Tag Archives: comedy

Frenemies

27 Jul

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Humans are, supposedly, learning beings – we learn from experience, and, ideally, don’t repeat what doesn’t/hasn’t worked for us. I say “ideally” because every morning, I smack my head against the overhead compartment of the train and say, in the kind of angry whisper a parent uses to scold their child for throwing mints at the back of someone’s head in a theater, “FUCK.”

Like asking the nice girl at my local coffee shop if she “has any skim milk” (even though I know she does), and like wondering why they don’t just put the skim milk out with the other milk options, and like drinking my bitter coffee and wishing I hadn’t used skim milk, hitting my head is just part of my daily routine. How would I know my day had officially “begun,” without that uncomfortable jolt and ensuing flash of anger?

But still, I wonder: what causes me to make the same mistake, time and time again, even though that mistake causes me physical harm? I’ve worked hard to conjure up every bit of science I’ve ever understood, and have come to a highly scientific conclusion: my brain and my body are frenemies.

A “frenemy” is a “friend” who is also an “enemy.” For example: if pressed, I’d wager that Beyoncé and Adele are frenemies; both women are strong, talented powerhouses who support each other, but who also (secretly) hope the other screams too loudly on a rollercoaster and develops nodes. Millennials and New York City are frenemies; Millennials love the trendy opportunities of NYC but hate living with the possibility of stepping in human feces on their way to work. Ice cream and I are frenemies; I eat it uncontrollably and…no, never mind, there are no downsides to my love of ice cream.

My brain and my body are definitely frenemies. They go to brunch together and talk and laugh, only to return to their respective homes and bitch to their significant others about how the other is fake and arrogant and…getting fat.

“She just thinks she’s so smart,” Body complains to her naked lover, Pedro, as she takes off her makeup and jumps into Warrior Pose. “She makes all of these jokes and just expects everyone to laugh. Well, newsflash, Brain, no one thinks you’re funny.”

“I think she’s kind of funny,” Pedro whispers, only to get a swift kick in the gut from Body.

On the other side of town, in an apartment littered with newspaper articles and anxiety, resides Brain. Brain sits upright in her back-healthy chair and complains to her stable accountant boyfriend, Brian, about Body.

“All she can talk about is her love of kale. Most people try to hide the fact that they love kale, but no, not Body. Body has kale recipes, and kale socks, and kale ‘fun facts.’ Oh, and if she asks one more damn waiter for ‘skim milk’ in her coffee, I’m going to scream! Just drink regular milk, you pretentious bitch!”

“At least she’s proud of her passions,” Brian offers, before Brain gives him the most threatening look a woman could ever give her significant other, and retreats to her office to write an article about him for The New Yorker.

Brain and Body see each other from time to time, but never because they want to, and usually because they feel they have to. They attend each others’ weddings – Brain weds in the Boston Public Library, while Body weds at the tail end of a longer-than-usual jog around Walden Pond – but can’t help but feel twinges of jealousy. Brain wishes she could seem as relaxed as Body on her wedding day, while Body wishes her vows were as eloquent and poetic as Brain’s.

Brain and Brian always seem to be enjoying culturally rich and exciting vacations; Body and Pedro go on vacation and Body blows up like a tick, while Pedro somehow manages to lose weight.

On the other hand, Body and Pedro share the same passions, and are often seen biking on a tandem bike, or hiking together in the woods; sometimes, Brain goes days without seeing Brian because she locks herself in her office to write, while Brian finds comfort in his numbers and figures (and potentially his secretary. Brain often wonders about this, but convinces herself she’s just “overthinking things.”)

They’re so different, and yet, occasionally, Brain finds herself wondering what Body’s up to and if she’s free to grab brunch at that new diner up the street. Yes, Body is free, but she suggests that new smoothie bar down the street because…kale. This annoys Brain, but then again, it was Brain who offered they get together in the first place.

During brunch, they feel themselves falling into the same, draining patterns. Body acts like she invented “the plank,” while Brain makes too many Francophone references to be charming. They wonder why they ever bothered trying in the first place.

And then, like a mother-in-law walking into your bedroom, Heart walks through the door. Heart, with her big, white smile and infectious laugh. Heart, with her genuine desire to “do the right thing” and “be there for others.” Heart, with her perfect relationship and her even more perfect relationship advice. They try to hide, but they can’t; Heart always finds them.

“Hey ladies,” says Heart. “I’m so glad to see you two together. Isn’t it great, the way Friendship can endure both Time and Circumstance? You’re both looking absolutely radiant.”

Brain wonders what she can possibly say to outsmart Heart. Body wonders if she could “accidentally trip” Heart. Both settle for disingenuous smiles and some forced nodding.

Heart goes home and kisses her four children hello, before turning to her husband, Cupid, and saying, “I saw Brain and Body at that new café this morning. Those two are a couple of rank bitches, let me just say.” Cupid nods in solidarity with his wife, before offering her a bouquet of roses and a lifetime of devotion.

Brain and Body stay a little longer at the café that day.

“She thinks she invented kindness,” says Brain.

“I know, right? And what was with her outfit? It’s like she dresses however she wants, without worrying what people will think.”

Brain nods in agreement. Body offers Brain a sip of her smoothie. Brain offers to pay for brunch. They make plans to meet at the same time and place next weekend.

***

Hitting my head hurts, so you’d think my body and my brain would be able to coordinate some kind of plan to avoid the pain. For instance, my body could use an “I statement” to explain to my brain why it doesn’t like being smacked into the overhead compartment: “I don’t like it when you let me hit our head against the overhead compartment because it makes our head hurt,” it could say. Then, my brain could respond thoughtfully, explaining its reasoning: “Sometimes, when it’s early in the morning, I have trouble keeping up with all that you can do. You’re so strong and nimble and tan, and even though you have your faults (like how you can’t do a full split or chin-ups, and how you bloat after soy sauce), you’re still the faster one between the hours of 6am and 1pm.” My brain can be kind of a passive asshole, but would at least be trying, and that would be good enough for my body, who, let’s face it, is nowhere near as quick-witted and sly as my brain. The two would then make up and agree to work together to keep my head safe from harm.

Unless Pixar can somehow inhabit my brain and body to give them unique personalities and voices, I don’t think I’ll be seeing coordination anytime soon. Which really does not bode well for the other areas of my life that remain untrained and uncoordinated.

But then again, if Beyoncé and Adele can make it work, so can I.

 

 

 

 

 

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How John Mayer Ruined My Life: A Love Story

14 Apr

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“L’amour de loin”; love from afar; Medieval Courtly Love; King Arthur and Queen Guinevere love – leave it to the French to create an incredibly seductive yet torturous form of love and sell a bunch of books about it, lulling all of us mere mortals into believing that it’s trendy and fulfilling.

Love from afar is like the croissant; the French pretend that they eat croissants “for breakfast” and that croissants are the key to balanced lifestyles. So then we Americans go to Costco and buy a bunch of croissants and eat ten in one sitting, and we wonder, “Why can’t I see my genitals when I stand naked and look down at my feet?” Spoiler alert: you can’t see your genitals because the French don’t eat croissants for every breakfast. And you also can’t find fulfillment in “love from afar” because you can’t see past the fact that you can’t see your genitals. This all comes down to croissant, really. Are you following?

Alright, I’m being dramatic. I’m not in love. But I do have a crush on someone who doesn’t know I exist. Actually, I believe that somewhere, deep, deep down, John Mayer does know I exist and is just waiting to tell me…that I exist…and that he cares about my existence… (and yes, I am holding my breath for this affirmation, so if I start to turn blue in the face, dial 911 and don’t leave my side until I’m in the hands of a capable medical professional).

I recently attended John Mayer’s Boston concert with my mom. Before the concert, I was an enormous John Mayer fan. I’ve always listened to his music. In fact, his “No Such Thing” music video was one of the first videos I ever saw, after my aunt accidentally left MTV playing on the TV and I snuck in to watch a whole ten seconds of the music video. (Music videos were banned and yet I somehow managed to watch Jerry Springer on all of my sick days? Suspicious parenting, at best.)

A week has passed since the aforementioned Mayer extravaganza, and yet, I still find myself…crushing.

My friends are saying supportive things, like, “Oh, it’s totally normal to be obsessed with a performer after his/her concert! I feel you, girl!”

Like Gluten-free cookies, these friends are sweet; but they’re wrong. This is different.

I’m no fool. I know that concerts do weird things to people.

The first concert I ever went to was the Dave Matthews Band concert. I was ten and everyone around me was high. Some dude spilled beer on my sweatshirt, and I wore it to fifth grade the next day and told my teacher to smell it. Clearly, this concert had me thinking I was a 19-year-old frat boy.

One time, I saw Train in concert, and it started raining, right as they started playing “Drops of Jupiter.” I remember thinking that I’d never forget that moment. I then proceeded to go to the dining hall and eat five pieces of pie. Five pieces. All because of the concert.

When I went to Adele’s concert, I forewent drinking so that I could “soak up every moment.” Who was this girl? Why wasn’t she drinking? She was clearly possessed.

So you see? I know that concerts can cause abnormal behavior. But something in me changed during the John Mayer concert. It wasn’t the two beers I drank, or the fact that I ate some weird Thai food before the show and thought that maybe I’d contracted a parasite…There was a cosmic shifting of my soul, and I know that it was caused by a crushing crush.

I’m not even someone who gets celebrity crushes. Ok, sure, when I was 11, I once spent an entire weekend watching Leonardo DiCaprio’s deleted scenes from Titanic. I was supposed to be studying for a “math final,” but I couldn’t rip myself away from Leo, and so I scored a 74 on the test.

But I’m an adult now and I rarely have tests anymore because grad school is more of a “project-based” type of learning environment…so I’m all good, academically.

I felt swept up by John’s musical talent, his weird, scrunched up facial expressions while playing the guitar, and his ability to play the piano and whistle at the same time. I think I’m letting this celebrity crush continue because the universe is slowly but surely signaling to me that John Mayer and I are meant to be together. Shall I break it down for you (John)? Here’s a list of the whys:

  1. At the concert, John played the song “Why Georgia,” which is my mom’s absolute favorite song. She started screaming and kind of growling, and I briefly felt embarrassed because the gentleman in front of her looked like he might say something, like, “Ma’am, are you choking on a chicken bone?” But then, right at that moment, John started playing “Dear Marie,” which is my favorite song. It was like he was sending me a message, saying, “Don’t worry about the haters. That guy is probably jealous or vegan. You do you, boo.” That’s when I knew that he’d tailored the entire concert to fit my emotional needs. What has your soulmate done for you today?
  2. On a recent evening, I fell into a deep, dark internet hole. I found myself on John’s Twitter account, which is how I found a tweet from him, in which he proclaimed his love for mediocre movies from the late ‘90s, to the early 2000s. He may have been being “ironic” (it’s hard to sense tone over Twitter), but I’m sure this tweet came from a place of truth. Norah Ephron rom-coms spanning the entire ‘90s decade comprise my favorite genre of film, and so I’m sure we’d have a lot to talk about. Maybe he loves Tom Hanks as much as I do? A girl can dream.
  3. In an interview with Ellen DeGeneres, John said that he’s a fan of The Bachelor, but that he can only sit through the season premiere because two hours per week is a lot of “buy-in” time for the average viewer. This is something with which I completely agree. What else could I do with two hours? Let’s see: learn how to ride a moped; research sharks; invest in multiple IKEA lamps and then see which one breaks first; train a pony to deliver me snacks on its back; domesticate a long-haired latte artist. The list continues…I think John and I are on the same page with this one. Give me just one hour of women crying and pretending to eat recreational fruit bowls, and I’ll be forever grateful.
  4. John recently said that the drawing of the woman on one of the the front covers of his new album is “her” – his ideal woman – a combination of past, (hopefully not present), and future lovers:

search for everything

Now, I’m not saying she looks like me, but I’m also not going to argue with the fact that she has long, wavy hair, and I also have long, wavy hair. She also seems to have feathers floating around her head, which either symbolizes her “free spirit” personality, or the fact that she likes chicken. Either way, I’m down.

  1. John is known for getting himself into trouble with the press. While this hasn’t ever happened to me, I did once draw a butt crack on a computer during “computer class” (back when Microsoft Word was like, the futuristic spaceship of its time), and got in trouble with my teacher, after I announced – not very quietly – to my friend, Brandon, that I’d “drawn a butt crack on the computer.” Getting in trouble for spur-of-the-moment self-expression is shocking and upsetting. I’m still trying to get over my reputation as “butt crack girl.” I think we could relate on this level.

So these are the signs from the universe. Now, you might be wondering about the practicalities of it all. It’s sweet of you to worry. Here’s a list of possible concerns and their solutions:

  1. Sure, John is ten-plus-six years older than I. But here’s the thing: after I got busted for drawing that butt crack, I had to mature very quickly. You can’t be a six-year-old “butt crack girl” and look and act like a six-year-old. Even now, guys come up to me in bars and ask me how old I am. This can only mean that I look too old to be in a bar. Which means I’m probably just old enough to be living in Montana with John and his dogs. Plus, it’s not like I can claim I “grew up on John’s music,” because, as I mentioned earlier, I wasn’t allowed to watch his music videos. (Also, Amal and George don’t seem to have any issues.)
  2. “But he’s a world-famous musician! How will you ever get his attention?” It just so happens that I’m going to the Grateful Dead concert at Fenway Park in June, at which John will be playing guitar. Fenway is an intimate, outdoor venue, so when I fly the blimp over Fenway that says, “Dear John, look to your left, no, your other left, by the sausage stand,” he’ll surely see it. I’ll be waiting there for him with a sausage and a soft serve ice cream in a Red Sox souvenir hat because celebrities: they’re just like us – they eat souvenir ice creams!
  3. If the above plan fails, I will just resort to old-fashioned techniques, like moving to Los Angeles and attending hip co-ed parties and hoping to meet him. This approach could go on for years, but there’s something sweet about 70-year-old men raising infants.
  4. “But he’s a womanizer! He’s dated so many famous women! It would never work!” Honestly, if I had as many good-looking ex-boyfriends as John has ex-girlfriends, I’d buy myself a huge molten lava cake, put on some sweats, get a crown, and declare myself Queen of the World. Life moves quickly, and we all have baggage. I know I do. There are literally six Trader Joe’s bags next to me right now, which I’ve yet to unpack and put away. I’m not saying John and I have to be bound together for all time! Please, I’ve got so much living to do. I’m just saying that he has to fall madly in love with me and then can’t feel attracted to any other woman for the rest of time.

Any questions? I think I’ve pretty much covered everything. John is witty, wavy-haired, and creatively talented, which are really all of my requirements.

They say to “write what you know,” but I, clearly, prefer to write about those whom I don’t know, and then hope that they magically discover me.

I’ve also written more about this fantastical love story than I’ve written for any of my final projects and papers that are due in the following weeks…so I guess I lied, and this crush really is impacting me academically.

Bottom line: I need out of this fictitious romance, ASAP. I need a break. It’s been mentally exhausting, knowing that I’m meant to be with someone who’s currently making Japanese-themed music videos to accompany jazz-hybrid music about an *cough cough* ex-pop star girlfriend. He doesn’t have time for me.

So here’s my message for John: you’ve totally ruined this week for me, but I forgive you. Let’s take a break – I think we could both use one. I’ll be at Fenway in June, so let’s go on a date. I think (know) we might be (are, beyond a shadow of a doubt) soulmates. And if you take me on a date and disagree, I’ll give you my souvenir ice cream hat and we’ll call it even.

(Also, I’m moving to LA in the fall, so that’s also totally a possibility. No pressure. Just saying. I’ll be there. Waiting. Just kidding. I don’t wait. But you should. OK. Bye.)

 

 

 

 

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Hacked

19 Mar

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A few weeks ago, I got hacked.

Not cyber-hacked. (That was my mother. She started tweeting out messages about Beyoncé’s weight gain…which made sense to me because my mom is in the one-percent of people who really are not Beyoncé fans. But even still – that would have been way harsh.)

I mean “hacked” like Hacksaw Ridge hacked. (No. Just kidding. I don’t. That’s way too aggressive an analogy for what I’m about to describe. I just wanted to sound cinema-fluent and current.)

About a month ago, I went to the dermatological surgeon for a “brief,” “routine” procedure.

“You have a weird mole,” my dermatologist told me. “It’s probably nothing! It’s probably less than nothing! In fact, it’s probably not even there! This has probably all been a dream!”

She’s a nice dermatologist, and she has really nice shoes. But she was dead wrong about this one.

One biopsy later and BOOM: you have “problematic skin cells.” Not cancerous, or even pre-cancerous cells – just “problematic” ones.

The way I see it, problematic cells are like problematic children: if left unattended, they may grow up to be problematic adults – people who don’t recycle, or who start bar fights, or who only talk to their parents when they need money (to be bailed out of jail).

If you remove problematic cells, then you’re at a much lower risk for developing pre-cancer, or cancer. (I’m not suggesting we kill off problematic children. I’m suggesting we nip them in the bud, with a firm talking to, or a good, thorough PowerPoint on recycling.)

As I understood it, I was going to this dermatological surgeon to remove a few “problematic cells.”

THIS IS WHY YOU DON’T TALK IN METAPHORS, PEOPLE!!!

I showed up to the doctor five minutes late, but chipper. It was the Friday of a long weekend! I was home for the weekend! My parents were taking me to Papa Razzi, where the breadsticks are firm and the focaccia bread is moist. So I’d be a few cells fewer…what’s the big deal? What could go wrong?

Would you like to know what the surgeon said to me, as soon as I walked into the “operating room”?

“I’m really sorry about this,” he said. “It’s not going to be pretty.”

What wasn’t going to be pretty?

“It’s a tough area to heal. You’re probably going to have a pretty big scar. Again, I’m sorry.”

The surgeon was preemptively apologizing to me. Save an oral surgery procedure and one rogue colonoscopy, I don’t have much experience with surgery (*knock on wood*). But I knew this was not a good opening line.

I was nervous, and he could tell. As he numbed my leg, I tried to answer his questions about my life and my studies. I tried to tell myself that scars build character and besides, wouldn’t I rather have a scar over “problematic” cells?

The male nurse came in to assist. He was cute. I noticed. My toenails were unpolished and kind of gross-looking. I worried he’d noticed. He probably had.

I’ll spare you the details of this procedure, but let me say this: I am NOT a fan of surgery. I nearly passed out, peed, barfed, and cried, all at the same time. I think the doctor could tell I was about to up and run, because he started asking me if I watched…WAIT FOR IT… The Bachelor.

I must’ve lit up like a Christmas tree, because he looked like he’d struck gold. We talked about this season. I pretended I was too good to “fall into the trap” of the show. (I crossed my fingers underneath my butt because of course I’m not too good to “fall into the trap” – I jump in, every season, head first!)

When all was said and done, they mandated me not to exercise for two weeks (no problem, gentlemen) and to clean my stitches. HA! You think I’m taking that bandage off? Think again!

The day after my “surgery,” my grandmother showed up at my house with a present. Not a stuffed animal, or some soup, but…a “leg condom.”

What is a leg condom? Why does my grandmother have a leg condom? Who coined the term, “leg condom”?

These are all very good questions.

A “leg condom” is a big, plastic stocking that you wear over your leg when you cannot wet it in the shower. It cuts off your circulation with a big rubber-band and makes it impossible to wash from the knee-down. It also creates a safety hazard in the shower because it is very slippery against a porcelain tub.

My grandmother has a leg condom because she, too, had a skin procedure that mandated she keep the area dry.

The term “leg condom” was invented by my grandmother. It was the topic of conversation at at least two family dinner parties that I can recall. And now, it had re-entered my life with a vengeance.

After a long explanation about leg condom usage, and a lot of weird looks from my poor father, we had a cup of tea and my grandmother was on her way.

I received several texts that day, asking how the “L.C.” had worked out in the shower, and if everything had stayed dry. These texts were sent under the assumption that I am someone who showers over a long-weekend. Am I? You’ll never know; a lady never reveals her bi-weekend shower rituals.

Two weeks passed quickly, and I again found myself at my dermatological surgeon’s office. I waited 45-minutes for him to take a snip to my stitches and say, “Looks great! All done!” Couldn’t I have done this myself? I have scissors. I know how to congratulate myself. I’d make a fabulous dermatological surgeon.

I told the doctor that I was to leave on a trip to Guatemala the following morning. He told me to be careful and to avoid any intense activity.

I said, lightheartedly, “Ok, but, it’s not like the scar is going to split open, right?”

“That’s exactly what might happen,” he said, before patting me on the shoulder and walking out.

I panicked to my mother. I told her I’d never be able to pose for leg photographs again. I worried about my leg modeling career. I worried about my potential marathon career. I feared I’d never have an article written about me, titled, “Leg Model Wins Marathon.” I also worried I’d do something rash on my trip to Guatemala, like sky diving or bungee jumping, which would cause my leg to explode and me to be evacuated in a dramatic helicopter scene.

….

And so, we reach the present-day. Guatemala has come and gone, and while I thought my scar would be my biggest health concern during the trip, it was not. Nothing split open or necessitated medical evacuation.

There were, however, some *other* medical issues.

There’s nothing like a little Dengue Fever to distract yourself from an overreaction to a minor skin procedure and its scar.

Did I actually contract Dengue Fever? Of course not. Did I convince myself I had? Of course.

What our group learned in Guatemala is that one day, you’ll feel fine – you’ll sip strawberry daiquiris and eat side lettuce and wonder why Guatemala gets such a bad rap for its food safety because my God, this food is delicious!

The next day, you’ll feel like an army of trolls is trying to make its way out of your insides. You’ll run five minutes down a lakeside trail to use a nearby public restroom because both toilets in the house where you’re staying will be clogged.

You’ll walk back to the house, feeling “off,” but convinced there’s nothing a little oatmeal and some fresh air won’t solve.

You’ll spend your day in the sun, riding on boats between villages, trying to not act sick. You may even eat an entire Hawaiian pizza, just to prove to yourself how totally not sick you feel.

Then, you’ll get home, and you’ll get in bed with a fever. You’ll ache and feel cold and then hot. You’ll notice a petit bug bite on your cheek. You’ll remember that one time your friend was sick with Dengue Fever. You’ll wonder if Guatemala has a Dengue risk. Because you’ll – unfortunately – have Wi-Fi, you’ll Google such questions, and will discover that yes, Guatemala is, in fact, a Dengue country. What harm could a little Dengue research do to a feverish young woman? Much. Much harm.

You’ll read the symptoms for Dengue and decide that you, too, have been stricken by the D. You’ll text your mom and make her panic. You’ll tell your roommate that the incubation period for Dengue is “three to 15 days,” and that you’ll surely be bedridden for the remainder of the trip. She’ll walk in on you wearing a dramatic mosquito net as a veil, and will laugh openly in your face. You’ll consider what to eat for your last supper. You’ll ask her to bring you back a full fish meal, with cake for dessert, from the group dinner you’ll miss. She’ll do so, kindly, and you won’t touch a bit because you, of course, have the Dengue.

The next morning, much to your surprise, you’ll wake up feeling totally fine. You won’t have a fever. You won’t even have a stomach ache. You’ll smell like someone who sweat through a mosquito net all night, but other than that, you’ll be back to normal.

And so, here is my recommendation: if something, such as a big leg scar, makes you feel at-risk and slightly uncomfortable, simply convince yourself you have a far worse issue plaguing you. Act as dramatic as possible and get everyone around you to worry. Do not consider alternative causes for your discomfort. Let your imagination run wild.

That, my friends, is what I call, “getting some perspective.”

 

 

 

 

 

Punched.

2 Nov

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I got in a physical fight this weekend.

Just kidding. But I did get punched.

Still kidding. My roommate, Megan, got punched. I just got shoved. And slightly punched.

Getting shoved while dressed like Cruella de Vil was actually on my bucket list, so things are going incredibly well for me.

There are some situations you can’t imagine happening until they actually happen. Like winning an Oscar. Or winning the World Series. Or being on Leonardo DiCaprio’s yacht. (That was fucking awesome, by the way.)

Getting punched by a girl who’s dressed as a devil is one of those experiences.

Let’s back up.

It was a dark and stormy Hallow’s eve. (It wasn’t stormy but I had been drinking a Dark and Stormy.)

We were innocently minding our business and wandering the streets. I was dressed as a Disney villain who tries to kill dogs, and Megan as Harley Quinn, from Suicide Squad.

And that’s when the Devil emerged and said the insult to top all insults: “Wow, Harley Quinn, real original.”

Did we know this girl? No. Were we wearing signs that said, “Please, questions and comments are welcome! Critiques encouraged”? No. Mine had fallen off on the dance floor. I hadn’t fastened it very well.

So, what possessed her to say this about Megan? It’s unclear.

Maybe we look like fighters? I’ve always wondered if I give off a “pit-bull” kind of vibe…and I don’t mean Pitbull the rapper, because obviously I give off a Pitbull the rapper vibe. (Bald and rapping about thongs. That’s me.) I mean pit bulls, like the dogs that belong to big-bellied men who have yellow stains on their white tank tops. (OK back off, I get it – this is a stereotype.)

But that’s not the point.

The point is that we got punched.

I’m not going to lie to you and say we heard that comment and then skipped away like a couple of dainty Julie Andrews impersonators…These are a few of my favorite things! No. We did not do that. Because that is a Christmas song (for some reason) and that shit doesn’t start until after Thanksgiving.

We may have turned around and given a glare. We may have said, “Yeah, because a devil is so original.”

If life were a movie, and if I were a star, this is the part where I’d pause the action and talk directly to the camera. I’d say something cute and mysterious, like, “Now, here’s where things got crazy,” and you’d think you were watching a fun romantic comedy, and you’d probably be like, “OMG, I didn’t know Kate Hudson died her hair brown! She looks awesome!” And then the action would resume and you’d ever so briefly think you were watching the all-female remake of Ghost Busters…only to realize that you were actually watching the all-female remake of Fight Club.

In this version, Megan was Brad Pitt and I was the little insomniac man who just wanted to be included.

My experience with physical combat is minimal, at best. Growing up in a household of girls, we used to slap each other with bras and fight with our words. Not in a cutesy, “let’s have a pillow fight” way (so all you pervs can stop thinking that). Girls can be vicious. But that was really the extent of the viciousness. (Except for that one time I dared my sister to lick dog pee and she did it.)

Besides this, everything I know about violence came from my drivers education course.

In drivers ed class, they tell you not to have road rage – not because it’s unnecessary, or bad for your health, but because some people might carry crossbows in their vehicles and this might not end well for you. Again, crossbows. This was an actual lesson, taught to me by an actual teacher.

No one ever prepares you to defend your choice of Halloween costume because some young women carry emotional crossbows and might come after you in a very real and very physical way.

These girls came at us. It was fast and it was furious. But it was also all in slow motion.

Devil #1 lunged at Megan like a puma, as I watched in horror, while noting her quick footwork and wondering if she was a dancer. In the time it took for me to register what was happening, she’d already thrown a punch.

Megan is an athlete and she is tall…and she could have really Cross Fitted her way out of this situation, let me tell you. But, she is also rational and intelligent, which really boded well for us in this situation. Because if – God forbid – the cops had shown up, whose alibis were they going to believe? The alibis of a Suicide Squad character who’s known for wielding a baseball bat and an evil, dog-killing woman with half a head of grey hair? Or, the girls wearing black dresses and petit, red devil ears?

Things were escalating rapidly. Suddenly, the Devil had company. Five other devils, actually, which really threw into question this girl’s argument about a Harley Quinn costume…

She had five friends, and I was carrying a stuffed Dalmatian and a plastic cigarette holder…

Some of the Devils were ganging up on Megan, so I decided it would be a really good idea to put all of my fight club training to good use.

My internal – and perhaps external, although it was all a blur of adrenaline – dialogue sounded something like this: PUT ME IN, COACH, I’M READY TO PLAY. FLOAT LIKE A BUTTERFLY, STING LIKE A BEE. IMMA JUMP ON YOU LIKE A SPIDER MONKEY. YOU WANT THE TRUTH? YOU CAN’T HANDLE THE TRUTH. NO ONE CAN MAKE YOU FEEL INFERIOR WITHOUT YOUR CONSENT. THE ONLY THING WE HAVE TO FEAR IS FEAR ITSELF.

I ran into the ring and tried to pry the Devil’s hands off of Megan. It was all very Exorcist-esque. Except I don’t recall a devilish Snooki being in the Exorcist, nor do I recall her shoving and hitting people on Halloween. But then again, I watched most of that movie with my eyes closed, and she’s a mom now, so we can just live and let live.

The Devil karate chopped my arm and my Kate Spade bangle smacked against my wrist bone.

Let me repeat. MY KATE SPADE BANGLE BRUISED MY ARM DURING A PHYSICAL ALTERCATION. If there has ever been a less cool way to procure a bruise, I would really like to know because honestly, I am one step away from being a Stepford wife.

I bounced back from the blunt force trauma. At which point, a cab driver pulled up and asked if we needed a lift.

I have never been so happy to hop in a cab. Actually, it was a Prius and I’m not sure if he was really a cab driver. (We later had to jump out, when we were told it would be a fixed-rate, cash only ride. But it was exciting to make a getaway.)

So that’s that. I was bruised from my own bracelet and Megan had a few bruises but (luckily) no major injuries.

I probably shouldn’t be joking about this. Street fights are not good.

But I will say this: I could never make it on a reality show. I bruise way too easy.

 

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He Loves Me, He Loves My Back

25 Sep

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I’m in love with my chiropractor. My new, French chiropractor.

This is what I told my mom when she asked me how my visit to the chiropractor had gone and if I was “still in pain.”

Clearly, I wasn’t.

Let me back up, though.

Earlier this week, I became someone who actively uses the waist strap of her backpack.

I don’t mean that I used it once because I happened to have a heavy load and then immediately removed it…I mean that I wore it around all week, like a commuting Earth Science teacher.

Remember the high school stigma that came along with that damn waist strap? It held the potential to ruin lives. If you were caught wearing your backpack in a responsible, back-healthy way, it didn’t matter if you were quarterback of the football team, or if you played strip poker in hot tubs at parties (two things I only know from “the movies”). You were a loser.

I’ve had the same backpack since freshman year of college. It’s a North Face, which was trendy when I was 18 and also can fit a ton of books, without looking obviously stuffed to the brim (as opposed to LL Bean’s backpacks, which make you look like you’re hauling a potato-carrying little person around, no matter how much you’re actually carrying). I know my backpacks.

So, I’ve been running around with this backpack for the last few weeks of graduate school because when you’re busy and it’s 90 degrees outside, and the students for whom you’re a teaching assistant call you “Mrs.” and ask if that costume jewelry you’re wearing is a wedding ring (IT’S NOT), you just feel too damn lame to give a flying fuck about looking cool or fashionable or trendy.

BACKPACKS ARE FUNCTIONAL.

Well, things took a turn this week when my backpack injured me.

Actually, it could have been the intense Pure Barre class I took that injured me. But the backpack also played a role.

In addition to my usual aches and pains, I’d been having some aching neck pain for a few weeks. I attributed this to hauling around my backpack and texting a lot. According to Web MD, I had a yet-to-be-discovered form of cancer. So nothing was really going as planned.

Instead of cutting back on my backpack use, or trying to text less, I decided to go to a physically strenuous barre class. (See my post about barre classes to understand what this entails.)

Halfway through the shoulder workout, I felt a searing pain run from my neck to my shoulder. I assumed this meant it was working, and I was on my way to Kelly Ripa arms.

Kelly Ripa arms and the joints of an elderly coal miner – a truly compelling dichotomy.

I guess I assumed incorrectly because, a few days later, my arms looked the same and my neck was aching even worse than before.

Enter chiropractor number 1: The $100 Truth Concealer.

The first chiropractor I went to asked me about my year in France, looked at my spine, told me to stop carrying a backpack, and then asked me how I’d like to pay for his $100 services.

QUOI??? (That’s French for “WHAT” – pronounced “kwa” and sounds a lot harsher and more animalistic than “what.”)

“Um,” I said. “Is there anything wrong with my spine?”

“Oh yes,” he answered. “It’s messed up.”

Expensive and scientific! What a combo.

He seemed incapable and/or unwilling to divulge any more.

He was, however, eager to show me the collection of “Thank You” cards he’d received from patients, and I was eager to write a “No” in front of each “Thank You” and be on my way.

But what did I do instead? I thanked him for robbing me blind and then set up an appointment the next day. (Which I later cancelled, by telling him I needed to “get my parents’ permission” before continuing with his services. When in doubt, act 12 and make NO mention of autonomy.)

So there I was, in pain, out $100, and still carrying that fucking backpack.

As I lay in bed, using old Trader Joe’s frozen green beans to ice my neck, I considered my options.

Then, I got tired of considering my options, and asked my mom to consider them for me, while I caught up on the season three premiere of Black-ish.

After EVER SO KINDLY calling our insurance company, my mom had made friends with the customer service agent and had the scoop. There was another chiropractor I could see and he came highly recommended.

And now, I know why.

So here we are: I am in love with my chiropractor.

Without revealing too much, I will reveal that he is French and charming and cool. I will also reveal that I showed up to his office at 8:30am on Saturday morning, having eaten a pint of ice cream at 2:30am and fallen asleep in my clothes. I also had a cold, greasy hair, and five hours of sleep under my belt.

McDreamy gave me some paperwork to fill out, and then took said paperwork away from me because I was taking too long to answer the questions. He’s very time-conscious – it’s one of the things I love about him.

Next came the exam.

I don’t want anyone to get the wrong idea here – this guy is extremely professional and not untoward in any way.

I, however, am unprofessional and very “toward.”

McDreamy asked me if I’d ever been “adjusted” before. (Woah, that’s a little much for a first date, don’t you think??)

I had, in fact, been adjusted. I’m relatively experienced, in that area.

He leaned over me and for a moment, his chest was near my face. I thanked Jesus I hadn’t had time to drink coffee that morning, and tried to ease my beating heart.

He also told me I have misaligned hips, one leg that’s shorter than the other, and compressed vertebrae. Sexy can I, am I right?

We chatted about France and life, all while he was cracking and adjusting my neck and back.

He made a joke; I laughed. I made a joke; he laughed.

I felt like an elderly woman getting a sponge bath – vulnerable and exposed, in need of medical attention, a wee bit sexy, and excited for my dessert pudding.

When all was said and done, he told me to take Vitamin C and drink lots of water. Whether this advice pertains to my back or my cold, I’m not sure – I’m just happy to know he’s concerned for my well-being.

He asked if I was good at swimming and had access to a pool, since swimming is really the only non-impact sport my brittle bones can handle. I said “no” and asked if that was an invitation. (I didn’t and it wasn’t.)

We agreed I’d come in a few times a week for regular adjustments, and then I’d have to work to maintain my own spinal health.

As I was on my way out, he added one more instruction to my care regimen: “Oh,” he said. “And NO MORE backpack!”

Yeah, ok. We’ll see about that, doc.

😉

Working from Home

5 Aug

bird blog

Working from home is a luxury that is not meant for everyone. Kind of like fancy champagne, or a nice white blouse. Fancy champagne is expensive and classy, but *some people* *accidentally* drink it like they’re dehydrated ants, swimming in a pool of water after having survived a Californian drought. (It’s now occurring to me that it’s more likely for an ant to survive a drought than a bath in a small pool of water…but I’m from the East coast, so I’m no expert.) Drinking so much champagne that you end up doing somersaults in a skirt is probably an indication that you are not equipped to deal with the refined luxury of “da fizzy drank” (how fancy people refer to “champagne”).

Similarly, a crisp white shirt should not be wasted on someone who can, and will, spill three different, unidentifiable liquids on it before the hour of 10AM. White is not the “new black” if your shirt is so stained and dirty that it’s black; black can’t be the “new” black, THAT’S NOT HOW FASHION WORKS.

My parents both have the luxury of working from home a few days a week. For a long time, I thought that “working from home” meant responding to emails, in between bubble baths and re-runs of Dawson’s Creek. Not because this is what my parents do all day, but because I know myself well enough to know what I would do all day.

My sisters and I have been known to stand incredulously in front of our mom and ask her why she “just can’t” take three hours out of her “workday” to bring us to lunch and a movie. Why is that such an outlandish request when we know that all she does is respond to emails? Why must we “speak quietly”? What’s so wrong with loudly announcing that the dog’s “butt crack looks open and poised for number two” and that I “refuse to take her out because I ALWAYS do it”?

My mom often resorts to taking calls in her closet, like a brunette, non-twin Lindsay Lohan in The Parent Trap.

My mom takes the closet, and my dad takes the basement. Because everyone knows that nothing spurs brain activity and creativity more than mold-infested dens full of dusty exercise equipment and headless dolls.

Every morning, when I realize I’ve neglected to transport my clean clothes from the basement to my bedroom, have nothing to wear, and am running 30 minutes late, I throw open the basement door and run down the stairs, like some kind of deranged Justin Bieber fan. I bang and stomp and rattle, only to hear Dutch voices coming from the speakers of my dad’s computer. He is on “a call” with his Dutch “co-workers,” and I have just caused them to ask if my dad will need to take tomorrow off to assess the damages from what sounds to be the largest earthquake in the history of the East coast…

This is working from home: a luxury that cannot always be enjoyed, even by those who deserve to enjoy it.

This week, I had a mid-day dermatology appointment. For some, an appointment like this wouldn’t last more than fifteen minutes. I, however, am a dermatologist’s fucking dream. With the skin of a delicate Irish flower, but the ability to tan and speckle like an elderly Italian farmer, there is no chance of me getting out of an appointment in under an hour. My dermatologist, and her lanky – often unannounced – Lance Bass-esque assistant, poke and prod and take pictures of my freckles and moles with their fancy iPads (and I silently curse myself for wearing a thong because now they definitely think I’m a freckle-faced harlot).

It’s like one of those episodes of Grey’s Anatomy, where some kid walks in with two heads and everyone is all like, “YES, AMAZING,” and then they fight over who gets to surgically separate the two heads, and then Dr. Yang obviously wins because she’s a boss with zero bedside manner, and then everyone takes tequila shots and finds someone to bone in an on-call room. I am responsible for so many dermatology babies (and pregnancy scares!) that Shonda Rhimes should really be taking notes from me.

But I digress.

Because leaving my appointment and commuting to work for a two-hour window of the afternoon seemed like a huge waste of time, I opted to work from home.

The day was largely productive. The house was quiet, and I was actually getting shit done.

Why not take my work outside, onto my screen porch, like one of those poets who needs to be “closer to nature” to put pen to paper? (We all know that Henry David Thoreau just built that tiny cabin in the woods to preemptively vie for an appearance on HGTV’s Tiny House, Big Living. He was definitely just a beanie-wearing hipster, writing on his parent’s suburban porch. Then again, there is something gratifying about someone who “simply cannot work” unless they have the unconditional support of their heirloom tomato garden.)

It was actually quite peaceful. Nothing but the chirping of birds and the clicking of my fingers against the keys, typing away like the professional I am.

But then, there was a link. A link to a video. Well, OK, full disclosure, it was the link to Hulu, and I consciously typed it into my browser. But still. THERE WAS A LINK.

Four minutes into an episode of Inside Amy Schumer (the one where she says “pussy”…oh wait…) and I heard a deafening “THWAP.”

It was the call of nature. No, not that call: a different call.

A bird had flown face-first into my porch.

I jumped out of my chair and ran over to the screen door to assess the damage.

What I saw can only be described as a bird with a twisted neck, dragging itself along the patio.

I ran inside the house, yelling to my sister, “Cecelia, help! There’s been an accident!” She was “napping” and apparently “didn’t hear me.”

I ran back outside and feverishly started Googling, “How to fix a bird with a broken neck without getting attacked by said bird and also do birds carry Zika virus???”

Google was largely unhelpful, although there was one Yahoo forum responder – who I can only assume is a wise, old Jamaican man – with the following theory: “I think u can save the bird by taking it 2 da vet and see what the vet says or if he could save da bird.”

Mmmhmm. Not a bad idea. Not a bad idea at all.

But there wasn’t time for da vet! Da bird was dying, and no amount of wise Jamaican advice would save it!

My sister finally came to see about da bird and immediately started laughing.

“This isn’t funny!” I said. “Can’t you see that this is an OMEN? Can’t you see that this bird scarified ITS OWN LIFE to make a point about slacking off while working from home? I AM AN UNPRODUCTIVE BIRD-KILLER.”

She accused me of making the situation about myself, which is completely ridiculous because I would never do something like that.

We decided the best thing to do was play the inspiring, stand up to cancer song, “Just Stand Up,” and hope for a resurrection.

Just as Mary J. Blige was about to go into an epic riff, a miracle occurred: THE BIRD STOOD UP. It looked dazed and confused, and its neck was severely swollen, but it was alive…which got me wondering if perhaps we’d just witnessed God at work…which had me wondering if God was still hanging out somewhere on my patio, and if I shouldn’t take this opportunity to make a few wishes, just for the hell of it…which had me thinking about that electronic toothbrush I’d wanted for my birthday but hadn’t received…

But NO! This wasn’t about me! This was about THE BIRD.

But back to me for a second. What did I learn from this experience? I learned that if you’re not responsible enough to work from home without taking breaks to watch feminist comedy shows, then you will be responsible for the near-death and/or swollen neck of a living creature.

Which is why, the next day, I brought headphones to work, so I could watch Inside Amy Schumer in the office.

Just kidding. I watched Broad City.

Just kidding. I would never watch TV at work. THESE HAVE ALL BEEN JOKES. (We all know the best jokes are the ones you need to clarify.)

I think I’m almost responsible enough to drink champagne, while wearing a white blouse. Don’t you?

***

UPDATE: The evening after the “bird incident,” I returned to the patio and found a big clump of white goo where the bird had been sitting. While it’s entirely possible that my neighbor’s fat cat came and attacked the poor creature, causing it to shit out of fear, I prefer to believe that God lifted it with her levitation powers, and then gingerly placed it on a bed of angel hair pasta (the bird equivalent of a Tempurpedic) in a field of daisies, before leaving her signature “white goo” sign-off mark on my patio…which, remarkably, resembles Crest toothpaste…which is the toothpaste I use…so does this mean I’m getting that toothbrush, or…

 

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Resting Bitch Tonsils

8 Jul

caller-clipart-scared_phone_call

“TONSILLITIS. PHLEGM. GREEN. PHLEGM.”

This is not how I like to begin public conversations. Actually, this is not how I like to begin any conversation. Especially one that takes place at 8:30AM. On a petite shuttle bus.

I am not a fan of phone conversations. Which is odd, because I love talking, and I love my phone…so you’d think the combination would be equivalent to a cookie pizza, or a puppy who can turn into a stress-free turtle, on those days when you just don’t feel like cleaning up piss and going for walks.

But no. Phone conversations are annoying and cumbersome. Why can’t we just text? (The title of my romantic memoir. Or, rather, someone’s romantic memoir about me.) Why can’t I just tell my secretary to make the call? (He’s been on vacation for nearly 23 years, but I’m confident he’ll show up at some point, tanned and ready for work.)

When someone calls me, I feel panicked, like, oh my God, the last time someone called me was before THE WAHR, what could this possibly be about??

Internal panic makes my voice sound like a stereo that once experienced an *accidental* strawberry sauce bath: “Hello?” I hear myself whisper. (I have nodes on my vocal chords, so sometimes, I try to speak and literally NO sound comes out.) I clear my throat. “HELLO??” I accidentally SHOUT, in my clear, nodes-free teacher voice.

Static. A pause.

“He-” I begin again, only to be interrupted by the person on the other end.

The conversation continues much like this–with ample starts and stops, and a lot of whisper yelling–until one of us decides to say, “Ok, great, I’ll text you the info to confirm. Thanks!”

You’ll TEXT ME the info?? Why couldn’t you have TEXTED me this entire conversation? You’ve raised my cortisol levels for no significant reason, and now I’m more likely to gain weight over the course of my lifetime. Also, my nodes are acting up. I haven’t prepared them for this. Will YOU be paying for my surgery? I want Adele’s doctor. And I want Adele to be there. SHE NEEDS TO BE THERE.

Anyway. This is why I don’t like phone conversations. Unless they’re with Adele.

On this particular morning, I had to make a phone call pertaining to tonsillitis, which I thought had been cured after ten days of drinking, while on antibiotics. But apparently, I was mistaken. All of my symptoms had returned with a vengeance.

Since I am a working woman, and a mid-day doctor’s appointment means a serious disruption to my work-life balance, I decided it necessary to call the office right after opening, so as to secure an appointment time that would convenience me.

The office opens at 8AM. I make the transition from train to office shuttle bus at approximately 8:25. I arrive at the bus stop at 8:30, which leaves me five minutes to occupy myself with extracurricular pursuits. Usually, I just lean against a wall and do my anti-Resting Bitch Face exercises (these include repeatedly raising and lowering the corners of my mouth, while thinking of peaceful things, like beaches and tax returns.) I’m pretty sure these exercises will result in even more wrinkles, but my mom says the resting state of my face isn’t very “pleasant looking,” so I’ve added “Anti-RBF” exercises to my long list of self-improvements.

This morning, however, people would have to deal with my natural grimaces because I had a health-related call to make!

I dialed the doctor’s office, where I was received by a pleasant, no doubt RBF-free operator, who told me to press buttons until Sandra was done with her breakfast sandwich and free to take my call.

I waited. And I waited. I wondered if her breakfast sandwich had bacon, because that would make it greasier and might mean she’d have to wash her hands after eating.

I continued to wait, until I saw my shuttle bus arrive. Shit.

I had two options: either hang up in a panic and call back later, or risk the humiliation of a public phone call.

How much do people really listen to other people’s phone calls, anyway? Sure, I know all about the birthday party that Wendy from Acton is throwing for her son this weekend, and how her mother is very concerned that ordering pizza might “send the wrong idea” to neighbors, and how Wendy will need to discuss things with her husband before making any decisions, and that her husband’s name is Robert, and that Robert has “a lot going on this week…”

But I only know all of that because the man sitting next to Wendy on the train yesterday burped into my ear, which caught my attention and inspired me to pay closer attention to my surroundings.

How much do people really listen when there’s no one there to burp?

I decided to continue with the call.

I boarded the shuttle, which was a lot quieter than usual. Where was the hum of the AC? Why wasn’t at least ONE of these six or seven people talking?

“Hello,” a human voice said on the other end of my phone call.

SANDRA!

“Hi,” I whispered. (My nodes were particularly active this morning, and I also didn’t want to display all of my dirty laundry for these shuttle people. I was already wearing a shirt that I’d found in my dirty laundry, so no need to beat a dead horse.)

“I, uh, had a bout of tonsillitis two weeks ago and it went away with medication but now…”

“What was that? You had what?”

“Tonsillitis,” I said, slightly louder.

“Name?” Sandra asked, like she was taking my order at a 1960s diner and was tired of serving food on roller skates.

“Sophie.”

“Date of birth?”

What was this woman going to ask next?? My social security number? My underwear size?? Why I’d said “No, not today,” when that cashier at Marshall’s asked if I wanted to donate a dollar to The Jimmy Fund last week??

I told her my birthday.

“Ok, so what are your symptoms?” Sandra asked.

“My throat is still really sore and I’m having some…phlegm,” I nearly whispered.

“What? I’m sorry, I’m having trouble hearing you.”

There was still not a SOUL talking on this bus, besides me. Even the driver’s intercom had shut off. He was probably airing my conversation to the other bus drivers for their early morning amusement.

“Phlegm,” I said, at a perfectly normal volume.

“Could you repeat that?”

Seriously?

I felt the nodes parting like the red sea. Oh no. There was going to be a flood.

“PHLEGM,” I nearly yelled. “I HAD TONSILLITIS AND AM NOW EXPERIENCING A LOT OF PHLEGM. GREEN. PHLEGM. TONSILLITIS. PHLEGM. GREEN. PHLEGM.”

Whoop, there it was.

The man behind me shifted uncomfortably in his seat. I heard another man clear his throat. (Oh no he did NOT just appropriate my issue! There is only room for ONE phlegm monster on this petite shuttle bus, and that monster is ME.)

“Okay, the doctor can see you tomorrow, mid-day,” Sandra said.

“What’s the latest time she has?” I asked. I had already put an arrow on my back, why not annoy one more person in the process?

“That is the only time she has. Shall I put you down for tomorrow?”

“Sure.”

I hung up the phone. I felt eyes on me. Oh, that’s real nice, guys, way to single out the “sick girl.”

I tried to distract myself with texting, but then I felt something happening to my body.

A sneeze. A freaking flawlessly comically-timed sneeze.

I tried to hold it in by holding my breath and tensing my body, but then realized this wasn’t a fart; this was a totally different animal all together.

As the oxygen began to drain from my body, I felt my resistances weaken, and out popped a loud sneeze. Not a gross one (I am a LADY) but a nice, loud one.

None of the windows of this tiny ass shuttle bus were open, and I’d just infested the incubator.

When we finally arrived at the office, I scurried off the shuttle, as if to say, “Don’t worry, guys, you can still live life to the fullest, even if you get tonsillitis!”

I’m not sure they noticed my efforts to be positive and upbeat. But on the plus side, all of my apologetic positivity meant a lot of raising and lowering of the corners of my mouth.

Tonsillitis and public humiliation: the best cures for Resting Bitch Face.

 

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Spider Blob Mascara (and Other Employment Concerns)

27 Jun

ink blot pic

Everyone knows that a person’s brain is composed of several parts, but that a person’s mind has only two: the front, and the back.

Similarly, everyone knows that the two most important considerations on the first day of a new job are (in this order): 1. What you are going to bring for lunch and snacks, and 2. Your new job, new you look.

These two considerations exist in the front. Anything else – like transportation details – is relegated to the back, next to memories of that time you locked your baby sister outside of a hotel room, naked, and that text message from your landlord, telling you your rent is seven weeks late.

With a highly compartmentalized mind like this, it can be difficult to leave margins for error. You might have 0.5 margins, like a naughty student who’s trying to elongate a paper. Or, if you’re super into color-coded Tupperware and ballpoint pens and “calendars,” you might leave one-inch margins for error.

You might also be an abstract artist, who doesn’t believe in setting margins, and who would prefer to finger paint on walls. That is OK.

But, as an abstract painter who began her FIFTH internship last week, let me usher you this warning: on your first day of work, you will get finger paint on your clothes, in your hair, and a little bit in your mouth.

On my first day of work, I woke up at 6:30AM without hitting snooze. I cleansed myself – physically and emotionally – and then got dressed.

I applied my mascara, only to step away from the mirror and realize that one set of eyelashes looked like a spider, and the other looked like the prongs of a fork. Thinking I could do better, I attempted to touch up my work, only to poke myself directly in the eyeball. (Ladies, can we just agree that on normal days, where we have nothing to do but return books to the library and buy a sandwich, our mascara looks FLAWLESS. But then, when we actually have important things to do, like start new jobs and meet the Queen, we develop rare shaking disorders and poor eyesight, and our eyelashes come out looking like those ink blot designs that therapists use to assess kids who suck on their shirt collars and play with poo.)

Still, not all was lost. I was on time! I had a homemade latte! I had remembered to put on shoes! I was like one of those moms whom people ask, “Dina, how do you do it?” Except I’m not a mom and my name isn’t Dina and if anyone asked me that, I’d ask them why they hadn’t asked the same question to ______, my dedicated husband and life partner, with whom I share equally any and all child rearing responsibilities. (I’m going to be a real picnic at neighborhood potlucks!)

I got to the train station on time for my 7:30AM train. I’ve always driven to work, so I was a bit nervous to be a public transport “commuter.” What do commuters wear? What do commuters eat? Do we feel united under the bond of public transportation? Would there be commuter ice cream socials and book groups? Or, would we silently stare at each other and wonder why we’d never called one of those 1-800 numbers that offer “high-paying” jobs where you can “work from home” in your “pajamas”? (Turns out, commuters do the latter. There are no ice cream socials. Or book clubs. None to which I’m invited, at least.)

I texted my friend, Lindsey, to see if she would also be taking the train to work.

Oh, happy day, she was!

We stood on the platform and chatted in hushed whispers because nobody else seemed to be talking.

We waited for five minutes. Then ten. Then twelve. Then fifteen.

“Wow, the train has been on time literally every other day that I’ve taken it,” said Lindsey.

This is when I knew. This is when I knew that the emotional and physical cleansing, the latte, and the shoes had all just been too-good-to-be-true distractions from the blatant omen that was my spider blot mascara job.

We boarded the train and arrived at the station, thirty minutes late.

I told myself it was no big deal because when people give 9AM as start times, they really just mean 9AM and some minutes, right? Like when people say they’re “twenty plus ten” because it sounds better than thirty…right? RIGHT??

Besides, the shuttle from North Station to my Seaport office would only take a few minutes, and it was conveniently the same shuttle as Lindsey’s!

“Ma’am, I don’t know what building you’re looking for, but you can’t get there from here,” said the shuttle director.

“But, I, I have instructions telling me to take a shuttle and…I…well, it’s all written here…um…”

“Ma’am, you can take the number four bus, which picks up across the street in two minutes.”

And just like that, I was ripped away from Lindsey and was running across the street for the Number Four bus which was about to…

Nope. The Number Four bus would not arrive for another twenty minutes.

During that time, I would feel a giant WHACK against the back of my leg, and would wonder if I had just been bitch slapped by the tail of a T-Rex…only to realize that I’d been smacked by the cane of a blind man (who knew exactly where he was going…)

I finally boarded the bus, only to pay $3 for a $2.10 bus ticket, and to stand in the doorway of the bus for several seconds, stupidly waiting for the floods of change that I was owed from a machine that does not give change.

You have to spend money to make money, right?

The kind bus driver told me where he thought I should dismount, but of course acted like he’d never heard of the address I’d said, and like it was something I’d made up off the top of my head, perhaps inspired by a game of Monopoly I’d played last night.

I wandered along the road, frantically turning my GPS left, right, and upside down, hoping the building would just magically call, “Sophie, I’m over here! Follow the yellow brick road!” (Knowing me, the road would be yellow due to piss, and I’d have to change my shoes, afterward.)

I wandered into a building that I thought might be the right one, only to realize I’d entered a high-stress emergency situation, featuring an older man who couldn’t breathe, and several concerned receptionists.

“Um, hi,” I said, to the one receptionist who didn’t seem directly involved in the situation. “Um, could you tell me where building number twenty-one is located?”

“SIR, KEEP BREATHING, THE AMBULANCE IS ON ITS WAY,” I heard someone say.

“Just follow that road out there to the end of the building,” the receptionist replied.

“Oh, so it’s in the same building as this?” I asked.

“CAN YOU HEAR ME, SIR? STAY WITH ME, SIR, THEY’RE ON THEIR WAY!”

“Yes,” she said. “It’s the same building.”

“Okay,” I said, “But is there an entrance that’s open, because I saw a lot of construction and I wasn’t sure if…”

“INCOMING,” yelled the emergency responders, as they wheeled a giant stretcher into the lobby.”

“Yes,” replied the receptionist, “you’ll see the entrance, it’s all the way down and to the left.”

“Okay, thanks,” I said, as I tried to maneuver around the stretcher and the people pulling out oxygen masks, without seeming like that girl who asks for directions and then leaves a suffocating older man in the lobby of a hotel…

After walking past several construction workers and appealing looking food stations that had me wondering if it was too soon to take an “early lunch,” I found the entrance!

I was late. But, all of the time I’d spent waiting had allowed me the opportunity to fix my eyelashes. And, I opened my calendar to find that lunch had been scheduled by my boss!

And just like that, poof! My front-mind was cleared and ready to be filled with more important concerns and ruminations, like whether or not my dog feels loved or if I’ll one day be a commuter who commutes in sneakers and then changes at the office.

Welcome to the rat race.

 

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Two Turkeys, One Swine, and a Duck

29 Nov

turkey eat-ham.png

It’s the day before Thanksgiving 2010. I’m sitting in my “American Rebels and Romantics” literature class and it hits me: a fever. Aches, chills, hot and cold, all at the same time. Luckily, I’m wearing two North Face fleece sweatshirts because this was the height of the “Mountain Man Meets Suburban Woman” fashion trend. We all showed up to school looking like we were expecting to “weather the elements,” eat a Cliff bar or two, and then take a nice nap in our polartec sleeping bags.

I go to take my Pre-Calc test and numbers and formulas are whizzing through my head. This must be how Einstein felt on the regular, I think to myself. Feverish with a passion for CALCULATIONS.

(It was the best grade I ever got on a Pre-Calc test. I think we can thank the fever.)

When I got home that afternoon and told my mom I wasn’t feeling well, I threw my entire house into a state of panicked delirium.

“SHE COULD HAVE SWINE FLU, MIKE,” my mom yelled. “We need to keep her isolated!!”

Yes, this was the height of le Swine. Everyone was on high alert.

“Did you hear that Rosie got…swine flu?!” the town’s mothers were whispering, as if Rosie were pregnant and dating a teacher, all at the same time.

My sister has severe asthma, so my family was – understandably – on high alert.

And so, they forced me to wear a mask and gloves and to stay in my room like some kind of walking contagion. (My mom will be mortified that I’m recounting this story. Onward.)

And so I sat, in my room, like a shorthaired, brunette princess. This was my Sleeping Beauty story.

My uncle stopped by that night and brought me a little stuffed animal. I waved to him sadly at my window, in a scene fit to be a Lifetime movie trailer.

I thought Thanksgiving was going to hell in a hand basket.

“THIS IS SO UNFAIR,” I whaled and whaled. “YOU CAN’T KEEP ME UP HERE! I NEED TO CELEBRATE THANKSGIVING TOMORROW! I’M COMING NO. MATTER. WHAT.”

No one was keeping me up there. In fact, I think everyone had forgotten by that point and was eating pizza and watching the latest Twilight movie. But melodrama is my thing.

The next morning, I awoke and felt…completely normal. My fever was gone, my appetite was back, and I felt like myself again. Whatever mutant illness had attempted to enter my body the day before had clearly been scared off by my incessant whaling tantrum.

“She’s fucking nuts, I’m outta here!” it probably said. Kind of like the Mucinex commercial.

And so, I rejoined my family – sans gloves and mask – and we celebrated Thanksgiving as normal. And by “normal,” I mean that every time my parents asked me to “please pass the___,” I responded with, “WAIT, HANG ON, let me put on my gloves.”

Fast forward to Thanksgiving 2015 and I’m in bed, with a fever.

The day before, I was waiting to try to register for a French Pilates course (which luckily was at capacity), when a familiar yet unfailingly uncomfortable feeling hit me: aches, chills, hot and cold, all at the same time. (Plus the kind of stomach pain that you just know will lead to that scene from Bridesmaids.)

Oh shit, I thought. I think I’m getting sick. It must have been the duck I ate for lunch.

What do people do when they feel themselves getting sick? I’m not sure. I decided it was necessary to run – not walk – to the nearest produce market and buy clementines and oranges. There’s NEVER a bad time for citrus. The fruit man looked at the glassy-eyed, sweating and shivering girl in his store and definitely thought he was selling to someone in the heat of drug withdrawals.

When I had my fruit fix, I ran home and jumped in bed.

Because I’m an adult (kind of) and living in France, there is no parental supervision to force me to wear a mask and gloves. There is just me, myself, and I. (Plus my kind roommate, who bought me Powerade, and the other really nice people here who check in on me.)

The most gratifying part of getting sick is being able to whine and complain about it. Because when you’re sick – especially on a holiday – it’s like you’re the ONLY person to have EVER been sick in the history of the WORLD. No sickness has EVER been worse than the one you’re experiencing:

Why is this happening to me?? I love Thanksgiving more than literally ANYONE ELSE on this planet. This is SO unfair! Is this happening because I accidentally tripped that six-year-old last week so as to avoid stepping in dog shit? Or, is it because of that one time I lied about being sick in high school so I wouldn’t have to go to chorus dress rehearsal? The universe is SO unkind. I’m swearing off reading horoscopes for at least the foreseeable future. The universe doesn’t deserve my business!  

When you don’t want to drive your roommate insane, there is no one to whom you can bitch and moan. That’s when hallucinations come in handy.

Is that a fly on my wall? No, it’s a stain. It kind of looks like John Cena’s head:

john cena head

*John Cena’s head then starts talking.*

Omg you’re so funny, John Cena’s head, hahaha you kill me! Omg STOP, you’re crazy! You’re so bad! I loved you in Trainwreck!

Then comes the realization that maybe you should see someone. No, not John Cena. A real “someone,” like a doctor. Just to make sure it was, in fact, the duck you ate at that quaint little “Shop local, Eat Local, Smoke a Local Cigarette and then Don’t Wash Your Hands Before Cooking,” café.

And so, that is how I ended up in the one American doctor’s office in my town.

Dr. H, as we shall call him, wears suspenders and trendy glasses. He moved From the U.S. to France many years ago, and so kind of speaks English like a Disney cartoon character – with a mildly British accent. He said he recognized my slight “Massachusetts accent” and was thrilled to meet me, another American.

(Is speaking French with a slight “Massachusetts accent” more prestigious than speaking with a slight American accent? How is that detectable? I mean sure, I can ramble on about baked beans and tea parties for hours, but that’s more a question of content than sound…)

Dr. H took 30 seconds to examine me, told me that “life is beautiful,” wrote me three prescriptions (without really telling me if anything was actually ailing me), told me to eat a lot of “quince paste, boiled thyme, cooked cheese, and toast,” and then asked me to talk about my life in Boston.

In what will go down in history as one of the most heroic attempts to converse through the desire to shit oneself, I told Dr. H about my hometown, my friends, my family, BU, and what I’m doing in France. He told me he’s an “outdoors” person who enjoys a beer and pizza on a Friday night. (This statement confirmed his heritage. I then confirmed the truth of this statement by checking out his Match.com profile.)

When I checked my phone later that evening, there was a voicemail waiting for me from Dr. H, wishing me a Happy Thanksgiving. My parents thought this was weird. I then told them about John Cena’s head and they decided it might be best if I have a “doctor friend” close by.

Even when ill and in a different country, it’s nice to know there are people there for you. Let’s all be each other’s John Cena.

Bim Bong

2 Nov

latin jazz

Before I left for France, I had one goal for my experience abroad and one goal only: to find the nearest Latin American jazz singing group and make it my family.

I know, I know, that’s such a “French cliché,” like buying baguettes and wearing berets. I mean, could I be any more of a basic betch abroad. What’s next, running around Paris in search of pumpkin spice lattes? (It’s not “next” because it already. Happened.)

Okay people, obviously Latin jazz wasn’t on my radar. Who even knew that Latin American jazz vocalists exist in France, let alone in a small mountain town.

But, when my colleague approached me about joining such a group, I couldn’t say no…mostly because I couldn’t think of a way to politely decline in French, so I literally just couldn’t say no…but also because my colleague was sitting next to the bread and cheese at lunch and I didn’t want to insult her and lose access to these things…but also because I have this deep, mostly subconscious dream of being the first Franco-American, female version of Enrique Iglesias…

So I said, “Sure, that sounds great! I love Latin America and jazz vocal skills are a great way to impress and seduce men in suburban French bars! Sign me up!”

My colleague told me that there would be a “petite audition” and that – if accepted – I would have to pay a 40-euro fine to join the group.

Wow, I thought. This sounds serious. Acca-serious.

My two-week vacation came and went, and when I arrived home to France, I had ten unread emails about my “jazz vocal audition” in my inbox. The group coordinator – whose email username is the French equivalent of “Jazz Dude 2015” – had sent us two songs that we were to sing at our audition.

One of the songs was “It Don’t Mean a Thing.”

Ah yes, the classically Latin American tune, “It Don’t Mean a Thing.” The embodiment of Latin American jazz.

The second song was entitled, “Bim Bong.” That was the full title. Nothing more, nothing less. Just the word “Bim,” followed by the word, “Bong.”

Jazz Dude 2015 had sent along the audio files for these songs. And so, on the twenty-second Halloween day of my young life, I spent more than several minutes (hours) sitting at my kitchen table, singing the complex, emotionally-charged lyrics, “bim bong, bim bim bong. Bim bong, bim, bim bong.”

I nearly had the entire song memorized. I was ready to nail this audition. No one could bim or bong better, more in tune, and more on tempo than I.

Let me preface this by reiterating – as I always do – that communication in a second language can often result in misunderstandings. Memos can be sent out but not comprehended. People can think they’re entering one kind of experience and can enter into a totally different kind of experience. Young, Latin jazz hopefuls can give up more than three hours of their Halloween evening to mysterious vocal ensembles. These things just have a way of happening.

I showed up to my “audition” fifteen minutes early.

The only activities for which I EVER arrive early are waiting in lines that will lead me to food, and waiting in a line that will lead me to meet Amy Schumer. So, you can imagine how seriously I’d decided to take this audition.

This was THE audition of the season. Every Latin jazz vocalist who was any Latin jazz vocalist would be there. This was The Voice of Latin jazz. Adam Levine was just waiting to turn his chair around for the most promising contender. I needed to excel.

The audition that I’d built up so epically was in a yoga studio. When I walked in, six middle-aged adults were taking off their shoes and setting up chairs. They were all dressed very comfortably and artsy, while I – as a Halloween fanatic and a soon-to-be guest at a Halloween housewarming party – was wearing a tight black skirt, an orange top, and heeled booties. I looked like Bridget Jones, ready for a Tarts and Vicars party. All of my fellow Latin jazz singers kept asking me if I was cold (which is a middle-aged person’s way of saying, “Please put on a cardigan to cover your sideboob”).

First impressions aside, I was still totally ready to nail this audition!

I prepared myself to sing warm-up scales and to stare down the competition. There was my colleague. Then there was a young girl in her 20s who looked like the French version of an NYU student. There was also a librarian who stared at me every time I spoke French and told me she loved my “English accent.” And finally, there was Robert, who fumbled with his sheet music and felt the need to explain to us that hadn’t yet learned the music “by heart” (which was to say, he hadn’t learned the music at all).

“I’d like to begin by singing a song together,” said Jazz Dude 2015.

What Jazz Dude neglected to specify was that “singing together” was how he intended to spend the ENTIRE “audition.”

And so, one hour turned into two hours, which turned into three hours. Three hours that I spent singing, “bim bong, bim, bim bong” alongside my six compatriots, as Robert continued to struggle with his sheet music and to try to make sounds come out of his mouth.

By the end of the third hour, I was starving and in desperate need of Halloween festivities. When Jazz Dude started to wind down his improvisational jam session, I slowly began to gather my belongings.

“Dear, if you need to go, please go! You don’t need to ask anyone’s permission,” said Jazz Dude. “This was just meant to be a chance to get to know each other and to ‘jam’ a little bit,” he said.

“Ok, merci,” I said, as I scurried out of the studio.

THREE HOURS. Who needs THREE HOURS to get to know someone?? I could have interrogated each and every one of those vocalists in ten-minute intervals and learned more about them than I learned from three hours of bim and bong.

Three hours of bim and bong, and I was still unsure of what I’d just been a part of. Had that been one of those stealthy, secret auditions where you’re just supposed to act natural while being observed? Was I in the group? Was I on my way to being the female Enrique? (Enriqua?? Someone spellcheck/culture check me on that.) Time will tell. (Although apparently, three hours isn’t enough time to “tell” these things, so I guess the really applicable expression is “More time will tell.”)

I was unclear on all of the above. But, I had not needed to part with my $40, and so could purchase enough Halloween candy to make it all worthwhile.

Bim bong to that.

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