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Sunday, December 9, 2012

Crumbs

Today I was sitting across from a man on the bus who was eating one. He, like most people, first tore the package and proceeded to eat it as though it was a candybar. By the time he was finished he was tongue deep in the wrapper searching for crumbs. 

In high school my friend's brother and his friends used to call me Crumbs due to the fact I always had a crumb collection on my boobs. This contributed to my learning to eat crumbly things in a non-crumbly way. As a result I learned to eat crunchy granola bars the same way I would open a bag of chips -- by opening one of the ends instead of tearing it. Then I break them in pieces while they're still in the package and eat the pieces as finger food. When I'm done I empty the crumbs into my mouth the same way I do Cheetos. 

A couple minutes later he took out a second bar and repeated the heinous process of gobbling it down. I thought about enlightening him as to my less-embarrassing, neater way, but didn't. I figured drawing more attention to how disgusting he was would be mean, especially considering he was a stranger.

This is a common issue for me. I don't mean to sound like an asshole, but I spend a lot of time thinking about really stupid stuff, like eating granola bars, because I am certain there is usually a better way to do everything.  And I'm right about that most of the time.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Less Than Solid


I spent yesterday morning with a three year old. I didn’t know what I would be doing as usually I watch her in the evening and feed her dinner, get her ready for bed, read bedtime stories – all that stuff. I’m better at that. I don’t really know what to do with kids during the day. Even for a few hours, I have no idea what to do with them in a city. I mean, museums, sure, but without a car, that goes from ideal to terrible in three seconds flat. Especially when the three year old doesn’t want to walk anywhere, even the bus stop.

We didn’t go to a museum because after a block she was complaining about her legs hurting. Her dad said the museum was only a thirty minute walk, so I figured they’d walked it with her before. And he didn’t give me a stroller or anything, so I thought she could manage. But between the unnamed chip on my shoulder and her whining, we only made it to the park, and that was after taking a break to get her a drink – her dad did give us money for lunch.

She would usually have gone to school today, but she had diarrhea so she wasn’t allowed to come today, and her dad was working from home so I was called to entertain her.

We were almost to the park when a woman walking her dog didn’t pick up its shit, instead she placed a piece of newspaper over it. This bothered me, but I was preoccupied with a moody three year old. We continued walking.

Another woman who had been speaking to a man nearby shouted, “Hey, you’re gonna pick that up aren’t you?” We were on a major street with high foot traffic, and that was a pretty inconsiderate thing to do, but I understand forgetting the poo-bags, but placing newspaper over it seemed worse than leaving it uncovered. “There’s a kid there, she could step in it!” This was true, too, but I was doing everything I could to avoid this confrontation and get on my way.

The dog’s owner spun around and came within an inch of the older woman to shout, “Get out of my fucking face!” The irony escaped her, I suppose, seeing as the woman had not been anywhere near her face, nor had she been particularly rude.

The owner sort of wiped it up and it became apparent why she hadn’t in the first place. The fecal matter wasn’t exactly solid. But if she knew this, and she had newspaper, why not place the paper under her dog’s ass and pick it up after? It seemed obvious, but I couldn’t say this because being in the company of someone else’s child made saying anything seem irresponsible.

“If you don’t pick it up, I’m going to call the cops!” the woman shouted.

“Do it, I don’t care.” The woman did. “Fuck you, cop caller!” The dog owner continued as she ran away.


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

My Imaginary House

About a year ago a friend and I were fantasizing about moving to a beach house or buying a vacation home together when we're not poor, so hopefully in about a decade. At the time I found a house that's about an hour away from the beach in my mom's home town. It's pretty centrally located between several larger towns in Eastern North Carolina.

Recently I was looking at houses in that area again, and found that the same one was still for sale. It's been for sale for about two years, and I doubt anyone will scoop it up anytime soon. My mom's hometown is pretty decrepit. It had a textile mill and a Pepsi plant in the 50s and 60s, but once those moved the only industry left was tabacco, and that's not even as prominent anymore.

The median age in the town is 44 and about 50% of the population lives below the poverty line. The crime rate is close to twice the national average, though most of those crimes aren't violent.

My mom has told me that this is a terrible idea and that I don't have money anyway, though, "If you really want it I suppose you could buy out the owners."

About two years ago I interviewed several of my mom's relatives. I have a bunch of letters and copies of deeds and other similar documents, and have this outrageous idea to write a book based on my mom's dysfunctional family -- she's not exactly stoked about the idea, there were a lot of alcoholics, lots of infidelity, and a few of them dabbled in the Ku Klux Klan. Ideally, I'd like to do this in the house I'll buy there.

I'm going home next month for a visit and have plans to road-trip down to see the house with a friend. I figure if it's awful in person, then I can forget about the idea for awhile. But even if the house is terrible,   I'll find another, and moving there will still be part of my plan. After school and after I pay off my loans, hopefully I'll have a solid portfolio and will be able to freelance and can live wherever, including The Middle of Nowhere, North Carolina.

The more I think about my imaginary house, I think of who I'd like to be there. I've always been somewhat environmentally conscious, but I've become more-so and I'd like to have a home that's completely self-sustained. I want to make everything I eat, and put on my body, and use in my home. I want to bike the flat land around it, and I want to teach kids to read, and I want to be a girl scout leader, and to have strangers over for dinner.

The person who would live in that house is much better than I am now. She's more compassionate and less selfish, and patient. I know I don't have to live there to accomplish these things, but I suppose in my head once I've achieved all those things, I'll be able to make there happen, and maybe start something to lift up that wretched little town.


Thursday, August 16, 2012

Hot Chick Shit

When I walked into the unoccupied stall I found the remnants of a turd on the seat. If it had been Number 1, I wouldn't have had a problem taking some toilet paper and wiping the seat. But Number 2 isn't something I'm so comfortable with. 

I began to wait, but could feel the tension in the bathroom, so I decided to give the other woman her privacy and take a lap around the floor.

I work in what is referred to as a "startup incubator." We're located on one floor together in what would otherwise be a relatively swanky office building. People who don't work on my floor wear suits to work, the people on my floor frequently look as though they came to work in last night's clothes. We don't interact much with the other companies, but we're familiar enough that I can look at someone and tell you which overflowing office (singular) they work in with a dozen other people. 

Space is tight, to say the least. This doesn't matter for the most part, except where the bathrooms are concerned. There is a single bathroom for close to fifty women to share. Two stalls. That's all we've got to work with and when that's narrowed to one stall due to one unpleasant person's error, frequent pee-ers are screwed. 

I drink a least two liters of water in the time I spend at work -- it's my solution for not being able to afford my Red Bull addiction. It's hard to be anything but alert when you have to pee all the time.

By the time I was finishing my lap around the floor The Hot Chick from down the hall beat me to the bathroom by about ten feet. Determined to not repeat the previous routine, I decided to wait patiently in the bathroom. 

After about five minutes of waiting, I realized it was going to be longer, and again I opted to give her privacy and take a lap. Upon my return, she was still there, so I took another lap. This went on for about twenty minutes and I went from checking after each lap to about every third. After the third lap or so people working from couches in the halls and common areas began to take notice and shoot me quizzical looks.

At this point I probably would have been better off leaving my building and making my way to one of the dozen coffee shops scattered around my building, BUT I didn't know The Hot Chick was going to take a deuce for twenty minutes. I mean, ten minutes -- sure, but twenty seems excessive for a work environment. 

The Hot Chick finally came out of the stall, just as I came in to check once more. We avoided eye contact and I was finally able to (ahem) relieve myself. I finished in the time it took for her to wash her hands. (I'm a fast pee-er, guys! Hire me!) She didn't leave though, she stayed and looked at herself in the mirror while I washed my hands. We left at the same time and exchanged looks that said I know that you know that I know that you just took a massive shit. 



Sunday, July 29, 2012

Emmy



I spend a lot of time with other people's dogs. A lot of teachers and students bring theirs to school and supposedly there are more located in San Francisco than children (anyone under eighteen). The dogs here are all friendly, they sit patiently tied to parking meters and watch their owners eat inside adjacent restaurants. 

I approach others' dogs with enthusiasm. I can have entire conversations with dogs without acknowledging their owners. It's weird perhaps, but I really miss having a dog.

Growing up, I had two dogs; Bruno and Emmy. 

Bruno was a German Shepard mix who had previously been owned by an elderly couple. He was an outside dog, though we would bring him in at nighttime. He was docile and quiet, and a comforter. Though, now, I realize how absent he is from a lot of childhood memories. I remember him escaping the backyard a few times, but for the most part he was a distant part of our family, busy digging holes in the backyard. We had to have him put down when I was eleven because his hips and bowels had given out. I had taken him on walks, and he once dragged me down the street for several yards when he decided to chase a squirrel. That had been my first time being allowed to hold him on his leash by myself, but aside from that time I don't recall very many Bruno-specific memories. However, I was crushed when we had to have him put down, we weren't close, but he was my dog.

Emmy was brought home about eight months after Bruno had died. I had convinced my Dad that if we got another dog, I would be responsible for it. My mom was not so convinced, but my dad would drive me around to different shelters after my softball games anyway. We had driven around to many of them  to the point that we recognized staff. I had thought about the name Emmy for a while, Rookie if it had been a boy -- I was twelve, these seem to me acceptable dog names. 

Emmy was in a pen with one other dog -- a significantly younger pitbull mix. The pitbull mix looked to be hovering above the ground she was chasing her tail so furiously. Emmy sat in the furthest corner and was not amused with the puppy's behavior. We knew she was the one. 

When the volunteer brought her to us, she was timid, but warmed up to me pretty quickly. She was about four years old and had definitely been treated badly by her former owners. It took her awhile to become comfortable with my dad and any other men.

My mom was not pleased when we brought Emmy home. She had said that she would end up taking care of Emmy more than anyone else and that she was done with pets. We kept Emmy anyway.

Emmy slept on a rug in my room and stayed close on walks, to the point that she didn't need to be leashed. She was never really interested in other dogs, or really being a dog. She didn't chase moving objects, and she wasn't interested in eating by herself. She would eat when we did and bring individual mouthfuls of food into the dining room, spit them out, and proceed to eat each piece individually before repeating the process. If left outside too long she would take herself for a walk. If she was mad at us she would look at us square in the eye and pee on the carpet. She had an attitude, but was harmless and served as my closest friend for the duration of middle school. 

Once I was in high school I became busier and took her on shorter walks. After I could drive those walks were reduced to a lap around the court most days, where they had been miles a few years before.  Though, she still spent each night by my side.

During thunderstorms she would wake me up by placing her paws on my bed and shaking. I would sometimes lift her up into bed with me, or pet her until she fell asleep, and occasionally I'd sing to her changing the name Lucy to Emmy in the I Love Lucy theme song (I had to learn the song for eighth grade chorus, I also had to dress up as Lucy for the performance). 

When I left for college she sat next to me in a car full of half my things while my parents drove behind us. At that point I thought of her as a younger sibling, someone that I would miss and see whenever I went home. And I did, and she still was excited to see me when I visited, but as I settled into Richmond and came home less, she grew less enthusiastic. 

When I moved home for two months prior to moving to San Francisco last fall, she became my responsibility once again. She slept on a rug by my bed in my old room.  While there I took her on more walks, which she enjoyed, but not as much as she had. 

I woke up one morning and she had wet herself. She had never done this before and seemed out of sorts. I went to take her outside, but she couldn't move her back legs. We called the veterinarian and took her in. By the time we arrived, she could use her legs, but seemed to be walking differently than before. After the vet ran some tests he explained that she was on her way to kidney failure. She was about fourteen, and I had known as I'd learned with Bruno to expect this. 

I got all the pills the doctor recommended and special food and took her home. After trying to get her to swallow her pills several times on her own, I dipped them in peanut butter with success. We went through this ritual a couple times a day for about a week, and she was back to herself.

Exactly a week before Christmas she was feeling better and took off when my dad left her in the backyard too long. We spent that night frantically walking and driving around and putting up signs after calling animal control to see in anything had been reported about a dog similar to her. 

It was late that night that I pulled off the road after driving by what appeared to be a dead animal in the road. My parents had seen it too and were parked a few yards in front of me. They had gotten a better look than I had, and told me it wasn't her. After we all got home I went out some more to no avail. 

My dad and I got into some kind of disagreement about what to watch on TV and I went upstairs to get a snack. I couldn't find a utensil I needed and became angry that my parents let the dishes pile up the way that they had -- I had been doing them every day at that point. I started to empty the dishwasher and ended up hyperventilating and threw several bowls on the floor. I sat in an area free of shattered glass and cried for awhile. My dad came upstairs and swept up the glass around me and asked if I was alright yet. "You lost my dog. I'm not ready to babysit you yet," was all I said. I recognize that may have been harsh, but he lost my dog. 

About four days later a nice couple found Emmy in the parking lot of a Lowe's about four miles from my parents' house. She was incredibly unscathed. She left with us two days later to spend Christmas with my sister and nephew in North Carolina. She did well over the trip and was comfortable in the car. 

I had two more days with her before I set out across the country. We made the drive in five days and the morning before we arrived to San Francisco, my dad told me she wasn't eating. About a week later my mom told me that had put her down, but my dad didn't want to upset me while I got settled here. I was walking around Chinatown, and sat on a nearby wall to process it. 

I had the opportunity to brace myself for it, and I was fortunate to spend those last couple months with her, but even now seven months later, I start to miss her more when I realize she won't be there when I visit.


Saturday, July 7, 2012

Childhood Ambition



When I was a kid my mom and I used to drive around after church each Sunday and go to model homes. My mom would see what was trendy and try to find something similar at yard-sales or discount stores. I would make notes, in my planner (because I had one of those, I bought it with birthday money), about what details I liked and what I thought was tacky. I never really liked the decor in model homes, but I did love bay windows and sunken living rooms and arched doorways.

My mom has always wanted a large house, one of those McMansions that she has spent so many years cleaning. But the realtors who were always present at model homes didn't know what my mom did. To them we were just some lady and her odd daughter taking notes. Between these homes and the ones I saw in coffee table books, I was set on being an Architect for a very long time.

My mom was raised really poor, and I think she's always been fascinated by what people with money look like and buy. It was important to her when I was coming up that I looked a certain way, not just because she didn't like my torn up jeans and band-tees or ragged hoodie, but because in her day I would have looked poor. It didn't matter that I fit in with most kids my age, it wasn't "nice." This was with all things. My brother once told me it bothered him that people assumed our family had more than we did because of the way my sisters and I were dressed. I felt similarly, our duplex seemed inadequate compared to all my friends' homes.

I kept my notes and would go home and draw a blueprint. The concept of designing an entire house didn't really hit until I was older, so I had all these drawings of my ideal room. When I was around ten my dad bought me Sierra Home Architect, a computer program that allowed you to design buildings. I didn't have video games, but I had that and I would spend hours designing my dream house (it would have an octagon foyer based my earliest designs). 

My parents encouraged this as much as they could, which included taking me to several of Frank Lloyd Wright's homes. I wrote my fifth grade SOL essay about Taliesin West -- I got a perfect 600. Three years later I was accepted into an engineering program at my high school and did that for two years before I realized how much I hated drafting in CAD and Visio. But I would still sketch things in my notebooks next to terrible poetry. 

I spent last year living by myself in a studio and didn't realize it for some time, but that was the first childhood ambition that came true. All those sketches of my ideal room were finally brought to life. A single room, arranged precisely how I had envisioned it. Split up into a bedroom area, a dining area, a living room area -- there was a system and it felt like more than just a large blank room. I think Frank Lloyd Wright would have approved. 

It seems so silly, but I spent the first two decades of my life just wanting a giant room to call my own. Then I had it, and wanted it somewhere else. 




Sunday, June 24, 2012

Your Hair is Stupid

My mom is not good at hair, and was terrible at doing others' hair, specifically mine. She would either put my hair in hot rollers and then brush the curl out until it was a massive, wavy ball of static, or she would brush it while I cried. I had very fine, tangly hair and  brushing it was never an enjoyable experience -- this was probably why I became interested in hair in the first place, to avoid tears. 

These are fucking terrible. All of them. Anytime.
My mom did know how to use hair-pins and bobby-pins though. I'll give her that. But I figured everything else out on my own. This isn't to say that my mom isn't feminine and all that, she is. She could do her hair just fine (though in limited variety), she just couldn't do others'. My sisters weren't much use either. They can both work it out when they want to, but I am better. They earned their varsity letters, I got my cosmetology license.

I understand that most people, did not spend their Saturday mornings as a child sitting on their beds with two mirrors and several combs teaching themselves how to French braid. I get that. However, I also am saddened by women everywhere who have never taken the time to learn how to do their hair in any way. It's as though they have never taken a single Saturday morning in their lives to figure out what to do with everything growing out of their heads. So they put it in claw. Then to make up for their complete ineptitude they spend time picking out "cute" hair clips. These clips continue to be popular because people continue to think hair is hard to do.

This isn't 1998, pulling your hair back with glittery butterfly clips isn't going to cut it if you want anyone, anywhere to respect you as an adult. You look like a child whose parents have unfortunately also not figured it out. It takes every fiber of my being to not pluck out hair clips when I see them on adult women. I just figure whatever they've go going on is definitely not being helped by that wretched clip. I do do this sometimes to friends and acquaintances, the recipients aren't ever welcoming, but it makes me feel like I've made the world a slightly more aesthetically pleasing place.


PROTIPS:

Ponytails should not require combing, nor should one have a multitude of clips to "smooth out the bumps" all over their head. Flip your head over, pull your hair back. Voila. It might not be perfect at first, but a ponytail should never take more than thirty seconds to do, if that. (Don't feed me any of that bullshit about having a different hair type, either.)

Braids are simple, unless you have absolutely no dexterity in your fingers. Three sections. Right over center. Left over (the new) center. Until it's done. BOOM.

Buns, of all varieties, no matter the hair type, are simple if you know the difference between hair-pins and bobby-pins. Just twist your hair around and pin it until it doesn't move, and you like it. If you do this enough, you'll figure what you're naturally inclined to do, and it will get easier. I promise.
This is a hair-pin - use this to hold hair to other hair.
This is a bobby-pin - use this to hold hair to your head.



Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Bum-fight

Today, as I was waiting for my lunch order to come up, I saw a man walk into the cafe. He was tall with long, dirty, blond hair. He filled two cups at the soda fountain, under the suspicion of the buss boy, and returned to his table outside. My order came up and I found a table over from him.

I had just started to eat my grilled cheese when I heard someone shouting in Chinese. It was a small man shouting at the first man's dog. 

I'm not really sure exactly how things went about, but the dog started barking at the Chinese man, which led him to kick at the dog. In turn, the first man pushed him a way, and they ended up in an all-out brawl. Security cards came to break it up, the cops followed, and a handful of people were recording the whole thing on their phones.

I felt like an jerk just sitting there, eating my sandwich, but I didn't know what to do. I thought about  calling the cops, but they'd already been called several times (people kept announcing that they had or were going to call). I thought about moving, but it seemed like a bad idea at the time. So I sat, and ate my sourdough grilled cheese sandwich as each suspect and and excited witnesses were questioned.

People are such assholes. 

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Written with Writer's Block

My school is on a quarter system, so we have classes for ten weeks followed by a three week break. It's a portfolio program and hopefully by the end of it I'll be a decent copywriter. I'm closing in on the end of my second quarter and all my final projects are due this week. I'm busy and totally blocked.

I keep beginning things, deleting them, starting again, and making lists. Nothing is getting done. I keep hoping that maybe if I can get some time by myself that I'll be more relaxed and will be able to organize my thoughts. That hasn't happened. 

I think I started this post about six times. 

Everyone this quarter seems to be on the fritz. I felt that way last quarter. No one is sure if our program will be worth it, or if moving here was the right thing to do, or if they should be closer to their families, and a million other things. I do miss my family, and going out and knowing people already, and living by myself, but overall my anxiety levels are down - I haven't had a single panic attack since I moved here, and I'm finally somewhat content, approaching happy, with most of my life. 

I go out more now than I did when I first moved here, but significantly less than I did in Richmond. I was really concerned about meeting people when I got here, and getting along with the people who are also in my quarter.  They have degrees, some multiple degrees, speak other languages, have travelled, some are married, some have worked in ad agencies before, and overall I felt like a fish out of water. I don't feel that way anymore. 

I'm starting to feel more confident, though more critical of my work. I'm finding it easier to manage my feelings, and I know that to manage my sanity I can't stay home all day just because I don't have class. This was hard at first, but has become easier. When I start to feel overwhelmed I go for a walk, or to a park (luckily I live really close to two). Despite not being able to write in this moment, I feel more focused about my life. 

Focus is a strange thing to have. I've never really had this kind of direction before, or drive - I've always wanted to succeed, and I think of life as some absurd competition, but being around other people who were cut from that cloth is new for me. I like it. 

For the first time in my life things seem to be happening. 

Friday, May 4, 2012

OCD: Part 2

I'm pretty good at falling asleep, anywhere. I take a nap at school at least once a week and have no problem sleeping in moving vehicles. Lately though, I've had difficulty due to OCD's white noise machine. He gets up about 239847 times between 11 pm and 2 am.

I start to doze off. (whirrrrr) OCD goes to the bathroom and leaves his door open. Then I have to go to the bathroom. And then the cycle repeats itself about four more times. 

My body has started associating that fucking noise with bathroom usage. 

And it is constant. 

In addition to being able to sleep anywhere, can hold it for hours. I drove across the country and would only stop if we reached out destination for the day - I am excellent on road trips. So this needing to go four times before I finally fall asleep is new. I try talking myself out of it, and then I go anyway, just because. 

The other night, I kept waiting for the noise to stop when he closed his door, but it didn't. So I got up and closed his door, because only God knows how long he was going to be in the bathroom this time. I think he got the hint, because it hasn't happened since that night. 

But the incessant whirr is grating. It's not just when he's sleeping, it's all the time. It's how I know he's home - that and all the locks I have to unlock when I get home. I don't see the point in locking doors when everyone is home during the day. (Nevermind the fact that we live in kind of a weird spot and I'm pretty sure there isn't another soul who is aware of these apartments who hasn't lived here.) 

The whirr swallows all other noise. If I'm listening to a record, and he opens his door, WHIRRRRRRRR. If I'm doing dishes, WHIRRRRRRR. If I'm watching Hulu, in my room with my door closed WHIRRRRRR. 


WHIRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR

IT DOES NOT STOP. 

We've discussed this briefly, it's relaxing, to him and no one else who spends time here. People always ask what that noise is. It's this machine that my roommate finds calming... Yeah, okay. 

I used to have an issue with silence, but I find any sort of constant noise to be more irritating that helpful. Everyone hates that person who taps their pen in an otherwise silent room. It's like that. Except Darth Vader is breathing behind you, and you can't kill him because that dude you live with likes to cuddle with him until he falls asleep.



Friday, April 13, 2012

Roommate1: OCD, part 1

A Darth-Vadar-is-breathing-behind-you machine.


When choosing a roommate, I'm not super picky. I don't want to be your best friend, I just want you to pick up your shit. To me, picking up one's own shit includes taking the trash out when you notice it's full, dusting when you can write things on the TV screen, sweeping when walking around barefoot becomes unpleasant, and doing your own dishes within twenty four hours, etc. Essentially, I just like clean people who don't spread out their things into common surfaces. 

This being said, I love everyone I've lived with, we just can't live together (like your parents). They aren't perfectionists like I am, and admittedly, I was a total bitch about some things to all of the people I lived with in Richmond, Virginia. It took living alone and in an apartment (mostly) free of vermin for me to chill the fuck out. I've been accused of being Obsessive Compulsive, but really I just hate having roaches and mice and fruit flies hanging out on a regular basis - take those things away and we're cool. 

When I moved into my current apartment, it was just me and an exceptionally clean dude. From henceforth I will refer to him as OCD, because that is what he is. I chose to live here based on the potential I saw in the apartment to be cuter by rearranging a few things and how clean it was. It was by far the cleanest apartment I saw that wasn't empty. After I moved in I reorganized the kitchen and bathroom cabinets, he was a bit thrown off by this, but quickly came around. As long as he has "his space" for things he's fine. Though I threw a lot out. I don't think anyone had cleaned the refrigerator in the last year, and no one took their food with them when they moved out - there was lots of stale and moldy things around. 

Of all the things he was OCD about, this was surprisingly not one of them. For him it's about germs and smells.

Each Saturday he "cleans" the bathroom. I say "cleans" because it's just surface cleaning. If I can scratch soap scum off the shower wall, it isn't clean, so I showed OCD how to clean it more effectively. He also has a habit of taking the trash out before he cleans things, which is bizarre because he uses so many paper towels to clean and by the time he's done the trash can is halfway full again. He also wears disposable latex gloves to clean, uses paper towels to life the trash can's lid and to dry his hands. 

It didn't take me long after moving in to notice how frequently OCD is in the bathroom. It's all the time. It's a couple times an hour at least, and he always keeps the door closed - whether anyone is in their or not. This is a problem because 1) I don't always know when someone is in there and OCD doesn't always lock the door, and 2) our apartment isn't ventilated well and keeping the door closed contributes to that gross "moist" feeling that lingers after people take showers - gross.

His case is that because of the bathroom's location directly off the kitchen he doesn't want germs getting from the bathroom into the kitchen. I don't understand this logic, I acknowledge that germs are everywhere, and may have told him that "once you put a dick in your mouth, you don't really worry about germs anymore." Crude? Sure. True? Definitely. Being that he has never had a dick in his mouth, he can't relate. 

But COME ON, keeping a door closed isn't going to keep those germs isolated. They're microscopic organisms. They do and go wherever the fuck they want, without your permission.

We've also had issues regarding cooking smells. He claims that my use of garlic and onions, and our other roommate's use of curry and cumin in everything is "suffocating." I think that's an exaggerating, but I've taken to keeping the stove fans on while I cook and he in turn has significantly reduced the amount of aerosol air freshener he sprays. He was doing it a lot. Like, a lot, a lot. Our other roommate and I both get migraines pretty regularly, so the use of chemicals to cover up natural smells wasn't working out, nor was it an effective way to solve the problem. 

OCD also has a white noise machine. I've heard about people using these to sleep, but he has one in his room on ALL THE TIME. If his bedroom door is even cracked that incessant noise swallows everything else, which I guess is the point, but I like music and movies, and the constant whirr of it drives me batty. I've taken to closing his door without asking. 

We get along alright and can talk about things, but where I can let things go, and relax, he is incapable. I've known a lot of awkward people, a lot of anxious/depressed people who are socially inept, but this is a whole new level. Friends have asked me why I don't move, but despite all his quirks, he's clean, so I deal.  

Friday, March 30, 2012

CHIN UP!

Anyone who know me can attest to the fact that when my home is organized, I am a much happier person. Though, since moving to San Francisco, I've been poorer than ever. But as I've told my friends (and continue to tell myself), I'd rather be poor in an awesome city than go out every night (like I was in Richmond, VA) in a mediocre one.

Shortly after moving into my apartment, I was lucky enough to find the exact shel I wanted from IKEA for free (FREE!) on Craigslist. Fortunately for me, I have an overly polite and considerate roommate with a station wagon who drove me across town to pick it up. The stupid thing fit perfectly into the back of his wagon. Since then I've been keeping my eye on Craigslist for the same shelf, though not necessarily for free - just you know, cheapish.

That hasn't happened and I haven't bought a second one because for the first time in my life I'm only spending money on food and transportation. I don't go out much, except recently on OkCupid dates where I silently pray to myself that he will pick up the check because I really need to buy bread tomorrow. (Aside: I don't agree to go on dates if I can't afford them. I always offer to pay for myself.)

I've been on break for about three weeks and classes start next week and I've had this pile of stuff on the floor in my room for three months. I hate it. But I haven't known what to do with it because I haven't had anywhere to put it. I've just kept it all in old department store bags the former tenant left behind.

But last night after my attempt to get all the girls in my quarter together fell through, I decided to treat myself to a movie. I only did this because I knew that if a certain dude was working he would give me a discount. AMC doesn't offer student or military discounts here, but if you ask him, and show him your ID, he'll let you in at the children's rate. Four bucks a pop adds up. Yay! Bread!

On my walk home I found a shelf in the middle of my block. It wasn't next to any trash bins, and it kind of looked like it might have been meant for someone else to pick up, or like someone may have been in the process of taking things inside and that was the last one. I loitered for a bit to see, but no one was around, so I took it home. It's also from IKEA and in the same veneer as my other shelf.

It may seem silly, but I haven't been so grateful, or happy about anything in awhile. These little things are so huge to me. And, I mean, it was so random, and it matched.

The previous night I was crying to my friend on the phone and he told me, "Chin up, kid." And then the Universe did something nice and was all, "CHIN UP. CHIN UP. CHIN UP."


Monday, January 30, 2012

Thoughts on My Former Life


Washington DC Temple - Mormons get married here.



When I was a child, like all children, I believed everything my parents and most other adults told me. But, unlike most of my friends, I was being raised by Mormon converts. My father converted to Mormonism in the late 1960s after his commanding officer in Viet-Nam noticed that he wasn’t attending church services on Sundays and invited my father to join him – he was baptized there. My mother converted in 1972 after her brother and sister-in-law joined and encouraged her to do the same. My parents met at a church dance when my dad was stationed at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, they got married seven months later.
I remember getting into arguments with my non-Mormon friends about religion. I was convinced that I was right and they were wrong, and this spilled over into most aspects of my life. I wasn’t taught to believe the church was true, I was taught that it was true – to know the truth. Therein lies the difference. I believe that I’m going to live to see tomorrow, but I know it. As with anything I’ve since learned that I can’t really know anything. Everything changes, and what was true yesterday may not be true tomorrow. Perhaps I’m being cynical, but I’m rarely disappointed.
With all the hubbub surrounding Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman’s presidential bids, it’s shed an interesting light on the Mormon experience. I personally don’t concern myself with the religious affiliation of those running for any office, because it doesn’t matter to me. However, I do see this as an opportunity for the Mormon church to do more than the “I’m a Mormon” campaign. Being Mormon means more than believing that a prophet is currently alive and can literally speak for God, more than the beliefs is the culture.
Mormons go to church each Sunday and refer to one another as “brother” and “sister.” They are taught that the second coming of Christ cannot happen until all the spirits waiting in heaven have received bodies here on Earth, hence their large families and the church’s former policies against contraception (they now leave family planning to couples to decide over prayer as large families began to drain the church welfare system). They believe that men and women have equal, but different roles, and those “different” roles are what lead outsiders (and insiders) to think that the role of the woman is to remain supplicant to the man. If you have questions, it’s best not to ask them because only those who aren’t devoted to the Church, and to God could question it, and you don’t want other members to talk about your wavering faith. Though, if you do ask a question that doesn’t have an answer you’ll probably be told that the answer has yet to be revealed to a modern day prophet and that God will reveal that knowledge when the time is right.
In yesterday’s Washington Post Carrie Sheffield wrote about her experience within the church and out of it. And I can agree with everything she has to say. Though, unlike her I started questioning the church in middle school. When boys and girls turn 12, they graduate from Primary – essentially a time each Sunday for children to sing fun songs about god – to the Young Men or young Women’s organizations. There we’re taught about our roles within the church and society and how we can be good members of the church within those roles. This is to say, I was told that women should go to college, to get an education “just in case” anything should happen to my future husband that would require me to work outside the home. And that my first responsibility was to my husband and then my children, and that I should only grow up to work outside the home if absolutely necessary.
That wasn’t the life I had envisioned for my future. My parents allowed me to develop a slight obsession with Frank Lloyd Wright, and I wanted to be an Architect. If my mom could do it all, why couldn’t I? Why shouldn’t I? I’ve never been very receptive to being told what to do if I can’t see it directly benefiting me. I like making my own decision and not having ridiculous rules set in place for me to follow. In the summertime I liked wearing shorts, but once I hit puberty suddenly everything was too short. “Modesty” is defined as wearing clothing that isn’t “revealing” – shirts must completely cover your back and stomach no matter how you move, skirts and pants must cover the knee, and shirts must cover the shoulder – all of this is to prepare you for temple marriage and the “special underwear” you will one day wear. That’s fine, but it’s presented as a choice, but nothing in Mormonism is really a choice.
Your choice is to do what you’re “supposed to do” or not be a member in good standing, which goes on your church record and will affect what callings (job) you may have at church and ultimately if you’ll get into Heaven. It is often said that you should “be in the world, but not of the world.” Though many have taken that to an extreme as to ostracize those who do not believe, and do not act the same way you do. Members of the church are more than happy to welcome you into the fold, but as soon as you question something, or express a difference in opinion, those friends you’ve made can be gone. Because if you’re choice to live life in such a way that makes you happy, is not the prescribed method for happiness as proclaimed by the church – it is wrong.
If you leave, or “fall away,” you have to be prepared to not have those friends anymore. The beliefs of the church aren’t so different from other Christian faiths, but the culture is among the most uniform and extreme. It’s not enough to share the same basic beliefs if you don’t practice them in the same way. And if you come to the realization that it’s all bull pucky, well, they will mourn your loss and discuss it in the hallway as though you took up heroin and need to go to rehab. Because how could anyone not be happy living the way that they do?
It does seem appealing, and I understand that living that way works for a lot of people. But it didn’t make me happy. Leaving the Church was like having a boulder lifted off my back. The anxiety, the depression, the consistency of never being good enough – that was gone. I still feel these things from time to time, but not because I feel inadequate trying to reach some ideal that’s been decided for me, I feel that way because I know who I want to be and I haven’t reached become her yet.  

Friday, January 27, 2012

For The Love of Music

There is a moment that any fan can recall when they fell in love with a band.  While parts of my record collection I have been given for free – and I mean in a physical way (my iTunes account is made up completely of music that I’ve personally downloaded from CDs and vinyl). But each record that I’ve bought, and some that I’ve been given have a very specific purpose. They remind me of someone, or some particular life event, or resonate with a part of me that I can’t quite explain, but somehow that album can make whatever I’m feeling make sense.
I am not the only person who feels this way, and I think most of my friends would agree – I can say that because most of my friends and I are friends because of a common love for a certain band. It’s kind of a litmus test when I meet people, not because I’m trying to be a dick, but because an interest in music and a love for it is often a quality people that are curious and observant and well, interesting, have.
They get it.





I don’t remember the first time I heard Pulp, but I do remember when I realized that those songs that I had been dancing to were by them. Spinning to the chorus of  “Do You Remember The First Time” – there aren’t words for that.  That probably seems silly to a lot of you, and that’s okay.
Today tickets to see Pulp at The Warfield here in San Francisco went on sale at 10 am. I set three alarms, just in case I slept through the first two (I didn’t) so that I would be up and have my information plugged in as their website allows. This was followed by an invitation to the “waiting room” – a virtual line of some kind before tickets went on sale. I did this on two computers – not because I had an interest in buying 293487 tickets, but because I wanted to make sure I had a decent chance of getting tickets at all, and I called their ticket provider AXS, and stayed on hold for a solid 20 minutes before I was told that they had sold out in five minutes.
Five. Minutes.
I looked around the internet yesterday to see if any tickets were for sale elsewhere, maybe leftover from a presale and there were. They were. I posted on The Warfield’s Facebook page asking when the presale had occurred. They said there wasn’t one, unless there had been one on Pulp’s page without their knowledge. I couldn’t find anything that would lead me to believe there was one of any kind.
I digress. The scalping. The website allowed for you to buy eight tickets at a time.  I know it’s up to the venue, but to allow the sale of such a high quantity plays right into the scalpers grubby little hands. I have been to a lot of concerts, with and without other people, and I’ve never known of anyone to need that many, let alone be able to afford it off that bat, and let their friends pay them back later. Maybe I just have poor friends.
One would think that if you own a venue, you do it because you love music, because you’re a fan. And The Warfield isn’t an arena, it is a dedicated music venue, with a capacity of about 2000. If you’re really a fan of music, and enjoy sharing that experience with others than why would you allow policies that fuck over the fans? With big names, you won’t lose money by restricting the quantity – people will still buy their tickets, though probably not quite as fast.
Which brings me to scalpers. Whether you’re charging ten or a hundred dollars more, you’re still making it that much more difficult for fans, presumably poor bastards like me who spend all our money on rent and going to shows, from seeing a band we love. You can’t love music, or really anything and willfully fuck over other people. 

Friday, January 13, 2012

Over It

I'm sitting in the common room in my hostel. This is the same hostel I stayed in when I visited San Francisco last November, but there's a big difference in staying for a few days on vacation, and staying for two weeks looking for and then waiting to move into an apartment. 

I thought spending two months living with my parents was bad, and then I came here. I've been sharing a room with five other people here, five. FIVE. And at least two of them change every other day. I think I've shared my room with at least thirteen different people in the past twelve days. 

People are terrible. They are the worst. They are loud, and they don't flush toilets, or wash their hands, and they take up so much space and don't seem to understand that by, "excuse me," I mean, "get the fuck out of the way." Isn't "excuse me" one of the first phrases everyone learns whenever they learn a new language? Perhaps I should try "excusez-moi" or "entschuldigung" instead. 

Then there are the people that live and work here. I know one of them as she and I shared a room when I was here before. And I don't mind them, it's just that I like having my shared room to myself when everyone else is out being a tourist, so I stay in it in the mornings only to be interrupted by the person who cleans the mirrors, and then the person who vacuums, and the person who cleans the sinks and then the person who comes round to check that those things have been done. 

This is no way to live. 

I'm amazed at my tolerance so far. 

Don't get me wrong. I enjoy being around people, when I have my own place to go home to. I'll talk to anyone, and I like most people when given the opportunity to talk to them individually. I hate having to introduce myself to someone new all the time. The other day someone called me "Judith" and I knew they were talking to me, but I didn't bother correcting them because why does is matter? I figured I'd never see them again. 

Wait, I take that back. I don't mind introducing myself to new people that are potential new friends - people who actually live here, too. That is something that I do like about San Francisco overall, the people are friendly and most aren't from here either. In that way it reminds me a lot of DC - but I won't go on about how much I miss DC. 

A friend reminded me this week that you suffer for the things you want. That's true, this is what I've wanted for the past two years, and I have it now. I may be living on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and oranges, but it'll be worth it, right? Right?