Thursday, June 26, 2008

Wish Us Luck

Tomorrow morning, CN and I leave for Virginia to go visit The Czarina. And my little sister Smurf. And my younger brother Fungus. And a ton of other people. The only person he won't get to meet is Fat Dog, because he will be out of town, a groomsman in a good friend's wedding this weekend. Which is unfortunate, since Fat Dog is really fun and easy to be around.

We will be up in my hometown for four days. This Saturday is the annual BBQ held in honor of my dad's birthday. The Czarina has hosted it every year at her house since he passed away 3 years ago.

We have a big buffet of BBQ pork and all the fixin's. We have fireworks. There's lots of drinking and story telling. It's such a mix of people, too -- not just my immediate family, but all of our family friends...and everyone brings their kids.....and I would say that the age range here is anything from 80-something down to newborn. But heavy on the 60+ crowd, all of whom are very conservative, highly educated, staunch Republicans. (I swear, most of them are fun after their 3rd scotch.)

I really look forward to this annual event. Good food, family, good friends, a nice summer evening in the country under the stars...what's not to love? Sounds like a great time, right?

Unfortunately, since I am someone my boyfriend describes as "always excited about something", I think I went a little overboard this time. When I invited him to go with me a few months back, our conversation went something like this:

VB: Ok, guess what!

CN: What.

VB: Every year! at the end of June! my mom throws a huge party! and everyone comes over! and eats BBQ! and drinks all day! and then we watch fireworks.

CN: Oh yeah?

VB: [growing excited] Yeah! And I thought it would be fun if you came with me this year! It's a huge party and it's so much fun! Everyone will be SO excited to meet you! [eyebrows raised expectantly] wanna go?

CN: Sure, babe. How many people are we talking about?

VB: [slightly confused as to why that question is important] Oh, like a hundred or so. [switching back to the high-pitched excited voice] Anyway, my mom will be SO excited to meet you! And so will Smurf...and my brothers....hey! You wanna shoot guns with my brothers while we're up there? They love to do target practice! And you can meet Howard, and the P family and my mom's cousin, and...

CN: [I'm not sure, but I bet this was the point where his eyes started to glaze over.]

VB: [undaunted, I am now on to all the activities we can do on our long weekend in my hometown]...and I can show you where I went to elementary school! and we can visit the college where my dad used to teach! and I can show you this supercool store downtown! OH! and we can drive out to the old house where I grew up! It is so cool. It was built in 1840 and--

CN: [Stopping the verbal excitement gushing from my big mouth] Hey, hey, hey. Wait. Um, ok. That sounds cool. We can do that. It's just that based on what you've told me about your mom...

VB: Yeah, yeah. I know. My mom is Queen of Loaded Questions. I am a little worried she will chew you up and spit you out. Ugh, she can be so judgemental. And close-minded. And snooty. Sometimes. Hopefully, she won't be like that with you. She will love you. Maybe I can just answer her questions for you....

CN: That won't be necessary.

VB: OH! I have a great idea! Here's the thing. She will be running around like a chicken with her head cut off, because of the party. So she probably won't even have time to really have a major heart-to-heart with you! She'll probably talk to you for like, 30 minutes, and that will be it! Yay!

CN: Yay...? Ok. [He is laughing at me now]

VB: Oh! You know what would be really good? You should offer to help her get ready for the party. She will LOVE that. And remember, don't put your feet on the furniture, don't sleep in, and don't leave dirty dishes all over the place. Those are her pet peeves. But we can go all over this again in the car on the way up there. OOOH!!! I am so excited to introduce you to everyone!!! There are so many people who will just love to meet you!

CN: [giving a deer in headlights look] *gulp* How many people did you say were coming to this thing?

VB: [again, confused as to the relevancy of this question] Like a hundred. Maybe 75. But at least 50. It lasts all day and all night. Sometimes, people even come over for breakfast the next morning. Don't worry. I'll keep you away from all the people who only talk about politics. And the people who will ask nosy questions about our relationship. I need to remember not to wear any of those shirts that old people mistake for pregnancy clothes. Dear Lord, that's the last thing I need...OH! And before I forget, you will be sharing your room with 3 guys.

CN: [slightly panicky] Share? Three?

VB: Yeah. My mom's house only has three bedrooms. [with sympathy] Oh, I know, sweetie. I know how you can't sleep with strangers in the room, and you can't sleep through snoring. And just so you know, Fungus is kind of a night owl, so he will probably be in and out of the room all night...but you can bring your ear plugs and Tylenol PM, right? You should be fine with that, right?

CN: I hope so. Are you forgetting?

VB: Oh probably. Let me think...what else should I tell you...*thinks about how else to describe our trip to my hometown*

CN: No, I mean you are forgetting things. Like...I don't like parties.

VB: [quietly] Oh. Yeah. Right.

CN: Or lots of attention and fuss all over me.

VB: [even quieter] Oh. Ok.

CN: Or people.

VB: [whispering, at this point] Oh.

*I look at my lap*

*realization sets in*

VB: So, everything I just told you is...bad? And I just freaked you out?

CN: Pretty much.

VB: I'm sorry. Sometimes, I forget that you're not a social butterfly like me, babe. Crap. See, I forget about that stuff, because you always seem to enjoy going to parties with me. You had fun at Mr. Bill's. And at my Lasagna Night.

CN: Yeah, but I know you. And I know Mr. Bill. And your friends. Plus, there's beer. You are the one who gets excited about social interaction. I just get nervous.

VB: [excited expression returning to my face] So.....we should just get a lot of cold beer before showing up at my mom's?

CN: Yeah, that would probably be a good idea. Because right now, I'm really anxious and nervous, based on what you just told me. I will definitely need a beer upon arrival.

VB: Ok, we can do that. And if you need to get away, you can just tell people you have to walk Sammy! Or you have to find me! Or you have to pee! Ok? And I'll bring some Xanax, so let me know if you need one.

CN: Ok. I'll be fine. Just stop making a big deal out of everything.

VB: But babe, that's what I do. Duh.

Because of this conversation, and its subsequent additions (no, I can't help it), I have not brought up the trip home in the last 2 days, as a way to allow CN to relax and decompress before showtime. It's probably too late to convince him to relax, but it's better than nothing.

Meanwhile, my overactive imagination has been scheming up all sorts of horrible scenarios, many of which involve rudeness and screaming, leading to the resumption of my cigarette smoking. Gah. Just thinking about all of this right now makes me want to grab a pack on the way home, just to get warmed up.

The truth is, I have never brought home a boyfriend. Not like this. Not to stay for a weekend. And meet EVERYONE. So I have no idea how this is going to go. I guess if it goes horribly, I will have a good story to tell, right? Ugh.

Pray for me. And wish us luck.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

One Day at a Time

Today is my ten year anniversary. For the last decade, I have maintained my sobriety 100%. My life has remained totally alcohol-free since the late 90s.

If you are doing the math, you are realizing that I did not drink on my 21st birthday. And that I quit drinking after my freshman year of college. I will add that I do not even sip champagne at New Year's or drink the wine at church.

A lot of people ask me how on earth I could have been an alcoholic at such a young age. The answer to this is that many alcoholics are born that way. In my family, it seems to be genetic: two grandparents, one parent, three siblings and several extended family members have all been afflicted with this disease. At least 2 have died in alcohol-related deaths. So whether I began drinking at age 16 or age 43, the results would have been the same: I have and will always have a problem controlling my drinking.

When I tell people that I really only drank for two years, they are even more confused. How did I realize I had a problem after only 2 years? After all, the majority of college freshmen are binge drinkers, especially on the weekends, and especially at large state universities. But by the time I was about 12, I had seen the effects of alcoholism on my family. Thanks to my mother's lectures and descriptions, I could rattle off the signs of an alcohol problem as easily as my multiplication tables.

By the time I was a senior in high school, alcohol was readily available to me, and like most young people, I was all about experimenting. Gradually, I began to see some bad signs...

Blackouts were my first sign that I may not have a normal and healthy relationship with alcohol. Yes, many novice alcohol drinkers have blackouts. But I was having them about once a month. And it wasn't like certain parts of the evening were hazy. I'm talking about the WHOLE NIGHT. Once, I woke up in my dorm room, dressed in party clothes, with a trashcan next to my bed and a concerned note from my friends. To this day, I do not even remember going out AT ALL. I have no idea what I did or where I was. Think about that. It's kind of scary to be that out of control.

If I wasn't blacking out entirely, I was drunk to the point that I had to be carried out of the party. At every party. Having "just two" didn't compute in my brain. Where's the fun in that? The whole goal of the evening is to reach the if-I-have-one-more-I-will-barf buzz and keep it as long as possible. Duh. But of course, I am an alcoholic, so the stopping point for me was always "just one more and I'll stop." Remember the girl at the frat party who was always found sitting on a step, slurring and crying and asking everyone for a cigarette? The one with barf all over her tank top and mascara smeared all over her face? Who had to be baby-sat by her girlfriends? That was me. Every weekend. And by weekend, I mean Wednesday thru Saturday nights. Alcoholics are always up for a party.

My ability to increase my tolerance for alcohol was frightening. By the end of my first semester in college, I could put down 10-12 beers. They were like soda pop to me. I weighed about 130 pounds. I was drinking this amount of beer in less than 2 hours. I'm no good at math, but it's pretty safe to say that I was far over the legal driving limit. I remember strategizing on Friday and Saturday nights, using complicated formulas to ensure maximum alcohol consumption: "Ok, if I don't eat anything between noon and six, and then eat as many breadsticks as I can an hour and a half before I leave to go out, I should be able to drink 2 extra beers before I barf." -- Who does that??? That is not normal!

It wasn't just the urge to drink as much as I possibly could, as quickly as I could. Just like any other alcoholic, I didn't give a rat's ass what the beverage was, I just wanted as much of it as possible, as quickly as possible. If you are a normal person, and you despise tequila, when you go to a party that serves nothing but tequila, you are probably going to drink water or soda pop all night. Not the alcoholic. They will think, "Crap. I hate tequila. This is going to suck." -- and then they will line up the shots and down ten of them before you can blink an eye! That makes absolutely no sense. It's like someone who hates broccoli eating 2 pounds of it, just because it's there.

One of the worst signs of an alcohol problem is a change in personality. When I was drunk, I became hostile and angry. I tried to pick fist fights with my friends. I literally wanted to punch the snot out of anyone and everyone. If you know me in person, this concept is laughable. I am such a wuss that I won't even do wheelies on a bicycle. I have some friends who have never even seen me lose my temper. But when I drank, I turned into a psychotic bitch with the shortest fuse you've ever seen. It would take nothing to set me off.

As you can probably guess, denial plays a huge role in an alcoholic's life. Example thoughts:
"I am totally ok to drive." (Um, no, you're not!)
"That guy is HOT." (Riiiight)
"She's not that pissed at me. (Um, you just made out with her boyfriend.)
I look smokin' hot right now. "(Is that why your hair is plastered to your skull and you can't walk?)
"My skirt is totally covering my butt." (You just flashed an entire room of total strangers.)
"This party is awesome!" (...if by "awesome" you mean that you are the only person on the dance floor because it's 4am and the party is over.)
"I don't know. I guess someone stole my keys." (Actually, drunk ass, you dropped them somewhere.)

I did something else that my just seem like strange behavior, unless you too are someone familiar with alcoholism: I became extremely possessive with my alcohol. If I brought my own alcohol to a party, I would label it with my name, patrol the fridge to make sure no one stole it, and refuse to share so much as a sip with anyone. You see, I have the brain of an alcoholic, and the thought of running out of alcohol was terrifying to me, especially when I was under 21. This is why you hear of alcoholics hiding bottles everywhere. It's because they don't ever want to run out. Of course, I knew that hiding alcohol was a sign of alcoholism, so I fought the urge to do this. If I didn't hide it, I must not be an alcoholic, right?

I used to (and strangely enough, still do) pressure my friends to drink as much as I did. To an alcoholic's brain, as long as everyone else is drinking like you do, that means your relationship with alcohol is normal. If everyone's jumping off a bridge, then it must be an OK thing to do. This is why it's common to see an alcoholic hang out with other alcoholics. Now that I am sober, I have watched other alcoholics grow visibly uncomfortable around me, especially when I tell them that I am sober because of my alcoholic tendencies. Other alcoholics will often stop talking to me or pressure me to drink, even when I have said, "No, thank you" several times.

And I can spot an alcoholic ten miles away. Some people have gay-dar, I have alcoholic-dar. Now, I'm not as adamant about it as my mother, who honestly believes every third person on the planet is a raging alcoholic, but there are a lot of them out there. Some are like me, and become alcoholics from day one. Others cultivate their addiction over a period of decades. A few, like my grandmother, wait until a life-changing event (in her case, the death of her husband) happens. They turn to the bottle to soothe themselves. But I can always spot them, sometimes within minutes. Their actions are so familiar to me, it's like looking in a mirror.

Ten years ago today, my family came home from vacation to find me blitzed out of my mind. I had remained at home, claiming I had to work at my waitressing job, when really what I wanted to do was throw a huge keg party and spend the majority of the week finding my next drink. (Lying to loved ones takes a back seat to booze when you're an alcoholic.) After the parties were over, I had to clean up the house before they got home. Part of this cleaning involved disposing of the leftover alcohol. So I decided to have "just one" margarita while I cleaned up the house. It would be such a shame to pour the tequila down the drain. By the time my family got home, I was slurring my speech as I mopped the kitchen floor. My mother, a recovering alcoholic herself, knew instantly what was going on. To this day, the look on her face -- a mix of fear, anger and guilt -- haunts me. At that moment, I knew that I could not keep drinking and have a good relationship with my mother. I could not bear the thought of making her feel that way ever again.

That was the last time I ever drank. I quit in a very unusual way -- cold turkey, and without the assistance of Alcoholics Anonymous. This is VERY unusual, actually. I have never even been to an AA meeting, although I'm not saying I will never go to one. There is no cure for this disease.

I would be lying if I said that I never want to drink alcohol. I never tried gin or Midori before I quit, and I think melontinis and gin & tonics smell wonderful. I know I would have loved them. And yes, there are certain times when I miss the stress-relieving and social lubrication benefits of a drink. Luckily, I have found that Xanax and cigarettes are excellent substitutes. And (non-alcoholic) beer is now what I crave when I've had a long day. I guess you can take the alcohol out of the alcoholic, but not the alcoholic out of the alcohol aisle. The worst times are when I'm out with my girlfriends, because I do miss getting a little buzzy (ok, a LOT buzzy) with my girlfriends. I never did like looking sloppy drunk around guys. Not that it ever stopped me, back then. And I still fight the urge to escape reality, boredom and difficult emotions with substances. (Hello, Vicodin!)

But somehow, I have managed to say "No, thank you" to alcohol for the last ten years.

Go me.

If you recognize yourself or a loved one in any of my descriptions above, you might want to look at this quiz. A score of 8 or more indicates a possible problem with alcohol. My score was 19.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The Twerp

So far, my part-time job at Dildo's is pretty much what you'd expect from a retail job: lots of work on the weekends, ample quantities of boredom and a seemingly endless supply of annoying customers.

I could write a post about some of these incredibly frustrating customers, and I probably will at some point. But today, I want to talk about one of the managers. I call him The Twerp, which is a kind nickname, considering I would really like to call him His Royal Douchiness. The total suckage embodied in this guy is definitely at an imperial level, I can assure you.

Rumor has it that he came to Dildo's by way of Toys R Us, where he was also a department manager. Apparently, he was fired from Toys R Us because his wife abused the employee discount too much. This is a completely idiotic reason to get fired, in my opinion. Hey, moron, tell your wife to knock it off. Duh. So now he is the manager of the home store department at Dildo's. He runs the show upstairs, where they sell bedding, dishes, fine china and the like.

In other words, he is NOT my manager. I work in accessories (jewelry, handbags, scarves, etc.). As you can probably tell, he likes to think he's everyone's manager. You can guess how well this sits with me and my coworkers.

His wife is rumored to wear the pants in their relationship, which isn't surprising, considering how fucking stupid he is. And supposedly she keeps him on a short leash. Speaking of short, he's short. At least 3 inches shorter than me. So we have all the ingredients necessary:

1. Overbearing wife
2. Short stature
3. A lower management position

Mix together and you get: one helluva Napoleon complex. This guy is on a power trip from the minute he steps into the store until the minute he leaves for the day. Which would normally just cause you to feel pity for his pathetic existence, but in his case, he is so goddamn irritating, all you want to do is fantasize about smashing his skull into the pavement. Repeatedly. Until his brains spill out.

As evidence of my wholly encompassing, sheer hatred for this man, I present to you the following anecdotes as evidence to substantiate my claim that he is in fact due for a serious beat-down in the Dildo's parking lot.

1. One time, a customer was looking at a bedspread set (comforter, shams, etc.). She really liked it, and since her birthday was coming up, she was going to ask her parents to get it for her as a gift. In order to show them what it looked like, she took out her cell phone so that she could take some photos of it. Out of nowhere, The Twerp swoops in to inform the customer that he cannot allow her to take photographs of the merchandise for "liability reasons".

Like what? The comforter is involved in a bitter custody battle?? Come on! He just did this because he could.

More evidence that he's stupid: The customer works at the daycare where his kids go. She knew exactly who he was! But he was sitting up so high on his horse, he didn't recognize her. Which is typical -- he has a tendency to act like he cannot be bothered to take the time out of his ultra-busy and important lower management schedule to do things like look people in the eye or ask them how their day is going. He looks at other people as though they are objects, rather than human beings. He probably didn't even realize who she was.

Needless to say, the woman didn't buy squat from him or his department. And she made sure to tell another employee why. Which is how I know about it.

2. I was working with Courtney Love (yes, the girl is the spitting image of her) one evening. She and I were marking down some jewelry that was now on sale. In order to do this, each item needs to be scanned with a scan gun, which sends the information to the printer. Then the printer makes a sale sticker for each item. It's not difficult work, but it is time consuming. Most of the time is spent looking for the scan guns. It had taken us a good 30 minutes to find 2 scan guns.

So we had scanned about 200 items a piece, and we were ready to print out that set of stickers before moving on. Courtney left to go find our manager to tell her we were ready to start printing. As soon as she walked away, The Twerp walked by, said, "I need these," and then proceeded to just take the scan guns! No explanation, no discussion, no apologies. I watched in horror as he immediately turned off the scan guns. This means that all 200 records we had just done were GONE. Courtney and I had to start all over.

What was really frustrating about this was that if he had been just a TINY bit considerate, and just waited for us to print off the stickers, he could have had the scan guns in ten minutes. But of course, this would rob him of an opportunity to be a fucking asshole.

3. To warrant against employee theft, Dildo's technically requires all female employees to carry a clear purse (nevermind that this doesn't stop people from stealing, but that's another post for another time). During training, you are issued a clear purse by management. When I first started working at Dildo's again, I saw that this policy was still in place. But I also noticed that a lot of the female employees did not abide by this rule. It's a long story, but I never went to any of the training, so I never got a clear purse. Since no one ever gave me a clear purse, and it seemed this rule was not really enforced anyway, I didn't worry about it. And no one has said a word to me about it.

Until Sunday, when The Twerp was the manager for the day.

It was just after 6pm, and all the employees headed upstairs to customer service so that we could clock out. Now, if an employee purchases something while they are at work, it has to be kept at customer service until their shift is over. So a lot of people were picking up their purchases before they went home. We all filed back downstairs so that we could exit the building through the back door, just like we always do.

True to character, The Twerp was perched on a table, right next to the back door. He wanted to look inside everyone's Dildo's bags. He wanted to make sure none of us were stealing things and sticking them into Dildo's bags, because you know, we are all criminals. He inspected everyone's receipts and scrutinized their purchases before letting them out the door.

"What a fucking douchebag," I thought. In my opinion and experience, these sorts of policies do not stop employee theft. They only serve to irritate and offend your staff.

Since I hadn't purchased anything, I went around him towards the door. Just as I began to push on the back door, The Twerp stopped me. I should have known.

"Where's your clear purse?" he asked me, in a condescending tone one usually reserves for three-year-olds.

With the same tone of voice and facial expression as a defiant teenager, I replied, "No one ever gave me one."

"Well," he continued, using a tone of voice that was so sickeningly sweet and fake it made my stomach churn, "We will have to just get you one on your next shift!"

By the time he finished this sentence, he was talking to the back of my head. I was so instantly irritated and annoyed, I had to walk away from him right at that second, or else I would have flipped him the bird and told him to suck it. It was all I could do not to get right in his face and scream, "FUCK OFF!!!"

Because my beef here is not with the store's policy about clear purses. I understand the policy, and yes, it's probably a good idea. My beef is with the way he handled it. He has had numerous opportunities to learn my name, to treat me like a human being and to give me the basic respect any employee would want from a supervisor. But instead, he treats me like a subject of his royal power. He doesn't even know my name or what department I work in. He has taken every opportunity to insult me and treat me like a child. None of the other managers do this. At all. In fact, the other managers are all cool as hell. Which only bothers me more -- you'd think he would see how other managers behave and realize that he doesn't have to act like that.

So that's why I want to grab him by the ear, drag him out into the parking lot and bash his skull in while I scream at him, "It is NOT my problem that you are a nutless wonder and wholly incapable of standing up to your own wife! I am tired of you treating me and everyone else here like we are scum of the earth! So you can take your Napoleon complex somewhere else, and go fuck yourself, you power-tripping twerp!"

And then, I want to stop, stand up, and kick him really hard in the ribs, ending with, "Fucking douchebag!"

And then I would walk to my car and drive home. And never go back to Dildo's.

Wow. I guess I'm due for a nice, long run. Or a vacation. Or a massage. I think I have a lot of pent-up rage right now. I need to do something about it. Because this daydream is WAY more interesting to me than anything involving Julian McMahon and suntan lotion.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Father Knows Best?

My only non-Czarina day off for the month of June was Father's Day. Which meant that I had to go with CN to spend it with his family. Which was fine. I guess. I usually spend Father's Day trying to forget that it's Father's Day. Every year, I feel pangs of grief, because I miss my dad so much. And Father's Day is always near what would have been his birthday, too. So June is kind of hard for me. But I wanted to hang out with CN, since it was my day off.

I like his family, and his dad is sick, so you know, it wasn't the end of the world. Even though I didn't have to go, it's almost a familial obligation at this point. His parents love me and he and I have been dating too long for me to skip out on family gatherings. But it was my ONLY day off. *sigh* So I sucked it up and went to church with them and then back to their house for some of his mother's yummy food. (Best macaroni & cheese EVER)

I was afraid I would get antsy to get home, but I ended up having a really good time. CN and his sisters told me stories about their childhood, and they were all hilarious. CN's whole family is extremely funny. My favorite story was about a cat that CN had when he was very young. One day, the cat disappeared. When CN asked his dad where his cat went, his father told him that the cat had to go. You see, it worked for a logging company, and it had to go drive the logging truck.

Maybe you had to be there, but this mental image left me crying laughing. I was picturing this little cat, driving a big rig, paws outstretched to steer the huge wheel. It reached up to grab its CB radio, only to meow into the speaker. After I stopped laughing, CN pointed out that this mental image is eerily similar to an old SNL skit, which I had forgotten all about -- Toonces, the Driving Cat.

Right before we left to go back to Columbia, I was in the living room, alone with CN's dad. He was showing me old photographs of his ancestors and telling me stories about them. The photographs were in double frames -- the ones where you have one person on the left and one person on the right. Each double frame showed a husband/wife duo, and these frames were lined up along a desk, in chronological order. Based on the clothing worn in the photographs, I would say that some of these photos went all the way back to pre-Civil War times. (Which I think is SO COOL, because I'm such a history buff.)

He tells me a story about each person -- the Civil War veteran, the adopted daughter, the preacher, etc. One great-great grandfather drowned in a logging accident (I guess logging was the theme of the day), and since the Edisto River was full of logs when he fell in, and it was in the middle of the winter, they couldn't retrieve his body for THREE weeks. Ugh. Gross.

So we are working our way through the generations, and I'm asking him questions, and it's all very interesting. We started to get to more modern times, and we got to CN's parents. We talked about those photos, and finally, we are on the last double frame. It's a photo of CN, from the day he graduated high school. He told me to pick it up.

"You know who that is, of course," CN's dad said.

"Yeah. It's CN," I replied.

"And you see what's next to his photo?" he continued.

"There's nothing there. There is no photo," I said.

"I know. You'd better talk to that boy about that!" he exclaimed.

WOW. I didn't know what to say, other than, "Um, I think that needs to be his idea. I can't talk to him about that."

CN's dad kept repeating that I need to talk to CN about it. I was starting to get a little self-conscious, when CN came back in the room.

"What are you two talking about? Talk to me about what?" CN asked.

"NOTHING!" I said loudly, putting the picture frame back on the desk.

Smooth, VB. Real smooth.

"You ready to go, honey?" I asked.

It may have been my imagination, but I think CN's dad winked at me.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Absent Minded

Can someone please stop the ride? I'd like to get off! It's not fun anymore!

My life and my brain are jammed full. I seriously cannot take anymore. When you have to schedule when you are going to take the full garbage bag from your kitchen to your garbage can (which is only on the side of your house), you know your life is ridiculous.

I'm not whining. Ok, yes I am. This is my damn blog, and I'll whine if I want to. But look at what I'm juggling:

1. FT job, complete with MASSIVE project, entailing a bunch of writing, emails and meetings. Keep in mind that I don't really know what I'm doing on this project. And that I'm a procrastinator. It's ugly, y'all.

2. PT job, where your ass is grass if you don't clock in/out on time. Keep in mind that punctuality is not my strong suit. (I have yet to be late though! Hi fives to me!) So I stress about getting there. I have realized only too late that although everyone is expecting me to eventually move to the Clinique counter, I don't want to go. Especially since I'm planning on quitting right before Thanksgiving, so that I won't have to work the hell that is the Holiday Mall Job. So I have to pretend that I'm striving for the cosmetics department, when in reality, I have no desire to move. Or stay. Shhh!

3. I am dog sitting for MJ this week. Which is fine -- I probably owe her about 4 dog sitting turns. And Cornbread (her dog) is extremely low-maintenance. I'm just concerned about the fact that I'm working 12 hour days pretty much until the 25th. I will be able to feed and walk the dogs, but playtime? Forget it!

4. 12 hour days + no time to cook = poor food choices. 12 hour days = total exhaustion = lack of exercise. You don't have to do any math to calculate how this is impacting my waistline. Or energy levels. Or sleep patterns. Helllllllllooooooo insomnia!

5. For reasons which remain unclear, it is my job to find the fireworks for this year's annual party at The Czarina's. The party consists of approximately 75 people, all anticipating the legendary Belle Family Fireworks Finale over their 6th stiff drink. (Have I told you that fireworks are big in my family? Yeah. The Czarina's uncle owns a fireworks company in Kansas City. The Belles heart fireworks. Because of 9/11, my relatives in KC cannot mail us gigantic boxes of flammable fireworks like they used to do, back in the good ol' days.) It has fallen on me to make sure this year's show doesn't suck. As if I don't have anything else to do. To make it really interesting, I have known about this for a month, but I totally forgot until yesterday afternoon, when The Czarina called for a progress report. Oops.

6. BOTH of my bosses decided to take big, fat vacations this month. That means I can't talk to Dildo's boss about my jacked up schedule. (She's got me working 25 hours per week, which is WAY too much!) And I am responsible for a bunch of extra stuff while my FT boss is out of town. I have just given myself a headache, typing this.

7. I am now seeing my friends once every two weeks at best. I'm worried it will affect my friendships. And even though CN lives across the street, and we see each other a lot, the vast majority of our conversations involve me asking for favors: "Will you walk Sammy? Turn my sprinklers on? Get my mail? Bring me food? Put my clothes in the dryer?" Or a 5 minute "how was your day?" catch up. To make it extra fun, I'm now always too tired or busy for quality time. Of any kind.

8. Big Brothers Big Sisters called. They have a Little Sister picked out for me. (YAY!!) So I have to call them back and schedule a meeting with the Little. I think that will have to be in......July. Afterwards, I have to hang out with my Little for 4 hours per month. Somehow.

With all of this crap in my brain, I'm starting to forget things and mix up things. A lot of people have been saying to me, "Don't you remember? We talked about that the other day." I have also noticed that my brain is always in a fog. Like I can't focus on anything, because I'm trying to remember everything. I am so focused on "Where am I supposed to be right now? What am I supposed to be doing?" that I can't think about anything else. Like my blog. Or returning emails. Or my big project at work. My brain thinks, "Ok, you made it. You are where you're supposed to be. Good job!" -- and then it turns off. When it's supposed to be just getting started.

At the end of the day, it's the opposite problem: my brain won't turn off. And when your day ends at 10:00pm, dammit, you want some alone time with your tv and your dog. Which means you don't get to bed until 11pm. And then you stare at the ceiling until midnight. Ugh.

Don't forget, I'm wrapping up the month of June with a 4-day visit to The Czarina's, complete with the introduction of CN to my entire family and close family friends. Because that won't be stressful.


If my life were a video game, this is the part where I would intentionally jump off a cliff, because this level is too difficult. I need to go down a level. Back to sanity. Leave this one to the experts.

On the upside, my bank account makes me smile now. :)

Ugh. Ok, I have to go. I need some Excedrin....

Monday, June 09, 2008

Faux Pas Over Faux Pearls

I was working at Dildo's the other night. So far, so good. I'm still getting used to my crammed schedule, but my coworkers are nice and the work is pretty fun. Until I can "prove" myself as a salesgirl, I am currently working in the accessories department, awaiting permission to move over to the Clinique counter.

Nevermind that I already have 2 1/2 years of Clinique experience, working at the Dildo's across town. There's some new rule for everyone -- you have to go to a "regular" area and play Good Little Employee before you can go to a "specialized" area. Whatever. So for the time being, I help women shop for purses, jewelry, scarves, wallets, watches, sunglasses and hats.

Which isn't half bad, considering I love to shop for those things. So I get to shop vicariously through these women -- which is great for my bank account. I get all the fun of shopping and none of the buyer's remorse. It might not be the end of the world if they never move me to cosmetics, actually.

The other night, I was helping an older lady find a necklace to match her shirt. After some searching, we found the perfect one. I was ringing her up and chatting with her, when she said,

"Can I ask, are you expecting?"

She put this weird emphasis on "expecting". Almost like she was saying, "Why the hell aren't you announcing this to the world? Why are you hiding this fact, you modest young thing? Don't you know this is the greatest thing that could ever possibly happen to you in your entire life? You should be shouting it from the hilltops, like Maria Von Trapp."

Needless to say, I was stunned speechless. For once. You could almost hear the needle on the record player being ripped off. I froze.

This is not happening. I am not being mistaken for a pregnant woman. I am not that fat.

I am not.

I am not.

I am not.


*several blinks on my behalf*

*several blinks on her behalf*

We sat there, blinking at each other, while she grimaced and awkwardly gathered up her things to leave, and I smoothed my shirt down, subconsciously ensuring that no pillow had magically appeared under my top. What. The. Fuck.

Well, of course, you know what happened next: The Voices all woke up and turned their heads in unison to look at this old lady. And then, they all had to get their two cents in.

"Oh, no she di-dant!!!" yelled Bitch Mode, complete with index-finger-waving hand gestures.

"You should ask her if she's senile! That'll shut her up!" said Sarcastic.

"Well, I've been telling you for months that you have to do something about this weight you've been putting on. What do you expect?" sniped Inner Mom Voice.

"Oh my gawd!! You're a COW!!!" shrieks Hormonal. She runs away to sob into her hands. Hormonal is such a drama queen.

"Well, the way you an CN have been acting lately, who knows? Maybe you are!" giggles Pervert.

Horny is in stitches. The two of them make randy hand gestures and proceed to take turns cracking each other up with their obscene double entendres. The peanut gallery is in full swing. Great.

I roll my eyes.

"You really picked out a great necklace for her. Very stylish. I think The Czarina would like it, too. Let's go see if there's another one," observed Space Cadet, who proceeded to wander off.

Good Point chimed in: "Dude, everyone and their mother knows that is something you NEVER ask, unless you are 200% positive the woman is pregnant. And THIS is why that rule exists! She just made a HUGE social faux pas!!"

"Hmmm...I wonder if there are earrings that match....." mused Space Cadet. "You could make a set...."

"What was that??? Pregnant? Who said that? Who said the 'P' word? OMG! We have to get to a drugstore NOW, people!!" said Panic, heartbeat racing.

Good Point calmed Panic down and then added, "Look, I bet she feels worse than you do, running all over town with a big, fat mouth like that. Assuming things about people. She has her foot in her mouth right now. She was embarrassed, you know you could tell."

"But baby-doll tops are IN right now!!!" protested Single Girl.

"Yeah! There's nothing wrong with ruffles and empire waist tops! They're feminine!" agreed Prisspot.

"Yeah, but in the past, tops like that have been reserved strictly for expectant mothers," explained Overly Analytical. "There's a generational gap at play, here. Your fashion taste, while good, is confusing to the elderly."

"Well, if that's the case, there should be Public Service Announcements about this issue," Nerd said. "The public needs to be aware. Maybe we could call our Congressmen..."

"Maybe she just thought you would be a really good mom, and she was hoping you were!" Stupidly Optimistic gushed. "Or maybe she had you confused with the other lady in this department who IS pregnant!"

Sarcastic and Cynical gave her a look. She shut up.

"Oh, this is just great. For the last three months, ever since you started buying those tops, you have been running around town, causing people to think 'Aw, she's having a baby! Isn't that wonderful?' I mean, who knows how many people have thinking that!" lectured Pessimistically Paranoid, pacing in a circle.

Oh Jeez. What if the next time someone made this mistake, they do it in front of CN??? Oh, the mortification!!! I pondered the thought of chucking all my new tops in the trash, as soon as I got home that night. Cheapskate vetoed this idea. Single Girl backed her up, as did Prisspot. Damn. What am I going to do about these shirts? Buy a bunch of belts??

I was jolted out of my thoughts by Pessimistically Paranoid's ranting.

"I mean, if you look pregnant now, what are you going to look like when you really ARE pregnant?" she lamented.

"Babies are nice..." Space Cadet said to herself absentmindedly, as she looked at a rack of earrings.

Bitch Mode and Hormonal were whispering to each other and picking up the phone.

"Hey, what are you doing?" asked Pessimistically Paranoid.

"Duh. We're calling security to tell them that there's an old lady who just stole a necklace here in the store," they replied, snickering.

Cynical snorted. "That'll teach her!" she laughed.

Luckily, Bitch Mode and Hormonal were stopped from carrying out their plan by Logical. Sometimes, I think she's the only adult Voice.

Confident was no where to be found. I learned later that she was busy, lobbying for more gym time and fresh veggies in the fridge. And for once, I think most of the Voices listened to her. Even Hormonal, who tried really hard to cry on the way home, but just couldn't. Fashion choices aside, perhaps this was a wake-up call.

"Gah, you are now officially fat enough to be confused with a pregnant woman!!" cried Hormonal.

"Or maybe it's just because you have huge tits, just like most pregnant women do!" said Pervert.

"Or maybe she's just a rude, ignorant old bag," chimed Good Point.

Good point, indeed. Pass the brownies, will ya?

Friday, June 06, 2008

Music Lessons

About a week ago, I stopped by CN's house when I got home from work. I just wanted to say hi and see how his day went. Lately, with me working two jobs, our time together has been cut back significantly, and so I like to have 15 minutes of re-connection before I head off to my part time job.

As soon as he opened the door, I knew something was wrong. Whenever he's in a bad mood, he turns his music up really loudly. Plus, he was holding a beer -- drinking at home alone is something he only does when he's in a bad mood*. At first, he denied that anything was wrong, but I dragged it out of him -- he was in a bad mood, but didn't really know why.

Being the paranoid girl that I am, of course I assume that he's annoyed with me and doesn't want me around because I am obviously irritating him. (Yes, I know this is an illogical assumption, as he was in a mood before I knocked on his door, but I'm a girl, and that's what girls do.) So I left and went to work, trying not to worry about the situation. Which wasn't easy -- I don't like it when someone I care about is upset and I can't help them.

When I got home, he called me and explained.

"I figured it out," he said. "I think I'm just bored. I am worried about my dad** and I'm stressed out about work. I feel like I have no outlet. All I do is watch tv and work. I used to have hobbies."

"Ok, good. That's good that you figured out what was wrong. Thanks for telling me, because I was worried," I replied. "Well, I know that exercise really helps me relieve stress. Maybe you could start going to the gym again."

He was not interested in this idea.

"Ok, well, you liked having drum lessons. Why don't you start those back up?" I suggested.

Drum lessons were too expensive. He wanted to try guitar instead.

"Don't you have a guitar?" I asked, remembering the white guitar I'd seen at his house.

"Yes, but it's electric. I want to play acoustic. But I don't have an acoustic guitar," he said.

I will spare you the details of the rest of this conversation, but what it amounted to was this: he knew what he wanted to do to enjoy his preferred hobby, but was unwilling to do the work/spend the money to get there. It was like he was determined to stay unhappy about his boredom. He kept finding excuses why he couldn't do what he wanted to do. He was Little Mr. Pessimist. This left me frustrated with him and worried about him.

If he didn't do something, this mood might get worse. Ignoring problems doesn't make them go away. And I know what it feels like to have stress bottled up inside of you with no way to let it out. I know what it's like to worry about a parent's health and yet, at the same time, wish you had something to take your mind off of it, if only for a little bit. Television, video games and naps only distract you so much. There comes a point where you need something that can take over your whole brain at the same time, so that you can just. stop. thinking. about. it. For me, it's running. And for CN, it's playing a musical instrument.

So I finally convinced him to start looking around on Craigslist and in the newspaper for a good deal on a used guitar. He found one for $75 -- a stellar deal, if I do say so myself. But he didn't buy it. He had some lame excuse for why he didn't go through with it.

That's when I realized that he would never go out and buy the guitar for himself, and that I would have to help him get started on this. For whatever reason, his own happiness and peace of mind was not something he was willing to prioritize.

I remembered that my coworker had been trying to sell her acoustic guitar for some time, but hadn't found a buyer. So I bought it and surprised CN with it. I also checked out some guitar books from the library for him and gave him all the information about the Guitar for Beginners class here at the school where I work. I told him that the guitar was on me, but he had to pay for the lessons himself! And I wasn't giving him the guitar so that it could sit in a corner and not be played. So he signed up for the $90 class, which goes for 5 weeks -- a pretty good deal.

He was really overwhelmed and happy! I got a lot of girlfriend points!!!! Yay!!!!

His first class was last night, and he came over to tell me all about it. I could tell he had really enjoyed it. He kept insisting that he pay me back for the guitar, but I refused. That's when all the truth started to come out...

"Please, let me pay you back for the guitar. That's $100 you could have used to pay off more of your credit card debt," he said.

"Wait! How do you know I paid $100?!" I said, looking at him suspiciously.

"Well, you told me you got it for half price, and I looked it up on the internet," he explained.

"Don't do that!!!" I yelled. "It's a gift! You don't look up gift prices!! Stoppit! Don't ever do that again!!" I shoved him in the shoulder. I can't believe he did that.

"No, babe, I really should pay you back. I know you thought I was all depressed and stuff, but I was really just drunk when I said all that stuff," he explained.

*I absorbed this for a second.*

"What?" I asked, growing a little angry. I think my hand may have been on my hip. I know my eyebrow was raised.

"Yeah, I had had like, four beers by that point.*** Don't get me wrong! I love it! And I am really enjoying the lessons. I am! And you're right, I never would have bought it for myself. I just feel bad, because you went out of your way, when really it was just the beer talking," he continued.

(Ok, so maybe he was getting trashed by himself.)

"Well, maybe from now on, you should get drunk and ask for stuff, because apparently, it totally works on me," I replied, sarcastically.

As if on cue, my boyfriend immediately imitates a drunk version of himself, and proceeds to start asking for a Trans Am, just like the one Smokey drove, complete with mag wheels.

Which made me laugh.

And that's why I love him, and buy him guitars.

* Not that he was getting trashed by himself, as that would concern me. We are talking a couple of beers here.
** I think I have mentioned how CN's dad is not doing well, healthwise. He's been having chemo and radiation for his metastasized prostate cancer. His leg muscles are pretty much fried -- he can't really walk anymore. His prognosis is not good at all. I can tell it's starting to take up more and more of CN's thoughts.
*** Yes, my boyfriend is a lightweight. He got blitzed off of two shots of sake once.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Thirteen Signs I Am No Longer Cool

1. I really enjoy books on CD. Especially on road trips.

2. I have stopped buying stilettos. Now, I find myself gravitating towards flats.

3. I no longer like any music on any radio station. Except this one station that plays mostly 90s alternative.

4. Although I am exposed to what I would say is a slightly-higher-than-average amount of celebrity gossip, I'm starting to not know who the young people are anymore. I leaf through People magazine thinking, "Who the hell is that?"

5. Exposing a sliver of belly while wearing a form-fitting top is no longer an age-appropriate or flattering wardrobe choice for me. Now, it's empire waists with hip-length hemlines. I also now loathe jeans which allow my undies to hang out for the world to see.

6. The last time I stayed out past midnight, in a bar,

7. I quit smoking. Completely.

8. I don't understand why '80s clothes are back. Leggings look good on no one. The big plastic colored jewelry is ugly. I'm worried that giant lace bows in our hair is next. Besides, why would I want to dress like Madonna did when I was in kindergarten??

9. I find myself turning the volume down, rather than up.

10. Frat boys are totally offensive to me now. (WOW has that changed!!)

11. Going out to dinner IS my "night on the town".

12. I am not renewing my subscription to Cosmopolitan, because every time I open it, I think, "Oh. I did that in college. Is there anything in here that is applicable to my life now?" Frustrated, I put it down and pick up Better Homes & Gardens. Aaahhh! Recipes! Redecorating! Time management tips! This is bliss!!!

13. I drive a Pontiac Vibe. And I like it.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Fashion and the City

This past weekend, I managed to squeeze in enough time to catch the Sex and the City Movie with MJ and her coworker JP. (Since KT moved back to NY, JP has been a super-fun replacement in our girl gang. Not that KT can be replaced, but you know what I mean. Anyway, I love making new friends, so it's always nice to see JP.)

After the movie was over, MJ & JP mentioned that they thought the clothes were ugly, outrageous and impractical. I, on the other hand, thought they were FANTASTIC. They are fun and irreverent. When I go to the movies, I want to escape my mundane life and pretend I have another life -- usually, the life of the heroine. I think this is why I like romantic comedies so much. My life can always use more laughter and love, as far as I'm concerned.

In the case of SATC, I love to watch it and pretend that

A) I live in NYC, my thus-far favorite place on Earth,
B) It is socially acceptable to wear outrageous haute couture clothing that is so artistic and unique, and
C) I have enough money to do both things.

So to say that I really enjoyed this movie is an understatement. It was like a wonderful, extra-long season finale episode. Now, ladies, if you haven't seen it yet, I promise I won't give any plot details away. But I have GOT to share these fabulous (and, admittedly socially outlandish) clothes with you!!!! Yes, I know they are silly and crazy. But I love them!!! I love how fun fashion can be. I love that fashion is sort of like art in motion. It's like a painting or a feeling that you can wear. I love how confident the women who wear these clothes are. I really wish I got to wear such crazy stuff all the time. And why not? Life is short. The way we dress is one of the few things we have control over in this life. It's just an outfit. It's temporary. Removable. Fun. We watch crazy things on tv. We eat crazy foods at exotic restaurants. Why not wear crazy clothes, too? Who's with me?

I think I am hearing crickets. *sigh* Ok, fine. I guess the cheese stands alone.

I know men don't "get" SATC and they think it's all man-bashing. And I know most people don't get the crazy clothes. Or the absurdity of the fact that a writer, living alone in NYC, can afford a designer wardrobe. But I am totally ok with suspending reality when I'm watching a movie. And I really enjoyed suspending reality for this one! So ladies, if you have been planning on seeing it, you've GOT to. It was a great movie, even if you are just a minor fan of the show. But I wouldn't go see it if I were a novice fan. You've got to understand the history of Carrie & Big, Miranda & Steve, Charlotte & Harry and Samantha & Smith so you won't get lost. Ok, enough about the movie. Let's look at the clothes!!!

Here were my faves:
Hello! How badly do I want a pair of zebra shoes like these now? LOVE how Carrie wears them with a red print and a sequin minidress. Great contrast.
Alright, everyone has been dissing the bird in her hair. But I think it's AWESOME. Very Carrie. And I love the color. So original -- who else wears feathers in their hair on their wedding day?? Almost like a hat. And I love women in hats. I want hats to come back!!
Miranda's blue dress might be the most gorgeous thing I've ever seen. And Charlotte's roses are my favorite color.
Ok, I am not really feeling this green dress that much. But I do like the shoes! Gladiator stilettos?? I am woman, hear me roar! RAWR!!!
I have to admit, I could do without Samantha's shoulder pads. But I love everything else, especially Miranda's gold dress.
LOVE the dresses Charlotte and Miranda are wearing.
Gorgeous, gorgeous gorgeous. Another shot of Charlotte's bridesmaid dress.
Super fun dress. Love the hot pink with the belt. I'm not feeling the footwear,'s too much, even for me.
Freaking awesome dress. Yes, I know it looks like the flower is eating her face. But it's so dramatic. *sigh*
I'm pretty sure this dress is from a scene that was cut. But isn't it fantastic?? So feminine.

Now, unless you have seen the movie, you won't understand the significance of these blue satin Manolos, but aren't they just perfect??? I wish I had a pair. Note to self: buy pair of blue satin stilettos, despite the fact you have no outfit to wear with them.

Ok, fashion moment over. Back to reality. Brown pants. Ruffled aqua blouse. Flat, brown sandals. South Carolina. Yawn.