Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The day I thought I was dying of everything. And my watch didn't fit.

In the next 24 hours I have 3 papers to write, a book to re-read, and a shower probably to take.

I'm stressed.

The stress was exaggerated by a really strange day. A protest was happening on campus, I failed a pop quiz in French Film, (It's in FRENCH. It's HARD. Yes, maybe there are English subtitles, but WHO CAN READ THAT FAST? NOT ME APPARENTLY.) I got to my internship only to hear that someone young in the department had tragically died over the weekend, and after that I sort of walked around in a haze, helping to make arrangements for a memorial service. It got me thinking about mortality, obviously, and I realized I tempt death every single day. I never look when I cross the street- I rely solely on that walking man signal, like it's the star that led the wise men to Jesus or something. I eat at a Korean-Italian-Hungarian deli pretty often, I fall down (and up,) stairs, I let a strange man in to my locked building, (well, he said he forgot his keys, but IT IS A LOCKED BUILDING FOR A REASON, the security aspect sort of goes out the window if I am escorting strangers inside like I'm hosting a damn party.) In short, the whole thing made me feel shaken, vulnerable, and sick to my stomach. When I got home and discovered that a watch I had ordered had finally come in, I sat down to put it on-discovered it was way too big- and promptly burst in to tears.

That watch thing really did me in. Forget about facing mortality.

It's amazing how things spiral out of control once the floodgates were open. A bump on the back of my head became a deadly skull infection, (is there even such a thing?) My broken sliding glass door in my house was an open invitation to all the thugs in the neighborhood, I felt a sharp pain in my breast when bending over to get something and sent a message to a friend that literally said something along the lines of: "Hey, how are you? You know what is funny? In the last 20 minutes I have convinced myself I have breast cancer." I just couldn't stop myself. The bony fingers of fear had wrapped their way around my slight normalcy and they were choking the shit out of it.

The crescendo of the evening, (oh yeah, there's more,) came when Brett and I discovered that we had lost my reservations to fly out this upcoming weekend. Especially (in my warped mind) in the face of death the thought of not seeing my husband became unbearable. We called every airline asking if they had my info. Nada. Nothing. I did not exist in airplane world! My entire name, my plans, my life- all seemed to disappear in a puff of insanity. Even Brett was panicking, and when he panics I PAY ATTENTION. This is a man that is never even ruffled, and he married ME, so when the man gets panicked, THE WORLD IS ABOUT TO BASICALLY END.

It turns out I didn't exist. He had made the reservations in my new married name...and we forgot that I was now...well, sort of a different person. He chuckled nervously in to the phone, "Isn't it funny?" he asked. "I mean, we were looking for a different name. No one had that. They had the new you...the one that belongs with me. The one that shares my name."

Suddenly the death rot on my skull and the pains in my chest and the fear of sitting-in-the-sun deli food became ridiculous. I can't change the fact that I get food poisoning more than any one I know. I can't change the fact I may have somehow caused a lump to grow on the side of my head from one of my many falls. Life is not ever a permanent thing. We are not guaranteed longevity. A tragedy can make us spin our wheels as we look closely at all of the things we are afraid of...because we are afraid to leave.

What I'm saying is a fear of death- of ceasing- is sort of a blessing in disguise. It reminds us that we have something here worth sticking around for. New names, old loves, caloric food, laughter and life and moments that wrap their webs around our souls and love us despite our awkwardness.

I guess I'm lucky to feel the things I felt today: a thrum of pain, a wave of panic, and then relief; gorgeous and sweet, shared with a man who loves me. If I'm feeling all of these things...it means I am still here...

Skull infection and all.

Monday, September 26, 2011

I had a conversation last night with a Mad Men character.

I usually blog at night. Nothing interesting happens to me from the hours of 9pm-9am, so it seems fitting to conduct my writing exercise in this way. And, I romanticize the idea of "writing." You know what I am talking about- the dusk of evening settling in, the light glow from my computer screen dancing on my cup of tea. (Or tea with brandy, usually.) Sometimes I play classical music in the background...it is a pretty obnoxious ritual, but it cranks these gems out, so I commit to that set up. But I am here blogging in the morning with a cup of coffee-sans-brandy to the melodic thumping of a garbage truck outside. Why? SOMETHING AMAZING HAPPENED TO ME LAST NIGHT.

I went to bed on the early side and fell asleep immediately which never happens to me. I usually like to spend about 2 hours in bed freaking out over possible break-ins and wondering where exactly I would run/hide if said break in occurred. So, falling asleep without planning an escape route was a welcome change, as was the dream that I had.

I dreamt I was on the set on Mad Men as an extra, observing a scene between Peggy Olsen (Elisabeth Moss, for all you non-obsessed people out there) and Don Draper, (the admirable Jon Hamm.) Now, this is hilarious simply because: 1. I clearly don't aim high in my dreams. I mean, I was an extra. Usually people are superheros or the star, or flying or something ridiculous. Not me. I remember distinctly that I was in an ill-fitting 60's style dress, sweating a little, and wondering if John Slattery could see my pit stains. 2. There is no "2," actually. Just meditate on "1" for a little while while remembering again I was not the star of the show or Jon Hamm's girlfriend or anything. I. was. a. sweaty. extra.

As I watched the scene unfold I saw my chance when it ended and Jon Hamm walked away to get a glass of water. Peggy, (er, Elisabeth,) was alone, looking over lines so I inched my way over to her. I grabbed some napkins, shoved them under my pits and timidly tapped her on the shoulder while looking around frantically for the director. I didn't want to get caught bothering the stars or anything, but this was important. She spun delicately on her heel to face me, and raised her eyebrows slightly over the quivering sweaty mess in front of her. "Yes?" she asked.

"How do you do it?" I blurted out. She seemed to know exactly what I was talking about. "Do you mean, how am I on this show, one of the biggest characters, when I don't exactly look like January Jones?" I didn't want to say yes, but...yes. That was sort of what I was asking. At this moment John Slattery walked by and pointed at me. "You. Extra. I have to grab your ass in the next scene as I walk by. I can't find any of the other girls, so you are it. Hope you don't mind- it's not personal." As he walked away and my mouth dropped in horror, Peggy grabbed my hand and looked right in to my eyes. "Listen. Smart girls get it done. Don't you think I knew coming in to Hollywood I wasn't exactly what everyone was looking for? I didn't give up. I have great comedic timing, I know what I am capable of...and so do you, so quit hiding behind a false screen of modesty. You're not working hard enough. You need to work harder. Can you do that? If you can, this could be yours." She half gestured towards John Slattery and then shook her head. "Well, not him, but you get what I am saying."

She walked away and I stood there, absorbing every scent and sound around me. The feeling of sweat rolling down my back. The stale smell of a musty set warmed by spotlights. A hint of apples from the "scotch" bottles in the office. It was so surreal.

I woke up before the ass-grabbing scene, but sat in bed for a long while. Did I think that Elisabeth Moss came in to my dreams to tell me I was going to be a famous actress? No. But I think Elisabeth Moss came in to my dreams to tell me to stop living at god damn Blockbuster and eating things covered in cheese all day while moaning about how pathetic I am.

I know exactly what I want to do, and I lie to myself about it all of the time. I tell people "Oh, I could never do that." But- I secretly think I can. It's more attractive to be modest. People don't want to hear that you are going to write books like every one else. It was like a Peggy Olsen angel came down and told me to put on my big girl pants and get on with it. Embrace what you know you were meant to do, STOP CRYING, and start working.

Maybe I need to stop watching so much Mad Men, but you know what? I guess you could say it changed my life. I raise my (coffee cup) glass to all those dorky girls out there. The ones that know what they can do and firmly plant their feet in a world that doesn't always want them there. To emmy nominated Elisabeth Moss. To emmy nominated Tina Fey. To the girls with big noses and glasses and a sass that just can't be broken. I drink to you.

And thanks for hanging out in my dreams last night. So cool.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Toy Kitchens, Apple Pie, and Pippa Middleton.

I have not written in a long time.

I'd like to think that a massive group of you is anxiously awaiting my every word, but I know all 6 people that read this blog and they know why I have not written in it every day, so I try and pretend that it is ok to start a project and then suck at it.

I got a phone call from a friend recently. "Are you ok?" she asked. I looked down at myself. I was laying on my sofa, somehow balancing the computer on my chin, and there was an indistinguishable dusting of some kind of food across my front. I had no idea what time it was, but I was pretty sure whatever time it was I was late for class. "Yes. I am ok." I replied, wondering why I was only wearing one sock. "Why?" Her answer? I hadn't blogged in awhile. "I always know something is wrong when you skip a week." GAH. SO TRUE.

I'm still depressed! Why is this happening?! Aren't I supposed to be skipping to school right now, making new curtains for my one room house and patting myself on the back for my resilience? Instead, the guy at Blockbuster knows my name and my weekly food order. THEY HAVE FOOD AT BLOCKBUSTER. I SHOULD NOT KNOW THAT.

I go back and forth, honestly. Good days and bad days. We all have them. Mine just seem dramatic and in technicolor, but I'm also just a generally obnoxious person. I had a good night out recently. My in-laws have been trying to set me up on a friend date with the daughter of one of their friends. They have been so insistent about it, and the one time I met her I really liked her, SO WE FINALLY TOOK THE PLUNGE! (I feel like I should record our meeting anniversary or something.) We went out and had a great time. We had some beers, I monopolized conversation, she resisted my pleas that we go do karaoke, and we enjoyed one another. She had brought along a friend, here for the semester from England, and I had brought along a friend too. We all got along famously, and it was like the perfect scene from a girl-centric novella. I loved every second, but ESPECIALLY the second I realized the English girl looked EXACTLY LIKE PIPPA MIDDLETON.

This seemed like the perfect time to try out my own English accent on her. It was only natural, really. Looking back, I am very lucky that she was a lovely individual and accepting of crazy Americans. She seemed to enjoy the night, but I'm sure she heard enough about "OHMYGOD THE TRAGEDY OF PRINCESS DIIII!" for one English lifetime. When I recounted the story to Brett on the phone, I could literally hear the palm-slapping-his-forehead sound from thousands of miles away. He would repeat things I had said, but with increasing panic. "You said tally-ho?!" I don't think he realizes that it was probably the most fun night ever. At least for me.

As I was avoiding studying by cleaning my apartment today, I decided that I should bake a pie. I wanted life to return to something somewhat normal. In the fall, when living with Brett, which is what one usually does when married, I would go through my grandmother's cook-book and bake for days on end. I figured that my listlessness came from the adjustment of a whole new lifestyle, and to fix that, a pie cooking in the oven could do wonders.

Yes, in theory it could, but I did not take in to account my kitchen. Or lack there of. I have a coffee maker, and that takes up about my entire counter space. When I open a bottle of wine, it has to be done in another part of the room, because I can't move my arms in a normal way. It is essentially a toy kitchen, an easy-bake oven on top of a microwave. It is useless.

The pie took me about 4 hours to make, because once I dirtied a dish I had to wash it to make room for another dirty dish. My flour had worms in it. (That has nothing to do with anything, but I just cannot fucking believe I had worms in my flour.) New flour bought. Apples cut. Pie assembled and balancing on the end of my trash can because the oven's door takes up the width of this hallway/toy kitchen.

I think it will be worth it in the end. I'm sitting here typing and smelling...something. I hope it is pie cooking. But it does not smell like pie, so I'm not hopeful whatever cooking in the oven will be edible. I tried. I didn't even have a diva like breakdown and call Brett demanding he remember the days of a kitchen with counter tops. I shoved the thing in, ignored the smell coming out, and hoped for the best.

That is all we can really do, right? You have to hope for the best, and not take a vacation from your blog because you'd rather cry and watch entire seasons of Mad Men in one go. You write. You go to class in REAL CLOTHES. You bake a pie and you call your husband and you try to be gentle on yourself for having a hard time adjusting. I'll be fine, we'll be fine, and maybe someday I will be less selfish. My Dad called me today to tell me that my brother is graduating from boot camp, and I said to him, "That is amazing, but I really have to take a moment and tell you that I FOUND WORMS IN MY FLOUR."

So, I have a lot of work to do, clearly.

Thanks for sticking with me.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

I'm So Sexy.

I admire women that have a routine. Lotions, exfoliating, buffing, waxing, the whole bit. The real beauty of upkeep is the night routine, however. Even Hollywood romanticizes it. A woman sensuously rubs scented lotion over a perfectly toned calf while wearing a sheer silk negligee. A man gazes on lustfully as she combs the luscious and shining waves of her hair, bent over just so at the waist. There is a whole market based on the woman's routine. Things that make you look younger, smell fresher, and look sexier.

You can look up above and see how much money I spend on that little area of my life.

It's something I actually have some guilt over, honestly. I moved most of my clothes to Brett's apartment, but when I was packing up PJs he just stood beside me shaking his head. "No, no, no. Not those. I promise I will buy you all new pajamas in Pittsburgh. Ones without penguins on them. You keep these here, ok?" So I have a chest full of flannel pajamas with polar bears, penguins, and snowflakes. Which doesn't do me very good in CALIFORNIA, BUT THANKS BRETT. YOU ACTUALLY GET SNOW WHERE YOU ARE. I get his point though, and my argument was pretty weak. Most of these little gems don't really fit me anymore and Brett was right about the fact that all of my sets were animal related. When I triumphantly found a pair with coffee cups on them, (like that is a more adult option than polar bears,) He just stared me down in disbelief as I argued their sophistication. I think I yelled something like "BABIES DON'T DRINK COFFEE. THESE WERE MADE FOR ADULTS, CLEARLY."

No dice.

Tonight I was looking in the mirror and realized that I hadn't actually brushed my hair in 3 days and I had bags under my eyes the size of suitcases. I also had not worked out in an embarrassingly long time and the waist band on my favorite mint green pajamas was getting a little tight. I realized I had to stop counting my weekly walk to the grocery store as exercise, (I carry wine bottles home! Heavy ones!) and get serious. A horrible thought ran through my head: was I letting myself go? And an answer immediately followed: Yes, idiot. You change from one pair of pajamas to a different pair at night! You ate chips and carrots for dinner! YOU COUNT A 3 BLOCK WALK WITH WINE BOTTLES AS EXERCISE.

So, the answer was pretty clear.

I took my pajamas off. I put on dusty work out clothes. I did yoga for an hour and then took a long hot shower, actually paying attention this time to the routine of it instead of lathering up while muttering under my breath and hopping out because I am afraid the ten seconds I was in there someone broke in to the house. I did a face mask after, a mint one that made me really want gum. I did this while naked, so now I was covered in goop and could not put a shirt on. So, I did the most natural thing. I hopped around in my room, rolling my neck from side to side and massaging my arms and legs. I thought it would make me feel sexy, but you can just read that sentence again and see NOTHING SEXY ABOUT IT. Who cares, I was trying. So after hopping around a bit, rubbing lotion in all over, I looked longingly towards my pajama drawer.

Should I go for the one sexy nightgown I keep here? The wedding gift still hanging in the Nordstrom bag on my bike handles? Or should I succumb to the call of the polar bears and fluffy socks?

It's a cold night.

Slipping on my too-short pajamas I smiled hugely as they worked their faded flannel magic on my soul. I was clean, smooth, hairless and tight-skinned. In my opinion my one yoga work-out made me lose that last 5 pounds I've been carrying. (I looked in the mirror after, convinced I was instantly skinner.) And now, I was wearing what I think of as clothing love wrapped all around this pretty little package.

So, I was sexy. I felt sexy.

Polar bears are just dead sexy. Everyone knows that.

Monday, September 12, 2011

I need to be committed. And not in the way you think.

I love the day after a dinner party. Most people don't, right? I mean, the friends are gone, the house still smells like garlic, and you have a mountain of dishes waiting for you when you stumble downstairs for coffee.


This morning, I woke up and literally pumped my fists in the air in my dramatic display of glee. I had dishes to do! Loads and loads of dishes in my sink! My house was trashed! Wine bottles empty on the dinner table, smeared glasses all over the place! THIS IS THE BEST MORNING EVER!

I stumbled sideways across the room to make coffee in the kitchen that is 1 and a half feet from my bed. (I'm really playing up the whole "I don't have a downstairs" bit.) I grinned like a mad woman at all of the filth my little studio contained. And then I got to cleaning.

It TOOK A WHOLE HOUR! Mopping, vacuuming, dish washing, scraping something weird and hot pink off of the coffee table...it was pretty fantastic. After, I skipped outside to get rid of my garbage, and then took a shower to really stretch the morning out. I guess you can figure out why I love messy studios. It gives me something to do! It's my warped version of a puzzle. I have to put the pieces all back together again, and my brain is not on my hunky husband a gazillion miles away. It gives me a sense of purpose. And I realize I just set women back 50 years by saying that, but whatever. It makes me feel in control of things, when I am definitely not in control most of the time. I can't control school, I can't control getting fondled in broad daylight by the crazies on Shattuck. I can't control the fact that "Mad Men" is ruining my life because I can't stop watching it, and I can't control the situation that places me so far away from the one I love.


I should probably go buy some actual puzzles today.

To add to my obvious mental instability, I've taken to making really exaggerated motions when I am alone. Like, the fist pumping nonsense this morning. Or, I'll randomly do a jig. Or slap my hands dramatically to my face if I am upset about something. I also talk out loud to myself, as if becoming the awful roommate I don't have. While making coffee I said snarkily: "Do you really think you need that extra spoon of sugar in your coffee, Melissa? I mean, are you trying to become more of a fat ass?" Or in the shower I'll gently hit my head against the wall and yell out: "WHY DID YOU SING AT THE DINNER PARTY LAST NIGHT?! YOU EVEN CLOSED YOUR EYES!" Stuff like that. I knew It was getting a little out of hand when my elderly neighbor, (who by the way watches soaps all day on VOLUME OBNOXIOUS) stopped me in the hallway and asked me if me and MY ROOMMATE could be a little quieter in the morning.

I don't have a roommate. Actually, yes I do. Her name is CRAZY.

So now, to add to my already growing lists of reasons I should be committed, I have to keep up the ruse of having a roommate whenever I am around this woman, because I am just too ashamed to have her find out that the only person who lives with me is a fish that I do talk to loudly and constantly.

Off to buy those puzzles.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

I've been busy...moping and catching up on "Mad Men."

I know I haven't been around. I have not really committed to this blog lately, and I'd like to think I have reasons.

The first being I just celebrated my ONE YEAR ANNIVERSARY-OH-MY-GOD-WE-DID-IT! and to celebrate that I flew back east for a weekend to surprise my husband. It was the hottest night Pittsburgh had ever seen, and I was not wearing makeup or good-smelling clothes, but he saw me standing outside of a restaurant that he had plans at...and it was all the sappy/happy/heart dropping/butterflies mix that you can imagine. I won't get in to the details of the weekend, but we had a very good time. And the very good time involved a platter of fried fish the size of my head. We don't hold back on romantic weekends.

So, I didn't blog for a while because I was almost sure I would blow my own cover. And then I didn't blog because the lure of mint green pajamas and "Mad Men" streaming on my computer held more allure. BUT THEN I realized that if I kept up said habit I would probably never finish college, thus making this whole "wife experiment" thing a joke. So I tried. I bought my books. I even read a few, and remembered to bring a pen to class once and awhile.

I'm not proud that I've let myself succumb to the pity-tea-party for one. I guess...well, here is the truth. Besides a few people here in California, (and I mean few, like, few-few-few....) most of my life and support system is...elsewhere. My closest friends live in a scattered handful of states. My husband is thousands of miles away. The people I like on a daily basis tend to live near him. Or in Seattle. (Hi, Ashley M.) So, it makes me cranky. It made me walk to Trader Joes in a fog, buy the most RANDOM SHIT, come home, cook some of that random shit up in the kitchen...and sob.

Do you ever think: "What the hell am I doing here?" I feel that. I know the answer of course, but it is not that easy. With the people I'm with, with the things I worry about, with the weird crap I put in my mouth...all I can think is: "WHAT AM I DOING?"

My fish is home, which is great news. I have someone to talk to over my mini wheats in the morning. The other day I actually took a video of me "training" him (he follows my finger...which is usually pushed down far in the water, so he has no choice but think "what the fuck is this thing? I'm going to follow it, the bastard!" so it is not really training, but whatever.) I've discovered "Mad Men." I talk to the characters on my screen. I accidentally smoked a cigarette the other day, (long story,) I found a scotch brand that has a flat side so it fits in my cupboard easily. I bought a pair of pants! So, I guess you could say I have a lot going on. And I do. I look forward to mopping at the end of the day because it takes up ten minutes and it gets rid of the dead-mold-garlic smell of the apartment. I febreeze my comforter every morning, like I defecate on it daily or something. I've become obsessed with febreeze! I'm not joking when I say that these things fill my time, and they make me happy. In some weird- I need medical help kind of way...they make me happy.

You can't always rely on the people in your life. But you can rely on your can of febreeze and your swifter. They will never do you wrong...and they remove the dirt and grime from underneath your feet...they don't add to it.

So I guess you could say, I am a lucky girl.