Wednesday, August 17, 2011

40 hours

How do you all regular folks get it done?

(By regular folks, I mean folks with 40+ hour work weeks).

I have been unemployed since May, and I have never been busier in my life. And no! It's NOT all time spent looking for a job (although I do that every day). I cook, I clean, I run errands, I make phone calls, I go to appointments... just the business of being me takes up all my time. I am not even finding time to work out, people. I am booked. (To be fair, I am running the kitchen for my roommate LAS and I. And I sometimes run errands for her too).

Of course, sooner or later, carpet bombing New York City with my resume is going to mean I'll get a job. But when I do, who will take out the trash and sweep the kitchen floor? Who will make the phone calls? Who will go to the post office, stop by the pharmacy, braise the chicken?

I just don't get it.

Other news: I am doing well. About ten times a day, I think of something new to feel grateful for. Feeling content, calm and happy is something I am not used to, but I would like it to last. The only way I know to make "it" last is to say gratitude prayers and make gratitude lists. Anyone else have a method of hanging onto happy?

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Dawn of a particular day

Yesterday morning, I got a text message from an old friend from high school. The text came in at 5am, and after I read it, I couldn't possibly go back to sleep. So I took this picture for you.

My friend M's text message told me that his former wife and the mother of his six year old daughter and four year old son had been killed in a plane crash. The woman he was married to for ten years and the mother of his children is now dead. So I took 35 more pictures until the sunrise was officially ended. Then I spent the whole day wandering around in a daze, trying to figure out how to help him. Nothing helpful occurred to me. So I took another picture at dusk. Then I took about ten more. Here is the best one:

I am incredibly bothered by the fact that I can do absolutely nothing to help him with this one. He has little kids. Tiny little kids who just lost their mom. It's just beyond horrible. I don't know what to do.

And that's all I have to say today.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Boundaries? Not really.

I have about seven minutes (perhaps less) to post before I must return to my living room and join my roommate for a back episode of Project Runway.

What's that, you ask? Nina... has a roommate?

Yes. Yes, Nina does. LAS and I are now roommates in New York City. What's that? You think it's really risky to move in with someone you met on the internet?

Well... for me, this move involved relocating about 2 miles east. For LAS, it involved relocating about 883 miles east. Bigger risk for her for sure. Plus we have been getting to know each other for... four years. That's long enough.

And what about the old advice that you should never become roommates with your best friend?
Well... this is about the most uncomplicated and unconfusing decision I have ever made in my life. I have no doubt this is going to work out, whatever smart people might say about boundaries. LAS has been here a week and we are having tons of fun.

So how are all of you?

Monday, February 21, 2011

In which I make myself very unpopular


There really is no dignified way to start this post, so I will just say it: I watched porn.

Let me explain: I am 41 years old, and it occurred to me recently that I have never seen pornography - not even Playboy. I might have seen a few naked pictures here or there, but basically, I had no experience with the industry and had never "seen" people doing stuff.

I decided that since I wasn't interested in getting turned on - and since I wasn't going to pay for any yucky material - that it would be ok for me to google to google the word "fuck" and click on one of the options in the spirit of education.

Well, well.

Hello, internet. It's nice to meet you...? Did you know that if you are a bored, indifferent, 19 year old girl, you shouldn't yowl on queue and look bored while some dude in his forties infects you with chlamydia?

Did you know that if the guy wearing tightie whities and a coyboy hat offers to go Alamo on you -WAIT- STOP- he is going to shove his stuff somewhere it doesn't go?

Aside from the fact that porn is incredibly boring, I was disgusted by how, duh, unsafe it is. Woman after woman was apparently OK with anal, vaginal, and oral penetration without a condom. HELLO, what planet are we living on?? Plus, these girls were visibly bored and in it for the paycheck. How sad.

Given, that I am about two degrees removed from a pilgrim in terms of sexual morality, I want to say the following:

I want very much to say that erotica has a place in human sexuality - remember the simple thrill the first time he held your hand? Remember the time you looked into his eyes a bit too long and saw everything, saw the whole world, ultimate happiness, right there in his eyes? Remember what it felt like the first time he slid his hand through your hair?

But porn? It wasn't even erotic. It wasn't - truth be told - even sexual. It was mechanical, scummy, and dehumanizing to the people who participated. Seriously --- I find it absolutely impossible that any human person could get off on watching what I saw. It was like watching hogs led to slaughter.

I must be crazy, because this crap is all over the internet.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Letter to M: The Darker Time

Social: It was a hard slog after my mother died. My dad turned with full, religious conviction to scotch and mallomars to survive. I drove home every weekend to make sure he didn’t pickle himself. A lot of men get married within a year of losing a spouse, but my dad just seemed to take it harder as every day went by, so I spent a lot of time driving back and forth. I had a boyfriend I will describe as “inexplicable” – everything about the relationship was wrong. I don’t know why we got together; I don’t know how we stayed together; I don’t know how any of it happened, but it did. We loved each other, but we fought and we seemed to be constantly hurting each other in one way or another.

Sports: I ran with religious fervor. I completed 4 marathons before I turned 30 – again, with the sole ambition of finishing and not getting hurt. My last marathon was New York in 2000. After the race, I met my brother, went back to his place and took a cold shower. Then I went to the airport, got a flight home and was at work, pain-free the next morning. I don’t even know my time.

Career: It was pretty much in the bag that I would change careers after the requisite grieving period had passed. I tried, and failed, to tell myself that disaster banking was my fate, but I never believed it. What finally pushed me over the edge was something that had nothing to do with work at all.

That boyfriend I always fought with? He didn’t want me in banking either, and he was always after me to try to change jobs somehow. We were always at odds with each other, always arguing. I broke up with after a year, and it was a dark and stormy break up. Lots of rage and recriminations. A certain amount of stalking and scary highway interceptions. In other words, my basic nightmare.

I put up with this for a few months before I encountered him in my front yard at 7am and yelled at him so loud that my neighbors called the police. He fled before so as not to get arrested.

A few months after the yard incident, he hanged himself. His family blamed me, and to this day, they will not acknowledge me even though I have tried to reach out to them a number of ways. I have sent cards, letters. I didn’t dare go to the funeral.

I don’t blame them. It was my fault, when you consider how unhappy I made him. I made him feel bad about himself. I made him feel as if he were not good enough for me. I made him feel like a loser. Then he died. No wonder they blamed me. Whatever the meaning of his death, I have paid for it over and over again on the wheel of karma.

One result of all this was that Kerry (that was his name) left me money to go to graduate school. I gave it back to his family, of course, but I did apply to graduate school to get an MA in English. I had no clear idea at the time whether I would be able to get teaching work; I just knew I couldn’t do the banking thing anymore. I spent two years getting my MA and instantly got a job – really good luck there – except not, which I will explain next time I sit down to write.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Letter to M: The Dark Time

Letter to M: The Dark Time

My plans to move to NYC forestalled, I moved back in with my parents. I lived with them while my mother completed treatment for the recurring cancer, and I got menial temp work so the main focus stayed at home. Then one of my menial jobs offered me a promotion – a whole $24,000 a year. The catch was I had to move to Raleigh, NC, and that meant separation from my mother. I reluctantly took this job and moved. But not before I had a really not so nice boyfriend who taught me many lessons about lying and how unseriously people take that particular sin. I still want to egg his car.

On $24,000 a year, I could afford a two bedroom apartment overlooking a lake, a car, a cat and as many “Carolina Blue” cups as they would sell me at “He’s not Here” – a bar in Chapel Hill where I did most of my socializing. As luck would have it, a few of my sorority sisters had gone to graduate school there, so I had a social life waiting for me when I arrived.

Career: If my career has one unifying principle, it is “if you are unhappy, quit.” I quit about one job a year for a while there – all while I was doing b-c lending. I am sure you know what this is. It has its moments, but it is generally depressing work, and I did it for both retail and business customers for many years. Work out loans. More work out loans with absurd balloon payments secured by tracts of swamp land and abandoned yacht slips – the yachts already being gutted and disposed of. Depressing restructuring jobs that included sucking all the equity out of real estate holdings for people in their 50s. Good times. The problem with the work was more that I was bored than anything. And with years of underwriting experience and a loan authority of 2,000,000 and NO education in the field, you have to set your sights low. I got into the business by accident. I got out on purpose – but that comes later.

Family: We knew in early October 2005 that my mother was dying, so we all came home. For a few weeks we took shifts. I wish I could say we handled it with more grace, but we drank scotch and cried. The night before she died was my shift. I sat up with her, trying to think for ten hours what to say. In the end I said nothing, and when my brother came in the morning to take his shift, I thought to myself, “if she goes after this, I am ok with it.” She died two hours later. She was 52; I was 25.

They tell you not to make any major decisions for a year after a major life event – death, birth, divorce, relocation – so I didn’t. I worked the depressing job and I waited. But not for long.

Social: I had two really, really nice boyfriends. One was (literally) a rocket scientist. We broke up because I didn’t want to move to Houston and he wanted to get married – and that was just way too much maturity for me. The other was an engineer and we broke up because of something silly – I can’t remember what. But they were both excellent and I had all my Chapel Hill friends.

Sports: I ran and ran and ran and ran. There were farms around my parents’ house and I ran past so many cows. Those cows all looked at me as if they had no idea what I was running from. I never thought of running in actual races but I ran all the damn time.

Consider yourself up to date through 1995.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Letter to M: College

We were still in touch between 1988 and 1992, but I don’t think we talked much, or at least not enough for me to remember much about what you were doing. All I remember hearing from you is the word “Wharton.” I am writing under the assumption that you remember one word or fewer about me during those years. So, college.

I have my own students now, most of whom are living at home and paying their own way through college. Looking at their lives, it is easy to see that we were privileged. We got to go away to college with our parents’ money in our pockets, and we - or at least I – got to spend four years partying and earning credit in subjects such as “witchcraft and folklore” and “performance art” and “beginning ballet.”

Academic: St. Lawrence allowed me to fill a transcript with excellent grades in the above subjects while forgiving (somehow) the fact that I earned an F micro-economics and got a C in research methods. Somewhere between the flag in economics (go ahead and have a nice long giggle – I am pretty sure you majored in economics) and the suffering inflicted by statistics and the misery connected with any subject requiring me to be logical or think in logical way – much less apply logic to my behavior – I found my true home in the English department, where I earned excellent grades and was a darling in the department for writing moody, dark fiction that suggested I had something to hide, which I most assuredly did not. I also did really well in any class that had anything to do with the oppression of anyone – especially women, black people, gay people, exotic animal lovers – fill in all the blanks – I was great in sociology and graduated just one class short of a minor in that department. I didn’t bother to get the minor because my schedule was cluttered up with writing classes and I didn’t want to miss a second semester of ballet.

Social: I met some great people, and I pledged a sorority, which is a subject so painfully boring that I will spare you. Summary: girls, giggling, punch that tastes like pineapple and looks like Windex, boys, flirtation, extreme silliness. Sigh. Oh and one semester I spent fall break at Harvard with JB. All I remember about it was that we went to a party, drank too much, made out, and fell asleep. But it was great to see him.

The loss of virginity anecdote is inevitable so… I met him sophomore year, but I believe it was Junior year before I had stress tested him enough to consider him worthy. Basically we had a few beers and it wasn’t a big plan or anything but it happened and then we went to sleep, him thinking, probably ___________, and me thinking “that was the most boring thing ever” –.

What’s more interesting is that he lived in a fraternity and one of the odd things about his place was that he had built a loft for the bed so as to have room for a desk, dresser, and sofa in his room. The next morning, I woke up, remembered the event, and felt scummy. So I ambled out of the loft, gathered up my stuff and prepared to flee while the boyfriend and now and forever holder of my V card* slept. To my horror, I discovered that the corner of the loft was blocking the door. I am not good with engineering, but I am pretty sure the reason was that when he built his loft, it did not block the door, but that said loft shifted this way or that when you put a person into it. So there I was, recently de-virginized at 6am with my nylons falling out of my handbag, crawling, in a dress and high heels, out the window of a fraternity house so I could be back at the sorority house by 7am for what’s known as “bed check”. It’s exactly what it sounds like, and I missed it. All that said, no regrets. Social, otherwise: I met a lot of great people and in addition to the above mentioned boyfriend, had another boyfriend who was also excellent – and one who was not so great but I got rid of him after a date or two. I still have several girlfriends from college and despite my jokes about SLU basically being a silly feel goodery, I got a decent education – as long as you don’t count math or economics.

Sports: I swam. SLU is a division three school, which meant it was more like a club and the main goal was more to swim off beer pong weight and have something to do between 4 and 6 pm than to actually achieve anything terms of wins and losses at meets. That said, I was never much good at it and looking back at the experience now, I wonder why I did that to my hair, all things considered, because I ran a lot and the running was what really kept me sane. All this and the brief stint as a beginning ballerina - and there you have it.

Family: My brother was majoring in Fine Art at Syracuse and my sister was a punk rocker who dyed her hair black and upset my parents a great deal by using fountain pen ink to give herself a tattoo. My junior year they moved to Dallas. I spent a summer there (fell in love with a guy who I sort of wanted to marry until I realized that I still had a whole lot left to learn) and then spring break of my senior year, my dad showed up at school to tell me a) the family was moving to North Carolina and b) my mother’s cancer was back and c) would I mind putting off moving to New York so I could spend time at home with mom? After graduation I moved to North Carolina and began a sort of half life working temp jobs and taking care of mom as much as that was possible to do. Thus ended college. (Until I went to graduate school).

* I talked to him on Facebook last week. Neither of us mentioned any of this.

Your turn.

What did I think would happen?

When I was 14 I made a BFF pact with a guy who went to a neighboring all boy school (I was in the all girl school; this all made so much sense at the time). We were very close - told each other everything, talked all night on the phone, went to each others proms, etc. Or did we? We can't remember, but there are pictures of us together all decked out for something.

Anyway some people have a friend like this one in high school and some don't. I have to say that I was the better for it.

Enter Facebook.

Yes, we are reconnected after 20 years and we are like OMG how fast can you tell me everything? We agreed that instead of trying to wade through it on chat we are going to summarize different bits of our lives and email them back and fourth until we get caught up.

Then I started trying to summarize college, and I realized these snippets would make good blog posts. Good news for us all, I guess. Check back tomorrow for installment one.

(hint: drinking, failing micro-economics, losing my virginity, sucking at sports, and majoring (finally) in English).

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Facebook as a form of therapy

Within twenty minutes of joining Facebook, I received a friend request from the man who holds my V card. It just got weirder from there.

My phone didn't stop all night. Bzzz.. Bzzz... Bzzz... all Facebook notifications from or regarding people I haven't seen or talked to in years - in one case, since I was eight years old. It wasn't merely that people were trying to "friend" me. It was that they were wildly encouraging the befriendment of six or seven other people I am connected to in some tenuous way. Or in some major way, like, oh fuck it, the guy after the guy with the V card.

One of the ways I have always defended myself from too much reality is by compartmentalizing things and people. I don't mix my sports friends with my literature friends. I don't mix my work friends with my drinking friends. And I definitely don't cross eras. NO! If you are from high school, you stay in high school. Stay!

You must be wondering what purpose all this organization serves, how it protects me. I'll tell you: all those people from my past have expectations about what I am supposed to be right now. And all those ideas are different. The one from when I was eight years old is still confused and hurt that I didn't marry her older brother, but mostly she is just shocked that I didn't have the imagination to get out of New York City. And if I wasn't going to marry her brother, couldn't I at least married someone?

My literature friends are all aghast that it has been two and a half years since my dad died, and I haven't submitted a draft of the manuscript for them to read. WAIT. They WOULD be aghast if were not so pissed off that I disappeared into the ether for two and a half years without informing anyone that I hadn't died. Because for while there, I bore all the hallmarks of a suicide risk, and I was not polite enough to let the literature friends or anyone else know I wasn't dead.

My online friends are just in shock that I am on Facebook and revealing my actual name because hello, anonymous blog?! Well not for long, apparently. Anyone with an IQ upwards of 80 who reads this blog could find me, and my true identity, on Facebook in less than 10 minutes.

I am really uncomfortable.

How to continue?


Internet, I have decided that compartmentalization is mostly bad. It is not bad in and of itself - but the way I use it is absolutely wrong. I use it to lie to people - passively. To let one group of people think one thing about me and some other group of people think some other thing. I do it to keep people at a distance, and I achieve that by creating a life where no one can ever compare notes. Even as I write this, I am thinking: what's wrong with that? Why isn't it ok to be in-person friends with X person but compartmentalize Z person into the "online" category - and stubbornly refuse to budge?

Answer: Because it's total bullshit. It serves no purpose except to protect myself from some vague idea of disappointing people or not living up to expectations. I don't want my in person friends to know that I have a freaky, post-modern life that I would never share with them. This is the honest truth: the internet is a big part of my life and my in person friends HAVE NO IDEA I HAVE A BLOG.

ALSO: I don't want the online friends to know that, really, seriously? I am 40. I have told you all this, but if you met me you'd all be like, jeez, you really are 40. And you look it.

So I hate Facebook. I hate it. All my compartments are collapsing, and I hate it. However, much as I hate it, I think it'll help me live a more honest life. Who knows: maybe I'll be brave enough to actually meet a blog person in real life this year. Or maybe I'll admit to my sports friends that I have long arguments with other people about how indirect objects work - in Russian. Maybe I'll actually contact all the people I have let believe I have fallen off the face of the earth know I am alive. OH WAIT. Facebook is doing that for me.

Have I mentioned I am uncomfortable? I am. Please comment: does any of this make sense? Or is Facebook really evil and can I please unFacebook myself and get on with my tidy little multi-celled life?

Saturday, January 15, 2011

So I sold out.

I put ads on this blog. Why? Because I am fairly broke and because anything would help and because I trust that 99% of you come here to read my posts, not look at ads for anti0-aging remedies. (That does NOT mean you shouldn't click on those ads if you like what you see).

Let's see... other happenings... I threw away all the angry fat clothes I accumulated when I was several sizes larger due to extreme stress. Please note that this statement does not imply that I m now a size zero. It merely suggests that I am smaller than a baby rhino and am getting healthier. Take what you can get. I certainly have to.

HMMM. In other news, I joined APOCALYPSE! APOCALYPSE! Facebook this week after years of intense pressure. No, you can't find me on facebook because you don't know my real name. Maybe all this therapy will help me get over my internet anonymity issues and we can all be together, names, faces, and all.
To make up for all my perfidy, here is a picture of me naked. Too bad it does you so little good.

Love, love.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

(Hides Face in SHAME)

I can't believe I showed you all three shots of my boobs in a lame attempt to get you to come back to my blog. How... tacky.

Let's see what's happening today. I got my wish. It snowed and the city looks beautiful, but I suspect it looks so lovely because I didn't have to leave the house today and have been curled up with books in my nightgown and slippers. Yes, I am drinking tea. Yes, a did a little needlework. And so yes, I am the most unsexy woman in the entire universe. (Later I am going to take a bath and read a book written in 1606. I rest my case).

Other news: I am going to be entering therapy next week in order to (hopefully) deal with my sleep issues. I am not optimistic, but then again these people did cure me of my fear of heights. The thing is, they cured my fear of heights by making me confront said fears over and over again. I don't see confronting sleep repeatedly as a viable strategy. Perhaps they'll just thump me over the head with blunt objects and yell "STAY DOWN."

Has anyone out there ever successfully gotten off seroquel? If you have, please, I beg you, comment and let me know how you did it. I need to know.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Now this is right

I talked it over with my surviving female relatives and, while noting the opinion of avitable, we agreed that retail lingerie is the right thing for me to do.

Who else but me could appreciate and sympathize with the issues common to those blessed with largesse?

and who can forget this photo??

Jeez I look almost flat chested in that one. Need to find more photos.

Why all the fuss?

OK so I finally got Google Analytics to work. It told me what I already knew, which is no one stops by here anymore, which means I need to start posting every day again - that even though (as discussed) the narrative arc has closed - there is more to say.I'll start with the obvious: what the hell is going on?

In August, after my last day of work, I made the decision to allow myself to be underemployed for a semester in the hopes of getting my mental and physical health back. From September through December, I have been doing just that, and you know what? It has been fucking great.

I feel so much better.

But now it's time to work, and though I am still teaching part time to keep a roof over my head, I need to do more work to make the financial part of my life function. Right now my choices are:

1) get a job in retail. I am thinking Bloomingdales, fitting gals for bras. I would be so good at that.

2) go to a temp agency and indicate that I am good at several office type skills and see if they can give me a job two days a week.

Please note: everyone thinks I should go with option 2 because it is far more professional. But I kind of want to help young ignorant women learn how to pick out a bra.

What say you?

PS another foot of snow to fall tonight. Yippee!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Yes, I care. I care a lot.

I can't get the snippet of code from Google Analytics to stick to the template of my blog. The error message I am getting is something like the XML code is unworthy or some crap like that.


Was it always this hard?

The whole problem is enough to make me drink red wine and stuff my face with basmati rice.

And if you don't understand that, we really can't be friends anymore.

Um but honestly can someone help me make this work? Because I am reported to be smart and I am failing. FAIL, FAIL, FAILING.

I do love you though. I can't help myself, and love is all that matters.

(But I fucking want my stats). (Please).

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Educate Me

Would someone please explain to me what is so great about Google Analytics? I tried to sign up for it, but it appeared to be telling me that on every single post, I have to plunk in a mile of code. Am I not reading the instructions correctly? Because if they really want me to plunk their special code into every single post I am not sure I can be their friend.

Also: whether this is true or not (and I'd like to know) is the information provided by Google Analytics worth all the (apparent) trouble???

One of y'all must know. Someone warm and toasty like Jane, or perhaps Adam.

Help. Please.