me: oh i know. nothing like being gone 10 hours a day to make you need a puppy.
becca: well u need a dog walker too
me: one day, when i'm rich and happy
becca: paha
me: besides, i'm too unstable. always plotting my next move
becca: scruffy says hello. he would like to know what you had for dinner 
me: aww. i needa scruff
becca: u do though. someone happy to see u come home.
me: cat?
becca: cats are such a crapshoot. they aren't so much happy to see you
me: guys are always shooting me down when i tell them i want to get a cat. like, the two guy friends i've talked to about it are really adamantly against it. 
becca: HAHAHA. maybe u shouldn't. man repellent.
me: that would ensure i remain single forever, i guess. although sometimes certain guys tell you that and then these certain guys go and fall for some crazy chick with...guess what...a cat! and have the cat over for visits at their apartment! and stuff
becca: ur the rule, not the exception
me: i know, man. but maybe that's how i'll know if a guy really likes me. if he likes me in spite of my cat
becca: but rach. there are so many other things to like you in spite of.
me: ...

Who needs haters when you have a sister, amiright? 

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Why the past is now present and the future is weird

Internet, I have a confession to make. Hi, my name is Rachel and I am a premature purger of cell phone contacts. Please tell me I'm not alone. 

While some people hoard their friends and acquaintances like so many dollars in Mark Zuckerberg's bank account, and keep years worth of penis pictures literally at their fingertips, I am very nearly the exact opposite. Namely, if I suspect I may never have cause to talk to a person again, I delete that person from my phone without a backwards glance. Zap, they're gone! (I like to keep things tidy.) Of course this, this can lead to awkward situations when you run into someone unexpectedly after not talking for a year or more, and they're like, "Call me!" and you're like, "No, call me!"

Or, like tonight, when I received a mystery text--"Hows dc?" (sic). The only clue was a Mythaca area code. Admittedly, I performed a pretty thorough contact list clean-up after my move, deleting anyone I suspected I would no longer talk to after I left Mythaca (which happened to be pretty much everyone I knew in Mythaca). I replied, "So far so good. How are you?" hoping the mystery texter's response would provide a clue. But no dice. "Im good im. glad your happu"  Hmm. So, this person was either drunk or really bad at texting. Now I was curious. "Hey, don't hate me cuz I got a new phone," I texted (lies), "but who are you?"

"Hajaj iys james." Oh. Because that clears things up. Sheesh.

"Phlegm?" I asked. (Not his real last name, but close enough, anyway.)

"What?" he asked. Ok, so not that James, then. Definitely for the best.

"Flay?" I tried again. 

"Ha yes." Jackpot. Good ole Jimmy James coming out of nowhere with the surprise text again.

"James Flay is my dentist," I responded (again, not his real last name, but true story. Not only am I destined to make the acquaintance of/spend multiple years of my life in a relationship with a more than coincidental number of James/Jims/Jimmys, but now apparently there aren't even enough last names to go around). "You're Jimmy," I kindly reminded him.

"Haha sorry jimmy," he responded.

No, I'm Rachel, I was tempted to respond, but didn't. (Punctuation is important, people!)

Apparently he had just texted to tell me he was glad I was happy, and to ask if I had met any tall, handsome men yet. ("All the time," I told him.) He joked about being "dust in the wind," (a relationship metaphor I am more than familiar with), I joked back about not snapping me up when he had the chance, and if there's a better way to put a quick stop to a casual text conversation, I don't know what it is. Try it sometime! 

So, to delete or not to delete, that is the question. Are you a hoarder or a purger? And does anyone remember the days when you would actually call someone on the phone when you wanted to talk to them, like, using your voice? Oh, hey, you know what would be great? Voice activated text messages! You just speak your message into your phone, and it translates it into a text message for you, so you can have an entire text conversation with someone by using your voice, but without the hassle of actually having to talk to each other! 

The future is weird. 

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Why are you so angry, men of the "manosphere?"

Dear Manosphere Haters,

I really think we may have gotten off on the wrong foot, here. So, hi. I'm Rachel. Nice to meet you. (Not really, but we may as well all be polite here, no? Which is more than I can say about you.) 

Now, I know what you have been saying about me, and I have to say, a lot of it hasn't been very nice. But, no matter. Clearly, the Internet is not a forum for people to be nice to each other; it's for expressing your opinions! Of which you have so, so many. Or really, just one opinion, expressed over and over in a virtual shouting match, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. The thing is, you are making this into an Us vs. Them, when I really think we could all be on the same page, here. What I mean is, I am single and bitter, and clearly a majority of you are also single and just as bitter. Can't we all just be bitter together? Because, look, some of the things you are saying, I agree with. Like, for example, when you say that I am 29 and still single. Horrors! Ok, actually, I have to admit, I don't totally agree with that. I wish I did, but this is what happens when you show up two whole years late to the party. So. Hi. My name is Rachel. I'm 31, and I'm single. Can we all agree to that? Yes, I think we can. Look at us all, agreeing! Truly the Internet is a wonderful thing.

So, look, I realize the mere fact that I am 31 and single and a woman is personally offensive to many of you, for reasons I am only beginning to try to understand. But if I am going to try to understand you, I hope you will try to understand me, too. I know it's hard, because as a woman I am completely irrational. (Giggle giggle, eyelash flutter.) But let's still try to understand each other. Please know that me being single has nothing to do with you, either individually or as a sex. I don't hate you, and I don't hate men. (If I suspected that most men were as bitter and hate-filled as I've witnessed some of you be, I might have to reconsider my position, but as it is I still have a modicum of faith in the fundamental decency of malekind. Please don't prove me wrong.) Yes, I am still single at an age that apparently many people would be more comfortable with me being firmly settled down and breeding. But look, if I had kids I would just raise them liberal, and I have a sneaking suspicion that many of you would have just as big a problem with that, and so perhaps we can all once again agree that me not having children is actually for the best in that sense, no? So, yes, as I said, I am 31 and single (although you can all keep calling me 29 and single, if it floats your boat; I'm not going to stop you). But it's not because I "rode the c*ck carousel," and it's not because I "chased a career" (ha! And this is how I know none of you have ever read my blog before. Is there a support group for 31-year-old Professional Fuck-ups?), and it's not because I rejected the oh-so-many offers of marriage I received in my younger and "cuter" years (seriously, you guys kill me with your very generous assumptions). No, it's not any of that. Instead, the reason I am single is probably very similar to the reason a lot of you are (clearly) single--a combination of bad luck and worse timing. Sometimes things work out. Sometimes they don't, eh? Sometimes they work out sooner, and sometimes later. Maybe they don't ever work out, although we all hope that isn't the case. Does that really make me a "c*nt" and a "pretentious vain-glory harridan?" Really? (Do you kiss your mother with that mouth?)

You are clearly talking about someone in your hate-filled rants, but here's the thing: you're not actually talking about me. You can quote me out of context, and you can use the basic (and largely incorrect) biographical details of my life that I have willingly shared to burn me in effigy. Because you need a target for your anger, and I get that. (But from whence comes this anger? Can we discuss? Do you need a hug? A cookie?) But I cannot and do not represent all women, just as all of you (hopefully, please god) do not represent all men. I mean, I am sorry if some girl somewhere rejected you; I feel for you, I really do. I've been there! But you don't have to vilify every other woman in the world for it. Or maybe you do, what do I know about things like feelings and emotions? I am just a woman, after all.

I hope you find your peace, woman haters. At least have a cookie.    

Friday, September 30, 2011

Why the grass is always greener on someone else's blog

If the rumors are to be believed, it seems that blogging can sometimes lead to good things happening for for some very lucky bloggers. Free trips to exotic locales, free products to review, paid writing gigs, and all because they started a blog. Without fail, these bloggers describe their windfalls this way: "When I first started this blog a year ago, I never would have imagined that [x, y, and z] would happen to me because of it!" And I'm like, one year? Jesus. But ok, I'm willing to accept that I'm a late bloomer. (Four and a half years later...) Whatever. (Only marginally related: does anyone actually make money off of those banner ads? I have to assume that somewhere, someone is making money off of those banner ads, and yet...) Still, whenever I read about someone landing a paid writing gig through their blog, I start asking myself mopey-dope questions, like, "Is she really that much better a writer than me? What does she have that I don't have?" And I've found that, more often than not, the answer to that last question can be summed up in one word--kids. And so, it is for this reason that I would like to announce to you that, Internet...I'm having a baby.

Well, not having, obviously, so much as getting. With all the lucrative mommy-blogging possibilities, I figure this kid will pay for itself in a year or two. Heck, maybe I'll pick myself up a couple. New or used, it doesn't matter to me.

So, if you know anyone who has a new or used kid they need taken off their hands, please shoot me an e-mail. Now that I'm thinking about it, I probably shouldn't have used "kid" and "shoot" in the same sentence, but believe me when I say that it will be very well taken care of. (Or its, if there's two.) I will promise to lovingly and artistically document its (its') childhood in blog form for all of you, my loyal readers, to marvel at in wonderment, but only on weekdays. (It(s) will have weekends off in accordance with child labor laws.)

If that doesn't work out, I would also accept a free trip to an exotic locale, if anyone reading happens to be handing those out. 

Your move, Universe. 

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Why my life was like The Wire

I really wish I had started watching season 4 of The Wire before my short-lived attempt at employment as a Dee Cee Pee Ess school teacher. I might have learned something, or at least had some idea of what it was I was getting myself into. But then, I probably would have told myself that it was "dramatized for television" or some such, and that it couldn't possibly be that bad. But I would have been wrong. Though 40 miles south of Baltimore, what I saw in the classroom was eerily similar to the televised version on The Wire. The only differences being:

a) our kids didn't have uniforms
b) I taught high school, not middle school, so the kids giving me problems were 18 instead of 13
c) subject matter (French instead of math--considered to be an "elective," thus generally lumped together with art and P.E. and accorded about as much respect)

Aside from that, it's pretty much the same story. In fact, the only way I can tell for sure it's fiction is that when the teacher, Mr. Prezbylewski, assigns detention, the kids (all thirty-some) actually show up. Pshaw, I say.

Seeing is believing. Watch for yourself.

How much money would they have to pay you to do this every day? Not a hypothetical question; I'm actually curious. What's your number?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Why you can take this job and...push it?

I recently picked up a couple translation projects (that were passed on to me by a reader! Thanks Elliott!) Around the same time I stumbled on this girl's Youtube channel and found her hilarious and scarily accurate video representation of what the translation process is like:

Pajamas? check. Mug of tea? check. One browser tab opened on Facebook and one on And here I was thinking I was original.

The fun and games and working from home couldn't last forever, though, and today found me at my new temp job at the posh law firm. I coded 38,000 lines of data in an Excel spreadsheet, with a Y (for yes), N (for no), or ? (for wtf?) Thirty-eight thousand lines, people, oh my gah. In case you were wondering where exactly that falls on the slit-your-wrists scale of temporary employment, it was...what's the word? catastrophic? calamitous? Oh, right. I felt dreadful. I think what I'm trying to say is, I would rather be translating.    

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Why my life isn't picture perfect, but at least my walls will be

And now for something completely frivolous...

Back when I thought I had a job and disposable income, I decided to spend some of it on one of those Groupon things everyone is always talking about. You see, I had a couch with miles of blank wall space above it begging to be filled, so I bought three of those digital-to-canvas deals that seem to be all the rage, thinking I would simply choose three pictures I had taken "of my travels" (oh, gag, I know) and voilĂ , easiest decorating project ever. Cue smug hand-brushing gesture indicating done and done. Except, as it turns out, it's not just that simple.

Combing through folder after folder of pictures I've taken "of my travels" (gag) over the years, I came to the swift conclusion that, for one, as it turns out, I am not all that great of a photographer. For two, the entire time that I lived in and around Paris, I had a strong aversion to looking like a tourist ("I live here! I am not a tourist! I will not take pictures!") and so carrying such potentially useful objects as maps or a camera was simply out of the question. So, because I am an idiot, not only are there very few pictures of that time in my life, but the few that do exist are mostly of my sister and I acting like fools in front of Parisian landmarks:

Luckily, when I was on vacation and traveling, I did give myself permission to take pictures, and so I was able to find a handful of photos that I hadn't ruined with either my terrible photography skills or shameless muppet-mouth mugging. Only, when trying to select three of them I realized that not only does each individual photo have to be attractive and personally meaningful, but they also all have to look good together. Hanging three photos next to each other on a wall requires that they look somehow cohesive and related by some kind of theme--by color, or subject, or whatever. Trying different combinations I realized that having one photo of mountains, one of the ocean, and one of a building, for example, just looked...odd. And so back to the drawing board I went.

Here's one combination I came up with. I know the theme will be hard to spot, but see if you can do it:

And here is what they look like together:

Let's call it option 1. What I like about these is that they evoke a feeling of calm serenity. Which is good! But are they perhaps...too calm? Too serene? Maybe a tad wee bit boring?

Here's my next set of three. Let's call it option B:

And here's what they look like together: 

Maybe I would shift the order a bit? Anyway, potential problems with this option include the fact that these were all taken on a vacation with the ex-boyfriend many years ago. In fact, I'm pretty sure all of these photos were actually taken by the ex, which perhaps explains why they don't all, you know, suck. So, would having these pictures in my living room serve as a constant reminder of the past? Or would I quickly forget about the person behind the camera, since I spent an extended amount of time living in Paris as a single, and could just as easily have taken these myself? In stark contrast to the first set of three, I like these photos for their grittiness and urban vibe, and how the train evokes a feeling of adventure, and of something new right around the corner. 

Finally, I have some miscellaneous pics that I really like for different reasons, but that don't necessarily "go" together. (Or do they?):

Let's call this option "buildings on cliffs and with boats and weird trees."

I'm leaning towards option B, Paris (duh). What about you? I need help here, people! Please advise.

EDITED TO ADD: Here are the last three together in the order Anonymous suggests. What do you think?