Archive for July, 2005

Caring is Creepy

The hormonal shifts didn’t end with the cold sores. I have a zit between my eyes that will need its own area code shortly. A zit so large and overbearing that it prompted my husband to ask, “Holy shit, what is that between your eyes? Did you get hit with something?”

Sigh.

Despite the Zit That Blocks My Vision, I got hit on tonight for the first time in ages. Traffic was backed up on Rte 128 to a crawl, and sitting in traffic was akin to the proverbial and pathetically overdone parking lot. Normally I’m not a fan of driving down the highway with the windows open – with the Bangs From Hell, I literally go blind from the whipping hair in my eyeballs. When driving at 15 mph or less, however, the rogue bangs are no longer an issue, and I can enjoy the scent of burnt rubber and blazing tarmac to my osmic delight while listening to loud music and regaling fellow drivers with stellar, personalized renditions of The Shins and Rufus Wainwright.

During a particularly impassioned performance of Damien Rice’s ‘Volcano,’ I felt someone watching me. A glance to my right revealed it was a man around my age or younger, wearing mirrored sunglasses and a visor. Let me say for the record that I hate visors. Who wears a visor? A VISOR. Creeps wear visors. Men who were in fraternities and actually agreed to do the elephant walk wear visors, of this I am convinced.

“Hey!” He actually shouted.

“Um, yes?”

“Was that the Garden State soundtrack you were listening to earlier?”

Why yes it was, but that was a FULL THIRTY MINUTES AGO, which meant that this creep was kind of musically stalking me.

Ewww.

“Uhh…”

“Hey, this is kind of odd, but you seem nice [BASED ON WHAT?] and would it be weird if I asked for your phone number?”

“Uhhhhh. Yes. Yes, it would be weird.”

I mean, wouldn’t it? What kind of person says “Yes, take me now?” We’re DRIVING, for chrissake. Not to mention the fact that I’m married – I mean, it goes without saying that “I’m married,” should have been the most logical response, but I didn’t want him to think that the fact that I’m married was the ONLY REASON I was turning him down. He violated my drive time. Listened to the music I was listening to, and COMMENTED ON IT. Sure, it was blaring, BUT STILL.

Is nowhere sacred?

10 comments July 28th, 2005

This Ain’t Livin’

When I was younger, I thought maturity was something you gained incrementally up until the age of 25 or so. I assumed that it was impossible to be immature beyond a certain age, as it was just unacceptable – you’re an ADULT, for crying out loud.

I know, I know, I know.

Maturity rears its ugly head in strange ways as I age – don’t get me wrong, I still have staggering displays of immaturity, but I’m learning to accept some things for what they are, and try move beyond them.

Like PMS. For the first time ever, I recognized the signs before I acted on it. Usually it doesn’t dawn on me that I’m premenstrual until long after the last duck sauce-laden chicken finger has been hurled across the room at my husband’s head, and I’ve thrown at least five fits related to his irritating and dealbreaking habit of buying the wrong brand of cheese or any number of deadly sins. This month, there was no blowout. I’d feel like that was an accomplishment, if I didn’t recognize that normal people do not throw chicken fingers.

There were, however, other things. Like mind-boggling paranoia, hypochondria and physical symptoms, including my favorite: enormous cold sores. Which plays directly into the hypochondria. This is my fourth outbreak this year, and the year is only halfway done. This, of course, can only enable me to lead to the conclusion that it is a deadly form of cancer, and I have but weeks to live. And, given the already-crampy activity down below, it’s probably uterine or cervical. And I’m overdue for a pap smear so of COURSE it’s got to be cervical. The mind is a terrible thing, I tell you.

So that’s hypochondria. This week, I also had a healthy dose of paranoia. My boss couldn’t have a SINGLE CONVERSATION without me hovering over him, assuming he was talking about me. Like the world is all about ME. I read other people’s blogs that discuss unnamed people who annoy them, and I ASSUME IT’S ABOUT ME.

Apparently, in addition to the already-mentioned symptoms, PMS turns me into one self-centered motherfucker. I couldn’t BE any more appealing right now, no? Don’t you feel like I ALWAYS HAVE PMS? Christ, I do.

But the point is, I recognized it. I guess. No chicken fingers were harmed, and my relationship stayed intact without any screaming or ceremonial (and completely undeserved and hollow) removal of the almighty wedding ring…

Yet.

Pity Adam. Send him good vibes. And a shield for the chicken fingers.

10 comments July 24th, 2005

Think

Syracuse University. English and Textual Studies 205. Dr. Donald Morton.

Otherwise known as My Own Personal Hell.

I was, for a little while, an English major in college. I planned to be a writer, of course. Somewhere along the lines, someone convinced me that it wasn’t lucrative enough to warrant a degree from Syracuse University, and about eleventy million dollars in student loans. In retrospect, I’m inclined to agree, however regretful I may be about my decision. But that’s honestly a story for another day.

The class was misery for a college student in every way possible – 8:30 a.m. start time, three days a week, with a reading list that equaled an entire book every two days. The professor was a sex-obsessed linguistic theorist who liked to dabble in Saussure and Derrida. – his explanations of the theories were more obscure than quantum physics, and I spent most of the class confused, angered and utterly frustrated. The trick to passing, I later learned, was doing endless papers deconstructing masterbation and/or sex, particularly within the same gender. A guaranteed B+ at least.

And people say I didn’t get the most out of my education! HA!

Anyway, the point is, I didn’t CARE what the sign and the signifier meant. I couldn’t care less what the structure and subsequent deconstruction of language was – instead, I was content to admire its beauty and wield it as a tool. For me, it was akin to an artist studying the properties and historical significance of paint. Artists don’t CARE about what paint does and how it works together – they care about the end result and what they are trying to create.

Honestly, this could be the shittiest parallel I’ve ever made, but I need to remind you that I hardly paid attention in the class, so my Derrida and Saussure knowledge is, as I mentioned, about as deep as that of my knowledge of quantum physics. In other words, none. And while I’m qualifying, I need to add an amusing aside that my future husband, Adam, was in this very class with me – I distinctly remember him in the back of the room – Professor Morton hated him with an inexplicable passion, we were treated to his daily endless harassment and rude treatement of “Mr R -“, whom I wouldn’t meet until years later, in a different city. We had great fun the night we realized, with shocking realization AFTER we were already married, that we knew each other in college: “That was YOU?” and “OH MY GOD YOU’RE MR. R-!”

Anyway, my feelings about Dr Morton, Saussure and Derrida are much how I felt about the annoying little buggers trying to deconstruct blogging – searching for meaning deep within the text and starting up conferences and panels with titles like, “Reclaiming the Web for Personal Self-Expression,” and the BlogHer conference.

I almost threw up in my mouth when I read some of the points on BlogHer. For me, a panel like, “Reclaiming the Web for Personal Self-Expression,” was like someone saying, back in the day, “Reclaiming Paper for Personal Self Expression.” And anything that uses the word ‘reclaim’ smacks of desperation, rhetoric and frankly, bullshit.

In other words, shut up, and stop talking about the paint. Leave me be. Now, don’t get me wrong, BlogHer has some great points – if I were using this blog to launch a career, as many folks are wont to do, then perhaps I’d feel differently. There are, of course, the Blogerati who sit on their techno-high horses and pontificate about the Web, its meaning, and their royal place in it. Their brilliance is no greater than many others, yet they were early-adopters and quasi-pioneers who struck at the right time. If I were trying to compete with them, then perhaps I’d feel differently, but I’m not.

And then I thought about it some more and I realized how much this medium really is different, and I almost gagged on the remnants of Dr Morton, consumed years ago. But not in any of the ways other people are making it. I love to write. Live to write, in fact. I mean, I never expected corporate communications to be what I do for the rest of my life.

In fact, I’d rather shave my body with a cheese grater and bathe in fresh lemon juice, followed by a poke in the eye with a grapefruit spoon. Writing is really all I’ve ever wanted to do, and blogging gives me an excuse to keep up on it, while writing about whatever I feel like, whenever I feel like it. I don’t care if it seems self-absorbed, as I’ve accused many bloggers of being (yes, that shoe tasted delicious, thanks! The side of crow was particularly tasty!) I didn’t realize that I’m not really doing it for anyone else – it IS self-absorbed and selfish.

Fuck it. Simple, right?

Not so much. What’s different about the Web is that, duh, anyone can read it. I’ve blogged about some seriously personal stuff, and while I don’t regret it – and I’d tell almost anyone anything I’ve written about to their face – it gets dicey when family starts reading it. And friends. And coworkers. And in-laws. I’ll let you guess the only one of those four I have yet to experience.

And then it gets tough. Tough to manage, tough to write about and tough to continue. I mean, I’ve written about drugs, abortion, sex and religion, with a little ditty or two about waxing my ass and KY’ing my lips. I’m certainly not peddling family-friendly fare. I’ve modified some entries to honor Adam’s request not to write about him, lest his coworkers and clients someday accidentally the side of him only I see.

I’m scared, now that they’re reading it. I’m afraid that I’ll stop being honest, and start censoring. When I write for an audience, I suck. And it’s not about them, anyway. I need to remember that.

I don’t want to freak them out, though. I’m terrified that they’ll think that I’m not a nice person, because I’m a little bit – erm, a LOT – irreverent, and I believe in abortion and sex and drugs and all of those things that I did and do not regret. Scared that I’m going to fail to live up to who they thought I was. Scared that I’ll use fuck one too many times, and they’ll think that I’m trashy. And rude, disrespectful and otherwise not what they expected. And a baby-killer to boot. I mean, I’m the same person, and I’m not dishonest around them, but in many ways I’m more ‘me’ here than there – I write more personal things here than I bust out with on your average day.

Fuck.

I don’t care what many people think of me, since you can abandon most of those who don’t approve of your choices, but I do care what family thinks – mine and his. But so help me, I’m going to try so fucking hard not to let that stop me.

7 comments July 20th, 2005

All Apologies

Dude, I have been one maudlin blogger lately, yes? I feel oddly guilty for dragging a bunch of strangers into the mayhem.

It’s 8:15 here, and the sun hasn’t yet set, and so help me, I don’t think we’re going to make it to 9 p.m. Exhaustion is not just a word in the dictionary, it’s our reality. Between the loss of a beloved relative and moving, we’re up to our ears. It’s also made today’s post rather lame, so I’m apologizing for that, too.

We had a yard sale on Saturday. Oh holy Christ, what an experience. Did you know there were early birds at yard sales? Do you know exactly what that means? Terror in the driveway, that’s what that means.

Our yard sale started at 9 a.m., as clearly stated on our fluorescent green signs. I might add here that I spent three hours making them the night before, huffing the Sharpie Magnum purchased specifically for the occasion. We got up early – around 6:30 – and went to Stop n’ Shop to get bagels and Bloody Mary supplies for our distinguished guests and temporary yard sale employees – Adam’s sister, Faith, my sister, Ann, and my best friend, Eve – and on the way back, we hung our signs. It was 7:00 a.m.

7:03 a.m. Adam’s cell phone rang – it was Faith. People were already starting to LINE UP OUTSIDE and some were demanding that they enter the house to check out the merchandise.

Are you fucking kidding me?

When we arrived home, we discovered that alas, she wasn’t kidding. Or fucking kidding. Or any form of kidding at all.

Not one to let potential buyers go, I was left down below to man the cashbox while the rest of the crew brought down the items. Easy, I thought. At least I wasn’t lifting. Or dealing with our screaming downstairs neighbor who was furious at the sight of eleventy million wildly enthusiastic bargain shoppers past her bedroom window before 8 a.m. on a Saturday.

Good thing we’re moving.

Believe me, I’d rather have had to lift an entire two-ton truck filled with fresh cat shit than deal with these people. Shrewd, rude and overbearing, their goal was to get the lowest price possible, in the most obnoxious way possible, so they could resell it at another venue. Why ELSE would they be out trolling the neighborhood at SEVEN O’CLOCK ON A SATURDAY MORNING?

I performed terribly. I let bundles of things go for a steal, and by the sight of a few huddled, surreptitious escapes, I’m pretty sure there was some actual stealing going on. And given that I downed four Bloody Marys before 8 a.m., I was cheering them on, “See you later, thanks for coming! COME BACK IF YOU NEED ANYTHING ELSE!!”

Alas, I was serious. It didn’t occur to me until after they were gone that they looked rather…guilty.

By noon, we were shot, hungover and more tired than we’d been in a long time. Hours of aggravation, sunburn, haggling and screeching netted us a grand total of….

$300.

I’m telling you, I would rather pay someone $300 than do that again.

Never, ever again.

6 comments July 19th, 2005

She’s an Angel

One of my great loves in this world is perfume – truth be told I’m obsessed with it. I love the bottles, the color and viscosity of the liquid sloshing around inside, and the sometimes unpredictable effect of the scent as it morphs from bottle to skin to drydown. I love the way any given perfume you find smells different – wholly individual and unique – on everyone. No two people wearing the same scent will smell exactly alike, ever.

It’s an art, though many people don’t see it that way. Perfume has become so commercialized and taken for granted in many people’s minds – it’s moved beyond its initial purpose to cover up human stank when showers weren’t readily available to an afterthought of an accessory, and one that should be taken more seriously than it is. Visit any department store on any given weekday, and chances are, every bottle you pick up will have a sense of familiarity – ubiquity and homogeneity are valued over art, in many cases, with a few exceptions.

Thierry Mugler’s Angel is certainly one of those exceptions. In a sea of vague, generic fruity-florals housed in unassuming, if attractive, vessels, Angel is a screaming contradiction. Love it or hate it, it’s one hell of a ballsy scent – it mixes traditionally gourmand/sweet notes such as chocolate and caramel with earthy patchouli and white flowers. Angel was ahead of its time – it was one of the first scents to mix distinctively masculine notes with traditional femininity – as famed perfume visionary Luca Turin said, Angel is a “transvestite – a gorgeous blonde with a five o’ clock shadow and a wicked laugh.” And he’s dead-on.

Despite the ubiquity that followed its somewhat unexpected success, I had never smelled Angel until I met Adam’s grandma. At first I was surprised that she wore such a ballsy, contradictory scent – after all, she was in her late seventies, and her perfectly coiffed hair and immaculate manicure led me to a false conclusion. After spending five minutes with her, it became astonishingly obvious that this perfume was made for her – she was loud, rambunctious, and almost raunchy, tempered with a soft, kind sweetness that endeared her to anyone who met her. Sparklingly vibrant, bright and brilliant with a smoky, earthy depth and a loud, soul-quenching belly laugh, she spelled her name with a ‘y’ instead of an ‘i’ before it became remotely cool to do so.

Grandma died yesterday morning. She was, like Angel, a contradiction of sorts – a young soul trapped in an aging body; a brilliant mind paired with a soft vulnerability; a ribald sense of humor juxtaposed with traditional femininity. And, like she was, her funeral tomorrow will be a day of contradictions – joy mixed with unthinkable sorrow; pain seated at the right hand of relief. Selfish, anguished misery because she’s not here with us – our children will never know first-hand what a pleasure she was, and I’ll never hear her fabulously sexy voice again. But it’s impossible not to be strangely joyful – she’s somewhere else now, joining her mother, – whom by all accounts was a key influence in her sassy, irreverent ways – and inciting a whole new group of souls to laugh so hard that they might pee in their heavenly robes.

They say you should never wear perfume to a funeral, for it might ruin the scent. Scent is one of the strongest memory-triggers, and to do so might forever tie a favorite fragrance to a day of heartbreak. But tomorrow, I shall pull out my little vial of Angel and spritz with abandon. I’ll never be able to wear it without thinking of her, and though I’m of the unlucky few on whom it smells like rotting canteloupe, a test application tonight proved otherwise. I think she might have had something to do with that.

Oh we miss you so much already.

14 comments July 13th, 2005

Blasphemous Rumors

The Gods and Goddesses. They have a sick sense of humor, and I can’t say I’m complaining.

Today was a hard day. Grandma is dying, and every day we kind of sit back and wait for the call. She’s in a medicine-induced coma to prevent seizures as a result of the multiple strokes she suffered earlier in the week. Selfishly, I want her back, but we all have realized and faced that she’s not coming back – not like she was, and so it’s time for her to move on. And you, Powers that Be, whoever you are, I know we don’t talk much, but won’t you hear me now? Take her. She’s ready.

Today, we went to see her for the last time with the rest of the family. Adam’s brother and his wife came in from Syracuse (brr!) and we all spent the day with his aunt and Grandpa by her bedside in the nursing home, all of us hanging together against the cold. She can’t see us or acknowledge us, but she knows we’re there, somehow, I just know she does.

Nursing homes are heartbreaking. It doesn’t seem fair that at the end of your life you don’t get some sort of golden reward, or laughter and joy – or any of the things you fucking deserve after 80-something years of taking care of other people. You get to sit in a bed and wait for death, too many of us without family or friends. And before you die, you are coddled and treated as a child – as if you haven’t experienced more hardships, challenges and joyful moments than any of us can possibly understand.

Today, we heard some of the activities in the day room next to Grandma’s suite. A large gathering of wheelchaired pseudo-convalescents were parked in various areas around the room while a smiley, odd little man WHO DID NOT SPEAK OR UNDERSTAND ENGLISH (I later learned he was Korean) attempted to get them to sing songs such as, “Bicycle Built for Two,” and “Michael Row Your Boat Ashore.” From the sounds of it, he was the only one singing.

I’m telling you, it’s not right. People deserve better at the end of their lives than to sit drooling in front of an overenthusastic foreign volunteer attempting to sing archaic folk songs.

Grandpa’s had a hard year. Watching the love of your life suffer has got to be the most gutwrenching pain in the world. You know how the kindness and sorrow of others is almost worse than your own pain? I think we were hard for him to see today. Our presence today brought him to tears more than once. During a particularly maudlin moment, we all sat in silence, the tears streaming down our faces, overwhelmed with the anguish of it all.

And then it happened.

“GOoooood Breesssst ARMERRRIIICAAAAARRR. RAAAND RAT I ROOOOOVE!”

And we all put our hands on our hearts and sang along, laughing through our tears.

God Breast Armericar, indeed.

7 comments July 9th, 2005

We’re Losing Her

Safe passing to the other side, sweet Grandma. You are loved more than you know.

It’s not fair.

12 comments July 6th, 2005

Digging in the Dirt

Everyone holds stress differently. Some people grit their teeth, others eat nonstop. Some people stop eating. Me? I hold it in my bowels. Why, God, why? I’ve been sick for four days. Good GAWD, it’s miserable. I know that’s so not what you or anyone else wants to hear, but it’s the miserable, gutwrenching truth.

This move is killing me. It’s not even the logistics, although thinking about the sheer volume of shit to do is enough to send me to the bathroom for forty more rounds of cheek-clenching excitement.

It’s the fact that, per usual, I’m channeling all of my anxiety and tortured soul-baring misery into…my job.

I have a sick, twisted love/hate relationship with my job. With any job I’ve ever had, really. I wasn’t really ever that ambitious as a kid – I wasn’t competitive in school, and I wasn’t the best student, although I did okay, I suppose. The point of school was to blend in – find some way to NOT be the center of attention, by strategically avoiding the positions of best or worst. 3.0 was the way to go.

When I got my first job, I was strangely awakened and determined to make up for lost time – all those days of laziness, not completing my schoolwork on time and sleeping late instead of studying. Yes, I was going to erase those years of lazy geekdom by excelling at my chosen profession! The problem is, my profession was never what I truly loved to do, as I’ve discussed, but I guess it really didn’t matter in a lot of ways.

I succeeded, for sure. I got every job I’ve ever tried for, and did so well at previous gigs that I’ve never been able to successfully quit without a major bid to keep me. I left my last job to work for a client of my current agency – a taboo move that I pioneered. I’ve always been secretly and illogically proud of that fact – but the thing is, I did it by outworking everyone. I might not be the smartest person in the room, but I would outwork anyone else around me, that’s for sure. I made myself available at every turn – every evening, weekend and holiday, I was armed and ready with a slew of emails, plans and projects ready to go. And the deep-down truth is, the reason I do all of this is because I live in fear of losing my job, even when objectively I know that possibility is incredibly remote. I live in fear of disappointing people – of not maintaining my status quo as the middle-ground girl who does it all and works the hardest.

And now, I’ve done it again. I’ve told work that I’m moving, and that I would be willing to stay. They agreed to ‘make it work.’ Fact is, the money, job and salary would be one major adjustment that we wouldn’t have to deal with, which in many ways would be a pleasure. For the most part, they seem pleased, but anxious. I think they’re concerned that I’m going to have difficulty completing the job, since I’ll need to be remote, is my best guess. Or maybe I’m being a paranoid moron who thinks everything is all about me. I see what they’re saying. There will be no more face to face meetings, and I’ll miss critical hallway conversations that might lead to advancement or worse, even sticking around in my current or any role.

I’m sick over it. Terrified that instead of going out on top that I will fade into obscurity, and leave on a bad, or worse, invisible note. I don’t know what I’m trying to prove to myself. I already did everything I set out to do, so why am I so afraid of dropping out of this race?

Sometimes I think that losing my job would be the best thing for me, since I would actually learn that maybe the world won’t come crashing down and that life would go on, and I would survive – thrive, even. That I don’t have to be the hardest worker to make it in this world. That having a life is okay, and pushing back on an employer for something critical, or even mildly important to my personal life is beyond acceptable. I tell myself all the time that this is the truth, but I don’t believe it, even though I say I do.

Now, I’m going to a new place, with the same job, and the same anxiety, only it’s more justified than ever. There are jobless, qualified, local people who want my job. And it’s making me sick, and I’m not sure it’s worth it. Then I think about the salary and benefits and material comfort it could bring, and I feel like I have to hold on to it, for my own sanity, yet I feel those very things are the golden handcuffs that chain me to a life of perpetual insanity.

And you’re thinking, “WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS TO YOURSELF? Be POOR, woman! BE POOR!” I know that’s what you’re thinking. It’s what I’d be thinking, too.

But I can’t disappoint them. For some reason, I feel compelled to make it more about them – who ‘them’ really is, is beyond me – than me. Clearly, I’m codependent and not well – I can’t imagine not being overworked and stressed and playing the role of hardest worker. It’s what I do. And I haven’t smartened up to the fact that I am a willing participant and being totally taken advantage of.

Yes, sometimes I think losing my job would be the healthiest thing for me.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to run to the bathroom.

9 comments July 6th, 2005

Holla Back Girl

I can’t believe I’m admitting this. I think this means that I am like, the grossest person in the history of people. I might as well regularly fart in public and stop using tissues in favor of blowing snot rockets. In the mall.

Last week, we bought bananas (go ahead and sing it! “This shit is bananas. B-A-N-A-N-A-S!”), along with eleventy million other pieces of fruit. Adam has been giving me a lot of flak lately, because I have blatantly ignored the bananas. Who wants to eat bananas when there are much more exciting fruits to be had? Cherries! Plums! Peaches!

Today, while cruising around Sears to return some Land’s End stuff, I noticed a cloud of fruit flies. Irritating, to say the least, not to mention incredibly gross. What kind of establishment has FRUIT FLIES everywhere? Piggy, annoying little bastards that cling to every inch of spare airspace, usually around faces, in case anything tasty might be headed to your lips. After a few minutes, I realized the cloud was really only around me – they seemed to be following me everywhere. Like Pigpen’s halo.

A sniff and a dig in my purse revealed a wizened black banana I’d tucked in my bag earlier in the week, after repeated pleas to eat the forlorn fruits. The source of the annoying fruit flies? Hello, nice to meet you.

I repeat, I am the grossest person ever. The shit really IS bananas.

12 comments July 1st, 2005


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