Thursday, November 27, 2003

well, super friends...

a few things have come up, and, well--drastic times call for drastic measures.

it's time to use my super hero powers.

you know, avenging evil and such.

it won't be easy, but i have to do it.

don't worry, i won't be away long...we're talking a few days here.

this is a very temporary, but necessary, hiatus.

xoxo sassy little punkin


Wednesday, November 26, 2003

thanks, but no thanks...
a canadian takes a stab at turkey day

i'll admit that even though this will be my fourteenth year of celebrating thanksgiving, i'm still not sure what it's about. the thing is, the only family i have in the u.s. are my parents, and i'm an only child, so there's usually never more than the three of us at the thanksgiving dinner table. and, yes, there's the requisite turkey roasted all day to perfection, the homemade cranberry sauce, the yams, the mashed potatoes, the pumpkin pie--but there's no squabbling family members, no saying of grace or making everyone say what they are thankful for, no football whatsoever. just food, wine, soft music, a log on the fire and great conversation. the meal might come with all the trimmings, but the gathering certainly doesn't.

now, i am not wanting to take away from anyone what thanksgiving might mean to them. to gather with relatives from miles away and hold hands and express good feelings is a great thing, i'm sure. to show up at someone's house with a green bean casserole covered in those canned fried onions and add it to the potluck table must have it's redeeming qualities. to tie the holiday to the frenzied consumerism of "cash-mas" sort of makes the whole point moot in my humble opinion. to study some version of a story about pilgrims and indians and corn that dries in rustic colors i'm sure adds that certain je ne sais quoi to the occasion. i have a pop-culture concept of this holiday, thanks to movie favorites like down and out in beverly hills and white palace, or the annual 90210 turkey day marathon. it's the closest i'll ever get to americana, i'm afraid.

see, where i come from, the barbaric wilds known as canada, our thanksgiving is the second monday in october. as far as i recall from elementary school, it's about celebrating the bounty of the harvest, of cooking up those newly ripened pumpkins and cranberries and taking a day off from the daily grind. simplistic? certainly. heathenistic? why, thank you!

all kidding aside, what i can appreciate about thanksgiving is taking a minute to remember to be thankful. i've been thinking a lot lately about gratitude and good fortune and blessings. and i'm a lucky girl; i have my health, the reciprocal love and support of family, my beautiful housemates, my wonderful friends, my education, my employer, my creativity and my future wide open in front of me. and so, if that's the bare minimum i've grasped after all these years of sitting down to dive into piles of tasty food, well, i think i've come to understand the main point.

and so, with my gratitude for having you read my words, i thank you, and wish you all a very happy thanksgiving. now, "good food, good meat, good god, let's eat!!!"


Monday, November 24, 2003

in your room

you'd given the excuse that you wanted to show me the rest of the place. i took my cue like a seasoned actress and followed you down the short and narrow hall towards your bedroom. it was dark, and you fumbled for a light. "this is my room," you said, gesturing vaguely. you pointed out some this-and-that, and i wondered why you were still bothering with the pretense, since we'd successfully and politely left your roommate in the living room.

we sat on the edge of the bed, and you gave me a laundry list of reasons why you didn't want to be in a relationship. i didn't understand you then, i didn't know the way you spoke in broad generalizations and obscure allusions of your personal history. you'd turned out the light; it was too dark to see the red flags you were waving like the color guard captain in his first parade.

it was early february; early enough in for me to still be high on the self-made promises of the new year. it was fairly early in the evening, though we'd been sitting knee to knee on the love seat for some time. i was just getting over a cold.

i knew my limits, and i wanted to be the kind of girl who could meet a new person and take delight in slowly getting to know one another--peeling the onion. you didn't want a serious girlfriend because you'd been burned in the past. it took me a while to realize "burned" was a stand-in word for "hurt." it meant defenses, and fortress walls around your cynic's heart. it meant cold shoulders and prolonged silences and un-returned phone calls. it meant lies and someone else and things going on too long. "let's just get to know each other," i offered, that night in your room. maybe you should have just said "no." maybe you did.

but you seemed to be interested in me, and you'd been trying to get me to meet you after months of friendly email volleys. we were making each other laugh, we were finding out we had a lot in common. it was nice.

my self-confidence was holding me aloft like the invisible ropes and lines used to fly peter pan across a stage. it was breathtaking, it was magic, it was moment after moment of potential and exploration.

i wanted to kiss you. moreover, i wanted you to kiss me.

we'd stretched out by now, you and i, side by side in the dark and in the cold. your room was always so cold. but it was comfortable, lying there, with you. comfortable in that uneasy and new kind of way. i was trying to read every word, breath, silence, motion for clues. if i tilted my head just so, would you read my mind and know to kiss me? so i tilted my head just so. i didn't know how my body could tell your body to do things. not yet.

you told me you had to work at some ungodly hour, but that you'd like for me to stay with you until you had to go. it was late, it was cold out, it was...

anyhow, we were face to face, and the space between our mouths was small, but just far enough to feel like a canyon that was impossible to cross. that space was alive; it had tension like a rubber band or a pair of magnets, and we pulled with it, and pushed against it, and finally we broke the invisible barrier and kissed and didn't stop kissing for hours, until your alarm clock signaled that time was up.

you were a good kisser. not the best, but like our relationship, you had potential.

you didn't want me to walk home in the cold and dark, though months later i would make the trek in colder air or torrential rain or burning sun just to crawl into your cave and find that thrilling on-the-precipice feeling of getting to know you, of your arms holding me safe against the wind or noise or sadness, of your punchlines and backrubs and electric touch.

that morning, long before the sun rose and when i could still taste your lips on mine, you drove me to my place, at the other end of your block. it was our block for months to come. it's my block again--it has been for some time now--and i never see you on it. we've hurt each other so profoundly that it's hard to imagine a time when a call from you could make my day, or some dr. pepper chapstick and a seductive leaning forward on my part could make you break your fidelity to someone i still consider to be far inferior to me.

when i think about you i like to think about that first kiss; i like to think of us in terms of raw potential, of arms entwined on a winter's night, of getting to know each other, of bursts of genuine but nervous laughter. and i try to think of you as happy with the choices you've made, and happy with where i've found myself in the game of life. and i never regret a single moment we had together. only sometimes on a cold and dark night like tonight i long to be in your room, so i can solve your mysteries, just one more time.


Friday, November 21, 2003

"do you think of me?" i wonder...

my memories are tied together like a chain of knots that cannot be undone. i link places, songs, smells, pieces of time with certain people. when i flip through the card catalog of my mind i stumble on old entries, like an index of the who's who of my personal history. and i take that moment to think about these people who have come and gone out of my life; most often with an honoring of their former place in my heart, and most often with a pleasant twinge of fond association. but most always wondering if they think of me.

like the mystery of the perpetually missing sock, the people who make an exit from our lives seem to disappear into an oblivion, often fading into the obscurity of where you just don't go anymore--geographically, emotionally. sometimes those people remain tangential characters in our cast of peers; it's the ex with whom you have mutual friends, the ex-flame you still work with, the former friend who lives in the apartment below. in those cases you have to learn how to create a present and future that doesn't involve them, though they are still a part of your landscape. so you pass them on the street, at a party, in the hall... and still, wonder, how do they think of you?

i have said goodbye to many people in my life for many reasons. romances have ended--some with calm rationality, some with explosive emotions. friendships have been severed out of self-defense, by default, or in anger. but no matter the hows or whys, these people remain a part of my consciousness, forever woven into the fabric of my life. so i think of them, some more often than others, but i think of them. sometimes it's a cd i'll slid in the stereo and remember late night kissing in the candlelight. sometimes it's a movie that a long-lost friend and i once rented week after week, and i can't help but grin and remember what it once meant to me, to us. sometimes it's as simple as driving around my very own block, past all the doorways i used to enter... and i wonder...

does the friend i lost out of misunderstanding and carelessness see my picture in her photo album and wonder what i'm up to? does the man who took my innocence so many years ago wonder what's become of me? is he sorry for how he hurt me? do any of them have minds and hearts that work like mine, designed to recall any given person from my past? or am i just forgotten--lost like that old sock?

i wonder...


Wednesday, November 19, 2003

the good humor girl

i'm not sure when i discovered that laughter was by far the best medicine.

some of my earliest friendships were founded on the principles of humor and invention. one friend would sleep over and we'd be up till all hours making prank phone calls; our elaborate scheme had us posing as snooty women planning extravagant parties, so we'd flip through the yellow pages and leave long messages for florists, banquet halls and caterers and give phony names and numbers. then, as i joined the ranks of the hormonally and socially challenged in the universe known as junior high school, it was the sarcasm and mocking humor that i employed as a survival tactic. one best pal and i would rent movie after movie and make fun of every moment, and then we'd turn to the smutty and trite romance novel we were writing, which elicited peals of howling laughter from us for hours on end.

it was probably later on in high school, though, when i learned what it was like to make people laugh as an entertainer. in small venues i took on large character parts, designed to steal the show. making the audience laugh was such a delicious thrill... when the shows ended and the auditorium emptied out i felt emptied out, too. but while i loved to entertain and be entertained, i never was the class clown. i didn't act out, or play pranks, or make scenes in order to gain or deflect attention. my humor, often cutting and snide, was best served one-on-one, either in subversive chats, or in many of the notes scrawled and passed between classes.

there is something immensely satisfying about making people laugh, whether they be the roomful of strangers who have paid to see me in an improv show, or my loved ones listening to me tell a story. as i come out of my shell on my school's campus these days i find myself engaged in really great conversations with fellow students, and laughter is the key component. when asked what i look for in a man, with a straight face i will tell you that a "sense of humor" is essential. and it doesn't mean i want to date just the robin williams type--but that you have a "sense" for humor--that you like to laugh, and that you like to incite laughter in others, whether it be by your ability to tell jokes, make observations, puns, or tell a tale. when i look back on a romance i've had, i remember the laughter, and that buzz of happiness that often accompanies it.

i have certain friends that i enjoy making laugh. nothing tickles me more than to set juniper off on a laughing jag, rivaled only by how damn fun it is to make ashley laugh, and to laugh with her. we've actually made quite a spectacle of ourselves outside of a local target with our non-stop laughing. just the other day i had my boss kelsey nearling falling off her chair: "damn girl, you are so funny!" she kept saying, and i was elated. i've laughed until my sides ache, i've laughed so hard that soda or coffee has come out my nose. once, just a couple of years ago, when dining out with my mother and nana, i laughed so much i wet my pants--i'm not ashamed to admit it! and it was worth it. laughing is always worth it.

i remember attending an improv performance of some friends of mine, and after the show meeting up with the cast. a friend approached me and said: "i'm so glad you were here! i could hear you laughing in the audience, and i was so relieved to know you were out there, and it made me feel so good." ask me what people notice about me--and they will say my laugh. hell, even while breaking up with an ex-boyfriend praised that very quality.

so maybe it was growing up on mary poppins, watching uncle albert float to the ceiling in a laugh-propelled spree. maybe it was being onstage and winning over the crowd in over-the-top parts in school plays. maybe it's an inherent instinct to rejoice in laughter. i don't know where it comes from, but i know what it means to me. i can laugh things off, i can cut the tension with humor, and, when in the mood, i can be the life of the party. and i can laugh, and make 'em laugh. i hope that never changes... this sense of humor thing...well, i take it pretty seriously.


Tuesday, November 18, 2003

a smile on a dog

i am the sonnets i didn't read. i am peppermint ice cream and a long hot shower. i am a pear-scented candle, i am britney spears. i am a new hit single, reality tv, a balanced checkbook and unfolded laundry. i am the prick of the needle that drew the vials of blood. i am the fever that won't let go, and i am on the borderline. i am far from average, i am completely exhausted for no reason. i am missing my friends who are both near and far. i am unfinished books, both written or read. i am blackberry jam on a blue cotton blanket, a cat with the sniffles, the remote control. i am full of poetry, secrets, and butternut squash. i am "thank you" and "please" and "i am going to cry." i am letters sent and calls to make and i am not available at the moment. i am nineteenth century anti-slavery literature, i am a work of short fiction that i have yet to write. i am sign this, fill this out, turn this in, and wait in line. i am unable to sit here for very long. i am the urge to recline. i am the clearance rack, i am putting things back. i am cherry chapstick, a wish list, and a brand new orange toothbrush. i am definitely overdue. i am hoping i am next.


Monday, November 17, 2003

gravity from moving ground

matt broke up with my over a plate of nachos on a july afternoon inside a hawaiian-themed restaurant.

when i look back on that day, a number of questions come to mind. did i really not see this coming? why didn't i go with my gut and cause a great big scene? was he cheating on me? why did he even bother to order the nachos?

when i first met matt i thought he was gay. after all, he dressed well, matched his belt to his shoes, and knew all the punch lines from any given episode of absolutely fabulous. i loved to tease him, give him a hard time--it was easy to do, since he was barely eighteen, and i was a worldly twenty-one. and, in our mutual world of the educational supply store we worked in, we occupied two different slots in the chain of command: i was his boss.

we started to spend that crucial outside of work time together. i wrote long passages in my diary about how much of a crush i had on him. i quit smoking because i knew he didn't like it. and finally, one early november night, i confessed my feelings for him in the parking garage of my apartment building. he told me: "i'm a dumb guy, you have to spell these things out for me." after we muddled through the wordplay, it became apparent he liked me, too. first kisses are always delicious, even inside parking garages.

i was matt's first serious girlfriend. when we'd get left at night to work together we'd sneak off to the stockroom to make out for ages and ages behind the shelves of crayons, counting beads and young scientist kits. the lovebirds couldn't keep their hands off each other. matt became my everything--i did the horrible absorbed by couplehood thing of abandoning my friends in favor of the boy. he lived sixty miles west of me, and work was in between, so we'd bunk together a couple of nights at a time in either direction, though for the first three months our bunking curriculum was on the tame side. i could stay up all night, though, making out with him; and, in fact, the first time we did we went in to work the next day, exhausted, and somehow our tired conduct ended up costing both of us our jobs--right before thanksgiving we were both fired out of the blue.

matt first told me he loved me in the parking lot outside work. we'd only been dating a couple of weeks, and i was just so thrilled to hear it that i didn't bother to see it as a red flag. sure, looking back it's easy to read it as "too much, too soon", but no one would have dared point that out to me then. maybe they did, and i just didn't listen.

"i love you" became the password to the relationship. every phone call had to end with it, or i thought something was wrong. notes scribbled to each other in the laundromat were peppered with its variations. on the fifth of every month we celebrated our 'anniversary', and gave each other cards littered with lines of devotion. the thing was, when i said "i love you" to matt, i meant it. i loved him, very much. i loved his intelligence, his warmth, his kindness, his laugh, his ambition, his quirks. he called me "honey" and "sweetie" and held my hand when we went shopping in target. he cooked me dinner, he sent me emails just to say he loved me. he only flinched a little when i talked about our future together.

we had the perfect high-school sweethearts relationship--only we were grown ups. with matt i got to indulge in the sentimentality and overkill that most teenage girls get to experience with their teenaged boyfriends. but i never dated in high school; the classic late bloomer, i didn't even kiss outside a game of truth or dare until i was moved out of the house and loose on the streets of manhattan--literally. i wasn't then (and, for the record, am not now) the kind of girl who gets dated, asked out, wooed, romanced.

on our sixth month anniversary matt presented me with a beautiful gold ring with a purple stone. nothing extravagant, but just a token to show that he loved me. i felt as though i were in the movies. i was the luckiest girl in the world.

ten weeks later i was inside a hawaiian-themed restaurant, a plate of nachos growing cold between us, and hearing the love of my life tell me he didn't want to be with me anymore. that we didn't have a future. that he wasn't attracted to me.

the world took to motion like the way film in fast-forward blurs the lights of speeding cars whizzing down the highway. it was sickening, spinning, everything is wrong and topsy turvy. i didn't so much want to die, but i didn't so much know how to cope.

suddenly i felt as though any given stranger could sense my inner, or outer, defects. that i may as well be wearing a t-shirt that read: 'i just got dumped, i am unlovable'. crowds of people got my heart racing, my palms sweating, my thoughts whirling at such a terrifying pace that i'd have to step away and regain composure. i cried for hours on end, and out of the blue. i couldn't listen to any of the songs i'd been enjoying just days earlier. any movie, tv show, book, meal, street name i'd come across i'd link in some way to matt, and i would lose it.

we were in the parking lot, and he was pulling a box out of his car. it was all my stuff from his house, i realized in a panic. though we were outside, i could feel walls closing in. "you brought my stuff?" i asked, and he nodded. "you didn't come here to talk things out with me! you came to break up with me!" i cried. "you came to break up with me." it was sinking in. "can we have one last kiss goodbye?" i asked. i guess i'm some sort of sucker for sucking face in parking lots. he shook his head: "no." i was a wreck. we parted, and i sat in my car. i had hole's album celebrity skin in the tape player. "dying" became my anthem:

And now I understand
You leave with everything
You leave with everything I am

And now I know that love is dead
You've come to bury me
There's nothing left here to pretend

Remember, you promised me
I'm dying, I'm dying, please
I want to, I need to be
Under your skin

the feelings i experienced in the weeks after matt and i broke up are unlike any feelings i'd known to that point or have known since. i could barely function--couldn't get more than a yogurt down for days, couldn't go more than a couple of hours without crying. but worse than that, i devalued the entire relationship in retrospect. i was convinced the entire relationship had been a scam, that he'd been lying about his feelings, using me, duping me. that he hadn't really loved me, and that no one would love me ever again. how could they? i was unattractive--unattractive even to the one boy who just days ago had made me feel like the most beautiful woman in the world with his words, his eyes, his touch.

eventually i took myself to a therapist to deal with my emotions. there was little or no quality in my life, and i had been reduced to a quivering pile of insecurities. this was no way to be living. talking to the therapist helped--with his neutral eye he could ask the questions i needed to be asked, and make the points i needed to hear. remember that episode of sex and the city where charlotte, miranda and samantha let carrie know she's talking a bit too much about her breakup with big? i can so relate! i went on and on. and then on and on some more.

but, like the merciful nurse she is, time healed all my wounds. and i moved on to other relationships, and to feeling a little better about myself. no breakup has been that traumatic since, thank god. but, by the same token, no relationship has been so dreamy. life in extremes is never healthy, i suppose.

i still send matt a christmas card every year, and wish him well. i forgave him for hurting me a long time ago, but more importantly...i forgave myself.

(thanks to sarah b. for recently having posted about getting over a relationship, and to cati, for asking us to think about a song that has meaning. hole's "dying" will forever be equated with that horrible time after my breakup for me.)


Wednesday, November 12, 2003

navigating the spaces

there are a million things going on in my head--great things that stem from reading too many transcendentalist writings in my american lit class to moments of roaring laughter shared with a dear friend in a silver lake piano bar on a tuesday night. it's swimming with the notes of beethoven's piano concerto number three, and--from the sublime to the ridiculous--a dozen shmaltzy showtunes. i'm thinking about immense things like life purpose, and having quality in my life, and about small things, like how i can't wait to be able to afford to paint the upstairs bathroom in my apartment. there's the fact that today i had the most humorous set of encounters with the hunky professor--but that what was even more rewarding was the laughter my telling of the encounters elicited from my beloved roommates. and i think about how better off i'd be if i just turned off the television set every now and then and lived my life for myself, rather than via the various and sundry shows i rot my brain with as entertainment. i think about the rain, and how much i love the way it gets dark early now, because to me it means something poetic and warm--and though the holidays are coming and i can't afford to give the way i want to--well, i really want the holidays to be special this year. and i think about love--love on every level from self love to the love of my friends, to the amazing bonds i have with people in my family, and the hope of one day finding the right kind of romantic love. and there's the verses of marlowe's hero and leander, full of romance and eroticism--and so i think of naughty things i've known and will know again. i'm to the brim with stories; things from my past are tapping me on the shoulder begging me to tell their tales. and there's fiction--idea upon idea upon idea that i need to pay off in some form or another. and so i go, navigating the space between what i want and i what i have. keeping a watchful eye on the calendar, because life is so much about keeping those spinning plates in motion these days that to drop just one will mess up the whole routine. and the routine is growing weary--i forget about my potential, my ambitions, my desires, and i sell them out for the practical and the mundane. it's navigating the space between dreams and reality. so i knit a birthday scarf, sip my scotch, think about my imminent site redesign, do the assigned readings, write what checks i can, wait for my financial aid to grace my mailbox, and give my cat an extra hug. there's a million things in my head, but i am only one girl. and i do what i can.


Monday, November 10, 2003

learned behavior

truth be told, the hunky professor that i currently am swooning over is acutally just the latest in a long line of former teachers (and, ok, throw in a former boss) whom i have hopelessly crushed on. while each of those crush stories is uniquely delicious, i am going to tell you now about a series of events that preceeded all of this adolescent and post-adolescent longing for the inappropriate. the story i tell you might seem familliar; there was one night i was flipping channels and the television movie i landed on could very well have been a telling of this very same story. the names are changed to protect the innocent... and the guilty.

once upon a time i went to suburban town high school. i was new to the city, the country, the school, the whole nine yards. it was a chance to find myself, to try new things, to make new friends. i jumped at the chance to join s.t.h.s.' s newly forming drama club. well, actually, we were technically called the thespians, and we took all the jokes that came with the moniker. thespians was being run by a young woman who was fairly new to the school herself, mrs. betty lumberjack. mrs. l was full of the joy of teaching--she had a thirst to share theatre and english with all her young, malleable students.

mrs. l was the kind of teacher who really went the extra mile, and really took an active interest in her kids. she'd always be there if we needed a classroom to hide out in during any period of the day. she'd be there to give hugs, advice, rides home. but she was mercurial, and to be on her bad side was a dangerous place to be. as passionately as she embraced us, she could just as passionately reject us. my freshman year was full of plenty of ups and downs.

by my sophomore year i was fully immersed in what can only been known as the 'drama' crowd. i lived and breathed drama--the classes, the school plays, the social aspects. mrs. l grew closer to all of us. i'd go with her to school football games, and she'd point out all the players that she'd like to... well, be intimate with. she told us stories of her years in college, her past loves, her current struggle to have a baby with her husband. she spent an awful lot of time with her students, outside of school. that spring, while the drama kids of s.t.h.s. put on a play with a strong female cast, mrs. l decided that the girls should spend some time together to bond in order to give the play authenticity.

a sleepover in the school auditorium? no, the school wouldn't allow it. ah, but a weekend in a mountain cabin owned by one of the student's parents? perfect! so all of us, including mrs. l, packed up for a place i'll call evergreen hills.

what was supposed to be just an intense night of eating oreos and playing card games turned in to a classic 90210 episode of 'let's play skeletons in the closet'. every girl had a confession to make, a deep secret to reveal. we cried most of the night. i don't remember everyone's story, but i do remember we dared mrs. l to run topless down the street and she did. and i know we heard some dirty stories, and something about the trees on her old college campus smelling like semen. but you're getting the idea here: mrs. l was way out of line.

sometime in my junior year things began to unravel. twice that year she cast strangers to the drama crowd in parts with me as their understudy. both times she confessed to me: "i should have cast you, i'm sorry, i don't know what i was thinking, you'd be so much better." nights after fall play rehearsal bunny and i would get a bite to eat and drive past the auditorium on our way to my house, and there would be mrs. l, still inside with a cast member. only this wasn't just any cast member. this was al, a seventeen year old young man that many of us knew mrs. l had the hots for. the two had some intense chemistry going on, and many of us saw it, but because she was so permissive and liberal, we didn't think much of it. it was all very humorous to think that she was having a real flirtation with one of us kids. and event hough she wasn't by any means a 'come hither' looking sort of woman, her openness seemed to attract the young men in the department. anyhow, sometimes we'd know she and al were up in the sound booth together--someone claims to have seen what looked like them getting up from a lower position before their heads came in to view in the window. someone else i'm sure interrupted an encounter in the costume room.

during all this i was mrs. l's 6th period teaching assistant. it was her junior english class, and al was a class member. i would have to open their student journals and record the grades. and of course, i read them... wouldn't you? and, oh, the things al would write, and the things mrs. l would write back! a scandalous lovers' holiday weekend? some sort of code they'd developed to express desires? and then... suddenly mrs. l snapped. in the middle of class she would call on al and embarrass him for no reason. completely unwarranted she'd pick fights with him in front of the whole class, and they would result in yelling matches, often with al storming out of the room. this was a far cry from normal. something clearly was amiss.

but this is high school, remember, and every social situation is based on politics. and being on mrs. l's side was crucial to survival, a key of sorts to keeping your place in the system. so no one told her they saw what was going on. no one told on her to anyone else, for that matter. at least, i know i didn't. around christmastime mrs. l asked three of us girls to join her for lunch off campus. over veggie burgers she told us that she was finally pregnant. naturally, we were ecstatic--for her and her husband. we knew it had been a struggle for them.

it was probably spring when rumblings of repercussions began to happen. i don't remember how i found out, but i was made aware that al was planning on taking mrs. l to court. mrs. l asked me to write a letter on her behalf to the school board; they were trying to take away her teaching credential. i guess that's what happens when seventeen year old boys claim they were raped by their female teachers. not wanting to lose my 'cool' status, and, feigning outrage, i wrote a letter on her behalf. i guess i must have left out the parts about her and i fighting, about the list of hundreds of curse and sexual words she'd said that i jokingly written up earlier, i didn't mention the sixth period outbursts, the sound booth or late night incidents, or the journals i read. i pledged my faith to her side. like i said, this was high school--you do what every one else was doing. and all my classmates--juliet, becky, jimmy, among others--well, we were all about to become seniors, and i didn't want to spend my last year at s.t.h.s. as an outcast.

no matter what our letters said, the school board told mrs. l she wasn't allowed back at s.t.h.s. that summer she gave birth to her son, while preparations went underway for al's lawsuit.

al believed he was the father of mrs. l's baby, and wanted to have paternity tests taken. trouble was, at the time there was no law regarding sex with adult females and minor males; al was only able to take mrs. l to court for 'oral copulation', and because, as we know, babies aren't made that way, the paternity test request was denied. as the trial wore on, few people would take al's side. mrs. l was a powerful woman when it came down to it. i made an offhand comment about knowing more than i'd let on about earlier to a friend of al's with whom i shared a class. before i could blink i had lawyers calling my house asking me to tell them what i knew. did i have to? i wondered. no, they couldn't and didn't make me. al lost the case, but mrs. l permanently lost her high school teaching credential, and he moved on to a civil trial. (as an aside, based on the headlines in our local newspaper, bunny and i made up the following song: "congratulations, no oral copulation, glad to see you gave up student sex! [clap, clap]") al had long left s.t.h.s., and graduated, presumably, from elsewhere. mrs l and her husband had a son a couple of years later.

the teacher who replaced mrs. l my senior year became my first teacher crush, and, boy, howdy, did that cause some scandal. but those are tales for another time.

and though mrs. l can't teach high school, she sure can teach college, and as a matter of fact, she does. my school.

i have seen her once in the over two years i've been there. she teaches low level english classes--stuff i was, thankfully, exempt from having to take. i emailed her to tell her i was there--she sent me a polite reply, but i sensed she wasn't thrilled i was there. i have a feeling along the way she realized i didn't buy in to her story completely. in fact, i wish they could have ordered those paternity tests. and i wish i had spoken up... but i didn't, and i can't go back and change it.

an incident like this, i've realized, doesn't happen in every high school. it certainly made headlines, and it certainly had an impact on many lives. betty is still married to mr. l--in fact, i believe he's just joined the faculty at my school, and will be a prof of mine next quarter. i'll admit, i feel a little weird about it. after all, i kind of think his oldest kid belongs to a former high school classmate of mine!

so the whole student-teacher love affair situation goes back to my younger years. and i can't shake it--i walk the same halls as mrs. l every day, once again, and i also moon and pine over my beloved hunky professor. my ten year reunion is coming up, too--some folks from those years are starting to trickle back in to my life. there's talk of having a 'drama' kids reunion. (some of us had a mini reunion two years ago when a former classmate of ours was murdered and we all met up at the memorial service. and we managed to turn that reunion into scandalous drama, too, go figure.) can take the girl out of 'drama', but you can't take the drama out of the girl!


Wednesday, November 05, 2003

easy come, easy go:
statistics relevant to a girl who lost yet another job

number of hours worked at new job: 29.15

number of hours worked at the same time as my supervisor: 6

number of hours i worked while sick: 11

number of times i was talked to about my job skills/performance: 0

number of times i was asked to learn my job from an advanced technological level/approach: 0

percentage of calls i answered that were tech support that i was directed by fellow workers to always forward to the actual tech department: 100%

number of tech proficiences i claimed to have in initial phone interview or during in person interview: 0

percent of qualifications for the position discussed during those interviews that i met with: 100%

number of employee guide books, manuals, resources, or supplemental information i was given in order to help me better learn my job: 0

number of hours worked before i was expected to answer customer service phone calls: 4

number of computer programs, software packages, or applications i learned to use and was, in fact, using daily, in those 29.15 hours: 4

number of customer service phone calls i deferred, gave up on, bailed on, hedged my way through because i wasn't actually able to help them (other than as per instructions, putting them on hold and finding out the answer so that i could continue to help them): 0

reason for being let go: "we've decided we need someone with more of a background in advanced technology."

in a room containing myself, my supervisor and the human resources rep, number of us who were stunned that this was happening: 2 (you can guess which ones, but i will tell you that after the initial news was delivered the hr rep asked my supervisor to step out in to the hall, where i believe she attempted to convince him to change his mind.)

some of the things i (calmly) chose to say to my supervisor: "i'm disgusted." "what a horrible way to run a business." and, most pointedly: "you should have never hired me if i did not have what you were looking for."

bonus statistic:
days my unemployment account remains on an administrative penalty hold due to an overpayment in 1999: 22

well, so long, it was great while it lasted. apparently the universe feels i need yet another challenge to tackle; i guess because things were starting to improve. i know one should never get too comfortable, but for crying out loud--let the girl keep a good job!

ah, well, i'm not afraid of a challenge. i'm becoming strangely accustomed to having the rug yanked from under me. easy come, easy go.


Tuesday, November 04, 2003

debunking the myth of the strong finisher

several months ago, in a pathetic and veiled attempt at flirtation, i volleyed an email back to the hunky professor on the subject of the final exam he had given us the previous quarter. he'd remarked that while he couldn't remember specifics, i must have done well because i did so well in the course overall. "well, i'm a strong finisher," i told him. like a file in a cake given to an inmate, my innuendo was buried deep enough to avoid detection.

and i think of that notion today, that i am a strong finisher, and i realize i never actually have been any good at seeing things through to completion. i have dozens of books i've started to read on my shelves. tasks of organization around the home are incomplete. plans and projects abandoned as early as inception. not once have i made all the purchases stipulated in the columbia house music club rules of membership. so really, i've been a lousy finisher, if i finish at all.

but something has changed. i can't quite put my finger on it--and dare it be as simple as having grown up (gasp!)?--but there is a difference in my approach to life, and in turn, a difference in the results. these days i'm finding a lot of reward in working hard. and i'm able to sit down, like i did tonight, with a cherished friend like my beloved boy juniper, and have an earnest talk about something as serious as going after a masters' degree. (and also having an earnest talk about the fact that the best thing the o.c. has going for it is that it is camp fare that takes itself very seriously, a la beverly hills, 90210.) and even though juniper is notorious for reminding me that "we're not getting any younger", hearing that doesn't put fear in my heart, but rather lends me a sense of calm that comes from having weathered a few storms in my tumultuous twenties, and now i'm emerging, ready to make strides towards a future that i am sincerely looking forward to.

and it's scary. boy, howdy, it's terrifying. how true that: "it terrifies anybody who's intelligent to do anything."* but it's positively exhilarating.

this morning i am registering for my last quarter of classes that will earn me my bachelor's degree in english. it's been a long haul since i first ventured on to the campus as a theatre arts major in the fall of 1995. fresh from a job canvassing for donations for greenpeace following a six month intensive course of study in the school of life in new york city, i started my so-called college career with all the irreverent superiority afforded to any smart-assed eighteen year old. looking back, it's like watching a nature documentary, and that creature, that butterfly, that baby calf, that newborn kitten is me, feeling things out, taking some risky steps, cockily stepping into confrontation, but eventually, in a sort of time-release slow-motion, i can see me coming in to my own. figuring it out. and here i am. not done, by any means, with making sense of who i am in this crazy world. but finishing something. something big.

and i'm going to finish strong. because that's who i've grown up to be.

*quote: katharine hepburn, in a 1973 tv interview with dick cavett.


Monday, November 03, 2003

and i said: "brandy, you're a fine girl..."

this weekend i kept up the pace and worked my fool butt off, once again. i was buoyed by the happy realization that it was finally cold enough to wear long sleeves during daylight hours; to take it one step further, the powers of nature that be decided that after weeks of hot, arid heat, there would be no better time for a deluge than halloween night. i was tucked safely inside at work--which, i might add, is in a part of town where i am a cultural minority, to my delight and amusement. this has led to the following analogy, of my own invention:

punkin is to the neighborhood of her second job as jenna von oy is to the cast of upn's show the parkers.

i seriously love my job at kelsey's store. i seriously love my morning job, too. hell, for good measure, i'll even toss in the fact that i seriously love school. the trouble is, i also seriously love sleep and television, and this self-proclaimed pretty pretty pink princess has had to make some serious concessions to her valuable 'me' time. i just remind myself that work equals pay which equals taking care of bills and then taking care of applying to grad schools. that's when i go back to seriously loving work and school.

i did, however, make some room in my snug schedule saturday night to pay a visit to my beloved friend judy. while judy is a former roommate, she is also, and chiefly, one amazing woman that i am tickled several shades of pink to have as a dear friend in my life. judy has just taken residence in her very own modern girl's guide to life kind of apartment in a very desirable part of town. i had the privilege of being her first guest in her new digs, and so, in honor of that occasion, judy flexed her kitchen muscles and cooked me dinner, complete with the obligatory low-budget glamour accessory: a bottle of two-buck chuck.

judy's new place is utterly cavernous--like two stranded sailors we perched on the tiny couch and chatted for ages on a sea of carpet. we talked about boys, we talked about friends, we talked about dreams, we talked about money. we laughed. i coughed. and coughed. because the last few days of a cold like mine are all about the ceaseless coughing. until judy finally said: "what will stop you from coughing?" and i thought for a second, and then answered: "hard liquor." so we made our second trip of the night to the store and judy purchased an 'investment' bottle of brandy for her bachelorette pad liquor collection. sometime in to our second glass i had somehow managed to rope her into giving me a haircut--among her many talents, judy is an excellent (and licensed) beautician. she took less than an inch off, we finished our drinks, wrapped up the chat, and i went on my merry way into the cold night.

so here it is, monday yet again. my date book is crammed with exciting to-do items such as: laundry! post office! rewrite essay for professor hunky! pay rent! read some short stories! work, work,work! write a novel for nanowrimo!

i can't let monday seem so bleak; the weeks are flying by these days, and for every one i get through, my reward is a paycheck each friday from one job or the other, and the prospect of reconnecting with some wonderful friends whenever the chance presents itself.

so, cheers! let's drink to the good things!


Site Meter