Wednesday, March 30, 2011

accidental chemistry

My theory on relationships, and how you know you've found the right one:

Before being in love, we have expectations. We think things will or should be a certain way when we're in love.
You might envision perfect dates of strolling down a street lit up by Christmas lights while sipping hot cocoa and talking about your childhood.
You might envision what your perfect partner will look like: good height, straight teeth, disheveled hair, dark brown eyes, stylish wardrobe.
You might be less shallow and think more about personality traits your future mate will have: caring, smart, funny.

In your mind, you build up a perfect mate and a perfect life together that follows, without ever meeting. Gambling on great expectations, you keep "your type" in mind, clear as a picture in your wallet. You are looking for someone who fits a list of characteristics you've created. You have boiled the love of your life down to a scientific formula. Then you find yourself out there among the other people somewhere around your age who are also single and looking.

That's when we date people and then break up with them for seemingly shallow reasons: their name has too many vowels or not enough consonants, the way they chew their food drives you insane, or they drive an Impala. It could be any innocuous reason, the point is the person isn't right for you, and you know it. Maybe they fit the scientific formula in every way, but you still find a reason to break up: you found a gray hair and bolted.

And then you end up dating someone not your type. Maybe friends set you up, or maybe you were friends with this person while you were dating others. Maybe you followed your mom's advice and "gave him a chance." He isn't like any of the other people you dated. If you saw him on paper, you would have immediately dismissed him as "not a fit." But it does fit. And suddenly, that characteristics list and "your type" is what seems shallow.

Because when you find the person who suits you, you know it. It's as if you just pulled on a tight dress and it hugs all your curves in the right places and makes you look better than you have ever looked before. This person makes you laugh and when you're not with him you think about what he's doing. He calms you down or gets you excited and love becomes more than a list of what you want. Your selfishness disappears as it becomes about the both of you being happy, together.

We make lists to tell ourselves what we want when we can't be completely sure what it is we're looking for. But you can't know what you're looking for before having seen it. Love is a connection: it's a perfect chemistry of two people that you can't reason away into a scientific formula. Instead, you stumble across it by chance: by pouring different liquids into beakers until two combine and make steam.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

cactus arms

There is something I read over at simply freckles many months ago that I haven't forgotten: "...I desperately needed to share it, catalog it, and keep it where I can always find it. Here...safe in my collection of pretty lil nothings."

That is what my blog is. Whether it's nothing or whether it's something, anything I want to remember and share is the for my blog. That is the reason I have a blog. Every post does not need to be an original thought. Many times I read something and wish I would have thought of it or wrote it myself.

No one has time to read every inspiring or interesting thing - there are books that many of us would love, but will never read. So I will share the snippets that inspire me here on my blog, in case my readers haven't had the chance to read it in its context. Those things I desperately need to share and catalog will be here: safe in my collection of pretty little nothings.

* * *

The drive home seemed to take ten minutes. As we descended into the hot desert, I felt a lump in my throat.
"I hate cactus," I grumbled.

"I like them," Jedd said. "Know why they grow those big arms?"

"No."

He lit a Marlboro.
"When a cactus starts leaning to one side," he said, "it grows an arm on the other side, to right itself. Then, when it starts tipping that way, it grows an arm on the opposite side. And so on. That's why you see them with eighteen arms. A cactus is always trying to stand up straight. You've got to admire anything that tries that hard to keep its balance."

* * *


We sat and waited for her crying to subside, as if waiting for a monsoon to pass. Handing her
one Kleenex after another I remembered what Jedd had said about cacti, how they right themselves, how they are always trying to stand up straight. This was what my mother and I were doing, I decided.

If only our arms would quit falling off.


~J.R. Moehringer, The Tender Bar

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Déjà Vu Déjà Vu

Do you ever feel like you've run out of things to say? Every day I talk to the same people. We talk about generally the same things. With my co-workers, we talk about work and the people there. With family, we talk about sad or funny things that happened before and people we all know. We give and get unsolicited advice on how to run our lives. With mere acquaintances, we chat about the weather or other meaningless topics that are neutral. We try to find a common thing to complain about.

I feel like I've done it all before. Like my conversations are on an endless loop. You know when you're in a waiting room of an apartment complex so long that you know the pool picture is next, then the gym, then the master suite? That loop. I'm in it. But I don't get to leave once I put down the security deposit: it just keeps happening over and over again. Life is the movie Groundhog Day, except for the whole killing yourself and waking up the next morning part.

I read something by Sloane Crosley about when she locked herself out of the apartment she was moving out of and had to call a locksmith. Twelve hours later, she locked herself out of the apartment she was moving into and had to call a locksmith again. The same guy with the ponytail from that morning shows up. He changes the lock and points down with his pen at her doormat which reads, "Déjà Vu Déjà Vu," frontward and backward. "That's a funny doormat," he says.

That's how I feel, but like no one else is in on the joke.

Monday, March 21, 2011

old people don't scoop poop

One thing I've quickly learned living amongst the elderly (I know it sounds like I live in a nursing home, but quite to the contrary: I live amongst the still-independents) is that the older you get, the more money you spend on services, rather than products. Personally, I'd rather have three DVR boxes than have my gutters cleaned, but that's just me. But once you're old, I guess you've done enough of those shitty chores to have someone else do them for you.

So I'm rarely surprised by the flyers on my door: lawn services, painting, stringing up your Christmas lights, taking down your Christmas lights, power raking, gutter cleaning, handyman services, snow removal, the works. I've seen them all. Until the other day. The other day, I got a flyer for EntreManure or the Poop Butler. Whatever name they go by, the service is pretty self-explanatory: they come and pick up the poop your dog has left in the backyard.

$6/week, but the price increases with each additional dog you have. As a bonus, they will pick up dead animals in your yard, as well. Now I'm sure this service is the brainchild of some college kid who just wants to put "Business owner" or "President and CEO" on his resume, but either way, this company exists. I feel bad for whoever set the prices. It would cost $6 in gas to get from one house to another. This company can't be making a profit. The old people are completely taking advantage of this kid unless he's smart and low-balling his prices.

I'm a pet owner, and I knew scooping poop came with him. It's a package deal: like having hair and owning a brush. Really, the only responsibilities with my dog is that I keep his dishes full of food and water and I scoop up after him. That's it. How lazy can someone be that they farm out the second of two responsibilities? Too lazy to own a pet, that's for sure.

But hey, when I'm old, I'm sure I'll subscribe. Better than that: I'll shoot squirrels and rabbits with a pellet gun and make the poor entrepreneur scoop up their dead bodies while they're still warm to be sure I get my money's worth. The other thing I know about the elderly? They sure as hell are cheap old coots. Give them a dollar and they'll trade it in to the Dairy Queen cashier for six quarters. Sneaky bastards. I'm kind of excited to become one. No one can give me shit for being a bitch, because I'll be old and I will have earned it.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

adulthood

Today is Erica's birthday, I thought to myself this morning in the shower. Which was a weird thought to pop into my head because Erica was my best friend when I was in fifth grade. 18 years ago, we were friends who would play Monopoly until one of us had all the $100 and $500 bills. 18 years ago, I went to her party and lost my team charades because I didn't know who Steve Urkel (or was it Pee Wee Herman?) was since I didn't have a TV.

Jr. high, high school, college, boyfriends, babies, moves and new jobs have all come and gone since that time, but somehow today, her birthday popped into my head. I think subconsciously I wish for that simpler time. It wasn't the most desirable childhood as it was much like being Amish, but with electricity. I did my schoolwork and my chores, then played outside until I was called in, allowed to read for 30 minutes before I had to turn out my light and go to bed.

But I always knew what was expected of me and what was coming up. Yet ever since learning to drive, I've been stressed. I never have a clue what the next month will hold. I am constantly stressed about work and about all the things people expect of me. I'm stressed about money and my car breaking down and family members. I'm stressed that I have to be stressed and am not the carefree and wealthy writer I had dreamed I would be by age 30.

As a kid, you are shielded from the overwhelming responsibilities of adulthood. You have your own little responsibilities, but failing to commit to them holds no real consequences. You have starry dreams of being an adult with a job that sounds fun and heroic and makes at least $20/hr. $20/hr could buy you anything you could ever dream of, you think, calculating how many packs of Bubble Yum that could get you.

But being an adult, optimism slides into pessimism, as one by one, you realize your starry notions were just notions. You realize $20/hr is not that spectacular and certainly won't buy you a mansion. Suddenly, you are both aware and afraid of consequences. Consequences make me grit my teeth and listen when someone I have to see regularly makes me upset. Consequences hold me back and keep me from the freedom of being myself again: the myself that still believed in good and hoped for even better.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

grabby grubs or grubby grabs

Sometimes on Sundays, dad, a sibling or two, and I would ride our bikes to the nearby high school. There they had grates instead of door mats: gum, loose change, and a blanket of pine needles would fall into them. Pine needles are all over everything where I'm from. It's a good thing I don't smoke, because I would have started a few fires by now if I did; I'm terribly careless. But we weren't after the pine needles or gum, we were after the loose change.

My dad had a grabby tool which is hard to explain, so it's the basic idea of this picture but a lot less sophisticated looking. We would stick it into the grate, and try to close the claws around the penny or if we were lucky, something of the silver variety. We would ride to each of the doors - the gym, the cafeteria, the classrooms, the pool. And then, once we finished, we rode home with our $1.37 or so jingling in dad's pocket.

Sometimes there would be a young couple there, smoking weed on the grass or just walking around with their hands in each others' back pockets. I would pedal away quickly, embarrassed. Embarrassed of my hand-me-down clothes, embarrassed of my bike with metal baskets on the sides for delivering newspapers, embarrassed to be working so intently at maneuvering a quarter through the thin squares of the grate.

It wasn't the Great Depression, but it sure as hell was depressing, living like it was. My dad taught me not only the value of a dollar, but the value of a penny.

Some lessons can't be rounded up.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

crystal globe


My favorite birthday present.

Although I don't live in bustling NYC, I like to dream I do. I dream that I chop up my car for scrap metal and walk or take taxis or the subway to get where I'm going. I dream of running in Central Park. I dream of shopping at Saks Fifth Avenue where this snow globe came from. I dream of the romantic, busy city life of buying flowers on the street and sipping coffee alone in coffee shops à la You've Got Mail.

To me, NYC is the perfect place to be alone, but not lonely. But I've learned to live in reality, rather than the fantasy of books and movies; I've learned that renting a tiny one bedroom apartment there is what I pay for the mortgage of my beautiful home here. I've learned that there are freaks on subways and cabs get stuck in traffic just like cars. I've learned being lonely has nothing to do with how many people surround you.

But something in me always believes things are better elsewhere. It's the pessimist in me who is always thinking I'd be happier in a different job or a different location. I'm always forgetting that anywhere you go, there you are. If I'm not happy where I am now, what makes a change of scenery any different? Soon enough, there I would also be bored and thinking it's better somewhere else. But no matter how many times I tell myself that, I inevitably forget it.

I keep forgetting that and remembering the beauty of elsewhere. So I keep my books and movies, and now this snow globe on my desk to remind me of the beautiful when I forget it's all around me.

Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Monday, March 7, 2011

ageism, Peeping Toms, abacus

More Google searches that lead to my blog:

1. Would you mow the lawn unasked of a 75 year old neighbour?
First off, let me justify the needless "u" in the last word, because this hit came from Australia. They can throw "u"s into anything and be excused.
Secondly: hell no, I wouldn't! Have you met me? I've never even mowed my own lawn. I'm the one who wakes up in the winter hoping my 75-year-old (oh yeah, we use hyphens in the US) neighbor snow blowed my driveway. Let's not be ageist and think that older people are useless now. We should all treat each other equally if we want to live in harmony.
2. Hot women in short black mini skirt to fuck
Just because I wrote a post about the subject after I received a blog hit from someone Googling being a restaurant hostess doesn't mean I will engage in this behavior for every single Googled phrase.
3. What does "you stiffed me" mean?
You must be home schooled. You think every phrase you don't understand is a euphemism for sexual behavior when really sometimes it isn't. Or maybe it is.
4. I'm a server and the hostess sit me only with teenagers
First off, are you a teenager yourself? Because full-grown adults have learned how to use "sit," "sat," and "set" by now. There might even be a Dr. Seuss book on the subject. Second, you sound like a real dumbass, so I bet the hostess is trying to teach you proper English, starting first with words you would understand. Although teenagers might have overshot the mark a little. Problem is, most kindergartners don't come with a credit card, so you'll have to start higher than your level. By age 90, the hostess might be giving you college kids if you progress nicely.
5. Sweaty women working out
Go to the gym to see that, you lazy bastard! Get out of your computer chair and take a peek without looking like the total pervert you are on the internet. That's what gyms are for: disguising Peeping Toms in mesh and Under Armour for a low fee of $30/month. I think I missed my calling in the marketing world.
6. Bitchen fucking everything under the moon
No, I was wrong before. This is that Dr. Seuss book I missed growing up.
7. Sexless bitch
You are the only person in the history of the world wide web to add "less" to the end of "sex." Was your mom coming up the stairs? Should have stopped there; "bitch" is a dead giveaway.
8. on friday night let's superglue steve's hands together in her sleep. she deserves it for being such a%2.
The real crime is that your friend Steve is a female. You gluing her hands together is petty larceny in comparison. And I have no idea what last word you were going for there. What's a three-letter swear word that doesn't require an article before it in that sentence? You got me. Must be an acronym.
9. matchprofiles.com
This always gets me: people google search something they don't know the url address of and write ".com" at the end as if that will magically make the site appear. Even though you typed it in a search engine and not your URL window, and that is not a website to begin with. I could fill books with mocking stupid people, so let's not waste all my energy on it in this one blog.
10. Giantess dd cleavage
OK, I really thought this person meant to write "gigantic" but is an idiot. But then I dictionary.com'd that shit and found out a giantess is a female giant. So you're telling me someone wanted to see an actual female giant w/a DD bra size? That has to be the smallest-chested giantess in the history of giantesses. Even Heidi Pratt is GG and she's a size 0. Giantsess' cleavage has to start at the size of Kirstie Alley's ass (pre-Jenny Craig, both rounds) and work upwards from there. We're no longer on the alphabet, people. We need an abacus with a lot of beads where we're headed.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Facebook "friends"

I got on Facebook to see the latest boring "news" with people I once knew, a couple of whom I called friends. Someone ate chili tonight, someone else isn't feeling good, someone is following DMB all over the world, someone's cat died, someone lost a bet, someone hates their job. Twelve other people are bitching, and the rest of them are drunk. It was too much for me.

One by one, I deleted the people who annoyed me. I deleted the girl I babysat fifteen years ago who incessently uses the letter "U" ("luv u gurls, had so muuuuch fuun tonight!") I deleted the guy with the bad breath and bug eyes in high school who always stared at my tits. I deleted the ex co-worker who posts fucking positive thinking quotes every day. I deleted everyone who watches foreign movies. I deleted the girl who keeps "falling in love" with guys she meets on the internet who live in the Middle East and break up with her the following week. I deleted the Bible verse posters and the only-song-lyrics posters and the whiny posters.

Once I finished that, I deleted the people who are trying to get something out of me. I deleted the girl who always needs affirmation that she's not fat. I deleted the person who stares me down until I fake laugh at his lame joke. I deleted the people who invite me to obligation parties. I deleted the people who try to convert me to their preferences: religious, political, or any other opinions which they believe they are right about. I deleted party crashers who don't bring their own booze. I deleted anyone who has ever asked me for money, whether it be outright or disguised under "a good cause." Yes, girl scout cookies and walks for the cure included.

Once I finished with that, I deleted the people who I hate. I deleted the ugly bitch who still has a problem with me because once upon a time I dated her current boyfriend. I deleted the ex-girlfriends of all my family members because fuck them; my family is better than you anyway. I deleted that annoying girl from all my college literature classes who asked questions at the end and made the class run long. I deleted the losers I worked with once upon a time but would never be friends with because they are two-faced kiss asses. I deleted the losers I once dated, but in my defense it's only because they had weed.

Then I deleted my family members who I wouldn't talk to if they weren't in my family. I deleted anyone on my friends list out of obligation. I deleted my old piano teacher and all the other old people on Facebook that added me just because they want their friends number to hit 25. I deleted anyone who I have never been in a picture with. I deleted anyone whose house I have never been to. I deleted anyone who didn't invite me to their wedding. I deleted anyone I didn't invite to my wedding. I deleted anyone who hasn't heard me sing aloud.

I smiled at the opposite of obligation. I don't know what it is called to no longer feel like you have to give a shit about someone you don't give a shit about, but it's a glorious feeling; let's call it "euphoria." I cut those fucking clanging cans off the back of the honeymoon car; I hate that noise. And only then, when I chopped 386 people off of my friends list, buried beneath a sea of people I don't care about, did I find my friends.