Thursday, December 30, 2010

Posts My Brothers Will Wish They Didn't Read

Following a shocking discovery (thank you, internets) I had the following conversation with my friend, Alyssa, via our respective text-messaging devices. I heart technology more tonight than I have in a while.

Me: Dude, I just found out that there's such a thing as a 24 karat gold vibrator. And I want it. Just to say I have a 24kt gold vibrator. Who wouldn't?!
Alyssa: Haha! I'm with you!
Me:'s just under $350. I actually considered it for about thirty seconds.
Alyssa: It's cheaper than a wedding band.
Alyssa: Can I ask how you came into this information?
Me: Oh, the internet. You know how it is. You click on one link and another and another and before you know it you're browsing luxury sex toys hoping no one inspects your search history.
Me: Can I put this conversation on the internet?

And as if you weren't already reevaluating our Facebook friendship, dear reader, yeah I'm going to throw in a picture. You want it, too.

It's going to be weird to look each other in the eye, tomorrow. I know. You'll be fine.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

So, What?

When I was in college I did a lot of writing. Okay, actually, the school I attended didn't offer near as many creative writing classes as an English major would appreciate but there were still plenty of sub-ideal opportunities for me to flex my muscle. Despite my complete lack of interest (which quickly turned into an absolute hatred for) journalism, I still signed up for nearly every one that was offered. I did not do well in those classes for the same reasons that I did not do well in any of my math classes: rules. My brain does not store knowledge of rules for any amount of time. I fully comprehend very, very few grammar rules. My grammar isn't terrible and I don't know how I spent so many years as a tutor without knowing the actual rules (anyone who does know the real rules and reads this has probably never been fooled). I know what works. I just don't know why. Wait. Isn't there one that's like "'i' before 'e' except after 'c' something something something 'neighbor' and 'weigh'." Yeah. There's that.It's a little bit like how Phoebe Buffay didn't really know how to play the guitar, she just knew how to play the guitar. No, she couldn't teach Joey or anyone else but she could still play (that was something that the audience just collectively understood about Phoebe--she actually really, really sucked at it).

In my journalism classes I worked so hard on putting words down and then organizing them into coherent sentences and then having to correct all of the rules that the damn AP Stylebook said that I broke that I'd overlook some pretty basic stuff.
For example, once I had to cover a speech that someone gave and I worked so hard at attributing and not accidentally taking things out of context and maintaining "journalistic integrity" that I forgot to mention anywhere in the article who this person was, where the speech took place or why he was even saying anything. Honest to God, I can't imagine what information I did include in article. My professor wrote at the end of the paper, "If you worked for a newspaper you would be so fired. [smiley face]" That was fair.

When I wrote for the newspaper (for the requisite two semesters--no more, no less) they had to create a student-profile column specifically for me because it was impossible for me to write articles about how construction was coming along on the seemingly hundreds of new buildings that were popping up despite our apparent lack of funding. Even that was a challenge, but at least I didn't have to stick to the facts. I made up all kinds of stuff about people--made them look really cool. That was mostly because I was super terrible at interviewing people. Anyone who has ever met me in real life knows good and well that simple getting-to-know-you conversation is so not my strong suit. I have a tendency to create a super awkwardness in first meeting people. I'm bad at basic things like returning questions. I answer questions in one sentence and then stare at you. I can only imagine what people think of me. Lucky for me, most of the friends that I have now are people that I was forced into getting to know. Or we have been together for years and there's no more room for introduction. Happy am I that people stick around for me. I had a friend who used to make me fake-interview him, just to work on my question asking skills. I couldn't do it. I'm not a role-playing kind of kid. I'd ask, "So where are you from? This is ridiculous! I know where you're from. Next question. What's your major? Damnit! I hate this." And that was about as well as it ever went.

So I thought that embracing creative writing would be ideal for me, and it would be except that I find that my strong suit is mostly in just making things sound really pretty but I can't push a story along very well. More often than not it was Professor Ness who gave us creative assignments. I think he knew that we didn't have a lot of opportunity to work with this. He had us write villanelles (still my favorite poem to write), flash fiction, free verse, stream of consciousness, I loved writing for him because he would actually try to guide you into a way to make your writing better (the actual creative writing instructor was kind of like a mom or a nanny who would say "that's nice dear" and not really give you any direction). More often than not, Prof Ness' notes on my papers would say, "This is beautiful but what's the point?" Half of that was flattering and the other half was crushing but he was right. He's still right. In my serious writing, when I'm telling stories I can do a really good job at making things sound wonderful and I can bring the story to a crisis. And then it's over.

I've been working on a story for a few weeks now and I finished my first draft but I'm reading it and I keep thinking "what's the point?" I had a friend who, when I asked what he thought of my writing, said that he loved reading it but when it started getting good, I'd always end the story. I went on a tirade using all sorts of cliches about "artist's vision" and about how he didn't understand me and was free to make love to himself.* Ugh. But he was right.

Oy with the self-improvement.

*According to Anne Lamott, this sort of reaction is completely normal. If you have a writer friend who asks your honest opinion and you decide to give one, even in the most delicate of methods, your writer friend will more than likely go on a murderous rampage. Do not dismay, she will always come out of it and she will be ashamed and more able to accept criticism.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

What Can I Do For You?

It's no secret that 2011 will be the year of the search for shameless, relative internet celebrity on my part. And let's not pretend that you don't want me to get famous, either, if for no reason than for your own entertainment. You'll love it. Everybody wins.

The thing is, though, that I'm a pretty non-exciting person. For example, my most ideal Saturday night involves no more than three close friends, no more than eight beers and no less than a couple of hours of Boxers or Briefs (which is absolutely what I'm using my Amazon gift card for). In my world, no one accidentally ends up at roof-top parties. There are almost never any fire-breathers or jugglers involved. I have yet to get black-out drunk and at 27 I think I'm past the point in my life where that could be considered a respectable night. I think I've firmly established myself as one of the most low-key and expertly cautious (possibly to a fault) girls on the block. That being said, I still believe that I can entertain you. You know why? Because my Friday nights are your Tuesday mornings--sort of an "it's five o'clock somewhere" philosophy.

Now, I have an open notepad on my desktop where I keep post ideas, topics that every successful blog that I read has covered at some point--some that we will get to eventually.
  • My Most Serious Injury
  • My Favorite Job
  • How I Shop
  • How I Earned My Worst Karma
  • Self-Indulgence
  • Why I Love My Hometown
  • Why I Hate My Hometown
But I ask you, oh, people who want something to read when your kids go down for a nap/ when you're on your break at work/ when you are procrastinating against the dishes/ when you are staving off sleep:

What do you want to read about?

And you'd better hurry up because next up on my list is My First Period.

(And, as always, it's in your best interest to read this on the original page if you're mildly interested in links and making me feel better about myself)

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Not Minding the Mess

Everyone kept saying, "it doesn't feel like Christmas at all." But I don't really know what that means because I haven't had an ordinary Christmas in a decade or so. A lot of that has to do with the fact that adulthood comes out of nowhere sometimes. That's not a bad thing, believe me.

When you're a kid, you're not in control of anything. Not even yourself most of the time. You open all of the things. You eat all of the candy. You feel overwhelmed beyond belief and before you know it, you're discovered in a sugar coma, covered in wrapping paper and clutching a cassette tape of Shaun Cassidy's greatest hits and a Walkman with no batteries. Your parents will leave you there. It's a safe place for you to be. That was the year that I discovered Da Doo Ron Ron.

Despite the pure, undiluted excitement of all things Christmas that would always end in overstimulated crying fits and a need to be carried to bed in the brand new pajamas that still had the tags on them, it was always the best feeling ever (until it was horrible but no one ever remembers that very last part because by then you've ingested so many chocolate-covered marshmallows that you're in black-out mode and can not be held accountable for your actions). And as soon as that's over, then you start looking forward to next Christmas and wondering how the adult humans could possibly out-do the awesomeness that was this year.

Somewhere along the lines, you discover that you're in control of yourself. That's when teenagers get moody and hate everything. To the parents of teenagers, you should know that they don't really hate everything--they're just practicing the fine art of choice. It's new to them. Be patient.
Then you get even older and you move out and you get to be completely in control of yourself and you get to recognize and then create for yourself a good time. Some people still get hopped up on sugar and dive into presents and that's fine because I think everyone should get to do whatever they want on Christmas. Even grown ups. Some people like to get completely hammered and grope strangers. Trust me--it happens. I like to stay uber low key and appreciative. I like to celebrate with presents and food on Christmas Eve so that on Christmas day you can sit around in your pajamas and reflect or watch movies or cook lots of food for my friends and not do the dishes. That's what I like. Christmas Eve is especially nice now that I have so many nieces and nephews. They say the greatest things and they love you so much and they're so happy and excited. Genesis knows that her presents don't come from Santa but I still pretend like he's real. Consequently, I think she thinks that I believe in him and she's trying to protect me from the truth.

There's something about having your friends over for breakfast that I prefer to having dinner with them. Waking up with someone you love: there's nothing that can relate to that sort of satisfaction. Every bed in my house had more than one person in it and then extras came up for breakfast. We lounged and talked and stared at the wall and coo'd at Owen and made so many dirty dishes and piled them up in the kitchen and pretended that they didn't exist. Not minding the mess is the most beautiful reality of honest friendship.
And then, after most everyone had left I had three glasses of wine and a chocolate Christmas tree on a stick which is a nice, floaty way to put yourself down for bed--especially when you're not quite all alone yet.

Probably one of my most favorite days.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

I Wrote A Letter To Latvia, But You Can Read It.

Dear Latvians,

How are you? I am fine. It will be Christmas in a few days and I still haven't seen any snow. I'm trying not to be bummed about that, but thanks for asking.

Thank you for visiting my blog. I have only recently become aware of the fact that I'm so popular in your land. When I say, "popular" what I mean is that there have been four visits from Latvia in the past week and even a few the week before. Understand, this is an unexpectedly large percentage of traffic for me.

Admittedly, and probably unsurprisingly, I'm a pretty typical American and when I say "I know nothing about Latvia," I mean that I wasn't even convinced that it was a country until I wiki'd it several minutes ago. I have learned some exciting (hopefully) true things in my research. Here are several things that I learned about your land. Please alert me to the truthieness of this research. American friends, get ready to do the learnin' dance.

Latvia has a pretty straightforward flag and that's what I like in an identifier. One year, I spent Christmas with some people who, by and large, absolutely did not know me. They were, incredible, loving, gracious people who fed me, cleaned me up after I passed out in the shower and vomited--if I'm remembering accurately--all over every square inch of their bathroom and they gave me gifts. One of those gifts was a fleece blanket featuring the American flag. The American flag is pretty bold and difficult to incorporate into a classy design scheme. But you, Latvians, obviously you knew how well a throw blanket featuring your country's stripes would work in my living room. My birthday is in October, thanks.

In the 13th Century, a pretty big chunk of your territory was conquered by Germans. Then came Polish and Lithuanian management. Then there was an eleven year Polish-Swedish War and, guess what, Poland lost and Sweden got to keep you. This surprises me, honestly, because nowadays everyone pretty much assumes that Sweden's a pretty quiet, non-threat but I guess even Sweden went through a rebellious period. This is like that time that I found out that Barbara, my youth leader, used to be a stripper. That was unsettling for more than three different reasons. Poland kept fighting with Sweden even though Sweden clearly won fair and square until they called trucies-no-takebacks in 1629. Turns out that Sweden was good to your turf, though, so I'm happy to hear that.

So Sweden's in charge and everyone's happy and singing "summertime and the livin's easy" and driving around with their hands out the window when out of nowhere (and for reasons that I can't really follow) you eventually ended up with Russia in charge. Skip ahead some hundred years and now you're all Latvia (I guess) and you joined NATO in the 90's and the European Union in 2004. Congratulations! (I say that because Wikipedia says that was one of your goals--so I say reach for the sky, Latvia.)
Seriously, though, if you're from Latvia and you're reading this (and you're not offended--I sincerely hope you are not), then few things would make me more thrilled form hearing from you. Also, could you tell me a little about Jāņi, starting with how to pronounce it?

Fingers crossed!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

How to Tell if He Likes You

Or Articles That Should Have Never Been Written

According to Cosmo there are three "weird" things to look for to tell if the special guy in your life is looking at you as third-base material. There's not really any reason to write this article because, I'll just tell you right now, he is. But still, I can understand the need for easy, crank it out in fifteen minutes filler pieces. I mean, where do you think I got the idea for this?

Anyhow, this article is full of useful tips to help you decide whether or not the man in your life wants to be the man in your pants (seriously, though, they should write an article about how to decide if You even like the man in your life--that's the difficult, albeit less important, part). According to "research" a man like-likes you if you can answer "yes" to one or more of the following questions*:
  • At meals does he order steak?
  • Will he mimic your speech patterns?
  • Does he forget even the simplest of concepts?
If you answered "yes", then congratulations there's no way this guy can't possibly not be un-into you! Now, go lasso him in for keeps. Even if he says "no", he's just playing hard to get. Sometimes "yes" sounds a lot like "no". My strategy? Feign pregnancy.

No, on a serious note though, guys really will order steak if they like you. It's a mechanism that they employ to exhibit manliness without resorting to the women-belong-in-the-kitchen "jokes". I mean, that's second date territory. So if you go out with a guy and he has hummus, pasta
marinara, or a grilled cheese, don't try and talk yourself into the idea that he's a potential vegetarian. Men are never vegetarians except when they don't love you anymore.

You've been hanging out a while and you have your first fight. No, not even a fight. More of a tift. Spell check doesn't believe that "tift" is a word but you're following me. You asked him why he kept his peanut butter in the fridge and he said "everyone keeps their peanut butter in the fridge" and you said "no one keeps their peanutbugger in the fridge!" And he whispered, under his breath, "peanutbugger". And then suddenly you're enraged because you believe that he's making fun of your my-tongue-is-a-little-bigger-than-my-mouth impediment and you storm out. You silly, simple woman. It appears as though he was backed into a corner with nowhere to go so he lashed out and cut you below the knees. But that's not what happened at all. You see, when a boy likes you, he mocks you for things that are out of your control unless great concentration is utilized to keep from making insignificant mistakes. He will mimic your accent, speech impediment, club-foot, all sorts of things. Because those things remind him of you and he wants you around him all the time. That's why he offered to make a suit of your skin that one time.

And finally, next time he forgets your middle-name, don't get mad. It just means that he's using all his dumb-man brain cells to impress you with his muscle flexing and steak eating and hasn't got a lot of room for lesser things like your birthday, garbage day or even your real first name. The less he remembers, the more he loves you. And who wouldn't want to get to put up with that for all eternity?

And remember, no matter how much he likes you, he'll never stick around unless you get knocked up. Does anyone else feel the morning sickness going around?

*There's more good news, this very same test can be used to tell if there is a six-year-old living in your home.

Monday, December 20, 2010

I Was Almost Certainly Drugged at Starbucks

More often than not, when I have coffee in the evening times it isn't so much a big deal. But tonight it seems to be a big deal. Kind of a lot bigger deal than I've ever been used to. Before I begin, I'd like to explain that I can't hardly stand it when I hear people talk about being hyper. So I'm going to not use that word. It's non-descriptive and really, really adolescent. What I am experiencing is not a basic case of hyperactivity. No. There are almost definitely drugs in my system. And for that I blame the shady girls behind the counter at Starbucks.

Think back to half an inch ago when I told you that coffee in the evening times isn't so much a big deal for me. Yeah, it's not. It rarely effects me with its intended affect (Right? Did I use those... was that accurate? Yeah, I don't know. I'll leave it.). But tonight is the lunar eclipse and I'm going, to quote Bono, "with or without you--with or without youuuoohhhh!" At first I thought I'd just go to bed earlier than usual, set my alarm, drive to a cemetery and try not to inadvertandly stay there until the sun comes up. But then I said, "Fuck it. I'ma stay up." Because I don't have to be to work until noon and staying up until nearly three on a Monday night is probably the most champion use of my time. So the lovely and talented Sarah and I went to Sbux (which is probably the baddest of ass ways to reference the universe's most popular coffee shop--something I promise to never do again) and I said, "I'd like a venti Sumatra with two shots of espresso. And some vanilla because I'm a pansy." You see, I added the extra shots to compensate for the made-up caffeine-doesn't-really-affect-me-like-it-should idea that I had. And she said "we only serve Sumatra in the morning but we have Pike's Peak." And I said, "Do me." If you bet five dollars that "do me" was only a proposition for sex, you'd be that many dollars poorer because apparently it is also code for "There are cops outside. My beverage will keep your amphetamine based drugs safe." I should have known those girls were bad news when we walked in and I overheard their conversation about how "kids require certain boundaries." Who talks like that? Drug peddlers. That's who.

Everything was fine and cozy until Sarah and I found our way to the Christmas department of our most local Target. Sarah was comparison shopping mostly-plastic pine trees. I glanced over at her in what appeared to be a forest. She looked up at me and seemed mildly concerned. I looked at her and saw her in what my mind had decided to accept as Narnia. "Sarah," I said, trying to remain calm, "I... I can feel it." I started to panic, but I wanted to appear in control. Let the record show that there's very little that looks less in control of one's self than desperate attempts to appear in control. You become overly aware of the relationship between your feet and knees and start walking very deliberately and nodding enthusiastically to things that people are saying so as to appear focused on the conversation at hand but really you're just hoping that no one thinks that you're too broken to be in public even though you know that even on your best day you're probably barely clearing that bar.

I wanted to buy plain, brown wrapping paper. I even found some for the low-low price of only $2.50 but somehow I talked myself out of it even though I really, really wanted it and will just go on another search tomorrow to find plain, brown wrapping paper. Instead I bought a box of Swedish fish. Because what I need in this equation--just a little more candy and a little less of what is actually on my shopping list. Do not be mistaken, that didn't happen because I was secretly drugged. That happened because of the kind of person that I am. For example: I'll crave chocolate chip cookies. I'll have everything to make them except for, say, butter. I'll wait a whole week for a new paycheck to come and, in the meantime, think of all of the other things that I could use butter for. Butter on toast. Butter on baked potatoes. Butter on spoons. X is the limit! (In this scenario X is representative of the number of things that butter could actually be used for). I will get so excited about potentially having butter in my life. Pay day comes and now I finally have some fun money and I say "I'ma getchoo, Buttah!" Then I go to Walmart and see that butter costs $3.26 a pound and then I think about how that's a lot of dollars and does a person really need a whole pound of butter? I forget all of the things that butter can do and I think "I'm not spending nearly $4." It's not that I don't believe that butter is worth it. It's not that I even believe that $4 (which is an exaggeration anyway) could go much further elsewhere. It's more like I'd rather buy 4 $1 items. So I throw reason to the wind and walk out of there with a bag of apples. Apples, while delicious, are nothing like butter.

It's been a few hours but I'm beginning to crash. Only a little over an hour left to go before I was planning to leave but I can feel myself hurling down towards Earth at an alarming rate. I'm scared, Jack. I don't think that there were really drugs in my coffee. I think I just ordered an unreasonable cup of coffee with extra coffee thrown in for good measure and it did exactly what it was designed to do which was make me high.

See that picture at the top. This was taken towards the plateau of my mania. I'd gotten home and wanted to be wearing not-jeans. If you're like me, you take your jeans off as soon as you're no longer near other people. Because who in their right mind would spend any amount of time trapped inside of denim? I walked into my bedroom where I saw that my electric blanket was not yet turned on. So I turned it on and while I was fishing around under the bed for the controls I found my slippers--which are awesome. I put them on and then forgot why I was back there in the first place. Upon passing the bathroom on my way back to the living room (which is where one goes to regroup) I decided to pee, for good measure. In washing my hands I decided also to wash my face. Before I can wash my face, I have to pull all of the hair back or else they get wet and it's a huge mess. So I used this handy scarf and in no time I'd realized that i'd just done my hair like Rosie the Riveter or Aunt Jemima or some other fictional, head-wrap wearing, animated, pop-culture icon. So I took a picture of it. I went to go find my cat, to show her. Kiki was, and remains even still, completely uninterested. I post this picture to alert you to the fact that it's now nearly two hours later and I'm still wearing jeans and my face is unwashed. Go, me.

I know you're reading this, Lorenzo.
All of my love (and a portion of my earnings from tips if you work it right),
Libby Marie

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Why Being Famous Will Be Awesome

Let me begin by explaining that I'm not really one who seeks much attention. Let me rephrase that, entirely. I'm not the kind of guy who wants attention from a lot of people. No, no. I'm a much more dangerous type. I want a lot of attention from the few friends that I have. Especially if I really like a person and believe that they are cooler than me. In that case, I do a lot of inundating through our mutual social-media outlets and god-forbid I have your phone number. In this case, I will text and text and text the most mundane information. It's a fact. The following is a list of texts that I recently sent to the same person:
"I think I will go back to Walmart and buy too much candy."
"Or go to Sonic and buy this milkshake thing that has sugar cookies in it."
"Or eliminate the middleman and just grab a spoon and my bag of brown sugar."
"Also, I ate fried cheese and popcorn for dinner."
"I think your roommate is making a mayonnaise cake."

That's fun and everything until I start to wonder why they haven't responded. It could be that this person doesn't really know how to respond to 'I ate fried cheese and popcorn for dinner' or maybe this person is doing things that don't involve a cell phone. Things like napping. Doing dishes. Showering. But that thought won't cross my mind until after I've completely dissected our relationship. At what point did I completely blow it? The least they could have done was face the facts with me and said, "Libby--the thing is that you're lacking some of the adorable crazy and you have a little too much of the potentially-rabid crazy for me to be comfortable maintaining our relationship." Who am I kidding, a normal person wouldn't say that. Especially someone who is almost certainly suffering from swollen brains. I wiki'd it and people rabies is too close to people zombie for me to be alright with it.
I didn't intend for this post to go here at all. Let's get back on track. We last left off with me talking about how I'm not that into lots of attention--though I'm sure you doubt that. Especially since you already know about my recurring daydream fantasy in which I am pulled up on stage to duet and the crowd goes wild. Anyway, my impending famousness is one I'm going to have to take for the team because I think the people, they need me. I have figures to make my point.

Now, we all know that there have been a few people who say stuff like "Libby, you're so funny and good at story telling and sexy also and not at all annoying when you're drunk." Ok, few people have said all of those things in the same sentence but they have all been said and I lumped them all together for efficiency and effect. Anyway, I think that laughing and enjoying yourself for at least a little bit is super important and truly necessary to maintaining a delightful life and, thus by trickle-down effect, creating a magical world for everyone.

Now, if you take the small sampling of people who have said those kind things and then subtract the number of people who were too drunk to count (6) and the people who were trying to get me to have sex with them (1) and then multiply that by 100 (to make up for such a small sampling), you'll get about three hundred sober and unaroused people who actually would like to read something that I had written. That is a lot of people. And, frankly, I think that if I can make their days mildly less sucky for a minute, then I'd like to try to be helpful in that way and consequently save the world from all of The Crap. I should have started this earlier so that I'd be famous enough by 2012 to hold back the world-ending monsoons but sometimes ideas come too late, my friends. I'm not god.

So that's why in 2011 I'm going to try to find those people who are represented by my arbitrary figure. Honestly, though, I think I'll only accomplish that by getting famous. Because we shant forget that, according to my figures, for every one person who truly likes me, there are two who are just drunk and love everyone too much and .33% of a person who's just trying to get me to do naughty things. There will also be others. Let us not forget those who are easily offended by relatively questionable content, non-English readers, the uninterested (read: boring) and other people who are marginally more famous than me.

I've been doing some research on my own and taking note of what is is that I read in other blogs that I can use to inspire me.
  • There's Hilah. Hila's a susie-homemaker bad ass. She seems to be trying to get Comedy Central to consider adding some cooking shows. It's not a terrible idea. The thing is, though, that Hilah's more of a vlogger and I have a fear of video cameras. Also, she has an adorable cartoon of herself to use and I would like to copy... I mean "use as inspiration" that idea.
  • I also read Matt Logelin. This is where I learned some important things: chicks dig a man with a baby, a sob story goes a long way, if you get on Oprah you'll be set for life, and people love it when you post incredible photos, the occasional F word and your favorite indie music choices.
  • And then there's obviously Allie Brosh. My current (and probably forever) hero. What I wouldn't give to be able to tell a story like she does. I want to be the coppiest of all cats when it comes mostly. I want to draw bear sharks and wear sexy dragon costumes. I want to be chased by geese and live with Boyfriend (not her boyfriend, they seem to have a perfect set-up for them). Anyway, she's pretty much cornered the bear-shark, orc rapist niche which is good and also bad. Good because I can go there and feel supremely normal and bad because from now on everything I want to do will likely be considered "copyright infringement". Laws suck. Except for when they protect my content, in which case they are mighty. Allie is really good at trying not to use relative words. She explains her stories with such gusto and completeness that you don't even need the remarkable cartoons that go along with them. But then you do get to see them and it is great. Also, Allie is unafraid of her weirdness and even exploits it which makes her not at all weird and, instead, a very, very ordinary and thrilling person.

So baisically in order to achieve instant fame I'm going to need a few things, a cartoon of myself to use in my header, a header, a kick-ass title, a little sadness and a bear-shark. Maybe I'll have a badger-mermaid. Maybe not. It'll come to me.

Maybe I'll need some help. Now accepting submissions for cartoon Libbys and kick ass titles. I'll write a story.

The End,

PS Oh yeah, and being famous will be awesome because it's just awesome. And people will be my friends so that they can be famous, too and so that Us Weekly will write stuff like "Libby wore slippers and an old, yellow, stained sweatshirt with a sad-hat to The Well this weekend with a friend who was wearing real shoes." And I won't mind that they want to be my friends for that reason because I'll always have someone to go to the movies with me and because finally I won't be the one sending the too-many text messages.

PPS This post had a lot of links and if you read it on Facebook I'm not sure you'll get to see all of them. So you should go to the original post and visit all those things so that when Allie Brosh checks her analytics she'll find this post and then I'll be back to being a clingy person. Seriously, though, Allie, I think we'd be friends.

Monday, December 13, 2010

People Watching, Watching People

In a blatant copy of SDL's format, I bring to you some recent observations.

Made me happy: Catching a middle-aged man slide his hand down his wife's hiney as their three teenagers walk ahead of them.

Needs improvement: I saw a cashier use the restroom without washing her hands. Again.

Made me happy: Seeing my best friend's daughter play with my nephew as though they hadn't just met--imagining that there actually was a time in our lives when these people didn't even exist.

Needs improvement: Overhearing an angry father threaten to give his daughter away if she didn't straighten up. She quieted and shrunk.

Made me happy: My sister-in-law gave me the new issue of InStyle. Few things make me as happy as fat, fragrant magazines that tell me how I should wear my hair to the New Year's Party.

Needs improvement: Changing your profile pictures to cartoon characters in an effort to "bring awareness" to child abuse without any legitimate action. It is what it is--a nostalgia circle jerk.

Made me happy: Finding out that my best friends miss me just as much as I miss them. And subsequently making plans to cross paths.

Needs improvement: At one point, during this week, I chose to dwell and stew over a complete misunderstanding. This needlessly and arrogantly overcast an entire 24-hour period.
What have you seen lately?

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Part III

Page 45 or, "Do you want to talk about feelings?" -Jamie

The emotion you tend to hide the most: Jealousy
The emotion you seem to experience the most: Gratitude
The predominant emotion you have experienced lately: exappreherror*
A moment when you achieved absolute happiness: Well, "achieved" is kind of an inappropriate word to use--isn't it? Achievement denotes working hard for something and I find that any time I work hard for something to go right, my expectations get so high that I can't possibly meet them. And then poof goes the happy. But there have been times in the past few months where I get sort of drawn out of whatever moment I'm in and I think to myself, "You lucky bastard. How did you land it this way?"
You have a great amount of guilt regarding: I can't talk about it.
You would feel envious right now if: Oh, now, I really can't talk about that. I am not feeling very forthcoming tonight.
A piece of music that makes you sentimental: Penny and Me, Hanson
The music reminds you of: Being in college with my sister. Driving The Hug to take her to work at the great mall. The air conditioner leaking on the floor, the speaker falling out of the door. Those were the days.
When you are happy, you need: to take a walk.
When you are sad, you need: a blanket, a cup of coffee.
When you are sentimental, you need: that one friend who has made an art of reminiscing.
When you are angry, you need: A few beers. A few hours.
When you are in love, you need: An unlimited text messaging plan.
When you are lonely, you need: someone to sit on my couch.
You would jump up and down and shout with joy right now if someone told you: I have been trying to answer this question for days and I really can not even fathom what it would take to get me to jump up and down.
The last time you were very angry was when: Someone believed something that wasn't true. And that hurt my feelings. Boy, that sounds much more simple than it felt.
The last time you cried uncontrollably was when: Scott got deployed and I knew my little sister was so sad.
A moment in your life when your emotions froze and you felt absolutely nothing: I think it was that time that I was angry. The anger came first.
Someone who genuinely makes you happy: Amos.
Something that makes you happy: Unexpected compliments.
You get angry with yourself when you: Do a poor job of managing the fundage.
Someone or something that made you laugh this week: I did this dance and then Nickie laughed so hard that I wasn't sure she would survive. So then I laughed. Because it's funny when people laugh so hard they die.

*excitement/ apprehension/ terror

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Part II

Page 4

A drink you often order: Negra Modello if I'm feeling casual, Amaretto Sours if we're trying to get there fast.
A delicious desert: That Tirimisu from Chelsea's in Wichita. There is truly nothing like it.
A game you like to play: Some friends and I played Bullshit in a Starbucks and were forceably removed, once. So there's that.
A book you strongly recommend: I always recommend Crime and Punishment but few people will actually read all of those pages so then I suggest The Little Prince. Obviously.
An author who has affected you: Anne Lamott can really explore a character and John Green can pursue plot like no one I've ever read before. John Green wants you to see everyone else as human. Anne Lamott wants you to see yourself as human. Either way there's ample amounts of grace being distributed.
The magazine you read most frequently: I know, it's supposed to be something smart like The New Yorker but really it's Cosmopolitan.
Music you prefer to listen to when you're alone: "Southern Girl" by Amos Lee, almost every single time.
The film you could watch over and over again: Annie Hall. Hands down.
A tv show you watch regularly: It is always Community and 30 Rock. If I'm bored for much longer, then I'll watch The Office.
An artist whose work you highly respect: Allie Brosh. Oh, she counts.
An article of clothing you love to wear: I have this yellow cardigan that probably gets more use than anything else I own but I don't know if it's what I love to wear. Oh, you know what I love? I have this white camisole that I wear underneath almost everything. No one ever sees it but it's so great and keeps me cozy and gives me good boob days. That is of supreme importance.
Your favorite time of day: If I happen to be home, I like 6:00 pm. That's when I start thinking about what I should make for dinner, and in preparation for that I do my dishes; When my kitchen is clean--that is my favorite time of day.
Your favorite place to sit at home: At the top step of the outside staircase. But it's gotten woah too cold to hang out there anymore.
What you most like to do on Sundays: I have a routine. I lay in bed and make believe stuff until I have to pee so bad that I get up. I put on a pot of coffee, read and then take a cup of coffee, a novel and one cigarette out to the aforementioned favorite step and read. If I don't spend too much time out there, I like to come inside and watch CBS Sunday Morning.
Your motto: "Rule Number One: Don't be an asshole."

Monday, December 6, 2010

All About Me Pt. 1

A couple of weeks ago, I was in a mall with my friends, browsing Victoria's Secret and, needless to say, feeling pretty downright shitty. If one is like me, when one feels shitty, one goes into a book store and spends one's money impulsively. I did that. I bought this horrible book. It's called All About Me and it's essentially a bunch of questions that you answer. Like an inefficient, neatly bound meet-my-folks pre-screening. At the time it seemed like something that was right up my alley. Anyone who knows me knows I can't get enough of talking about myself. But, eh. It's no fun. What's the point? I already know the answers to these questions. There's no point in documenting it.
So, in an effort to not have totally wasted twelve dollars, I'll fill out parts of this book in front of you. Opening randomly to pages and filling it out. Sound like a plan? Oh, sure.

Page 43:

Three things you would never do:
1. Take a Jell-o shot. One part hard liquor + two parts gelatinous texture + swift movements = a sure-fire recipe for unwanted vomit.
2. Bungee jump. Base jump. Cliff dive. Sky dive. Baisically, I know for a fact that my brain wouldn't ever allow its body to plummet, despite any safety precautions that may be in place.
3. Willfully and intentionally cause bloody, bodily harm to another person. I could probably kick someone in the head or the knee caps or the nuts but I could never knowingly make them bleed. Or give them a shot. So if you're the type of person who may one day require an emergency shot to keep you alive, maybe let's make a rule that we're never left alone together. Because I won't be able to do it.

Three charities or people to whom you do or would donate money:
1. The Liz Logelin Foundation ( From the website: The Liz Logelin Foundation was established to assist families who find themselves in the heartbreaking, catastrophic situation of having lost a spouse, life-partner, and parent. The Foundation’s goal is to financially assist these families as they deal with the loss of their loved ones, and struggle to move forward. Having completely been in this position, myself, how could I not contribute to the help? I can't imagine how my mother's life would have been different had something like this been established ten years ago. (Read this:
2. That's about it, why would I tell you about some charity that I considered helping?

Three things that you would not allow your children to do:
1. Lie. I think grown ups lie a lot and I think that kids catch on to it quickly and I think for the rest of their lives they're completely unable to take someone at face value. Or maybe that's just me.
2. See the bad without seeing some good. I don't know if I would consider that something that I'm in charge of but if I was in charge of raising a person I'd hope that they grew to be capable of complex appreciation and see others as neither good nor bad but simply, magnificently human.
3. Eat trans-fats.

Three things you have done in your life that you regret:
1. Here's another one-line list. I don't want to say "no regrets" but mostly because that's lame and also cliche and I fancy myself too cool for those sorts of shenanigans. But, truly, I do regret that I spent so much time and effort keeping myself from doing regretful things.

Three things for which you are thankful:
1. My house is gorgeous in the right light. It's in the right light right now. There are lights on a Christmas tree that are being reflected in a skinny window that flanks the fireplace where there sits a wine bottle, a bouquet of lilies and wheat and a stack of records. It's gorgeous and it's mine and I have ownership over this tiny, insignificant piece of world. I wish you could see it right now.
2. I have these people in my life who genuinely like me--a lot. And I don't think I tricked them into it but I may have.
3. Have you ever witnessed generosity from a third-person perspective? You can't see that and not feel grateful to something for getting to see it--for knowing that you've been the recipient--for knowing that you could be the benefactor in some way. Being a human is terrible sometimes but being a human is mind-blowing, too.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

And the afternoon, the evening, sleeps so peacefully!
Smoothed by long fingers,
Asleep … tired … or it malingers,
Stretched on the floor, here beside you and me.
Should I, after tea and cakes and ices,
Have the strength to force the moment to its crisis?
The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock
T. S. Eliot

Can you have that feeling of missing for something that never existed in the first place? I have this feeling of achy nostalgia that is directly related to a scene in my life that hasn't even taken place. I can imagine it--the most insignificant details of it as if it happened, like it happened not long ago at all even. But I know it hasn't. In my not-memory, my hair is freshly washed but completely unstyled and it moves light as air. I can "remember" those parts, tactile sensations and I miss it. I wish I was back there in that very fleeting moment that never happened. Have I got such a vivid imagination that it can make me so sad and aching against my will? That's not fair. It's my brain, I want to be in charge of it.

It makes me wish I had the strength to force a moment to its crisis and create it for myself just so that when I remember it, it at least makes sense.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Who knows, even?

"If we seek the pleasures of love, passion should be occasional, and common sense continual." Robertson Davies

Everyone says that love is supposed to be that thing in your head that drives you crazy and makes you want to do strange things that you wouldn't otherwise ordinarily do. It sounds like the only way you could ever truly know that you're in love is if you're finding yourself commandeering a vehicle and engaging in a high speed pursuit on the way to the airport where you have no problems dropping major coin on an international flight only to catch her before she boards to pursue her life long dreams. Let's be real. Some people will never find themselves in that situation. I'm not saying "no one" I'm not even saying "most"--but for a few people, this might be an unlikely scenario. And those people could be confused because television don't often end series finales with two people sitting on a couch with a bag of gummy bears and an InStyle between them. But, honestly, that idea seems a lot less terrifying and infinitely more tangible than spontaneously booking a flight to Wales. I mean, how can you have an ordinary Tuesday night after that? Serious time.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Please Eavesdrop

So getting personal is pretty essential to my job description. But personal as in, "What are your hobbies?" "Where do you spend most of your time?" "What do you use your eyeballs for?" Then they make conversation and I usually say some variation of these things, "Nope. Just 'Libby', it's not short for anything." "Yeah, I heard it was supposed to rain/ get warmer/ get colder/ remain the same." "I've lived here for about a year and a half." "Yes, I love it." Then, today I had this conversation with a middle-aged married couple. The following is a true story.

"Okay, so he's from New York and you're from California? Wow! How did you guys even end up in the same room?"
"Well, he was visiting his brother who was stationed in San Diego. His brother dragged him to this bar and then left him there while he went out with a girl. I was at an after-work party and terribly bored and I offered him a ride home. We both left stone sober."
"I got in her car and we talked until the sun came up."
"And we decided to get married."
"Right then?!"
"Yep. I went home, broke up with my boyfriend of two years and that was thirty years and eight days ago."

I'm pretty much just staring at them in stunned silence and I finally managed to squeak out that question that's been nagging at me for the past half-dozen years, "What made you want to marry her?"
And quite simply, in the most unromantic and honest tone he said, "She was nice to talk to."
"You see, I figured I'd never see him again. So I didn't start with any pretenses. No lies, no put ons. I was just myself--very transparent. Too transparent."
"Not too transparent."
"And I've never had to pretend with him in thirty years and eight days. He only wanted me like I came--straight out of the box."

I was mostly speechless. But I did manage, "I. Love. That story."
She looked at me and asked me the type of question that can only be asked by someone who's not used to putting on airs. She said, "I wasted my time with that other boy because I was lonely. It's a very pathetic part of the story.
so are you wasting your time with anyone, Libby?"
The scope of my grin surprised me, I couldn't hold it back because I felt truly happy to be answering this question honestly when I said, "Nope."

And then they left and I transcribed our conversation.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Camera tricks. Auschwitz. Phone Books

The most simple concepts will often times strike me out of the blue and I'll fancy myself some kind of evil genius. Take this morning, for example. I'm standing in the bathroom, staring at the mirror and simultaneously tweezing and blowing out my hair and there's something about the me-ness (yes, a word) of that moment that sucked me out and my reflection said to me, "you're just one of millions." I say my reflection said it because it really didn't seem like I was the one saying it. Just a camera trick.

When I was little I used to wonder if there were television cameras hidden in the bathroom or in bushes on my way to school. I would try my hardest to be on my best behavior even in my alone moments. I remember trying to find a discrete way to go to the bathroom without exposing myself to America (just in case). I didn't think about it all of the time but it probably crossed my mind once or twice a day. I remember thinking that if that wasn't happening, then what was I doing? What was the point? Why were there alone moments if not for the cameras?

Of course I'd heard the phrase "the world does not revolve around you" but what does that mean even, to a kid? Hell, it barely means anything to me these days. And then one day I looked up our name in the Stafford County phone book. And there we were--our whole family wrapped up in two words and seven numbers: Charles Parker 234-5367. And there were hundreds of others surrounding us and it struck me very heavily, probably too heavily for such a young and emotionally delicate girl, we are real but so is everyone else. I was one of millions. I remember that things changed for a while for me. I saw other people, even the other people in my house as just bodies moving around and eating and talking and doing homework and going to bed and waking up and eating and leaving. On one hand it was highly disturbing but it was also sort of comforting. Sort of the way that it must have been comforting to have your mother with you when you got off the train at Auschwitz. That example is, granted, a pretty exaggerated one but I'd rather assume that you can understand what I'm getting at than come up with something better. If I've at this point left you completely confused, feel free to make a note in the comments section and I'll take consideration. I didn't wonder about the cameras anymore, though, and in time I went back to living a pretty self-absorbed life sprinkled about with arbitrary moments where I'm struck by the world's expanse juxtaposed against my scrawny situation.

I don't remember at what point it flip-flopped and stopped being scary and started feeling comforting. I think everyone comes to a point at least once where they hope that the world doesn't revolve around them because that world would be very small and very boring and headed somewhere kind of scary.* If you don't believe me just think about those nights where you know you should go to bed like a responsible person but really you just keep posting shit on Facebook and checking back every 30-90 seconds to see if anyone's commented on it. All we want is for someone to "like" something we've done and then we can put ourselves to bed--loved and appreciated and needed for one more day. "What would my friends do without me posting my most darling videos/ political warnings/ scripture verses/ photos of stuff I found at the supermarket? You're welcome, World." Yeah--here's hoping there are bigger things out there and here's hoping that it's nothing I'm very familiar with at this point because I've exhausted all of my interests to the point of bitterness. The internet. Wow, what did we use to make ourselves feel important in the 90's?

No one uses the phone book anymore. We barely use phones (except for everything other than their originally intended purpose). Now we have blogs and Facebook pages and these are the things that tell me that I'm a real person--but also that everyone else is, too.

*That is not to say that I don't occasionally spend a dishwashing session perfecting my sexy, swoony rendition of Wild World for that one time that I get pulled up on stage and I pretend to be shy and forget the words and then surprise--mind blowing. You have to be prepared for these things even if they may be a little unlikely.

Monday, November 1, 2010

My First Boyfriend

My first boyfriend happened to me on accident.

I was sitting there in my seventh grade English class and Miss Earles was being ruthless as usual. She had me terrified from day one, she knew that everyone hated her and she capitalized on that--an iron fist sort of teacher. For example, at the beginning of the year she passed out these huge packets. Pages and pages of grammar rules. There would be the name of the rule and then at least a paragraph about that rule, correct ways to use it and examples of its appropriate usage. Nice, right? No. Every time that we wrote an essay, she would correct it in red pen--like teachers do, and then she would write in the margin the name of the grammatical rule you just obliterated. That's normal, that's fine, that's whatever. The homework assignment would, then, be to go home and hand write the rule, copied word for word, ten frickin' times for every single one that was desecrated in your pitiful piece of crap essay. Hours and hours of tedious homework. On her kindest days she would allow us to use actual class time to work on this bastard assignment. Even still, I don't really know what a comma splice is but I do know that I way overused it back in Jr. High and I guarantee that I probably still make those errors now. That assignment didn't train me to learn grammar rules, that assignment trained me to copy word for word without absorbing any information. I'm genius at it. It also united everyone in our hatred for Miss Earles. This was the one thing that boys and girls all the way from the seventh grade up to the senior class could bond over. Man, I hope she's not on Facebook. I wonder if my memory is embellishing her a little bit.

So one day in early October while we're all hunched over our desks, copying feverishly with cramped hands, I felt a tap on my shoulder. Quietly, I turned around and a classmate handed me a note. Let me just take a minute to interject and tell you what kind of a student/ kid I was in those days. In a word: scared. I never wanted to get into trouble. I never wanted anyone to look at me. I never wanted to go to the bathroom in the middle of class for fear that someone would see me in the hallway and ask what I was up to. I wanted to live my life unnoticed and uncalled upon. I didn't talk during class and I most certainly didn't pass notes. I was a mediocre student living a mediocre life and I was very, very okay with that. My last moment of individuality was in the third grade when I got third place in the county-wide spelling bee. On my way out to the bus to take us home, I slipped on the ice in front of everyone. To add injury to insult, my knee started swelling so much that my tapered jeans were prohibited from being pushed up to get a look at it. I had to pull my pants down so that my principal could inspect my knee and make sure that it wasn't broken. That's what being an individual gets you--standing in your unicorn underpants in a cramped bathroom with your principal and a teacher's aid trying to fend off a lawsuit. No thank you.

So like I said, a note got passed to me and I panicked. I saw that my name was written on it. A note to me? Me? Who could possibly have anything to say to me? On one hand I was relieved that I wouldn't be expected to pass that note along any further. On the other hand I didn't like knowing that I would have some hard evidence of rule breakage on my person. Oh, the nausea. I shoved it into my notebook and kept copying until the bell rang. On the way out of class, everyone kept patting me on the back and saying phrases of congratulations. I was confused and forgot about the note until a few hours later when I opened my notebook to do my homework during homeroom. That was a much more lax environment, even for an ultra tense kid like me. My homeroom teacher was named Miss Frank and she had a tattoo on her ankle--it was her first year teaching and everyone liked her a lot. I swear to you, there's not a single boy that went to SHS who won't remember Miss Frank. I guess she was pretty hot. But, then again, when your competition is Miss Earles it doesn't take much to be the hot teacher.

I digress. So there I am in homeroom at this table surrounded by upperclassmen, on whom I had varying degrees of secret crushes, and I open up my note. It read (in horrendous scrawl and numerous eraser marks--shockingly, this note had been heavily edited):


Let's not kid ourselves. His name was obviously not Tevin. But while this guy is not currently one of my Facebook friends he is, undoubtedly friends of friends and how rude would it be to read the following things about yourself a dozen or so years after the fact? I'm not going to pretend that we haven't all grown up. So, world, this guy's name is Tevin. Anyway, the thing about Tevin was that he was kind of an icky guy. He was kind of an icky guy who hung around the jerks who would pick on the gay kid and say things like, "Yeah, what he said!" Tevins are not clever or smart or kind. They do not shower regularly and they do not have a shot with the pretty, classy girls. In retrospect they probably have a kind of sad home life. Tevins (for whatever reason) hope that they have a shot with the chubby, quiet, shy girl who sits in the middle row and is working on an ulcer. I balled up the note and threw it away and spent the rest of my homeroom period pretending that I wasn't crying. Little did I know that in ignoring Tevin, I had accepted his proposal.

A few weeks later, we were celebrating fall-break with a class trailer ride. Everyone was piled up on hay bales and we were riding out to Mrs. Turner's farm where we would roast marshmallows and then our parents would come pick us up after dark. I had one or two friends that I sat with and we were having enough fun snickering and daring one another to go sit next to Mr. Buck, our class sponsor. Mr. Buck was the male equivalent of Miss Frank (homina homina homina). Did the hottest teacher's name really have to rhyme with... that? It really wasn't fair to him, poor guy. The limericks were endless.

There came, from the back, a rumbling. The boys were laughing and pushing each other. We heard a low chanting, "do it! do it!" Everyone turned to see Tevin walking on the wobbly trailer, tripping over people's feet. I knew he was coming at me and I considered bailing out but I knew that would just cause a bigger scene. Tevin sat down next to me and didn't say a word. Mr. Buck stared at him and warned him not to get up again. Great--keep him here, thanks a lot! My face was hot and I refused to look at him. I kept my head turned to my friend Heather and let her go on and on about her boyfriend, a much older 9th grader.

Without warning there was a hand on my leg and a tongue in my ear and the cheers from the boys at the back of the trailer was enormous. I don't remember what Mr. Buck said to Tevin but I do remember that he used the word "hell" and then pulled me over to sit next to him. Tevin shouted that I was his girlfriend (as if that would suddenly make it appropriate). I rode the rest of the way with Mr. Buck's arm around me. He patted my shoulder and kept saying, "I'm so sorry." Tevin's parents came to pick him up as soon as we got to Mrs. Turner's farm and he wasn't allowed to eat a s'more. He was also forced to apologize to me and in doing so he also broke up with me. I guess it just wasn't working out. I ate burned marshmallows and all the pretty, popular girls surrounded me, gushing about how lucky I was to get to sit next to Mr. [B]uck.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Brain VS Body

It's 4:00 where I live. That's morning time, not a much more appropriate afternoon time. My body (despite its incessant sickness--which may or may not be allergies, I'm not sure anymore) will not sleep anymore. I woke up at 3:45 and laid there wanting to get out of bed but telling myself that that's not what I wanted to do. So my body and my brain had a fight that went like this:

"Can we get up now?"
"I'm hot."
"Stick a leg out of the covers."
"Now my leg is cold but the rest of me is still hot. This is worse."
"You're right, it is worse. Put it back."
"Putting it back!"
"Go to sleep. People sleep at this time. Unless they're cooler than you and have yet to be asleep and even they are going to be in bed soon."
"I think I have to potty."
"You do not have to potty."
"I'll bet Jamie's online right now and you could chat with her via the interwebs."
"You think Jamie's online at what I estimate is probably 7:00 pm on a Saturday in her part of the world? You think she has nothing cooler to be doing at that time? Surely you don't know Jamie that well."
"Well, Brain, lucky for you I don't know Jamie as well as you do."
"Maybe something fun happened on Facebook since we went to bed 5 hours ago."
"No, I think I do have to potty."
"Yeah. You do. Dagnabit."

That is how--in ordinary Libby fashion, the body beat the brain.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Lovely Shall Be Choosers

Because when I Googled "The Lovely Shall Be Choosers", I couldn't find this poem anywhere. So I scoured the library and checked out The Poetry of Robert Frost: All Eleven of His Books--Complete (Copyright 1967). I know I can't be the only person on the planet who has an interest in this poem and was completely dumbstruck to find that the interwebs had failed me for, what could potentially be, the first time ever. That being said, I have wonders about two different things.
Wonder Number One: When you search for The Lovely Shall Be Choosers, will this blog show up?
Wonder Number Two: Is this some sort of copyright infringement or something and that's why it's so impossible to find? Damn, I sure hope that's not the answer.
Anyhow, I give you the fruits of my three-day-search.

The Lovely Shall Be Choosers

The Voice said, "Hurl her down!"

The Voices, "How far down?"

"Seven levels of the world."

"How much time have we?"

"Take twenty years.
She would refuse love safe with wealth and honor!
The lovely shall be choosers, shall they?
Then let them choose!"

"Then we shall let her choose?"

"Yes, let her choose.
Take up the task beyond her choosing."

Invisible hands crowned on her shoulder
In readiness to weigh upon her.
But she stood straight still,
In broad round earrings, gold and jet with pearls,
And broad round suchlike brooch,
Her cheeks high-colored,
Proud and the pride of friends.

The Voice asked, "You can let her choose?"

"Yes, we can let her and still triumph."

"Do it by joys, and leave her always blameless.
Be her first joy her wedding,
That though a wedding,
is yet--well, something they know, he and she.
And after that her next joy
That though she grieves, her grief is secret:
Those friends know nothing of her grief to make it shameful.
Her third joy that though now they cannot help but know,
They move in pleasure too far off
To think much or much care.
Give her a child at either knee for fourth joy
To tell once and once only, for them never to forget,
How once she walked in brightness,
And make them see it in the winter firelight.
But give her friends, for then she dare not tell
For their foregone incredulousness.
And be her next joy this:
Her never having deigned to tell them.
Make her among the humblest even
Seem to them less than they are.
Hopeless of being known for what she has been,
Failing of being loved for what she is,
Give her the comfort for her sixth of knowing
She fails from strangeness to a way of life
She came to from too high too late to learn.
Then send some one with eyes to see
And wonder at her where she is,
And words to wonder in her hearing how she came there,
But without time to linger for her story.
Be her last joy her heart's going out to this one
So that she almost speaks.
You know them--seven in all."

"Trust us," the Voices said.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

On Grown Men and Adolescence

A man fifteen years older than me with an early-Whitman beard and a terrible pair of glasses is unsettling while the same situation and ten years younger is, god, infinitely sexy. What is that about? I wonder if I'll always feel that way. When I'm fifty, will I still be drawn to the unshaven or is it only hot when you're thirty? I think, at this point, we're just milking the end of our adolescence. I'm happy to let it take as long as possible, though. I don't really want to move it along.

I think the thing of it is that the beard, the shoes with holes, the half-drunken charm tell me something that the clean-cut, polo-and-chinos gentleman does not. He says, “I'm your other. I feel things and I'm eager to explore exceptionally tactile sensations. I am 'one of the roughs, a kosmos, disorderly, fleshly, and sensual, no sentimentalist, no stander above men or women or apart from them, no more modest than immodest.' I may imagine a completely different version of you than what really exists—but I will never ask you to listen to David Crowder.” He is much more charming a few drinks in and it's hard to say no to that. I think at a certain point in your life, it's important to allow yourself to fall for charm as long as you know that's what you're doing. Unfortunately, that generally happens at particularly young points and those are the most dangerous times.

That other guy, now, he's unpredictable. He's scary. I don't know how to read someone who doesn't feel things in the same ways that I feel things or isn't afraid of marriage. I don't know how to talk to someone who hasn't at least been interested in reading Whitman even if he's not willing to don the follicle commitment (read the metaphor). That other guy is already married, anyway, and has been for years.

There are these two boys sitting a few tables away from me. They're having some sort of an accountability meeting/ bible study. I feel terrible for eavesdropping—I'm a bad person, but then I think maybe they shouldn't be having a fairly loud meeting in such a public place. I'm not wrong. When they first sat down, the talk mostly centered around girls, which is to be expected where two or more are gathered. How girls are temptresses and how it's not their fault that they're getting boners every time they brush up against one. Fair enough. I felt really sad for them, right then. The truth is that, nope, it's not their fault that they're experiencing inconvenient and embarrassing erections at the worst possible moments. It's simply a terribly horrific part of growing up with a penis. It sounds too simple, but I'm pretty sure that's what it is. I can't imagine being forced to wear your arousal on your sleeve, so to speak. But what's worse than the embarrassment is the shame and the hatred that has to come alongside of it in some circles. The poor boys. They're praying for the wrong things. They're hoping to never get an erection again but really all they want is to wake up in the morning and not hate themselves over something so elementally biological. Being a teenager is impossible but it gets better. Throwing adulthood on top of a mountain of childhood—who could blame you for being utterly speechless.

When we're seventeen we think that we should know better by now but really we have nearly two decades of being a kid lightly covered by a blanket of a brand new interest in understanding ourselves. In retrospect, being the adult overhearing these kids' conversation, it's half encouraging and half heartbreaking. I want to tell them that they will always be confused. There are no answers that will end the questions, so don't expect them to stop. Questions breed questions. But the last thing I would ever want is for them to stop. Continue to wonder. Continue to wander. Continue to be open to honesty, little brothers. Continue to look upon yourselves with as much grace as you would offer to your friend across the table.

Friday, September 17, 2010

September 17, 2010: About Alice

There's a spider who lives outside of my door. She's been there for about, I estimate, two weeks? Maybe more. Maybe less. I don't really know. One night I was walking up my steps and saw her for the first time. Instinctively, I cowered and snuck into my house as if she wouldn't be able to see me. Well, she did and she paused and stayed very still and I imagined her whispering to herself "Pleasedon'tkillmepleasedon'tkillmepleasedon'tkillme.” I stood behind the safety of the door and watched. It took her a while to wake from her paralysis but then she regained her composure and started some web building. It was very cool to watch. I could see the web glisten from the porch light and it was so shiny and she went about it so quickly. She's just a regular garden spider, an orbweaver to be quasi-specific. I named her Alice. She doesn't want to hurt anybody, she just wants to catch some bugs so that she can live another day. Alice and I are a lot alike, that way. I like to leave my porch light on so that the bugs come and land in her web and then she can have a snack. She doesn't bother me because she stays outside. Those bugs, on the other hand, they're itching to get in like I've got some impressive set up or something. Nope, bugs, nothing exciting up here. Just a couch, a lot of books and Facebook and you won't live long enough to build a social networking profile so I'll just leave you outside with Alice.

I noticed that every morning the web would be gone. I wondered if maybe I just couldn't see it or if it really had disappeared. After some research, I learned some things.

Alice builds a web because it's a fairly energy efficient means of prey-trapping. She can build a web and then bugs get caught and she eats them without having to hunt them down or chase them (I told you we're a lot alike—I don't really like to leave my house in search of sustenance either). It does use a lot of Alice's energy to build a web, but at least she doesn't have to chase anyone or stay on high alert. However, after an evening (and especially when the dew comes) the webs lose a lot of their sticky. That being the case, especially if the web hasn't caught anything, Alice will tear down her web and eat it and regain some of that lost energy. That's why her web was always gone when I'd go to work and she'd be building a new one when I came home. She lives in a spot that is behind my screen door when it's open so there's no chance of me accidentally running into it and I let her stay there. I kind of like her, even.

I don't like spiders in my house. It's not that I'm afraid they're going to kill me (though I do understand the likelihood is a little more probable), it's more that if they're in my house I know they're just trying to keep warm. And if they're trying to keep warm, then I know that they might have some little spider fetuses they're trying to take care of. Other spiders who will want to live in my house. That's not super great to me. Also, I'm paying rent in this joint and I get to say who stays and who goes. Little bitty black spiders that run super fast, wasps, mice, bees--unless and until you start coughing up $200 monthly, you're going to be savagely murdered. Sometimes poisoned, sometimes beaten but I will always win. Alice, you may stay. Outside.

I've never been the jump-on-a-table-screaming type of girl, regarding arachnids. Don't get me wrong, I've never liked them. When I see one across the room, I get a little annoyed that I have to get up and kill it (I'm not the type to usher them outside, I can't get that close) and then I get up and kill it. When there's one next to me on the sofa, I'll probably jump up and scream. It's the unpredictability, really. Seriously, if anything unexpectedly appeared I would more than likely jump. Don't get so close to me, unpredictable spider. That's why I like Alice. She's predictable. I know why she's here. I know what she's doing. We have an understanding. I've told her that if she gets into my house, I will have no qualms about squishing her. If she lays eggs in her web—I'll tear it down. It'll be a sad say and she can build a new one but laying new eggs might be more difficult.

I've started to get really excited about spider webs when I see them now. They're exciting. Did you know that pound for pound, a spiderweb is stronger than steel? Have you witnessed the horriffic storms we've had lately in these parts? The wind? The torrential downpours? And yet, Alice's web remains unscathed. She hasn't eaten it in a few days. They're completely useful—even beneficial to me as a human and yet they're one of the hallmarks of creep. Halloween wouldn't be Halloween without cobwebs. Why? They're not scary—are they? I understand that someone with arachnophobia would rightfully be scared of them because they are indicative of a spider's presence (according to Wikipedia, 50% of women suffer from arachnophobia and 10% of men do, too. Show of hands, who thinks that's an accurate estimate?) but they're not going to do anything. What makes them fearful? I wonder. It could be that when you think of spiderwebs, you think of an abandoned house or maybe a house filled with insane folks. It would have to be that way because what rational person would leave a spider web on their porch? That's craziness! It's not crazy. It looks just like Paris, and people love Paris. [Map of Paris brought to you in part by]

Monday, September 13, 2010

September 12, 2010

A lady came into my place of business, today. She said she wanted me to adjust her glasses—if they needed it. I looked at them on her face, they looked straight. I sat them on the table, they sat straight. I asked her if there were any spots where they seemed a little tight, maybe some inconvenient rubbing?

Nope. None of that.

“Just see what you can do, Sugar. Can you do that?”

“Sure,” I said, “I'll be right back.” She was so sweet but she didn't really need anything that I could offer her. I wasn't sure exactly what it was she was looking for from me. So I did what I usually do when customers can get a little imaginary. I took them into the back and I cleaned them as best I could and tightened every little screw that I could find. And the reaction was exactly as I had expected, “Oh, honey! You're a miracle worker—I knew you could fix it.”

She was very old. Very, very old. I imagine she's a widow and doesn't have a lot waiting for her at home. She didn't get up to leave. She sat there, patting my hand and asking me questions about myself.

“Are you from McPherson?”
“No. I moved here a little over a year ago.”
“Where did you move here from?”
“Kansas City.”
And it always goes like this, “Oh! Well, this must be quite a change of pace for you!”
And I always say, “Yes, it took some getting used to but I love it.”

She asked me about my husband and I told her that I didn't have one. She said something along the lines of, “a woman as talented as you must scare them off pretty easily.” It was easily the silliest excuse for singleness I've ever heard. As if there were a group of men outside, enraptured but intimidated by my ability to adjust the crap out of a pair of glasses. I laughed, probably too hard and she kept patting my hand.

She told me that she'd just bought a birthday card for her son. She got a kick out of the cards that play music. Personally, those cards just piss me right off but they brought this woman so much joy. She just went on and on about how she didn't know what kind of music her son—who, I imagine, is at least sixty years old—likes to listen to, so she bought him two. Initially, I was trying to hurry her along but once I realized how long she's been holding my hand, it occurred to me that neither of us really had anything going on. It's a Sunday. There are relatively few tasks that need to be completed and hardly any customers, so I just let her talk.

When I was at MidAmerica, Brady Braatz talked about how people need intentional touches every day. Many of them. Not just one. Like—at least seven. I think seven is pretty steep, though. It is for me, anyhow. Intentional Touches being, honestly, any purposeful, physical contact. I'll agree with that. I think it's necessary. Being a person who doesn't get a whole lot of touches—I do notice when it's been a while. A handshake can even catch me off guard sometimes. There are places that I go to when I need it. Though, I don't ever really notice that's what I'm looking for until after it happens. My nephew is my first go-to guy. One particularly bad day, I walked downstairs just to see him. He ran to the door yelling, “Beebeebeebee! Up.” So I picked him up. He scrutinized my face and then pet my cheeks, clucking like a Jewish mother. Then he laid his head into my neck and pat his hand on my back. I started to cry a little bit. He gives perfect love.

I have this other friend who gives, what I can only describe as the sexiest hugs imaginable. He doesn't waste a bit of contact. He slides his hands across my shoulders, grips tight with his hands like he wants to be there. He doesn't squeeze with his whole arm so that I'm out of breath. It's more like he just wants to hold on. He slides out of the embrace the same way that he got into it and to describe it, it sounds downright creepy. It's nice.

When the old lady left, I walked her out with my arm around her shoulders. She seemed grateful and I was really happy to have provided her with one of the many touches she would need, but may not get, to make it through the day.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

September 7, 2010

I realize that I'm not the person to talk about working out. In fact, it makes me really self-conscious to discuss it but since I've been intentionally doing things that, ordinarily, I would fear or, ordinarily, would make me uncomfortable—I'm going to talk about it.

But first, a note on doing what you're afraid of:

Fear is debilitating and stupid and no one thinks you're any cooler for being scared. Admittedly, that doesn't make it easy to be fearless or anything. I'm just wondering, have you ever gushed to your friend about this boy or girl who is attractive and funny and confident and intelligent and oh so scared of stuff? I submit that you have never done that and I can't imagine that you ever would. Because I know you, personally, and I know that you are much cooler than that. There's something to be said for people who wholly feel and acknowledge themselves, even their uncomfortable parts—even their fear. But then there's something else about a person who can see that fear (or awkwardness or anger or whatever it is that keeps us on the couch) and can walk past it like an acquaintance in the doctor's office, with a nod and very little conversation.

So. Working out. I like it. It's one of those things that I never remember that I like until I'm just starting it--I feel the same way about showering. Ordinarily, it goes like this: my sister-in-law says, “Hey, do you want to go to the Y tomorrow?” And, honestly, I can't say no to that. I want to—don't get me wrong. I always think, please already have other plans... of course I don't have other plans. “Sure! I'd love to do that!”

I would most certainly not love to do that and I'm fairly confident that neither would Arryn. But we also would not love to develop heart disease or diabetes—mostly because we can not afford it and also because in this life we are given bodies only one time and it's best if our ankles can be contained inside of our socks.

But as soon as I get my shoes tied up, I get really excited and happy and ready to move. I get into the cardio room and I have three choices. In order of appearance starting at the back of the room and moving forward: there's the elliptical, the treadmill and the stationary bike. I like to go for the bike because it's at the front of the room and it takes me back to when I was in school and always took the desk in the front row because looking at other people intimidates me. I don't like to see the guy running 23 miles an hour—I don't need that. It's bad for my psyche and I end up walking to the lobby and reading People Magazine. So I take the bike, plug in my ancient iPod, close my eyes and let Kanye West speak truth to me as I get my heart rate going for the next 30 minutes.

I need you to hurry up now, 'cuz I can't wait much longer
I'm going, Kanye, I'm going as fast as I can.
Haters give me them salty looks, Lawry's
Yeah, tell me about it. Haters... Lawry's. I hate haters.
What do you think I rap for, to push a fuckin' Rav 4?
No you do not, Kanye West. You most certainly. Do. Not.
Go, heart rate, go!!

Getting your heart rate up is not about health—it's about a video game. When you ride these fancy computery bikes in the gym, they have these handlebars that you hold onto. The fancy handlebars tell you whether or not what you're doing is actually beneficial. I am into it for the most part. I get really into it. The little blinking light says, “You're warming up,” and I say, I'll show you 'warming up'. And then it says, "You've now entered into a cardio zone.” And I say,Yeah, I have! And then it says, “You're almost at your 'peak performance',” And I say, I have three minutes to get into 'Peak Performance' and I'm going to stay there. And I do and I reward myself by calming down. I spray my machine and then wipe off anything that I may have left behind and walk to the back of the class.

Then I change it over to a gentle crooning and go swimming on the elliptical. If you're not trying too hard, this machine can be the most delightful piece of equipment in your life. It's like frolicking through a meadow in a sun dress towards my lover as a douche advertisement plays in the background and the low morning sun beams between the tree leaves. Everyone else looks at me like I'm an idiot—wasting my time and really not aware of how to work out properly. They're probably not thinking that at all. I so rarely consider the other people in the gym that it makes sense that they're likely not considering me, either. So, I do that until the Zumba class is over and then Arryn and I go home talking about how good we feel—and we do.