Monthly Archives: May 2012

Guilt A La Carte, Please

I’ll admit it- I’ve got a pretty well-developed guilt complex. Forget to call a friend back for a few days? Apologize profusely upon next encounter. Show up late to a meeting? Wring hands and twitch sporadically for the rest of the day. Put off writing maid-on-honor speech for sister’s wedding in four days? Lie awake at night trying to decipher signs of impending doom while contemplating the horrific effects my procrastination will undoubtedly have on the entire affair.

This past week has been a freaking five-star buffet for my guilt, what with all of the last-minute wedding details, discussions/arguments about moving to NYC (how many roommates? to share a room or not to share a room? location?), and, of course, the job dilemma that I faced earlier today.

As I mentioned earlier, I’ve become a bit of a temp-agency groupie, bouncing back and forth between different agencies, hoping to score something (Hah. “score” something. Get it? No? Too lame?). Finally, today I had an interview. Great company, temp-to-hire position, so I’m guaranteed a good job until I move to the city. Great. Perfect. Interview’s going just swimmingly until I ask the question, “How’s training?”  I am quickly informed that training is integrated into the work day but usually takes upwards of 60 days to complete. That’s funny, because I’m only planning to stay at this job for two months.

As I smile and nod along to the rapidly increasing rhythm of my heartbeat, I feel the old symptoms begin. All of the moisture in my mouth seems to have traveled to my hands, because while they are just saturated, I’m lucky if I can swallow. The walls are closing in. My eyes seem to think a strobe light has been placed in the room, and I’m forgetting to listen to what she’s saying.

I’m offered the job. I pause for only a moment and think, Now would be the time to admit that you’d be leaving once the training was complete, and would completely waste their time by accepting their offer. Be noble. Be honest. Be- poor. Huh.  So, instead, I shut my mouth, shake her hand, and leave the building as a new employee, vowing to work extra hard to make up for what is going to be a bit of a surprise for them in August. I mean, technically I’m just a temp. So, I shouldn’t feel too guilty, right? As for that maid-of-honor speech…well, I should probably go write that.

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Frodo and the Oven

Every time I’m in a bookstore, I always try to find a minute to peruse the self-help selection, specifically for the titles. Rows and rows of clever little quips about how to not “sweat the small stuff,” promising a more happy, healthy lifestyle, one that is devoid of stress and anger. What a happy little bubble of hope.

I’m not knocking self-help books. I think they’re great. I’ve just learned, over my many years on this earth (hah), that a stress-free life is as elusive as a laser pointer light is to a cat. Chase it for as long as you want, you’re never gonna catch it. So, while I’ve certainly tried my fair share of deep breathing exercises, visualization techniques, and happiness journals, I have found two things that work exceptionally well when life becomes an overwhelming, suffocating mess: watching epic movies and baking cupcakes.

This is where I found myself yesterday. After the past week of job hunting, last minute wedding details for my sister’s upcoming nuptials (still haven’t written that maid of honor speech. Two weeks. No worries.), re-acclimating to home, and talking to my ex for the first time since the break up ( maybe more on that at a later date), I fell back on that tried and true ritual.

Let me explain. First, why epic movies? And what exactly do I mean when I say “epic movies?” I’m talking specifically about any movie where the protagonist is dealing with larger than life situations- superhero movies tend to work really well. As do fantasy adventure films. This time, it was Lord of the Rings. For some reason, watching Frodo Baggins deal with the fact that he has to find a way to destroy the ring of power, all while fighting off pretty much every other creature in Middle Earth AND his own desire for the ring makes my little issues seem entirely manageable. Pleasant, even.

As for baking cupcakes, I discovered this trick senior year of high school. I remember specifically the day it clicked for me. I was waiting for my honors trigonometry study group to come over, and decided to pass the time by making snacks for what promised to be a thoroughly miserable evening. I had never made a cake from scratch before, so I thought, “Why not?” It was not the best thing I’ve ever tasted, but it lit a fire. After that, I turned to baking whenever everything else seemed like too much to handle. Something about following the instructions, deviating a little when inspiration kicks in, and having something perfectly delicious and sinful come out of it all is incredibly appealing. Especially with cupcakes, where you get 12 chances to make them look amazing (I love decorating. That whole saying about eating with your eyes before you eat with your mouth? Totally true). Yesterday, it was homemade chocolate cupcakes with mint marshmallow frosting.

These were so good! Maybe I’m eating one as I write this…

After all was said and done, the combination did the trick. I felt perfectly at peace with the universe, ready to deal with everything it put in my path, AND I got to eat these incredibly tasty cupcakes while finishing the movie. Self-help books ain’t got nothin’ on that.

The Exciting Life of the Post-Graduate (or how I killed my childhood)

Well, I did it. I graduated from college. Finally. Onwards and upwards into the world of the post-graduate. The job holder. The apartment renting, career-driven city girl. This, this is what I have been working towards for four years. This is what got me through the all-nighters, the crazed study sessions and frenzied paper-writing parties. The promise that, after it was all over, a world of possibilities waited. Along with copious amounts of hard work, disappointments, adjustments and student loans, of course, but still (optimism is key).

So far, this strange new world has consisted of the “Once Upon a Time” season finale, educating my dad in what I can and can’t eat as a pescetarian, temp agencies, and unpacking. Lots and lots of unpacking.

One might think that since I’m only moving home for a little over three months, the unpacking would be simple. Child’s play, even. One might even be so naive to assume that it would be done within the first few hours of arriving at home. One, in that case, would be horribly, disastrously wrong. Day three of being home is half over, and still, there are piles of boxes, duffle bags and suitcases that haven’t even been touched. Overwhelmed doesn’t even begin to explain it.

Of course, I claim full responsibility for this. It was my idea to simultaneously unpack and sort through everything my parents had stored for me while I was at college. This was to make packing for the city easier. All it’s done so far is cause me to be trapped for three hours, surrounded by knick-knacks, jewelry I haven’t worn since I was 7, and clothing I forgot I had.

As I sat on the floor of my hallway last night, fighting my dogs for access to the small piles of random items I had tried to organize, something started to come over me- I felt it creep up from the very tips of my toes, claiming more and more of my attention the longer I stared at the piles- shit. I was getting sentimental.

I couldn’t help it. Here was my childhood, just lying on the floor in front of me. Things I would never wear or use again, but that had played a starring role in my elementary and middle school days. And here I was, unceremoniously throwing it out. What an asshole.

I gritted my teeth and continued the destruction of my childhood, throwing out jelly bracelets, notes from the 6th grade, and butterfly clips, trying not to let myself connect those things to any sort of memories. And then, something hit me. A new feeling. One that kicked sentimentality in the face. Freedom. This was freeing. I was making room for new things, new adventures. New memories. I started smiling as I chucked a pile of mismatched earrings into a nearby garbage bag. Really, this was just step one in my journey to New York. Screw sentimentality. I’m a college graduate with everything in front of her. Celebration and de-cluttering are really the only viable options.

As OK GO once said, Here it Goes Again

I mentioned earlier that I have recently gone through a break-up (The Big Split). As expected, I went through weeks of worrying that I would never meet anyone who gave me that feeling again- stomach drops, heart races, words-tumble-out-so-quickly-you-can’t-think-because-you-need-to-hold-their-attention-for-fear-of-losing-it feeling. (Well, maybe that last part is just me.) Anyway, going to an all-women’s college certainly helped fuel that thought- it’s pretty hard to find that feeling again when the only men on campus are faculty or friends. So, with that encouraging belief, I resigned myself to a no-flirting, no-dating future…at least until NYC in September.

As you’ve probably guessed, that was a) stupid and b) wrong.

A couple of weeks ago, I tagged along to a party being thrown by a friend of a friend. Not knowing what to expect, I walked in, made some quick introductions, shook hands, and returned to the people who brought me. As I was joking around with my friends, I realized my eyes kept wandering in the same direction. Over and over again, they found their way over to the corner of the room-where three people stood talking. Curious. Until I realized that they kept zeroing in on one of the three in particular.

He was leaning casually against the counter, smiling in an easy, open way. He had the sleeves of his flannel shirt rolled up past the elbow (I’m such a forearms girl). And his eyes were the brightest blue I had ever seen. In about five seconds, my stomach dropped, heart started racing, and I could feel a geyser of words just sitting in wait behind my lips. Uh oh.

Stop looking at him. Really. Okay, one more look. Now, you have to stop. He’s gonna notice, especially if you’re slack-jawed staring at him. Get it together. You are a mature, intelligent, VERY together adu- wow, he’s wonderful. 

And so it continued for a while- the lack of control over my eyes, trying to hide that fact that I was half-invested in the conversation I was holding with my friends, hoping I wasn’t blushing- until everyone decided a drinking game was in order. A very active drinking game that involved jumping on paint cans and bricks and other assorted items (the floor was lava, after all). I was  a beer and a half in, and,as a complete light-weight (I’ll admit it), was already feeling very happy and content with the world as a whole. I chose my starting position quickly, and realized soon after that I was standing near him. Blue-eyed, flannel shirt guy. And then, the words started. A running commentary began escaping my lips, accompanied by a feeling of utter horror. Shut up! He’s gonna hate you. And try to avoid you. Instead of running in terror like I assumed he would, he started laughing. Full-body, smile reaching his blue eyes laughing. He thinks I’m funny! 

The game commenced-boisterously and happily, and I continued to make Flannel-shirt guy laugh. And then, he started making me laugh. We were near the back of the room (not a great place to be in the world of the game, but perfect regardless), trying not to fall into the lava while laughing at each other. With each other.

The night continued in much the same way, and I was smitten. It felt so impossibly good to feel that rush again. I wasn’t concerned with will anything happen. It didn’t matter. Just the pure fact that I could feel this again, that I did feel this again was enough. That didn’t stop me from friending him on Facebook, though. Because, really, who knows?