Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Why I'm some kind of vehicle

Things I have unintentionally done or said today that have made complete strangers laugh at me:

1. Heaved an unconscious though apparently dramatic sigh while stuck in traffic in the car with the windows down, and the light turned red without anyone moving again.

2. At the doctor's, responded to the question "Are you sexually active?" with a frown and a "Not very." What? I have discriminating tastes. (Ok, not really.) 

In other news, I have pre-emptively set up my OkCupid account for DC and am already corresponding with a few guys. One in particular caught my eye with his description of who he was looking for on his profile: someone "tall, smart, liberal, and laid back." It didn't necessarily hit me in a, hey, that's me! way, but more in a hey, that's what I'm looking for too! way. So at least we know we're both looking for the same thing. Plus, the one e-mail I've received from him so far was peppered with phrases like "cavalcade of schlock" and "a rather insidious bind." I know, I know, not everyone's cup of tea, but to me? Dreamboat.

In other other news, someone finally decided to rent an apartment to me! (Sucker.) Yes, just in the nick of time, the good news arrived after weeks of being passed over and receiving e-mails that all started, "After a very difficult decision, we have decided to go with another applicant." (And who knew apartment hunting would start to feel so much like dating?) I dug up these pictures of it online:

In the place of this person's lovely and tastefully chosen furniture (complete with decorative swan) you will have to imagine the cavernous void composed of all the furniture I don't own. The furniture I do own? A bed. A desk. Not even a chair for the desk; just the desk. And that's pretty much it. The furniture I don't own could fill volumes. Or, you know, a very spartan one bedroom apartment. (Not to mention that I don't own a single wood-carved fowl of any kind, without which my apartment will clearly be incomplete.) So, yes, the moving process continues to be not at all difficult or stressful in any way. Also, the truck my parents were going to bring up to help me move is no longer, you know, trucking, or something. I'm fuzzy on the details. But no truck. Surprise! So, let's just rent a truck then, on the busiest moving weekend of the whole year. In a college town! And try to reserve it three days in advance! (The answer to that is no, by the way.) So, again: totally not complicated or in any way anxiety-inducing. Am calm, zen cucumber.

What's that, a cucumber shaped like a duck?! Well that just sort of ties it all together, doesn't it?

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Why it's a blog world after all

Friday was a banner day here in Mythaca. I finally got to swim in (near, around) a waterfall! I didn't take any pictures myself, but I can assure you it looked pretty much exactly like this:

It was gorgeous and hot and the water a balmy 78 degrees. Also, crowded, but what can you do.

And, not only that, but I had my very first blogger sighting! I spotted the adorable family from the blog NYC Taught Me also enjoying the day at the falls and then spent the remainder of afternoon gaping and elbowing my friend Cara in the ribs as if there was a celebrity in our midst. Which there was, as far as I was concerned. Cara continued talking as if it were nothing, while I craned my neck and mhmm-ed absently. "It's like seeing someone you've seen on t.v. in real life!" I marveled to her. "Right here, in Mythaca! What are the chances?" 

"Rachel, it's just someone with a blog," she replied, clearly not comprehending. "Why don't you go say hi?" I waffled for a bit, ultimately deciding to leave them alone to enjoy their day sans overtures from an overly excited, bathing suit-clad stranger. 

Have any of you ever spotted a blogger "in the wild?" If you did, would you say hello? (By the way, if any of you ever see me anywhere, you'd better say hi! Four years of blogging and I have yet to be spotted. Believe me, you would make my year!) 

UPDATE: I left a comment on her blog, and she mentioned me in her post about Mythaca! Check it out! 

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Why I will probably lose half my readers for this

"'Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the house..." read Timmy's father. Timmy waited for the "all snug in their beds" line, and sighed contentedly as his father tucked the blankets tighter around him like he was supposed to. "Happy Christmas to all, and to all..." and here he paused to ruffle Timmy's hair, which was part of it as well, "...a good night."

Timmy's father clapped the book shut and stood to leave. "Dad?" said Timmy.

"Yes?" said Dad, returning to Timmy's bedside.

"Is Santa Claus real?"

"Of course he's real, Timmy. You know that."

"No, I mean... is He really real? Or is it just a story for little kids? You can tell me..."

"Timmy, I don't know where this is coming from. Your mother and I have always raised you to believe in Santa Claus."

"Well, it's just that, in school today, Abdul said that He isn't real, and that his mom and dad said it was all a lie."

"Yes, well I'm not surprised that Abdul's parents would tell him that, since Abdul's parents probably don't know any better. But this is what you can say to Abdul, the next time you see him: How do you explain all the books that have been written about Him, all the movies that have been made about Him, if He doesn't exist? Think about it; that many people all believing in the same thing can't be wrong."

"Ok, but..."

"And it's not just that, Timmy. We have evidence of his existence. The story that I just read to you was written by Clement Clark Moore in 1822. And it is not just a story, Timmy, it's a firsthand account."

"But Dad, that was written so long ago. How do we know that it's real?"

"Well Timmy, let's look at the evidence. In his poem, Mr. Moore says, 'He had a broad face and a little round belly,' and, 'The beard on his chin was as white as the snow.' And how does he look in the movies you've seen about him? How does he look in commercials and on tv and at the mall?"

"The same," said Timmy.

"That's right," said Timmy's father. 

"But Dad, if He's real, then why haven't I seen Him?" asked Timmy. "I mean the real Him, not His helper at the mall. His brother, right? You told me that that's His brother? He must have a lot of brothers."

"Er, yes," said Timmy's father, "but 'brother' might not mean exactly the same thing to us as it does to Him. And let us not forget that we are all brothers, who believe in Him. But to answer your question, Timmy, even though you haven't seen Him, it doesn't mean that He doesn't exist. What about the cookies you leave out for Him every Christmas Eve? What happens to those?"

"He eats them," said Timmy.

"And the reindeers' hooves on the roof? You heard those, right?" Timmy nodded. "And remember when I showed you the hoofprints on the driveway the next day?"

"I know, Dad, it's just that in school we learned about the different kinds of Santas people have in different countries. Are those Santas real, too?"

Timmy's father suddenly had a violent coughing fit, his face turning a vaguely purplish color as as he muttered something in between gasps that Timmy couldn't quite make out, though it sounded like, "Goddamn liberals." 

"No, Timmy. You know there is only one true Santa and that is Santa Claus. All others are imposters and pagan idols."

"But how do you explain that so many of the stories of the other Santas are so similar to ours?"

"Clearly, they have taken the story of the one, true Santa and perverted it to their own twisted uses," answered Timmy's father. 

"But Mrs. Needly says that some of these stories came before the story of our Santa..."

"Mrs. Needly!" sputtered Timmy's father, a purplish hue returning to his face. "Now, you know as well as I do that the true Santa wears a red suit and lives in the North Pole and drinks Coca-goddamn-Cola. Not like your cloak-wearing, shoe-filling imposters from Europe."

"Yes, but how do we know?

Timmy's father sighed. "Look, son, we could sit here and I could give you reason after reason and fact after fact, but when it comes down to it we just have to have faith."

"What's faith, Dad?"

"Faith is believing, son. It's what allows us to believe in Santa, even when we can't see Him. So, when I say goodnight to you and leave your room every night, you know I'm still there, right? Even though you can't see me?"

"Of course." 

"Well, that's faith."

"But, I don't understand. Before you were telling me about all the evidence for Santa Claus existing, and now you're telling me that evidence doesn't matter when you have faith. So which one is it?"

"Blast it, son, I... I thought you were with me on this, but now I can see that you're not really understanding. I think this all may be a little over your head. Maybe when you're older..." 

"No, no, I... I think I get it."

"Explain it to me then, son."

"Ok, well, we know that Santa is real because of all the evidence. But even if there wasn't any evidence, it would be ok, because we know He is real because we have faith. And the reason we have faith is because we know He is real."

"Well, I stand corrected, son. That was exactly right." 

"In class the other day Mrs. Needly taught us about something called 'circular logic'..."

"Now I don't want to hear another goddamned word about Mrs. Needly," barked Timmy's father. "That's just what we need is another goddamn teacher mucking things up with her own personal opinions. As if it isn't bad enough that they're trying to take Santa Claus out of the schools altogether. I really don't know what this world is coming to..."

"Mrs. N--I mean, well, shouldn't schools be a place for people with all kinds of different beliefs?"

"Well, let me ask you this, son. If you know you are right about something, if you know the truth about something, don't you tell people about it? Aren't schools a place for telling the truth? Let's know the answer to a hard math problem. You figured it out, and you know you are right. But your friend thinks it's a different answer. Are you going to tell him, 'Well, maybe I'm right, and maybe you're right, too?' Or, 'Maybe we're both right?' No! There can only be one right answer, and that's what schools should teach. The truth."

"I guess that makes sense..."

"Of course it makes sense! The way this country is going, though, they're just as likely to teach you that the Easter Bunny brings your Christmas presents, that's how far backwards we've gone. And that is why we need to take this country back, son. We need to make sure we get true Santa believers voted into office, taking over every branch of government, so they can pass legislation supporting our Santa-based beliefs. It's the only way." 

"But, shouldn't Santa be kept out of politics? I mean, he's good at Christmas, but can't we just figure things out without him the rest of the year?"

"Now, son. You know that bit about if you've been naughty or nice? That's not just at Christmastime; he is watching you all year long. So we need to govern ourselves, and our country, with the idea that he is watching us and judging us all year long; not just at Christmas."

"It still seems a little strange. What about people who don't believe in Santa? Why should they have to be governed by Santa-based politics?"

"Because, Timmy. We know we are right. And if the non-believers can't see that, even though they've been given plenty of opportunities, well, we will just have to force them to believe."

"Can you really do that?"

"Well, Timmy, all we can do is try. And we have to keep on trying, no matter what. It's what He wants."

"I think I get it now, Dad. Thanks."

"No problem, son. Now get some sleep."

"Ok, Dad. 'Night."

"Goodnight, son." Timmy's father stood and turned out the lights. "Go to sleep now."

But Timmy lay in bed unable to sleep, facing the darkness with wide open eyes. "Santa?" he whispered into the dark void of his room. "Are you there Santa? It's me, Timmy." He waited a long time, but no response came.     

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Why it's a dog's life

Things are going no better on the apartment front (and yes, Kono, this is another post about apartment hunting, and at this rate you might as well get used to it). One apartment was yanked off the market between the time the ad was posted and when I was scheduled to view it the next day; another received such an overwhelming response that by the time I showed up to look at it, the owner decided the right and just thing to do would be to up the rent by a cool $250 a month, thus tipping the balance from probably affordable, just barely, to ha, in your dreams can you afford to pay that much for rent. After a "difficult" decision, the owner of yet another apartment decided to go with the other candidate, and my e-mails in regards to at least two other apartments are currently going unanswered. It is tough out there, is what I am saying.

As such, I am still at my parents' house, after not having planned on being here much longer than a long weekend, rotating the same two outfits and doing teeny tiny loads of laundry every couple of days. Besides apartment hunting, I've been spending my time being bored and lazing about in the hammock in the backyard. Which was all well and good, and from there I had a good vantage point of a robin doing its robin thing in its nest right above me, and hummingbirds flitting around the mimosa tree, and about a million gnats endearing themselves to me around my face and eyes, until! I walked out in the backyard the other day to find this travesty:
Hide your eyes, it's hideous! Oh, the humanity. "But what...what happened?" I gasped, once I found breath to speak. It would seem that someone, clearly intent on destroying my happiness, tore into it with the gear shift of a riding mower, thus rendering it--"totally fixable!" Says my mother, beginning knot-tier and lifelong cheapskate. The thing is, there is a pretty severe disconnect in this house between things that can, in theory, be fixed, and things that actually will be fixed in this decade, or ever. One the one hand, you have pretty much everything; on the other, next to nothing.

But enough about my very important problems. On to The Cute.  

A Dog and His Bone: The Life and Times of a Scruffdog         

Busted hammock, busted screen door, and plastic bucket o' water on porch. Because that is how we roll in this house.

Play dead, Deucey! Good boy.

'Cause everyone needs a "duck" buddy. Friends with bonefits?

Can you imagine the insanity this blog would devolve into if I had pets of my own? I mean, can you? Let's all hope I find an apartment and get out of my parents' house soon, or I'm afraid we're in for more posts like this one.

And since some of you have already made your displeasure known (ahem), what do you think I should write about, Internet? What would you like to know? Post suggestions welcome!  

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Why finding the apartment of your dreams is harder than it seems

I drove down to my parents' house in Maryland last Friday to look at apartments in DC. August 1st is ever more rapidly approaching, and I wanted to to get my living arrangements settled as soon as possible. I figured I would look at a few places on Saturday, lock something down on Sunday, and be back on my merry way by Monday. 

Ha! Ha ha!

As it turns out, I am still here, with no clear departure date in sight. And not only am I itching (literally! mosquito bites everywhere!) to get out of my parents' house, but I don't know if you realize, but it is summer right now in Mythaca, a rare blink-and-you'll-miss-it event, and Internet, I am missing it. We do have four seasons there, sure--winter, early winter, late winter, and summer; and summer, as far as I am concerned, is the only reason worth sticking out the other three. I have put in more than my fair share of winters, and now I am ready for some sweet, sweet Mythaca summer, dammit! I only have--gulp--sixteen days left on my lease there, and instead of actually being there and hiking and swimming in waterfalls, I am stuck in the soul-sucking suburbs of Maryland going bleary-eyed from all the Craigslist searching. 

I've seen a dozen or so apartments over the last few days--two three two more on the docket for today. So far none has fulfilled the trifecta of apartment perfection--the perfect apartment at the perfect location at the perfect price. I am hesitant to settle (perfectionist much?) but my dogged persistence at apartment-hunting in the past has paid off in spades, and I am finding it hard to go backwards, as far as standard of living is concerned. One apartment is practically perfect, with plenty of room, perfect neighborhood--but there's no laundry, and the price is my upper limit for rent--utilities not included. Another is similarly gorgeous, large, with washer and dryer and the price is right--but it's a couple miles too far north, in the hinterlands of DC. Two miles to my school (and I really wanted easy walking distance), and I definitely couldn't walk out my door and stroll to restaurants and bars like I could in the other place, but there are buses that go past regularly, at all hours of the day and night. Maybe it wouldn't be that bad? So, keep looking, and risk losing what's already there? Or settle for slightly less than perfect? 

The other problem being, of course, that even once I decide on an apartment there are no guarantees I'll actually get it. Nearly every apartment I've seen so far has been an open house type of situation. It generally goes like this: I'll arrive five or more minutes early and walk in to find there are already ten or more people there, milling about the tiny space, and more pouring in every minute. It is quite literally insane. I've even started recognizing some of the same people over and over (Orphan Annie, Dreadlocks Guy). It's a ridiculously competitive market, and apparently my soon-to-be-employed-as-a-French-teacher gig is not winning any contests. I put in an application on the nearly-perfect, expensive-but-no-laundry apartment and did the obligatory interview-to-prove-I-am-not-crazy with the landlord, who said she would try to make a decision by Tuesday. Given that it is now Thursday, and as far as I can tell she has not even called my references, I am afraid that it's not looking good.

I am hoping my luck is about to turn. It is Bastille Day, after all. How could it not be lucky? So here's to le quatorze juillet, et l'appartement de mes rĂªves! (And my swift and triumphant return to Mythaca!)  

Friday, July 8, 2011

Why you laugh, and then you sing, and then everything is alright again

Sometimes there is nothing to do but look for the humor in a situation, even when it doesn't necessarily feel funny. But when you are talking boys and your same-age boss/partner in gossip (but still, your boss) then asks you carefully, "So...what's your dad like?," come on, that is funny. (Answer: He's a nice guy! Really! No daddy issues here!) And when your friend asks you seriously, "So, do you think you might be attracted to guys who treat you badly?," like you're worthy of a Lifetime movie story plot or something, that is funny to me, too. (Answer, as honestly as I am able to give it: You know, I really think I actually like nice, sweet guys. That's just not who I end up meeting.) And when my petty problems provoke 30+ comments and even some e-mails saying, "Have you ever considered...?," as if my guy problems are in any way important and worthy of consideration by anyone other than myself, well, that also is pretty damn funny, in my book. Thank you, people who like to solve problems! In all honesty, your comments, your support, they warm my heart. Don't ever stop. 

Of course it's one thing to be able to see the humor in the situation from a slightly detached perspective, and quite another to retain those same good spirits when it really comes down to it; you know what I mean? Let me 'splain. And voila, I give you Luke: The Denouement.

Since we last talked, Luke has become more and more evasive (surprise surprise), and I followed suit. I stopped engaging in idle text conversations, I let 24 hours go by before responding to a text, and when I did respond, I pretty much kept it to one word answers. My new-found vagueness seemed to intrigue him, and so he stepped it up about half a notch, proposing outings I knew he would probably never follow through on. A restaurant he had heard good things about 30 minutes outside of town? When even going to dinner once in the town where we both live was like pulling teeth? Yeah, sure, babe, whatever. Sometime this week? I mean, ok, I guess. That's what I said, too; I guess. But no matter how sullen and teenaged I acted, he kept responding with good humor. You guess? LOL. In the meantime, he didn't seem too anxious to see me, which was fine with me, as I was growing increasingly less anxious to see him. But still though, he kept up the pretext, texting me 'hi baby' in the morning, and 'mwah,' at night. As if he has the right to call me baby, I grumbled to myself. And to wake me up at 7:00 a.m. to say it. The nerve. It had to come to a head sooner or later. Sooner, as it turned out.

Whatcha doing? he texted me today; my most hated idle chatter text, and a favorite of his. What are YOU doing?  I replied pointedly.

At work, he said. Lunch? 

I knew better than to take that at face value, so instead I replied, Lunch is good

No, LOL, he replied. Do you want to go to lunch with me?

Aha, the ever-elusive direct invitation. With anyone else I would have accepted without hesitation, and yet, even with the offer extended I knew this guy could still pull a Houdini act. If I say yes are you just going to say you have to do laundry? I asked.

Babe, he chided me. LOL.

Ok, so, he knew I was on to him, then. There was no way he could back out now when I had already called him on his very backing out-ness. So, Yes, Luke [Last Name], I texted, I would like to have lunch with you. And then I waited. But then, like clockwork, 5...4...3...2...

Dammit I have a meeting, they just came in and ruined my lunch :(

A familiar feeling of adrenaline-fueled rage gurgled up from inside of me. But wait, I thought. Before you go exploding all over the place, wait just a minute. Surely this is a joke. Surely he is poking fun at the fact that I had predicted he would back out, and he will follow this with an 'LOL, j/k.' Surely. But sadly, he was all too serious. How bout dinner? he proposed with a smiley face.

No can do, I replied. And yeah, I pretty much figured I was calling your bluff with the lunch thing.

Ouch babe. I would love to but I can't miss this meeting

I would really like to believe that, I said. Have a nice meeting. Maybe a nice life too.

Wow, that's pretty intense, he replied.

I'm sure you're familiar with the expression 'the last straw,' I told him.

How many straws were there? he asked.

You're the worst of the worst, I replied. Have fun treating some other girl like shit. 

I didn't realize you felt I treated you badly, he said.

But that was it. I had said what I needed to say, and anything else would have been arguing semantics. I didn't add anything further, and neither did he. After our last go-round and an experiment in playing it cool and employing the silent treatment, it felt good to actually say what I felt, for once. Lesson learned. 

In the meantime, I've been listening to this song on repeat; driving to MD/DC, volume up, singing at the top of my lungs. It's quite possibly the world's most perfect break-up song, with just the right amount of fuck you to it. Check it out, and sing it with me now:

You think I'll run, not walk, to you
Why would I want to talk to you?
I want you crawling back to me
Down on your knees, yeah
Like an appendectomy
Sans anesthesia 

If you think you can leave the past behind
You must be out of your mind
If you think you can simply press rewind
You must be out of your mind, son
You must be out of your mind  

You want what you've turned off turned on
You call at sunset, now it's dawn
You can't go 'round just saying stuff
Because it's pretty
And I no longer drink enough
To think you're witty 

If you think you can leave the past behind
You must be out of your mind
If you think you can simply press rewind
You must be out of your mind, son
You must be out of your mind

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Why fool me twice, it's shame on me

In case I needed one more glaring example of why He Is Not Different, I Am Not Special, and People Don't Change, Not Really, here it is: we are right back where we were before. You know, in case that inevitable outcome wasn't already obvious to everyone reading. (Please hold your I-told-you-so's until the end of the presentation.) What surprised me wasn't so much that it happened, but the speed at which it happened. It went straight from morning-after glow to, oh yeah, this again, practically overnight. 

He texts me when he's bored, and only then. At work, he sent me a barrage of messages the other day, indicating his desire to be anywhere else, and suggesting I "kidnap" him. I knew he wasn't serious, and so I replied in kind, jokingly. But when he persisted, I thought, well, maybe... "Could you really do that?" I asked him. "Sure," he replied. "I'll just say I'm going on a site visit." "You're forgetting I don't know where you work," I replied. "You know where I work," he said; "I work at Cronell." "Ok, I'll just walk around Cronell calling your name until I find you," I replied, jokingly. "LOL," he replied with no further detail, and so I knew, again, he wasn't serious. But yet, he kept on persisting, kept texting, gently reeling me in on his line, until I thought again, well maybe... and said to him this time, "Do you want to go for a walk around Beebe Lake with me at 4:00?" But no sooner had I said it, than, "Wish I could," he replied, "but I still have too much work to do here." It seemed to me with that much work to do he would have less time for bullshit texts, but before I could reply he asked, "What are you doing for dinner?" But I knew better this time. It was evasive enough that it could be misconstrued as an invitation, though I knew it probably was not. "Dunno," I replied, and off he went on a textual monologue, musing aloud on the contents of his fridge and what he might possibly have for dinner. I set my phone aside and ignored him. But then, when I didn't respond, "Do you want to go to dinner?" he asked. "I'm thinking Just a Taste." This, finally, seemed to be a direct invitation, and so I replied in kind--directly. "Yes," I said. Then, "What time?" I asked, thinking this to be a fair enough question. But yet again, when approached with a direct question, he hedged. "Um," he replied. And that was it. Um. Twenty minutes later, he modified his response: "I don't know, I have to do laundry... I work too much..." I had reached the end of my rope. I could no longer write his behavior off as merely bumbling or indecisive; it had started to feel overtly aggressive. Again I ignored him. An hour later I was starting to get hungry, and with the possibility of dinner plans being vague at best, I began rummaging through my refrigerator. Again, my phone beeped. "Whatcha doing?" he asked. I sighed, and picked up the phone to call him directly, this time.

"I'm still at work," he complained.

"Mmm hmm," I replied.

"What are you doing?" 

"Just getting ready to eat something," I said. 

"What are you eating?"

"I don't know yet," I said, annoyed.

"Oh, well, what time do you want to go?" he said.

"Oh," I said, confused. "I didn't know if we were doing that."

"Do you want to go to Viva?"

Ah, the old bait-and-switch. To go from tapas to tacos seemed a bit unfair, in my book, and so, "Actually, I've been eating a lot of burritos lately," I replied.

"Ok, so, Just a Taste, then? Meet me there in 15 minutes?"

"Well I could have met you there in 15 minutes if I'd had more warning," I replied as pleasantly as possible.

"Alright, well just meet me there at 7:00, then," he replied. And so I did, but man, all that, just to go to dinner. 

"Oh man, this guy is on thin ice," I texted my friend Eric. Because apparently I can't get enough of the texting. "Going to dinner now, but I'll tell you about it later." "Uh oh..." he responded. Which is why I burst out laughing when I walked into the restaurant several minutes later, and the first face I saw was Eric's, there eating dinner with his Spanish class. I mean, what are the odds? "You get to see him!" I whispered excitedly as we said hello and I pointed discreetly towards the bar.

Joining Luke, now, I pointed out Eric to him, and they shared a brief, if grudging, hello. After a tasty though fairly subdued dinner, we left the restaurant, and Luke walked me to my car. "You wanna come over?" he asked unenthusiastically. "I have to do laundry, but you could hang out with Kevin for a while." 

I laughed. "That's a really tempting and heartfelt invitation," I said, "but I think I'm gonna pass."

"Oh, come on..." he said. "Please?"

"No, you've seemed a bit weird all day today, and you have stuff to do, so I think I'm just going to go home."

"What do you mean?" he asked. "Why have I seemed weird?"

"Oh come on," I said. "Really? You really don't know?" 

"No," he said. "What did I do?" 

"I I really have to explain all this to you? How do you not know?"

"Well I don't often analyze my own behavior," he said. "So, what? Tell me." 

"Well, where do I start?" I said. "I mean, the whole thing about kidnapping you, and then when I offered you turned me down. And then the dinner thing...and you replied with um. I mean, I know you told me you're indecisive, but honestly, if that's the case, if it's actually this bad, then I don't know how you function on a daily basis. I don't know how you have a job," I said, throwing up my arms in genuine bafflement. Here he started laughing, and kept going for a really long time.

"Oh come on," he said, as I crossed my arms and waited for him to finish. "That was funny. Don't you think that was funny?" 

"Well I've been thinking about it for a while, so I guess I've had longer to get over it," I said. "But at least you find it amusing."

"Well, I'm sorry," he said. "I didn't know. So you're really not coming over?" 

"No, I'm going to go home."

"So I'm a puppy, and you're punishing me for my bad behavior, huh?" I stayed silent. "Alright. Come over tomorrow, then? I'll make dinner." 

"Ok," I agreed. 

Back at home I called Eric over for a de-briefing. "Ok," he said, "but you're not going to like what I have to say." I braced myself for it, and he began.

"First of all," he said, "you can do better than that guy. Way better. You know you're not a bad looking girl, and this guy... Anyway, besides that, the guy was...well, it's not good. His body language was awful. And then later, I saw you guys from across the street, when you guys were talking and he was leaning against your car? I mean, he couldn't have been leaning further away from you."

"Well," I said, "maybe he was just tired. Sometimes leaning is just leaning, right?" 

"No, no," he said. "Sometimes it is, but he was leaning waaaaaaay back, like this," and here he affected an extremely uncomfortable-looking though fairly representative posture, and I realized it was true. And where had I been during all this? I suddenly realized--right up in there, attentive, eager, leaning into him. "And then at dinner," he continued. "It was just so obvious. He wasn't there because of you. He was there...just to be there." And suddenly I realized that that was true, too. Eric had just put into words the feeling that only a little while earlier I had felt but been unable to articulate. The evening eerily reminiscent of a dinner at the very same restaurant two months earlier. That same feeling that he was bored, that I had to entertain him, put on a show. The feeling that if I didn't carry the conversation we would have just been sitting there. Eating. And so I grew more and more animated as the evening went on in an attempt to elicit a reaction of any kind from him, trying to please him. But despite my best attempts, the only time he smiled all night was when he got a text message from his buddy regarding their 4th of July weekend plans, as he checked his texts at the table. Eric was right, I knew. And he kept hitting way too close to home. "And the thing is?" he said. "The guy's a shlub. And he knows he's a shlub," he continued, starting to sound angry now. "And instead of trying harder, like he should have, he just sat there, being shlubby." I sighed. "What is it you like about this guy, anyway?" he asked.

"There are things..." I murmured dejectedly. 

"I saw his face," Eric said. "I saw his eyes, and he's hiding something. The guy's an asshole, and Rach, it takes one to know one. And I know."

"Ok," I said. "Okay. But...well, so what's the harm, really? As long as I know, and I'm not expecting anything from him, and it's only for a month, then what's the big deal?" 

"Well," he said carefully, "I guess the harm is in how it affects your self-esteem, and what it means you'll put up with from guys in the future. But other than that, I guess there's no harm in it."

God, I hate it when people are right.

[Comments are open, but proceed with caution, please. No helpful advice or armchair analysis necessary. I think we have already established that I am a hopeless case, so no need to rub it in.]  

Monday, July 4, 2011

Why I am moving on

So, about the job. The last time we talked I had two prospects on the horizon, each of which was far from perfect, though for very different reasons. Well, I seriously considered the Cairo option for all of 12 hours, then read this blog recommended by Oneika, and realized, what the hell was I thinking? Yes, it would have been an adventure. And I may very well have considered it when I was 22, or 24, or even 26 (I think you get the picture), but at the moment it doesn't fit in with any of the goals I have for my life right now. Though settling down at 31 and single may look a bit different than I would have imagined ten years ago, nonetheless, I want to settle down. I want my own place, I want to nest. I want to live in the same place for longer than a year or two. I want to form relationships with friends and family; I want a social network. I want a dog, and maybe a cat, too. It might not be picket fences, but this is what I'm asking from life right now. I may have given up on finding someone to share it all with, but if I can't have that, then please, just give me this. And somehow, I just couldn't see myself doing any of it in Cairo. 

And the other job prospect, the one that sounded like the exact opposite of what I was looking for, that fulfilled none of my requirements except the most important one, namely, being a job, any job at all that would pay me a salary plus benefits; that one? The all-girl private boarding school in the middle of nowhere, VA, that would require me to live in the residence hall? I humored them for a while, submitting to not one but two phone interviews. Then, when my contact said he would like to put me in touch with the headmistress of the school if I was still interested, I said yes, please, and also let her know that I would be in the area the following week, if it would be helpful to meet in person. And then I heard...nothing. Not a thank you for your time, not a we've decided to go with another candidate; nothing. That was over a month ago. I didn't follow up because I wasn't particularly interested in the job anyway, but still, after two phone interviews? Rude.

But, after all this, happily there was another prospect looming on the horizon, and it happened to be in a city where I could actually see myself living. I spent a nervous hour on the phone with HR, sweating bullets and gripping the phone so tightly that afterwards my fingers hurt, as they threw at me one tough question after another. It wasn't as if I was unprepared for these questions; I had spent the last 12 months in a teacher prep program, after all. But the phone interviews I had had before this had all been a bit easier, and more laid back. There were some tough questions, sure, but they were interspersed with fluffier ones, and they sure as hell didn't last for a solid hour. But somehow, miraculously, it appeared that I had passed, and I was invited to the school to do a teaching audition. I planned a lesson based on the objective they had given me, but otherwise I went in completely blind. I knew nothing about the students, or what or how much they knew. Then, after hours of practice and preparation, the day came. Even after the best of intentions and careful allotment of extra travel time, I arrived just on the edge of late--harried, flustered, and breathless. The set-up of the classroom was strange, and I realized that in order to operate my PowerPoint, I would have to be standing at the back of the room, behind my computer, instead of in front of the class. From that perspective, not only would my back be facing the video camera the whole time (oh, yeah, that), but I had trouble seeing the nametags taped to my students' desks. There was a lot of scurrying back and forth as I dealt with the computer in the back, then ran to the front to interact with students and read their nametags in order to call on them (and each time catching a faceful of light from the projector). I had trouble pronouncing one student's name, and each time I attempted it, the rest of the students would titter. Another student had written her name as "Mrs. Pember." After calling her Mrs. Pember for half the class, and feeling slightly ridiculous, I asked her if she might have a first name she would like to share with me. "Yeah, but like, I'm just tryin' to keep things professional," she informed me. Basically, it was not the most spectacular teaching audition in the world, but I rolled with it and I did the best I could. At the end, the students expressed positive feedback, and whether they were just being nice or enjoyed the diversion from the everyday grind, I thought that should count for something. The HR rep who had recorded my performance told me they would give the video to someone who spoke French, and then I would find out in a week or two if I was recommended for hire. In the meantime, she said, I would be able to interview with schools where there were openings. And verily, not a week later, I was asked to do a phone interview with the language department at the very school where I had done my audition. This interview was even more intense than the first, if possible. Again, the tough questions just kept coming. Then they asked me for my top three strengths, and my top three weaknesses. Three! Weaknesses! Anyone who has ever interviewed knows that the weakness one is a trick question, and like anyone who has ever interviewed I had previously thought long and hard in order to come up with the one perfect weakness that I was ready to spout off at any moment. I repeat, the one perfect weakness. And they wanted three? On the spot? Maybe if I had had twenty minutes or so to think it over I could have come up with something halfway decent, but argh. I went over my one prepared weakness in breathtaking detail, hoping that by the end of my spiel they would have forgotten about the other two, but no dice. I mumbled something vague and hopefully not too incriminating for the others and hoped for the best.

Meanwhile, I allowed myself to imagine what would happen if I actually did get a job there. I played the Craigslist where would I live if I lived there? game, and tried not to faint when I saw the going rate for a one bedroom apartment. I imagined meet-ups and book clubs, wine tastings and French conversation groups. Brunch! Walking places! Urban living! Urban dating! And so it was particularly spirit-crushing when I received this e-mail several days later:
"We would like to thank you for taking the time to apply for a position for the 2011-2012 school year. We appreciate the time and effort you have committed to sharing your instructional practices and experiences with us. After careful consideration, we are unable to invite you to the next level of selection."
It wasn't until I lost it that I realized how much I had actually wanted it. In an instant, all of my dreams and hopes for the future had been crushed. And what's more, I didn't have anything else on the horizon. I didn't have a backup plan. All in all, I was pretty damn glum. 

Which is why I'm sure you can imagine my shock when a week later the principal of the school in question called to offer me the job. Bwah? 

"After your phone interview with the language department teachers here, they were very impressed with what you had to say, and we would like to extend an offer to you. You're not showing up in our candidate tracking system here yet, for some reason, but I think I can push you through with your resume that we have here. That is, if you accept?"

I certainly didn't want to tell her that I knew exactly why I wasn't showing up in the tracking system, and instead blurted out a hurried, "Yes! Yes, I accept!" This was followed by a week of awful limbo, an employment purgatory where I didn't know if I actually had a job or not. I was relunctant to tell anyone, lest it turn out that they retracted their offer again, and so instead, I just waited, and worried. But finally, I was contacted by HR with their congratulations and a long laundry list of documents I need to start getting together, and I could breathe again. I have a job. I have a JOB! 

And so, without further ado, I would like to introduce you to my new home for the next year or possibly, hopefully more:

Internet, I'm moving to DC!!!!!