All It Has To Be

The message popped up on Facebook a week and a half ago, the day after I’d gone to Paul and Elaine’s house for game night with some other neighborhood folks.

“Paul and I just ran into one of Paul’s old friends, and we thought we’d love to introduce you. He’s a really smart, good looking, nice guy. Sorry if we’re out of line here, just tell us to back off if so here’s-his-facebook-pagecheckitout.”

Alright, so that last part with the words all running together isn’t how she wrote the message, but it was how I read it because I know her, and this was probably how she tried to just casually toss out that I could view his photo.

Well. Hello Liam. What might be wrong with you?

I know it sounds terrible, and I know it’s probably what other people think when they’re first introduced to me as an available woman in her mid-30s (I’m not quite 37 yet). But Liam is 40 (I know because his apparent sister mentioned it on his page) and single, attractive and professional, and seemingly never married. Which generally means fucked up in some hidden but very significant way.

I’m not saying that’s not the case for me as well. Seuss probably had it right when he said we’re all a little weird and if we find someone with whom our weird is compatible, we fall in mutual weirdness and call it love. Therefore, I do subscribe to the belief that some people just have a hard time finding their Compatibly Weird Person. But by and large, in my dating life, I have found that if a guy is never-married and not with someone at this point, there’s a reason, and that reason is eventually going to make me really sad or really bitchy. Possibly both.

And so I wonder what might be wrong with Liam. But hey, it doesn’t hurt to meet people and I have no real reason to avoid it. Just last week I found out that Jack sold his condo two miles and a body of water away from me, and now lives in Gwyneth’s house, one mile and a park away. This affirms that I will eventually run over them nearby.

Into. I mean into them. Damn. I always make that mistake. *shifts eyes*

The point is, the last guy I loved is dangerously close-by and, by some absolutely insane twist, married—to a child, comparatively speaking—and I know he’s Fucked Up In Some Hidden But Very Significant Way. The last time I had a date that I knew was a date was in April of 2013. Javier is still with Lydia and is presently visiting Colombia (without her), and it’s been relatively easy to dismiss his mild advances as unconvincing. I’ve learned some pretty important lessons. And I’ve been really comfortable not-dating and not-looking. I’ve enjoyed that. What harm can it do to meet someone? Especially if he’s been endorsed by friends who have known him for years? We don’t have to date.

Stll, the winds of fate seemed a little dramatic when they decided we should meet the night of an epic snowstorm and preceding Valentine’s Day by 12 hours.

Elaine had decided to have us both over for dinner. My only question was whether Liam knew this was a set-up, because how awkward would that be? But she replied yes, he’d seen my picture and heard their descriptions of my personality and wanted to meet me.

So I slopped two blocks through a snowy mess, wearing jeans and an enormous, heavily-pocketed, highly unflattering coat (hood up to defend against large drops of freezing rain) out of necessity, carrying a spare pair of shoes in a bag along with a bottle of Bordeaux, and praying my armpits wouldn’t sweat through my curve-appreciating but cleavage-covering shirt. (Hyperhydrosis of the underarms. Thanks, Dad. Cool trait.) Dramatically misjudging how long this walk would take, I got to Paul and Elaine’s a few minutes early. Liam arrived a few minutes late, having caught a cab from his house because the idea of finding parking in our neighborhoods right now is nothing short of hilarious, and a mile is too far to carry a six-pack of craft beer through slop to get to a set-up dinner.

The liberating thing about having been through the six-bladed blender of misguided love is that it makes you stop trying so hard. I looked as nice as I could under the circumstances, but refused to obsess. I was with other people I knew, so I couldn’t act like anyone other than myself. And I honest-to-God could not have cared less if this guy wasn’t into me. Beef stew, sourdough, multiple tiny cups of amazingly delicious mousse and some red wine were all perfectly lovely reasons to spend an evening with friends and their friend, and I didn’t need it to go beyond that. I quite literally have no fucks to give. So I guess thanks for that, Jack.

Result: zero awkwardness, zero discomfort, zero anxiety and only a teensy bit more wine than I maybe should have had in this circumstance. Which was Elaine’s fault, and barely had an effect on me at all, while Paul was rather suddenly overtaken by Dr. Feelgood. Always best for the hosts to get blitzed and the guests to remain comfortably in control of themselves.

Things were casual and maybe a little cautious before dinner. Dinner itself was delicious and comfortable. The after-dinner showing off of the delightfully retro basement saw us divided girl-girl and guy-guy for conversation, but without any sense that something was going wrong. Sampling the mousses Elaine brought home from an event she organized was a stand-up affair, and maybe the first sign that there was a little chemistry; Liam seemed to deliberately cross to my side of the kitchen-to-dining-room pass-through, to stand next to me while we faced Elaine, and only hesitated for a second when I offered for him to get a spoonful of the chocolate coffee mousse I was trying not to wolf down like a fiend. He recommended that I try the chocolate-chocolate-chocolate version he’d just eaten. He loves chocolate and coffee. Excellent.

After dinner, sitting in the living room, the conversation continued to flow freely and we got to talk about his travel (he’s in international sales, which means I am madly jealous of his trips) and my music (a previous topic had revealed to the room my classical training, and Paul had been trying insistently to convince me to sing with his rock-blues band). I was embarrassed by my passion as I described a moment singing Mozart’s Requiem in a Parisian church, but Liam seemed to fully appreciate it and reciprocated with other interests.

Also we talked about how the skeleton event at the Olympics is fucking insane, and then discussed which slightly less crazy things we’d want to do. He thinks it’s nuts that I’d do time in a cage while sharks swam around me. Elaine said everybody thinks they want to parasail until they see a guy get hanged by the cords and watch the crew reel in his body.

That was a kind of weird moment.

As we were re-suiting ourselves in winter paraphernalia to gird against the sleet that was now pummeling the neighborhood, Liam flat-out asked if he could call me sometime. In front of Paul and Elaine. This is the kind of stuff most guys don’t do; they try to play it a little quieter. But I guess since we both knew this was a set-up, he didn’t feel the need. I babbled about how my phone isn’t working as a phone at the moment so he wouldn’t be able to hear me if he called me, and he said, “…Okay, but I can text you, right?” and I told myself to stop talking and just say yes and give him my number.

But the best part is that I’m not waiting for the text. I had a lovely evening with friends and their friend. And that’s all it really ever had to be.

Prom Night

It’s prom night! I’m doing my nails! I know what I’m doing with my hair and everything!

Tonight is the fundraising semi-formal gala for the neighborhood association. We call it the prom, but really it’s just another neighborhood party in a different location for which we get to dress up instead of come-as-you-are. There’s dancing. It’s just like high school, except with Spanx and an open bar (wine and beer) and a silent auction, a pre-event dose of ibuprofen so my back can handle the night, and an instant spray-on tan from a can instead of weeks of seven-minute increments in a tanning bed. And nobody sneaks off to get high afterward.

That last part might not be true.

I’ve been mentally preparing for The Colombian to be there with Lydia for a month, so it’ll be totally fine. It’s nice to be able to go to prom and not feel like I have to have a date, or feel like a loser for not having one. (I did have dates to my proms.) So why was it a tiny little poke in the gut when Rick, who never posts on FB, posted about his gallery showing yesterday and thanked his girlfriend for making it so special?

That’s awesome, by the way. I’m glad they’re doing well. I’m just a little jealous that nobody says such sweet things about me.

While electro-chatting with Angie about the upcoming evening, a text came through. Javier, from whom I haven’t heard in two weeks (when I was in the mountains and he simply asked if I was in town and then not another peep). “Pre-drinks, my house, 7pm. Bring bubbly but not required.”

Well, hell. You’ve gone ahead and invited me over (I’m not the only invite—an hour later, Gaybor Steve told me without prompting that he’ll be there) and even beaten me to the “what can I bring?” punch by telling me. If my former coworker had been able to bring me my latest wine shipment, I’d have bubbly at home, but that hasn’t happened yet, which means now I have to go to the store.

I’m currently smelly, sans makeup, greasy hair pulled back in a haphazard ponytail, and wearing entirely too much ironic fuscia velour in the form of yoga pants and a zip-up hoodie given to me by my Crazy Aunt for Christmas a few years ago. It’s what I wear when Honey Badger don’t give a shit. Now I either have to shower early and put on real clothes to go out in public or I have to go get the bubbly when I’m all gussied up.

Oh, wait! That gives me the chance to cruise by The Colombian’s house early and scope it for signs of Lydia’s car. Then, since I haven’t replied to the text, I can toss off going to the pre-party if I don’t like the look of things.

Jesus, it is just like high school. What the hell, me? Get it together. We are too old to care about this shit.

And we are going to look gooooood tonight. If we find the right Spanx. I have to find the full-body bust-to-thigh one so I don’t have to wear the other one, because the other one has a band at the waistline that’s totally discernable if someone puts a hand on my back. Of course, the full-body one has a tendency to cheat its way south at the top, which means I have to reach in and pull it back up over my boobs. I didn’t have these problems in high school. I weighed more then, actually, but I had less trunk jiggle and the shoulder-to-ankle royal blue sequins on my dress were good cover for any less-than-smooth bits I might have had.

I could just wear that dress. It would be my second ironic outfit of the day. I still have it and it still fits. In case you haven’t noticed, I apparently have trouble letting some things go. But in my defense, the reason I still have the prom dress is totally because I like occasionally slipping it on to confirm: *fist  pump*Still fits! I might do that anyway, just to bolster the confidence a little. And then when it no longer fits I can burn it and pretend I have no idea that I ever had a prom dress.

Maybe I should start drinking now.

 

 

 

All Class

I went to a kind of fancy luncheon today to honor some amazing people who either give literally millions of dollars to truly worthy causes or else find ways to get other people to do it. Since I was there for work, I had to put on a nice dress and do my hair special and wear hose—pantyhose, you guys—and act like I know what I’m doing because I was around a lot of seriously important work people.

This was after I had to color my dress because I apparently spontaneously lactated bleach. Coupla little bleach spots on my still-paying-for-itself black wrap dress, smack on the right nipple. I don’t know how it happened because I don’t buy bleach for laundry and I don’t clean in my expensive black wrap dress. Sharpied that shit. Totally worked. I win.

Fortunately, I got to continue that classiness when I arrived at the luncheon. It was one thing when I had to pretend to be fine standing in a circle of deans and VPs and the president and the provost. Some of those folks are actually on my client list. I’m sure they were wondering why I was there, the answer to which is that our fundraiser folks are also on my client list. And the whole reason all of us were there is that some of the people being recognized were people whose efforts had, in one way or another, benefited our institution. So let’s eat!

Lunch was a lovely cold salmon filet with what a colleague kept calling “frizzy salad.” Also known as frisee salad. And in his defense, that stuff is hard to eat with any degree of grace. I know because of the number of times some of it wound up hanging out of my mouth when I tried to take a modest forkful. It didn’t seem to matter how many times I cut it up. I think frisee lettuce regenerates.

Also I kept slamming my knee into the table leg and disrupting everyone’s place settings. And I spilled my iced tea, which I don’t even drink. But that’s kind of okay because another colleague knocked over the whole little baby pitcher of coffee creamer.

You can’t take us anywhere.

I had to look around to see if it was acceptable for me to put my dessert plate on top of my lunch plate when I was ready to inhale my individually sized chocolate mousse cake with strawberry gelee. Somebody else did it, so that made it okay. I briefly entertained the notion of grabbing one of the cakes that was at an unoccupied seat at the table, but I managed to control myself at least that much.

I always feel like such an ass at these kinds of things. I’m supposed to appear sophisticated and worldly but most of the time I’m like, “Can anybody tell I Sharpied my boob?” and “Do I have frisee in my teeth?” It’s like I’m 12. Here I am all gussied up and working professionally for nearly two decades and whatnot, and I can’t seem to figure out how to not be an unimpressive jackass.

I managed to conduct myself with some degree of aplomb while I handled a few interviews after the event, though I did drop my phone/recording device twice. Also, do you ever have the problem where you’re at a thing and people are offering a hand to shake and you’re holding your sunglasses, phone, event program, pen and umbrella all in your right hand? And then you have to switch everything to your left hand just to be able to reciprocate the proper greeting? Why don’t I just learn to hold everything in my left hand? Why am I an unimpressive jackass?

Also? The people at this function are amazing. Ah. May. Zing. I welled up four times, and the only reason it wasn’t five is because I draw a line at crying about 17-year-old Girl Scouts because get on with your life, sweetheart. But with all the giving and all the selflessness (and I guess there’s an argument to be made that if you’re a gazillionaire you’re probably not entirely selfless but you’re still giving it away to refugee camps in Burma and the like), I felt super-inspired and super-uplifted and super-jerky. Again, obviously I’m not a gazillionare, but still. What do I do for the refugees in Burma? Nothing.

Also my underwear was on inside-out.

Again.

 

I’m not dead. I just had a tetanus shot.

So I keep forgetting to write things.

It’s not because I don’t have anything to write about. It’s just that I get all caught up in other things and forget to write a blog post.

Does this happen to you guys?

Alright, so I’m writing this with my left arm hanging semi-limply at my side because grad school made it hurt. Apparently you can work on a college campus all fine and dandy, but if you want to set foot in a classroom (for more than seven class periods), you have to go to the health center to prove that which you’ve known since 1978 (I’m immune to measles, mumps and rubella – but since my pediatrician has been dead for lo, these many years because he was 102 when I was four and I’m now 36, and since he didn’t sign my immunization record, I have to have blood drawn to make sure) and also to  get the “Adult TDaP,” which was previously known as the DPT and which I also had plenty of when I was little. T, as you might guess, stands for tetanus and also Time To Lose the Use of Your Arm Because OW.

My second tetanus shot in eight freaking months. I’d rather have actual tetanus.

At least this time I remembered I had to have it in my left arm. I can’t sleep on my left side thanks to my jacked up cervical spine, and back in February, when I tried to hack my finger off with a steak knife, I let them give me the tetanus shot in my right arm, like a dumbass. After I got it again yesterday, a lot of things got kind of hurty, like my very bottom rear right side rib, my eyeballs, my neck, my head and something in my chestal region.

Some of that might have been a hangover from a pretty epic weekend. But mostly I think it was the shot.

In case some of you are wondering: I’ve had to draw a line with The Colombian. You might recall that, a month ago, he tried to beso me and then we had a conversation about how he “technically” still had a girlfriend and that probably wasn’t a good thing for her or me. Yesterday he invited himself over for Monday Night Football again, and as he was getting ready to leave, I asked him about the situation.

“Suuuuu…” he started.

“No,” I said. “Do you have a girlfriend or not?”

“We haffen’ talked aboud it,” he said. “We jes don’t see each ahther mush now. I habben’ seen her in…” (he thinks) “…nine dayce.”

“So you still have a girlfriend. You haven’t broken up.”

“Well…”

“So why are you here?” I asked gently, with a smile.

“Because I want to be here,” he smiled a bit shamefully.

 

“Javier,” I said with a sweet smile to belie my Bullshit Meter’s reading. “You can’t ask me to hang out one-on-one if you haven’t ended it with her.”

“Okay,” he said, standing up, seeming embarrassed.

“it’s not fair,” I smiled up at him, head tilted, hair tumbling over my shoulder. “Right?”

“Okay,” he said.

“I don’t know what to do with it,” I said as he hugged me goodbye.

“Okay.”

Okay.

Trying to apply lessons learned. It sucks. But I know I’m right. I’m totally right. No me gusta, but fish or cut bait, amigo.

 

 

Ay yi yi

Alright. Alright, fine.

Javier could be a Thing.

Wednesday night, there was a fundraiser happy hour at a neighborhoodish bar. I couldn’t go at the prescribed fundraising time because of my previously prescribed class, but Javi had asked me if I was going to be there. As promised, I arrived 30 minutes after the end of my class, which was an hour and a half after Javi had sent me a picture of his glass of wine and urged me to ditch school early. The handful of folks still mingling was all dressed pretty officiously, having come straight from our grown-up jobs (or gone straight to class from the job). I was even wearing heels. Usually when I’m in my officle or walking across campus, I’m in flats, for the sake of my back, but I’d had a couple of major meetings that day.

Alright, fine. I swapped shoes in the car so I’d be wearing the heels for the neighborhood thing.

There are a lot of shoes in my car. The passenger side floor of my Honda is not unlike a second closet.

After an hour or so, everyone had left, but I was eating, so  Javi and I were finally able to catch up on our own. Totally innocently, but with a little more depth than is usually possible with nosy neighbors lingering nearby. At the perfectly reasonable hour of 10:30, we decided to head to another place to rejoin some neighbors. On our way out, we ran into Gaybor Steve downstairs and invited him and his date to come along.

Alright, fine. Javi kept putting his hand on the small of my back as we walked. And I kind of love that.

Now: back in May, Javi had finished up grad school at the institution where I work, but hadn’t really celebrated. A few weeks ago, he’d told me how much he loved the mug he got when he finished his B.S., with the school’s logo and his name on it. So I thought it might be nice to grab a few things from the merchandise we marketing types have heaped in closets, and fill a gift bag for him. Among the merch was a stainless steel mug with the school’s logo on it, which I’d had engraved with his name, degree and post-grad year.

Alright, fine. I went to the bookstore and paid for the travel mug. And for a couple of other things. Because I think his parents deserve to have keychains that say “This School Mom” and “This School Dad” on them. I don’t know if they have anything from the institution where their oldest and most adventurous son got his degrees.

“I have good news and bad news,” I told him as I popped the trunk of my car open with my key fob. “The bad news is: we don’t make the mug you got in 2002 anymore. But the good news is…” I reached for the bag.

“Oh my God, are you seeriahs?” Javi exclaimed, grinning and throwing his head back. “Oh my God!”

“…Congratulations on getting your master’s degree four months ago!” I finished, holding the bag up.

He riffled through it for a minute, pulling out this and that. He gave me a hug and a kiss on the cheek. “Dis is so great!” he exclaimed genuinely. “I’m so essited about dis!”

Awww. Now that’s just sweet.

By the time we each found parking spots and walked the block or two in opposing directions to meet at the second bar, the joint had shut down and all that were left were the bar-back and two neighbors, arguing with polite heat about the virtues of capitalism vs. socialism. (Yeah… these are my friends and neighbors.) They decided against the third venue Javi suggested, so he and I walked there alone.

Closed.

“Tavern?” he asked, referring to the neighborhood version of Cheers we all tend to frequent. The Tavern is a short walk from our respective houses, so we decided to each put our cars to bed first. He walked me back to my car and then got in the passenger side.

“Oh,” I laughed. “Am I giving you a ride to your car?”

Javi had to kick aside about four and a half pairs of shoes at his feet. “What is ahp with all dese shoooz?” he wanted to know.

Parked at our houses, he watched from the end of my alley as I walked from my parking spot toward him. Then we walked the three blocks to Tavern.

Closed.

Oh come ON, neighborhood business owners! I know it’s Wednesday, but it’s not even 11:30! Can we be adults?

“Okay, fine,” Javi said. “We are going to your house.”

…Oh. Well, I do always have wine…

We walked to my house.

Still in the damned heels, by the way.

“What would you like to drink?” I asked him from the kitchen, where I had headed directly after kicking off my shoes at the front door. “I have wine and vodka.”

“Well… what are you having?” Javi wanted to know while eyeing an unmatched Franco Sarto plaid heel that was lying, inexplicably, on my loveseat.

“Probably wine.”

“Okay, then I’ll have wine.”

“It’s red…” I warned. Javi tends to prefer white.

“Das fine,” he said measuredly. “I just ushally like it when iss cold.”

“Do you want an ice cube in it?” I teased him. I have to tease him, even though I know he’s referring to outdoor temperature. He has been known to violate my principles of wine drinking with an ice cube before.

“No,” he laughed. “I mean when de weather iss cold!”

With our goblets of medoc, we settled on my couch and started talking about our friends, the neighborhood zeitgeist and local politics—our usual fallbacks that are guaranteed to create conversation. But then things started skewing to topics like our families, how we grew up, what we believe in (Javi is atheist but was raised Catholic; he told me about when he told his mother he doesn’t believe in God).

It was somewhere in the middle of a sentence about God that Javier suddenly leaned forward and tried to kiss me.

I think I uttered something eloquent like, “Oh! Um…” as I held a hand up to his chest and turned my head. I half-wish there had been a camera on this. I’m a little concerned that my evasion looked like I was trying to dodge an insect. His kiss landed firmly in the center of my right cheek.

It all gets blurry here, but I know that after a few seconds of somewhat awkward smiles and sounds that didn’t really qualify as words, I gently explained that I can’t let anything happen as long as he has a girlfriend. And he leaned back to his original position with a sheepish smile and downcast eyes, and said they broke up a month ago, but have been talking recently, so he guesses he still technically does have a girlfriend.

“But…” he said quietly, “…I like you.”

Deep breath. “Well, I like you too,” I admitted, concentrating on the end of a nail where the polish had chipped. “And I’ve wondered if there was something here more than the friendly-neighbor thing. But I’ve been trying to be really careful—”

“I know you have,” he laughed, and I smiled, glancing at him. He doesn’t know all the reasons I’ve been careful. This was a test for me. Could I stick to my guns, to the lessons I’ve learned lately?

“I just…” I looked for the right way to do this. “As long as you’re seeing someone, it won’t work for me. And it’s not fair to her.”

“I know,” he said openly. “You’re right.”

He rubbed his face with his hands, eyelids drooping at the hour. “I know you don’t need to hear more than this,” he said without defensiveness, holding his open hand out to ask me to just hear this one thing. “But… something has been missing from that relationship for a long time. And I have been struggling with that for a long time.”

Hmm. They broke up for a reason, and the reason wasn’t lily pad hopping.

I don’t remember whether there were words that ended the conversation. But it wasn’t uncomfortable, really. Just… here is the situation. No now what? or demand for an action plan. Just… here it is. And I was okay with leaving it there.

He apologized for being so sleepy. We hugged goodnight and he left, pointing to the shoe on the loveseat.

“I dink I kicked de other wan in your car,” he smiled.

A short time later my phone dinged with a text message.  “I wish it was Friday or Saturday.”

Alright, fine. I’ve spent days trying not to reply.

Sunday (Observed), Bloody Sunday (Observed)

Sooo, today I had a lot of laundry that needed to be done. Kind of all of it, actually. Including underwear. So, okay, no biggie, I go without for a day.
 
 
I had both the 4pm and 5:30pm Masses to cantor, and I have to wear a dress to cantor because the music director hath ordered it so. Fine. I wore a black high-low hemmed shift dress.
 
 
After the first Mass, I go downstairs to use the bathroom, and suddenly realize — guess what has shown up! Early!
 
 
I go back upstairs, figuring I’ll just grab my purse and use one of the supplies I have in it. But when I open the door from the stairs to the sacristy, there’s Monsignor Armington, who’s supposed to be saying the 5:30 Mass, and he’s sitting on a bench with Father Jago (Filipino. And awesome.) standing over him going, “Oh my God. Oh my God. You are bleeding!”
 
 
I don’t know a whole lot about Msgr. Armington. He’s not a resident priest — he says Masses for us once in a while, but definitely not every week. Sometimes he’s a little unsteady. In fact, we had railings installed on the steps from the altar to the lower envelope because he’s come so close to falling so many times, and our pastor is getting up there in years, too. And now the monsignor is sitting on this bench looking a little… off.
 
 
I’m always taken aback a little when I hear a priest use the Lord’s name in vain the way Father Jago just did. But once I get past that, I realize the monsignor has fallen outside and whacked the back of his head on the concrete. The other things I know about Msgr. Armington are that he has heart disease and that he had a minor stroke a few months ago, so now I figure he’s on blood thinners. And he fell and hit his head. I happen to have my cell phone in my hand (because yeah, I was checking it while I was in the bathroom downstairs), so when someone confirms that the monsignor has fallen, I call 911.
 
 
Something like 17 questions later, I finally get to tell the dispatcher what happened (can I just tell you that third? First the address, then that I need an ambulance, and then “Hey, this old priest with a history of problematic health just fell down and smacked his head on the ground.” Because that would be faster, and the battery on my phone is pretty low.) I get off the phone and tell everyone that the ambulance is on its way, and then I start talking to Msgr. Armington again because Father Jago is being exactly no help.
 
 
Memo to the parish: Father Jago is not the go-to guy in an emergency. He freaks out.
 
 
So I ask Msgr. Armington whether he’s feeling dizzy, is he nauseous, what medications he’s on, etc. He pulls a teensy weensy vial out of the inside pocket of his suit jacket and tells me he has “this,” but he can’t think of the name of it right now, and somehow I remember that nitroglycerin is tiny, so I say that word, and he says, “Yes. For my heart.” And he says he’s on Plavix, which, of course, is the blood thinner.
 
 
He says he’s not going to the hospital.
 
 
“Oh, you have to!” says Father Jago. “You have to! You hit your head! You are bleeding! You could have a bleed inside your head and in 30 minutes—” he whacks at the air with a hand — “you go down!”
 
 
Monsignor looks kind of terrified.
 
Awesome job, Father Jago.
 
 
“Well, that probably won’t happen,” I try to say without directly contradicting Father Jago, “But you do have to go. Given your history and the medication you’re on, they’re going to want to check you out.”
 
 
The monsignor nods, wide-eyed thanks to Father Jago. We talk a little about exactly how he fell (he lost his balance coming up the three steps to the door, grabbed for the railing and couldn’t get it in time), and I go outside to meet the paramedics.
 
 
It’s raining, by the way. Big fat drops plopping on my head and penetrating my dress.
 
 
So I give the medics the low-down on the way back into the sacristy, you know, age, heart disease, stroke, he’s on this medication and that medication, this is what happened, this is how he’s acting now, etc., etc. And we get back into the sacristy and like four people (including Father Jago) are asking me whether I’m a nurse while the medics are assessing the monsignor and getting him onto the gurney (he’s pretty shaky when they get him off the bench).
 
 
“No, I’m not a nurse,” I kind of laugh. I feel blessed once again in my life that I’m pretty good in emergencies.
 
 
“What are you?” Father Jago wants to know.
 
 
What AM I? I wonder to myself, because I still haven’t figured out how to answer that in my new job.
 
 
“I’m a writer,” I say.
 
 
“A writer!” he says.
 
 
“Well, I do marketing and PR.”
 
 
“Can you write me a song?” Father Jago wants to know. Father Jago likes to sing.
 
 
I officially no longer understand what’s happening.
 
 
“I can’t write music,” I tell him. “But I can write you lyrics.”
 
 
“Write me lyrics!” he says. “I’ll figure out the rest.”
 
 
Yep. No idea what’s going on.
 
 
The medics have to take the monsignor out through the sanctuary because they can’t maneuver the railing the way they came in while they have him on the gurney, and I’m thinking about what I’m going to say at the introduction of the Mass to tell everyone not to completely freak out about seeing Msgr. Armington getting wheeled through the sanctuary whilst bleeding on the sheet.
 
 
You would think that the bleeding would have been some sort of signal to me. But no. They get the monsignor out, It’s 5:20, I go back into the church and down into the organ pit to talk to the accompanist because she’s filling in and has never been here before and needs to back waaaayyyy off the organ volume for this Mass as compared to the 4pm, and then we’re about 15 minutes into the 5:30 Mass when I suddenly realize: Shit. I never grabbed my purse. 
 
 
And I am still not wearing underwear.
 
 
Ssssshhhhhhhiiiiiiit.
 
 
At the presentation of the gifts, while the substitute accompanist is playing a hymn more quietly on the organ, I slip back into the sacristy and back down to the bathroom for a quick clean-up. So far, so good. But I can’t exactly clench tissue without undies standing in front of literally God and everybody, so I just have to hope (pray?) this Mass gets done before I get hit with a sudden and uncontrollable uptick in the situation.
 
 
Five minutes later: “Take this, all of you, and drink from it,” Father Jago is singing at the altar (I’ve never known another priest to sing this part). “This is the cup of my blood…”
 
 
I’m kneeling on the envelope with my dress tucked around me. Ummmmm, don’t say “blood.”
 
 
I stand up to do the memorial acclamation, the Amen, the Lamb of God… and the whole Liturgy of the Eucharist I’m thinking, There is no time between now and the end of the Mass during which I can get away. 
 
 
Also, I cannot subtly stuff my black dress into a potentially helpful position because this infernal dress-like trunk-junk-holding sheath I’m wearing under my actual dress is in the way.
 
 
And because that would be super-obvious, since you can’t just stick your hand between your thighs while standing in front of the congregation.
 
 
Oh God, our help in ages past…
 
 
“The Mass has ended. Go in peace.”
 
 
THANKS BE TO GOD.
 
 
After trying to graciously and unhurriedly thank the substitute accompanist (who is a professor of piano performance at the college where I work, though I hadn’t met her before), I’m heading out the door when Father Jago stops me. “I have a question!”
 
 
Holy Mary, Mother of God…
 
 
“Do you have an allergy to gnats?”
 
 
Wait…what?
 
 
“Gnats?”
 
 
“Yes.”
 
 
“The bugs?” I ask, pinching my fingers together in the universal sign for tiny bug. “No. I am not allergic to gnats.” Is anybody allergic to gnats? Why is he asking me this?
 
 
“No no— N-U-T-S. Nats.”
 
 
Ohhhhhhh.
 
 
“Ohhhhhhh. No. I’m not allergic to nuts,” I say, thinking that this is exactly how Javier says “nuts” and wondering why I couldn’t understand it from Father Jago, even though they don’t speak the same language.
 
 
“Okay. Give me—” Father Jago looks around at the altar servers, the sacristan, the guy putting the collection money in the safe. “Give me wan minute.”
 
 
“Sure.” I sit on the bench where Monsignor Armington had been and intuitively monitor my vag. Which isn’t awkward at all in a church while waiting for a priest to return from the rectory he’s just rushed out to.
 
 
A couple of minutes later, he comes back and hands me a gift bag, folded closed. “From da Philippines,” he tells me. “Check it out.”
 
 
Nuts.
 
 
Also mango tarts.
 
 
Delicious!
 
 
And, by the time I get to address the situation, no stains on my dress.
 
 
Thanks be to God.

Perhaps My Hopes Lie In A Two-Point Conversion

When it comes to fantasies and muscular, athletic men, I usually don’t involve coworkers. But today was my first foray into the world of fantasy football drafts.

How unprepared was I for this endeavor? Um… totally. I’ve done pick-em fantasy leagues for years – toss $10 in the game, pick a winner per week, survival of the winningest. This is a whole new… well… ball game.

Mind you, I love football. But the reason I don’t do fantasy drafts is because I don’t follow specific players if they’re not on the teams I support. So randomly picking a quarterback, wide receivers, running backs, a tight end, a kicker, a defense, a flex player and a bench? When there’s a very good chance that the guy I want in any given round will have been taken by someone else? Pfft.

Also evidence of a lack of preparedness: Turns out, you can’t do a fantasy draft on your smartphone. It’s high-stakes, sometimes rapid-fire picking and you need your finger to hit the right buttons at the right times, without fail, or you wind up picking the defense ranked 33rd in the league.

(There are only 32 teams in the league.)

(I do know some things.)

(I can name all 32 teams, too… but most people would do it by division, whereas I do it strictly by geographical location. Because I’m not most people. Also because if I tried to do it by division, I’d get about three divisions in and then start getting confused, and I’d be mocked for having my divisions all screwy instead of praised for knowing there are 32 teams and knowing where they are and what they’re called. So geography.)

Anyway, our design director took pity on me and my little smartphone and uprooted a Mac from another designer’s desk, lugging it into the conference room and hooking it up for me, then getting me reacclimated (I’m a PC person) and into the draft page with ten seconds to spare before the first round of action. I was then ensconced behind a huge screen like it was a side-by-side set of Trapper Keepers propped up on my desk during a fourth grade quiz, while everyone else looked fervently at their little hippie tablet screens.

Alright. Let’s do this.

I’m picking ninth.

Plblptpltlbptllpptbtpltblt.

First round… the first co-worker to choose is on auto-pick and she gets Adrian Peterson, or as I like to call him, Double-Sided Scooby Snack (watch this to find out what the hell I’m talking about – it is seriously hilarious). I pick Calvin Johnson at WR. He’s Megatron. He’s The proverbial Man at that position: back-to-back leader in fantasy points for the last two seasons. 

This, of course, very likely means he’ll be paralyzed in a late hit in game two. But for now, I’m all in with this guy and very happy to have snatched him up. Things are off to a good start.

Round two! I’m going to pick up Larry Fitzgerald of the Arizona Cardinals, also at WR. He’s great! Oh, wait. He was great in 2011. Or was that 2010? Or 2009? Last year he kind of sucked. Ach. S’aight. He’ll pick it back up. His QB wasn’t doing him any favors last year and now he’s got Carson Palmer and a new coach.

*Squirms a little in chair*

Round three. I’m thinking it’s time to pick a QB before everybody’s taken. Drew Brees, Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers are already off the table. Yep. Here we go. Cam Newton.

I skipped Payton Manning. Mostly because – unlikely though this may have seemed three seasons ago – I didn’t realize he was ranked above Newton. But that’s alright because even though he is by far the smartest football player currently in the NFL and possibly ever, I still don’t think he’s up to par since his neck surgeries, and Denver just hasn’t gelled around him the way Indy did. Plus, Newton’s good with the rush – something the top four guys don’t really do much. Possibly because their OL guys protect them better. Still, I’ll take the versatility.

There. I sold it to myself.

Meanwhile I haven’t figured out why the gap between my picks is inconsistent. I pick ninth out of twelve. Why did only six people go between my first and second picks, and then there were 16 between my second and third?

Fourth turn. Lemme get me a RB. Scooby Snack is gone, and so are Ray Rice, Marshawn Lynch, Jamaal Charles, Arian Foster (autopick and unfortunate, seemingly Nazi-endorsing name when said aloud), Alfred Morris, LeSean McCoy, Chris Johnson and Darren Sproles. I scroll… I scroll… My eyes scan the list of eighty gabillion players as my 1:30 time limit ticks down. I light on Reggie Bush.

Reggie Bush! Cool!

Wait. Isn’t he like 127 in-football-years old?

Oh but hang on, he’s with Detroit now. And this is a PPR (points per reception) league. He can catch, so that makes him a pretty decent PPR choice. I’m okay with this. I’m taking Reggie.

The 22-year-old league owner picks Kansas City WR Dwayne Bowe, the fourth-highest paid WR in the league right now. “I’m taking Dwayne Bowe so I can name my team Skittles: Taste Dwayne Bowe,” he says.

Unofficial points for clever jokes. 

Finally, I work out that there’s a potential method to the madness. I see the positions I still need to pick (at roughly the same time that I see that both my WRs are in bye weeks at the same time, so that means I need a WR either as a flex player or on the bench). I see that I can search players by position rather than scrolling through every player available. I’m feeling a little less clueless for round five.

Ahmad Bradshaw, RB. Boo-yah. Except for the foot surgery.

…-ies.

Huh.

Round six: Vernon Davis at TE. 

ESPN says: “Ranking Davis as a fantasy starter requires a leap of faith, because he was a disaster in 2012, catching fewer than two passes per contest in the seven regular-season games after Colin Kaepernick became the 49ers’ QB.”

Oh.

But: “In the playoffs, Davis had two 100-yard efforts, disproving the cranky notion that he and Kaepernick can’t coexist, and he’s just too darned talented not to figure this out. No question, he’s a tough man to trust. But a bounce back to ’10 and ’11 levels feels like a given, and we’ve seen Davis’ monstrous upside before: He had 13 TDs back in ’09. He’s still only 29, and may be the fastest pass-catcher on his team.”

Combined with the defense, that isn’t bad.

Round seven: DeSean Jackson at WR. He’s an Eagle (my hometown team) but the QB situation is dicey. I’d have preferred a RB or even a kicker from that team, but you can’t hurry love.

Round eight: Time to pick a defense. San Francisco. Solid.

Round nine: kicker. Blair Walsh of Minneapolis. Only the #1 ranked kicker in the league. I congratulate myself, even though the difference between the #1 kicker in the league and the worst starting kicker in the league is probably three points. Good thing, because he’s the only kicker I’ve got.

At round ten, we’re into the bench. I need a backup QB in case something happens to Newton, and the best I can get is Jay Cutler. Meh. Bryce Brown as a backup RB. Now we’re officially into the names I can’t even be sure I recognize. Julian Edelman at WR because maybe he doesn’t start and therefore doesn’t get hurt too quickly. Throw the Ravens’ Jacoby Jones in there, too. Why not – he’s actually pretty good and would be a solid backup if everyone else falls. And finally, Justin Blackmon.

It’s after I make that pick that I learn he’s suspended for the first four games of the regular season for illegal substance violations.

I’m feeling okay. I’m feeling only slightly tighter than loose about it. Then I check the matchups. I’m a favorite over the co-worker I’m matched up against for week one, and sure, I have no idea why I’m matched up against him for week one, but I do know he was an autopick drafter. 

Go team!…?

 

 

4am Disasters, Real and Imagined

Either my psyche or my home decor is trying to kill me. Possibly both.

I tend to dream in the wee hours of the morning. Or sometimes mid-wee. I guess that makes sense, since I go to bed (now that I work normal-person hours) around 11pm. Often, therefore, I’m awakened in pre-dawn by some ridiculous dream.

This morning, I had two really bizarre imaginings. In the first one, I was at some sort of outdoor festival with two guys: Leo, who I barely know, and Bob, who I dated several years ago. While there, we ran into a man I sing with named Jim. I was holding Leo’s hand at the time, but wound up going home with Bob; Leo stood kind of befuddled and watched as we got into the car. Jim saw all of this and emailed me, telling me he thought some of my innocent flirting and smiling and misleading the guys was inappropriate (obviously!), and that I might have a kind of personality trait or disorder for which he wanted me to know about a support group.

Now, I think we all know that I can definitely use a group of some kind. By the way, my NEW insurance now claims they don’t list my shrinkapist as a provider even though they totally do, and I have a screen shot of that shit to prove it, and that’s only after the shrinakpist’s Office of Incompetents sent the bills for the two appointments I’ve had in the last month to my old insurance despite having taken my new information and copied my new card twice. 

For fuck’s. Sake. People.

I had fallen asleep crying over Jack (dammit), and I’m not the slightest bit interested in dating anyone right now, though Leo is a nice guy, so I have no idea where this dream and its included hand-holding (his hand was warm and not too soft and the perfect size and I am only talking about his hand, you guys, jeez) could possibly have come from. But even in the dream, I felt terrible about confusing Leo and Bob, and being seen and judged by Jim.

Because I need to feel that way while I’m sleeping.

After that came a dream in which I had bought a condo. I never actually saw it, I don’t think, except maybe in dream flashbacks when Dream Me was thinking about the condo… I’m telling you, this was some complicated mental shit happening while I was trying to catch some shut-eye. Anyway, I dreamed that I had bought a condo (apparently instead of my actual real-life house), loved it, lived there for a month… but then second-guessed myself, sold it and bought a house in a city an hour away. A big, old, creaky, drafty, beautiful house. And while I was standing in the kitchen shortly after moving in, all alone, I looked behind me down a hall and wondered if the house was haunted. I thought about how old it was. As my stomach started to tighten (yes, I felt that in my sleep), I realized how many questions I had never asked and things I had never considered. My God, the windows weren’t even energy-efficient. My bills were going to be astronomical.

Slowly, so many things dawned on me… I had screwed my credit and left a condo I had loved for a beautiful house I could never maintain on my own without even asking fundamental questions. I had acted impetuously and now I was stuck.

I went outside and found myself walking around the block as I thought about being an hour away from everyone I knew. Why had I done that? Why did I suddenly decide to leave a place that felt like home to be in a place that was disconnected? And – as I approached the side of my house on my walk – what was that noise? Was that noise coming from my house?

And then I woke up, chest aching with the classic sign of an anxiety attack. And immediately after I woke up, the 42″ x 36″ decoration above my headboard fell and nearly crushed my skull.

Or it didn’t fall on me at all but it was really close. And it’s not that heavy but it definitely, definitely would have hurt if it had hit me.

It was 4:48am. Thanks to the senseless anxiety attack, I was awake for another half-hour.

So that was restful.

No idea what any of this means, by the way. The house thing… I dunno, maybe it has something to do with the fact that I had the builder’s contractor here the day before, trying to figure out how to cool down the upstairs because there’s no bulkhead carrying ductwork to my bedroom… he suggested putting a vent in the roof to let some of the trapped heat escape. Is the dream telling me not to do that? Or just that I should chill out about tiny imperfections in my house because it could be worse?

Is an 8-10 degree difference in temperature between floors “tiny?”

Or is my nocturnal brain the same thing as the vent the guy said he’d put in my roof… just blowing off steam?

Can it do that without the anxiety attack in my sleep, maybe? Because those things have never made sense to me.

Or was all of this just a psychosomatic warning that my wall decor was about to come crashing down so I had better wake up and maybe the best way to wake me up was to make me dream this?

Probably not that.

Any guesses?

This Thing Which I Stole From the Internet

Because aside from #s 8, 11 and 12… YES.

 

27 Problems Only Introverts Will Understand

1. When you need to take breaks and recharge after socializing for too long.

27 Problems Only Introverts Will Understand

I’m not antisocial, I swear! I just need to recharge my introvert juices!

2. When people mistake your thoughtful look for resting bitch face.

27 Problems Only Introverts Will Understand

You like to give thoughtful answers, but sometimes people assume you’re just silently judging them.

3. When your friend wants to invite more people over, and you don’t want to sound like a dick by saying no.

When your friend wants to invite more people over, and you don't want to sound like a dick by saying no.

You might even secretly like a little more company, even if it does give you anxiety.

4. When spending a heavenly weekend alone means that you’re missing out on time with friends.

When spending a heavenly weekend alone means that you're missing out on time with friends.

5. And the fear that by doing so, you’re slowly turning into a hermit…

And the fear that by doing so, you're slowly turning into a hermit...

6. Who will likely die alone.

27 Problems Only Introverts Will Understand

7. Having visitors stay with you is a nightmare, because it means you have to be on at ALL TIMES.

27 Problems Only Introverts Will Understand

8. When people stop inviting you places because you keep canceling plans.

When people stop inviting you places because you keep canceling plans.

9. Too many social obligations + no alone time = a total grump.

27 Problems Only Introverts Will Understand

10. When you’re asked to do a group project, and know that you’re going to hate every minute of it.

27 Problems Only Introverts Will Understand

11. When your ride at a party doesn’t want to leave early, and no one seems to understand your distress.

27 Problems Only Introverts Will Understand

12. When you hear this question, and your palms start to sweat with anxiety.

When you hear this question, and your palms start to sweat with anxiety.

Because the answer is “no,” but you don’t want to hurt their feelings.

13. When you hear, “Are you OK?” or “Why are you so quiet?” for the umpteenth time.

27 Problems Only Introverts Will Understand

Just because you prefer to listen or only speak up when there’s something important to say.

14. Trying to be extra outgoing when you flirt so your crush doesn’t think you hate them.

27 Problems Only Introverts Will Understand

Seriously, I just have resting bitch face, it’s not you!

15. That feeling of dread that washes over you when the phone rings and you’re not mentally prepared to chat.

27 Problems Only Introverts Will Understand

16. When you have to deal with that one friend who ALWAYS wants to hang out, and you ALWAYS have to say this:

27 Problems Only Introverts Will Understand

17. When you have an awesome night out, but have to deal with feeling exhausted for days after the fact.

27 Problems Only Introverts Will Understand

18. When people pressure you to be more social, whether you like it or not.

When people pressure you to be more social, whether you like it or not.

19. When you’re really excited to go out, but those good feelings don’t last long enough.

When you're really excited to go out, but those good feelings don't last long enough.

20. When you’re trying to get something done at work, but you can’t, because everyone else is talking.

27 Problems Only Introverts Will Understand

21. When someone calls you out for daydreaming too much.

27 Problems Only Introverts Will Understand

22. When you carry a book to a public place so no one will bug you, but other people take that as a conversation starter.

27 Problems Only Introverts Will Understand

23. When people make you feel weird for wanting to do things by yourself.

When people make you feel weird for wanting to do things by yourself.

24. When someone interrupts your thoughts, and you get irrationally angry.

27 Problems Only Introverts Will Understand

25. When people can’t seem to grasp that being in small groups is where you excel the most.

27 Problems Only Introverts Will Understand

26. And when you need to be completely alone so you can recharge and get back to being awesome.

27 Problems Only Introverts Will Understand

27. Because even though introverts are misunderstood constantly, you know this to be true:

Because even though introverts are misunderstood constantly, you know this to be true:

 

The Hunchback and the Caller

There’s been a rash of burglaries in the neighborhood directly south of mine – a neighborhood everyone damned well knows has a higher median income than this one (sometimes it’s nice when relative poverty spares you from crime instead of making you a victim of it). Police have told folks in the area that the burglars occasionally break in when people are home, but their MO seems to be knocking on doors during the day to see if anyone is there, then targeting those which seem unoccupied for break-ins before 6pm. So we’ve been advised, if we hear a knock, to not open the door. Rather, we’re told to yell at the knocker that we’re not interested and they should leave or we’ll call 911. At which point, apparently, the cops will take their sweet time getting there, but before which they will patrol simply by driving by and never actually getting out of their cruisers.

Cops. Hmph.

I’m home today, for the second day, because my back is on strike again. Last night as I lay in bed, I thought about how much it would suck to deal with a break-in while also dealing with back spasm and nerve pain. Clearly the sound of the crime’s initiation would startle me, which would send shockwaves of electric agony through my body and render me virtually unable to fight. And also I’d have a busted front door and substantially less spending power, since these folks seem to be snatching checkbooks and purses rather than high-end stuff.

About an hour ago, someone knocked on my door. I shuffled my bent self over, with my ribcage rotated and shifted about 15 degrees to starboard and my hips rotated about 15 degrees aft, and peered through a space between the door’s built-in blinds. A man in a tie with a messenger bag crossing his torso and a brochure in his hand stood on my front step.

“I’m not interested,” I intoned.

He didn’t move.

“I’m not interested!” I yelled louder. “Please leave!”

He looked up and down the street, then stepped up and knocked again. He has to hear me, I thought. I hear everything on the sidewalk… how can he not hear me?

This time I put my face an inch from the glass and yelled as loud as my back would allow, “I’M NOT INTERESTED! LEAVE!”

He wished me a nice day and abandoned my steps.

Probably harmless.

It struck me as I shuffled back toward the kitchen: I had stutter-stepped all slumped and twisted, hair uncombed because I’d just gotten out of the shower, wearing a mismatched casual knit skirt and a t-shirt from my sister’s church, toward a knocking caller at my door, and hollered at him to go away in the middle of the day.

I am an old woman today.

“With a cat!” my dear friend Joey reminded me via text when I relayed the story to him.

“Oh hell. I forgot about the cat,” I replied.

Honestly, though? As I made my way at turtle speed toward the door to shoo off the visitor, my greater concern was not of premature infirmity or criminal activity. It was that I would actually know the person at the door and therefore feel the need to open it looking like I did.

Yep. That would have been worse. As Robert Louis Stevenson once said: “Vanity dies hard; in some cases, it outlives the man.”

Which reminds me, I was lying in bed this morning trying to think of what I’d like to be buried in and how I’d want them to do my hair.

I know. I’m a pretty sick ticket.

Anyway, if my house does get burglarized, despite the alarm and the conscientious neighbors, don’t worry. Since these punks seem to just want quick access to cash, I’ll probably just lie here and watch them, occasionally grunting in pain, and I’ll still have my laptop to tell you all about it.

Now on my bookshelf: A Visit From the Goon Squad