Sunday, October 30, 2011

Sometimes we should all just shut the fuck up.

(Men who pose with their wives, SEVERAL TIMES in Halloween costumes are really good sports.)

One thing I think I consistently say about this "experiment" is that it is really, really hard. Imagine having a relationship with someone that is condensed to one weekend a month. Laughter, love, jokes, arguments...all of the things that come with being a partner, but limited to 3 days every 4 weeks. It's ridiculously hard, and sometimes Brett and I fail miserably at it. We are like blind people stumbling about in a dark room, both looking for the light switch, but on opposite ends. THAT is what marriage is lately, so we were both grateful and happy for a bit of a reprieve.

The reprieve came in the form of an "all-fun-no-serious-talks" weekend. We literally avoided anything and everything that could be declared a "hot topic." Instead, we ate a lot, drank hot chocolate and walked through the snow, (what the FUCK Pittsburgh. SNOW. REALLY?) meandered through markets, cooked really foodie-lishious dinners together, and consumed a lot of wine. On Saturday we had friends over for a mini Halloween party (see above picture. Brett and I NAILED the whole house-wife/Don Draper-ish husband my humble opinion.) and we stayed out until 4 am with beloved friends, drinking beer, playing "bananagrams" and eating pierogis. It was exactly what we both needed.

There is, of course, a part of me that wants to talk everything out to death and lay it on the table. There is also a part of me that loves the fact that we cracked open a 6 year old bottle of apple cider that we made together in dating years and didn't talk at all. So much is said in the silence that exists between sips.

I go home tomorrow, and I am feeling a myriad of things. I'm feeling sad, nostalgic, empowered, ready to work at my career, and...a sweeping, haunting sense of something else I cannot really place. I desperately want to put my finger on it and stick in under a microscope, but maybe that is not always the answer.

Maybe sometimes we are meant to thrive in the comfortable throes of silence. Maybe we are meant to drink with friends until 4am with little regard for the demands of the next day. We should wake up in our friend Heather's clothes with our husband awake, balancing on the crook of his elbow as he watches his wife sleep. Life cannot be measured or understood or placed in any kind of box. Maybe I am wrong with this blog in my goal to analyze everything. Perhaps I should just take this weekend, pull it apart from everything else...and savor it.

I ate steak tonight with goose pate and brussel sprouts cooked in pancetta and glorious fat.

I drank really good wine and carved a pumpkin and I did not wear make-up or think about tomorrow or worry about today.

I was with my best friend, and we ate caramel apples and we tried not to think about anything but the moment where our teeth were stuck in those delicious orbs of cavity inducing goodness.

That's enough, is it not?

That's enough. And that is everything.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Art Imitates life?

With this whole "How To Be A Wife" theme of the year, guess what I chose as my Halloween costume?

A 50's housewife, naturally.

Happy Halloween!

Friday, October 28, 2011

A Flippen' Japoinka Day.

Today, my first day in Pittsburgh, was sort of dramatic.

Of course.

I think the drama started when I was FINALLY boarding my very delayed flight at 1am and realized something was not quite right with my stomach. Chalking it up to travel-based nerves, I took my seat, chatted up the guy next to me for a half hour, (things learned in one half hour about Bill. He has 4 kids, all from in-vitro fertilization, his 13 year old daughter is becoming a handful, he loves ice fishing and hates English majors. Anyway, moving on,) and settled in with my impressive array of travel-aides. I am THAT woman with the lumbar pillow, the neck roll, the special NASA eye mask that you can open your eyes underneath (because it is very handy in case you want to stare into pitch-black-endless-dark for no reason at all,) and special socks because I have the cold feet of a 90 year old. Some people cope with red-eye flights by taking drugs or pounding scotch. I, on the other hand, just battle the discomfort of a long flight by looking like a giant beetle baby.

It helps. I was out within seconds.

And then I woke up. I was covered in sweat and my stomach was screaming to me that IT WAS ABOUT TO EXPLODE. THIS IS REAL. GET UP GET UP GETUP! I staggered to the bathroom and barely made it in time before I sank to my knees and vomited up what I believe to be an entire weeks worth of stomach content. I shook. I cried. (of course.) I vomited more. And more. And...well, more.

After a solid half hour of being curled up in a very uncomfortable position, I stumbled out to realize 15 people were waiting in line for the now defiled bathroom. My buddy Bill being first. I have never been more mortified. I have never wanted to jump out of a plane more in my life.

So you can imagine that greeting Brett and having a happy reunion was the last thing on my mind when I finally landed and skulked off the plane while 15 people glared at me. He called to tell me that he was running late because of a meeting, but he was on his way. I'm sure I wasn't graceful about that. In fact I'm sure I said something really snarky and then laid down on the floor in baggage claim.

Way to start things off right.

To his credit, Brett greeted vomity me with a big smile and a short term memory, seemingly having no recollection that I had, moments before, ripped him apart. My mood steadily improved, as did my stomach, and in no time I was eating a Pittsburgh salad (all cheese and fries and just a smidgen of lettuce,) quite happily. We napped, I showered, and then we walked around in the brisk fall air catching up on the last month of our lives.

As usual our initial interaction was like a first date: shy and formal and cautious. In no time at all though we were ribbing each other, especially when I was extolling the virtues of swearing. Brett jumped right into debate, exclaiming "Swearing is a crutch for those without the ability to conjure up better words to express themselves! IT'S A CHEAP WAY TO GET AN IMPACT!" I calmly told him that his opinion was in fact, wrong. I then continued to respond in the best way I know how- by making up swear words like "Frajackin'" and "Japoinka" and screaming those out gleefully anytime something alarmed/amused/frustrated me.

We kept this up on the way to the opera, and didn't realize that in the midst of our heated and ridiculous debate we had locked the keys in the car.

So, no opera for us. Instead, we met a nice man that helped us break in to the car from AAA, ducked in to a bar for scotch and chocolate cake, and headed home for some downtime. I wanted to encourage Brett to relax and live a little, and I thought fun books and blogs in bed would do the trick. Being the hard worker that he is, he rarely makes time for play. Being the hard worker that I am not always, I play pretty much constantly.

"Bring something fun to read in bed!" I called to him as I dragged my laptop under the covers with me. Moments later he curls up next to me on his side with an article titled: "What Is The Right Supply Chain For Your Product?"

We may not be perfect, but we're frajackin' ourselves.

That's not a bad thing to be.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Happy Birthday, Banana.

When I was 12 years old, my mother happily told me that we "as a unit" were expecting another addition to our already too-large family. I was bullshit. I was SO ANGRY I ran away for an ENTIRE AFTERNOON, packing 4 peanut butter sandwiches and sitting in the tree across the road, glaring in to my house's bay windows. It took me approximately 4 peanut butter sandwiches and a creeping cold fog to realize no one was coming after me. So, I took my bloated ass home and faced the music. The awful baby music I was sure would come.

And then came Anna.

The first picture of us, I am a tear stained skinny little thing- (looking more like a young Italian boy with a uni brow than an actual pre-pubescent young girl.) And I am holding this...thing, but I am staring in to her brilliant blue eyes like it was the first sign of land after a life on sea. I had been crying, (throwing tantrums, really. I was a weird kid,) but when Anna was placed in my arms, I distinctly remember looking down and thinking, "Oh. There you are." She was what we needed...what I needed...and I had no idea until I cradled her day-hold head and suddenly became fiercely protective over her well being. Maybe this little alien would garner all attention from here on out, but I was ok with it. It became a natural mission that was embedded in me when we locked eyes: the oldest defends and protects the youngest. She may have been borne from my mother...but she was mine.

Anna grew up to be a sassy little thing. Gorgeous, all big blue eyes and long blond hair, she stuck out in our weird mustached family. I remember sitting with her when she was 6 years old as she complained about how much she didn't like the girls in her first grade class. I tried to tell her to be nice, claiming that "mean girls always finish last." I exclaimed, "Anna-banana, you cannot live on looks alone. You have to be nice, and kind and good and smart." She just sweetly fixed her baby blues on me and said simply, (as a 6 year old, mind you,) "Well. I just hate those stupid bitches." In fairness, Anna had 2 teen-aged sisters, so she would never pick up on the "bitches" speak if it wasn't for us. (Ahem..Ashley. If it wasn't for Ashley.) But, when Anna said that, instead of chastising her, I pulled her in to my lap and told her that we were going to have a song. "Do you know what it means to have a song?" I asked her. "It means that no matter what you are feeling, no matter the "bitches" in your way...this song belongs to only us. And it brings you to where I am. No matter where I am."

Unfortunately, (but fortunately, actually...because I love it now.) Our song was "Angel" by Shaggy. From that day on, whenever we were in the car and Anna would hear the beginning refrains of: "Girl, you're my angel, you're my darlinggg angelll" she would fix her gaze on me and offer a beatific smile. It was our own little world. A place we could be safe together. It was everything.

Anna turned 16 yesterday, and when I called her she immediately drawled in to the phone: "Oh my God. Are you drunk or something? It's 10:30 in California."

"I had a couple glasses of wine," I retorted angrily. But then I softened. "Okay, tell me what you're wearing then, since I'mmm drunkkk." We started giggling, and then both logged on to facebook to send each other inappropriate and crude message whilst on the phone. There was a moment that we were giggling loudly that I thought: God. This is my banana. All grown up. It made my heart hurt and expand and do weird funny little furry tricks. This was the little girl I held on my lap when she was scared of the "Barney" video on TV. This was the little girl I held in my hands the day she fell (at 3 years old) from a table and had a seizure. I cradled her head in my palms until the ambulance came, wanting more than anything to trade places with her. This was the girl that crawled in to bed next to me and fixed her chubby hand around my finger. This was my little angel.

She's 16 now, and far too attractive for her own good...but I'm comforted when I see her. She snorts like I do, and she makes really funny jokes and loves friend chicken more than anything else in the world. She is my blood, my sister, my little banana.

And if anyone touches her, I will fucking knock your head off with the butt of a rifle.

I love you Anna. Happy sweet 16.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Hey, Me! I like you.

My apartment flooded the day after my wallet was stolen.

I couldn't make this shit up if I tried.

I had just gotten out of the shower when I realized a pipe had burst in my bathroom, sending gallons of water everywhere. The carpets were soaked, the tile had about an inch (and growing) of water depth, and I frantically dropped to my knees to manually block the spray in a blind panic. I was naked, I was clutching the pipe for dear life, and THAT IS WHEN MAINTENANCE TRIED BUSTING DOWN MY FRONT DOOR because he saw the water pouring out in to the hallway.

Remember I was naked.

He didn't see anything, really. I managed to pull a tank top on and as he attended to the water I stood in my hallway and sobbed. It was a really powerful, heaving, dramatic and short cry. I was, after all, standing in a wet tank top in my very public hallway and there was a river weaving its way through my home. Crying really isn't going to do shit.

That night I just decided to make my own happy, since happy seemed intent on alluding me. I danced with girlfriends to an amazing band. I had dinner in a perfect spot with a perfect friend on a perfect night. The weekend was full of good food, people, noise, laughter and life. It was utterly needed and utterly addicting. Noise and movement and wonderful company can be like a drug. When it's gone, and you're left with the quiet, you'd do anything for one more hit.

So, here I was today in the musty smelling (but thankfully dry,) apartment. The friends had gone home, the wine had been drunk, the "Twilight" movie that we shamelessly watched had been put away. It was

I have to admit that with all of the recent trials I have forgotten how to be comfortable alone. I burn with fear and self hatred. I feel like an animal seconds before an earthquake: alert and terrified of the unseen something looming on the horizon. I alternate between feeling like I'm being punished to hating the situation I am in and hating that I was left to "deal with it" unsuccessfully alone. These feelings aren't rational, but they exist. And I can't banish them until I call them out by name.

So, I sat down today. I asked myself what it is exactly that I am upset about. Why didn't I like being with myself? Why am I uncomfortable with that moment when the music stops? Why did I put on a white tank top when I was soaking wet and not grab for the even handier bathrobe on the back of the DOOR? And then I asked myself what made me feel happy and light as a person. Did I need the noise and the movement and the color? Could I love myself without needing my friend's validation and love to create my own? (Don't get me wrong, I LOVED my girl's weekend, but if that was what I needed all the time to keep going I would be hungover everyday and very, very poor.)

I thought to a moment yesterday when I popped in to a salon to get my eyebrows waxed. I settled in the chair, preparing for the inevitable discomfort that comes from getting your hair ripped from your skin, and I was surprised at the very gentle way she touched me. Her fingers lit upon my skin and the touch was feathery and soothing and so...loving. I ended up falling asleep AS SHE RIPPED MY EYEBROW HAIR OUT because it simply felt so good to be caressed. When I complimented her skill, telling her that it felt good and didn't even hurt she replied simply: "I'm gentle on people because they so often are not gentle on themselves."

I stood there dumbfounded as I stared at this woman/angel/prophet and let her words nestle in to the folds of my soul.

Am I gentle to myself?

When shit hit the fan all I did was launch in to an attack on myself. "Melissa, you are such an IDIOT for leaving your wallet IN YOUR FRONT POUCH OF A BACKPACK!" "Melissa, you should have called maintenance A WEEK AGO when you noticed a small leak!" "You're bad!" "You somehow think a white tank top is an acceptable outfit!" I had had enough of that. So, my wallet was stolen. I'm still alive. So, the apartment flooded and now smells like a dirty gym. I have cold wine in the fridge and netflix. I'll deal. Her words made me realize that I spent far too much time worrying what people think, bending and breaking myself to fit their expectations, and resisting personal and private acts of love. It was time to love me, and deal with me, and I was going to start right now.

I got up, looked at my yellow rain boots that I bought AND LOVE but can't wear because IT'S FUCKING SUMMER ALL DAY EVERY DAY IN BERKELEY. And I put them on.

I went out and bought sweet smelling herbs for my tiny balcony with no intentions of actually using them. I had wanted to do that for awhile, but I thought it was frivolous and stupid. So I bought them, buried my nose in rosemary, and read a book in the sun.

I let myself feel joy over the amazing girls weekend, and not guilt over how much money/time/etc was spent. I stopped agonizing over the details: ("Did I talk to much?" "Was it really a good idea to make everyone watch Twilight?" "Was I fun/pretty/interesting enough?") and I just...relished in how I felt about it- which was pretty damn good. I was gentle internally. I felt happier almost instantly.

Now, I'm not suggesting that we all run around and become total self-centered/self-loving maniacs. I'm simply saying that we should take a moment, have a (non-crazy, I swear,) conversation with our self, and listen to what we may need or require to get through a certain time. For me, it was some yellow boots and rosemary. It was telling myself that I am ok, and calling my Dad and making him talk to me in a Kermit the frog voice. It was a collection of little moments that made me take care of myself. It really can't be anyone else's job but my own.

I'm the one that is left with me at the end of the day. Even if the me is soaking wet crying in a hallway.

She's mine. And I'm going to be gentler to her.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Big Girl Pants.

When I started this blog, I vowed to let the world in on a time in my life where I not only had to deal with the pain of my husband living thousands of miles away, but I had to learn how to change my light bulbs all by myself. It was a blog intended to show my weaknesses, but also serve as a way for me to recognize my strengths. Yes, for a few weeks (okay, months,) after his departure I cried a lot, was heckled on a train by strangers carrying vodka, and spent an obscene amount of time plotting my survival route in case of break-in/rape/fire. (In that order.)But then something sort of beautiful happened...the blog took on a life of its own. The more I wrote, the more I began to explore themes of family, love, life and grooming. It sort of stopped being a blog about my growth, and I sort of stopped thinking that I would come out of this a bigger person. I was going with the flow...blogging about dinner parties and gorillas (deleted that one,) and about nothing that actually had anything to do with me. I didn't know if I was becoming a stronger woman, and I didn't care.

And then today happened.

I was in my boss' office when the earthquake happened. Maybe it was only a 4.2, but I was sitting under a bookcase, and when books started hailing to the ground like literary bombs, I panicked and rose from my seat. I couldn't walk. The floor seemed to be rolling side to side and I went to my knees thinking: "Well, if I die by book it would be pretty poetic." I'M A WEIRDO. Anyway, it was about 6 seconds, tops...but 6 seconds is a lifetime when you are truly afraid, truly alone, and truly nursing a welt on your head from a binder of theater reviews.

I didn't cry, like the time I cried in front of the Comcast guy. Instead, I shakily got to my feet and then updated my facebook status. Piece of cake.

I can handle anything.

After sitting through a long photo shoot for an upcoming production, I packed my backpack wearily, dreaming of a hot shower and cold pizza. Waiting at a crosswalk, I felt someone rubbing up against me, and I ACTUALLY PRIDED MYSELF on not turning around. I was feeling so smug that a little awkward contact with a psycho in Berkeley didn't even ruffle me anymore. I was a city girl! I saw a grown man poop on a sidewalk once! I am so chic and aloof and unable to be shocked! It took me getting home to realize that my rubbing stranger had actually opened two pockets of my backpack, cleaning me out of everything in there. Taken: a pack of gum, vanilla lip gloss, 4 pens, a highlighter, AND OH, MY WALLET WITH MY WHOLE LIFE IN IT.

I sat down heavily in my living room, my heart feeling like lead and my fears mounting by the second. And then I picked up the phone, canceled every card, called the DMV, called identity protection agencies, all while remaining calm. It sort of amused me the way personnel act when you call in theft:
Operator-with-a-southern-chipper-twang: "How are yeeew doin' this evenin' Mrs. Cattle?"
Me: "Oh. Sorry, it's Cottle actually. And, I'm fine. Good, thanks."
O-w-a-s-c-t: "What can I doo fer yew then?"
Me: "Um. My wallet? Was stolen? And I need to cancel my card with you?"
O-w-a-s-c-t: "Oh my Gah! I'm sooooo sorry!"
Me: "Oh, don't be." (awkward laugh) unless you stole it!
O-w-a-s-c-t: "I can assure you ma'am, I DID NOT."

They are very nurturing in bank land. In fact, I was so good at holding back the tears that I laughed loudly every time they signed off with a jaunty: "Well, have a GREAT day!" Yeah, sure Sara-Jane from Kalamazoo. I'll have a fucking excellent day now that some perv has all of my identification AND MY MONEY out there in fucking Berkeley, THANKS.

Anyway, as soon as I set the phone down after my last protective call...I calmly dialed Brett, told him the wallet was stolen...and then I cried.

He frantically started giving me helpful instructions: "You need to call the banks, do you have a passport for ID? You need to call the DMV.." I wearily moaned in to the phone that I had already done it all. It was done.

I did it myself.

I have never heard the line go as quiet as it did tonight.

The thing is, I'm not a princess by any means...but I had sort of given up on myself- not realizing my own strength and that I am capable of being independent...(in the best possible way.) I married a man that took care of every bill, that laid out my vitamins for me every morning, that anticipated every need or want I might have and met it for me before I knew it was what I needed. The old Melissa would have laid down in the street after her wallet was stolen and vomited or something. This new one...a new one to both of us, still did the dramatic crying about feeling "violated," but SHE GOT SHIT DONE.

It was a moment I remembered what this "Wife Experiment" journey is all about. It is a journey to self discovery- to realizing that, while I need and love Brett deeply, a little light bulb change is not going to send me in to a mental hospital. I can do ANYTHING.

I got in to the shower after the ordeal of the day, intent on power-washing my way out of my misery. I leaned against the cool tile in my bathroom, letting the hot water soak its warmth into my very soul...AND THEN ANOTHER EARTHQUAKE HAPPENED.

And I fucking got out of there like my tub was suddenly full of flesh eating gremlins. I. HAD. HAD. ENOUGH.

C'mon. Nobody is that strong.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

These people made me. Blame them.

Like any good daughter selfishly needing attention I check in on my parents a few times a week so we can talk about me for an hour or two. Yesterday was Dad's turn, and when I called he picked up the phone and whispered frantically: "Sweetheart, I'm standing at an open grave-so it's probably not the best time. Let me get back to you." He hung up and instead of feeling badly for the dead person literally at my father's feet I was mildly annoyed that he didn't have time to talk to ME about my fish.

I'd say I'm not normally so horribly insensitive, but that would be a lie.

My Dad is a funeral director, and I feel like people never get used to that. For me, death is pretty standard, which explains why I get huffy when it gets in the way of my talking time. When I last went home in June, (and Brett came with me for the first time,) Dad and I gleefully "talked shop" while Brett silently turned green in the corner. Death fascinates me, but not in a crazy-I-kill-small-animals-sort of way. I'm interested in the science of death. I never get tired hearing about rigor mortis, post-death secretion, tissue breakdown on drowning victims... you know, that sort of thing. What truly amazes me is my father. He has had to develop an understanding friendship with death, not drape it in a dark cloak and stick a sickle in its hand. My Dad finds humor in everything. It is because of him that I cannot eat boiled chicken, and I won't tell you that story on here.

When he did call me back I got in to a conversation with him about how I mentioned his work during a discussion in class. "Remember that time you said that bloated, drowned man looked like a boiled chicken?" (Okay, I lied to you. I told you the boiled chicken story.) "Well, in Ulysses, Joyce is constantly mixing body and food imagery- specifically with dead bodies. He compares them to cheese, boiled meat, and so on. It ties in nicely with your gross experience."
Dad didn't miss a beat, replying: "Death is food. At least, it puts food on the table. I need death in order to live."

Ridiculously profound.

Mom's turn to be graced by my selfish phone presence was today. She, like my father, is interested in medical science, but we discuss it in a very different way. Meaning I like provoking her.

This woman is convinced that I have every type of illness in the world whenever I complain about anything bothering me. It cannot merely be a bump on the head. It's a brain tumor. Last time I was visiting I told her the back of my knee hurt, and she had me stripped down as she frantically examined my veins back there, convinced I had a blood clot. It was at that bare assed moment my teenage brother walked in, so I blame her medical paranoia over any therapy he might need for that visual. I know this, yet I still told her today that I have no appetite anymore.

"You're not eating?" she asked. I told her that I was taking vitamins and drinking wine and when I heard her sharp intake of breath, I smirked.

" you think you have a tumor in your throat?"

Craziness aside, my mother is a hilarious woman. Or, perhaps it is because of that craziness that she cracks me up all of the time. My favorite memory of her is the time she stood at the top of the stairs, screaming down to me in the living room. "MELISSA BETH, IF YOU FUCKING TAKE THE LORDS NAME IN VAIN ONE MORE FUCKING TIME..."

I don't think I have ever laughed so hard in my life.

What I'm trying to say is: these people made me. The took their crazies and blended them together to create my crazy. It's really the best kind. The kind where you don't take yourself too seriously, you don't flinch at the bad stuff, and you find the word "fuck" much less offensive than "Jesus Christ."

When I am in either of their homes I feel cherished, celebrated and loved. I think that people put too much blame on their parents these days, but I do blame my parents for who I am. Without their humor and little ticks and and habits I would be...normal. Can you imagine?

I'll see them for Thanksgiving, and I look forward to discussions about what the turkey really looks like, on the spot medical inspections, and shouting matches steeped in love. We're all crazy, it's true. But it's exactly my brand of crazy, my own unique concoction.

Jesus Christ, I'm lucky.
sorry Mom.

My "normal" siblings. (See, I'm not alone.)

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

My Woman Marriage.

I went in to my internship today and after it took me an hour and a half to write a press release my boss gently leaned over the desk and awkwardly touched my hand. (Actually, he brushed against it while pulling back in a jerking manner.) "Are you...ok Melissa? I mean, not that I have noticed anything...but are you ok?"

So, first of all, when someone tells you they have not "noticed" anything: they have. Hugely so. I just shook the unbrushed hair from my eyes and focused on my gnawed nails. "I'M GREEEEAAAT!" I loudly sang.

He told me to take the rest of the day off.

After a mind numbing class, my very close friend Deb and I decided to take advantage of the happy hour specials that pepper the mean streets where I live. They have to lure you in somehow, and I always feel like I am walking in to a child-prostitution ring with the signs hand scrawled out in front of the restaurants. "HAPPY HOUR HERE. FREE MUSIC AND CHEAP DRINKS IF YOU GIRL. WE HAVE TACOS." They really wanted us, and we answered the siren call. One horrible glass of wine in, we discovered that the man sitting alone next to us nursing a steak was probably a serial killer.

So we went back to my place.

I started in on some studying, filling out index cards for a midterm the next day. Deb happily perched on my couch, checking facebook and looking over at the "Mad Men" episode that I study to. (Yes. I study to men in suits and in their 40's drinking scotch. It calms me.) Deb would find me periodically checking my phone, which she loudly claimed was distracting me. I, in turn, denied I was on my phone, saying asinine things like: "Oh, I'm just checking the weather!" or, "Oh, just looking up the description of 'teetotaler'!" We worked together in this perfect little dance: giving each other grief, laughing at one another, and asking if the other needed more water. It was like a marriage. A perfect little representation of what I was missing belonging to "an other." She was taking on the role of someone that looked out for me, reminded me to take my vitamins, and cuddled up on the couch with me as we heckled some actors on t.v while heckling one another.

When she left I pressed in to her hand a case of mace that I keep in my winter hat collection. "Take this." I begged her. "To make sure you make it down to your car okay. And remember to point the spout OUT." She took it with a smile, and then I stood in the hallway calling out: "I love you!" until she disappeared around the corner.

I do love her. I love the fact that she brings me coffee in class, that I call her the next day after seeing her just to say hi. I love that we laughed so hard on Shattuck today that she had to prop herself against a building, and that we both talked to the serial killer while staring at each other with huge eyes.

She is such a good thing here. We compare public poop stories, (not our own...GOD. What we see others do,) and we laugh and drink wine and look out for one another.

She's my woman marriage.

And I am very happy.

She's also really pretty.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

La La.

(This picture is of me, blogging by the ocean. I'm really pretty. Just kidding. I'm too pretty to put my real picture up here. Or, maybe I'm just wearing snowflake pajamas.)

It's nighttime, I'm sitting all freshly showered and clean listening to the sounds of a man digging through garbage on my street.

It's pretty melodic.

Berkeley seems less horrifying than it used to. Or, maybe it still is but I ignore it. I didn't flinch when the old homeless man screamed out "YOU FUCKING WHORE SLUT BITCH"! on my morning walk to school. I was more wrapped up in the discovery that I was wearing my shirt inside out when I happened upon someone peeing in the street, and the campus seemed almost peaceful today even though there was, yet again, another protest happening. That all being said, I jumped at the chance to take a road trip with a girlfriend down to L.A. this past weekend. All week long I was excited about it. I packed the car with chips and water, (that was about it, actually. I didn't even think about gas. I'm horrible at road trips.) We set out on a Friday afternoon and danced in our seats to Ricky Martin for 5 hours. It was everything a road trip should be.

So, let me tell you about the people I met while I was in L.A. To sum it up I will describe this one young, lovely little lady named Catesby. I walked in to the front door and she came right up to me, kissed me (like, real, big kisses) on each cheek and told me I had great boobs- all in about 5 seconds.

I fell in love with her.

I fell in love with the entire house, actually. All actors, all big personalities and glossy hair and good teeth. All incredibly intelligent and really good at Irish and British accents and holding cigarettes correctly. For the first time IN MY WHOLE ENTIRE LIFE I was not the loudest person in the room. I was not the only one to drink a bit too much and start singing, (although I jumped on that as soon as it happened. I can't resist making everyone sit down as I obnoxiously put on a concert.) I fit in perfectly with this crowd. My people.

We drank and danced and laughed and cried, and had a birthday party for my friend Deb with "Happy Boss's Day" balloons. Random quotes like: "wine is like a white supremacist" and "we are the dashes in the poetry of life" came up. It was eccentric and sometimes silly...but it was real.

The last day we were driving back from breakfast and I tilted my head against the window to let the sun dance on my face. A song in the car was playing softly, Catesby was sitting next to me humming along, and Deb was in the front seat, stretched out contentedly. I froze the moment. I kept it in my mind like a treasured photograph worn around the edges and I whispered to myself: I am young. I am surrounded right now by people that love me. I am alive. AND THEN, TO JUST RUIN EVERYTHING ABOUT THE FRAGILE BEAUTY OF THAT PERSONAL MOMENT I TOLD EVERYONE OUT LOUD. Because I can't resist a moment of obnoxiousness.

I braced myself for someone to roll their eyes or tease me. You'd be amazed at how much this happens to me. English majors, on principle, generally hate each other, and I tend to say a lot of things in class that provoke the eye rolling and such. Instead, Catesby squeezed my hand, Deb turned around and offered me a beatific smile, and no one had to say anything else. It had already been said.

And we were all speaking the same language.

Which is the language of awesome, naturally.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011


Last night, fresh off a flight from Pittsburgh, I was searching in a drawer for some headphones blindly. I wasn't paying attention. It was a set of headphones, I was tired and sad, I didn't really feel the need to devote a ton of energy to the task.


A sharp prick and then a warm flood threading down my fingers. I shakily withdrew my hand, saw all of the blood, and immediately got in to the fetal position on the floor, because that is the most obvious thing to do when one is bleeding out. It really stops the flow, you know.

This was just the perfect way to come back to Berkeley after being with my husband for an entire weekend. My morbid mind wondered if I could bleed out via thumb. I decided that this was probably impossible. Getting up off of the floor, still dizzy from the effort of being dramatic, I staggered to the bathroom to see what had cut me. The evidence was still embedded in the tender pad of my finger: a broken Christmas ornament in the shape of a chocolate.

Almost death by chocolate.

This story only serves the purpose of helping me embrace my dramatics. People always say: "Oh, she is sooo DRAMATIC," but it is really a bad thing? I mean, I am not hacking anyone to pieces in my guest room...I am taking a story about cutting my finger and making it somewhat enjoyable. To me and my 6 readers. I am funneling my pain over living apart from my husband in to something creative and very self serving. Being dramatic is awesome.

I had a friend over for cake tonight. (I do that frequently. I have this thing for cake. And friends.) I lit these sparking candles on the cake for her, and as I did I was telling her about my Aunt who is "Like me, but more loud and pretty if you can imagine." During my birthday this past year my Aunt lit candles on my cake with a devilish grin on her face. We all had to duck for cover because THEY WERE NOT CANDLES. THEY WERE ACTUAL SPARKLERS. LIKE, FIRECRACKER VARIETY. So, maybe we didn't actually duck for cover, but we sort of did. See? It is a dramatic story. We flinched and the sparklers burnt the top of the cake, and it was a dramatic story only made more dramatic by my enhanced re-telling. Brett always says to people that first meet me to listen to what I say and divide it by 50%. As in: "OH MY GOD, I ATE, LIKE, 7 BLOCKS OF CHEESE TODAY." Reality? I ate 3 1/2. Or 4. Still impressive. But more impressive doubled.

I wish he wouldn't give my secrets away.

The same friend burst in to laughter this evening when I started a story about my fish. "OH MAN. DID I TELL YOU WHAT HE DID THE OTHER DAY?" This one sentence, (yes, spoken in ALL CAPS. THAT IS HOW I SPEAK,) sent her in to a fit of giggles. (Or, if you are going by Brett's measurements...a half fit of giggles.) When I demanded to know why she was laughing since I had not even gotten to the good part she just shook her head and said: "It's a fish! You're talking about him so dramatically, like he did something as a real person or something!" The truth was, he did do something as a real person. He woke me up in the middle of the night because he was pulling out all of his plants, swimming backwards, spitting them out of his mouth, and watching me as they floated to the top, clogging the filter like: I hate those fucking plants. But her glee over said story made me realize that I was sort of proud that I was a tad dramatic. I'm happy I can call her up and tell her in blow-by-blow detail about dying by chocolate, knowing she will giggle through my (exaggerated...maybe) rendition. We add spice to food...why not to life?

So, pepper your stories with an increased 50%. Talk about your fish or hermit crab like he is your cranky, elderly next door neighbor. Get in to a fit of giggles over a story about a FREAKING SLIDING GLASS DOOR.

You never know what life will hold. So, laugh about it. Or stay in fetal position over a Christmas ornament on the hunt.

It's your choice.