Skorts, Kisses, and Mommy Issues

Y’all remember skorts, right? They were pretty popular in the 90s and looked like skirts, but had shorts built in, so that the boys wouldn’t see your Little Mermaid panties when you hung upside down on the jungle gym. Well, I’m here to tell you that if you ever find one made for an adult, it is not proper zoo date attire.

Me: “It’s actually a skort and has shorts sewn in… they don’t usually make them for adults. I got it at Goodwill for three dollars.” :: Fuck. Why am I telling him this? :: “I just didn’t have any shorts and I didn’t want to wear a dress to the zoo.”
Jake: “Why not?”
Me: :: Because my thighs will rub together all day like Jiminy Cricket and I won’t be able to walk tomorrow. :: “Um. It just sounded really uncomfortable.”

If you decide to wear a skort on any date, shut the fuck up about it. Bee tea double ewe, the skort didn’t even help. My thighs still looked like raw hamburger meat the next day.

Jake and I had a really great date at the zoo and it was my treat this time. I received a free pass for two when I gave blood, which admittedly had a steeper price than originally thought, when I passed the fuck out on our last date. I managed to make it through the zoo, however, despite the insane heat, with just the one asthma inhaler stop. As much as I want him to come up with an idea occasionally and didn’t want to discourage Jake from doing so, the zoo was pretty much the worst idea for July in the South. Yeah, yeah, all of the animals were out and Jake realized that my reaction to every single living creature is pretty much “It’s so cute! Look at the ears!” We had plenty to talk about and I got to tease him about his hunting… sometimes inappropriately for a public place.

Me: “It’s a LION! Put away your gun… wow… I said that really loudly.”

It was also a lot of walking in the heat.

Boys just don’t think about this stuff, particularly ones who work outside, but I’m a librarian, y’all. I have pretty much zero reason to be outside right now unless I want to, which usually involves a pool. So, while I had a great time and Jake humored my desire to look at every animal, never complaining when we got lost and backtracked, I was just a bit self-conscious by the time we left. Worse, when we went to lunch, I was shivering like it was fucking Winterfell.

Jake: “Are you really that cold?”
Me: 

There’s just no hiding what an indoor girl I can be, folks.

After lunch, we went to another movie, Trainwreck this time. While the movie was absolutely hilarious, I am so glad we didn’t see it on an earlier date.

… yeah…

After the movie, Jake also bought dinner (there go my bragging rights about covering the zoo) and took me home. At this point, I asked him to come inside and was quite proud of myself for not clarifying that this was not a sexual invitation. I’d just cleaned and organized my apartment to a point no man would even realize, so I was comfortable having him in my space and we all saw how our last porch conversation turned out…


I’m just gonna pencil this in under Shit I’ll Never Live Down.

Jake suggested we watch a movie and we sat on my couch with his arm around me and watched two terrible horror movies on Netflix. Regardless of poor quality, I scream like a fucking banshee at the slightest provocation in horror, as Jake had already seen on date three, during the Sinister 2 trailer.

Me: “Last time my neighbors saw you with me unconscious on the ground and tonight they saw you go inside and heard screaming. ‘He didn’t even have the decency to drug her this time!'”

:: cop gives previously uncooperative girl ice cream and she starts talking ::
Jake: “So all you have to do to get the girl to open up is give her ice cream?”
Me: “I’d open up for anyone if they gave me ice cream… not physically… that’s what they really mean by ‘we all scream for ice cream.'”

That’s right, Belle. Keep talking.

After the second movie, Jake turned off Netflix and finally kissed me… on date six. One thing led to another though and kissing pretty quickly led to making out. Honestly, it was a little awkward at first, which was most definitely all my fault for not knowing what the hell I was doing and overthinking technique. You know what doesn’t really lessen that awkwardness? Apologizing for it. Jake was really sweet, though, and when I pulled away to tell him that I didn’t want things to go too far, he completely respected my wishes… quite a bit more than did. Yeah, I was a good girl and said the words, but the signals I was sending weren’t exactly aligned. Still, while Jake could’ve easily taken things a little further, he pulled away and said we should stop. It’s a good thing, too, because while I’m comfortable with where it went, I would not have been had things escalated.

Though it was around 1:00 in the morning at this point and Jake needed to be up early, he stayed and talked with me for at least an hour. I’d told him that he was essentially the second person I had ever kissed and I think he could tell I was feeling a bit vulnerable. It was nice and I walked him to the door, where he kissed me before he left. I texted Gail and we made plans to go out the next day so I could give her all of the inappropriate details.

Now, I love my Gaily. She’s my best friend and my sister in every way that matters outside of a chem lab. My first inclination was obviously to tell her everything. My second, though… well, my second was to call my mom. Things with my mom aren’t good and I just don’t think we’ll ever heal that rift unless she gets treatment for the severe mental illness she insists she doesn’t have. I know that… but I still wanted to call her up and tell her all about the boy I met and how he opens doors and he gets my humor and he wasn’t turned off that I apologized for being a bad kisser. In every way, Gail’s the better choice, be it for the initial gossip or the three days later reassurance that the fact that Jake had only texted twice that day didn’t mean he thought I was a whore and never wanted to see me again.

8-6-15

Still, I, the girl who insists that emotion belongs with the last fucking Horcrux…

Me: “I actually miss him, which is just disgusting. Ugh.”
Gail: “Oh, yes. ‘Emotions! Ewwww.‘”

… cried some genuine and gut-wrenching tears that I couldn’t experience the joy of sharing this moment with my mother. I did so while watching That 70s Show and sniffling to the dog that I wished Kitty Foreman was my mom… a ritual I usually save for birthdays and holidays. Then, I dried my eyes, went out with Gail, and shared and laughed over every detail… perhaps a bit too loudly.

:: pulled up to a stoplight, with the windows down ::
Me: “I wasn’t wet. I was hot. It’s… the way the fabric goes. It was like a WEDGIE. IT WAS LIKE I WAS DRY-HUMPING A WED—.” :: look out my window to see the driver next to us has his down as well and is staring :: “Go forward. RUN THE LIGHT.”
Gail: 

Me: “You’re going to tell Terry about this, aren’t you?”
Gail: “Oh my God. I’m going to tell my seventh child about this! I am going to have seven children just so I can my seventh one about this.”

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Fluid Engineer Gets a Name and I Get a Mild Concussion

Last week, I had my first ever fourth date with Fluid Engineer, who will now be known as Jake Granger. That’s right, folks. He gets a name.

Me: “His last name is essentially a Harry Potter reference.
Gail: “Oh, my God. This guy isn’t even real! His last name is Ravenclaw! You’re completely delusional!”

I didn’t report on date four, not because it didn’t go wonderfully, but because I was in the middle of an internal battle against my tendencies toward self-sabotage.

Date four was great. I had the idea to go to the science museum, not thinking about the fact that it’s summer and it’s far more directed at children this time of year. When I realized my mistake, I felt awful, because Jake had spent $30 for the two of us to get in and it was my idea. I apologized a couple of times, but he genuinely didn’t seem to mind. We enjoyed the exhibits as best we could, as adults, laughing at the earthquake generator that’s been in place since I was a little kid. It felt like standing on top of a Mack Truck engine and I cackled like a mad woman about how it was exactly like an earthquake. We had time to see a planetarium show and Jake made up for my numerous faux pas with one of his own.

Jake: “Do you speak Latin?”
Me: “No. Why would I speak Latin?”
Jake: “Because you’re Catholic.”

I did not handle my amusement with grace. To be fair, Catholics in the south are few and far between, unless you’re near Mexico.

After the science museum, Jake clearly wanted to continue spending time together, because he suggested a movie and dinner. There are a lot of experiences that tell you a great deal about someone’s character, such as an accidental trip to a pricey children’s center, but I think one of the most telling is how someone reacts to a bad movie. If you’ve read this blog for any length of time, you know I get genuine joy out of mockery. I mock things I like, so when we saw Self/Less, I got a pretty fair glimpse into Jake’s sense of humor, as he laughed right along with me at the nonsensical plot. We hadn’t kissed yet, but when I started to shiver, he put his arm around me and I pulled away to lift the armrest between our seats and make things less awkward. It was nice, without going too far. I know, I know. It was the fourth date, but I’ve kissed like two people ever.

Dana: “You haven’t kissed him yet? You’re gonna lose him.”
::one week later::
Dana: “So how’s your beau?”
Me: “Oh, I’m not telling you anything else about him.”
Dan: “What?!? Why not?”
Me: “Because you told me he was going to lose interest, unless I put out.”
Dana: “No, I didn’t.”
Me: “Come on. That was hardly even an exaggeration. That was practically verbatim.”

We ended the date, still with no kiss, but we talked in his truck and in front of my apartment door for ages. He never hinted at wanting to be invited in and we just continued to enjoy each other’s company. I had a great time.

Y’all, I don’t even know what was going through my head, but two days later, I was looking for every reason to blow this guy off. I’ve never been on a fourth date and Jake still hadn’t kissed me, so maybe I was worried that we were moving along too far without discovering whether or not we had any chemistry. Maybe I felt self-conscious, because I didn’t understand what I was doing wrong. I internalized my frustrations with myself (because no matter how I tried, I still couldn’t find anything wrong with Jake) and checked out a couple of really harsh dating books about how I’m going to die alone, because I’m a bitch. I even tried to tell myself that I was really 33 and had traveled back in time for a second chance with this great guy. Finally, I had some time with Gaily, who I can’t seem to avoid telling everything.

Me: “I don’t know what the fuck is wrong with me. It’s not that I’m convinced that this is the last guy on the planet that could be compatible with me, but there’s just nothing wrong with him and I still want to sabotage things, because I’m a stupid cunt! He opens doors for me, pays for everything, laughs at my jokes; I liked being with him and enjoyed having his arm around me and I’m going to be eaten by house cats!

Aside from just verbalizing all of the wonderful qualities Jake had, I also asked Gail if she’d ever had the inclination to bolt in her early days with Terry.

Gail: “Well, you know that I’m a first date kisser…”
Me: “So they say, you whore.”
Gail: “Well, we were on our third date and Terry still hadn’t kissed me. It was starting to make me really self-conscious. I got to the point where I felt like I was done if he didn’t kiss me soon. I think that was the only problem, though.

After talking things through, I felt a lot better about the whole thing and was thrilled that I had continued responding to Jake’s texts and made plans with him for Wednesday night: date five. We were going to dinner and to see Ant-Man. Once again, I was excited to see how things went. The moment of truth rolled around and…

I can’t figure it out. I don’t know what was wrong with me, because I really like this guy. He’s funny, intelligent, and quietly chivalrous. He humors my weird exaggerative rants and my Family Guy-esque breakaway side stories. He seems to really enjoy being around me and find me attractive and he’s really pretty cute. He took the wrong turn four times and never showed any truly scary road rage. At the movie, he raised the armrest himself, much earlier in the show, and we sat with his arm around me through the majority of it. He didn’t even mock me when I buried my face in his chest and covered my ears, because I knew the lamb wasn’t gonna make it. It was just comfortable and I can honestly say that a lot of that getting-to-know-you awkwardness has faded. All we had left was the kiss.

Jake drove me home, we talked in his truck for awhile, and once again, we stood by my door and talked for ages. He never asked to come in and we even commented on how bad we are at ending things at a decent hour, but how that’s a good sign. Jake had his arm against the door by my head and I was sure he would kiss me… when I started to get really, really dizzy.

I gave blood the other day. It’s been really hot in the South this week. I had deliberately been trying to drink less liquid that day, because it’s embarrassing to pee 13 times on a date. You know what else is embarrassing?

Me: “I’m really… I feel really light-headed all of the sudden. I think I need to go inside.”
Jake: “Okay. Are you alright?”
Me: “Yeah. I jus-”

… and I woke up on the concrete to Jake asking if I was okay and telling me he was going to call 911.

Me: “Nope. I’m good. Don’t call 911.”
Jake: “You’re good? You just passed out. You hit your head pretty hard.”
Me: “Don’t call 911.”
Jake: “Well, I’m not going to now that you’re talking to me. You wanna sit up?”
Me: “You know… actually, I think I’m good here for a second.”
Jake: “Okay, no rush.”
Me: “I’m really sorry. This is super embarrassing. This is awful.”
Jake: “Don’t apologize. It’s fine.”
Me: “Wow. If we hadn’t been talking for two hours, this would look really bad for you.”

Oh, yeah. I made a date rape joke.

Me: “I don’t just like… do this. This isn’t like… a thing.
:: in hindsight, this was a lie, cuz this shit happens to me constantly ::
Jake: “Well, that’s good to hear.”
Me: “Did I fall on my hand?”
Jake: “I don’t think so, why?”

20150723_014002

Jake helped me up and watched to make sure I got up the stairs safely. I calmly and rationally got a glass of water and texted Gail.

7-23-15 2

I’m pretty sure Jake took the date rape joke more seriously than I intended. Who’d have thought, right? I’m certain he’d have come up with me to make sure I was alright, had he ever been in my apartment. He did offer, but I was too embarrassed to accept. Apparently I scared him pretty badly, but I don’t think he wanted to risk it appearing as if he were taking advantage of the situation, based on his morning text to see if I was okay.

7-23-15 1On the bright side, it appears he still wants to see me, so my awkwardness at least brings this boy to yard.

I need to be crystal clear, here. At no point did I actually fear that Jake had drugged me. For one, while I wouldn’t trust the man with my PIN just yet, I do pretty much trust him not to rape me, or I wouldn’t be letting him drive me places. Two, it had been hours since I’d eaten or had anything to drink and at no point was Jake alone with any of it. Three, I’m no Olivia Benson, but I’m pretty sure that men who do drug women don’t wake them fully clothed on their front porch by gently patting their cheek and insisting they’re going to call 911. Finally, that’s not how date rape drugs work, because I felt completely fine five minutes later (aside from the head trauma). No. Jake is not a sexual predator. These things just happen to me. I am just a dork… with a mild concussion, busted knuckles, a bruised shoulder, and still no kiss.

Gramma: “Maybe you can just tell him you swooned.”

Yeah. I’m a fucking Disney princess.

A Third Date on the Fourth of July

Gail: “At least I never refused to go on a second date with a guy, just because I didn’t like his brand of microwave.”
Me: “Yeah. I’ve never known what brand of microwave a guy had after the first date, you whore.”

We’re practically Disney sisters.

I’m never going to live down the number of men I’ve refused a second date, no matter how legit the reason. That being said, Saturday night, on the Fourth of July, I had my second ever third date with Fluid Engineer.

Last I wrote about Fluid Engineer, I had to turn down the opportunity to go out, because of such short notice (as in 12 hours). He was willing to make the drive, but we didn’t have any concrete plans and I didn’t feel like brainstorming for an activity at the, fairly literal, last minute. I had suggested we find something cheap or free to do, because although I think it’s chivalrous for the man to pay, I also don’t think he should have to spend $50 every time he sees me. Knowing that there would be several festivals over the holiday weekend, I suggested we go to one of those.

Over the next week, we texted daily, though not necessarily at length. It was nice, but not overwhelming and he always kept it appropriate. Though he’s never flaked before, I kind of expected him to cancel on me as the holiday neared. Perhaps some last minute family plans would be made and he’d decide he’d rather spend time with his family than getting to know me, as Engineer 114 did. Cautiously, I avoided making family plans of my own and hoped for the best. Ultimately, we decided on the Springfield festival at 5:30.

The date started off a little rocky, when I arrived at the park and Fluid Engineer wasn’t texting back. For a moment, I was certain I’d been stood up again and was frustrated by the idea that I might have to spend my holiday alone with Netflix and some tears. I reminded myself that he’s been meaning to get a new phone and just parked my car and waited, periodically muttering “Dude… fucking text me back.” Finally, his truck pulled up and the explanation was exactly as I’d suspected. His phone had died and he had no way to ask where I was, since the park had three separate entrances.

The festival seemed dead, but Fluid Engineer assured me he’d driven around to the other side and it was quite busy. He was right, but only after we’d walked a mile did I think it might’ve been a good idea to bring the blanket I’d packed with us. I suggested we walk back to get it and was a little worried that he’d be annoyed, even passive aggressively, but he was totally cool with it and we talked and became comfortable with each other again as we walked back. I grabbed some sodas from the backseat and Fluid Engineer very sweetly offered to carry the blanket in the heat. Of course, I didn’t just thank him sincerely… but also made a joke about how I was clearly doing my share by carrying the sodas.

What I wouldn’t give for the superpower to shut up.

Throughout the evening, Fluid Engineer was casually chivalrous. He’d opened the door for me at my car and walked on the street side each time. It didn’t appear to be an effort on his part, just natural, which I appreciate. If I don’t want to pretend to be fucking precious, I don’t want him to put on a front, either. But I truly appreciated all of his little gestures. The live music was insanely loud, so we chose a spot quite a ways out to sit and eat our free watermelon and ice cream. We chatted and eventually I commented that I’d like to get something to eat from one of the food trucks, wondering aloud if they took cards, because I didn’t have any cash. I wasn’t fishing, here. I was genuinely planning to buy my own food. Dinner wasn’t in our plans and I suppose it’s habit to pay for myself. Fluid Engineer, however, assured me that he had cash and he paid for both meals and shared his fried green tomatoes with me.

All was going well and the conversation was really flowing, so naturally, I had to throw a wrench into the works. You see, I’d gone to the restroom while Fluid Engineer got the food, so he hadn’t asked if I wanted a Gatorade, but he did have two of them, so I thought one might be for me.

Me: “So… um… is one of those for me or is this a weird question?”

Subtle, I ain’t.

Fluid Engineer told me more about his family and we laughed and chatted and generally enjoyed each other’s company. Physically, we were still a bit awkward, not wanting to sit too closely or too far away, but it was a… comfortable awkwardness? It wasn’t painful. It was natural getting-to-know-you awkwardness. He mentioned that he’d told a friend about me and that made me all giddy. I talked a little about Gail and my family and he told me more about his. I’d texted Gail earlier… “On another date and he’s still pretty keen.”… only barely catching myself when I almost sent it to Fluid Engineer, the last person I’d texted. Seeing my notifications light up, I knew she might be concerned.

Me: “Hold on. Gail’s making sure you’re not raping me.”
Fluid Engineer: “Did I tell you I had to stop for a [unintelligible word]?”
He has a really thick Texan accent and I was willing to concede that what I could’ve sworn he said couldn’t possibly be the case. I was so certain, had it been our first date, I’d have left.
Me: ::still looking at my phone, hiding my expression:: “What did you just say?”
Fluid Engineer: “I had to stop and buy a [unintelligible word].”
I heard it again. There’s no way he’d say that. That’s completely out of character… especially twice.
Me: ::finally looking at him, to watch as he speaks:: “A what?”
Fluid Engineer: ::clearly confused:: “A charger.”
Me: “OH! A CHARGER!”
Mortified, I went back to my phone to respond to Gail.
Fluid Engineer: “What did you think I said?”
Me: ::still looking at phone:: “Not that.” 
Fluid Engineer: “Was it inappropriate?”
Me: “Yup.” ::finally looking at him:: “I thought you said ‘Trojan.'”

Gail: “That would be a really weird thing to say, period. ‘Did I tell you I had to stop for a single condom?'”
Me: “Actually, it would’ve been more like ‘Did I tell you I had to stop for one Durex?'”

Fortunately, Fluid Engineer thought this was hilarious, but didn’t even really tease me about it. The conversation just went back to normal and finally the lights went out for the fireworks show.

Me: “You got that Trojan, now?”

I am such a dork.

After the fireworks ended, we stayed on the blanket talking for the longest time. I was in a dress so I was being eaten alive by mosquitoes. I was pretty sure there would be a visible bruise on my ass, because there are only so many ways to sit on the ground in a dress. I didn’t want to end things, though, because I was genuinely enjoying Fluid Engineer’s company and I realized this was the first Fourth of July I’d spent with a man since I was married and it had gone so well. We walked back to our cars, him carrying the blanket and walking on the street side again, and stood by my car talking for ages. I don’t think either of us wanted to end things. At one point, I was pretty sure he was going to kiss me, so in my nerves of having only actually kissed two people, I started babbling like an idiot.

Any time on that superpower…

Fluid Engineer settled for putting his arm around me and didn’t push it, but didn’t seem irritated either. When I told my friend Dana, she assured me I was “gonna lose him” because we didn’t “make-out with tongue,” but Fluid Engineer seems to disagree. The fates have aligned and my work schedule has been changed to give me Monday night off, so we’re planning the – unprecedented for Belle – FOURTH DATE.

So, there it is. Over the last month, we’ve been out three times and I’ve yet to convince myself that there is something fundamentally wrong with this man. I actually happen to like him. He’s laid-back, yet quite intelligent. He’s not threatened by my level of education (it’s a thing), nor does he feel the need to belittle my career. He texts often enough that I know he’s truly interested, but not so much that I feel like he’s stroking a lock of my hair as he does it. Despite living an hour away, he’s made every effort to see each other during his limited time off. He seems to want something serious, but doesn’t expect to impregnate me tomorrow. Perhaps most importantly, he seems amused by my humor and awkwardness. So many men on online dating sites talk about how they want someone sweet. I’m a lot of things y’all, but sweet sure ain’t one of them… and this one doesn’t seem to mind. I like him. He’s still pretty keen. He even Facebook friended me and I accepted… another first.

THIS LOOKS NOTHING LIKE WHEN MARILYN MONROE DID IT!

When I was in the 9th grade, during confirmation class, our youth minister told us to anonymously write down the last time we expressed our sexuality. He didn’t give examples. So it was, that, after he had begun to read them aloud, I realized I had completely misunderstood the assignment.

“Brushed my hair.”
“Put on cologne.”
“Did my make-up.”
“Discussed it and all it contains, with my best friend.”

Ugh. It has been twelve years and I’m presently thinking “Zetus lapetus, Belle. You may as well have told them you discussed pubic hair length with Gail… and name five 15-year-olds who talk like that!

In truth, it may not have been that bad, but I’m remembering it through the eyes of my mortified 15-year-old self, who knew just how obvious it was who gave the weirdly suggestive answer, as quiet descended and everyone glanced her way.

Fortunately, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned to just accept frequent embarrassment as a part of my existence on this planet. I mean really, you’ve got to develop a thicker skin when you regularly have moments like the time I blurted the following words to a group of new coworkers…

“I adore Woody Harrelson. I can just never decide if I’d want him to be my lover or my dad.”

Unsay it! Unsay it!

I have accidentally referred to the book Fifty Shades Darker as Fifty Shades Deeper multiple times, while speaking to customers. In fact, making that topic as awkward as possible has become a unique skill of mine.

Me: “Have you read Bared to You? If you’re looking for something in the same genre as Fifty Shades, that’s what I would recommend. It still has a lot of the same themes and focus, but it has more… dep-… I don’t want to say depth… it just has more meat to- NO!”

Yes. Bared to You has more meat to it. I bring the poise.

It’s not so bad, though, being me. Sure, there was that time I got tangled up in my own purse and seat belt, accidentally hit the panic button on my car before dropping my keys underneath it, and everyone stared as I tried to disentangle myself…

… and that’s why I don’t sport, folks. I’ll add that Gail just stared at me with a raised brow and called me Jessica Day, from The New Girl, offering nothing in the way of actual assistance.

The main perk to such desensitization to humiliation, though, is that it really just makes everything funnier… which was a godsend when I found myself having a Dreaded Girl Moment on Wednesday.

Oh, yeah… I went there… in a public restroom… while substituting at the high school.

There I was, pulling my dress over my head in a bathroom stall, hoping for no visible signs of the gunshot wound between my legs and, because this crap is routine for me, my only thought was that I just did not have time for this. You see, while I have enjoyed the single life, its main source of stress is that, literally, everything is my responsibility. That means I work two jobs to pay the bills and feed myself, the latter of which only happens if I can find a time to go grocery shopping. Wednesday was one of those exhausting days in which I substitute teach from 8:30 to 3:35, only to have 45 minutes remaining before I head to the library. Fortunately, I’d been granted with a combination lunch break and planning period, meaning I had an entire hour and a half off, in the middle of the day. I could’ve gone home, put my pj’s back on and watched Big Bang Theory on the DVR, as I regularly do, but I desperately needed food, y’all. There just was not enough time in the day for a damned Judy Blume moment.

So, I said a quiet prayer thanking Jesus for the fact that my dress remained presentable, because he totally concerns himself with these things, and weighed the options. I considered texting Gail, because I can’t make decisions by myself…

… and finally admitted that there was just no alternative. I had to go commando… in a dress that was not designed for such style choices… in freezing weather. Fortunately, I did not have to continue teaching while risking some kind of bizarre entry on the sex offenders website, because my hour and a half had begun. One dilemma remained, though: did I go home to get underwear, only to realize I didn’t have time to run my errands… or did I prance around town hoping for a windless day?

Hmmm….

Oh, come now. We all know that I chose productivity over sensibility and I’ve got to tell you, commando grocery shopping is pretty low on my list of recommended activities. Outside of a first date, I am not an exceptionally self-conscious gal. I’d like to lose a few pounds, but overall, I’m comfortable with myself… until I’m wearing a clingy dress and no panties in an Aldi. This is, in part, because I tend to wear pretty unflattering briefs.

Me: “Ugh. If I get into a serious relationship, I’m going to have to buy so much underwear.”
Gail: “Why?”
Me: “Because I don’t wear cute stuff, since no one sees it. I mean, can you imagine? We’re making out, he starts to slide his hand up my dress, pulls away and asks ‘Are you wearing a… one-piece bathing suit?

At least I thought they were unflattering, until I realized what I looked like without them.

I look like a sack of oranges. Are all women this lumpy? Oh, em jingles, I’m going to have to be naked in front of a man one day. Actually, I’m pretty sure I look more attractive naked. I am so not buying candy.

There is no way people can’t tell I’m not wearing underwear. I mean, where’s the pantiline? Wait. People try to hide the pantiline, don’t they? 

Why is that man staring at me? How clearly can he see the outline of my individual ass cheeks? 

I never realized how breezy dresses are. This is going to be the worst frostbite ever. 

WIND! NOOOO! THIS LOOKS NOTHING LIKE WHEN MARILYN MONROE DID IT!

I think I’m pretty unique in my ability to get myself into these situations, y’all. I mean, at that moment, how many people were accidentally grocery shopping with a breeze on their lady bits? I feel like the answer was just the one. It’s like every now and then I have some sort of Freaky Friday moment with a quirky sitcom character, only that woman’s life is controlled by censors and there is no genuine danger of flashing her babymaker to a group of elderly women picking up their prescriptions. Ideally, I’d just make the one quick trip, grab what I needed and run home to my cheap cotton sanctuary, but Walmart was right next door. If I was going to go through the discomfort of grocery shopping with trembling lips (you’re welcome for that), I was damned well going to finish.

Finally, though, after my naked dash through Narnia, I made it home just in time to put away the groceries and veil the goods. I will say, however, that after running around town with a Donald Duck style naked bottom half, I have a new appreciation for the warmth of Hanes. It was a transformation, the likes of fucking Cinderella, y’all. I, of course, told Gail my story and got little in the way of a response at the time. No worries. She was apparently just busy and waiting for the perfect moment.

1-22-15 1

She thinks she’s the sweet one.

What I Bring to the Table

For the most part, all I ever write about is bad dates… because that’s all I ever have. I also just don’t feel comfortable writing much about a guy I’m still getting to know. My blog is 99% humor and I don’t feel like it’s particularly respectful to tell the blogosphere about any of the embarrassing or funny things he might have done or said on a good date… so I’ll tell you all about the ones managed. Enjoy.

Belle on a date:

Do the fleece-lined leggings make me look like Gail when she wears support hose to bars? 

He’s three minutes late. I’m so getting stood up again. 

“Hi there. I’m glad you made it.”
Shit. It just sounded like I was giving him hell for being late. I’d better explain.
“Oh, I wasn’t like giving you a hard time for being late. I meant I was glad you were able to find it. I didn’t get us a table yet.”
Umm… yeah… cuz I’m not at a table. So glad I clarified that. 

Am I saying dude too much? I feel like I’m saying dude too much. Stop saying dude.

I don’t want to swear, in case he finds it offensive, but I feel like it’s just too soon for “oh, em jingles.” 

“I just love Seth Rogen’s dry sense of humor. That’s very much my humor. I was at Thanksgiving, talking to my cousin, who’s really artsy…”
No. No, no, no. You are not telling this story. STOP telling this story. 
“I asked him if he had any tattoos, yet.”
Find a way out of this story!
“When he told me no, that he wasn’t really into tattoos, I told him, very straight-faced, that I just had the two on my feet…”
Oh, there’s no way out. Just don’t grab your breasts for emphasis as you say it. 
“… and of course the bear claws under my breasts.”

How dorky is the “Awesome Librarian” t-shirt? Is it less dorky if I wear a football sweatshirt over it? 

Why did I suggest bowling?!?! I have to wear pants! I never wear pants, especially not on a date! I look like a fucking hobo! 

Oh, em jingles. Owning my own bowling shoes does not make me look cool. 

Wow. I am really bad at bowling for someone who owns their own bowling shoes. Is it cheating to use the eight pound ball if I still suck this much? 

“One time, I don’t even remember why we did this…”
Noooooo. Not another story!
“Gail didn’t have any plans and I had this date at the pub downtown. She was in a bar mood, so….
Say something else. Say, literally, anything else.
“… she basically secretly tagged along to spy on my date.”
NO MORE TALKING ON DATES!

Who gave Belle the talking stick?!?!

An older coworker heard me discussing my dad’s job with another coworker. 
Me: “He’s too old to be on poles. He’s 54.”
Coworker in Her 60’s: clearly offended, having not heard the whole conversation “He’s too old for what now?!?”
Me: “Climbing poles. No! He’s a lineman! He’s not like… too old for the planet.”

Discussing baby name acronyms at work…
“Well, I knew a guy in high school whose dad was in the police academy when he was conceived… there were less awkward ways to word that, weren’t there? Well, he was in the police academy when his mom got pregnant. Um… anyway. His initials spell LAW.”

“September 14, 1985? That’s so funny. That’s…” Riiiight here was when I realized how very creepy the statement was going to sound… “… um… that’s my best friend’s first boyfriend’s birthday. I mean, that was like seven years ago, but I doubt his birthday has changed. It’s a little weird to say that, isn’t it?”

::Text message with Malik after he told me about his efforts to combat the meth problem::
Malik: I can’t afford anything at the moment.
Me: I hope that’s because of the car and not all them drugs. #totallyjoking #sortof #iloveyou
Me: Basically, how’s the sober life going? Still fun? You should draw more. I like seeing your work.

“If you liked Fifty Shades, though, you’ll love this one. I really preferred it. It had a bigger plot, just a lot more… I don’t want to say ‘meat’… depth. Wait! I don’t want to say that either!”

Them: “Has Gail lost weight?”
Me: “I don’t know. I don’t often… weigh Gail.”

Talking about an old kitten with a coworker, who happens to be overweight…
Me: “Mimzy was the sweetest cat. She was a little furball… like a blowfish.”
Karol: “That’s what my kids call me.”
Me: :: in horror :: “They call you blowfish?
No. No, in fact, they call her Mimzy.

The day I met Niki…
Me: “Ugh. I hate that bitch. She’s an awful person.”
Niki: “She’s actually a really good friend of mine.”
Me: “Huh. Well… there’s no saving that, is there? I’m sorry your friend is such a bitch?”

Coworker Janet: “Before you eat one of those cookies, there’s cheesecake in the fridge.”
Me: “Yeah, I tried it. I didn’t like it. It had a weird citrus taste to it. I mean… unless you made it. Did you make it?”
Janet: :: laughing :: “No. I don’t know who made it.”

Me: “Ugh. I hate those boots with no heels. They look like elfin slippers.”
Gail: :: makes a stretching noise and extends her leg out in front of her, showing her ‘elfin slippers’ ::
Me: “Well… huh. I hadn’t noticed those. There’s not much I can say, is there?”

:: talking on the phone with Gail ::
Me: “Okay, I’m gonna let you go, so I can eat dinner, since it’s been proven that eating while distracted causes weight gain.”
Gail: :: mouth full :: “MMMkay. I’ll talk to you later.”

:: my cousin’s 8-year-old son is begging her to let him stay with his grandma, after already having been refused ::
Me: “Ugh. You see, Delia, this is where you tell him he’s adopted, so he’ll be so upset that he’ll be too distracted to keep asking.”
Too late, I realize that her son’s father is not is actual father, so he is technically adopted and does not know.
8yo: “What?!”
Me: “I’m kidding, sweetie. You’re not really adopted.”
Thank goodness my cousin approved of the bold-faced lie. I totally threw him off the scent. You’re welcome, Delia!

Picking up my debit card, after forgetting it at the restaurant where Gail and I had dinner. She had accidentally tipped him $10, instead of $5.
Me: “Well, can you run the card so I can leave you a tip?”
Waiter: “No, that’s okay. Your friend actually left me a pretty big tip.”
Me: “Oh, yeah. She actually did that by accident.”
Waiter: “Oh, well now I feel bad.”
Me: “No, no. She tips everyone hugely…”
Ugh. That sounds terrible. JUST STOP TALKING.
Me: “In fact, you should probably be pissed she didn’t tip you more.”
Translation: Oh, don’t get the wrong idea. It was no reflection on your service.

Growing Up Professional: Mistakes I Can’t Believe I’ve Actually Made in Job Interviews

So, yesterday I had a job interview. It was sort of a big deal.

My best friend was positively useless. 

Me: I don’t think I could be more prepared for this interview, but I’m terrified they’ll ask some question I just haven’t considered.
Gail: “Do you fidget at work and, if so, is it a result of meth use?”
Gail: “Yes. I mean, I fidget. I don’t do meth. I don’t do any drugs. I mean, I’ve taken prescription drugs, but they were mine. I mean, they were prescribed to me for conditions I legitimately had. I don’t steal prescription drugs or do meth, but I sometimes fidget.”

Those who know you best, mock you best. Congratulations Gail. You’ve been replaced by a houseplant. You know, the one you gave me and I facetiously named Blaylock, after the redheaded gay vampire warrior from that paranormal romance novel, but now refuse to plant in soil, because I’m afraid I’ll kill it and cry, because I named it? That one.

Anyhoo. I was prepared for this interview, y’all. I created my own workbook of possible interview questions, filled it out, and quizzed myself for a week. That kind of prepared.


That kind of prepared.

I didn’t substitute teach for three days this week so I could obsessively go over everything from “What don’t your coworkers like about you?” to “Wait. Should I wear silver or gold jewelry with the pearls?” The latter was part of a text/photo message conversation with Jane, in Vegas, that started with “Good friends stay local for I Have Nothing to Wear! crises!!!!”

But why? Why would anyone prepare for an interview on such an extensive level?


No. Besides that.

Here’s why. These are mistakes that I have actually made in the past… and that I can thank the good lord I didn’t make yesterday.

That time I showed up with a mangled neck…
After I graduated with my bachelor’s degree, I was desperately trying to save my marriage. Certain that getting a teaching job would provide the finances and security to do so, I applied for every applicable job… including one 80 miles away. This was going to finally fix my husband, y’all!


It’s just that exorcisms are so expensive.

In hindsight, the whole thing was stupid, particularly the part where my ex-husband gave me a gigantic hickie the night before. Now, do not misunderstand. I know I exaggerate a lot, but this was hardly the kind of mark that could be covered with concealer. Seriously, it was like what Old Yeller looked like after the wild boars got a hold of him. At the time, however, my hair was nearly to my waist, and I felt I could hide it. So, off I went, for the two hour drive, to the high school in a town of 2,000, with no concrete plans as to what I would do about the distance were I offered the position.

Lucky me, that last detail was never something I had to consider. Halfway through the interview, the snaggle-toothed principal left me to write a short essay, and I heard him discussing the gaping wound on my neck, with his secretary. They were talking about sizeAt that point, there really wasn’t much to be done, so I sort of just blew off the essay and left. Not only did I not get the job, but I never got any kind of acknowledgement that I had even interviewed.

That time I wore a fairy princess costume...
Just a few months after I started working at my first library, I had the opportunity to interview for a 3/4 time position, as opposed to my half time one. Having recently lost a lot of weight, I really didn’t have many clothes that fit me. Even the dress I’d worn to my interview just four months earlier had been given to Gail. Not long before this, though, I’d bought a flowy, strapless, black dress with an uneven Tinkerbell-style hem. It was adorable and comfortable and sexy… and entirely inappropriate for an interview.

sexy fairy costume
I really wish this were more of an exaggeration.

In my defense, I did pair the dress with a black shrug, to conceal the fact that it was strapless, but I also referred to it as “not-much dress” when Gail wore it in Crawfish and Smarmy

Bee tea double ewe, Gail, thanks for taking my hand-me-ups. It makes me feel skinny.

In addition, I only had one bra, at the time. Seriously, y’all, losing weight is expensive. You have to buy new everythingand a black bra didn’t make the list, when I was in grad school and working two jobs. Unfortunately, the only one that did was a white racerback bra, that practically wrapped itself around my neck, so there was just no way to keep from repeatedly flashing bright white bra straps from beneath my black prom dress. I don’t know that the outfit was the sole reason for my not having gotten the job, but really, I can’t see how it wouldn’t have played a part. I would not have hired someone wearing that costume.

That time I couldn’t walk in high heels…
As I worked my way through school, I applied for each and every position that opened in the library system. When an associate librarian position was made available at my location, I jumped at the opportunity, even handing my boss a copy of my resume, personally. Although I wasn’t done with school and it’s rare to hire librarians without a master’s degree, my boss still gave me a shot… and I blew it. Desperate to look professional, I bought new shoes for the occasion: four inch heels.

Like every little girl who repeatedly wished someone else was her mommy, I never had a woman to teach me how to walk in heels. As it was, Gaily and a Youtube video taught me to apply eyeliner at 23. Not wanting to mess up my pretty new houndstooth heels, I didn’t walk in them much prior to my interview, either. I also wasn’t sure how heels were actually supposed to fit.

foot binding
Hint: not like this.

Not only were the heels too high to walk in, but they were also excruciatingly painful. Realizing, too late, how incapable I was of wearing these foot vices, I speed-hobbled into my manager’s office and tried my hardest not to have to walk in front of him. Zetus lapetus. I’m having hindsight embarrassment just picturing how I refused to move to the left or right to grab something and just leaned way over.

Beyond the shoes, I really just wasn’t ready to be a librarian. It’s a much more difficult job than people think and I’d yet to realize just how involved it is, so I don’t blame my old boss for not having chosen me. I also, however, wouldn’t blame him if he decided that taking off my shoes the second I left the office, and running through the library and the parking lot barefootwas an inappropriate exit. I’ve since sold the heels to Gail. Joke’s on her, since they’re filled with my blood. 

That time I didn’t know my boss’s name… or who was interviewing me…
Okay. There’s an explanation. It’s just lame.

Despite all of my panicked and tearful phone calls to Gail, where I insisted that I was going to have to join the armed forces, because I was “never going to be a librarian!!!!!”…

… just one day before my MLIS graduation ceremony, I received my first call for an interview. Unfortunately, said interview was given during a truly busy and exhausting time. I had been working about 55 hours per week, in addition to finishing up the last of my graduate coursework. I was also still coming down from the stress of presenting my portfolio, upon which the future of mankind rested. I was overwhelmed. I was just so very tired. Just parking downtown for my interview had me near frustrated tears during the elevator ride.

The woman giving the interview was my boss’s boss. I had read her name in print and had possibly met her in person, but I was mistaken on the pronunciation of her name. You see, a nearby branch manager was named Maria. The woman interviewing me was named Mariah. In my head, I’d been pronouncing them both Maria. Not only did I say this woman’s name incorrectly in my introduction, but I continued to mispronounce it throughout the interview. I corrected myself each time…

“Maria… I mean Mariah.”

… but it got to the point where the other interviewer was laughing. No really. That happened. My interviewer laughed at my awkwardness. That deserves a fucking trophy, not like that means anything these days, but come on!!!!! 

Aaaaaand, speaking of my other interviewer…

I wasn’t aware, upon entering the room, that Mariah was going to be the primary interviewer. She’s the manager of the managers, and as far as I understood, she was just supposed to sit in on the meeting. So, the entire time she was asking me questions, I was addressing my answers to Chuckles McGee. Only later, did I realize that Chuckles  was the interim manager of the hiring branch. He was supposed to sit in on my interview with Mariah, not the other way around, because he wouldn’t be the one making the decision. So basically, I turned the interview into a conversation with the ventriloquist’s dummy. To make matters worse, I started to get nervous, realizing that this interview was going horribly and my answers quickly deteriorated. Recently, an unstable coworker had yelled at me for not breaking policy for a customer.

Mariah: “What don’t your coworkers like about you?”
Me: ::to Chuckles:: “I tell everyone no.”

As I left the office, I did one thing right. I thanked my interviewers.

Me: “Thank you. It was nice meeting you, Maria.”
Mariah: “Mariah.”
Chuckles: ::laughs out loud::

“It’s just not a good fit.”

In the last couple of years, I’ve learned to deal with a lot of rejection. I coped when I didn’t pass my graduate portfolio for the first time. I’ve dealt with my mother hurling cookies at my door on my birthday. I’ve even gotten better at accepting the fact that some men just aren’t feeling it. Now, I have faced these things, but in all of the above cases… I did so horribly. So, it’s with little surprise that I’ve handled my very first professional rejection so poorly, today.

I’ve worked with one library system for two and a half years. They have my loyalty and, luckily, I have theirs. Not only does termination in this library system require murder while intoxicated and an intricate system of strings and pulleys, but I just had my three month evaluation with my new branch. My boss informed me that I was meeting all expectations, she had no complaints, and I seemed to be fitting in with everyone. I’m holding onto that pretty tightly right now, because…

… my other boss just informed me that, after six weeks, I’ve worked my last day at library number two.

Yup. I was let go… for the first time ever. Why?

Boss: “It’s just not a good fit.”
Me: “I don’t understand. I’ve never been late. I do everything I’m asked. I jump up and help customers. I’ve made any changes you’ve suggested. Isn’t there a procedure for this?”
Boss: “You’re still in training and it’s just not a good fit, so we need you to clean out your locker.”
Me: “Did I break some kind of huge rule or something? I don’t get it.”
Boss: “It’s not a good fit. It’s time to get your things.”

So… that happened. I’d be lying if I said things were going wonderfully. After three weeks of working for this library system, the same supervisor told me that she was concerned about the “negative language” I’d been using.

Me: “What do you mean?”
Boss: “Well, when I asked how your training went, you said it was ‘okay.’ When I asked what you thought of staff day, you said it wasn’t what you expected. Those sound like backhanded compliments.”

Um… what?

I said the training was okay, because it was okay. There were things I found useful and things I didn’t. I said staff day wasn’t what I expected, because staff day wasn’t what I expected. We do staff day differently at my other library system and she knew that, because I clarified. Even at the time, I desperately wanted to respond with:

“Well, I’m sorry you’re choosing to take it that way.”

I also didn’t. I told my boss that I’d work on the things she suggested and I did, raving about the useful things I learned in training. But then…

Boss: “You’re not allowed to wear hoodies at the desk.”
Me: “What?”
Boss: “If it has a hood, it’s a hoodie. It’s just too casual and unprofessional.”
Me: “I’m sorry. I’ve just never had anyone express that opinion before.”
Boss: ::scoff:: “Uh, yeah… I guess that’s my opinion. I’m pretty sure it’s the opinion of everyone else in the system, too.”
Me: “Okay. I’ll wear a sweater next time. Just to clarify, it’s the hood that’s the issue, right?”
Boss: “Yeah. We like people to dress professionally. Think bank attire.”

I know what professional dress is and didn’t need the clarification, hence the heels I regularly wear. I also know that it’s cold in libraries and the dress code said nothing about a fleece jacket in November. That makes it a personal preference or… wait for it… opinion I’d also worn it several times before this and she never had a problem with it. Regardless, I never wore the jacket again. I even bought a sweater without a hood, because she did verify that the one with a hood wasn’t acceptable. 

There you have it. I knew things weren’t going smoothly. Just last week, we had one of my boss’s weekly bouts of criticism, where she told me that she had expected me to be further along. I politely explained that I felt like I would be, if the desk time weren’t so spread out, because I was constantly at staff training. I mentioned that I had a lot of desk time coming up and I thought I’d catch on quickly in the next week. She said that would be great. The next shift we worked together was my last.

In retrospect, I’m proud of myself for how I handled our final conversation. I defended myself and made it crystal clear that this woman had no justifiable reason for ending my employment, which was witnessed and understood by the other supervisor in the room. While my boss couldn’t see her face, the woman looked horrified and supremely uncomfortable. I did not cry. I did not beg for a second chance. I made her admit, more or less, that this was a personal issue of hers, because apparently, it’s a thing for someone to let you go, because they just don’t like you… and it fucking hurts.

I probably could’ve done without burning my shirt and name tag in the kitchen sink, though. That was, admittedly, extreme. What can I say? I have two settings:

1. handling it with grace
2. fire

Fortunately, I deleted my old boss’s phone number, so I can’t do anything stupid. One month is a blip in time, not worth mentioning. A restraining order is not.

While I understand that not everyone is going to like me, this woman disliked me so deeply, that she was willing to go through the trouble to hire someone new. Furthermore, I was supposed to do a program in a few days. She’s been blowing me off every time I mentioned it for weeks. I’ve never been able to find her profile on Facebook, though I know she’s friends with her other employees, meaning I’m pretty sure she blocked me ages ago (I even looked through mutual friends… totally rational.) It’s mighty convenient that she only scheduled me for a few hours this month. She was plotting this. She never gave me a chance, because she disliked me that much. Fucking ouch.

Me: ::crying:: “What if this means I’m just a bad librarian? What if this isn’t for me and I never get full time?”
Gramma: “Oh, Belle. Stop it! You’re a good librarian! You just said a man was thrilled that you downloaded a book on his phone. They love you at your other job.”
Me: “How can anyone dislike me that much? I did my job! I didn’t do anything wrong!”

I once read an online article about the most crushing moments in a person’s life. One of them was the first time you’re punished for something you didn’t do. Here, here.

First and foremost, it’s the hurt feelings and unfairness. I don’t need everyone to like me, but you still have to work with people you don’t like. That is so unprofessional and inappropriate… and it sounds like total horseshit to say it was a personal vendetta. Every jilted ex employee plays the victim. I sound pathetic and I know it. Second, it’s the loss of security. I felt like a big girl. I could finally pay my bills and just knew there would be work, and therefore income. Now, I’m back to substitute teaching. I’m unsettled all over again, and in my pain, I was downright weak to my best friend, Rosie the Riveter.

Me: I’m tired of feeling so unsettled. I just want a full time job and a husband. I don’t care if that kicks feminism in its big hairy balls. I want a settled romantic relationship and guaranteed income.
Gail: I don’t think that reduces your value as a person at all.
Me: I’m tired of my twenties. I’m over it. Can I just have screaming kids in the other room and a boy who’s on my side at the end of the day? Can I do that now?
Gail: Other than “you’re allowed to want that,” I’ve got nothin’. You’re doing your best. It’ll probably come. 

As usual, the rest of the world thinks I’m overreacting.

Me: “What if I never get full time at my other job?!? What if this ruins my professional reputation!?!?”
Dad: “Belle, you are reading into this waaaay too much. You barely worked there for a month and you didn’t even like it. It’s not going to ruin your life. You’ve said yourself that the two systems don’t even talk. I’ll bet anything she has someone else she wanted to hire for this position and it has nothing to do with you. Calm down.”

Gramma: “Everything happens for a reason. This is just paving the way for better things. Calm down.”

Coworker at my other job: ::scoff:: “We’re not gonna think less of you. We’re gonna think less of them.” 

Other Coworker at my other job: “Just don’t put it on a resume. It’s not going to affect anything. You’re fine. I don’t know that anyone in the systems even talk to each other.”

So, I’ve allowed myself a limited amount of time to dwell, cry, pout, and be devastated, humiliated, and outraged. Tomorrow, when this blog will post, I will work to put the last month and a half behind me. I will work even harder to regain my confidence as a librarian and recover from losing a job for no reason.

There were no experiences from this position that I’m not getting from my other one. I never wanted to be full time with that system, because they pay significantly less and their benefits suck. My boss stressed me out to no end and I had fantasized about quitting anyway. She’d already made me cry twice and if she continues with this attitude, it’ll all come back to affect her professionally. The time I spent at that job allowed me to catch up financially and I’ve accepted two substitute jobs, just this week. My primary job is going better than I would have ever dreamed. I’ve already updated my resume. I’m set. 

Gail: “You know how, when you’ve made plans to hang out with someone and you don’t want to anymore, but you made the commitment, so you keep it? Well, then, that person calls and cancels and you’re like ‘Seriously? You’re canceling on me?”

Gramma: “Belle, you’ll get over this. You’ve been through a lot worse.” 

Damn straight.

Go suck an egg, People Of Walmart

“I have a brilliant idea! I’ll get on Amazon and order the creepiest sex toys I can find. I’ll have them shipped to Terry; based on his response, you’ll know whether or not he’s into the weird shit!”


Gail at the words “brilliant idea.”

Over time, my unreasonable, stick-in-the-mud, best friend has refused to even listen after those two words. Um… it’s not like I actually tipped the truck when were 16… nor did I get a thank you for that one. Geez. Also, I believe the brilliant idea to spread the word that Esteban had herpes totally worked in Gail’s bullied 15-year-old favor.

You’re welcome, Gail. You’re welcome.

A couple of years ago, after losing 90 pounds, I had another one of my brilliant ideas. I decided to take up running… and P90X… in the same week. It was not a brilliant idea for my back, however. I saw a doctor… a physical therapist… took a lot of prescription drugs… and finally met with a chiropractor. For months, though, I could not move. There were nights when I couldn’t stand long enough to cook Easy Mac. It was horrible. So, during the trips to Wal-Mart to grab a pre-made salad or a new phone charger, I was doing well to have my top and my bottom covered. Forget about underwear, I deserved a trophy if my feet weren’t bare. The pain was so excruciating that I legitimately understood people who kill themselves from that kind of chronic torture… and I’m a religious gal.

Then there was that brilliant idea to go to graduate school and work two jobs. There were nights, when I would find myself at Wal-Mart at 3:00 in the morning, buying my groceries for the week. Considering the fact that I’d just finished and submitted an annotated bibliography or a literature review, I wasn’t wearing a fucking prom dress, either. I probably wore various pajamas… like this lady on People Of Walmart.

people of walmart

Things she could be texting….

Should I get him Nyquil, or just the Pepto Bismol? The Nyquil might help him sleep. 

I’m just in so much pain. What is the strongest over-the-counter medication? 

I have not slept in three days. If I don’t get this project turned in tomorrow, this was all for nothing and my printer’s out of fucking ink! 

Go suck a bag of dicks, People Of Walmart! Why is it that I read or hear about a child committing suicide every week, because of cyber bullying, but People Of Walmart is wildly popular? At 16, I started a Xanga about Shetland and the ridiculously hypocritical things that went on in my hometown of 15,000 with its 22 churches. I didn’t target any one person and spent more time on stories about the town than anything, but some people still took it personally and I hurt some feelings through social media. This was, however,…

1: before the term “cyberbullying” was coined or defined
2: totally Gail and Jane’s fault as well
3: the work of children

I’ve said it before: my generation was a technological experiment. We grew up in a Lord of the Flies version of the Internet, more-so than today, because our parents had no idea what the hell we were doing. So, when I took a yearbook picture of a cheerleader holding her arm out in front of her and placed it next to Hitler heiling Germany… well, there really wasn’t anyone there to guide me. The cheerleaders weren’t very nice to me. They always made snide remarks toward my friends and I for coloring during assemblies and wearing feather boas to school, regardless of the fact that the latter was an AP English assignment… almost always. They made fun of me and I made fun of them… and it wasn’t nice. I know that as an adult and I’m sure they do as well.

PeopleOfWalmart, though? This website is dedicated to adults insulting people they don’t even know. That old lady in the nightshirt may not have the mobility to pull on pants and she sure as hell never screamed at you to get a life in Algebra class. Are we, as a society, seriously telling these kids to “do as we say, not as we do”? Cyberbullying is a huge concern among Americans with Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube. Teachers are warned that their embarrassing pictures will likely end up online. Children are dying. Teenage boys were shooting up schools long before internet bullying and it ain’t gettin’ better. If it’s not good for the kids, why is it good for us? If watching an advertisement for the new Kindle Paperwhite makes me scream “I WANT THAT!” with my Kindle Paperwhite in hand, then what affect does sneering at someone for a poor fashion choice on a website about sneering at someone for a poor fashion choice have? Is this not an advertisement for a lack of compassion? Does this not encourage me to act catty toward people I don’t know in real life? Does the encouragement from others to be cruel not slowly degrade my character?

This is not the first time I’ve ranted about People Of Walmart and I’ve gotten many rebuttals in the past. They usually go something along the lines of…

“Have you seen the things those people are wearing? If you go out in that, you’re asking for it.”

Wow. I think I’ve heard a similar defense in rape cases. I’m not saying an embarrassing photo is the equivalent to rape, but that is still a disgusting excuse for publicly humiliating someone: she asked for it. It’s her responsibility not to be embarrassed online, not our responsibility to use technology for the better. Maybe she doesn’t realize she’s gained 15 pounds this summer. Maybe she’s hurt and those footy pajamas are all she can stand wearing. Maybe she just likes dressing like a goth kid from that South Park episode. Who fucking cares? It’s her prerogative to do so. That girl with her panties showing? Maybe the polite thing to do is whisper in her ear “ma’am, you need to pull your shorts down a bit,” rather than whip out your smartphone, as a good 90% of the redundant contributors to PeopleOfWalmart have chosen to do. If you absolutely have to be catty about the woman with back breasts, fine. Take a picture, send it to a friend and have your moment. We’ve all done it, but there’s no reason to do it globally, encouraging and receiving encouragement from the masses in your moment of spite.

Don’t worry. I have not conveniently forgotten my own… abrasive sense of humor. I will say, though, it’s usually directed toward people I lovewho know I’m kidding and enjoy being around me because I

1: … make them feel like the nice friend.

mother teresa
Gail

2: … am just as mean as they are.


Malik

3. … am just as mean as they are deep down, and they just don’t want to admit it.


Jane

Despite my barbed comments toward my friends, I don’t target online, those who’ve done nothing to me. Even my bad date stories use pseudonyms. I’m sure I’ve been the subject of someone’s “What is she wearing?” text conversation… and that’s fine, as long as that photo stays off the internet. I’m also sure I’ve been someone’s “… them bitches be crazy” story and that’s fine, too, if my name isn’t involved. People Of Walmart posts pictures of actual people that could be easily identified in their most embarrassing moments for all the world to see. It’s not bullied kids taking the passive aggressive revenge stance, either. It’s not confused and misguided teenagers leading this massive effort in cyberbullying. It’s the adults who tell them not to, because they fucking know better.

“I just have to powder my nose… again.”

I fancy myself a fairly responsible person. I don’t spend money that I don’t have. I don’t drink too much. I’m paying back my student loans. I finished graduate school with a 3.67 GPA… and was disappointed. The dog is still alive… because he won’t shut the fuck up when I turn the faucet on and he doesn’t have water. The last time Gaily and I did something phenomenally stupid with a motor vehicle, we were like 18… wait… 23. Anyway… the bills get paid and my socks usually match if they’re visible. That’s pretty good for most adults, let alone a member of my stereotypically over-coddled Peter Pan Syndromed Millenial generation tearfully clutching their participation trophies while crying about their inability to find a job with that Art History degree. I’m not doing too shabby… with one exception:

cannot be trusted with my own health and medications.

When I was 14, I had just convinced my mother to take me to the dermatologist to have the fifth mole removed from my face. The process started, because my mother caught me drawing black dots on actresses faces to see if they were still beautiful and trying to remove moles with Biore pore strips. I was devastated when neither turned out as I’d hoped and begged to have mine removed. Finally, my face was mole free… mostly. A small freckle-like mole remained at the very corner of my mouth, making it constantly appear as though I had food there. So, rather than schedule another doctor’s appointment and go through all that trouble again… I iced the mole up and removed it myself with some nail clippers. I was an occasional cutter at the time. What was a little more pain? Fortunately, my hands-off mom believed me when I said the sore was a fever blister… though I’ve never had a fever blister in my life. Whatev. I was mole free. It wasn’t the last time I used that tactic either.

You’d think that would be the height of my stupidity, but at 18, I was just soooo sick of having been numbed with 250 daily milligrams of anti-depressants for five years that, one day, I just decided to… stop taking them.


Yeah… um… don’t do that.

About a year and a half ago, I was just getting off the crazy diet kick that enabled me to lose 70 pounds in about nine months. I was known to (frequently) declare the following:

“I will meet this month’s weight loss goal if it means I have to cut off a fucking foot!”

 saw foot
It saves 200 Weight Watcher’s points!

Despite my occasional spells of unconsciousness brought on by excessive workouts, I don’t really count those nine months as an example of my irresponsibility with my own health. My BMI used to be 42. Most charts don’t even go that high. They stop at like 40 and then there are just pictures of various large zoo animals like elephants and whales. I needed to do something drastic and what I chose was extensive workouts coupled with 1200 calorie per day limitations. Some doctors would call it extreme… but some wouldn’t. Staying at my old weight would have done far more damage than the measures I took to lose it. However, last spring, I decided that with all that weight lost, I would take up running. I’ve compared myself to Tinkerbell more than once, in that I have the ability to feel only one extreme emotion at a time. I am either paranoid and research-driven beyond reason…

choosing shampoo
“I don’t know which one to pick! What the hell does ‘Sheer Twilight’ even smell like?!?! Why can’t they just say fucking lavender! Help me, Gail!!!!”

… or I’m the most impulsive person alive.

women at sonic
 “Oh em gee! I have an idea! Let’s get tattoos!”

Yeah… we both have tattoos now. Funnily enough, I also bought the exact same shampoo I always buy.

So… when I decided to take up running, instead of my uber-rational self taking over with hours of research, it was my impulsive self that just turned the treadmill onto high. That. Doesn’t. Work. Apparently there’s some kind of technique to running that doesn’t royally fuck up one’s back. There are books on it. It’s a far more research-worthy topic than shampoo. After a few weeks of immobilizing pain, I saw a doctor… and his recommended physical therapist… and took some Lortab that did nothing for me. The night of The Hunger Games midnight release, the guys planned to get to the theater at 9:00. The movie wouldn’t be over until about 2:30 in the morning. I had no faith that I could remain seated in one position for that period of time. I called the doctor in tears, because the Lortab wasn’t working and he prescribed me something else. To this day, I cannot remember what that something else was, so I’m just gonna go with…

magic potion
…the blood of a centaur.

At this point, I was so sleep-deprived and in such physical pain that I was beginning to understand why people would choose euthanasia. I’m not exaggerating this time. I was legitimately thinking that, if I had to live with that kind of pain for the rest of my life, I would kill myself. It was that bad. Soooo, just to get through the movie and finally ease the pain, I decided that on top of the blood of a centaur, I’d go ahead and take those Lortab that weren’t working anyway. Just for good measure, I’d throw in a few more drops of centaur blood, as well. Naturally, by the time the movie started I was Across the Universe high.

across the universe

I still had a prominent limp, I just didn’t care. I could not sit up straight. I spent the entire movie laying on Chad’s shoulder. Fortunately, Gail and I had bought tickets to see the movie again a few days later, because I had not absorbed one single moment of Katniss’s great adventure. When the movie ended, I must say, I was feeling pretty nauseous.

lots of pills
Pictured: not a balanced meal.

Ward had driven Chad and I, since Jay and Chad’s little sisters had come along and Ward was excited about his new car. We were just driving into Shetland when I demanded:

Me: “Ward, pull over.”
Ward: “Seriously?”
Me: “No, I’m kididng. Yes, seriously!

That’s right. No amount of urgency voids sarcasm. Then I vomited in the parking lot of The Dollar Tree.

As the back pain persisted, I tried a number of remedies, one being a type of Icy Hot cream on my back. So, there I was, drying my hair naked while the Icy Hot dried. Not wanting the smell to seep into my clothes, I decided to help it along and aimed the blow dryer in that direction.

screaming at blow dryer

In my defense, when I read the directions after I lit my back on fire, they only said not to use a heating pad with the cream. No one mentioned a blow dryer. I should sue.

In time, the back pain did subside. Every now and then, I get twinges, but I’m doing alright, with the help of a chiropractor. In February, though, I tracked in snow bringing the dog inside after his walk. I didn’t realize it and on my way out, I slipped. In an attempt to avoid hitting my head on the stair, I jerked it forward… screwing up my neck. I think my problem is with delayed gratification. This is ironic, considering I spent seven years in college to be a Librarian. The only thing I can figure, is that I am a pussy. I can’t handle pain… that isn’t self-inflicted? Anyway, when I wrenched my neck and was reminded of the night my back hurt so much that I couldn’t make dinner and just sat on the couch hungry and crying, I decided to just nip this neck pain in the butt and immediately made an appointment with a doctor and one with a chiropractor. The doctor was strictly for the pain meds… which I promptly doubled… and woke up 16 hours later.

Fortunately, I don’t take medication very often. I sometimes take a prenatal vitamin and an iron supplement, the latter of which I was unaware of a certain side effect until my general practitioner pointed it out. She did this after I took a handful of laxatives when I had company coming.

powdering my nose
No, no. You make yourself at home. I just have to powder my nose… again.”