Wednesday, June 24, 2009

A sure sign you need to update your taste in music

I changed departments this week, as per the rules of my internship. My new department is all kinds of fabulous. I am busy nearly all the time. I mean, not right now. That would be RATHER unprofessional of me. But other times. I love it here.

The only downside is that I work next to a woman named Joanna. She is lovely; very sweet, very helpful, really cute shoes.

But her name is Joanna. Which is a name I thoroughly liked until Sweeney Todd: The Musical came along. There is a young woman in it with that same name, and there is a young man who sings to her (whilst staring at her through a window), "I'll steal you, Joanna. Do they think that walls can hide you?" Like, in this really slow, high-voiced way.


Not out loud. But knowing me, it's only a matter of time.

Thursday, June 18, 2009


Things Today That Seemed Like They Might Kill Me, But That I Decided to Do Anyway, and Turned Out Fabulously:

Fix a paper shredder with a letter opener.

Things Today That Seemed Like They Should Be No Problem, But Actually Might Cause Me to Get Pneumonia:

Leave my umbrella at home.

*rings out shirt*

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

There's magic allll around us.

So I've officially started work. Totally settled in. I know all the names of the people in the cubicles I pass on my important walks to and from the water cooler. I know that if anyone ever asks me for any reason whatsoever, I am to say my boss is in a meeting, AND I know the various types of meetings I am allowed to make up. And I learned that our bathroom is the root of all magical powers.

Last week, I learned the bathroom was upstairs, more or less hidden in a corner, and that it had a special keypad, to avoid people from breaking into it and stealing the valuables.

"Who knows the secret code?" I asked, and I pictured solid gold sinks and an inlaid silver floor and several secret passages. I had a brief, wild fantasy that the real reason they hired me was to stand guard over the world's most priceless bathroom, and make sure no one came through the secret passages. Hard to say why that sounds appealing to me.

"Everyone," said my boss's assistant, Jane.


"Well, if we don't give it to them, they can't use the bathroom, so, you know...everyone."

It was very disappointing.

My visions of splendor were renewed when I asked for the code, however.

"It's--" Jane paused to blink into space. "If you start from the bottom, it's..." She reached out as though she were pushing the buttons herself. "The last...four? In reverse order?"

It was not. She came up to try it herself. "I've totally confused myself," she said.

We asked three other people. Everyone suffered from the same problem. They all started out confidently, and then suddenly and inexplicably forgot.

"WHAT THE HELL?" said the other assistant on the floor, trying desperately to break-in to the bathroom. "I type this in everyday!"

"I guess we just never think about it," said Jane. She'd bought us pretzels out of a vending machine so we could watch her crazed friend while enjoying a snack. It was almost as good as a movie.

"*I* guess it's magic," I said. People started to agree with me after another ten minutes.

It took us all another day to remember it was, in fact, the last three numbers. Not the last four.

I still suspect it's under a very specific type of curse.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

A grown-up woman should never fall so easily

I moved to New York for the summer yesterday. 

Ah, love at first sight. I first felt it on a train. There were six of us sharing a sleep car, and I had the bottom bunk. Instead of sleeping, I listened to the wheels on the track, and the miles flying away beneath me. Clank. Clank. Clank. Clank. I could feel my heart beating against the mattress. Where are we now? And now? And now? I finally snuck out. Pressed against the window in the tight hallway, I saw the dark shapes of hills, the very edge of the black sky, and a world of mirror-lakes and unstoppable horizons so impossible I half-thought I had drifted off in my narrow bed. Switzerland at night. My first passionate love.

The train made a particularly enthusiastic clang just as my heart got snagged on the feeling, and I fell over. Into my history teacher's door. He was accompanying our graduating class on our senior trip. He was also not happy to see me at 3:28 a.m.

Not the point.

The point is, I arrived in New York yesterday after a missed flight and a delayed connection into a torrential June storm, and fell in love again. There is nothing else in the world like this city. Even when a newly arrived girl takes the right subway but then a wrong left turn and ends up lost for four hours. It's still filled with a special kind of exhilaration. 

I think if this city was a person, that would be the equivalent of letting them drive around lost for four hours and never making them stop to ask for directions, and then when they finally get you home, letting them have the last piece of cheesecake.

Of course, it isn't a person, and I'm the one who got me lost, which means all the cheesecake goes to me.

Good deal.

P.S. Switzerland: I am not cheating on you, darling. I promise I can love you both.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

So should I dance down streets for money, or sing?

There are two points to this post. 

Point A) Monday morning my boss called me at 8 am to see if I had any last questions before I start my internship next week. Unfortunately, I was still asleep. More unfortunately, I answered my phone anyway. 

Phone: *RING*
Sara: *clicks answer and stares at the number. A number doesn't usually appear on the screen after the alarm has been turned off. That was the alarm, right?*
S: Oh my God. My phone IS ALIVE.
Sara's Boss, Christine: Is this Sara?
S: Yes. How are you doing this?
C: Um. Sara, this is Christine. How are you?
S: Fine. How are you? What do you need? How are you DOING THIS?
C: I just called to see if you had any last questions before you started and make sure you were all set for Monday.
S: Why? What's happening on Monday?
C:...You're starting work?
S: Yes, but--oh. OH. This is not my cell phone calling me. This is my boss.
C: A little. Did I wake you?
S: No, not at all! I'm always up at whatever time this is.
C: And do you have any questions?
S: Nope.
C: Great. We're all very excited to have you at the office. Even after this.
S: Haha! Great! I'm excited, too! See you soon! *hangs up*

S: *calls Victoria*
V: Yes?
S: My boss called me just now and I discovered I am going to lose my job before I even start it.
V: That's weird. My boss called me, too. He's a general. I asked him what kinds of clothes I should wear and what other styles around the office are. I'm sure that's what his military career has prepared him for.
S: Let's be homeless and jobless together.

Point B) I'm alive. So sorry for the long delay! Posting will commence as usual now. 

Not that there was a usual.


There will be a usual from now on. 

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Apparently I was on drugs in the 7th grade.

I cleaned out my closet at home tonight. I don't know where to begin.

I knew it was going to be a special adventure when I pulled out a journal that I had kept maaany years ago pretending to be a rather unfortunate woman named Annie May Austen, who, at the age of 17, was pregnant with her second child, and whose young husband had died tragically of a drug overdose. I don't know why I even knew what that was. I watched a lot of talk shows which probably explains why I thought 17 was an acceptable age to have two children at. Because it was rather commonplace on Maury. Also, I named my two children Aaron Archibald Austen and Ellie May Austen. AND, after my husband died, changed my name back to my maiden name (Austen) because I was offended by his death. I was offended by many things. "About my husband dying of a drug overdose," I wrote. "It makes sad. And also offended."

I don't think I knew the meaning of that word.

"Mrs. Willis," I wrote to my fifth grade teacher in my pragmatic poem "SPAM" after she had given us all samplings of SPAM to teach us to be inspired to write by even the most mundane object, "what the heck is SPAM? Because you said it was meat, but it isn't. I'm offended that you gave me this. And the kid next to me ate his. Isn't that gross? That's gross, Mrs. Willis." Besides the obvious fact that I was born to be a poet, I was beginning to notice a trend. Everything in the world offended me.

"DO NOT OPEN THIS JOURNAL," I wrote in the "belongs to" space of said journal. "It has an alarm. You can't see it, but it's there, and if you open it, it'll go off, but only so I can hear it, and I will be offended. And hit you."

I don't know who is responsible for getting me off this talk-show-super-guest path, but I can't decide whether you ruined me or saved me.

Because on one hand, I appreciate not being a mother of children named Aaron Archibald and Ellie May. But on the other hand, I'd be famous on youtube.

It's hard to say. 

Monday, May 11, 2009

Quote of the Day, brought to you by the Textbook Buy-Back Cashier

Cashier: Hey, this book is worth four dollars!
Sara: Great!
C: This one is worth five!
S: Yaay.
C: This one is seventy-five cents!
S: Okay.
C: This one is two dollars!
C: This is one is four dollars!
S: You're going to do this for all of them, aren't you?
C: I went to high school with a girl who spelled her name like yours, all weirdly without an h. She was really religious. She told me I was born with Original Sin.
S: I can't tell if you're on drugs or if this is just how you are.
C: I told her, "That's not fair! I didn't do anything!"
S: I sort of hope it's drugs.
C: Hey! This one is five dollars!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

You should definitely spend three hours doing this when you have finals.

At the beginning of the semester, I bought a card of fourteen hair elastics, wagering that I would lose about half of them. And then lost all of them. Except for this stretched out, begging me to put it out of its misery, getting tangled in my hair because it's worn so thin one. It broke yesterday. Since my keys had gone missing at the same time, I decided it might be time to organize my room.

You know, now that I'm moving out of it in a week.

I cleaned out every drawer and organized things into categorized, gallon-sized ziplock bags, leaving just what I would need to get me through the week. I found my keys in the bottom of a Trader Joe's bag. 

And I found 23 hair elastics. For my card of fourteen.

Have I stolen a bunch, or are they reproducing?

Monday, May 4, 2009


So I lost my Ikea virginity over the weekend.

I was so unprepared. 

I was under the impression that it was a Swedish version of Bed, Bath, and Beyond. It was not.

Sara: I--what do I do?
Casey: This is the showroom. Here, take a big yellow bag. We'll wander through the rooms and you can look at everything and design an imaginary apartment while we pick sheets.
S: What's happened to my senses? Why do they feel like Disneyland?
C: That's called sensory overload. It's to be expected.
C: Petal, this is only your first time. Let's not get carried away.
C: Sara--
C: Oh, Sara.

This came on the heels of a mini-carnival in which there were bouncy houses shaped like ships. With SLIDES inside. 

It was a weekend of much joy.

And now it's finals week.

Never has there been such a cruel trick played on my mind. Except for when I was little and Jurassic Park came out, and I thought it was a documentary, and that dinosaurs were alive again. And then they weren't. That was pretty mean, too.

Friday, May 1, 2009

A Brief Conversation Between Victoria and an Innocent, By-Standing History Major

Unsuspecting History Major: Victoria, you're a history major, aren't you?
Victoria: Yes. Why?
UHM: I can't decide which classes to take next semester.
V: Which are you considering?
UHM: History of the Vikings, for one.
V: Oh, I took that class. We dressed up as vikings and had a feast.
UHM: Wow, really? 
V: Yes. The feast is half your grade.
UHM: Great! Definitely taking that one. How about History of Pirates?
V: Another good one. We hijacked a ship and pirated about the Atlantic.
UHM: You--wait...really?
V: ...
UHM: *suspicious*
V: Yes?
V: Yes.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

*plants flag*

I appreciate frankness. In high school, I had a crush on a boy named Alex, and I was baffled by the way he treated me. He  sometimes told me I was cute, and he sometimes sent me texts that said things like, "Do you like fire?" Needless to say, I couldn't tell if he A) had a crush on me, too, or B) had heard I would be a good accomplice in starting a forest fire.

Sara: I'm just going to ask him if he likes me.
Friends: No.
S: No? Why? 
F: It will scare him off.
S: Really? Wow. He's really going to need to grow a backbone before we embark on our life of crime.

In my experience, even frankness is too subtle for some people.

S: Did you send me a text asking if I liked fire?
Alex: Yeah. I have a fire-pit in my backyard, and I wanted to invite you over to make S'mores.
S: OH. I didn't respond to it because I thought you were criminally-minded. You can invite me some other time. I love S'mores. And I also have a crush on you. Good combo!
*two weeks later*
S: Are you ever going to ask me out?
A: Wait, what? You'd go out with me?
S:...I sort of thought that was obvious after telling you I liked you.
A: I thought you were joking!

At this point in my long, wisdomous life, passive aggressiveness is my least favorite thing. You can imagine that I was somewhat stunned to find myself engaged in a long, drawn-out, passive aggressive war, then. The concealed, subtly expressed hatred my nemesis and I have for each other was discovered the first day we met in math class. He was sitting a few rows to my left. I was chatting quietly with Casey. Our ears perked up when he started discussing our college, and said, "I haven't met a girl who goes there who's actually intelligent."

Sara: *glares*
Opponent: *feels it*
S: *keeps glaring*
O: *ignores it*
S: You realize girls from the college are in this class.
O: It occurs to me, yes.
S: Well, then.
O: Well.

And thus our romance began. Things got more heated when he transferred into one of my English classes. Aside from one full-blown argument in which neither of us looked at each other while we insulted each other from across the classroom, we've generally pretended the other doesn't exist. Actually, we had one impromptu staring contest. But other than that, nothing. Until today.

Today our English teacher was gone, but had left a video for us to watch. Since he informed us in advance that he wouldn't be there and that there wouldn't be a sign-in sheet, there was an astounding turn-out of three. I was the first one there. My arch-nemesis, looking especially size zero today in his skinny jeans and oversized shirt, walked through the door next. When he saw I was the only other one there, he was so overcome with joy, he hardly knew how to express it.

O: Are you fucking kidding me?
S: Yes. This is all a joke. 
O: No one else is going to show up, are they?
S: Aside from the girl who's supposed to bring the video, no.

We eyed each other, and then he took our You Aren't Even Here Right Now policy to new heights.

O: Are you in my math class?
S: I don't know. What math are you in?
O: Ninety.
S: Oh. Yeah. You sit in front of me, don't you?
O: I don't know.
S: Hm.

After a few moments, I heard him mutter something.

S: Are you speaking?
O: Yes.
S: Oh. I couldn't quite tell.
O: I said, "Nice to meet you." *sticks out hand*
S: *eyes warily*
O: I have no idea what your name is.
S: *shakes hand* It's Sara.
O: Great.

We didn't say anything else to each other, and we ignored each other on the way out of the room. 

But is it just me, or did I just totally win whatever argument we were having?

Thursday, April 23, 2009

This must be how sugar cookies feel all the time.

My energy level is through the roof today. And I live on the bottom floor of a three-story building. It has to go a long way to get to the roof. The reasons for this, I believe, are two-fold:

Fold One: Following my erratic, ADD post yesterday about INTENSITY and LITERATURE and ACCIDENTALLY HARMING PEOPLE, my English class this morning had a class-long discussion about what makes literature valuable or worthy of anthologizing, and why do we read the things we read, and why do we enjoy them or dismiss them, and why is it easier to say why a piece is bad than to explain what makes it good, and if our civilization ended, and a new species found our planet and exactly one piece of literature remained here, would we rather they find Paradise Lost, or Harry Potter? And it reminded me, yet again, why I love this major, and why it's okay if I fail math. And now I am ALIVE with PASSION that needs CAPS.

Fold Two: I had coffee for breakfast.

I have been very productive since I replaced my blood with caffeine (and PASSION). I caught up on all my correspondences (facebook wall posts), I went on a walk, I did my Italian homework, and ate some white bean and basil hummus with naan bread and watched an episode of House. When that was done, and Casey was busy, I had to find something else to do. So I went on a quest to find the answer to a question I've had for weeks.

What are the lyrics to Erika Jo's "I Break Things"?

First of all, if you haven't heard this song, go listen to it now. I don't care how you manage it. But this song is a work of genius, and I would be doing you a disservice if I didn't tell you so.

Second of all, WHAT ARE THE LYRICS? Casey and I have been singing it for weeks, very loudly, while driving on our various Errands of Importance to find ice cream, or hummus, or grilled cheese(s), or french fries. The lyrics are very straightforward and awesome until one indiscernible line.

Casey: What is a nanvil?
Sara: I don't know. It sounds like a prescription medicine for headaches.
C: Why is it in this song?
S: Nanvils are in this song?
C: Yeah. She goes, "You say I'm nothing you can't handle. You're tougher than a nanvil."
S:...I think she's saying, "an anvil."
C: Oh. Yeah. That makes more sense.

Except then we stopped to think about it, and being tougher than an anvil actually doesn't make sense. Heavier than an anvil? Sure. More likely to fall on a cartoon character's head than an anvil? Okay. But tougher? We think not. 

We started rewinding the song so we could listen to that line over and over again.

C: Enamel? Is it saying enamel? That would make sense!
S: But I hear a "v" sound! Listen. *rewinds*
C: I hear it, too. But...what would a "v" be doing there? *rewinds*
S: Canville? Is she saying Canville? Is that like a really tough city? That would make sense, too. *rewinds*
C: Is "inanvil" a word? Maybe that whole phrase is just one word. *rewinds*
S: Ganvil?
C: That sounds like Gandalf.
C: Except that it wouldn't.
S: Right, except for that. *rewinds*

I know country songs don't always really care about the sense thing so much, but seriously. What is this line? I've been trying to figure it out for, like, half an hour. It's nearly pathetic.

And maybe Nanvil is an extra-strength medicine, and E.Jo is tougher on headaches than they are.

Help me. Or tell me you've horribly misheard songs, too.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

It's personal story day here at Pinking

So most people I know who major in English have a very unique take on why they've chosen that particular educational path. They are not good at anything else. Today, in fact, I got a four-page email from a high school senior who's thinking of coming to my college and majoring in English, and she had oodles and bundles of questions about the English classes here, the professors, and my personal opinion on whether or not the program has fulfilled my interests. And I was like, "Shit, are you not good at anything else either? Trust me, you have found your people. All our interest(s) are very fulfilled. I like how you stretched one thing into four pages, though. You will write wonderful essays." 

You hear an author or a student or something go, "Yeah, I had to do this, I'm not good at anything else," and every other literarily-minded person laughs. But that's totally a joke. The thing is, we're just obsessed. English is a very broad thing, and we've decided to major in all of it and then also really study Medieval Literature or Creative Writing or Women Writers in Renaissance Italy. We don't have time to be good at other things. We usually don't really care about other things. We're totally weird people.

So in high school, I realized this about myself. I was one of those weird people. And I decided to become a writer and also either an editor or a literary agent. Something with books. Anything with books. I started interning for a literary agency last summer, and I'm interning with a publishing house in New York this summer. I get hate mail from authors when I give them notes on a full we requested and then passed on. I read them out loud, and usually in an accent. It's fantastic.

When I was interviewing for this internship in New York, I realized I had an actual problem.

Interviewer: Well, it seems like you'd be a great fit for our company, but we can't hire you without meeting you. How do you feel about coming to New York?
Sara: I feel great about it. I shall board a plane at once.
I: Really? It's a long way. And we can't pay for your flight.
S: That's fine. I have student loans already. I don't think a few hundred extra dollars makes a difference at this point.
I: Um. Well, I'd feel really badly if you came down here and it didn't work out for some reason. You know, we've had people who sound great over the phone, but then in person we--
S: Shut up. I'm perfect. I'll be there next Friday.

It occurred to me the day before I left that this was not the wisest choice I could have made, and that I should tone things down for the actual interview. "DON'T TONE THEM DOWN," a man selling me interview heels told me while I explained the situation that had brought me to his store. "Keep them at this exact intensity level. RAISE THE INTENSITY LEVEL." I'm easily impressed by loud, passionate statements. "OKAY," I said. 

I still don't know how I got that job, really.

Anyway. None of that is really the point. The point is I successfully talked Casey into ditching a class today for the first time ever, and while we were eating ice cream in the eight billion degree weather, she was explaining to me why she hadn't ever ditched a class and how she felt dedicated to them and then, somehow, how she wished she could Google stuff for a living because she's really good at it, and I was like, "I think I only get along this well with people who are as weirdly intense about crap as I am."

Victoria is, too. You should have seen her in high school. There is a blog post floating around somewhere on the internet about watching her check to see if she'd gotten into her top choice college. She and I spend days and days having panic attacks over our careers (which haven't started), and obsessively winding and unwinding plots (for books, not world domination).

But my intense love of intensity was driven home when, after explaining to Casey how I had once accidentally dropped a billiard ball on a girl's head and how badly I felt about it and how the girl hadn't graduated from high school and I always wondered if I was responsible for that, she went:

C: I once gave a girl stitches.
S: How?
C: I hit her. 

There was a whole story, of course. But that sentence was magical.

So what are you passionate about? I think everyone is secretly super intense about something. What's that thing for you?

Monday, April 20, 2009

I've reached new heights of laziness

On Friday, Casey and I decided to take the weekend off from work. Since neither of us have weekend jobs, we had to find a new way to do that. We packed our bags and made extravagant plans to go blob at my house and do as little homework as possible.

I was impatiently sitting with my suitcase in my room, sending her Skype messages.

Sara: Are you ready?
Casey: Almost.
S: How almost?
C: Five minutes.
S: That seems like an unreasonable amount of time.
C: To pack a suitcase?
S: If I come help, it'll be two and a half.
C: If you come help, we'll be here another hour.
S: I'm coming over. I'll show you how to stuff everything into your bag without folding it and still be able to zip it without sitting on it. You'll have to carry all your toiletries, though.
C: Can you distract yourself for three minutes please?
S:...I--I can try. I have a funny taste in my mouth. Should I brush my teeth?
C: Yes. Definitely.

I got my toothbrush and my toothpaste, walked out the door, and thought, "I feel so weird walking out of my room without a purse. I wonder why I always bring it with me." I had just pulled the door shut with an echoing click when I remembered, "Oh, right. Because I keep my keys in there."

"NOOO," I said, clinging to my door. But it had locked behind me.

Casey came upon me a few minutes later, plastered between the doorframe.

S: Yep.
C: What are you doing?
S: Nothing.
C: Did you lock yourself out?
S: Perhaps.
C: And how many times have you done this now?
S: *holds up four fingers*
C: Yeah. No more. Start locking your door yourself.

See, when this first happened, I complained bitterly that my door locked behind me in an unfixable way, and I was victim to its evil design. Then Casey found the button on the side of the door that lets me lock it myself when I get outside. But this takes an extra four to six seconds of effort on my part. Which is just too much.

Apparently, I'd rather wait for half an hour while a campus security officer finds the keys and lets me in.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

I'll let you know as soon as you can pre-order them on Amazon

Victoria and I are generally baffled by the book Twilight. The male lead, Edward, defies all kinds of logic.

Victoria: Wait...on page twenty it says Edward's voice is musical, but on page twenty-three, it's velvety.
Sara: I didn't know velvet could be musical.
V: I once saw this fake velvet Christmas tie at the dollar store, and when you hit, it played Jingle Bells.
S: Well, I guess that's what they're referring to. That hardly seems appealing, does it? "His voice was like a dollar store tie that played Christmas songs"? Can that be right?
V: Unless we've missed a category of singing velvet, I think it must be.
Apparently he is all kinds of sexy, but we're having a hard time understanding the appeal.

Victoria and I have rather lavish plans of becoming best-selling authors ourselves, so whenever a book becomes as vastly popular as something like Twilight, we feel more or less obligated to read it. We're pretty sure each author has some sneaky, diabolical plan for how to get people to read their book, and we intend to discover this plan, and then use it ourselves. Hijack it, you could say. But with less implication of violence. What's the word for that? Commandeering? The not nice way of borrowing? I don't know. Let's just stay with hijacking and add some violence in there so it fits.

I'm feeling very generous tonight, so I'm going to give you a sneak-peek at some of the many titles we plan to soon make famous:

The Perilous Passions of Penelope
The Billionaire Italian Cowboy's Virgin Mistress's Secret Baby
High Seas and High C's: A Pirate's Quest to Star in Cats 
Jake Johnson and the Giant Geranium (critics say, "Like James and the Giant Peach, but better, because of the alliteration! Your kids will really appreciate that.")
The Day the Earth Kept Turning as Usual

We can hardly decide which one to write first.

Monday, April 13, 2009


I made an important decision today. If I ever release a very specific kind of genie, whose only power is to allow me to morph into an animal of my choosing, I will pick a lamb. There are many reasons for this, but the top ones are mostly that lambs' legs are stilt-y, and I would enjoy that for a change, and they snack all day and sleep in the sunshine. Also, they grow their own clothes. I would save a fortune. My wardrobe would be a bit limited, but I think it's worth it.

You know what's even weirder than that? I think about stuff like this all the time. Like, if I'm eating some really good pasta, I will say to myself, "If I ever release an evil genie who forces me to choose only one food to eat for the rest of my life, I will pick pasta." Or, "If I ever release a genie who will let me pop in and out of one book, I will pick The Golden Compass." Or, "If I ever release a genie who will let me own an endless amount of clothing in one color, I will go with a staple color. Like a dove gray. I won't pick pink. I CAN'T PICK PINK. I'll get sick of it. Gray. Dove gray. For the love of God, please don't come at a moment of weakness, One Color Clothes Genie."

I have no idea why I do this. I can't decide if it is one of those things everyone does in some form or another, or if it's just me. Casey and I play a variation of it called Three Things, where you ask a question like, "What three place would you like to be able to teleport to?" or "If you could only wear three kinds of shoes for the rest of time, what would they be?" And more recently, we've been playing a variation of *that* over on Musing's blog Three Words (, very cool). 

Anyways, the point is I was thinking today about all the genies I have theoretically released, and I wondered what other people would pick. So let's go with my latest creation, the Can Only Make You Morph Into One Animal Genie. What animal would you guys pick?

P.S. As a lambkins, I live in Tuscany, and roam free in a countryside free from all lamb-y predators. It's a good life.

Friday, April 10, 2009

I'm Stunned

My college has a multitude of awesome things, not least of which is the on-campus, student-run coffeehouse. I love this place. When I came to visit the campus, the cookies they sold were my deal-sealer in deciding which school I would grace with my august presence.

So at the beginning of this year, when I heard they needed to someone to run the student cookie bakers, I jumped at the chance. I was officially named President of Cookies, and the title wasn't even my idea. It came with the job. It's actually on my resume. And it's pretty much the only reason I'm still doing it.

Managing people you cannot control through sheer will, or even stern talks, is rather more difficult than I thought it would be. I know, I am young and stupid. However, I set up a fairly stellar baking schedule and a flawless system. Or at least it would be flawless, but for whatever reason, practically everyone I hired seemed to immediately suffer some sort of neurological condition that impacted their memories. Some people forgot it was their day to bake (despite having an online schedule that emailed them when it was), and other people forgot to tell me when we ran out of ingredients (despite increasingly desperate emails from me and the manager of the coffeehouse), and still others forgot to buy ingredients on the rare occasion we knew we needed them (despite my pleas to please just DO THE JOB WE PAY YOU FOR). 

You read that parenthetical statement correctly. This is not volunteer, or just some fun gig we expect people to do for the four hours of super fun baking time in the small kitchen. We pay them. And still, they forget. I know it is just the nature of the beast; when you set up a system with college students that relies entirely on their own drive and motivation, you're going to have to go through a few rounds before you find people who do actually want to do the job.

My favorite story happened one day with a girl I'm going to call Marie. That's not her name, but I'm not nice to her in this story, so I feel like I should change it. Marie did her job. She was there every time she needed to be. And for that, I loved her. But whenever I saw her or talked to her, I was struck with the impression that she seemed too stupid to live.

This was confirmed one day when, by some measure of divine intervention, one my bakers remembered she had a job, and went to the kitchen to do it, only to discover we were out of oats for the oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. I initially told her this was impossible, as we bought oats that came something like 30 cups to the container, and the whole thing barely fit in a cabinet. She assured me that she had torn apart the cabinets, and that it wasn't there.

Now, I was so happy she was thinking about doing her job that I would have crab-walked to the grocery store to buy more oats if it just meant she would do it again sometime. Before making this extravagant offer though, I told her I would call Marie, who had baked the day before, and see if she knew anything concerning their whereabouts.

Marie: Hello?
Sara: Marie, hi! This is Sara.
M: Who?
S: Sara. Sara Kendall.
S: I run the cookie bakers.
S: Hello! I have a weird question. One of the bakers can't find the oats. Do you know what happened to them?
M: Yeah.
S: You do? Great!
M: Mm-hmm.
S: And what happened to them?
M: I have them.
S: With you?
M: Yeah.
S: In your dorm room?
M: Yeah.
S: Um. Why?
M: I was hungry yesterday when I finished baking, so I took them with me and made oatmeal.
S: Marie. Honey. No.

She kindly let me come to her dorm and pick them up from her roommate, as she was heading out to class.

Well, this semester, Marie asked if she could be in charge of finances, since our finances person was going to be writing thesis, and this would give us one less person to pay. I had several doubts, but despite her relative lack of judgement, she'd always done her job, and in the end, I handed it over to her.

That was in January. It's April now. No one has been paid.

I was alerted to the situation in late February, and tried to contact her. And tried. And tried. And got management involved. And tried with them. And sent her emails marked IMPORTANT. And left her forty-two messages. And went to her dorm. If I knew her class schedule, I would have become extra-creepy and waited for her there.

But we never heard from her. Since my bakers were a bit less than driven when they were being paid, you can imagine how they got when they weren't being paid.

Right before Spring Break, out of the blue, I got an email from her.

"Hi Sara," it says. "I got the checks picked up (finally). I'll put them in the mailboxes."

That was the entire email. I kid you not.


And I never heard from her again.

And we STILL didn't get the checks. Together, the bakers and I are out literally thousands of dollars. Okay? Thousands. This is not something I or any of the management have taken lightly. We actually DID go the registrar eventually and try to get her class schedule. 

I sent her another email today, fairly used to the daily insanity in my routine now that means contacting her and never getting results.

Well. She emailed me back. When I saw it in my inbox, I actually froze. I read the sender's name eight times before I realized yes, she had responded.

"Hi Sara," it said. "I actually left the school. I forgot to tell you, I guess. I gave the money to this girl in the mailroom. I think it should get to you."

Word for word, that's what she said.


Please, guys. Tell me you work with people like this. I don't want to be alone with all the crazy.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The Very Threatening Birthday

Once upon a time, there was Sara. The time she was at was college, and she was approaching her 21st birthday with much rapidity. Well, with the usual amount. She can't speed time up, after all. It just seemed fast, what with midterms happening, and finals around the corner, and trying to find a place to live this summer. By the way, does anyone have a recommendation for where Sara can live in New York? She--oh, wait. The story. Right.

*ahem* So time was slipping away from her faster than she could keep track. "My goodness!" she thought to herself, but with less polite words. "How is it already April? I must plan my celebration!" She took a break from her homework to plan a get-together with some friends, and then took another break to decide what her first legal ever drink should be.

But before she could make too many plans, the Mob found her.

They said cheerfully, on a card they had all pitched in for. Then things got ugly.

"That is some classic mob threatening," Sara thought. "It's right there with other famous threats, like, 'We hope you keep your mouth shut, Mr. Smith. It'd be a SHAME to have to break your pretty legs.'" 

She's not totally sure what kind of mob that was. Not the point! She was being tracked. From the image included, she could only guess that her end would be met at the hands of an intoxicated fish. THAT'S NOT HOW SHE WANTS TO GO, GUYS. 

The Mob offered to meet her at a secret location and exchange the card for a frozen yogurt gift certificate. Should she risk it?

Our story continues next week on, The Very Threatening Birthday, Part 2: Sara Meets Finny "Drunk-Pants" McFish.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

You Learn Something New Everyday

I am very bad at understanding what people want. I hardly know what I want. I spend fifteen minutes everyday at the dining hall going, " I want ice cream? No. But maybe. But it's cold out. Is ice cream better in the cold? I should find out. Yeah. I want some. Oooo, look! Brownies! I want a brownie?" 

So I have an understandably hard time magically inferring what other people want. Most of my conversations go like this:

Guy Waiting in Line for Vending Machine: Do you have an extra quarter you're not using?
Sara: Yep. I also have two dimes and four pennies.
G: Great, thanks!
S: What for?
G: The extra quarter. 
S: You're thankful that I have one? 
G: Yes.
G: Um.
S: Do you--? OH! Oh, I see. I'm sorry.
G: Ha! That's okay. It's just one of those day--
S: You have OCD. You must compulsively find out what loose change everyone has. Well, sir, I have forty-nine cents.
G: I'm just going to go stand over there now.

I often don't realize my mistake until it's far too late to correct it. For instance, over the summer, my family bought a new car. This may sound very fancy and exciting, but it isn't. The last time we had needed a car was when gas prices started to go through the roof, and we needed something more economical. While we were purchasing a hybrid from a Honda dealership, a salesman cleverly noticed that my father was middle-aged, and was therefore due for a crisis. He offered my dad a "great deal, really great," on a second, sporty car if we bought it with the first. Without consulting the rest of us, he went ahead and bought a bright yellow S2000 convertible. 

This is the most out-of-character thing he's ever done. Considering this is the same man who refused to let us paint the walls any other color than white for the first eighteen years we lived in our house, and who was driving a white 1990 Volvo station wagon, and was purchasing a white Hybrid Civic because the gray was too "garish" and the other hybrids we looked at were too "flashy," we were just a tad shocked. He came back to himself soon enough, though. The convertible sat in our garage, with a car cover (yes, it was covered while in the garage), and we weren't allowed to walk past it. I'm not joking. If we were in another car that needed to be pulled up next to his car in the garage, all people who were not the driver needed to exit the car while it was still on the street and then walk into the house through the front door, not the garage door. We were not to touch it, remove the cover, or under any circumstances, emergencies included, dare to drive it.  This would make slightly more sense if he had very young children. But his kids were nineteen, seventeen, and sixteen.  

He drove the car a grand total of three times in the years he had it. During that time, we all became licensed drivers, and since his car was off-limits, it left his four family members sharing the Civic. Which did not work so well. So finally, over the summer, I convinced him the car was causing him more stress than it was worth, and he needed to turn it in and get something with a bit more room, and most importantly, something we could all drive. I accompanied him to the dealership to turn in his convertible. While he was signing paperwork, an apprentice car salesman, who was a bit older than me and fairly cute despite having braces, kept me company.

Apprentice Car Salesman: So, do you go to school?
Sara: Yeah, I do. I'm an English major.
A: Are you? Have you read Jack Kerouac's On the Road?
S: No, is it good?
A: It's wonderful. I have an extra copy, actually.
S: Really? With you here? Can I borrow it? I'm bored.
A: It's not with me, but if you want to come back with your dad when he turns in *random thing I have no clue about* I'll bring it for you. You can keep it and everything.
S: That's so nice! Thanks!
A: Sure thing. You'll have to call me when you're done, of course, and let me know how you like it.
A: Erm--sure.
S: Yay! It needs a name.
A: And maybe after--
S: The Roadsters. It refers to the book, but in public, people will think we're in a motorcycle gang. 
A: Uh-huh. And maybe after, we can, you know, apply our favorite parts of the book to our lives.
S:...Are you asking me to take a road trip with you? Because I don't know you well enough for that.
A: Um.

Well, as it happens, I completely forgot about our book club the next day, and never saw him again. But today, in one of my classes, a short story we read referred to On the Road, and it made me think of him. And not in the best light. I still haven't read it, but our teacher summarized it briefly for us.

HAVE YOU ANY IDEA HOW MUCH SEX IS IN THAT BOOK? DO YOU REALIZE WHAT HE WAS ASKING ME TO DO? And it's FAR too late for me to go back to the dealership, give him a piece of my mind, and slap him dramatically. I had no idea. And I am much offended now.

Also, the car we got after turning in the convertible works out much better for our family. We can all drive it; just as long as we have called my dad and gotten his express permission, agree not to drive anyone else in it, and park it in the center of the driveway when we're done so we don't scratch the sides on the garage.

Friday, April 3, 2009

The Sad Story of Giovanni Marco. Don't Worry. It Has a Happy Ending.

Guys, I'm sorry, I don't mean to brag here, but I am just a fantastic friend. I began to suspect this last night whilst I was simultaneously convincing Casey it would be a good idea to stay up until 2:30 and only get five hours of sleep, AND giving Victoria valuable advice on things she should buy me in China. But the point was really driven home today in my Italian class.

We were learning the conditional tense, which expresses things you would do or should do in given situations. In the last fifteen minutes of class, our professor had us use the things we'd learned that day to construct a few sentences on what we would do to cheer up a depressed friend.

Sara: What is the friend's name?
Professor: Does it matter?
Sara: Yes. Very much.

Good, I thought. I can work with that name. I can see Giovanni now. He's a bit tall, and on the lanky side of things. He's come to California from Italy, and he can't speak English. He forgot to take language into account when he decided to study abroad. As a result, he's failing out of his classes. The one person he could speak to, his girlfriend, Margherita, just left him for someone much better looking. On the way home from being broken up with, tears fill his eyes. No, he thinks. I can't cry. I won't. He's a brave fellow. Unfortunately, the non-tears blur his vision, and he crashes his car into the median. He tries to call a tow truck, but the Tow Truck Man can't speak Italian, and assuming he's being insulted, hangs up on him. Giovanni tries to hitchhike. A group of friendly-looking boys stop their car and ask if he needs help. "Dear, sweet American boys, I can't speak English," he tells them in Italian, "but my heart is breaking, and my soul is aching, and all I want to do is get back to my dorm, buy a pint of ice cream, and watch sad, artistic Italian films." The boys turn to one another. "He doesn't speak English," one of them notes intelligently. "I think he's speaking French," another says. "He is insulting us!" remarks a third. "Get him!" Not knowing how to "get him" though, as the most they've ever fought is shoving each other while half-drunk, the boys settle for pushing him down and stealing his wallet. Giovanni, losing hope in humanity, calls his mother, just wanting to hear a voice who understands him. "You got beat up by frat boys and were weeping in the car over some ho?" his mother asks. "FOR SHAME, GIOVANNI." His family, deeply ashamed at their son's failure, disowns him, and he is now left, for the first time in his life, truly alone. What can save him?

"I would give him a hug," says a girl in my class. LIKE THAT WOULD HELP.

"I would buy him an ice cream cone," says another. Yeah. That might have helped before he was robbed and disowned, but ice cream can only do so much.

"I would take him for a walk on the beach," a boy says thoughtfully. Why? So he can get sunburned and stung by a jellyfish? Great. That'll cheer him up. All better.

Professor: Sara, what would you do?
Sara: What wouldn't I do is the better question. Our day starts at Disneyland. We--
P: Oh, how fun!
S: I'm not done.
P: Oh. Well. Excuse me.
S: Of course. After going on a few rides, we buy churros and lemonade and enjoy them in front of Sleeping Beauty's Castle.
P: Oh, okay. Well-
S: After we finish our snack, we would get a picture taken with Mickey Mouse, and we'd buy princess crowns at the gift shop.
P: I thought it was a boy.
S: It is. But everyone enjoys a crown.
P: Mm-hmm.
S: We stay at the park until nighttime, and leave after the grand fireworks display. On our way home, I make an unexpected left turn. "Where are we going?" Giovanni asks. Guess where!
P: I don't think I want to.
S: A PET STORE. I called the owner earlier that day and got him to keep the shop open.
S: Because I am buying Giovanni a puppy.
P: Oh. Clearly that's why.
S: He picks a puppy, and we go back to my house, where I have bought all the ingredients to make his favorite Italian cake.
P: Name one Italian cake.
S:...The name is unimportant. I've Googled it earlier that day. I know.
P: Great.
S: I make us all a fabulous cake--
P: Who is, "us all"?
S: Me, Giovanni, and the puppy obviously.
P: Obviously. What next?
S: We eat cake and drink milk while watching Must Love Dogs, and You've Got Mail. When we've chick-flicked ourselves out, I turn to him and say, "Giovanni. You can't let your family disowning you stop you from achieving your dreams."
P:It--wait, what?
S: "And your girlfriend was never good enough for you. For months, I've watched how you've given your heart to her, and what did you get in return? Nothing! You can do so much better, Giovanni!"
P: Sara, I think this is--
P:...Are you finished?
S: I think so. That should sufficiently cheer him up. Why? Do you think I should do more?
P: No. I definitely don't think that.

I really just couldn't be more helpful and awesome if I tried. So I won't try. Next time YOU'VE been robbed, disowned, and broken up with, you know who to call. And it ain't the Ghostbusters. (On a side note, I have been wanting to make some version of that joke for days. Thanks for the opportunity). 

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

People Who've Agreed to Be Friends With Me

When I started this blog last month, I spent three hours trying to figure out how to get that picture of the "BORK" cupcakes up there a size I liked. Computers. My thing they are not. But as I'm intelligent person who can use Google, and frequently finds that other people have her same problems and have already asked for their solution on Yahoo!Questions, I figured it out. 

I have never been able to take victory with good grace. I am hardly able to take it without screaming.

Friends: That's an awfully strong word. We prefer, "Oh, it's you. We know each others' names, I think."
F: Have you? Why, you dear old friend of ours! What have you done? Won the lottery? Inherited a bakery? Figured out a way to call your keys when you lose them so you can finally find both them AND your cell phone?
F: We have just had a meeting, and would like to downgrade our relationship to, "I'm sorry, have we been introduced?"

They're such jokers.

I really do have a hard time keeping good things to myself. My friends from home frequently wonder why I'm insisting they come to know and love my friends from college. I can't help it. They're too wonderful; they should know each other. Good things should be shared. So of course I can't help but tell stories about them here, too. Because you should definitely also know them.

So I've decided to do Profiles. Very professional. They'll pop up from time to time, usually with no discernible reason. Just forewarning you. You'll notice I've included fun facts, like how I'd fare in a fight with them, and what country they would be if they were a landmass. 


Name: Casey
Age: 20's
Why I Know Her: We transferred to the same college in 2007 and were placed into the same suite of six. Thank. God.
If She Had a Catchphrase, It Would Be: "Let's race!" Or maybe, "I'm winning! You didn't even know we were competing, but we are, and I'm winning! YES!"
Why I Love Her (nutshell version): Casey is a mix of fun, thoughtful, and brilliant that I could never have imagined existed. She is like that creepy song, "I Knew I Loved You Before I Met You," except instead, "I Had No Idea I Would Someday Be Making 11p.m. Grilled Cheese Runs With Someone as Awesome as You." She manages to be calming, reassuring, and loving while also being hysterical, tons of fun, and passionate.
Physical Description: Blonde, tall, freckled (a.k.a. effing gorgeous), and very in touch with her Nordic roots. She sunburns faster than anyone else I've ever met.
Two Words/Phrases That First Come to Mind to Describe Her: joy, to-do lists
Thing I'm Most Jealous Of: Casey has the rare ability to have conversations, with every person she runs into, that seem actually thoughtful and interested. Everyone she's met adores her for her attention and patience. This is occasionally hysterical, as it sometimes happens with people she doesn't care for.
Fun Fact: When Casey was little, she wanted to be God's personal assistant when she grew up; she thought He could use help organizing things a bit better. There are not enough words to express how good she would be at this job. Also, I hear she once tackled a man into a small pool of salad. Long story.
Outlook if I Challenged Her to a Fight: Dismal.
Our Current Relationship: We live down the hall from each other, but I've more or less moved into her room. I spend 30% of my nights there, and 60% of my waking time there. I don't really know why I have my own room, actually.
If She Were a Literary Character, She Would Be: Nancy Drew, but twelve times more likely to take you down if you in anyway threatened her or the organization of her mission.
If She Were a Country, She Would Be: Italy. Lots of peaceful countryside, and lots of fabulous cities.

Casey has a very cool photo blog at if you feel you should know more about her. And you should.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Perfect Moments

When I was six, I learned to skate at a roller rink. It was a disgusting place. It smelled like old grease, it was unusually chilly, the music was too loud to hear anything else, and the main source of light was a disco ball. I loved it. You could pretend to not hear anyone screaming at you to go slower or to stop running headlong into walls as a way of braking. The rink completed its excellence by selling pizza slices and slurpees. I used to wake up some Saturdays determined to get there. And occasionally, I succeeded. Perhaps three times a year, my brothers and I were able to talk our mom into driving the half hour there, sitting on a bench covered in scratchy carpet for an hour while we skated in ovals, and then driving us back home. I'm sure she looks back at these times with as much fondness as I do.

As much fun as I had there, and as bouncy and chatty as I got about going there, I was usually paralyzed with a gripping fear the moment I got my skates on and had to venture out onto the scuffed wood floor. There was only one way in and out. The older kids skated at perhaps eight billion miles an hour. You were practically risking your life. 

I had been very brave the first four or five times I'd done it; I'd taken a breath and slid smoothly out to grip the railing. But one Saturday, I was just scared. I don't know why. It was just a scared kind of day. I spent ten minutes watching the other skaters whiz past from a three foot gap in the wall, feeling my heart race, wondering how I had done this before.

"Come on," Taylor, my older brother, said as he passed me for the third time. "It's not that scary. Give me your hands." He's always been a good guy, but he was a little impatient as a kid.

And for some reason, offers of help have always had the reverse effect on me that they're intended to have. We weren't a great duo in times of duress.

"No," I said. 

"Just do it!" 




"Fine. Stay there, then."

"Fine. I will. I like it here."

And he huffed and skated off. I was properly motivated now that he had gone. I would step out just as he was passing again, and show him I could do it on my own, and didn't need any of his help thank-you-very-much.

As he skated around the bottom of oval, and started the straight shot toward me again, I moved out onto the floor. Brave. Determined. And with no sense of balance. I fell down at once. It was more slippery than I'd expected, and a tad embarrassing. I pushed myself up, tried to take another step, and fell down a second time. What had they done, greased it with butter? It was very uncool. Totally ruined my entrance.

I looked back to see where Taylor was, and if he'd noticed. He was coming toward me still, looking vaguely concerned. Which annoyed me. This was my big moment to show him how awesome I was (and it had clearly been going perfectly up until that point). In front of him though, was a teenage girl, and she was skating backwards. 

Backwards. Unless she happened to have a rearview mirror handy, she couldn't see me at all. I tried to get up again, but failed again; I screamed at her to stop, but she couldn't hear me. I turned away and closed my eyes tight as I recognized the inevitable. She was going to run into me. 

Or, as it turns out, trip over me. I hadn't expected that. I was thinking she'd run into my back and maybe fall over, and then yell at me to get off the rink. Instead, she hit my back at a pretty good speed, and flipped right over me so her butt landed just beyond my feet. I can still remember the exact screech she made as she went down. It was brief, and very surprised. I don't remember anything else after that. I assume that as focused as she was on catching herself with her arms, she didn't pay much attention to controlling her weighted feet, which came down hard. On my head.

I woke up sometime later laying on the skate rental counter. It was playing the part of Exam Table for the doctor who'd watched it all happened and helped my mom snatch me out of the rink. I was playing the part of Concussed Child. Not my best role.

It hurt, but I wasn't so much bothered by the pain as I was by the mere fact that I'd been clonked over the head with roller skates. I mean, who could've seen that coming? The teenage girl was crying and apologizing nearby, which I thought was stupid at the time because it was obviously Taylor's fault (him and his offers of help. Pah.) The doctor man had a small light that he was shining in my eyes. My mom was intermittently comforting the teenager and rubbing my arm. 

"I'm fine," I told them all when I decided I could speak. 

"You're going to have a sizable bump," the doctor said. "We should find you some ice."

"Can I have a slurpee instead?"

"...No. You don't feel like you're going to throw up?"

"No," I said. "I really want to go home."

Nothing sounded better than my couch made up in sheets, and the TV on at a low volume while I ate Wheat Thins. It's what I always did when I was sick. 

It hurt like a mother, actually. But I couldn't even think about it. In retrospect, that probably had something to do with the concussion. But at the time, all I could think was, "Roller skates? Seriously? Concussion? What?" It made just as much sense then.

Fortunately, there was ice and Tylenol and some tests I can't quite remember anymore, and I came out of it fine. It was, at that point, the most physically painful thing that had happened to me, and I thought that nothing could hurt worse than the surprise of it happening, and the shock of pain.

I didn't know there were ways to shock and pain a person where ice and Tylenol and a day on the couch didn't help. And what can you do then besides sit and stew and feel the hollow ache in your chest get a little more helpless? 

I hate helpless. So in my head, I've collected a series of perfect moments in my life to use as a shield against the roller skate times. Even as the moment is happening, I know that someday, I will coax it close and hold tight to it. Someday, I will need it. This is my latest Perfect Moment, for anyone who needs to borrow one today:

Casey and I were driving in the first truly hot day of the year yesterday. We needed swimsuits and sandals all of a sudden, and had decided to go find them at Victoria Gardens. We were zipping down Route 66, and listening to country music that made us want to have boys to dance with or have shotgun weddings or keep driving until we came to end of the road in Chicago. Casey was drinking a Diet Coke and wishing it still came in glass bottles like it did when her grandparents were our age. I was rolling an orange cough drop between my teeth. The windows were down, and the air smelled like gasoline, and my hair was getting uncomfortably warm in the sun. Soon, it was going to be the same temperature as the seats in the car, and I would bake. 

"I'm not going to do homework today," Casey said, reaching for the Diet Coke as we stopped at our third red light. 

"Good," I said. "Me neither."

And Saturday afternoon was ours.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Why I'm Going to be Kicked Out of Italian Class

Every Wednesday, my Italian class has a conversation hour with a very nice woman here from Milan. She is very concerned with manners, and etiquette, and our not going to Italy and immediately offending everyone there by incorrectly pronouncing the names of cities/making rude hand gestures/wearing an American flag as a wrap dress. Today, in her quest to make us socially acceptable, she taught us telephone etiquette, since we had finally learned the section of vocabulary that would make this possible. I mean, we learned it in theory. Some of us brought our books home from school over Spring Break, and said, "Homework over Spring Break is an outrage. They want us to suffer under the weight of our stress. They want us to stack up everything we're supposed to do over our break and shrivel under the icy stare of failure. I refuse!"

"You refuse failure? You're going to do your homework?" some of our mothers said, lamenting that after all this time, they still had to talk us into doing it.

"Never!" some of us said. "VIVA LA SPRING BREAK!"

"Please don't start a bonfire with your textbooks," some of the mothers said. "And put your shirt back on."

Well, that's all fine and good. Some of us have a rebellious streak. Some of us needed to relax. But some of us did not consider the consequences. Like, not being able to participate in phone etiquette because we didn't know the vocab. And not being able to tell Milan that we couldn't participate because this would definitely get us into Trouble.

Thus, this happened (except in Italian):

Milan: Okay, Adam*. Why don't you make a pretend phone call to Sara using everything we've learned.
Adam: Sure! *makes ringing noises, holding his fingers like a phone.*
Sara: *panics and lets phone ring*
Milan: ...Sara?
S: Right. *picks up imaginary phone.* Hello?
A: Hi, Sara. This is Adam. How are you?
S: Adam? Adam who?
A: Adam Fender.
S: I think you have the wrong number.
A: I'm in your Italian class at school.
S: Nope. I'm hanging up now.
A: No! I'm tall! I have black hair! We worked on that one project together last semester! I'm also in your math class! ADAM FENDER.
S: Oh. You. What do you want?
A: I'm so sorry to bother you, but I need a *word I don't know.*
S: Do you?
S: That's nice.
A: Do you have a *word I don't know* that I could borrow?
S: No. Please don't call this number again. Goodbye.

*Names changed. All physical descriptions and locations are accurate, though. But changing the names clearly protects their anonymity.

(And if anyone wandered over here from Blogtations, welcome! We hope you enjoy your stay.)

Monday, March 23, 2009

Ah, Monday. You never disappoint.

Does anyone else ever sign-in to their email in the morning, see the phrase, "You have 84 new messages!" and sign right back out? Yeah. And remember how when you first got an email address, you would check it every three and a half minutes, practically bounce out of your chair in excitement when you finally got something, discover it was spam, and yet still read it as though it were of Great Importance because it came via your new favorite thing, the Internet? I can't decide if I was young and naive back then, or am prematurely old and jaded now. I feel perhaps two seconds away from yelling at some whippersnapper to get off my lawn. 

On an unrelated note, I slept through my alarm this morning. I woke up exactly five minutes before class started, shoved myself into the clothes I was wearing yesterday, took a brief moment to channel Flo-Jo, and sprinted. I was still late, but at least now I can convince myself I worked out today and eat a slice of cheesecake.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Lunch Date with Grandpa

"So how're you liking school?"

"I like it. It's sort of busy right now, what with finals around the corner, but I'm--"

"When I was in school, I didn't go to a single party. Not. Even. One."

"So you've said. I actually--"

"I didn't have a single drink, either. Half the class failed out their freshman year after boozing themselves half to death. Only the Catholics and the hard workers survived. Of course, I was both."

"Of course."

"I finished the engineering program in three years, and the University begged me to stay and get my Masters. But I told them no. I had a wife and two kids to take care of. I had to earn a living."

"Wasn't that the same year you got divorced and ran away to China?"

"It was my call from God. I was spreading Catholicism."

"Best excuse I've ever heard."

"It's not an excuse. You know, when I got back to the US, I got a knock on the door one day from two men. Jehovah's Witnesses."

"I thought they were Mormons. Last time you told me this story, they were Mormon."

"Mormons? No. Where the hell did you hear that? They were Jehovah's Witnesses. So I'm talking to them, you know, and I invite them in, because that's just Catholic hospitality--"

"Really? Because I've seen you make door-to-door salesmen cry."

"Absolutely not. I invited them in. And they were all, 'This this this this,' and I said, 'Well, yeah, but la la la la la.' And they said, 'Huh?' And would flip through their Bibles and go, 'Ohh. You're right. It does say blah blah blah.'"

"Well, it's a strong argument. How could they not agree?"

"Pretty soon, they're coming to me for Bible Study. A few years later, these two women show up. Also Jehovah's Witnesses. And they're nice-looking women. I mean, really nice. Really well-dressed, good bodies--"

"Great, great."

"And they're feeding me the same lines, you know, saying, 'La de dah,' and 'Rant rant rant.'"

"I hate it when people give me those lines."

"So, I invite them in, too, and tell them about the Book of Revelations, and they're sitting on either side of me, and they're really nice-looking. I mean, their bodies were--"

"We've established this."

"Anyway, they were pretty shaken when I finished my little speech. They both ended up converting, but I had to sleep with one of them before she got over it."


"She actually dated my buddy John for a while. It didn't last, though. John was a real prince of a guy, and Catholic, but he had some trouble being faithful. He ended up marrying this knockout redhead who wouldn't get into be--"




"You look thin. I was afraid you were getting chubby for a while, but you pulled through."

"...Thanks, Grandpa."

Friday, March 20, 2009

A Very Important Question

There are some days where I get dressed before nine a.m., run errands, actually look at my homework, go to three different appointments, and wind up looking at the clock in the afternoon and going, "Hey! It's still early! I should read that book/do laundry/neglect productive things and take a nap." Good job, Self. Go nap. 

There are some days where 6 p.m. finds me in sweatpants, wondering where the day went, and googling, "most delicious cookie dough recipes--for eating, not baking."

I'm torn, guys. Chocolate chip, or snickerdoodle? 

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Instructions for an Eventful Morning

1. Wake up with a burst of energy and a burning desire to paint your fingernails.
2. Bring clothes coordinating with your polish colors, as well as your make-up, into the bathroom, and set nail polish in front of them, admiring how well they match.
3. Lay towel down on the bathroom floor in case of spills, and take off old nail polish.
4. Spill bottle of Nail Polish Remover everywhere except the towel.
5. Scream, "NOOO!" and start mopping it up with your only available resource: toilet paper.
6. Start thinking of reasons why the stain on your mother's bathroom rug was definitely there before and consider which photos you can doctor to prove it.
7. Put on new nail polish.
8. Spill bottle of nail polish everywhere except the towel.
9. Scream, "FOR THE LOVE OF GOD," and then realize you used all the toilet paper cleaning up the last spill.
10. Frantically search for a box of Kleenex in the bathroom cabinet, and then discover Kleenex sticks in the nail polish, giving it a fur-like effect, and that you have smeared it all over the rug.
11. Think of reasons why this stain was definitely there, too.
12. Take off pajamas, and put on clothes. Well, try. Learn that putting a bra on while your nails are wet is the hardest thing you've ever done.
13. Get full finger's worth of polish on the back of your favorite black bra.
14. Scream, "ARE YOU KIDDING ME?" and frantically try to wipe it off. End product should resemble a particularly untalented child's art project.
15. Try to wash it off with water.
16. Doorbell rings.
17. Remember that the AT&T guy is supposed to be over about now, and realize that you are the only one at home. 
18. Put on wet bra and a shirt and run downstairs, yelling, "I'm coming! Don't leave! I'm almost there!"
19. Discover it is a door-to-door salesman.
20. Squirm in wet bra, realize you are still wearing pink pajama pants, and eventually get him to leave by saying you're very ill and likely contagious. Cough for good effect.
21. Get phone call from AT&T  saying they are running late. Mutter to self.
22. Discover water and nail polish have transferred from bra to shirt.
23. Survey damage.
24. Put pajamas back on.
25. Leave note for mom explaining the current state of the bathroom.
26. Go back to sleep.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Sickness

Casey's boss is pregnant, and experiencing some bad morning sickness. The sickness of the morning time. That annoying part of the day when a pregnant woman wakes up nauseous, throws up, and then rests until the morning is over. Since "afternoon sickness" doesn't exist, then logically, once morning is over (say, 11ish?), she miraculously recovers. Sickness done.

To be oh-so-gentle about the subject, I think the term is a tad inadequate. A bit misguided, if you will. Somewhat stupid. Probably coined by someone without a uterus. Maybe...a man? Just guessing here.

Wikipedia doesn't have an entry on it, so the actual origins of the term remain a mystery. Not to fear, though. I happen to have the actual conversation in which those words were first said:

Man with Hat: *enters his office, wearing a hat, looking a bit peeved.* Grumble-mumble-grumble.
Man with Suspenders: *Thumbs hooked through his suspenders. Appears concerned.* Say there. You're looking less than your Eager Beaver self this morning. 
Hat: My wife didn't make me breakfast.
Suspenders: That's shocks-ville! What would make the little lady do a thing like that?
Hat: She's expecting, and she's doing that thing where, when I try to wake her up, she claims not to feel well. I even suggested that the stove was missing her, and that the eggs were awaiting her arrival. But she seems to find her favorite toys repulsive these days.
Suspenders: Well, bowl me over! Sounds like she's suffering from some sort of...of a...what's the word I'm looking for?
Hat: A sickness?
Suspenders: That's the very one! She probably recovers as soon as you've left, just in time for you to miss breakfast. The womenfolk sometimes don't understand their own feelings. It just takes her a while before she realizes that she's actually fine.
Hat: Still. I wish it happened in the afternoon. I don't like morning sickness.
Suspenders: I dig you. Like, crazy man.
Hat:...What era are you from?

My first idea is that we start referring to all ailments as "the Sickness." A sore throat is now, "the Throat Sickness." Having a fever is now, "the Hot Sickness." You may also add in times of day. Evening Ennui, maybe. Or Noontime Discomfort.

My second idea is that we coin a new term.

Casey's boss suggests, "hormone poisoning." I can't decide if this ends better with "disease," or "syndrome," so I'm letting it have both.

Hormone Poisoning Syndrome Disease. HPSD. Pronounced, "hupsda." All conversations must now go as follows:

Man with Hat: My wife has the hupsda.
Man with Hat:...Seriously, what era is this?

Spread the word.

Monday, March 9, 2009

I am not very good at my religion

Though I use the phrase "my religion" lightly. I do not really believe in it or follow it. I DO look back with fondness at getting a donut every Sunday afternoon if I did not take a sip of the Holy Wine during communion and spend the rest of the service pretending to be drunk. (Bribery works, guys.)

Of all the Catholic things I disliked, I disliked Lent the most. Lent (not to be confused with "lint," which I did confuse it with as a child) is the period of forty days before Easter during which you are supposed to give something up as a way to constantly remind yourself of what Jesus gave up for you. There is nothing that I like about it.

My initial hatred starts with Ash Wednesday, which is the first day of Lent. On this day, you go to Church, and a priest draws ashes in a cross on your forehead and murmurs to you in a soft voice, "Remember you are dust, and to dust to shall return." Cheerful. The first time my mother let me participate in this, I was ecstatic. I had been rather jealous years previously that she got to have dirt on her face, but mine had to stay clean. She had been waiting for my brothers and I to grow up a bit, and to learn and understand what the time was really about before we started participating in it.

She vastly overestimated my maturity.

At seven, I practically bounced my way to the front of the line, and about glowed with joy when the priest smeared ashes on me. Yes! My very own dirt! Then he said his line:

"Remember you are dust," he said, looking at me solemnly, "and to dust you shall return."

I blinked. "...When?"

I don't think anyone had ever talked back to him. He was stunned enough to lose his solemn look, shrug, and say, "When you've died."


I burst into tears and had to be dragged from the church. I did not get a donut. And it turns out, going to church on that Wednesday is not in anyway a replacement for that Sunday's service. You have to go again.

Much to my dismay, my mother informed me that night that being old enough to receive ashes also meant I was old enough to give something up. It's okay, though. I found a way around it.

"Sara," my mother said to me a week later, staring down at a teacher's note I had brought home to her and looking Not Happy. "Your teacher says you haven't turned in homework this week."

"Yeah," I said. I was not concerned about the Not Happy look. I was eating Doritos, and was therefore distracted.

"Why?" she asked.

"I gave it up for Lent."

Turns out, this is also not allowed. She made me give up Doritos instead. And again, no donut that Sunday.

So when Victoria informed me that she is wisely and maturely using Lent, a time she does not usually celebrate as she is not Catholic, to break herself of some bad habits, and give up swearing, I told her I was giving up Lent.

You know what I'm not giving up? Donuts. I'm going to go talk Casey into buying some right now.