Tiny Bit of Crazy

A chronical of the laughter, revelations and transformations that are possible when you embrace the crazy

New Year’s Resolutions Progress Report July 2, 2012

Remember back at the beginning of the year when my bossy know it all, very wise BFF, over at Do These Kids Make Me Look Crazy? wrote my New Year’s Resolutions for me? Well, since we’re about half way through the year, we thought it was time for a progress report.

I have to admit, I took these resolutions much more seriously than I’ve ever taken any of the resolutions I’ve ever written for myself. I’m not saying my success rate will be any higher, but I definitely thought about them a lot more and have more guilt over the ones I ignored failed to achieve. Although, the year isn’t over yet, and like in grade school, a progress report is nothing more than a heads up to get your act together. I expect to report nothing different great things at the end of the year. And also like  school progress reports and professional performance evaluations, I’m full up on defensiveness an creative explanations.

Behold:

1) Find and make a home. A real home. Whether it’s by yourself or with your man or with a cute little kitten named Rhett. Find a place you adore and want to stay in for a long time. A place that feels like yours. It has to hold all your important stuff, like your shoes and your books and your random photos. I’d really like to add a caveat about keeping it orderly and clean-ish, but I feel that might make your place less yours, which entirely defeats the purpose.

Technically, I didn’t do this. BUT, I would like to encourage a more liberal than literal interpretation, in which case I’m not doing too bad.  I moved out of the crazy place I was living in, and into a (so far)  nice normal place, and I like the room very much and feel more comfortable and more at home there than I ever did in my last place. And Chris gave me a key to his place, which made me feel more at home there as well, so I think if you add up my place and his place, I’m at least more settled and anchored than I was when this was written. Grade: B-, and I suggest that it get carried over for next year. Bonus Points: my room is actually quite neat and orderly, which I’ll bet no one saw coming:

2) Do not text and drive. Ever. As your mom says, you need to “concentrate”.

I do a pretty good job of this although, in all honestly I could probably be a little better. Grade: B+. Bonus Points:  I NEVER talk while I’m driving without my hands free device.

3) Continue to stay in touch with your body. Exercise, nourish, and strengthen it in the best way you know how. I want you to feel and be healthy for a very long time. It’s not impossible that we’ll be in the same nursing home someday and I want you to stay cute enough to rock a colostomy bag.

I’d like to say I thought about this resolution a lot, but really, any achievements I’ve made on this point are coincidence. But that still totally counts. So, I got back into Pilates, and its made a huge difference in how my body and I get along.  Chris and I have also made an effort to be active as much as possible on the weekends, and I can now hike 3 miles without wanting to stab him in the eye, so that’s something. We also joined a gym (that’s technically still under construction, but whatever) but I’m very excited for their big indoor pool and Pilates/yoga room. OH, and I’ve also gotten really good at following my new low sugar, gluten-free diet and have learned more about what my body responds best too.  Most significantly I’ve learned that if I under-eat by even a few hundred calories a day, my body will retaliate by swelling up like a water balloon. So I don’t do that anymore. Grade: A. Bonus Points: I’ve taught myself to like buckwheat granola. Its got all kinds of raw, and “sprouted seeds” in it, which are super healthy (apparently) but taste suspiciously like dirt.

4) Decorate your own Christmas tree. Like a real one, where you go and pick out at least 75% of the decorations and put a lopsided star on top. May I suggest candy canes as decoration?

I totally get a pass on this one because it would be weird if I had decorated a Christmas tree between January and July. Ohhhh, but if I was smart, I totally would have gotten a tree and decorated it, just so I could get an A+ on this one. Damnit. Grade: N/A.

5) Get moving on this book we’re supposed to be writing. I look to you to be the leader on this project. Lead by writing, as I’m greatly influenced by peer pressure.

Ummm, well. Ok, here’s the thing. I have written a couple of essays that would go with the book, but then I started rethinking the focus of the book, and then I got caught up in learning how to publish books, which is totally going to help us when we do finish this book. And that is taking up every minute of my free time right now, so… technically, the book hasn’t moved forward. BUT because I’m becoming an expert at publishing and promotion, once we do finish the book, everything else will go so much faster. Grade: C++

6) Keep your standards high when it comes to your romantic partnership. I know this whole “grown-up relationship” thing is kind of new to you, but I really think you’re getting the hang of it. I would like to shake you really hard to ensure that you learn from all of my mistakes, but I think this long, drawn-out, whiny way that I communicate about my failed relationship seems pretty effective.

I think I’ve made some progress here. I’m much more comfortable with the whole “grown up relationship” thing than I was this time last year, or even six months ago. I’ve still got some work to do, but I’m actually pretty impressed with myself. Most of the time. Grade: A- (But maybe I should actually have Chris grade me on this one?)

7) On a somewhat related note; don’t be afraid that you’re going to screw up this whole love story that you and Chris have going on. You’re not. If it gets screwed up, both of you will be able to take a bow. So just . . . be present in your relationship. Recognize where you are emotionally. And please, don’t be afraid to plan ahead for the life you want to have together.

I’m working on it, and as I said above, I’m getting better. But I still have attacks of insecurity that make me ask, in all seriousness, if the fact that I don’t like roller coasters will one day make him feel like he settled. I see now the absurdity of that question, but at the time, it felt really reasonable. And I’m totally better at the planning for the future thing. I mean, I signed a year contract at the same gym as him for Pete’s sake.   Grade: B- Bonus Points: For doing this.

8) Keep storytelling. It’s a gift you have and it should be shared. Most importantly, make sure to post it on YouTube. If I can’t be there, then I need to be able to access it later.

I’m assuming you define “keep storytelling” as getting on stage and telling stories. Which I did. Once this year. BUT, if we define “keep storytelling” as “stay a part of the community, keep learning about the craft, keep finding new ways to stretch myself creatively” then I’m rocking this. So far this year I’ve: taught one class and one boot camp, directed my first show, started writing a weekly column for the SpeakeasyDC blog, which, by the way I also started and am the Managing Editor of, so…  Grade: A-.

9) Consider getting a kitten. Like, one you’ve picked out yourself and named after some random fictional character or a TV star from an 80s sitcom.

I wish! I want a kitten so bad. One that will cuddle with me, and chase imaginary bugs along the wall, and let me make funny YouTube videos of her…but kittens aren’t allowed at either of the places where I live. So really I’ve made the responsible choice in not following this resolution. Grade: A Bonus Points: I haven’t bought a stuffed kitten yet that I pretend is real.

10) Self-host your blog. Get legit, girl.

I have plans. It’s not time for this yet, but I have plans. Grade: C+

11) Tap into your insight when it comes to your own emotions. Listen to yourself. Listen for that little tingly noise that sounds when your comfort level has been surpassed. Once you hear it, do something about it. Talk to someone, write it out, sing in the car in your loudest voice. Just don’t stuff it down until it erupts in a flood of tears and incoherence. You’ve got a bunch of people who’ve got your back but we’re only useful when you communicate, even if it’s initially in a series of bumps and false starts.

I think about, and reference this resolution ALL THE TIME.  Usually when I’m crying incoherently. I think I’ve made some progress… Ok, so I WAS crying when I asked Chris about feeling like he’s settled for me over the roller coaster thing, BUT I was not crying incoherently. Grade: C-

12) Leave the country at least once in the year 2012. You’re the type of person who may very well get old and become a homebody who doesn’t drive and eats ¼ cup of raisins for breakfast every morning. You need to travel while you’re still spry and can figure out how to use a bidet and tolerate people with weird accents.

This might not happen. I was going to go to Denmark again this summer, but the discount airline stopped flying from the US, and as of now I can’t afford to pay normal airline prices to go to Europe. Plus, it ate up a lot of my vacation time last year and I’m kind of liking the idea of having flexibility for more domestic travel, like, ahem, trips to Charlotte, NC. For example. Grade: N/A Bonus Points: we could decide go to the Canadian side of Niagara Falls when we go visit my parents in August.

13) Make a three-year plan for your career. Map out something long-term and realistic, but challenging. It could be writing a novel. Officially becoming a freelancer. Searching the want ads until you find something that you’ll really love. I can’t pretend to guess what would be the absolutely perfect job for you, but I want you to focus on figuring it out. You are so talented and I would like you to be emotionally and financially satisfied by the work you do.

I think I’ve figured it out. I’m not ready to lay it out for public inspection yet, but I’ve got the makings of a plan and I think it’s a really good one. And might happen in less than three years. Grade: A+

14) Attend BlogHer’12 with me. I promise you, you will be inspired.

Did we miss this? Because I’m totally in. Grade: N/A

15) Challenge yourself physically at least once this year. Like, run a 5K. Swim across a small lake by yourself. Go camping without the benefit of an electrical hookup. Something outside of your comfort zone that requires the use of your body.

I was totally going to do a 5K run thingy, but it sold out before I could register. But, I did go to a giant amusement park and rode several rides, including a roller coaster, which was WAY outside my comfort zone, (and technically required the use of my body – there was a lot of walking and climbing into and out of seats. Fun Fact: I’m super uncoordinated when it comes to climbing into and out of rides) and I’m going to go back and do it again at least two more times this summer. I’m also going to go kayaking more than once this year, maybe one time in a solo kayak even, and that is definitely outside my comfort zone and requires physical exertion.  Grade: B

16) Acknowledge the fact that you are not some sort of grouchy curmudgeon who believes the worst in people. Yes, you had Drew pegged long before I did. Yes, you are better than me at ejecting people from your life who are toxic. But at the end of the day, you are this loving, positive force to the people around you. Own it. Own it enough to direct it toward yourself.

False. I AM a grouchy misanthrope, and my co-workers and anyone who calls my office will back me up on this. Grade: F

17) And lastly, I’m going to save the best for last,and quote your very words back to you. They’re brilliant. Never waste a second of your time or energy on anyone who doesn’t immediately find you hilarious, brilliant, talented, loving and perfect just the way you are.

Since I don’t like people very much its very easy for me to walk away from people who don’t find me hilarious. Not that that’s ever happened, mind you, but if it did, they’d be history in a nano second. Grade: A


You can go read her progress report on the resolutions I wrote for her, here. And I just want to say its totally not a competition.

(But if it were, I’d totally win.)

 

Its Gonna Be a Bright, Bright, Sun-shiney Day September 15, 2011

For the past several months, I haven’t been feeling myself. Maybe as long as a year, but its hard to say really.

A year ago this month I was in a car accident that had me in physical therapy and doctors offices for 6 months, and I was exhausted and cranky all the time because of the pain, and any odd things happening in my body were chalked up to the stress and trauma.

It wasn’t until April that I started noticing issues with my body that didn’t seem associated with the accident, and a new round of doctor’s visits ensued.

The majority of my complaints were anecdotal and subjective:

I’m tired all the time

I cry alot

I have cramps all the time

I’m irritable for no reason

As I mentioned in my birthday post, those symptoms along with a few other specific ones I won’t share here for the sake of my dad and brothers who read this blog, led my doctor to decide I had endometriosis. A scary diagnosis at 35 years old.

No blood work was done, no more investigation than a simple exam occurred, and I was handed a prescription for birth control and sent on my way.

But the pill didn’t help. I was still tired, moody, and having painful cramps all the time. And I was gaining weight at an alarming rate. I looked like someone had stuck an air hose in my butt.

When I went back to ask for a different pill, I was threatened with surgery, or chemical menopause if this new pill didn’t fix me.

Chemical menopause. At 35. For real.

Well, with that kind of incentive, I was determined to have the pill fix me.

And it did, sort of. My mood swings got a little better, my cramps went away, and the weight started to come off…

Mostly because my appetite largely disappeared.

But I was still exhausted all the time. I was still generally grumpy about most things and unmotivated.

My drive that had kept me going to the gym at 5 am the year before was gone, and sometimes it was all I could do to go on a walk with Chris.

I slept a lot, but not particularly well, in part because I was plagued with crazy dreams that had me waking up confused about the separation between reality and dream states.

At work, and when I was trying to write, my brain felt foggy, cloudy, like parts of it had been shut down with out my permission.

But I ignored all of it, because I was tired of doctors, tired of threats of major interventions, and I just wanted to be left alone.

But I spent a lot of time secretly worried.

I worried something was seriously wrong with me.

I worried that Chris was going to get tired of having a slug for a girlfriend.

I worried that I’d never be me again.

Then I decided to give it one more try. I found a new doctor. A holistic doctor.

We talked about my eating habits, and how I am rarely hungry and often remember to eat only when I’m light-headed or cranky, and how I eat soup for lunch every day because it’s the only thing appealing.

He told me I had to eat more, maybe a sandwich, and I made a face. “I don’t like sandwiches lately, I can’t get myself to eat one anymore.”

And he said words that I’ve come to think of as magic. “Maybe you have a gluten allergy and your body is trying to protect you.”

Huh, well that’s an idea. We did some tests for that and some other possibilities but while waiting for the results, I just decided to try a gluten-free diet and see what happened.

What happened was AMAZING.

I literally felt improvement within 24 hours. A little more energy, a little more cheerful.

It’s now been almost 4 days with only one slip on the first day, and HOL-Y CRAP! I’m almost afraid to trust it, but…

I’ve been reborn people!

My energy level has been steadily climbing and today its off the charts. Which for most people would probably be considered a normal energy level, but since I’m starting from such a low bar, this feels super charged.

And my mood! My god, my mood. I’m cheerful! Well, cheerful for me, I’m still don’t seem myself being nice to people on the phone or anything, I mean I haven’t had a brain transplant, but I’m not mopey and resentful at being anywhere other than a bed or couch.

I’m sleeping better. I still had some crazy dreams last night, but when I woke up my heart wasn’t racing, I wasn’t confused about what was real, and I didn’t fear going back to sleep. I actually thought “hmm, that was a weird dream,” and fell back to sleep. This has never happened before.

The fog has been blown out of my brain. I can apply problem solving skills, and abstract thinking and deductive reasoning to problems again. That was the hardest symptom of my unraveling that was hardest to explain or quantify. But now its back! I have my brain back!And the energy to use it.

I can’t help but think that part of the improvement is the result of shifting from feeling like a helpless victim of my body’s whims and malfunctions to feeling hopeful and back in control, but whatever. Who cares, because I’m back baby. I’m back!

.

And if you haven’t been keeping track, almost all of these symptoms are the same ones used to make my diagnosis of endometriosis. My new doctor has ordered extensive blood work to make sure there isn’t anything else going on that contributed to the symptoms or the sudden development of the allergy, but so far even money is on it just being a gluten allergy.

Chemical menopause indeed.

.

One of the more interesting changes I’m starting to observe though, is a type of emotional re-engagement with my friends. For the last few months any emotional energy I had went to Chris and worrying about what was wrong with me, and there wasn’t much left over for other people. I’d listen to their troubles, their drama, their challenges as if from a distance. I kept quiet when I might otherwise have intervened, or if I offered advice, I drop it quickly if I felt resistance where before I would have pushed through.

But now…the fire to tell other people how to live their lives is back. I’m once again freely and passionately offering opinions and advice on things that I may or may not know anything about.

I know right? I’m sooooo BACK!

And today specifically I find myself getting reacquainted with my traditionally fierce desire to cause harm to people who hurt my friends.

I can’t get this image out of my mind of going out and rounding up all the men who’ve hurt my friends in the past year while I’ve been “away” and forcing them with cattle prods into extended rituals of public ridicule, humiliation and penance.

The phrase “feminist jihad” may or may not be running on a loop in my head. (And the political scientist in me can’t help mentioning that I know that jihad technically refers to a religiously motivated attack, but I argue that feminism IS a religion…)

I’ve got a few logistics to work out yet on that, but that’s OK, because I have nothing but energy and mental acuity to burn right now.

I think shit’s about to get real y’all…

 

The Top 10 Reasons Why Mer Would Make a Spectacularly Awful Super Hero August 11, 2011

Remember a few weeks ago when I was all “I’m a guest blogger!” ? over at Do These Kids Make Me Look Crazy? (Btw, the answer is, “li’l bit”)

So now its Tara’s turn to be a guest blogger on my page.  And she’s not holding back.

But before you read it, I’d just like to say that while I know its hilarious, and hilarious always equals “totally true”, there are a few things I would just like to comment on before you start reading why I’d make a terrible super hero.

First of all, I did not watch every episode of 90210. I totally missed like at least half of the final season because I was in college with my own “for real” drama, which it turns out is way more interesting than TV drama. (But only because they didn’t have reality TV back then, cause that shit beats real life every time.) However, Luke Perry is probably at least 70% to blame for me failing 9th grade math.

Second, yes my boyfriend is super cute, isn’t he? (But um, pssst, Tara? Even though I love you like a sister and I’d do anything for you, get too friendly with him and I’ll cut you and not feel bad.  Just sayin’).

Third, I would argue that points 4 and 9 actually are super powers, not anti-super powers, as Tara believes.

Here’s why: #4 keeps people off-balance and often leads to great spontaneous comedic moments. Especially when small children repeat me. And funny is always good.

Always.

And worth corrupting minors and offending grandmothers and priests for.

As for #9 – this pretty much means I get whatever I want. In high school I had a TV and VCR,  in my room, along with a phone and a double bed that was perfect for sleep overs. Tara was always jealous of my sweet set up (made more sweet, I like to believe, by the gray and pink early 90’s inspired design elements), but did she ever think to wonder how I got all that? And all the traffic tickets I’ve gotten out of, the jobs I’ve kept despite gross incompetence? You’d be surprised what a few tears can do…they even led to Eunice Kennedy Shriver being nice to me for 5 whole minutes.  If that’s not a super power, I don’t know what is…

Anyway…I’ll let you all read her post and see what you think, because now that she’s reminded me about the squirrels, I have to figure out where the bathroom is in my office building (again), so I cry in private.

————

Remember a few weeks ago, when Mer was a guest contributor on my blog?  She was all, “Tara almost starved her children because she’d rather see their cold, dead, emaciated bodies lying on the floor than crack an egg or risk getting burned on the stove top.  So I had to drive down there just to make those sweet babies some pancakes and rice krispie treats.”

Um, that was an exaggeration.  They’re not that sweet.  And they’re no longer babies who can be fed via my breastmilk, fully saturated with chocolate and caffeine, which is why they are in a constant state of near malnutrition.  Finally, they certainly weren’t near death, as several friends had dropped off some treats in the last month or so and we hadn’t even resorted to picking the last of the strawberries out of my neighbor’s garden.

So don’t go thinking Mer’s some sort of superhero or anything.

Truly, she’d make the worst superhero ever.   I mean, sure, she could rock a pair of thigh-high boots and her cleavage would look majestic in a sequined spandex top.  But that’s where the likeness ends, folks.

And because she was so focused on bragging about how she can melt butter and marshmallows together in a single pot, she didn’t stop to think about how I know approximately 134,577 secrets about her.  I’ve known her since we were twelve years old and we’re now, like, 100. I know that she once owned a Thighmaster.  I know that if a clown even looks at her, she’ll cry. I know that she’s watched every single episode of Beverly Hills 90210 and lusted after Dylan McKay and his scarred eyebrow so hard that she almost failed ninth grade math.  I even know how and with whom she lost her virginity.  The first, second, and third time, mind you.

(Dry spells that last longer than 1 year = renewed virginity, y’all.)

See, she forgot about my extraordinary knowledge base in her quest to showcase her ability to hypnotize my hungry children with her fancy pancake shaper-thingies and a liberal use of sprinkles.  She also failed to consider that I have an underdeveloped conscience, a verbal filter that crapped out on me the day my husband ran for the hills, and an active aversion to the delete key on my laptop.

As an additional factor, she’s got this really cute boyfriend whom she’s still trying to impress.

(Hiiiiiii, Chris.)

Anyway, let’s talk about the Top 10 Reasons Why Mer Would Make a Spectacularly Awful Superhero:

1)      She has absolutely no sense of direction.  None.  I’m not just talking about east vs. west.  No, I mean left/right and up/down, too.

2)      She has no pain tolerance.  Like, she can barely handle a hang nail without excessive whining, an unveiling of her wound as though she’s displaying a newborn baby, and at least three phone calls to her mom, who studied homeopathic medicine for this very reason.

3)      She loses stuff.  Aside from obvious stuff, like her virginity and self-control around M&Ms, she has also lost tickets to an awesome concert, at least 50 dollars in cash, all her tax records from 2008 and 2009, and the left shoe from a pair of kick-ass heels that she once wore to an event attended by the Kennedy family.

4)      She really enjoys using the word “f*ck”.  In front of children, preferably.  And it’s done in a sneaky, non-angry way, so you don’t even have any warning.

5)      She absolutely falls apart when she’s around someone who is in a crisis situation.  Like, if you are ever in a life-threatening situation, please understand that you will die.  And as you are taking your final breath, there’s a decent chance she might reach out to you for comfort, as watching you die is obviously very traumatizing and will linger in her mind long after your wretched death.

6)      She doesn’t like being too hot.  Or too cold.  Or wet.  Basically, she really can’t handle the elements.  Like, if she could fly, instead of being all, “Omg, I can fly”, she’d just get super pissed if a bug flew in her mouth or she got sunburn.   Oh, and “camping” is not a term that she’s ever going to look favorably upon, no matter what she tells her ex-military boyfriend.

7)      She’s not brave.  At all.  Once she became nearly catatonic for several hours after watching a momma squirrel eat her baby squirrels on her back porch.  We were all super worried about her and ended up having to stop making little baby-squirrel-screaming noises every time she walked into the room.

8)      I can’t even bear to discuss the concept of “Mer” and “weapons” in the same sentence.

9)      She’s a crier.  Big time.  She tries to normalize it by saying that my ability to hold my shit together when I watch the final scene in romantic comedies means I’m “dead inside”, but my extensive experience as her friend tells me that this girl is a crier who can be tipped into hysterics about as quickly as it takes a momma squirrel to eat her first baby.

10)   She’s a little bit racist, so she’d probably only be willing to save white people or Asian babies. Okay, that’s a lie.  She’s not racist at all and she has no particular affinity toward Asian babies.  But when she read this, she was probably like, “What the f*ck?  If I could stop crying long enough to find my left shoe and figure out which way was south, I’d totally kick her ass.”

There.  You see?

I’m super confident that this list has thoroughly convinced you that Mer should never, ever, EVER be considered a superhero.  Well, not for the general public anyway.

The thing is . . . she’s kind of my superhero.  Sure, she might not be brave, or organized, or particularly good at problem-solving in a crisis, but she is stellar at feeding my little ones, driving seven hours in order to spend New Year’s Eve making me margaritas and watching Redbox movies, reading all the drivel I write on the internet, listening to me whine about my failed marriage, lending me her Thighmaster, letting me making fun of her guest post on her blog, and agreeing that I’m smarter and prettier.

Okay, I may have made that last part up.

Regardless, she’s mine.  So, hands off.

 

Where Crazy Lives July 12, 2011

When I started looking for a new place to live last April, I had a short list of requirements:

1. Rent below $600 a month,

2. Private bathroom,

3. I wanted to stay in the general area of where I was currently living,

4. A relatively normal roommate,

5. A gut feeling I wouldn’t hate living there.

After seeing a few really scary places, I found a listing for a room at $595, in an ideal location.  It was technically a basement room, but it was at the front of the house and had big windows that let in lots of light. The private bathroom was across the hall, next to the laundry room. The rest of the basement was a movie room that I was told was only used 2-3 times a year.

So far, so perfect.

The rest of the house was bright and airy and clean. The kitchen was large and recently remodeled, with a huge deck complete with table and chairs.

Bonus.

Criteria 1, 2 and 3? Check, check and check.

The guy who owned the house, “Bob”, would be my roommate and he seemed pleasant and normal enough. After he showed me around we talked for more than an hour about all kinds of things, and he made it clear that he wanted me to feel welcome in all parts of the house.

Criteria 4 and 5? I’m gonna go with “Yes”.

That weekend I went back to sign the lease, and brought Chris with me.  Bob was again welcoming and gregarious… Very gregarious actually. I started to realize that this guy was a talker.  And, as he and Chris got into a discussion about internet security (Chris’s area of professional expertise and Bob’s area of self decided expertise), I realized he was also a bit of a know-it-all.

But no one’s perfect, right? So I signed the lease feeling confident that this was going to be a good place to live.

.

Things started out fine. As they usually do.

In those first few weeks Bob would drop by my room frequently to “see how it was going”, or he would strike up (boring) conversations as I waited for Chris to pick me up on date nights. I quickly realized that my part of those conversations was to say things like “Hmmm!” or “oh wow” or “Really? I had no idea.” It was all fine, but heading down the road to over-familiar. Because while I wanted to be friendly with my new roommate, I did not want to be friends.

And not just because its fun to be bitchy.

I have plenty of friends. And a very busy life.  I don’t  need to have social obligations  when I was home.  So I quickly  started drawing boundaries to make sure bad habits didn’t start. Fortunately the set up of the house was such that I could go straight from the front door down to my room. In the first few weeks, Bob would yell a greeting of  “Hey!” from the living room as he heard the front door open, but when I only ever echoed his greeting without expanding on it, he eventually stopped.

.

Occasionally I’d find myself with a night free, and I would usually use it to cook myself a nice dinner. Inevitably I would run into Bob while in the kitchen (it was becoming clear that he spent a LOT of time at home), and he would always begin the interaction with something like “WOW! Look at you! Actually using the kitchen!” or “Oh my god! You’re out of your room!”

Yeah… I really prefer that if we’re going to have sarcasm, that it’s coming from me, not directed at me.  That’s just childish.

Chris actually had a theory that Bob had roommates as much as a source of social interaction as for income. To which my response was something to the effect of  “Too bad, so sad. He’ll get my rent, but he’ll never get my social attention!”

But I started to feel like Bob was paying too much attention to my comings and goings, and was starting to resent me for how little time I spent with him.

I don’t need that kind of emotional guilt at home, that’s what my friends are for.

.

Anyway, I started to develop a vague feeling of dread anytime I thought about cooking.

The kitchen rules didn’t help.

I had to immediately wash, dry and put away any dishes or pans I used. There was actually a clause in the lease (which I didn’t notice until after I’d signed it and moved in…who actually reads those things anyway?)  that said he could charge tenants $60 a month if they didn’t follow house rules, or didn’t contribute to keeping the house clean. I was not going to get a $60 slap on the wrist for a dinner plate and fork left in the sink…But since there was no drying rack and only one tiny sponge, doing the dishes was a bigger pain in the ass than I it needs to be. It should be noted too, that there WAS a dishwasher, but it was apparently just there to taunt me.

And when I did overcome my negative feelings about the kitchen, and endeavor to cook something, there was still the issue that no matter what time of day it was, Bob would appear to offer his commentary.

For example:

Him: What are you up to tonight?”

Me: My boyfriend and I are going to an outdoor concert at [local venue].

Him: Oh cool, I’ve never been there before. Its gonna rain though.

Me: We have tarps and ponchos and umbrellas.

Him: You can’t use umbrellas there.

Me: Actually you can.

Him: No…. I don’t think so (little laugh at how silly I am)

Me: (instead of reminding him that he’s NEVER BEEN THERE, I focus on the cookies I’m baking.)

Him: Are those cookies for tonight?

Me: Yup

Him: you’re only making a half-dozen? That’s not enough.

Me: It’s just the two of us.

Him: that’s not enough for 1 person! You have to make more.

Me: Well we have a lot of other food (I’m very careful to look anywhere other than his gigantic stomach which juts directly out from his body like an undeveloped conjoined twin)

Him: Still. You’ll need more cookies!

Me: Just because we COULD eat more cookies, doesn’t mean we SHOULD eat more cookies.

Him: (self-conscious laughter).

.

Is it too much to ask to not have to be hassled or told what to do when I’m at home? That’s what work is for.

But I wasn’t ready to give up just yet. I still kept a little bit of food in the kitchen – mostly fresh fruit and vegetables, that I would eat when he wasn’t around, having turned avoiding him into something of a hobby.

But then a “Paper Only” label appeared on the lid of the kitchen garbage can.

I assumed this meant no food in the garbage, which seemed weird because…what else do you put in the kitchen garbage? But fine, whatever. I started throwing my organic waste in the disposal, assuming that was what he had in mind as the alternative.

Except his disposal sucked.

I started experiencing increasing high levels of anxiety anytime I did anything in the kitchen. On the rare occasions when he wasn’t home, sometimes I’d dash into the kitchen and try to whip up a vegetable omelet or something, but the anxiety surrounding what to do with the organic waste cost me precious minutes. I would do this dance between the sink and the garbage as I debated which was the less likely discoverable/fine-able offense: putting food in the garbage, or gunking up the shitty disposal?

Finally I just decided to stop cooking entirely and rely only on frozen meals from Trader’s Joe’s. I confidently assumed that “Paper Only” allowed for cardboard containers and cellophane wrappers.

.

Then one day he came home while I was heating up a frozen vegetable lasagna in the microwave. He propped himself against the counter and started holding forth on some topic or other. As I took the lasagna out of the microwave and took the plastic wrapper off, he jumped up and said “Here -” and then pulled a grocery bag from beneath the sink and held it out for me.

Confused, I just looked at him with the wrapper in one hand, my other hand cupped under it to catch the drops of condensation.

“You can throw that in here, and so when you’re done, you can also throw the container in here too,” he said, as if this were the most obvious and normal thing in the world.

“Okay….” I said as I put the wrapper in the bag and turned back to my food.

“I’m the one who put the Paper Only sign on the garbage,” he said with a chuckle.

“I’d assumed as much,” I said with a half-smile as I sat down at the counter realizing my quick and peaceful meal was history.

“Yeah, I just prefer not to have any kind of food go in the garbage. It’s just easier this way.”

I shoved a forkful of lasagna into my mouth so I don’t ask “Easier than what? And what do you do with the shopping bag full of food containers?”

The problem, I realized, is that this is a man who doesn’t cook. As far as I could see the only food he consumed came directly out of either a cardboard box or a paper bag.

“This way you can just take the bag out to the outside garbage when you’re done. It’s just easier,” he said, as if reading my mind.

Again I swallowed my question: “Easier for whom exactly?”

To take the garbage out to the cans requires this bagging up of the offending item, then unlocking the door to the deck, which stuck and was actually really, really hard to turn. Then the sliding screen door was falling off the track and it was a contortionists’ trick to open it and get out without it falling off. Then I’d have to walk across the deck, down the stairs, across the patio to the garbage can, then reverse it all. We’re talking an extra 10 minutes minumum to my “quick” lunch.

This was my breaking point.

I started to wonder if he was just going to keep making up rules to make my life harder to punish me for not wanting to watch TV with him.

As a result my hobby now focused on me having as small a footprint in that house as possible.

.

I started keeping peanut butter crackers and power bars in my room to sustain me in an emergency.

.

One day he saw me filling up my 16 oz. water bottle from the filter on the fridge – the second time  I’d done that in four months – and he commented that he was about to replace the filter. The next week when he gave me my utilities bill, he had charged me $15 for “water filter”.  So now when he’s not home, I sneak up to the kitchen and fill large bottles full of water so I can get my money’s worth, but make him think I never use the water filter. Which totally makes sense in my head.

.

In the mornings, sometimes I hear him getting ready to leave just as I’m getting ready to leave, so I stay in my room until I see his car pull away.

.

Every time I leave my room, even if just to go the bathroom across the hall, I check to see if his car is outside, because it’s always important to know the movements of your opponent. Sometimes if I knew he was just upstairs in the living room, I would make extra noise downstairs so he knew I was home and NOT coming upstairs.

.

Occasionally I can’t avoid buying food or bringing it into the house. Like the other day, I was sick and craving apples for some reason. So I bought a bag of pre-sliced apples (thinking it would avoid the whole organic waste disposal issue), and after I’d had my fill, I put them in the fridge, and then forgot about them and they went bad.  I wanted to throw them away before he said anything  (or fined me), so in the morning, I waited until he left, then ran up into the kitchen, got them out and then took them to work with me and threw them away in the garbage at work with a certain sense of satisfaction that I was avoiding his outside garbage system.

Its possible I’m operating less from a position of principal and more from an irrational position of childlike stubbornness…

But on the other hand, he misled me about criteria 4 and 5, so as far as I’m concerned, its game on.

.

To be continued…

 

Yeah…I’m Kind of a Big Deal…. July 5, 2011

I’m a guest blogger!

This is like, a big deal in the blogging world. Especially when you area  lower case “b” blogger who isn’t sure if she wants to become an upper case “B” Blogger, but might, because like, Bloggers have a shot at making some money or at least getting free stuff once in a while, while bloggers just get friends saying “Cute blog post. I mean, I didn’t finish it, but I’m sure it had a great ending,” or their mom’s heavy sighing when you write about how you keep forgetting your house keys when you go out with your boyfriend. But Blogging is a commitment, and takes work. You have to be serious about it, and frankly I don’t do serious all that well.  So I’m just hanging as a blogger, but flirting at the edges of making the leap to Blogger.

But I have this BFF, Tara, who is totally a Blogger, like she has tons of people who read her and she’s sorta famous in the area where she lives. Strangers stop her at the gym and her kid’s school and stuff to say they like her blog.  Because she’s totally hilarious. And now she’s hanging around with all the other cool super popular mommy Blogger chics and they  all follow each other and comment on each others blogs and are always like “OMG you’re SO funny,” “NO YOU’RE so funny,”  “I worship you.” “I want to BE you.”

Not that I care.  I’m all “whateves, I could be at the popular kids table if I wanted to be. I just don’t want to be.”

It’s exactly like when Tara and I were in high school, except then she was in Honor Society and I wasn’t. Which meant she got to go to the cafeteria in the mornings with all the other Honor Society kids and have orange juice and donuts while braiding each others hair. Or something, I don’t really know because I wasn’t there. But as I always told Tara when she’d ask why I didn’t join:  “I could be in it if I wanted to be, I just don’t want to be.” And I really didn’t want to be. Everyone was so serious all the time, and I didn’t much see the point, aside from the donuts, but my mom would totally have bought me donuts for breakfast if I asked her to. And this way I got to watch Beverly Hills 90210 instead of doing my math homework.

Anyway, Tara and I have been friends for like, a billion years or so and in that time our friendship has renewed or reinvented itself like a million times. We’re really more like sisters at this point, in the sense that she couldn’t get rid of me if she tried.

I was calling myself a writer and blogging long before she was, but then she jumped into the world of over-sharing and thinking every detail of your life is worth sharing, and it turns out, we’re BOTH writers.

I mean, who could have seen that coming? (although we did co-write two short stories for extra credit in high school English, which I still have, and one day will scan in and post on one of our blogs for the world to see our early genius).

I happen to think its pretty awesome that given the divergent paths our lives have taken that they are intersecting in this way at this time in our lives. Hence the excitement over the guest blogging.

(It’s so awesome, in fact, that its possible we might, maybe, be working on a book of personal essays together… possibly. Nothing for sure yet. But how cool would that be, right? But for now, lets just keep it between us.)

But enough about that.  Go read my blog on her site – Do These Kids Make Me Look Crazy?

And then go through her site and read her other posts. But first promise you’ll come back to my blog and still read my ramblings even though I don’t have ridiculously cute kids to feed me content all the time… Pinky swear. Ok, thanks. Now go.

 

The End of an Era June 28, 2011

I started this blog a little over a year ago, because a super weird UPS delivery guy came into my office, instead of the normal hot delivery guy, and made me realize that maybe a desk job didn’t mean nothing interesting would ever happen to me again.

After that revelation I started posting follow ups on my interactions with the hot UPS delivery guy on my Facebook page, and quickly found myself building a story arc in which I played the character of a slightly delusional woman who believed she was in a relationship with the UPS guy.

It was creative entertainment for me and made UPS deliveries a highlight of my day (and when    there are no windows and limited human interaction in your day, this is legitimate.    Don’t judge me. )

I never made anything up, instead I chose to interpret elements of our interactions in a way that advanced the story.

Like:
UPS boyfriend was just here. He asked about my vacation, which I’m assuming means he came in while I was gone and asked where I was. Then he told me he still has 2 weeks of vacation to use before the end of the year. Am I the only one who hears that as an invitation?

.

My UPS boyfriend just commented on my red turtleneck. He asked if it was my Christmas turtleneck. I heard “I wish I could spend Christmas with you”…

.

Just learned my UPS boyfriend plays the drums. It’s nice how we keep learning more about each other…

.

My UPS boyfriend was just here. He said “You stay in here today. You really don’t want to go out there- way too cold.” I love how he’s always got my best interests at heart 🙂

.

My UPS boyfriend was just here and told me he’s going to enter the building’s raffle for a black Mercedes. I think it’s because he knows how good I’ll look in the passenger seat.

.

My UPS boyfriend was just here. I haven’t seen him for at least a week. While I was signing the pad thingy, he was looking out the door and seemed to be a million miles away. I wanted to tell him that I know reunions can be awkward after an unplanned separation. But then our eyes met as I returned the pad, and I think he got it…
The story took a little twist when I realized he had a wife. But I ran with it:

UPS boyfriend’s eyes were particularly blue today. They were very distracting, but no so distracting that I didn’t hear him mention his wife.  BUT, he was complaining about how she planned a weekend at VA Beach, & he spends his whole day driving, so on a long wknd just wants to stay in & watch DVDs. Clearly his wife doesn’t understand him…. I think I’ve still got a chance…

.

My UPS boyfriend delivered (more) boxes of Godiva chocolate which led to a conversation about our favorite candy. Right after I told him I wouldn’t say no to Godiva, he started blathering on about the kind of candy his wife likes. I know he has a wife, just not why he needs to spend our special time talking about her. I thought we had an agreement….good thing he brought a fresh box of chocolates…

But the best part was how much reaction these updates would spark among my Facebook friends.

Like: 

Just walked out into the hall and saw my UPS guy talking and laughing with a girl from another office!
Seaton
that slut!
Jeffrey
WHAT?!? How DARE he?
Mattie
Maybe that’s his cousin. Yeah, his cousin. That’s it! …..

Amy NO!
Tiffany
Girlfriend, he doesn’t deserve you!

Meredith Well i can’t compete with her anyway. Literally – all she’d need to do is sit on me, and I’d be dust 😉
Katie That bastard!

.

UPS boyfriend just came in for the first time this year. He said “thought y’all had moved you were gone for so long!” By which I’m pretty sure he meant “I really missed seeing your bright smile during the long dark holidays.”
Joanne, Susan and 2 others like this.
Howard Of course that’s what he meant!
 Susan (co-worker) he missed me too, you know.

 MeredithI forgot to mention that I asked him about that and he said “there are other women in this office? I never noticed.” Sorry.

I’d often run into Facebook friends in real life (it does happen. Seriously.) who had never commented on my “UPS Boyfriend” statuses, but would tell me how much they looked forward to and enjoyed my updates. One friend referred to it as a “living soap opera”. I was thrilled to know that in providing myself entertainment at work, I was simultaneously providing it to other people as well.

.

Then I started dating Chris. I posted my first “UPS Boyfriend” update about a month into our relationship, and I immediately had people asking me what I was thinking, if Chris would get mad or feel disrespected, and if I was trying to sabotage what was already looking like the most functional relationship I was ever going to get.

My initial instinct was that he would “get it”, and be fine with it. But my friend’s concerns did give me a moment’s pause. But before I could really think it through he posted an adorably cute and appropriately jealous-but-in-not-in-a-creepy-way comment.

Essentially he jumped into my story and made himself a character.

I know. I’m totally keeping him.

My UPS boyfriend was just here with a package for Susan. But for the first time ever volunteered to bring it back to her office instead of leaving it with me… i might have accidentally told him the wrong office…

SusanAgain, thank you. Thank you, thank you. From the heart of my bottom.
MeredithI’m a giver. It’s just how I am
Dan
LOL!
Chris
I am pretty sure I saw that guy outside kissing 10 other women. My instincts tell me he is no good and you should dump him. 🙂

.

My UPS boyfriend was just here with 2 good-sized, but light looking boxes. He asked if he should bring them back into the office for me. I said “are they heavy?” he said “I don’t how strong you are”. I said “I’m pretty strong.” He looked at me for a second then said “Why don’t I just take them where they go?” Um, whatever!

Michael You should have told him you’d challenge him to a boxing match!

 Katie is real boyfriend jealous of UPS boyfriend yet?
MeredithWe have an understanding 🙂
 Tara It sounds like he just wanted an excuse to spend more time with you. But, you know, since he’s a boy, he couldn’t just say that.

 Chris I’m pretty sure I didn’t get the memo about our understanding of the UPS guy. Besides, I’m sure I could wear those brown shorts better than him any day. 🙂

 Meredith ‎@Chris – i could have sworn I sent that memo…did you check spam?but I agree you’d wear the shorts better 🙂 And probably let me carry the boxes 🙂

But then something strange started to happen. The UPS guy would come and I’d sign for a package and forget to initiate a conversation so I’d have something to put on Facebook. Or we’d have a classic interaction, full of opportunity for me to read into it and advance the story line, and I’d forget to put it on Facebook.

What was happening?

I tried to rally, to keep the story alive, but aside from my wandering attention, many of my friends – ardent “UPS Boyfriend Fans” –  stopped commenting on the posts I did manage to get up. It seemed they were losing interest in the story as well.

Then a friend told me that even though I said Chris was fine with the whole thing, and even though Chris said he was fine with the whole thing, she was still uncomfortable encouraging me to refer to another “boyfriend” publicly.

It turned out that lots of my Facebook friends were worried I was undermining my relationship by persisting with the UPS Boyfriend gag, and they didn’t want to be a part of that.

Wimps.

But it was clear it was time for this story to wrap up. I started winding it down, while trying to keep some element of tension.

Today, my UPS boyfriend was in the hallway and my boss walked by. He called my boss over and had him sign for the packages in the hallway so he didn’t have to come in. Yesterday, I was away from my desk and he went straight back to Susan‘s desk and dropped the box off, almost like he wanted to see her… I’m not sure I like this trend…
Patrick
Maybe he knows you’ve moved on:)

Chris
Did I forget to mention that I had a little talk with him? Lets just say that we came to an understanding

My UPS boyfriend just brought me flowers! By which I mean, he came in with a box from 1800 Flowers, and handed it to me. It was for someone else in my office, but I can read between the lines. He was saying “I wish these flowers were from me to you, to say I’m sorry for my behavior last week.” Yeah, I’m pretty sure that’s what he was thinking.
Chris
I think I’m going to deliver a special box of whoop ass to this UPS guy for the constant flirting with you! I’ve had just enough of his shenanigans. 🙂
Beth
@ Chris, it’s best not to encourage these delusions of Meredith’s 🙂
Allison
I’d kinda like to see the dazed look on the poor guys face when Chris shows up-but he needs to wear a Federal express uniform to really freak the guy out (while Mer sneaks out the back door LOL)

What I really wanted was some sort of great and final dramatic climax, which in truth it needed anyway – pining for an object of ones affection is only compelling for a limited amount of time, and then something has to HAPPEN. So I started looking for opportunities to misread something he did or be overly dramatic about some element of an interaction. But then suddenly he wasn’t our delivery guy for several weeks, and then he was back, he’d just run in, shove the pad at me, refuse to make eye contact, and leave as fast as possible – giving me nothing to work with.

I started to nurture a very real fear that he had somehow found out about my Facebook posts and was now scared of me, referring to me as “that stalker chic at that company with the weird name” to his UPS buddies at their UPS hangout place.

And then, a few days after my birthday, my UPS Boyfriend brought a delivery AND my ending:

UPS guy was just here. Was staring at the flowers and birthday balloon on my desk while I signed the pad, to the point where he didn’t notice I was done and handing it back for a second. But he didn’t comment. I think he realizes its over…

I’m a little sad that I didn’t get to have some great dramatic scene to end the story with, but I’m not sure I, nor any of my Facebook friends, had the energy for it at this point anyway.

So the UPS Boyfriend story has officially come to an end. But it was a great experiment in creativity, storytelling and social media, which was super fun, and I’ve got my eye out for a new subject for my next “Facebook Soap”.

Except I don’t think I’ll do another romance.  From now on I’ll look to my real object of affection for that storyline.

A murder mystery might be fun…

 

Not Your Go-To Girl November 30, 2010

Filed under: Home — Meredith @ 1:00 pm
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

My senior year of college I lived in an on-campus apartment with my three best friends. We all had unique strengths and personalities: Katie was the house-mother of the group who kept everything and everyone in order and on track. Jamie was the free spirit/drama queen who kept us entertained, Beth was the earth mother who was nurturing and emotional. And I was…well, I suppose Katie, Jaime and Beth might each have their own answer to that question (and probably have their own characterizations for themselves as well), but I would characterize myself as the…child. I was the one who laughed hysterically as a drunken Jaime molested a soda bottle, who relied on Katie to make me clean up after myself and announce when dinner was over and homework time had begun, and who turned tearfully to Beth to kiss my boo-boos, both physical and emotional.

You’re probably wondering why they kept me around. It’s a fair question, and I’m pretty sure the answer had to do with my tendency to always have chocolate or similarly decadent desserts and late night snacks.

But regardless of what I what role I played, it was very clear what I did not play. And that was the role of the person you turn to in a crisis.

This was rarely an issue because in almost every situation we had Katie, who definitely IS the person you turn to in a crisis. As a result, I managed to get all the way to senior year without having to show how useless I am in any high stress, high stakes, or high emotion situation.

One spring afternoon of our senior year, Beth and I were home alone, and Beth put a mini-frozen pizza in the toaster over and then went back upstairs to her room. I walked into the kitchen a few minutes later to find flames shooting out of the top of the toaster oven.

I immediately started screaming – actually, to be honest, it was probably more like shrieking: “FIRE! FIRE! BETH!!! THE KITCHEN IS ON FIRE!” I may have said something about how we were all going to die…but that might have only been in my head. Meanwhile, I’m still standing right in front of the flaming toaster oven, frozen as I was with my fear.

Within seconds, Beth comes flying down the stairs holding the industrial sized fire extinguisher that she ripped from its wall mounting at the top of the stairs.

She was wearing a robe and I will never forget the image of her coming into view brandishing the fire extinguisher with a panicked look on her face like a bizarre, adult film star version of a fire fighter. She turned the corner from the stairwell into the dining area and toward the kitchen with the nozzle of the fire extinguisher pointing ahead of her saying “Where is it? Where is it?” as if hunting an elusive enemy.

The sight of her was so startling, and comical, that I immediately snapped out of my panic and said “oh, it’s not that bad,” and gestured toward the toaster over where the few measly flames flickered out the top of the door.

Beth, confused and still hopped up on adrenaline, brought the hose of the extinguisher down to her side and looked at the toaster over for a moment and then back at me.

“The flames are sorta, a little bit close to reaching the cupboards…” I offered in my own defense.

Beth set the extinguisher on the floor, walked over to the toaster oven and unplugged it. To my amazement, the flames immediately disappeared. Turning back to look at me Beth just shook her head and said “oh Mer,” as she picked up the extinguisher and went back up stairs.

And it’s the same in my family. Around this same time I was home for a holiday and one of my nephews was playing with my brother’s puppy, Brandy. And suddenly Brandy is laying under the kitchen table whimpering. I was the first to notice, and after I brought everyone’s attention to it: “OH MY GOD. WHAT’S WRONG WITH BRANDY?!” everyone moved away from the table as my mom got down on the floor to investigate. As we stood watching my mom feel along the Brandy’s limbs and listening to Brandy’s whimper, I burst into loud tears and saying “OH NO! WHAT’S WRONG? OH MY GOD….OH NO! SOMETHINGS REALLY WRONG! SHOULD WE GO TO THE ER? I THINK WE SHOULD TAKE HER TO THE ER VET!” My sister Allison turns around and yells “KNOCK IT OFF!” in the verbal equivalent of a slap in the face and then orders me to leave the room because I’m upsetting the, thus far, calm children.

My autistic nephew, who doesn’t naturally understand emotion, started imitating me as his version of what “sad” is for months – every time he picked up cues that someone was sad, or something remotely unpleasant occurred he would say “OH NO! Boo-hoo-hoo! OH NO!”

(And BTW, the puppy was fine. We never figured out why she was whimpering, although as she grew up she had many more episodes like this revealing her to be the only person in the family with fewer coping skills than I had.)

I have many stories like this, and very few where I was actually useful. Or even just didn’t make a situation worse.

When I make new friends or join a new group, one of the first things I tell them is: “I’m useless in a crisis. Just so you know.”

Worse than having to deal with a physical crisis, like an old lady falling off a curb in downtown traffic or some guy getting his hand caught in the metro doors (they were both fine eventually. I think), is an emotional crisis.

I honestly lay awake at night worrying about the day when one of my close friends will suffer an emotional trauma. I try to think of different scenarios that could occur like the death of a parent, a horrible disease, or a child that turns out to be a religious fanatic, and I try to script the right things to say and do. I compulsively study how other people handle these situations, hoping maybe, like my nephew, I can learn to mimic the right reaction.

And like my nephew, at best I usually mange a vague approximation delivered unconvincingly and slightly out of pace with the situation.

But I do always bring chocolate.

 

 
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