Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Awk Squawk: Irene

Text message conversation with Dr. Dad. Hometown got hit harder by the hurricane than college town. They lost power and Dr. Dad learned how to use his cellphone.

Dr. Dad: No power wind up radio on. zombies seen in new bern. looks grim mom wont let me get a beer from the fridge. boredom has set in. im texting long messages going insane

Me: This is the best text message I have ever received.

Dr. Dad: What   we are slowly going crazy trapPed (nice spelling dad) in a darkening house arguing over the scraps of food and water left   your mom is starting to look tasty   dAd

Me: No one will cast me if my father is a cannibal. The best I could hope for is a lifetime movie about my pathetic life.

Dr. Dad: Sorry to ruin your life. mom is running around screaming get the power on. it looks bleak. maybe tuna sandwiches. oh wait i have month of food stashed and hundreds of galLons of water in the tubs. your tub will be our last stand water hole   lots of germs.

Me: little watz's tub is the cesspool he's had MRSA.

Dr. Dad: ill treat it with with clorox boil it and maybe irradiate it. No light left getting dim   fried chicken and beer in the fridge if I can make it.

Me: I thought you were a true post-apocalyptic warrior. You can do this.

A little while later...

Dr. Dad: i think i can now   i have a cold beer

Hope everyone stayed safe in the hurricane.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

The Notecard Romeo Incident

As I printed a script in the student union this afternoon, I noticed an awk freshman boy leaning out of his chair, ignoring his study group to stare at me. Clearly he was impressed by my aura of senior swagger, because the curly-hair, no-makeup, glasses, baggy-shirt combo I am currently rocking does not emit babe vibes. But it reminded me of another strange incident from my freshman year...

I hate modernist literature.

It is so damn hard to read. Nonlinear, changing narrators, metaphors out the ass. As John Mayer would huskily whisper-sing: "say what you need to say" and not a damn thing more. I get that the World Wars really messed you guys up, and I'm sorry for that, but seriously. Who's afraid of Virginia Woolf? I AM.

But my freshman year of college, I thought it would be a cool idea to take a freshman literary seminar examining how different cities were represented through modernist literature. Doesn't that just sound so... hip? complicated? bullshit? College. It sounded like a "college" class.

So here I sat, in the top level of the student union, cross legged on an overstuffed armchair, trying to force myself to read (and understand, dammit) the first half of St. Petersburg by Andrei Biely. In English, of course. But just like a Chekov play (theaters professors LOVE them some Chekov) the story became extremely difficult to follow because everyone had long, complicated double names with two or three nicknames, depending on who was addressing them.

It was like the Count of Monte Cristo, but with less action.

I am laboriously applying myself to the task at hand. As much as I disliked the subject matter, the class and the professor were AMAZING. The professor remains one of the smartest people I know. She's on the MLA board, for crying out loud. Every wide-eyed high schooler who's ever had to cite a paper or buy an MLA handbook breathes in a collective gasp.

So focused am I on this book (My only contribution to the class discussion at this point would be: Who the hell names a character Apollon Apollonovich Ableukhov?) that I don't entirely notice the person placing something on my desk and walking away.

This is a commonplace thing. People are always handing out mini-fliers for comedy events, cancer-fighting-things, interesting meetings, ect. I once amassed six separate handbills for events over the span of one lunch in the cafeteria. The student union is a popular place to hand out these bills. If the person currently at the table doesn't take it, someone else will come along in 20 minutes and be passionately interested in your cause.

After a long, arduous journey around St. Petersburg (roughly 5 minutes later) I look up at the flyer on my desk, hoping for some distraction. But instead, I saw a plain white 3x5 notecard with a name on it.

Way more interesting than Apollo Anotononin-too-many-damn-syllables.

To this day, I can't really remember the name, and I profusely apologize to you. I know it was two syllables, ending in an -en sound. Nathan? Kevin? I think it was Kevin. Nathan/Kevin, if you're reading this, I'm sorry.

On the front side, Nathan/Kevin was printed in jaggedy boy hand-writing with an arrow to the back. Flipping it over revealed:

"... is a really nice guy who would like to take you to dinner sometime if you'd leave your number #_____________."

Um. What.

Suddenly the overwhelming feeling of someone watching me washed over my being. It was like a screenwriter couldn't decide between a romantic comedy and a stalker slasher film.

"Be cool," I thought. "He's probably waiting for your reaction. Don't act weird."

I acted weird.

I glanced around the rest of the room, holding the notecard. No one made any move of recognition, no head-nod, no hand-wave, nothing. If Nathan/Kevin was still in the room, he made no move to call attention to himself.

And I had nothing to go on.

I had a very generic first name (no last name), so I couldn't facebook stalk. It wasn't like I was in a classroom where I could look him up on the class roll. I had no number or email. I hadn't looked up when Nathan/Kevin placed the card in front of me, because I assumed it was just another handbill solicitor, and like with rabid animals, you don't look them in the eye.

Well damn.

I was really flattered (and single and young and overly romantic) but I was not about to leave my number on a random card in the middle of the student union. If Nathan/Kevin had already left, heart crushed that I hadn't reacted to his immediate presence, the card might not be picked up by Nathan/Kevin the Romantic, but Bob/Ted the Serial Rapist. And I already had enough problems as a freshman without adding "stalked by a psychotic murderer" to the list.

I put the card in my bag and looked around a bit more, winning-smile on my face (hopefully giving off "don't you want to talk to me?" vibes and not "I am a crazy bunny-cooker" vibes). No one approached me, but the creepy feeling of being watched persisted. I got up slowly, packing my books away. I lingered by the stairs. Please, please, follow through with your grand romantic gesture. Talk to me. Do something. I want to go out with you but I have no idea who you are!

Also my bitch roommate would be super jealous.

But alas, Nathan/Kevin never approached me.

I sat in the same area at the same time for the rest of the week, hoping for contact. I had no possible way of discerning him. The weird feeling of being watched never came back, and instead the broke-up-with-my-highschool-boyfriend-to-come-here-and-nobody-likes-me loneliness came back. I kept the notecard for around a year, buried in the bottom of my bookbag, and I always glance around when I'm in a crowd, just in case.

Nathan/Kevin, wherever you are, I would have gone out to dinner with you.

But seriously man, you've got to step your game up.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Too-Skinny Freshman Incident

I am rather slender.

Or, in another word, bony. All elbows and knees and sharp edges. Nothing feminine and curvy. I didn't get boobs until college, and they are still rather disappointing. In short, not only am I lacking in social niceties, but I look awkward too.

No time was this more apparent than my freshman year of high school.

I had the trifecta of dorkdom going on: long, stringy, what-do-i-do-with-it hair that I roped into a tight ponytail atop my head 30 seconds after emerging from the shower, glasses in subtle giant ovals (before hipsters made it cool) and orthodontia from hell. I mean, braces and a Herpz appliance? Really? That appliance looked like shock absorbers in my mouth.

But once I got it out, I kind of missed it, because then I didn't have a tangible excuse for why boys weren't kissing me.


Not only did I have the trifecta of dorkdom glaring like a beacon to bullies, but I grew about four inches over the summer. Upward. And since I'd started being a hardcore cross country superstar (I couldn't even type that phrase without wheezing. Pausing this post for a gatorade break.) the rest of me hadn't quite caught up with the new height.

Now I wasn't just a bony, four-eyed, bracefaced dork. I was a bony, four-eyed, bracefaced skeleton.

My first day of school I arrived twenty minutes early, to be certain to find my Art 1 class on time and get a good seat. So of course I wandered around with increasing panic and urgency until I found my class with less than 30 seconds before the late bell. I ran in (because GOD FORBID you be late for a class in high school) and found only one seat left.

I sat directly in the middle of a table of wannabe gangstas and a handful of ultrajocks.

They were going to gut me with a paintbrush.

But Art 1 turned out to be an almost welcome relief from the rest of navigating high school. They mostly left me alone to my work, too busy talking about "their bitches" or "getting high" to tease me. When I did venture to ask them a question or contribute to their conversation (I think my first contribution was: Hey guys, what's a shank?) they eyed me warily like maybe I was a narc in dweeb's clothing. They would respond briefly and go back to what they were doing. After a couple weeks, they realized I wasn't taking first period Art 1 to ease off a hangover, but because I was actually INTERESTED IN THE SUBJECT (oh the shame) and they started asking me questions (uh, hey R. Grace, who's Picasso?) and admiring my work.

The rest of the school day was not as full of diversity and harmony.

Somehow, the zoning change between middle school and high school placed all the jerks that teased me on the bus in my high school, and all my friends and comrades in another high school across town. The jerks were never the most popular kids, being to fat or pimply or stupid to reach the top-tier. They were hanger-ons, only kept around for their jester qualities for the reigning social monarchy. And jesters need a target.

"You're really skinny." A jester peered over at me in the cafeteria the first week. "Too skinny. Are you anorexic?"

It took me a minute to respond, as my mouth was full of double-stacked peanut-butter-jelly sandwiches.

"What? No." I had snuck a second Little Debbie Marshmallow Supreme in my lunch. Haha Lady Mum making me pack my own lunch. Dessert is its own food group.

"I don't think you can be that skinny without being anorexic. You should eat more." And so it began.

The jesters were convinced I was an "anorexic" and would call me out on it. Frequently. And loudly. This was never done out of concern or worry about my well-being, but thrown around like a slur. Another thing to make me a freak, a weirdo, clearly something WRONG WITH ME.

These accusations were best when I was eating a bag of cheetos. Meanwhile, Princess Barbie could be eating celery and carrot sticks two tables down, and what is she called? "Totally Bang-able."

Jesters would harass me at lunch, give me all their gross leftovers and tell me to eat because I was too skinny. On at least two occasions, after I went to the bathroom during lunch a jester asked me if I'd just puked up my lunch. And make retching sounds at me.

"Oh guys, stop it!" Princess Barbie or Skipper would roll their eyes if the boys' teasing got above their general background hum of superiority. "Stop picking on her. Honestly." Condescending but significant glance at me, as if they were doing me SUCH a favor and if I had a problem I should REALLY get help.

To which my response should have been: Bitch, I will make a shank out of your carrot sticks and skewer you. I know how!

But back to Art 1. I actually enjoyed my table between the talkative thugs and jocks. Ninety minutes of not being picked on every morning! When the first 6-weeks ended, people were given the opportunity to shuffle, but most of us stay where we were.

Except Ron.

Ron was the most detestable type of jester: A hanger-on of the hanger-ons. Pale, scrawny with a belly, mousy hair, and no discernible skill or talents (he didn't even live in a cool neighborhood, gosh), Ron rehashed everyone else's jokes to try to create some puny self importance.

Ron moved closer. And one morning, decided to start in on me.

"God, how much do you weigh / Like eighty pounds / Do you never eat / What a freak / Why don't you eat more / what's wrong with you / You're way too skinny / You should eat / No really how much do you weigh I bet it's less than 80 pounds / What is wrong with you?" And on and on, in a nasally, obnoxious voice. I bit my lip. Now the "Haha R. Grace is an anorexic" joke would be on the thugs/jocks' radars and they would tease me too. They've both certainly spoken ruthless about dem btichez before. My 90 minutes of peace and occasional lesson in street fighting and the drug trade would turn into the rest of the school day: A tirade of everything that was wrong with me.

I didn't notice anything unusual at first. One of the football players stood up. HUGE guy, star of the team, definitely in art to waste some time. I thought he was going to turn something into the teacher.

"Hey yo, Ron?" He asked, towering above. Ron smirked and I steeled myself not to cry. Great, here we go, the approval that feeds the cycle of jackassery. Goodbye, prison tips and hello skinny freak girl.

"Don't you EVER ask a lady about her weight. What the hell is wrong with you, man? You never, ever, talk to a woman about her weight. Some people have serious problems with it and you could make it worse. God, didn't your parents teach you nothin? You treat a lady with respect and you don't comment on her weight."

He sat down and returned to his work. I wanted to applaud.

Ron shut up for the rest of the semester and the "anorexic freak" rumors stopped almost immediately.

I went back to my artwork and lessons in ebonics and sneaking an extra snack pack in my lunch.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Awk Squawk: A dirty joke

No internet at the new house, blerg.

Lil Watz, my brother, is headed off to Glorious Mountain College on Friday. This makes me feel very old. I also want to pick on him mercilessly.

Last weekend, while I was home, we were kind of talking about awkward collegey things. Lady Mum ran through the usual "Don't have sex / sex is bad / never have sex / but if you do have sex for the love of all things good and holy use protection" spiel.

To which my brother replies:

"If I somehow get a girl pregnant, we're naming the baby Odysseus for breaking through my Trojan wall."

Lady Mum put her head down on the table and Dr. Dad didn't quite get it.
I'm going to miss him.
And I will kill him if I become an aunt anytime soon.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Midair Meltdown Incident

This is possibly the most freakish string of events and coincidences I have ever experienced.
And it's all true.

Our team of doctors, nurses and logisticians had just spent a grueling week in Nicaragua running a full medical clinic in a remote village. As we readied for our two flights home, all we wanted was rest. And drinks with ice in them.

At least we got one of those things.

The flight from Managua to Miami went by without incident, besides lying through my teeth on the Entering-the-Country form. 

Been around any sick people? Psh, of course not. This was during the height of the swine flu paranoia, too. Not like a couple of us wandered into the village and watched a family butcher a pig. And ate their totally untreated cacao beans. Of course not. And contraband items? Of course not. 

Well, besides the five totally legit Cuban cigars I stored in my Keds in my checked luggage. (When we went to market, one of our trip leaders told us not to be tempted to buy anything "inappropriate." I'm a smuggler AND a sinner. They were damn good cigars though.)

We waited in the Miami airport, weary and bedraggled for four hours, stuffing ourselves with American food and crunching on ice. Finally, we boarded the plane to take us back to North Carolina and settled in to sleep, eat pretzels and zonk out watching the in-flight movie.

Thirty minutes or so into the flight we noticed a bit of a commotion at the front of the plane. A worried flight attendant rushed past and a man fell to the floor, shaking. Dr. Dad and his friend the SuperDoc (fun fact, SuperDoc delivered me and has many secret superpowers) raced to the front of the plane, followed closely by one of the women in our group who happened to be a trauma/ER nurse.

"Ma'am, we're doctors, let us handle this." It was just like something out of a movie!

The seat mate of convulsing guy got removed from his seat so they could run diagnostics in the aisle, with the shitty plane first-aid kit and all their medical gear in their carry-ons. This poor, visibly horrified man came and sat in Dr. Dad's seat.

"So, you know those doctors? I guess it's really lucky there happened to be two whole doctors on board. Heh." The guy was practically trembling.
"Yep, that's my dad.... that's the guy that delivered me. She's a trauma nurse. We also have a gynecologist, labor and delivery nurse and an oral surgeon so I wouldn't worry about anything."
"Wha... Whoa! That's amazing. What are the odds?"
"Well we just got back from a medical aid trip. But yeah, haha, we've got it covered if anything else happens."

Well yes, why don't I just go ahead and jinx us all?

They got seizure guy mostly stabilized, but the flight attendant still paced nervously and seemed on the verge of tears, and an air of barely-contained panic hovered around the front of the plane. She skittishly suggested making an emergency stop in Georgia for medical assistance.

Aw shit, they were going to ground the plane. We were going to be stuck in transit even longer. No, no, no. Between the docs and the sick guy, they were able to convince her to continue on as planned. My dad sat down next to me again, joked about our little adventure and leaned back to take a nap.

Ten minutes later, someone at the back of the plane started violently vomiting everywhere.

The doctor crew leapt up again, while the trauma nurse stayed at the front monitoring seizure guy. Panic started spreading throughout the passengers, and I somewhat bemusedly thought of the House episode where EVERYONE on the plane gets sick psychosomatically. This could be interesting.

The flight attendant has officially lost her shit and is freaking out on the intercom, telling everyone to stay in their seats (rules don't apply to doctors) as we had an emergency situation. Then, SuperDoc turns around, swishes his gray mane and says:

"Ma'am, I happen to be a licensed pilot in addition to being a doctor. I know I can't go talk to the pilot personally (post 9/11) but let me tell you the exact instructions to give him so RDU clears the runway and we have immediate emergency care upon landing."

Told you he had superpowers.

Meanwhile, barfing guy happened to be sitting right behind his personal physician, who happened to be on vacation in the same area. She was horrified when he stated he'd gone snorkeling and galavanting about the ocean because... he was in the early stages of congestive heart failure. 

The Doctor Team is trying to discern if he has "the Bends" or is currently having a heart attack, and puts him on that little drop-down oxygen mask. It really doesn't inflate, by the way, but that doesn't mean it's not working. Those informational videos at the beginning of flights are actually accurate.

The people who aren't dying on the flight are getting increasingly nervous and antsy. All we need is a panic attack on top of this. I've been watching the back-of-the-plane action intensely, because this is undoubtedly the coolest flight I will ever be on in my life. Dr. Dad shoots me a look and a nod and I understand immediately. 

I need to help halt the hysteria. 

Those of us on the Nicaragua crew are fanned out throughout the plane, and start talking to our seatmates and those across the aisle. "Everything is going to be okay. These are trained professionals. It's not contagious. We're all in good hands and everything will be taken care of. You are all okay."

You know, the kind of stuff corporations say right before a zombie outbreak.

I first alleviated the fears of the people in front of me, assuring them everything is under control. I don't know how a sleep-deprived, makeup-less eighteen-year-old could be mistaken for an authority figure, but the wife relaxed enough to stop digging her nails into her husband's arm. Life lesson: If you sound like you know what you're talking about, people will take you seriously.

I turned to the two guys behind me, one wearing a hat with my college's logo on it.

"Nice hat. I go there. You don't have anything to worry about, by the way."
"Thanks. Can I ask you a question?" I figured he wanted to know how I knew the doctors, or what gave me the right to assume crowd control, but I nodded sure. He leaned in.

"Are we on TV or something?"
"You know, is this like one of those hidden camera shows or part of a movie where they want really real reactions from the extras? Should we be freaking out more?"

You have got to be kidding me. 
The only two non-medical people NOT freaking out on the plane were only calm because they thought they were on some psychotic version of Candid Camera. 

No, I explained to them. All of this was really real, and we were EXHAUSTED and just wanted to go home. They seemed a little more uneasy at my exasperation, but peered around the overhead baggage containers as if looking for hidden cameras.

Finally we arrived at the airport. The shaking flight attendant, who would probably need to be on a heavy dose of Prozac for the next 6 months, took to the intercom again.

"When we land a team of emergency medical professionals will board the plane. (Way to go, SuperDoc) We ask that you please keep your seats until they have exited the aircraft. We apologize for the slight delay but as you can all see, these are very unusual circumstances and we ask that you all COOPERATE OR ELSE." She then disappeared, probably to curl into a fetal position in the snack room.

The flight landed quickly and the medics boarded, carrying out one of the men on a stretcher and helping the other one walk. The Doctor Team rushed out with them, and half of the plane started applauding.

Applause? Maybe some people really thought they were in a movie.

I struggled with Dr.Dad's two large carry-ons. Of course, he gets all the glory and I get to be a pack-mule. Neigh, I say. Suddenly, another passenger lifted them out of my hands. As I looked around, I realized other passengers, complete strangers, were helping the medical team carry out their bags, shaking our hands and smiling. 

"Was that your dad?" The stranger asked. I nodded. "Tell him thank you. You must be really proud of him."

I fought the urge to roll my eyes and say 'not usually' and smiled. We reunited with everyone in the terminal and began the trek to our van, where we had a two-hour car ride before home.

We piled in and SuperDoc looked around at all of us.

"Absolutely no one is allowed to get sick on this car ride. You hear me? No one is getting sick on this ride home."

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Gawk at the Awk: Penicillin Allergy

While interning for a local really-bigass-deal repertory company in the esteemed position of Spotlight Operator #2, I developed Strep Throat. The campus health doctor (campus health: where all medical careers go to die) prescribed me some penicillin. I hate antibiotics, because they tear my stomach to shreds no matter if I eat a big meal or take it at night or what have you. Also yeast infections. Gross.

But being the child of Dr. Dad, I dutifully popped my pill every evening right before I went to bed. Four days in, it was the night before Easter Sunday and the very last performance of my internship. I threw back that pill and started getting ready for bed.

My face felt weird.

Really, really weird.

I looked in the mirror and my upper lip had EXPLODED (however, this was about half the size of the lip in the "Impress his parents with your face-swelling abilities" post). It was two am, and I was having a drug reaction.

Also I was the only person in my house.

Knowing a thing or two about medicine, I knew drug reactions could be very severe and onset really quickly. I snapped a picture with my Mac and then called home... at 2am. Before the Easter Sunrise service I knew my parents planned to attend.

After my lisping around in a panic, Dr. Dad advised a heavy dose of Benadryl and to monitor my breathing. If I was hideously disfigured for life, I mean, whatever. But the second my chest got tight/wheezy/ect I needed to go to the hospital.

I conked out immediately (Benadryl is like heroin) and woke up in the morning with a completely normal face (though my brother would say hideously disfigured as usual) and... three missed calls from my mother. Asking if I was alive and made it through the night because they hadn't heard from me at the crack of dawn.

Yeah really, it was that bad.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Driving in Durham Incident

If you read this blog/like this blog, please comment to let me know! School is fast approaching and I'm deciding wether or not to continue it. Your opinion really counts - turning anonymous comments on just so everyone can voice their thoughts!

The main thing that makes awkward moments funny to me is looking at them in retrospect. As in, enough time has passed that it’s no longer painful and I can look at it unbiased. Or at least more tongue in cheek.

The thing that this blog tends to gloss over is awkward moments, when they actually happen, tend to really suck.

I was set to have an awesome afternoon. I was going to act in my first ever film… as an extra, but I mean, we all have to start somewhere. I spent an hour doing my hair an makeup and picking out a perfect outfit. I double-checked the directions and left on the seemingly simple 15-minute trek with 45 minutes to spare. I was on my game.


Except there is no place on Earth more frustrating and difficult to navigate that Durham. With the possible exception of West Village in NYC, but there are no rainbows and flags and humorously bad sex shops in Durham to make the confusion at least bearable. And eyebrow raising.

I drive along 54 and realized I entered the highway at the wrong spot, somehow missing my exit. Whatever, I’ll be practical. I know it’s near the evil devil campus; I know vaguely where two of the streets on my section of directions are. I know at least that I am headed in the right direction. After driving for a bit I pull into a CVS and ask a cashier where a certain street on my directions is – I know the next cross street well and think it will be easy sailing. I go on my way. I find the road and follow it through snooty suburbia and keep going, going, my eyes peeled for the cross-street I know and am familiar with… and then I hit a dead end.

Did you know that there are two South Roxboro Streets in Durham that aren’t fully connected? I turn around, driving in the opposite direction of the South Roxboro Street that I needed to be on, and stooped so low and desperate to call Lady Mum. Time on the clock: 5 minutes left before I would be late. Perhaps this was salvageable.

After a whiny lecture about “didn’t you get a GPS for Christmas” and a brief tutorial about how to use google maps, we were on our way… and I had wandered far in the opposite direction. Time left: officially five minute late. Potentially breathing room: 10 more minutes.

The thought of being late turns my stomach. I have an obsession with punctuality. And a sensitive stomach.

Went down the same road again, in the opposite direction, and turned where I was supposed to. Amidst a slew of unmarked or only-marked-on-one-side-of-the-street roads, I flew past the second south Roxboro. So panicked, I turned around and gunned it… almost missing the turn.

This turn makes the top five scariest moments in my life. I was going to fast, the turn was really sharp - I cold hear the screeching and burning rubber and a slight sensation of flying like on a rollercoaster - my car careened up on two wheels.

At this point, my hands gripped the wheel so tightly my knuckles were white, my jaw clenched so hard I could feel the click-click-click of my TMJ straining, and I'd even TURNED OFF THE RADIO. Because clearly the quiet helps you read road signs better.

Now a good fifteen minutes late, because not only is Durham confusing but it is BIG, I tore down the correct South Roxboro... and forget the cross street on which I needed to turn. Another call home and Dr. Dad answered the phone in a jovial mood wanting to chat about my day, whose intestines he'd gotten to play with, ect. Finally he handed the phone to Lady mum, who laboriously pulled up Google Maps again. By the time she had invented the wheel but not yet discovered fire, I saw the cross street. Not the next three cross streets on my directions, but the correct street for filming. Zoom, zoom. On fire.

I scanned the buildings for specific building numbers, 3/4 of which had none or were number arbitrarily and haphazardly. I continued on, seeing numbers closer and closer to my goal... and then they leapt 100 digits higher. What? Maybe if I kept driving, things would return to normal.

But for me, normal always means much worse. Now I drove into some filthy (literally filthy, dirt and debris everywhere) slum area, with groups of men huddled around cars leering as I drove past. I fondly remembered my last house in college town, with the set group of men that slunk around their cars on my walk to the duplex. The fond memory was tarnished with the other memory of no pizza or sub shop delivering in our area because they'd been mugged too many times. I drove on.

Realizing I must have missed it, I turned around in a church parking lot (Jesus take the wheeeeel) managing to keep all four wheels on the ground. Finally, I pulled into the parking lot of a set of refurbished brick factory-type buildings, the correct address glittering in faux-gold plating on a sign.

Exactly thirty minutes late.

An hour after sign in started, and an hour and twenty minutes after I left College Town.

I sat in my car. Looked around at all the numbered buildings in the area. I think I saw people moving around, chatting, laughing through a window. I desperately prayed that the one person I knew might walk outside and find me, but of course I have no such luck. I sat. Bit my lip. And put my car back into drive.

Who was I to flounce into filming thirty minutes late, with no call or contact? I was a puny little extra; they may not notice I wasn't there but they would certain notice me stomping in half an hour late, frazzled an disheveled and near tears. A terrible impression to fifty-some people. A terrible first experience in the film world to walk in, only to get turned away. No. I had suffered enough today.

But of course, I hadn't suffered enough. The only thing worse than navigating in Durham was getting OUT of that ninth circle of hell. I drove downtown (uptown) found a college campus, an figured I was close to a highway. Any highway. Please? As I circled the stone wall of this campus-of-evil, I looked down to discover... my gas needle dangerously hovered at the red "E."

So now I began my search for a gas station in a strange and convoluted city, while still trying to get the hell out of it. I pulled up at the nearest ghetto-mart and got out to pump gas... still in my fancy party outfit. But you know, whatever, I once pumped gas at 4am in a wedding dress (true story. long story.) so I can handle this.

A movement in my peripheral vision made me turn. A homeless man began to approach me.

And who wouldn't approach the girl in a party dress (Thank God I opted out of heels) in the middle of a sketchy gas station as the sun began to set? I was either a wealthy society lady who was clueless or... a hooker. "Completely lost extra for a movie" doesn't make the top 5 list if one was to hazard a guess. At least I was a classy hooker.

I fixed him with an evil eye and he shrank away. Thou shalt not give me shit on top of everything else going on. He shrank away. The pump sucked away a quarter of my paycheck and then my car was ready to go. Back onto the winding road and confusion. I deliberately started speeding, hoping that a police officer would pull me and then I could beg for directions. Or a police escort. But these were the gritty streets of Durham, and no law enforcement was to be found.

I finally found the Durham Freeway, which lead to all the other highways. I made the only lucky guess of the night and took the Freeway south. And kept going. And going.

I had now wasted almost two hours, more gasoline than my hippy heart can bear, and absolutely all my patience. Just as I was about to pull over on the median and cry, a glorious sign shone above my head - the route to College Town.

I took the exit and thought maybe I would treat myself to a little retail therapy. I've gotten some of my best clothing while fuming with rage. I headed to Giant Mega Mall, but I forgot one thing - it was the last day of tax-free weekend.

I tried to navigate Hipster Outfitters to no avail, and then drifted along, following the teeming hordes in and out of various stores. Nothing caught my fancy. Everything had been picked through; people were bumping into each other and chattering and SCREAMING BABIES EVERYWHERE.

I admitted defeat and waited in super-crowded favorite restaurant to get Spinach-and-Artichoke Cheese Dip to go. I still have no microwave in the Purple Cottage, but at least I could have a good meal. I returned home to eat in the dark (no overhead light) closet in my roommate's empty room, as it was the only place I could pick up a few flickers of wi-fi. So maybe the evening was horrible, I thought, but at least I was able to end it with a good, delicious meal.

Fifteen minutes later, I was violently sick. 

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Dumping the Dude Incident

It was time to break up with my first boyfriend.

I was not particularly distraught by this realization. I had no delusions of together-foreverness; he lived really far away and it's not like we'd "done it" so there was nothing to be upset about. We didn't even love each other, though he said he "really liked me a lot. Like, a lot" so I guess you could say we were kind of serious.

This realization came about by two major factors: a phone conversation earlier in the week had me gushing on and on about the two roles I had in upcoming theatre productions that were SERIOUSLY SUCH A BIG DEAL and THEATRE IS LIFE ect. After gushing about how this was my whole world, the defining aspect of my life, greatest calling in the universe for my soul for ten minutes or so, his response was, "oh god, I hate plays. I guess I'll come if I have to. For you, I mean. Only for you, and I guess I won't fall asleep."

Aw, hell no.

There are a lot of things I can forgive, unattractive traits I can overlook. The Calzone Incident, for example. But listen to me rant and rave about theatre and brushing off my life goals as a tiresome obligation? I suddenly saw a glaring incompatibility between us. And when I become a breakout star on Broadway in just a couple years, I mean, I only get so many comp tickets. The nonbeliever has GOT TO GO.

Also Halloween was next weekend, and my cool friend JD planned to host a party with dancing and candy and cute boys. Cute boys I liked, who weren't half a coastline away. I mean, hayyy.

Whilst I was ready to move on and my eyes had started wandering, I was not brazen enough to cheat, or even flirt with other guys. But I wanted to, and lest I act on those urges and then forever be branded a scarlet woman and cruel temptress, this relationship had GOT TO GO.

Love is so simple when you're seventeen.

Time came for the nightly phone call (remember, seven hours long distance). I think it was his turn to call me. He didn't have a cell phone (these were the dark ages) and mine was prepaid with a few hundred minutes because my parents were, and will always be, late-adopters/laggards to technology (AW HELL YEAH PUTTING THAT PR TERMINOLOGY TO USE) and also frugal as all hell. So we made long-distance calls from our HOUSE PHONES.

I sound so old right now.

He was talking about... guy stuff, or something, whatever, only focused at the upcoming task of how-to-dump-him-effectively-but-painlessly. I had even surveyed my friends at the lunch table throughout the week. Had I access to technology, I would have made a google spreadsheet with the advice and tried to categorize it. The suggestions ranged from the cruel (tell him you're seeing someone else) to the passive aggressive (just stop talking to him and defriend him off of Facebook).

I am not cruel nor passive aggressive, but I am tactless. And blunt.

"Are you okay? You seem really quiet and uh stuff."

Now see, I am not one of those girls who answers "I'm fine" all huffily and wants you to guess what's wrong. I am much, much worse. You ask that question, and the floodgates come down.

"I don't think we should date anymore / I just um it's like I don't know it's really hard and uh stuff / like ummm the distance! / Yeah the distance is really hard and I can't visit all the time / and we're only in high school and so like um yeah / and we just don't have a lot in common and the distance is bad and I don't think it can work because I like you and stuff and you know, like like you but it's not working out and uh so yeah."

Long pause.

"... okay."

Okay? Okay?! I dump all that out and get a one word response? I was still really naive (again: see the Calzone incident) and expected to talk about our feelings and how we would deal with this and all the changes. I tried to prod for a little more reaction.

"Well uh, how do you feel about it?" Dumbest question to ask a guy, ever.
"Um. Bad?"

Oh god, he felt bad. I made someone feel bad. Instantly I felt like the most horrible person on the planet. I didn't want to be with him, or ever see him again or talk to him, but I wanted him to still like me. (Somewhere, a feminist is clawing her hair out at this statement. I am not so gooey anymore, rest assured.)

I was concerned. And naive. I didn't know how bad was "bad." I hung out with a mix of AP students and artsy freaks, and the artsy freaks were always having existential crises to attend to. When they felt bad, that usually meant a trip to the psych ward. OH GOD. What if he feels that kind of bad and it's all my fault? I had to make sure I wasn't leaving a fragile eggshell of a person to be smashed against the rough wall of reality.

Once again, with the tact and gentleness of a steamroller, I tried to find out if he was deeply emotionally damaged.

"You're not going to kill yourself, are you?"
"Kill yourself. I mean, you shouldn't, that's really bad. You're going to be okay."
"Why would I kill myself?"
"Oh uh..." Good question. "I heard people do that sometimes. When they get dumped."
"I'm not going to kill myself."
"Good! Because that's really bad."

We exchanged a few more pleasantries and the request to mail his sweatshirt back, which I never wore at school anyway because it smelled weird (LIKE POT), and within fifteen seconds after hanging up I changed my facebook status to "single."

I can safely say no one I've dated has died as a result of dating me. As for the frequent bumps and bruises and foot-in-mouth clumsiness, well.... that's just an occupational hazard you know going in.

Lorne Michaels if you're reading this hire me for SNL kthanksbai

Friday, August 5, 2011

The "Charm"ing Conversation Incident

So Boob week was a fail. I've been moving, on new medicine for one thing and sick with another thing. I am scattered between three cities - most of my stuff in my hometown, technically moved in at my college-cottage but spending my nights and most of my days at the boyfriend's family abode. End excuse, start story.

I have one piece of jewelry that I wear every day. I have kept up with it for over a year, which is very impressive considering my knack of misplacing and forgetting things. It is a very simple charm on a plain fake-silver chain. I wear a small metal bicycle. 

My beloved bicycle. I guess if this picture extended three
inches lower it would still qualify as "Boob Week" worthy.

It garners a lot of notice for such a plain, drab charm. From the pizza guy at my favorite local shoppe (Second favorite actually, after Bob's Pizza in SoHo - represent!) asking if I'm an avid biker, to the customers at my artsy job asking about its construction and origin, most people notice it and it intrigues them enough to ask. Tonight at dinner, the littlest princess at the house I'm currently living at asked me where I got it. A simple reply, right?

Does acquiring jewelry usually involve a decrepit warehouse, a pervy old man, and advice to enter the adult entertainment industry?

I think not. 

Also, I had no idea how to make the actual story PG appropriate for a seven-year-old girl.

Our story begins many months ago, on a hot late summer day. I had just dyed my short pixie hair a dark brown, and colored in bright red lips. With a black ensemble, I felt very audrey hepburn, old-hollywood glamour. I headed downtown with my dear friend Emme for an afternoon of antiquing and girl time. Emme dates one of my favorite guy friends, and luckily we have a lot in common and were able to develop a friendship outside of our respective (and in my case, now former) significant others.

So antiquing we shall go.

My favorite shop overflowed with thingamabobs and whatchamacallits and really hideous cast-off clothing. Pre-legs Princess Ariel would have loved it. We scavenged like hipster hyenas, but could find nothing salvageable amongst the wreckage. On to the next shop.

This place loomed two-stories tall with more individual "booth" type set ups. Lots of creepy dolls and weird lighting. It holds a set of luggage I have long lusted over but have never bought due to price and practicality. I have awesome luggage. It is hot pink and giraffe print. This set looks like a reject consolation prize from 1970s The Price Is Right. But I slather over it every time. 

Once my luggage lust had been satiated, Emme and I admitted defeat and began to leave. A glimmer on the corner of a counter caught my eye.

Thankfully it was not the moving glass eye of one of the many possessed Depression-Era dolls.

"Charms $1"Scrawled in octogenarian calligraphy on a plain sheet of paper over a small plastic bowl. Inside piled a whole plethora of tiny shapes. Something about everyday objects in delicate miniature, like  Monopoly pieces mixed with magic, captivated me. I immediately picked up a tiny bicycle. 

It seemed so simple and quirky. I rode my bike on occasion - a purple beach cruiser with wide handles. In high school it was my favorite way to relieve stress, after mothering my wild and crazy friends and keeping my emo friends from death's doorstep. At the same time, it was slightly random, a bit odd. Why a bicycle around your neck?

Well, why not?

I held it in my palm as I opened my wallet for the requisite dollar. The old man behind the counter seemed jovial and friendly enough, one of those old indie types who might have been in a psychedelic band sixty years ago. He struck up a conversation.

"That bar in yer ear, did it hurt?"

I love my industrial piercing, and was flattered by the mention.

"Oh no, sir! I've had it forever. Got my bellybutton pierced too, that hurt a little more."
"Got anything else pierced?" That's weird but of course he's not talking about my naughtybits I'm being paranoid. 
"Oh, haha, nope. Just those two."
"Got any tattoos?"
"Ha, uh, nope. Just the piercings."

And then, ladies and gentlemen, the weirdest compliment I have ever received:

"Has anyone ever told you, you look like one of them Suicide Girls? With the dark hair and the makeup.... I bet if you got a couple more tattoos and piercings you could be a Suicide Girl."

I thanked him awkwardly and hurried Emme out of the store. She asked the question that's probably on the mind of 95% of the readers right now:

"R... what's a Suicide Girl?"

Suicide Girls is a softcorn porn site of alt/goth/indie girls, very naughty burlesque / classic pinup. With you know, naughtybits exposed.

A random old guy suggested I looked like I should be in indie porn. 

I thought I'd dressed rather professional and polished that day. But no. Clearly I flashed PORN PORN PORN.

Emme was horrified at his audacity - who just SAYS that kind of thing to a stranger? I just laughed, and told her it would give me a great story to tell when people asked me where I got my charm.

Which it did, of course, but I am not explaining the porno punch line to a second-grader.

So ummm....

"I found it in a downtown castle guarded by a creepy, creepy, CREEPY old man..."

Monday, August 1, 2011

The middle school boyfriend incident

I had a crush a middle school bad boy.

Now in my middle-school, and to my unendingly naive self, the definition of a "bad boy" was someone who talked back to the teachers, pushed the classroom rules a bit, was always cracking slightly inappropriate jokes and had made out with a couple girls and maybe smoked a cigarette once. (We'll call him Walter.)

Nowadays, I know middle school bad boys smoke pot and get blowjobs, but this was still turn-of-the-millennium. We weren't corrupted to the core. I am not putting my sweet future spawn into public school lest they become baby prostitute crackheads, but that is another conversation entirely.

Not only was Walter bad and cool, but he was smart too. We sat near each other in our accelerated classes since our last names were similar, and we were in the same TAG (Talented and Gifted / Academically Gifted / pretentious acronym) program that met weekly. Walter made me laugh. He treated me like a person - I was still kind of "the new kid," only moving to town a year before, and most people still regarded me warily (who is this dork with glasses and buckteeth and why is she talking to us? type of warily).

The combination of middle school dorkiness, being a lonely new kid, preteen hormones and slight attention was a deadly combination: I was completely smitten. 

We talked a lot in between classes; sometimes we were partners for projects. One glorious moment at the end-of-semester trip to the skating rink for all the kids who met their AR reading requirements, he held my hand for a whole "couple skate" song. Oh heavens, I was just over the moon for this boy.

I really liked Walter. "Like like" not just regular like, as they say in middle school. We flirted (I think it was flirting? Middle school is like some heathen uncivilized tribe when it comes to mating rituals). I wanted to be his giiirlfriend. I didn't know what exactly being his giiirlfriend would mean, but I wanted to hold his hand in between classes and "hang out" and totally try that whole making out thing. I mean, making out sounded gross (tongues? ewww...) but I wanted to be desired. And did I mention he was cool?

One day our TAG group sat in the library computer lab researching some project. Most people weren't paying attention, chatting to each other or walking around. Dreamboat Walter stood behind me. I tried to pretend like I was focusing on my work, but I was mostly likely blushing like a beet and hanging on his every word.

"So you like me right?" He asked, a sly smile on his face.
Ohmigosh he is going to ask me to be his giiirlfriend BE COOL BE COOL

"Uh... I mean, it's like whatever. Why?" Totally calms as a cucumber he is going to ask me to be his giiirlfriend in front of the whole library ohmigosh.

"I think you should check out this website..." He leaned over to type on my computer, his arm brushing me. Swoon, swoon. He probably had the (now absolutely repugnant) smell of Axe Body Spray emanating from every pore. I had no idea what websites had to do with his certain declaration of love, but it didn't matter. I looked up at him, eyes aglow with mega-first-crush-beams and he said...

"You should go to www. GROW SOME BOOBS AND THEN I WOULD DATE YOU hahaha" he announced, loud enough to turn the heads of everyone else half paying attention to their projects. I froze.

He wasn't asking me out.
He said the word "boobs" aloud.
He just insulted me.
He just insulted me LOUDLY.
He just insulted my "private parts" loudly.
Who the hell has boobs in seventh grade? 

The proper response would be, of course, to call him a M*F*er, ask him if his balls had dropped yet, and slap him in the face. Unfortunately, I didn't know the MF word yet or anything about testicles, and I was way to shy too cause a commotion. So I sat there staring at my computer screen, the hateful fake URL typed in the address bar, face red and biting back tears while he laughed and laughed and finally moved on to his friends.

I have never felt bad about my weight, but it was the first time I was ever self-conscious about my figure. How was I supposed to just grow a pair of boobs? Other girls didn't really look like they had apples up top. Lady mum asked me a couple weeks prior if I wanted to get a training bra and I vehemently said NO, I didn't want something itchy and tight and lifty and... talking about BOOBS with my mother? Dramatic eye roll, kill me now.

(oh how the tides have turned on that last statement. I recently asked Lady Mum if she wanted anything spicy from a friend of mine who's a consultant for "Slumber Parties" and I thought she was going to explode from embarrassment.)

I still pined over Walter for a couple more weeks, but avoided his jokes and conversations. My heart was just shattered. (Though I felt slightly proud that he was at least looking in the direction of my chest. That meant something, right?) I didn't understand how juvenile and flighty boys were; I didn't understand how he could suddenly turn on me. I was devastated, and feeling the first ever twinges of self-consciousness. Suddenly, I was aware that I WAS INFERIOR. 

A year or so ago he added me on facebook - we'd gone to different high schools and fallen out of touch. He sent me a message to the effect of "hey whats up / you look really good." Amazingly enough, I had managed to somehow grow some boobs since middle school.

And you know what? I resisted the urge to call him a M*F*er.