Embarrassing

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Best Cousin Ever

Sunday, October 5th, 2014

I met my friend Nicole several years ago at the wedding of mutual friends. We bonded over gin & tonics, and stuck close together since we didn’t know many other people there. In the four busy years since we met, we’ve managed to get together a few times a year for drinks and gossip – and for being someone I see so infrequently, she’s still one of my favorite people.

A few weeks ago, we were texting back and forth, just catching up on life. Nicole mentioned that she’s dating someone, that she’s had a recent career change, and that since I’m single and fabulous (obviously), she wanted to set me up with her cousin. I trust her judgment of men, so I gave her the green light. She said she’d make the introduction.

Fast forward to this weekend. Nicole and I had made plans to meet for brunch, and as we texted about the time and place, she mentioned, “I know Chris wants to meet you too. Can we work him into the plan?” So on Saturday morning, I walked to Sassafras to meet Nicole and her cousin.

Nicole is the kind of person who sets everyone at ease, and Chris immediately struck me as the same. Conversation between the three of us was easy and pleasant, and I had the thought, “Everyone in their family must be so nice.” Nicole told me that Chris had moved into her house, which sounded kind of fun – because as a woman, what better roommate to have than your male cousin? He could reach the top shelf in the closet and lift the heavy things. They even bought new couches together – a true sign of a combined life, probably because Nicole is sweet and generous and wants him to feel at home, I thought. Chris told me that ever since moving in with Nicole, he’s become a runner; Nicole and all of her friends are marathoners, and if he wanted to join that group, it made a lot of sense to me that he would take up the same hobby.

Admittedly, I had never known cousins this close. It sounded like they do everything together, which felt a little odd. But just because I’m not as tight with MY cousins doesn’t mean that others couldn’t be – so I just accepted the fact that they’re best friends and ate my eggs.

Chris was good looking and interesting and quick to smile and so, so nice. But I wasn’t really feeling any kind of vibe between us, which was fine since we were all just having a casual brunch anyway. I was happy to have found a new friend, if nothing else.

About an hour into conversation, I realized I hadn’t heard about Nicole’s boyfriend yet. So I turned to her and asked, “Hey, aren’t you dating someone?”

She looked at me blankly. “Dating?”

Pause. Wrinkled forehead.

And then, with a quick shake of her head, like she was trying to rattle her thoughts into place, she gestured to Chris and said, “I’m dating Chris. This is CHRIS.”

And in that moment, all of the air sucked out of the room.

I looked down at my plate. When I lifted my eyes, Chris and Nicole were staring at me completely flummoxed. There was no getting out of this one, no way to gracefully play it off. Time to face the music.

“I’m sorry, I’m so confused,” I awkwardly blubbered, the red creeping up my cheeks. “I… I…”

“Oh my…” Nicole broke in, eyes wide, the realization suddenly all over her face. “Did you think this was my cousin?”

And we all died. Right there in our chairs, every one of us died a thousand deaths. I don’t know that I’ve ever laughed so hard – while simultaneously wanting to, you know, crawl underneath the table. While Nicole had been introducing me to her boyfriend, now she knew I had been SCOPING HIM OUT FOR MYSELF. No wonder I wasn’t feeling a vibe – the only vibe at that table was between Chris and Nicole. Who are not cousins. I wanted the chef to hit me over the head with a frying pan; please put me out of my misery.

Revisiting Nicole’s text, I realized that she had never said her cousin was coming to brunch – she said Chris was coming to brunch. And isn’t it just like a girl to make that mean whatever she wants it to mean? We then relived every twist and turn of the conversation up to that point, all of which added up to a weirdly intertwined cousin relationship, including a trip to Mexico – which I assumed was a family vacation? We laughed so hard we cried. And maybe I just cried.

Chris and Nicole say they’re going to get T-shirts that say “Best Cousin Ever.” As for me? I’ll go with “Moron.”
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Steaking her claim

Monday, March 31st, 2014

Foxy and I spent the weekend in Steamboat Springs visiting some dear friends.

This is how I know they are dear friends.

On Saturday night, they made an incredible meal: steak, baked potatoes, salad, wine. We were laughing and enjoying conversation, when all of a sudden Amy yelled, “The dog has the steak!”

Sure enough, Foxy had gotten up on the counter and dragged an entire flank of delicious red meat down to the kitchen floor, where she was helping herself.

Absolutely mortified, I sprang into action, grabbing the puppy and swatting her nose – “Bad dog! Bad dog!” Then I lifted all 35 pounds of her and carried her upstairs where I forcefully locked her in her kennel. “Bad dog!” I scolded one last time, and then headed back down to join the dinner, embarrassed and disgraced – because it’s an odd thing to feel responsible for a living, breathing creature that you actually sometimes have no control over.

When I arrived back at the table spilling over with apology, PJ shrugged his shoulders and said, “Ehhh, we threw it back on the grill. Nothing that 500 degrees won’t kill.” And when he brought it back to the table, we ate it anyway.

THESE ARE MY PEOPLE.

And the next morning when we went for a hike, Foxy, still drunk on red-blooded protein, grabbed joy by the jugular and LIVED IT UP.

Foxy

Let it go

Wednesday, March 19th, 2014

This weekend, something that I wanted to work out didn’t work out, leaving me sad and disappointed. Then my bike seat broke. Then I tried to fix my bathtub drain, but realized I don’t have the right tools. Then several people told me, in various ways, that a dream that I’ve been working toward is a bad idea. Then, after dealing with shoddy, unreliable internet service for over a week, I came home yesterday afternoon to find that my actual electricity was gone.

Must be the wind, I thought, as I dialed Xcel to report the outage. I followed the prompts on the automated service, and then took Foxy on her lunchtime walk.

When I arrived back at the house, I got a phone call from someone in the Xcel customer support department. He asked me some questions about the meter (“It should be on the south side of the house”), so I found myself prowling through bushes, being poked in the eye by branches, and reading the unit number to the man on the phone – only for him to tell me that that’s the gas meter, and we need the electric meter.

That’s when I remembered I was on the north side of the house, and also, a moron.

So I headed around SOUTH into the backyard, crawled on a ledge, and had to touch dirty, rusty things, relaying meter readings to the man on the line, just to have him tell me that none of that helped him, so he would send a technician out – except, wait a second. What’s this?

He put me on hold while he took a look at my account, and eventually a new voice – a woman, probably Bad News Special Forces or something – came back on the line. Apparently, a neighbor had not paid her electric bill in quite some time, so they had disconnected her service – at least, what they thought was her service. Turns out they turned off mine instead.

Whoops.

Oh, and they wouldn’t be able to send someone to turn it back on until tomorrow.

And all of a sudden, it was just too much. Something snapped. This is when, to use a technical term, I lost my shit.

I have worked in customer service before, and still do, to a certain extent – which is why I couldn’t believe I was finding myself uttering words like “infuriating” and “unacceptable” and “immediately” and “you people” and “enraged” and “now – NOW.” My chest was tight but my tongue was loose. I was on an absolute rampage.

I spent the night at Becca and Mike’s, where Foxy whined non-stop in the darkness because that big yellow dog Grizz is RIGHT THROUGH THAT WALL. RIGHT THERE. HE’S THERE. I got a grand total of 2 hours sleep, and spent all day today feeling downright witless.

So now I’m home and the power is back on and I’m typing all of this out, and laughing because it’s so ridiculous. I’ve been sulking about things really not worth sulking about – especially since furrowing my eyebrows is the last thing I need to do more of, seeing as how that look is basically already my natural resting face.

The older I get, the more I realize my strong need for justice – which is unfortunate, since it’s also the more I realize that life just isn’t fair. Sometimes your neighbor doesn’t pay her bills, and you are the one inconvenienced. Sometimes you take good care of your things, and they break anyway. Sometimes someone else makes a decision, and your heart winds up paying a price.

We can try to legislate fairness into our lives, but it just isn’t going to happen.

I could be a sulker. I could resent people and situations and reality itself. I could shake my fist at heaven and tell everything to go to hell.

But to borrow an idea from Proverbs, I’d rather be clothed in strength and dignity, and laugh at the days to come – or you know, Frozen, and let it go.

Food, glorious food

Tuesday, August 13th, 2013

In the midst of this crazy season, I am trying hard to make healthy choices. I’m regularly meeting with my counselor, and she’s shepherding me through some precarious territory. I’m facing a lot of the ugly stuff head on, and praying – really praying – for the first time in years. I’m staying as active as I can, and sleeping as much as I can, and spending as much time with life-giving people as I can.

But my diet? It’s deplorable.

I mean, I’m good at breakfast – always have been. An egg on toast, a little bit of yogurt, two cups of coffee. And I always pack a lunch, so I don’t veer too far off course during the day. But dinner?

I’m so bad at dinner. Like, a-bag-of-croutons-and-a-glass-of-wine bad. Or, popcorn-and-a-popsicle bad. Or, nothing-bad. Given the amount of times my dinner is “nothing,” I should be Kiera Knightley-skinny. But I’m not – the Lord hath made my frame substantial – so yay, I’m just starving.

Sometimes I sit around dreaming about real dinners – meals that would actually taste like meals, and not just… Wheat Thins. I fantasize about what I want. But do I decide to fix myself these imaginary dream meals? Of course not.

I’m not sure why I just can’t get it together to make a proper dinner – it probably has to do with a lack of time, a lack of energy to plan, not wanting to stock my fridge when I’m out of town so often, and just living alone. Knowing how many of you cook on a regular basis – and then post gorgeous pictures of your food – it’s embarrassing to admit how bad I am at this. I’m the anti-ultimate woman.

But there HAVE to be options, right? Meals that EVEN I could make, without an abundance of time and/or effort?

If you have ideas for dinners that
a) are quick
b) are satisfying
c) are healthy
d) are simple to prepare and/or can be made in larger quantities and then eaten throughout the week…

… then please. I’m begging you. Share them. I’m so hungry.

How?

Thursday, August 26th, 2010

I was going to talk about Seattle today.  I was going to tell you how much I love that city, how much I miss it, how much it still feels like home, how much being on the water is necessary to my emotional health and survival, how much my friends mean to me, how much I would love to live there again someday.

But all of that lovely, aching wistfulness has been hijacked by something I was reminded of last night.

I’ve been a member for 8 months, but I don’t know where the bathroom is at 24 Hour Fitness.

I know where the women’s locker room is, and I’ve gone in there looking for a restroom.  But I can’t find it.  I’ve looked everywhere, around every corner.  I’ve found the showers, the sinks, the lockers, the scales, the mirrors.

But I cannot find the toilets.

How?

At this point, I’m too embarrassed to ask.  I mean, it’s too late.  They KNOW me there.  My window of opportunity has passed, and now I’m on my own to to figure this one out.  Godspeed, little gym rat.

But I really do love Seattle.

Oh, for the LUV

Monday, March 22nd, 2010

I’ll just cut to the chase: Southwest Airlines lost my luggage this weekend.

[insert me telling you how this sent me for a minor emotional tailspin, and how I was sick as a dog, and almost broke down and gave up, but soldiered on – for the children, really, and for America]

Flying from Nashville to Austin on Friday night, I was exhausted.  I was getting sick – and I had no Kleenex.  So on the plane, to my horror and shame, I had no choice but to use my sleeve to wipe my insanely runny nose.  Multiple times.

Southwest offered to reimburse me for $50 worth of necessities until they found my bags – which, when you are in town for a wedding, and all you have is the mucus-crusted cardigan on your back, won’t get you very far.  But I appreciated the gesture, and went to Target to max out on the necessary toiletries, medications, and two pairs of underwear.

Why two pairs?  Because I wasn’t sure what kind of a dress I would wind up wearing, and any woman can tell you that different dresses call for different undergarments.  Just… I just needed both pairs, okay?  Always be prepared.

I found a dress and shoes at TJ Maxx, took a hot shower, my meds kicked in, and a great time was had by all at Joey and Sam’s fabulous wedding.  All’s well that ends well, right?

Not so fast, sparky.

Southwest decided to itemize my Target receipt, saying that they weren’t sure that all of these things were truly “necessary” to my survival without my luggage.  Things that made the cut, no questions asked?  Cosmetics.  Medicine.  Eyedrops.  Tampons.  Thanks, guys, for deeming tampons “necessary.”  You are too kind.

The complication?  The underwear.

Apparently, because the luggage was returned within 24 hours, only one of the pairs was considered “necessary.”  And so there at the Southwest counter, I was asked to indicate which pair I wore that day – bikini or thong.  Multiple times, I was asked out loud, “Which pair did you need today?  The bikini or the thong?”

You will never know.

But Southwest does.

I’ll never work(out) in this town again

Tuesday, December 29th, 2009

My parents recently enrolled in a gym called Fitness 19 – named such because it’s open 19 hours a day.  Oh, Coloradans – you are so clever with your words!

Due to her recent surgeries, Mom hasn’t been to Fitness 19 in awhile – leaving her membership card available to yours truly.  My workouts on Saturday and Sunday were awesome – convincing me that I might actually acclimate to Mile High altitude, finally get the runner’s booty, and basically win the Nashville half-marathon that I’m registered for in April.  So last night, I went again.

I handed my (mom’s) card to the man behind the counter, and he scanned it.  “Thanks, Susan,” he said.  I smiled at him, and went to the magazine rack to choose some smut to read while on the treadmill.

“Wait – Susan?”

I froze.

“Susan, I think there’s a problem.”

I slowly turned around and faced him.

“Susan, when is your birthday?”

My mind raced.  “June 21.”

“What year?”

My mind raced even faster.  “Nineteen fifty-fii… SHOOT.”  I said it out loud.  “SHOOT.”

“You were not born in the fifties.”

And then, some bizarre calm overtook me.  Like a sociopath, I cooly stated, “You are right.”

He was serious.  “This is not your card.”

Again, conscienceless, “No.  It’s my mom’s.”

He was adamant.  “You cannot work out using another person’s membership.”

“Okay.”  Pregnant pause.  “But can I work out right now?”

He let me run for 40 very awkward minutes on the treadmill.  I ran like I have never run before.  It will be the last that Fitness 19 ever sees of me.

A collection of thoughts

Wednesday, October 14th, 2009

Controversial foods that I happen to love:
Olives
Mushrooms
Beets

Controversial foods that I happen to hate:
Tuna
Pickles
Cauliflower

Cauliflower is the worst. It makes me think of cauliflower ear.

I have a serious addiction to chewing gum, but I ran out about 8 days ago, and have yet to buy a new pack. Every morning after my two cups of coffee, I reach for a piece of minty freshness, and realize that my purse is empty. I spend the rest of the day going through withdrawal. Why I don’t just go buy a new pack of gum is beyond me – maybe I’m trying to prove my ruggedness of spirit.

Speaking of spirit, last night, I mentioned my “melancholy spirit” to Zach, the friend from Seattle who now lives on the JAM house floor (JAMZ?). He told me to not to call it that – because there is a difference between “spirit” and “temperament,” and that my spirit is actually quite fiery. I think that’s true – and it was nice to hear from an outside source.

Also last night, I sang background vocals for one of PZC’s grad school projects – he set up a makeshift isolation booth in his closet, and I sang from there while he and Zach sat silently in chairs in the middle of the bedroom. Occasionally, one of Paul’s roommates would poke their head into the room and find us thusly. That thought is making me laugh today.

I go to Boston tomorrow. If Seattle is my true love, then Boston is my crush. Seattle is to Edward as Boston is to Jacob – although, no, I still have not finished “Eclipse,” so I don’t know how it’s all going to end, and who knows – maybe Bella will wind up with a werewolf after all. At this rate, I may never know. I don’t fully believe that she has “just friends” feelings for Jacob, no matter how many times her annoying narrative voice insists upon it. I kind of want to take the book with me on the plane, but what if I still don’t read it? It’s a huge, heavy, embarrassing novel to be toting around and flashing to strangers if I’m not actually going to read it.

But I want to know how it all ends.

Don’t tell me, though.

Three little episodes

Wednesday, October 7th, 2009

My friend Zach moved from Seattle to Nashville this week; it’s great to have him here.

We hadn’t seen each other in almost 3 years until he arrived on my doorstep on Monday night.  As I made dinner and we caught up, he told me that since the last time we saw each other, I’ve gotten sassier.

And here I was, thinking that I wasn’t accomplishing anything!

– – – – – – – –

Everyone knows that I pride myself on being an excellent speller.  As much as I would deny it, I actually feel slightly superior when I witness someone’s spelling mistake.

Working in the realm of email, I witness people’s spelling mistakes all the time.  The other day, I rolled my eyes when a woman wanted to “rescind” her email campaign – because hello, doesn’t she know how to spell “resend”??  I mean, duh.

I sent her back some very detailed instructions on how to resend her email.

And then, I was informed “rescind” is actually a word.  It means to revoke, to undo what was done – in this case, to pull back the emails after they’ve been sent out (which is impossible, FYI – once you hit send, the deed is done – BE SURE, people!).

In any case, consider me humbled.

– – – – – – – –

I went to the Bluebird last night with the lovely Haley Shaw.  Luke Laird sang a song called “People in Planes” – please go listen.  I loved it – I think it’s brilliant.   The second verse kills me.

A different kind of highlight

Tuesday, July 7th, 2009

After racing my dad to the top of Mt. Roberts in Juneau on Sunday, I spent some time walking around the town.  Which, of course, led to an interesting encounter – because do I ever elude the interesting encounters?

I met a greasy man on a street corner who took one look at me, and immediately, very excitedly – in one breath – said, “How long are you in town? Do you live here?  I’M A ROCK STAR!”

He proceeded to walk me back to the ship, and claim that he is not only a rock star, but a genius, a friend of the governor, and insane.  I believed him on one account.

After hearing that I live in Nashville, he informed me that he is moving to Nashville, and has a goal of getting a record deal by November 1 (“and by the way, do you think you could set me up with Michael W. Smith?”).  He gave me his phone number and his MySpace address, saying that I could spend “several months” on his MySpace page, there is so much to see.  He talked and talked and talked, spewing out eccentricities and grand statements about life, and without skipping a beat, ended with, “You know what?  Meeting me might be the highlight of your trip.”

I high-fived him, because maybe, dude.

But I’m leaning toward the night when the Parsons walked out onto the front deck of the ship while in open seas, thinking we could get some fun pictures, but not being prepared for the amount of SHEER TERROR the wind would bring, and after all of our dresses had blown up revealing whatever we had underneath, and hitting the deck to avoid being blown over the edge entirely, and Sarah’s driver’s license flying into the Pacific Ocean, and everyone holding hands for stability, and screaming our lungs out, and tears streaking our faces… realizing that the entire navigational crew was watching from their windows above.

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No rock star, genius, insane man from Juneau can compete with the involuntary flashing of Polynesian men.