Ugh. Oh my god, you guys. I went to this crowded craft fair today. It was cute and fun, even though most of the crafts only appealed to artsy grandmas and wacky middle aged women. Anyway, I simply can’t deal with the booths that have no customers. I am obligated to peruse their ugly bead jewelry or hand stitched pot-holders or whatever just so I don’t have to see them sitting there all lonely and hopeful with their lumpy clay pottery. Agony. I am convinced that at least 40% of crafts bought at craft fairs are purchased out of guilt.
Today I had this sudden desire to contribute to Thanksgiving dinner. Since I really can’t cook anything besides birthday cake from a box, I decided to whip up some of those M&M Rollo Pretzels (they probably have a name) that are all over the blogs because they’re pretty much Easy Bake Oven material. So that’s what I’m doing tonight and I’m very excited. It’ll be just like the first Thanksgiving, when Samoset taught the pilgrims how to use just the red, orange, and brown M&Ms so that their pretzels would look extra festive.
Please explain to me how I can spend hours and hours reading blogs at home, but when I have a slow day at work and I’m forced to resort to the internet to entertain me, I become so mind-numbingly bored that I consider using the nearest stapler on myself in alarming and self-destructive ways? Is it because I’m standing up? Is that the reason I glance down at the clock, POSITIVE an hour has passed since I last checked it, only to find that it has been four minutes and I still have six more hours until I can go home?
It was one of those days. I tried to remind myself “You’re getting paid right now, Caroline. You’re getting paid to check out past winners of the Bloggies and conduct obscure searches on Etsy. You would not be doing anything more interesting if you were at home. Please get over yourself.” But I couldn’t.
I was so bored that any minor task became a thrill. I jumped at the chance to answer the phone and became visibly upset when the person on the other end hung up before I could direct their call (and/or beg them to stay on the line and chat with me before I hung myself by my silk neckerchief).
I was so bored that I wandered down to the bathroom and found myself sitting on the toilet (this blog is getting awkward) and staring into space, savoring the feeling of Not Standing.
When I finally clocked out and walked the six hundred miles to the end of the parking lot, I plugged in my ipod and put on Martha Wainwright because it was the only thing I could stand to listen to. And on the ride home I learned what Road Rage is. Although, for me, it was less of a rage, and more of an overwhelming sense that if I didn’t make it through this light before it turned red I WOULD DIE and OH MY GOD is that guy pulling out in front of me AND NOW IT’S TURNING YELLOW GODDAMNIT JUST DRIVE FASTER OK? IT’S NOT THAT HARD. And then I struggled not to burst into tears as I sat very patiently at that motherfucking red light.
When I pulled up to my driveway and turned off the engine, I found that I had no energy to get out. Instead, I put my face down on the steering wheel and decided that was good enough.
When the whole day is stretched out in front of you like an empty canvas (or maybe more like a big white duvet?), without responsibilities or commitments, it’s ok to relish the dull pulse of a headache.
When your bedroom is warm and just dark enough, and your hair still smells like an evening shampoo, it’s alright to enjoy the way it feels to quell the mild nausea with a glass of water.
When you’re curled in your bed with three pillows and a cookie, it’s nice to be reminded of childhood fevers and restful sick days. As with all memories, the discomfort is hazy, the pain less acute.
I finally finished reading The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen. I wanted to like it more than I did. There were parts I enjoyed, but it didn’t really pull me in. I’d reread a good line here and there, but – and I say this fully recognizing that this is the winner of the national book award and I have no authority on the matter - it didn’t feel like there was enough of anything. As the story ambled in and out of each character’s life, it seemed to pause, briefly, on moments that could be touching, but weren’t. Not quite. As a whole, it was sort of blandly melancholy, but it didn’t wreck me the way I want a good book to do.
I felt about The Corrections the way I feel about most things these days: a sort of mild indifference. A shrug and an “ehh not bad.”
Like everything else, I like it better when I try to contextualize it within my own life. (Because, really, it’s all about me, isn’t it?) If I think of the book as a sort of study on the breakdown in communication between adults and their adult children, it all makes a bit more sense. That’s something I relate to - the struggle to be a Good Daughter and escape the judgment of the previous generation, without losing my sense of self. I guess The Corrections is a book about resentment, but also about confusion, but ALSO about hurt feelings. When I think of it that way, I can enjoy it. That is something I can work from. Hurt feelings are what I understand.
I really wasn’t cool in high school. I know, I know, everyone says that. It’s almost a prerequisite for being considered cool now. (“Oh I was such a nerd. Always had my nose in a book.” Fuck off.) But I wasn’t even nerd cool. I mean, I did a some nerdy things like write a lot of poetry and hang out with boys who watched too much Lord of the Rings, but I didn’t have enough of a niche carved out for myself to even be considered a true nerd.
I didn’t go to parties. I didn’t drink or smoke pot. I didn’t hang out with anyone who did. I didn’t lie to my parents (never wanted to) or flirt with boys (desperately wanted to). I didn’t even see my friends that often. I just sort of existed. I worked hard on my English papers and half-assed my math homework and thought a lot about that older guy with the hoodie and the lip ring. I spent my days being pissed that gym class was mandatory and my nights manically changing the lyrics in my AIM profile and wishing more people would talk to me.
I never did anything dangerous like cut class or sneak out or pierce my bellybutton without parental permission. Sometimes I wish I did. Well not the piercing part.
Last night I was out driving someplace and “Minority” by Green Day came up on the shuffle and I sang along loudly and thought about how, for me, in high school, this was rebellion. Playing this song in the car while my mom was driving, waiting for her reaction when Billie Joe gleefully barks “Fuck em all!” How it was all I could do to keep the corners of my mouth from curving up when she acted shocked. And driving along the highway in the dark last night, I felt oddly affectionate for my high school self, and proud of her, I guess. Looking back now, high school’s mostly a blur. I was so bored I was barely alive, but I was alive. And I had my tiny defiance.
There is what you might call a honeymoon period with followers of my tumbler weblog. Initially everything is dandy. They “like” a lot. Almost every post, sometimes, or just anything I post without my face in it. After a couple of weeks this falls off, until I never see their name on blue again. I check in from time to time on the old one-way loves, and they’re still following me, and they’re still active. I can only surmise that there is something fundamentally, universally tiring about my schtick. Everyone disappears until all I’m left with is 300 silent witnesses and Mills.
Fortunately, if you thought I was going somewhere self-deprecatory with this, I’m not. It’s almost the exact opposite to what happens to me in real life. People fall in love with me for ever and ever and never get tired of my jokes and impressions. I wish I could get these girls off my couch, but they just wont go home! “Sing us another song, Pierce.” God, my real life is so wonderful. It’s so much better than tumbler. You wouldn’t believe it. I’m only on here to keep me grounded. Go home girls! Ahahaha. No, no, you can stay.
We now have to write our names and the front desk extension (spoiler alert: it’s zero!) on the guest’s key packets when we check them in to the hotel. It’s all very Outback Steakhouse Waitress. I can’t decide if I’m more bothered by the cheesy practice, or the fact that people actually seem to like it.
More and more, I find myself using words like “gosh” and making cheerful eye contact with strangers in the grocery store by mistake. I have a hard time transitioning out of my chirpy lilt when I come home. Maybe I should just embrace this alter ego of mine. I’ll change my name to Staci and get highlights. I’ll smile real wide.
It’s the same way every time. My grandmother sets out napkins while my mom dishes out Chinese food. I sit on my chair with my legs pulled up underneath me, as if to remind them both that I am not a grownup. My grandmother pretends that she doesn’t know the names of the foods we’re eating and we patiently go over them with her - “General Tso.” “Egg roll.” She eyes her plate with a mix of skepticism and interest. My mom offers me sauces she knows I’ll turn down, and my grandmother tries not to look shocked when I go back for seconds.
Then we all crack open our cookies and read the fortunes aloud. My mom scowls at hers, rolls her eyes - the eternal victim of bad fortune. My grandmother reads the wrong side and tries to pronounce the Chinese words. I take mine too seriously and then immediately forget it.
I feel sorry for anyone who has to sit through Mad Men with me while I constantly point out furniture I want. “Look at that chair! Look at it. Oh my gosh, that clock! Did you see it? That headboard is so great. So great.”
“It seems to me that men rank you and pit themselves against you and wonder who is better and declare you the smartest or most beautiful and meanwhile we worry for them and wish revelations upon them and hope they will love us because could they, really, if they knew the truth? That we are smart without them and beautiful without them telling us so, and that deep down, in most cases, we know we are better?”—My god, my god. This blog.
At the age of 23, I am finally realizing the untapped potential for fun in grocery shopping. While I’m typically the kind of girl who likes to order the same boring thing on the menu every time (turkey club, no tomato please) because I don’t want to risk ordering something I hate (and I hate lots of foods), I am discovering that I am a wild, risk-taking beast in the brightly lit aisles of Price Chopper.
I have just begun to ascertain the cheese aisle and its thrilling counterpart: the fancy cracker shelf. I pretend that I am holding a classy dinner party. My guests will only eat the thinnest possible crackers.
Salad dressings excite me, especially those that contain unexpected elements: champagne caper, parmesan walnut, roasted apple.
I am astounded by the cereal aisle. I have never allowed myself to think about how big it is before. It is incredibly large. I am distracted thinking about the advertisers. How do you make your cereal box stand out? I try to scan the shelves quickly and choose the first one that jumps out at me.
I spend a long time staring through the glass doors in the frozen foods aisle. I am delighted by overpriced appetizers and consider eating miniature foods for a week: rosemary asiago cheese straws, breaded dill pickle spears, citrus infused crabcakes. I settle on a box containing two cranberry and brie stuffed chicken breasts.
The frozen pizza aisle is where I really shine. I am only interested in the most unusual products. I select a small, organic, thin crust pizza with plantains, mangoes, kale, fire-roasted red onions, mozzarella and guava-infused jerk sauce. I’m not entirely sure what a plantain is. But I am very very excited to try it.