Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Je deteste...

This semester I'm taking French. I took three levels of it between middle school and high school. Level one was divided between sixth and seventh grade, level two was taken in eighth grade and level three in ninth grade. My high school required three years of one language or two years of two languages, so I was done with my foreign language requirement by ninth grade. So, I haven't taken French in over four years.

Every French teacher I have had has always been the following:


My class is a part two course, part one was not offered this semester. I figured I'd be alright considering I have taken the equivalent before, and so far I've been able to keep up.

This class, it's divided into two groups, those who had my teacher last semester and in the same class and those who did not. It's apparent when you walk into the room which side is which. The loud, rude side is the former. And there is one loud, rude person in particular. I'll call her Denise.

Denise is one of those people who watches a lot of sports, is a huge Redskins and Capitols fan, but has never played a sport in her life. Though, she does wear cheerleading t-shirts frequently. This baffles me as she is about four times the size of anyone that was on my high school's cheerleading squad. But, she is loud. Very loud. Everything she does is done with maximum loudness.

When I walked into the class the first time, she shouted, "HIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIEEIIII!!!!!!!!!!" from across the room while standing up. I was new, and I was a couple minutes late, but really? Who does that? She does. Since that day she has proceeded to interrupt class on a regular basis. If she sets her cell phone down, she doesn't set it down. Setting something down is a task that require no noise. She slams things down, her pen, pencil, phone, notebook, textbook, purse, everything.

The past two classes were spent watching the movies "Au Revoir les Enfants" - a movie based on a true story about World War II. We had the English subtitles on. Denise managed to ruin the film. She was constantly texting, on her computer, walking around, "whispering," etc. Only once did our teacher (permissive, not at all assertive) ask her to be quiet.

It took everything in me to not say anything. I mean we're all adults, at least legally, and most of us are able to exercise some level of self-control, manners. Denise has no regard for those around her and no concept of what is polite. This week a boy came into class and explained that he was having trouble with the drink machine, but it finally worked and gave him three Cokes. Denise, blithely volunteered to take one off his hands. He being a better person than I am, conceded.

By the end of the movie she had finished her Coke and exclaimed that she didn't understand anything that had gone on in the movie, especially the ending - a part that had me crying. She of course did this loudly. And I of course politely explained that perhaps if she had been paying attention instead of texting or facebooking that maybe she would have known what was going on. She looked at me as though I had just slapped her in the face.

Perhaps I was the one being rude. Perhaps it would have been better to not say anything, but people like her need to be educated in the ways of what is and is not appropriate behavior and in what setting. And perhaps it's not my place to be that person, but I kept my cool, didn't raise my voice, and politely expressed my opinion. I have the feeling that her actions are all to cover up her insecurities, everyone does that to some degree, but most keep it at a reasonable volume.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Just Say No

If you grew up in the late eighties or nineties, you are probably familiar with the show Captain Planet. You may even have collected the plastic rings and used your "powers" against the opposite sex during recess, or in your "fort" that was conveniently located in your mother's flowerbed - right next to the hose, otherwise known as POWER OF WATER!

I love this show. I watched it before going to school most days while I ate my Kix. This was during kindergarten or maybe the first grade. This was also while a person very close to me was doing drugs and a dealer lived across the street. This dealer later was put into prison on several different drug related charges, and later his wife (now ex-wife) and whoever was out of prison got the kids - two of them, one special needs. This is relevant because my sister babysat for them, and sometimes while this couple was fighting the kids would come to my house and my mom would act as a mediator while another neighbor called the cops. Though, the cops were there on a very regular basis, and I remember them parking behind my house, hopping the fence, running through my yard and across the street the night that these neighbors were finally busted. My backyard conveniently ran up to the edge of a major road.

This said, the conversation in my house was always very hush, hush regarding drugs. My parent's never explicitly said to not do them. They did say that alcohol was bad, but I guess they just figured I wasn't the type of kid to do drugs. they were right to a certain degree, I don't make quick decisions for the most part. I usually do research, think things through, and do my best to make educated choices.

Well, there was this one Captain Planet episode. You may have seen it. It's called "Mind Pollution." In the wake of the "Just Say No" campaign, this was created:

And it completely traumatized me.

I smoked pot for the first time in the woods with a tin-foil bowl Thanksgiving weekend of my Junior year of high school. And I didn't like it. It was something that I had read about and been exposed to before, but not something that I associated with "hard" drugs, or even as a gateway drug due to it's lack of everything. People that smoked it weren't generally moody, they didn't "crave" it, and were generally nicer to be around, if not hungry. It wasn't something that destroyed lives. And now it's not something that I do, I have never bought it, I don't own any sort of smoking device, and I really don't have the lung capacity for it to really do much for me.

When it came to all other drugs, this episode always came to mind. All I can think about are zombies who will exchange their possessions for a fix. I have never been interested in "experimenting" and know myself well enough, and my family's medical history well enough, to know that I have an addictive personality, and I'm already border-lined paranoid - drugs would just push me over the edge and I'd land in some mental hospital.

This isn't to say that I don't know people who have experimented, and still do, that are perfectly sane. They have steady jobs. They pay their bills. They're contributing citizens, but they also know that I'm really not down with being in eyesight of someone doing lines, and I'd prefer the acid kids to be in the opposite corner, and I'm only going to worry if I know that you've ever tried crystal meth or heroin.

I am scared of drugs. And owe it all to Captain Planet.

(Even now, I can hardly stand to watch this episode, though I do appreciate how poorly they interpreted DC.)

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Etiquette does not exist on the interwebs

I am addicted to the Internet. I can admit it and I have accepted it. And I am not inclined to do anything about it. But then there's Facebook. If I have the internet open, I will have Facebook open, too. It's awful. This being said, I am not the type of person who spends my time looking up people that I used to know. Occasionally, I'll see that they commented on a mutual friend's page, and I may click on their profile, but I do not add them as a friend.

Why? Because while I was momentarily interested in their current life, I don't care to have them know anything about mine. At least not at Facebook frequency.

I used to think it was petty to not accept friend requests, hell, I still do, IF you have physically been around that person recently and or see them often. In these instances you have the awkward encounter later where you know that they know that you did not "accept" their virtual friendship.

In fact there was one chick whom I used to see often, we would chat, always seemed to get along alright, had friends and acquaintances in common. Then she popped up on my homepage, you know, in the corner where it says "Hey, you might know this person because you have 29837298 friends in common." You know what I'm talking about, I'm sure. Anyway, I added her, and she did not accept.

Well, then I continued seeing her regularly, except now we didn't talk. And later, while we were leaving an afterparty, a mutual friend asked if we had met. I said "yes." She said "no." Awkward. Thankfully she moved and I haven't had to deal with the awkwardness since.

Facebook also has a way of making you feel like you know people that you don't. Their pictures pop up in your mini-feed where they've commented on your friends' statuses. When you're out you may see them, and you may know your name - and if you're me you feel the urge to say "Hi, Erica!" But you can't because they don't know you, and you have to remind yourself that you don't know them. It's just like high school when I'd hear someone call after someone in the hall, look to see who it was, and immediately know that name with that face and forever feel uncomfortable for walking past Jason or Mike or whoever because I knew who they were, but knew that I had no reason to.

Well there are people who I have rejected via Facebook because, as previously stated, I don't feel like they have any business knowing about my life, or my hobbies, or my favorite books or who my friends are. And I have no interest in theirs. And I know that I am not going to run into them - like the majority of the people from high school, especially the ones that stayed in Woodbridge. Or people from Church that I spent great amounts of time avoiding or faking a smile and mercilessly making fun of later with Christina. If not making fun of, then wondering why they didn't make more effort to improve upon their life. We only make fun of self-righteous, self-assured, obnoxious people - or people like us, but um...with bad hair and granny-panties.

Currently I have one person who lives far, far away hanging out with another person from high school. I'm just leaving them there. If I ignore them or delete them they will just add me again, and if I block them...I should just start blocking people. Though, doesn't it seem a bit harsh? Whatever.

I need to write a book on modern etiquette.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

So Classy

A little over a week ago, when I drove to Northern Virginia to be with my family, whom I love, my car wanted to die. Okay, not die in the stop-working kind of die, but the if-I-had-the-capacity-to-make-decisions-I-would-stop-and-strangle-my-operator. When I arrived and had finished digging out a parking spot for my car with my brother, Joseph, he pointed out that I had something dragging under my car.

I did hear something on the way up, but I figured it was just the sound of chunks of ice hitting my car from the road. It wasn't, well it was, but it was also the sound of a giant piece of torn plastic scraping against the road. Awesome.

The cover of the bottom of my engine cracked and subsequently tore. Fortunately it wasn't affecting the engine, it just made an awful sound whenever I drove anywhere. I drove around like this for a week; it wasn't until Saturday that other people started to take notice.

Saturday was the first day that the weather was nice and people were out and the ice had mostly melted, and I could not stop at a stop sign or light without everyone in the general vicinity looking to see where that godawful noise was coming from. Some even knocked on my window to let me know, as if I was unaware. I assured them everything was fine, I just hadn't had a chance to cut it off. But one lady was insistent on having me pull over so that something could be done. She, while I was stopped at a red light, got down in front of my car and started fiddling with the plastic. Really. So, I put my hazard lights on and got out and tried to explain that I lived three blocks away, and that my engine was fine, and...her bus finally came.

I then drove all the way to DC with that flap sounding the entire way, and probably tearing more as I drove over ten inch thick slabs of ice down T Street. No one in DC said anything though, because like me originally, they probably just thought it was the sound of ice - or didn't care. This is something I appreciate about the people in DC.

After tiring of looking for parking, I parked a good ten blocks away from the Cat and made my way to Mousetrap. There, I ended up offering a ride to a chick who had Metro-ed in. But, the Metro closed early, so she would have had to take a cab out to Northern Virginia, and it was kind of on the way to my parent's house. (Note: I didn't tell my parents that I was coming.)

As we made our way down 14th Street, a cute guy knocked on my passenger's window. I thought he was going to tell me about my plastic situation, but he didn't he offered me twenty bucks to drive him and his brother to Glover Park because they were tired of trying for a cab. I looked to the girl, the very wide-eyed, nervous looking girl, then to the cute guy and said yes. Mind you, this girl, we don't really know each other. At all. And I'm pretty sure she thinks I'm insane. That's okay.

The brothers scooted in and we were on our way. And the window-knocking one, he was really cute, and he thought I was really cute, and he lives in Manhattan. Story of my life. When we got to their stop, they invited us in. I being the one flirting mercilessly was game, Girlie-friend was not. She said she was just going to call a cab, but I'm a woman of my word and exchanged numbers with Mr. Manhattan and took her home. Scraping the entire way.

The next afternoon, when I finally woke up, my parents complained about the plastic still hanging off my car. But I thought the idea of paying someone to cut it off was absurd, so I took a pair of hedge trimmers, put on my mom's Ugg-knock-offs (that used to be mine, and then I learned better, and then she kept them when I was going to give them to Goodwill), and squatted in my mini skirt to cut the thing off.

Friday, February 12, 2010

headless chicken

This past September my friend and I had the brilliant idea to go to South by Southwest, the HUGE music festival in Austin, Texas for my Spring Break/he-has-a-real-job-so-he's-taking-a-week-off. We kept talking about it and I kept waiting for my finances to be in order, and finally we bought out plane tickets and booked a hotel.

My friend, this dude, is 25. He prides himself on his ability to dress exactly like Jarvis Cocker of Pulp fame, except no one really knows or cares who Jarvis Cocker is in the United States, with the exception of like twenty people who frequent all twenty Brit-pop dance nights in DC. (Note that each of these people have their own night somewhere in the U-street cooridor.) We bonded over our mutual love of Frightened Rabbit in one of those "have you heard blank? no, have you heard blank. no, have you heard... conversations. For those that haven't listened to them, they write the absolute saddest, most pathetic, yet catch love songs that all come together to form two perfect I-just-went-though-a-horrible-break-up albums. He and I have spent way too much time listening to Poke:

Anyway, we are not flying out together. I live in Richmond, he lives in Northern Virgina, and so we could not agree on what airport or city to fly out of. He has brand loyalty to JetBlue (really, dude?) and I didn't want to pay over $300 for a roundtrip ticket. Richmond and every other airline was cheaper. It was heated for about a minute when he assured me that he "didn't want to hurt my feelings." Then we discussed lodging accommodations. I wanted to find someone who knew someone to stay with, or a hostel, or something. He wanted to stay at the Sheraton, downtown. We are staying at the Sheraton, downtown. It's safer or something. I gave in only because I knew how out of character it is for him to agree to do anything on a whim. Though, we are also the only people I know that had everything arranged in October, six months before the event. I'm covering the festival for RVA, a local magazine and blog. And I am in so far over my head. I started contacting bands and their "people" about a week ago to set up interviews. I am going to be running about like a chicken with it's head cut off, in more of this manner than my usual headless-chicken self. My friend has a degree in music journalism (true story) and will be serving as my editor. I told my mom a few days ago that I was "covering a huge music festival for RVA over Spring Break." I don't think she quite understood what I was talking about, or has realized that I will be in Texas, I am so not looking forward to that phonecall.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Rubadubdub, it's too cold for the tub

Until about three months ago, bathing was among my favorite activities. It was something that I looked forward to, would set time aside for - as to have the optimal bathing experience, a bath - and nothing beats being clean and looking good. It's a luxury to take a hot bath or shower without any interruptions, like people needing to use the bathroom, brush their teeth, etc. Thankfully, my roommate is rarely home, or more appropriately, thanks to her boyfriend.

Bathing has been something that I have always liked to do, except for the times when I didn't want to in rebellion to my father. My entire lifetime, I have enjoyed staying in the shower until I was a prune and then sometime after that. My parents hated this. They complained that I used all the hot water, that I needed to do homework, that I had to practice the piano, that I was going to be late for church. And yet, I'd still bide my time making soap sculptures with the remnants of bars that should have been thrown away long ago. This was my way of being creative, at the time, and they did not appreciate it.

For Christmas one year my sister bought me a canister of "moldable" soap from the "Art" line at Bath and Body Works. It was purple, made my hands purple, and did not hold it's shape the way regular soap did. I used it and smelled like grapes for a couple of weeks before it was gone.

I have not made soap sculptures since elementary school, and now I mostly use a form of liquid soap, but bathtime, when it can be fully experienced, is still among my most valued time.

Except for these last three months.

It's cold in Richmond. Like, it's fucking cold. All the time. Despite our $130 gas bill. Thanks to our drafty doors and windows. Our building is registered with the Historic Society, meaning even if our leasing company wanted to, they aren't allowed to replace the single-pane, drafty, broken windows. And what's better, the pipes take awhile to warm up, so the first five minutes of "hot water" is actually frigid. Thus, my bathing has suffered, and I've relied on visits northward to friends and family that have hot water, for longer than seven minutes at a time.

This isn't to say that I'm dirty, I'm not, I take care of my hygienic needs. I just currently don't enjoy it.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

267 Days

Yesterday, my brother and I took his wife to the airport and then drove back to my parents' house. He wanted me to go with him to a local bar and watch the rest of the Super Bowl. To me, going to this particular bar on a regular day is a horrible idea. It is infested with people I (we) went to high school with, they stayed in Lake Ridge and work out at Gold's Gym a lot because it is in the same shopping center as this bar and most of them think that they're the shit - despite the fact that they have done absofuckinglutely nothing with their lives. They still live in Lake Ridge for buddhasakes.

I love Joseph, and out of all my siblings we probably have the most in common, despite the fourteen (fifteen?) year age difference. But instead of being nice to him, I did something selfish, because nothing is worse than being stuck in the suburbs. Except for being surrounded by snow in the suburbs at my parents' house. So, I drove to DC because I had made plans with a friend. I then texted them to know when I was leaving, like I always do, but they didn't respond. Typical. Except they did respond. But during that drive my phone WOULD NOT WORK. It would not send text messages of make calls, despite having service. And so I arrived at said friend's place, or at least managed to find parking near by. And then I was flooded with text messages explaining how they had made other plans and could no longer meet me. Which is fine, except WHATTHEFUCK!?!?!

I contemplated just driving back to Richmond, but then my car got stuck, and I had left my shovel at my parents' and was stranded-ish. Awesome.

Thankfully, another friend was able to accommodate me. So I walked however far it is from Adam's Morgan to their house in Columbia Heights and watched the remainder of the Super Bowl there with a small group of people. Perfect.

Except for the Jameson. Ahh, whiskey. I can't resist, and after the previous hour of my life, I needed a drink. Or ten. Whatever.

Me: "I will be 21 in ten months..."

Grumpy Old Man: "Do you know how I know how young you are? You say things like that. Do you know how many days that is?"

Me: "No, I'm not that obsessed."

Third Party: "That's roughly three hundred days."

The remainder of the evening was spent doing the following:

Discussing the memory loss of our fathers
Discussing why Baltimore is a shit/awesome town
Discussing why Mark's house is better than Joel's house
Wondering how and why I'm friends with either of them
Almost knocking the glass top off the table, multiple times
Discussing my "Annapolis Lover"
Discussing the reasons why heroin is a bad idea
Encouraging my desire to not get married/have children before thirty
Making an ass of myself by "coming on too strong"
Texting things I should not have been texting
Listening to Jess' beautiful voice
Watching 'The Big Lebowski'
Falling asleep during 'The Big Lebowski'

I still have not really seen 'The Big Lebowski'. I need to see it.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

like a pissed, seaside donkey

Between yesterday and today Northern Virginia and DC have accumulated as much as thirty inches of snow. Richmond got rain yesterday and some snow today. It didn't accumulate as much, but was nasty enough outside that my boss closed the salon today.

I thought about driving up last night, and then I thought better of it. And Chanello's (the awful, but delicious pizza place across the street from my apartment building) was open, and the remainder of a six-pack of Shiner Bock in my fridge, and Groundhog Day on TV - everything was point towards staying in. And I did, and I made it through my pizza in about twenty minutes, three of the five beers, the latest episode of The Real World DC, and two showing of Groundhog Day on Bravo. There was so much that coud have been accomplished during that time, but when the weather is shitty, who's in the mood to do anything?

But today. TODAY! Today, I had to make it to NOVA. My brother and his wife are visiting from Spain and I haven't seen them since August, and this may be the last time I see them before their baby is born. My sister-in-law is slated to leave tomorrow, so it had to be today. And I made it. In one piece. On interstate 95. In my shittyshitty Toyota (that is going to combust any day now). This was quite the feat, but a completely stupid thing to do. So stupid in fact, God at one point shouted at me to STOP! GO HOME! TO RICHMOND! in the way of me doing a complete 360 in the middle of the road.

Needless to say, I did not listen. But I came to a stop, watched the now on-coming traffic pass - all of two cars - collected myself, made a u-turn and continued on my way.

I am, as my mother says a "very hard-headed" person. And upon my arrival she shook her head and gave me a hug and told me how stupid I am. The rest of my family shortly followed suit. I did not tell them about the spinning incident. (None of them read my blog, so...)

Actually, first my brother, Joseph, told me to take my boots off because he didn't want to get his socks wet, and then he hugged me while explaining how I was going to help him shovel out a spot for my car. He's so sweet. He and I dug, and dug and moved most of a pile that he had made earlier today, all to accomodate my car and make room for a plow, just in case the plow decided to show up (it did).

My father's birthday was this past Thursday and Joseph's is this Friday, so we had all made plans to do birthday things this weekend. And then it snowed, so those plans went kaput. Instead we watche the remainder of a Western my dad had Tivo-ed and listened to him explain something every time he paused it - because we love him. This was followed by a spaghetti dinner, In the Loop and homemade cinnamon rolls courtesy of my very talented mother.

My dad words for the State Department and is a retired Marine. I have been trying to get him to see In the Loop since i saw the trailor months ago. I only saw the film myself a few weeks ago, but kept it was passt it's due date and only returned after I saw that Blockbuster had charged my card for it. It is a political satire about the United States' relationship with Britain. According to my father, people don't really use such coarse language, but according to to other "govvies" that I know, they do use it. My father enjoyed it, my brother, sister-in-law and sister all fell asleep and my mother busied herself with the rolls, only occasionally complaining about the language from upstairs.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Reading pt. 1

I like planning enough time to be able to write. It bothers me when I’m interrupted, and so I have not had sufficient time to write so far this year. That’s probably a lie. I have lots of free time, but it’s usually spent in a daze on my uncomfortable loveseat watching Family Guy re-runs or sleeping. Or making lists of things I need to do, but will never get done because Family Guy is just so good.
(Scott Russell, you probably don’t read my blog, but if you do, I’m sorry I used to roll my eyes at your Stewy impressions, I didn’t get it then. I do now. )
A goal that I have set for myself this year is to read 26 books. That’s one book every two weeks. This may surprise you (or not) but I am not a good reader. I mean, I’m capable, and I enjoy it, but I do not have the patience for it. So I suppose another goal I have set for myself is to become more patient. I would also like to write more and get out of my horrible writing habits, but I don’t think I’ve read enough to write well, or at least not at the level that I would like to be able to write at.
I have read two books this year, Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris and The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold. The first because it’s easy reading, I needed something to get me back in the swing and that book had been in the trunk of my car for at least a year, it was time. I started reading The Lovely Bones years ago when I originally bought it, but I never finished it and so it’s been sitting on my shelf all that time and now with the movie, that despite bad ratings I want to see, I decided to read. It was written really well and I enjoyed it until the end. The end was not what I wanted in the least. If you have read it, I’d be interested to see what your take is.
Now I am reading Feast of Love by Charles Baxter. My friend Trevor and I saw the movie our senior year of high school and by the end of it I was in full panic-attack mode (there was one scene in particular that set me off that I don’t feel like relaying now). This was the first time he had seen me cry and unfortunately for him I drove, and I wasn’t ready to go home, so we drove from Springfield to Doswell and turned around in the Kings Dominion parking lot. I recall calling my sister April to see if we could stay at her house that night and she was adamant about me driving home as she knew our parents would be upset. We did, and by the time we got back I had calmed down and was really uncomfortable.
Trevor gave me the book for Christmas that year and wrote a note on a piece of brown paper bag and taped to the inside cover: “ Amanda, Happy Christmas! This has been a strange year, for sure (and you added to the strangeness) but it would have been very lonely without you. Thanks for being a laugh when I needed one, and an asshole when I don’t. Cheers! Love, T”
I also found my interim report card from that grading period and am using it as a bookmark. My mark for work habits in Literature was a U, for unsatisfactory – from a teacher whom I got on very well. My life has not moved very far from this in the years since.
Starting The Feast of Love was slow, but I have gotten into and may very well finish within the week. This is something small, but something nearer than all the plans I keep making for the future that is so uncertain. Something small that keeps me somewhat grounded, even if I’m using it as a measure of time, too. So many books that I have bought and started and never finished, I will finish them this year.