Monday, January 30, 2012

Why I love Jeff Mangum

If I hadn't bought a Groupon, then I wouldn't have gotten my hair cut on Saturday. If my haircut hadn't taken twice as long as I had anticipated, and I didn't live so far away, then I would have gone home to change before the Jeff Mangum show. If I had gone home to change before the Jeff Mangum show I would have been rushing to get back to meet my friend by 7:00, instead of walking around U Street with an hour to kill. If I hadn't been right down the street from the theater with an hour to kill, I wouldn't have walked past the ticket window at 6:15, and thought to ask, offhandedly, "You don't have any tickets, do you?" sure the answer would be no. After all, Ticketmaster had been sold out for months, and tickets for sale elsewhere online were going for three and four times face value. So it was no small shock to me when the woman said, "Wait five minutes. We might." And? They did! I got tickets to see Jeff Mangum! At face value! I didn't even have to pay the Ticketmaster fees! For someone who often feels like the Charlie Brown of, well, everything, I am still a bit stunned by how perfectly everything came together for me for that one perfect night.

And now, on to the show!

The opening band, Music Tapes, was dreamy. Seriously, like ethereal, am-I-asleep-or-am-I-awake, dreamy. Julian Koster played a saw and a banjo with a frayed violin bow. He told a story about old Romanian gypsy circus folk who pulled European cities from their mouths. There was a seven-foot tall ticking metronome.        



It reminded me a little of Beirut, at times a little of Rufus Wainwright, but mostly it was like nothing I had ever seen or heard before. Magical.

And then there was Jeff. 

Let me tell you why I love Jeff Mangum. First, because he said, "Alright guys, if you sing along at home, you might as well sing here, too." It was a singalong love fest as he played his way around The Aeroplane Over the Sea album, with a bit of On Avery Island for good measure. The only song I hadn't heard before was "Little Birds," a song that I am going to have to insist that you stop and listen to (but not watch, unfortunately) right now.   



It's about seven minutes long, but worth it. So, so powerful. (Check out the lyrics here, if you dare.)

Reason number two why I love Jeff Mangum: because he said, "Have you all had a nice decade?" (The crowd goes wild. Ten Fourteen years is a long time to wait for someone to come out of seclusion. But worth it.) And because he then said, "I've just been living my life, being happy."

And really, is there anything more any of us could ask for?  

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Why I wish every bad date could turn out this well

There are many things women can bond over, for instance a shared love of travel, or similar taste in shoes. But there is a very special kind of bonding that occurs between two women who have just met and who suddenly and unexpectedly discover that they have both dated the same man.

Shock is followed by disbelief, which is followed by, "Tell me everything. No, you first." And it may have been a French meet-up, but for once the French thing was not happening, not for this kind of dirt. We huddled at the bar whispering in English, casting furtive glances and hoping that no one would guess either the topic of our conversation (after all, quel petit monde!) or the language we were sneakily indulging in. 

I had only gone out with him once; it was, in fact, the Frenchie from the terrifyingly awkward date and motorcycle ride from hell. She, however, had not gotten off so easily, and was still somewhat unwillingly entangled, it seemed. Apparently, I really "dodged a bullet" there. (Me: "That's so funny, because usually I tend to throw myself directly in the path of speeding bullets. First time for everything!") 

Apparently this guy had been laying it on pretty thick, saying that prior to her, he hadn't gone on "a single date" since his divorce, that he had "never" messaged anyone through Meetup before, and, well. Whoops. Besides a propensity for telling lies of the little and white variety, he was also possessed of several other less than charming personality traits, and so she had been trying to end things with him for a while. But our encounter gave her the little extra nudge she needed to put an end to it once and for all, she said. (Yup, just call me the anti-Cupid.)

But, it turns out that this story has a happy ending after all, because she and I are hanging out this weekend! She wants to see Jeff Mangum with me! We don't have tickets! But I am still really excited! (And since I told her about my blog, for the sake of my own dignity I am imposing a moratorium on all further exclamation points. Period. Ellipsis.)        

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Why he's fading fast and I'm over it slowly

After about a week of silently observing the fastest slow fade known to man, I decided enough was enough. Under normal circumstances, for a guy I wasn't sure I was particularly into I might have just let it drop, but for someone I would have to continue to see occasionally in a professional capacity, an exception had to be made. There was a pachyderm in the room, and I was determined to blast it into obscurity, or failing that, at least poke it gently and ask if it might like to leave. 

So what's up? I texted the man formerly known as my Not-So-Secret Admirer. It was his day off, and just moments prior he had confessed that he was doing "absolutely nothing." It seemed like the right time for a little talk. Do you not like me anymore? I continued, putting it all out there. 

Actually I very much do, he responded a full thirty minutes later. What's new with you? 

I was just picking up on some signals and wanted to clear the air, I replied.

I don't do signals, I just say what I think, he said, forty minutes later. That said, I felt really bad about you catching shit about me last week.

Ok, I said, waiting for him to elaborate. 

An hour later, he still hadn't volunteered any further information, though after his last statement it really seemed like a follow-up was necessary. I had a few pointed remarks I was dying to make regarding the communication skills of a guy who supposedly "doesn't do signals" and "says what he thinks," but I held them in. And you know? I thought. He probably honestly does believe that about himself. Just like all guys, e.g.: "Deep down I'm a really good guy." "I don't play games." "There's nothing wrong with my breath." Delusional, the lot of 'em.

Instead I sent him another, pared down version of the text I really wanted to send: I guess I am still unclear as to what you are saying.

I'm not willing to let u get shit because of me, he replied.

Ok, I said. But again he ignored this, the universal signal for "please go on," or "tell me more." And that was all he wrote.

My reaction? Well I'm glad he was able to use my awkward conversation about him with my boss as a convenient excuse. Otherwise he might have had to tell me the truth. Or, you know, at least come up with a different excuse. Now, I know some of you may be tempted to take him at his word, and a commenter on the last post even predicted something similar. But honey, this ain't my first rodeo. They never tell you the truth. 

And honestly, I was ok with it, for the most part. Until he posted this to Facebook today: 
They got rid of Shatner as pitchman for priceline? That just ruined my day.
Shatner...not on Priceline? That ruined his day? 

And then, flames...flames on the...side of my face...

Does he also have strong feelings about the Travelocity gnome, I wonder? Did he shed a tear for the Taco Bell talking chihuahua? What does it take to get to this guy?!

That just ruined his day? That makes two of us.         

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Why my tolerance for awkwardness is building to dangerously high levels

The other day my boss called me into his office. Not my boss, but her boss. The Boss. (Not to be confused with Springsteen, though if they have anything in common it's probably that they both bathe regularly in swimming pools full of money (or so I can only assume)). And why is it that on the rare occasion when I am called back there is always a small part of me that secretly hopes it's because I'm doing such a fantastic job and he wants to give me a raise? Spoiler alert: nope. But I guess you don't make swimming pools of money by giving people raises.

"Have a seat," he gestured, barely looking up from his computer. I did, and finally he sighed and turned to face me. "So, I know you and [Not-So-Secret Admirer] are dating," he said. 

"We're just friends," I said, my hands flying up unbidden to form the universal symbol for No. Stop. Wait a minute.

"Well, that's not what I heard," he said.

The over sharer in me desperately wanted to tell him that we haven't even kissed, and that where I come from, people who hang out and don't kiss are called friends, but luckily the rational and professional part of me jumped in just in time, and I said nothing. 

"Well, I know that you went to a party at his house," he said.

I wanted to say that a lot of people went to the party at his house, but as I opened my mouth to speak he held up his hand in the universal symbol for You will let me speak, minion.

"Anyway, it doesn't matter. The point is, you work with payroll, and a lot of other confidential information. You hear a lot of things in this office that should never, ever leave the office." He continued on in this vein, as I nodded, of course, of course, a bit stunned, and assured him that I was "very discrete." (I could have chosen any adjective in the world, and the one I landed on in that moment makes it sound like I spend my free time trolling for dates in the "Casual Encounters" section of Craigslist. Great.) "We're just friends," I concluded, for no apparent reason at all (and why do my hands keep doing that?) He grunted, which I took as my signal to leave. 

In other news, work continues to suck.

UPDATE: Sitting on posts for a week is never a good idea, as they are sure to become rendered utterly and completely moot by the time I get around to posting them. Case in point: Not-So-Secret-Admirer is quickly becoming ancient history by now, as I've never seen anyone pull a faster slow fade. And if you think rejection gets any easier when you're not sure if you're particularly attracted to the person, let me fill you in--it still sucks. 

Meanwhile, if anyone needs any confidential payroll data, you know where to find me.      

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Why sometimes you don't need to know why

So, who sent the mystery text? My initial reaction, like many of yours, was that it was from the Moroccan, since he was freshest in my mind. But once I read the text a second time, I realized the spelling and grammar were much too good (and as many of you pointed out, the spelling and grammar were not even that good). We used to joke that even his texts had an accent, and so I knew that it wasn't from him. Thus narrowing the field to...

Commenter Erin guessed the "chubby bearded guy" I briefly dated in Mythaca. I think she meant this guy (whose name I honestly, at this moment, can't remember--hooray!), and while it wasn't him, it turns out that our mystery man was indeed a different chubby bearded guy that I dated briefly(ish) in Mythaca. (So, apparently I have a type?) Otherwise known as Luke, otherwise known as the apartment complex guy. The reason I didn't immediately recognize the area code was because he has a Rochester number (thank you, Google), which is the city nearest the small town where he's from.

And, like many of you, my first instinct was also to reply with "Who's this?", and then almost as quickly I realized that I did not want him to (correctly) assume that my past is littered with so many assholes that I can't keep them straight (even though it is and I can't). I immediately texted Pete for advice, who responded: Def don't respond. If he likes you then he might stop liking you. If you never respond for the rest of your life then you don't risk him not liking you.

What? I replied.

I'm saying that if you respond you may end up never talking to him again...so you should just never respond.

So not only was Pete entirely unhelpful here, but I also had the vague feeling he was making fun of me. I turned instead to my friend Eric, who had always been particularly perceptive when it came to Luke. In fact, six months ago when we used to sit in my living room in Mythaca and gab for hours, he had even predicted that this exact situation would occur, that at some unknown point in the future I would hear from Luke again, and that it would all be a continued part of his manipulation and mind-fuckery. "You see, for guys like these," he told me back then, "the biggest challenge of all is to take a girl that they've completely fucked things up with, a girl who hates his guts and never wants to talk to him again, and see if they can get her back. That's like...that's power."

"That's sick!" I told him.

"I know," he said. "And I used to do it, so I know. I don't know why I did it... I just...I liked being in control. It was fun for me, I guess. Just to see how far you can go, how much you can get her to put up with. And then after all that, if you can get her to do it again... Just be careful, is all I'm saying." 

Grumpy echoed something very similar in his comment on the last post, and though it is perhaps a pessimistic view to take, I believe it to be true. You know, it's honestly not that I assume the worst about humanity. But I do assume the worst about this guy. And even if the apology was sincere, I still don't feel the need to respond. It's over. It's been over.  

The angsty twenty-something Rachel would never have been able to let something like this go without a response. She would have been consumed with a burning curiosity, and an unquenchable need to know WHY? If you knew you were being a jerk, then why did you do it in the first place? Why are you sorry now, six months after the fact? Why text me after I move to a different state? Why re-open that can of worms? Why, why, why??? (There, is that enough whys for you, Grumpy? Happy now?) 

The current Rachel, however, is content to blog about it and then let it roll harmlessly off her back like so many raindrops off of something water repellent. I feel so grown up, all of a sudden. Welcome to your thirties, self! Like your twenties, but with 50% less crazy! I'll be honest, I do sometimes miss the crazy. If I ever miss it too much, though, it's nice to know that it's always just a mouse click away...                    

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Why it's too late to apologize

So this text arrived about half an hour ago:
"Rachel, I owe you a sincere apology for the way I acted and treated you. I am truely sorry, you are a great person and a wonderful woman. I hope your doing great and enjoying your new adventure. Again I am truely sorry and I wish you the best."
And what does it say about my sad dating history that I had to Google the area code to figure out which bridge-burning loser from my past it was from? 

So now I put it to you. Who do you think sent it? And, more importantly, do I respond? Or ignore?

Monday, January 9, 2012

Why I blame this on the fact that I didn't start drinking until I was 21...and a half

In answer to the question that I know has been on everyone's minds (but only if that question happens to be, How was the dinner party, Rach?!), I believe it can best be summed up in the following text conversation, which took place slightly before midnight on Friday night: 

Me: Effbwtf

Not-So-Secret Admirer: What the hell does that mean?

Me: Fucj
Me: Non.orwndinner parties edver

NSSA: Rachel I have no idea what u r trying to say!

Me: Sok
Me: I'm nevwr dinking agasinn
Me: Fcjn

NSSA: That I understand. How much have u had?

Me: Dunnoo
Me: Too much?

NSSA: Where r u?

Me: Jhome. No worry
Me: Such is the. Besuty of dinner party on secind floor
Me: Sorry

NSSA: It's fine, I think its adorable.

Me: Omg. So not
Me: Never. Been bso dru k
Me: And pukey

NSSA: Uh oh. Do u have water?

Me: I do bjut no hel;p
Me: Too bllate
Me: Will be sorryt tomorrow

NSSA: I know but keep drinking it and take aspirin or you'll be very unhappy tomorrow

Turns out, we were both right. It was too "bllate," and I was very unhappy the next day. You want to know the worst part? I didn't even make it through dinner. It was sometime before the dessert course that my internal Danger! Threat imminent! sensors started going off, and I was all, "Well, it's been real, guys, but I think I'm going to...go...now...Kthanksbye!" I was out the door so fast you could practically see the cartoon speed lines coming off my heels. (Not stink lines! Speed lines! It's different!) At least no one can accuse me of overstaying my welcome. 

But I guess that's what happens when you combine two of my favorite alcohols in one intoxicatingly delightful beverage. (Gin! and champagne! and Cointreau, oh my! And it has French in its name, and I speak French! Clearly this was a match made in heaven. I will have two, and then some more sparkling wine, and then some more wine, please.) This is a recipe I recommend only if you are ok with yakking. ("Just like a nineteen year old!" my sister said when I told her. Which I thought was pretty condescending coming from someone who recently threw punches at some dickhead in a bar. (He called her fat, and so he deserved it.) (She's  not fat, but that's not really the point.) She hits like a girl, as it turns out, but did get herself a pretty good goose egg in all the kerfuffle. Is not in a position to judge, is my point.)

New Year's resolution 2012? Learn how to drink like a grown-up. Or at least find a safer signature drink. (I hear Long Island iced teas are good?)           

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Why my nose knows no bounds, and other assorted tidbits

I like to think that most of the time I have an above average sense of smell, but lately it's just been ridiculous. Suddenly from my desk at work I can smell my boss's cigarette butts in the trash can in the kitchen (I know). I can smell the guy's breath two rows away from me on the Metro. I can smell a distinct urine smell coming from...somewhere on the Metro. And why oh why must someone always bring french fries on the bus? Looking at it now, I can see that most of these are probably "public transit in a large city" issues more than "my nose" issues. But seriously, multiple times a day it's all I can do to stop myself from screaming out in frustration to no one in particular, "I CAN SMELL EVERYTHING!!!!" And before you ask, NO, I am definitely not pregnant. Yes, I am sure. I also kept waiting for this sudden olfactory sensitivity to be followed by a monster migraine, but so far nothing. I guess I am just gifted.

WHY DON'T YOU GET A LIFE UPDATE:
First, let me preface this by saying, NO ONE GET EXCITED. But my neighbor extended me a last-minute (like six hours before, and probably only because I ran into her on my way to the mailbox) invitation for New Year's Eve, as she was having a casual get-together at her apartment. I felt pretty lame admitting (six hours before the event) that actually, I didn't have plans, and yes, I would love to attend, but I did, and lo, an amusing time was had by all. I mean, it was not crazy by any means, the women outnumbered the men (both of whom were married) eight to two, but it was a low-key good time, probably aided by copious amounts of bubbly wine and the fact that I only had to travel twenty feet to get there. Also, I discovered that this girl has a collection of first-edition L.M. Montgomery novels, so as Anne Shirley would say, I'm pretty sure we're kindred spirits. Now, I initially met this neighbor after I left a particularly, shall we say, pointed note on her door at 2:30 a.m. after hours of non-stop dog barking through paper-thin walls. I regretted it in the morning, but forced sleep deprivation is a form of torture, in my book, and honestly, I can't be held responsible for my actions under those circumstances. I regretted it even more after my neighbor came over the next day and introduced herself and apologized profusely and was so embarrassingly nice about it. I found out that it wasn't even her dog, but our upstairs neighbors' dog, who she had been watching for the night. Normally she would have been home with him but she had gone out for her cousin's birthday, etc. As it turns out, these upstairs neighbors with the dog were also at the New Year's Eve shindig, and at one point in the evening offhandedly mentioned the note I had left all those months ago, which obviously they had heard about, not in an accusatory way, but in a "this is how loud and obnoxious our dog is" way. Nonetheless I was chagrined and turned red and apologized, but then I was like, well, if I hadn't left that note I probably would never have met my neighbor and thus wouldn't be here tonight, so actually, it kind of all worked out for the best.

Then yesterday the upstairs dog-having neighbors invited me to a dinner party tomorrow night, so like I said, NO ONE GET EXCITED, but slowly, surely, and with baby steps I am maybe sort of getting to know people here.

Relatedly, a full week after my Facebook message, my new best friend/girl crush wrote back to me! Apparently my message had gone to her "other mail" folder which she rarely checks. She thought my misunderstanding was hilarious, and mentioned how she had told her mother-in-law the next day (they both love Kristen Wiig) how she had met someone "as adorable and funny" as KW (!), but that I didn't seem to take it as a compliment and she couldn't understand why. Take that, commenter who used my own words to try to make me feel bad about myself, thus missing the point of self-deprecation completely. Anyway, she closed by telling me to let her know if I wanted to get together sometime, which, yes. No concrete plans yet, but like I said, all steps in the right direction.

Also, after hanging out several times with my not-so-secret admirer, I've confirmed my suspicion that he is good friend material, at most. I have also come to the conclusion that if that is the case, I should probably stop getting drunk and flirting with him. Like, I should probably not hand feed him popcorn in a bar, because that is only going to encourage him. But that was only because he said he hated it! I mean, how do you hate popcorn, guys?! So I forced him to eat it, because it was funny, and...ohhh, I maybe see what he did there. But he continues to be very sweet, and he brings me little things like cookies his mom sent him, and a pudding cup (long story). And even my boss has remarked upon his complete transformation whenever he stops by the office now. The first few times I met him he wore the same ratty, grungy hooded sweatshirt and jeans, but now it's suits or sweater-with-leather jacket every time. "I'm just saying, I never saw that boy not in a baseball cap before you started working here," she (my boss) said. She also says things like, "Hey, where are you going? Aren't you going to stay and flirt for a while?" to him as he's leaving, which is not at all embarrassing. And then he'll reply with something just as cute, like, "Well, you see, I've determined I'm only charming in small doses," as he waves and walks out the door, and honestly, it just makes work a little bit more fun. (Don't get your hopes up, other than that work is still terrible and not at all fun.) Now, is that so wrong? 

You have been updated. Carry on.