Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Math Trauma: This post is shockingly void of hyperbole but you'd never believe it

To say that I am bad at math is one of the most severe understatements of modern times. The statement, "Libby is bad at math" is less true than if one were to say, "Biff is indifferent towards manure."

Are you following me? I'm not good at it and I don't like that. Even on my very best days I am hypersensitive to the failure. My brains completely reject any math that is more complicated than what it takes to keep a running tally of the price of things in my grocery cart (and even though I'm rounding up to the nearest dollar, I'm still a little surprised every time I hear my total so obvi I'm no genius even in that department). For some perspective aside from my own opinion, I will tell you that I took Algebra I three times in my college career. I failed it twice (the second and third times, I had a tutor) and the third time, my professor passed me (just barely) because he could see how hard I was trying and he knew that I needed to graduate and couldn't really afford to take this class another time. I did all of my homework. I participated in class as much as humanly possible and I bombed every friggin exam without fail. Well, that's not entirely true. Once I got a C on a test and I had a celebratory cinnamon ice cream waffle at lunch time. Brandon, my tutor/ friend, was clearly not terribly impressed but he also knew how hard I had to work for that grade so while it was probably sort of a personal fail for him, he hugged me and said "that is so great!"
Side note about people who are really good at math: People who are good at math have a pretty bearable tolerance for other people who are okay or alright at math. But, then, when it comes time for a mathy person to talk to me about this subject, I do a lot of blank staring because my brain is entering into a land littered with years of shame and embarrassment while everyone else seems to navigate freely as if on a unicycle through fields of poppies and rainbows. Math Friendly person gets really frustrated really quickly. They feel like they're feeding me super obvious answers but I'm still staring blankly trying to figure out the question--I haven't even moved on to the answer, yet. I can cry much too easily when I'm in the thick of a problem. It's uncontrollable and it's incredibly childish. This does not help the shame and embarrassment. This is why Brandon was a good tutor--his patience was infinite and his hair was curly and he was my friend. Brandon is not reading this--but if he happened to, I'd like to say thanks for not shaming me further. A rose among thorns, sir, a rose among thorns.
Sometimes at my job I have to do math. It's not terribly complex math but for a girl like me--it is a sort of kryptonite. Just knowing that I have to do it gets my mind all frustrated and panicky (you'll be happy to know that according to auto-spell check, "panicky" is totally a word) and I have to actively push it aside to make room to actually do what I need to do. It's a constant struggle. There are so many things to remember and other things to take into consideration and don't forget about the extra stuff and if you don't subtract the whatsit then it will all be ruined and you'll be fired. No pressure! (Okay, I won't be fired--probably--but there could potentially be repercussions that make everyone's life seriously inconvenient and I don't want to be the cause of that for anyone.)

After a particularly frustrating time at work, sincerely pouring myself into figuring out a problem (after all this is my job, it's not some prerequisite for graduation), I was on the brink of tears and I had to take a break. I needed to get out of there. It should be noted that the frustration lasted the duration of my shift and I did unexpectedly break into tears more than a few times. I went to the break room and I had a cup of coffee and peeled more oranges than I had intended to eat and I was thinking about the fourth grade.

In the fourth grade I had a sweet teacher. She was the kind of person that was so happy that it made you nervous. You know exactly what I'm talking about. One day, she didn't speak a word to us and we weren't allowed to speak to one another, either... (you have no idea where I'm going with this) singing was the only form of communication that was allowed for an entire day. Even as a child, I knew that her heavy make up and ultra cheery voice masked something sinister.

Math was her most favorite subject. English was fine. History was okay. But math was her forte and she let everyone know it. She wrote songs and raps (90's kid) to help us remember our times tables. I worked so hard, even at home. I would quiz myself with flashcards all night long. Ones were easy, 2's were pud, 3's were a little more difficult but not impossible, fours weren't that difficult but I used my fingers a lot, anyone's puppy can count by 5's. And then there were the dreaded 6's. (Honestly, as an adult, do you know anyone who can instinctively count by sixes?) By this point I had already been moved into the section of the class with the other kids who were not terribly bright in this department. Many of those children were oral retentive. But, regardless, we all had to learn it. Our teacher was going around the room and we were counting by 6's. The first kid said "6", the next kid said "12", the next kid said "18". It all went in a lovely rhythm. I threw off that rhythm. When it came to me, I just stared. I didn't know. I couldn't count by 6's and I couldn't add it in my head fast enough to keep up. I'm going to borrow a drawing from Allie Brosh's Drunk Post back in October to give you a visual that closely resembles what I probably looked like. It was like this:
My teacher was fine. She knows we all struggle. But she was a little bit irked that the groove had been interrupted. So they went around the room again and other kids had some troubles. Sixes are hard. My turn was coming up, the kid in front of me didn't know the answer right away and neither did the girl that came before him. Then it was my turn again and the anxiety was in full force (I've told you, before, about what a delicate child I was, right?). I didn't know. I was confused. There was too much pressure for me to think clearly. I said, "...I don't know." And my sweet, darling teacher lost her mind. Quite. Literally. Her hands were resting on an empty desk which she grasped tightly and swung against the cinderblock wall. I distinctly remember her yelling, "You guys should know this by now!!"

I don't have any idea what my face might have done at that point but I do remember that my teacher smoothed her denim skirt, delegated that Nicholas King was going to be in charge for a little bit, and excused herself. The principle took over for the rest of the day, I was excused to the library to sit in the beanbag chairs and read picture books and our teacher didn't come back for at least three weeks.

So... I wonder where all that math anxiety stems from?

Love, Libby

Mildly Unrelated Post Script, the following is a text conversation between my friend Katie and myself:
Libby: I cried pretty much all day. ABOUT MATH. If you think that wasn't PMS induced, you're delusional. Now I'm blogging about it. ... That crap. It's so sneaky. It slithers in under the cover of legitimate stress and then KABLOWIE!! Unreasonable shrapnel everywhere. Few survivors.
Katie: It's a war zone. In my pants.
Libby: I'm going to post that on the internet.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

After I posted this, all the ads on my side bar are for things like the Oral B tongue cleaner. What Google must think of me...

Dear Libby, In a previous blog, you wrote about kissing with tongues. Do people really do that? How do they do that? Signed, Seriously

Well, Seriously, I'm going to go ahead and address your question as though it was a legitimate one even though I'm fairly confident that, despite your name, you are travestying. Why? Because there are people in the world who really do wonder about that part. Some people don't really give it much thought--but they should. And with that, I'll just provide you with the words of the delightfully precise and inarguable advice of one John Green in a short excerpt from his award-winning novel, Paper Towns*.
" 'As far as I can tell, there are two basic rules: 1. Don't bite anything without permission, and 2. The human tongue is like wasabi: it's very powerful, and should be used sparingly.' "
So, there. That's about it. I hope that helps.
That's the only question that anyone asked me, but this is a very short post and so I'll leave you with some unsolicited advice in the form of a footnote.

Have a similar, sticky social situation? Comment, email, Facebook, whathave you. I'll get to it. It would be helpful if you would clarify how many times you'd like me to incorporate the F word into my answer. Just so I know what I'm working with, here.

*If you're ever thinking, "I wish I had something to read. But I'm not, like, in a Crime and Punishment sort of mood because who has the time and brain capacity for sorting out all of those names, let alone following kind of a convoluted plot line." I'm going to tell you that you should read Paper Towns. The first time that I read it, it took about two days. Mind you, it was a weekend in which I had absolutely zero commitments and after the prologue I was hooked. "Margo always loved mysteries. And in everything that came afterward, I could never stop thinking that maybe she loved mysteries so much that she became one." I mean, is there a better way to end a prologue? Basically, what he did here was say, "The story to follow is going to be really great and I know I've already got you under my thumb so just keep reading, you bastard." Only John Green is a pretty nice guy, as far as I can tell, and he probably wasn't thinking that at all.
More than just being a fun story to read, I loved Paper Towns because it (along with most of his other books) echos the deepest cry of my very soul. I know that sounded really dramatic but if there's a more reasonable metaphor, I haven't thought of it yet. The point being that people are people. Complex creatures. Everyone is. Pretty, young, rich, suburban girls are complex beings. Meth-addicted bedraggled old men in rural Montana are complex beings. Everyone has a story. Everyone wants something. Everyone loves something.
The second time that I read it, it took me about three months because I ate it in very short, acute spurts and took notes throughout on his writing style because, man, if that guy doesn't know how to push along a story with intention and fury and flair, then I don't know what he can do. If I could do that even a little bit, even to a fraction of the degree that he can, even if it's all complete mimicry, then I'll have written one great story. One that I'll equally hope to God that he never read but will also totally read so that we can be friends.

PS I got that photo from here, it's cool. There are lots of creepy/ awesome pics used to advertise Wasabi Chips.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Confused in Cleveland (but not really in Cleveland)

Oh Wise One,
How do you give a close friend frank advice, but keep it kind at the same time? I.e. "You're smothering everybody. If I hear your voice say one more syllable, my ears will spontaneously combust. Also, stop crying." but I want to say it in a KIND way.

Sincerely, Confused in Cleveland (but not really in Cleveland)

I'm going to put aside all of the insecurities and ideas that tell me that you're doing a terribly humiliating thing to me by choosing my own blog as means to tell me that I'm annoying and cry too much and that's why you've been so distant lately. Because, I mean everyone's got a little passive-aggressive in them but you're a nice girl. That's why you're asking this question--about someone that's not me. I continue.

The answer to your question is threefold. Actually, it's not, but it will come to you in three different parts, I just really wanted to use the word "threefold". The three parts are these:
A. Advice that will make you a better person and give you all sorts of things to pat yourself on the back about.
B. What I would, realistically, probably do.
C. Real talk.
Let's get to it!

A. Now, firstly, Dear Reader, (so many commas) I would encourage you to invest in some reflection time. Try to view your friend as a beautiful, complex, insecure creation just like yourself. This person is not trying to come across as needy or disgustingly annoying, she's clearly going through some stuff right now and could use a little extra room in which to heal. On the other side of the coin, this could just be her personality and as her friend, you have taken an unwritten oath to be a place for freedom of expression without judgment. Work on that and feel good about yourself.
You like that? Complete bull.

B. Here's how I would realistically handle this situation (not ideal advice). I'd get super irritated with my friend and then pretend to fall asleep while she's at my house (I'm just guessing that Friend is a lady because... just because) regardless of the time. That's how I get people to leave, I just fake the narcolepsy. Later, I'll probably text all of our mutual friends and be like, "Oh mah gaw! Soandso is so friggin' annoyz-uh!" And they'd be like, "I know, right?!" And we'll completely tear her to shreds for a while until one of two things happen. She'll realize that we're all bitches and then she'll leave, which would be smart of her. OR I'll start to feel really guilty and then start talking about all of her admirable qualities and then realize how much I really do like her and we'll be friends again until someone has a period and the cycle starts again. Cycles and cycles are absolutely not unrelated and this should always be taken into consideration when you're going through a particularly bad "I friggin can't stand you" time.

C. Real talk. Truthfully, your role in this is relative to your relationship to the other person. If this is someone that you don't know all that well and rarely spend time with (or if this person is your co-worker), all you can really do is chock it up to personality clashes and grin and bear it as much as humanly possible. Sometimes that might mean coming up with work to do in another area or faking an asthma attack in a bowling alley but you gotsta do what you gotsta do, you know?
But if this person is a for-real friend to whom you really have taken kind of an unspoken for-better-or-worse-unless-it's-like-real-bad-and-in-that-case-thank-God-this-was-all-unspoken commitment, then you probably do have to say something. Try to say it in a way that says, "Hey you have super cool qualities and now you're being a little psycho and everyone is scared." Tone it down. Next time that your friend starts shamelessly stealing attention/ correcting everyone's pronunciation of Italian foods/ crying in a big, girl heap try taking her aside and saying, "Hey, you're usually super cool but tonight you're coming on a little strong. That's a little out of character, is everything alright?" And if everything's alright, then hopefully she'll take the hint and dial it back. But if everything's not right, you'll have to actually listen to what's not alright. At another time. When you can give her your full attention because what she's really looking for, when you get down to it, is some genuine attention.

Maybe. Who knows?

Signed, Oh Wise One

Have a similar, sticky social situation? Comment, email, facebook, whathave you. I'll get to it.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

I Need a Sexy Advice Columnist Name

These things are all very unrelated, but they couldn't go unsaid another day:

1. Yesterday while I was at work, I was browsing some stuff and came across a 110 page document about how to be a better writer. Granted, it was about business writing--which I am only about 8% interested in but sometimes on those rare days when there is absolutely nothing else to do except for that one thing that everyone hates, hates, hates to do (and so no one ever does it and so, in all actuality it probably really needs to be done), then you settle for 8% interest.
I'm always really self-consious about the emails that I send at work. They're, if you ask me, just not super professional. I don't know how to speak in a businessy way. Here's an example of how an ordinary work email would read:
To: Co-worker
Cc: Everyone else
Subject: Paper
Time: 12:04:45
Hey everyone! So, I was like printing some stuff, you know? And then the printer was all "oh man, I'm so out of paper--feed me!" and then it just occured to me that I don't know where the paper is at! LOLZ I looked EVERYWHERE and I can't find it and I'm all Street Car Named Desire up in here like, "Hey, PAPER!" And I don't know where it's at. So that's why the printer's out of paper.

To: Everyone
Subject: Re: Paper
Time: 12:10:23
Found it.
Naturally, you can see how I'd like to remedy that. I want people to think I'm smart and capable and not, you know, a raving lunatic. So I'm reading this document but it ticked me off after a few pages so I stopped reading. It's like, "don't use big words because there are always little words that will work instead and everyone understands the little words." And they gave you this little dinglewhatsie to remember to dumb down your speech: Don't utilize "utilize" when you can use "use". And... frankly, I'd rather ramble on about Stanley and Stella and make myself look like a moron than talk to any of my co-workers like they are one.
When I worked at South Dakota State University, I was always talking to them about how they used jargon that other people can't relate to at all. You know how your office has a bunch of stuff that only you and your coworkers understand but if you took that kind of talk outside of your place of business, you'd kind of have to change the way you said stuff so that any layman could understand it? Yeah, well, they did that a lot. And I was in charge of the writing part of the department and at meetings I'd say, "We really need to work on using a more approachable vernacular if we're going to get anyone excited about what's going on here in our department." And finally one day, in front of all of my co-workers, my boss (who had a freakin' doctorate) said, "I know you're just out of college but you don't have to use such fancy words just to impress us. No one knows what that means." Aside from being totally ironic--that was mean and she made me feel very, very small just because she had to look up the word "vernacular". But, seriously, I guess there are other ways to say what I meant to say but those are the words that just popped out of my mouth. I guess I'm just a natural genius (relatively speaking).
That didn't really flow together very nicely but I'm done talking about workplace language.

2. It is freezing in my apartment. It's 59 degrees. Sure, all of the windows are open and I could close them. But I'd rather freeze and be happy with the pure, unadulterated spring time than go back to my stuffed up existence that I've been living in since, oh, October.

3. One day, when I was too young to be reading Seventeen Magazine, I was found that very publication in the Stafford Public Library and that was the day that I got a taste for advice columns. And in Seventeen Magazine there are a'plenty. At least there were, I haven't exactly picked up that publication in a while. Everyone's writing in saying stuff like, "My mom doesn't like my boyfriend and he wants us to run away as soon as I turn 18 but I think that maybe I want to go to college and become a marine biologist but he's so cute. Help!" or, "I'm 15 and I'm a virgin. Is that weird?!" or, "I'm confused, how to you kiss with a tongue?" (Some variation of that last question is an actual question that I remember reading. I. Was. Intrigued.)
From then on, I was hooked. I would find advice columns anywhere I could, this was back in the 90's when the interwebz wasn't so readily available. I started reading the paper. I loved Dear Abby and Miss Manners and I'd even read Heloise give hints to people who are asking questions like, "How do I get candle wax out of my great-great-great grandmother's lace table runner?" Mostly I would wonder how long those people were sitting there with waxy table runners, searching the paper every day looking for the answer to their question. And what if it never came? What if they chose someone else's question to answer? And everyone used a fake, not-even-a-name-name. It was the best.
Anyway, I wanted to be an advice columnist. I want a nice, tiny headshot of myself and three columns in which to answer the burning questions that people have. Questions that I'm absolutely not qualified to answer--but I'll give it a shot.

Seriously, leave advicey questions in the comments (they don't even have to be for reals) or if they are for reals and you're all like, super embarrassed to come out to the whole world, you can just come out to me. libbymparker (at) gmail (dot) com Dou like how I just got excited about the possibility of getting something really juicy even though we all know that's not really going to happen? That's so Libby.

I promise to take some head shots and we'll put those all together and put Dear Abby to shame. If I get enough, maybe I'll make a regular thing of it. We love regular things!!

Signed, Dreams Really Do Come True

Monday, March 21, 2011

Most of This Story Follows the Fate of a Stew

Good Monday.

Last week was completely bizarre. Due to weird sickness, I barely worked at all. When I was healthy and ready to party, the rest of the world was taking it pretty low key. You know, that's really the only time that I feel alone. It isn't when I'm all by myself but more like when I'm not vibing on the same energy as everyone else around me. Yes. Yes I did just reference "vibes" and "energy" and I did pretty much mean it considering I couldn't think of another way to say it. By Saturday I just said "forget it, I'm going to hole up in my apartment and not leave again until Monday when I have to go to work." That proved to be beneficial.

I did leave, once or twice. On Saturday it was such a gorgeous, rainy, wet day. All day long. I was up for twenty minutes before the rain started applauding on the roof. I opened all of the windows and let the smell in and started thinking of reasons to go outside. I'm not the romantic type who goes for walks in the rain but I don't mind being out in it. I don't run through the parking lots to get to the door.
Side note: My theory is this, there's a certain amount of rain that you simply will receive just by being a person in the elements. Everyone gets the same amount. People who run into the store will get the same amount of dampness, they just happen to get it faster than the girl who walks briskly with her head down.

So, I left my house. Saturday was the kind of day where you put something in the oven and leave it in there to become as delicious as possible and then when you just can't take it anymore, then you eat it. I went to the store and got the ingredients for beef stew.
Side note: as a rule, I freakin' hate beef stew. As a kid, anytime that my mom made it, I couldn't look at it without thinking "dogfoodogfoodogfood". Admittedly, as an adult, it still looks like dog food but maybe dog food is just delicious. Who knows, even? I guess dogs know. But the heart wants what it wants and who am I to question it? I just obey the whims.
While I was at the store, I rented a bunch of (read: way too many) movies (I'll probably write a post about scary movies at some point--we haven't the side note space for it here) and came home, put on my pajamas even though it was only 2:00 pm and settled in.

Then my little sister said, "Want to go to Salina and eat tacos with me and my kids?" And I looked at my pajamas and the remote in my hand and my cup of coffee and I said, "Ohhhh why not?" So I did what I said I wouldn't do. I took a shower and then I did my hair and then I mastered "Rolling In The Deep" so well on my trip there and back that I wouldn't be too afraid to attempt it at karaoke (I still talk about karaoke like I'll ever do it--nope). I did get to hang out with all those kids and it is a little overwhelming and we probably completely obliterated everyone's date-nights but we certainly reminded them about the importance of contraceptives. You know, four kids in a sit-down-restaurant is pretty much a walking, talking PSA for safe sex.

So that's how I didn't make stew for dinner on the most (and potentially only) stew-type-day of my adult life, so far. But even though Sunday was gorgeous and warm and I should have been outside, enjoying it, I watched movies instead. I watched Winter's Bone (totally ideal for the previous day's conditions and I could write a very long essay on this film from a feminist perspective but I won't because that will bore the hell out of you) and Case 39 (this time I watched the scary movie in the daytime and not alone) and the first ten minutes of Eclipse before I was sick. and. tired. of Edward Cullen's completely possessive/ obsessive nature. UGH! Teenagers and their obsessive love lives. I want to line everyone up and punch them in the throat. From Kristen Stewart all the way down to whoever provided craft services. And they will all choke out, "Why?!" And I'll say, "You know why!!"

I made stew for dinner on Sunday even though it was 82 degrees in my apartment. It was weird but it was delicious.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

I'm Irish, Let's Make Out

It's sad, really, when you think about how St. Patrick's day has become so commercialized. I mean, you can get all wrapped up in the running around, buying cases and cases of Guinness, decorating your home, baking shamrock treats, consuming salted meats and Irish coffees for every meal but at the end of the day--it's just a day and you're surprisingly already hungover.

For the sad few who don't know the real reason for the season, let me enlighten you. Two thousand years ago, in a tiny town in Ireland, a leprechaun named Doug was born. He was born with orange hair, wearing a green three-piece suit. He was the world's first leprechaun. His parents were ashamed of him and blamed their premarital canoodling for this birth defect. They sent him away so that the other village people wouldn't be aware of their ghastly deeds (even though they'd all done the math anyway). But it wasn't a birth defect and it wasn't a punishment. Doug was actually a perfectly formed baby. He just happened to be a leprechaun baby.

Doug mostly wandered around Ireland, living off of shamrock shaped sugar cookies and corned beef that he found in the forest. Eventually he discovered that there exists in the world, an economy and that economy required that he have money. Being a ginger kid, there was absolutely no work for him so Doug took to pick pocketing and set up camp at the end of the rainbow. Every night Doug would drop the gold coins that he had amassed into this great big cauldron that was apparently operating as a paperweight for the rainbow. At first he was appalled at the shoddy workmanship of the planet's props department but eventually he just accepted it and embroidered a "Home Sweet Home" wall hanging.
Doug collected the coins and collected the coins but couldn't see that all of the money was making him happy. So he went into the cereal making business. He used all of the stolen money to set up a factory and pay wages for a few employees. Who knew that this small operation would one day be bought out by General Mills and be worth millions? Doug did. Because he was a stern businessman.

After forty years in the business, Doug retired and bought a mail order bride. Together Doug and Patty had no children and so that's why there aren't more leprechauns in the world. Secretly, Patty was fearful of her husband because she was raised by wolves and didn't really know about things like dinner conversation and long walks on the beach. One night she pickled his cabbage and killed him. That was how everyone learned that leprechauns are allergic to sauerkraut and besides, sauerkraut is so obviously German.

Using the money that Doug left behind, Patty paid back everyone that he'd stolen from to start his business and that's how Ireland's economy got out of the red and into the black.

And that is why we shotgun beers and make out at midnight on March 17th.

You're welcome.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Things on Which I'd Rather Spend My Money, Than a Subscription to That Will, Let's Face it, Garner the Exact Same Results; a list

Regrettable shoes: Sometimes what was intended to be sexy, self-deprecating whimsy on the internet translates into defensive, raving lunatic when it arrives at your door. What makes these shoes better than I'm taller. And I no longer have to invest in a meat tenderizer. Two birds. One stone.

Three-pack of Fireside Reds courtesy of X Winery: Sure, it says "gift pack"--no one needs to know. This way, you can get sloppy drunk in the comfort of your own home and not have to worry about if you totally blew it. Because, the only one there to judge you is your cat. Your cat who has been judging you for the past six months, now.

The Coz-E Electric Blanket
: I don't really think that this one needs too much explanation. Because, I mean, who wouldn't buy that instead of most things? Like a perfect internet boyfriend, this item is clingy in all the right ways and will turn off and on at your very command. Unlike an internet boyfriend, regret is a non-option.

A haircut at Integrity Salon: because if I'm going to pay actual money to feel good about myself, it's going to involve a mandatory hair washing and scalp massage and people saying "did you do something new?" all night.

I'm actually going to get one of these things, today. I know--you want it to be the shoes.

Monday, March 14, 2011

The One Where a Vintage Wonder Woman Toy Operates as a Metaphor for My Modern Life

I left work early, today. My throat was hating me for forcing it's employment and so I decided to reward it with a Shamrock Shake. Food coloring, ice cream and the constant question, "is this minty or something else?" My gastrointestinal regions seem to be completely unaffected by the sickness, so Shamrock Shakes are go for launch.
I ordered and pulled ahead in line and I sat there and watched all the kids in the back of a late 90's minivan in front of me throw their hands up in excitement at the thought of getting chicken nuggets and toys in the same bag and it made me feel happy for them. And then it was 1988 in my brain.

When I was little, I was not a demanding child. I took what was given to me and I was usually very grateful. I was a sensitive soul and undemanding. Destined to major in literature. It's important to remember that little kids, like this, are not just happy and content children. Their sensitivity to other's feelings ahead of their own is based largely on guilt. Admirable qualities, to an extent, but also at little bit on the sad side. I remember one evening on the tail end of some family road trip, our parents took us to a Burger King drive-through. There were four kids in our family and so usually when we'd go to fast food places (which was once in never considering it costs a small fortune to feed that many people), my mom just ordered a lot of hamburgers and passed them around to the group. She called this "bag-o-burgers" and that's what we grew to expect. We were not used to getting plastic playthings with our meals but for some reason this time was different. My older brother knew that they were giving away these cool action-figure cup-holders. You could snap them on to the cup that they give to you and, voila! Instant handle. They had Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman. Somehow, my brother used his negotiation skills to convince my parents to buy kids meals for each one of us. They totally caved. I don't know how they did it. Once it was determined that we were getting these once-in-a-lifetime treats, I silently prayed that I'd pleaseohpleaseohplease get the Wonder Woman cup holder. I told myself that if Sarah or Adam got it and I got something else, then I would offer to trade but that I would be happy if I didn't get one. This is no exaggeration. I pep-talked myself in 1988. But I wanted it. I wanted it deep in my tiny, five-year-old soul.

Mom handed us our bags and my brother shouted in excitement when he pulled the toy from his box, "BATMAN!!" My little sister (who was only two but thought that Adam hung the moon) did the same. I pulled mine out and saw that it was... Batman. My mom said, "What did you get, Libby?"
And I didn't even answer her. I just held back and held up my Batman figurine to show her but I couldn't help it and I got all quivery in my disappointment and I cried a little and finally said, "I'm a girl." I was truly crushed. I thought I would be prepared for this. I thought that I could be thankful, even if I didn't get Wonder Woman. I mean, I still got a tiny Dr. Pepper AND my own little bag of French fries. What was there to be disappointed about? Some times even now, over two decades later, I still feel this way.

Despite the fact that it was grossly out of his character, my dad actually turned the minivan around and drove back through. I saw the display in the window. One of each. Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman. I wanted her. There were only two panes of glass between she and I. We were so close. I was ashamed that the family had re-routed just because of my tears and I was embarrassed for my dad that he was negotiating for a toy. But it did make me feel special, at the same time. He was negotiating on my behalf. I knew that she was just a hunk of plastic and I didn't even know why I needed her. I just did. The kid at the window explained that last week they gave away all of the Wonder Woman cup holders and they were out. This week was Batman week. My dad said, "How about that one in the window?"

I don't remember the rest, I just know that I gave up my Batman and took my Wonder Woman and sipped my Dr. Pepper from her chalice and rearranged the guilt and shame and made room for an equal measure of love and gratitude.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Here's to Group Participation

I took to Facebook to come up with questions for Friday. Yeah, I know it's not Friday anymore but I can't just stop time so that I can write a blog when I said I would, can I? Wait, can I? I didn't even explore that option, honestly. So I'm answering all of the questions that do not have scientific or mathmatical or otherwise googleable answers. Although I do just love the way it sounds to say, "What is the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow? " Thank you for that, Katie.

From Jamie: If you had $1000.00 to spend, but you could only purchase 1 thing with that money (and you can't pay bills with it), what would you buy? I would buy a new couch. Something bold. Something that you can't lose stuff underneath. Something... oh, yes. Something like this. Yes, that color.

Also from Jamie:
If you were to live in any other country, what would it be? Iceland. And yes, that choice was made as a direct result of seeing the Sigur Ros DVD, Heima.

From Katie:
What's your favorite candy that's ONLY available around certain holidays? Do You stock up on it? Do you even care? This one is easy. When I was little, at Valentines Day they used to have suckers called Luv Pops. And I could swear that they used to have Mickie and Minnie on them but after the advent of the internet, I think I've determined that it's just some generic woodland creatures. I think that my mind, when I was little I so badly wanted the name-brand stuff that maybe I just made it up. These are not your cheap, heart-shaped lollipops with white, chalk drawings that make your tongue look nasty. I remember that they didn't have any sharp edges at all and they have a completely smooth texture and I loved them so much. I don't stock up because they've vanished from everywhere except the internet. But I don't want to buy them on the internet--it's not totally the suckers themselves, it's the nostalgia.

From Nickie: If you had to describe yourself as an animal, which animal would you choose and why? I'm not really an animal lover (I know, gasp and horror, right) so it's hard for me to identify with one. But I will try--for you. I want to say "peacock" because it's the most beautiful creature this side of Eden but I can't think of anything we've got in common except that we both want to go back in time to live on Flannery O'Connor's farm.

From Gina:
Making any more trips to Bolivar? Bolivar, MO is the only place, outside of a zoo, that I have seen peacocks. They just hang out in the freakin' park, you guys! They're so pretty. Anyway, to answer the question, sadly, not in the forseeable future. But I may be trucking it up to Kansas City this summer. Meet me half-way, my dear. Meet me half-way.

Also from Gina:
How was your day at work today? It was great. We were super busy which meant the day went by very quickly. Also I got to flirt with couple of old men and, I think we all know how much I love to do that.

Also from Gina:
What do you do when someone has really bad breath? Ugh. You mean at work or in real life? At work, I angle myself away but sometimes there's just no getting around it and you have to turn your focus to not making a face. That is hard for me. In real life, I don't think that I deal with people who have bad breath. I think that all of my friends are delightfully fresh. That's the thing about being a modern-day, single late-20-something. Everyone's got gum. Be prepared.

Ope! Here's Nickie again:
If you had no social sensor, what would be some things that you would just LOVE to say to some people at work? I really was going to ignore this question as it could get me into trouble but today I just can't hold back. I would say, "Are you serious?! There was a freakin tsunami and, like, the biggest friggin earthquake in a bazillion years and hundreds and hundreds of people are dead. Our friend, here, is freaking out because her son is stationed in Japan and you're pissed off because they interrupted The Young and the Restless to tell you about it?! Gaaaaahhhhhh!!!!!" And then I would make a lot of noises that are just hard to spell.

Nickie is on a roll:
What are a few of your favorite(est) words? "Damnit." It's my favorite word. It always has been and I don't know why. However, if we're talking about words that you can actually use in front of a crowd of people, well, here's a list: "arbitrary", "strange", "liaison", "impose", "brother".

What's with today, today? Emily just gets me.

If you could have any super power, what would it be? I don't want no superpowers except for the power to never use a double-negative.

Jen, again: Pen or pencil? I've talked about this before, I think, somewhere. Blue, bic, ball-point, click-top pen. Preferably with a rejected logo.

Jen, one more time: What is your favorite coin and why? Quarters--they're the only things that feel like money.

Sarah: What are some of your favorite baby names? I like old-lady names for girls. I like little girls that are named things like Eva and Violet and Mae. I like it when little boys have names from books. I met a little guy named "Scout" recently and I thought that was awesome (Yes, I know that Scout was a girl but are we really going to argue that it's a girl name? I doubt it). I also love the name Oliver. I like to imagine that 25 years from now someone will say, "I had this friend in college named Oliver." I mean--that guy seems cool, right?

From Jivan: How did Oprah become the bane of existence? Well, Jivan, the answer is that she's everywhere. She's everywhere and she has... you know, dogs and a Stedman. And that's annoying, I guess. I don't know. I think it's because all life is a big High School and everyone hates the happy, popular girl who's always taking people on vacations to Australia. Everyone, except, you know, the people who get to go to Australia.

Also from Jivan: How did mustache become all-powerful? I'm... not going to comment on that. But it does have to do with why Stedman and Oprah have been together for a million years.

Again from Jivan: Why am I hungover? Because you did terrible things to your body last night and your liver has been poisoned and is trying to run away from you. That's why. Drink three glasses of water and watch an Intervention marathon. You'll be fine just in time for St. Patrick's day.

Ryan: Why do you need three questions? I don't. Thanks for your help, though.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

If It Weren't For Shame, I Wouldn't Get Anything Accomplished

This morning, I shoved everything down into my garbage can, pulled up on the bag and winced at the smell and the stuff that spilled out of the top. I'd just been piling garbage on top of garbage for days. This particular situation needed to be remedied on Tuesday. To be fair, my motivation to take it out this morning had very little to do with the fact that I wanted to actually contain the mess. I walked into the kitchen and my cat was staring at the garbage can and then back at me as if to say, "You're kidding me, right?" My friends, not so much my cat, are kind and polite and say things like, "Oh, stop apologizing! Everyone's kitchens are gross. Not that your kitchen is that gross." And then they start talking about Hoarders--which is an alright topic of conversation except when it directly follows "your house isn't that bad." So I took out my garbage. For the cat.

And while I was washing my hands and getting the coffee grounds and other mysterious slozy gelaz (my dad always used to use this word to indicate mysterious goop. I always correlated this word with a substance similar to dried mayonnaise. I have never seen it spelled but I will write it as close to phonetically as I possibly can: "sl-ah-zee juh-lahz), I noticed how I'd written "Email: [list of people that I need to email this morning]" on my wrist last night. I went to bed with people waiting to hear from me--ugh. So I sat down at my computer and checked Facebook and got drawn in like I always do. Facebook--the bastard.

Interlude For an Interior Monologue of a Girl Browsing Facebook
"You've only got a few minutes, so just real quick. ... That baby is not very cute. ... Obama still isn't an American citizen? ... Ooh, music video. I wonder if he'll think I'm cute if I casually mention these lyrics in my status in a few days. ... He's so hot. ... Let's just browse pictures of his face one more time. Stupid girlfriend. ... I wonder if anything new has happened on the main wall. ... Oh, so-and-so is at 36 weeks during her pregnancy and her fetus is continuing to develop. Gross. ... That cute thing your kid did is not cute. ... GAH! Email these people!! ... I am emailing and being productive. I forgot to close the Facebook tab and a little (1) popped up. Ignore it--it can wait. No big deal. Someone probably just 'liked' something you said a few days ago or invited you to a wrestling match or something."
"Oh my God! People like me!!" Resistance is futile.

And then I remember that I was supposed to make brownies for TV night. If I don't--everyone will be sad that they don't get any sugar to much on while watching 30 Rock. I immediately stop what I'm doing and run into the kitchen and make brownies--intentionally checking the time and noting when I should check them. I have a very productive 30 minutes and I go check the brownies. Nope, not done. Put them back in the oven.

Research. Facebook. Check Etsy to see if there's anything that I absolutely can't live without. Nothing, today. Decide to write a blog post about how I can never get anything accomplished without guilt. Consider giving it a religious undertone but decide against it because you're just starting to make friends and you want them to like you and not think that you're a cynical snob--even though you totally are. Start chatting with sister about things that are exciting. Sing. Dance. Shake hiney to Pomplamoose's version of Single Ladies. Consider putting a line in there as your Facebook status. Decide against it because you don't want anyone to think that you're begging for marriage--you just like the song.

Start wondering if you should just reformat the inconsistent-tense of this whole blog post but then you just forget it and hit "publish post" because wouldn't you know it--you just burned the hell out of the brownies.

I'm sorry, friends. I. Have. Failed.

*Mental note to pick up donuts after work.* Yeah, right.

PS I just wanted to say that Natalie Dee is a mad genius and, I got this picture of a garbage can from her. Because most of the time when I'm all "Google Image something obscure", then it's her comics that generally show up and I'm not about to deny that opportunity but I'm also not going to give any impression that I made any sort of attempt to draw my own cartoons.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

"There's no hope for you--just quit trying."

It was the rule in our house that you couldn't start wearing makeup until you were 16. Naturally, I started stealing rubs of my mom's eyeliner at about 14. Fellows don't get it: brothers, boyfriends, neighbors, strangers, invisible males on the internet. All through my adolescence and even still, well into my adulthood, I hear guys say the same thing. "I don't get why girls wear makeup. I think you look just the same with it as you do without it." This is... infuriating for a lady to hear.

I realize (I think) that what you're (if you know what's good for you, anyway) saying is, "I think you're pretty without makeup on. I also think you're pretty with makeup on." But what it sounds like is, "There's no hope for you--just quit trying."

So I've done you a "favor", gentlemen. I've sacrificed myself, my face and, perhaps even, a little bit of my dignity to give you a run-down about why girls put stuff on their faces and do their hair. I realize that I'll never have a sleep-over type friend after the world sees this first picture depicting what I actually look like in the morning. That's a bullet I'm willing to bite. Because when you say, "I don't see no difference." What we hear is, "Ickyface."

(And for the record, this took 20 minutes--including the time it took to reset the self-timer on the camera about 30 times and the occasional musical interlude. Not including the shower.)

Also I want to remind you that once Oprah went on TV without any makeup on and everyone was all, "Oh! She's so brave!" But she had at least showered. That's right, I'm braver than Oprah.

Let's not pretend like this isn't a marginal improvement.

Monday, March 7, 2011

And now, for something sincere

I don't know. I haven't got it in me to be funny or hyperbolic, today. But I do have it in me to write things down arbitrarily. It's not a sad mood. It's not even all together too pensive. But sometimes it takes a lot of effort to make a joke.

I had a very 21-and-older type of weekend and for the life of me I can not get enough water into this dehydrated system of mine. There was a photograph taken that I hope to god doesn't make it onto the internet. It's probably just a matter of time before I get tagged. I have decided to invest in a detox tea that promises to be kinder to my liver than I have been, lately. I imagine that it's really something that I do to make myself feel better in my mind--not that I think it'll actually help. Kind of like when the lady at the checkout says, "would you like to spend a dollar to go towards support for Muscular Dystrophy research?" And I say, "Yeah." But what I am thinking is, "I don't want the lady at Walgreens to judge me." In the same-ish way, I don't want my liver to start judging me.

"Oh it was fun, fun, fun when we were drinking. It was fun, fun, fun, when we were drunk. And it was fun, fun, fun, when we were laughing. It was fun, fun, fun. Oh, it was fun."

I haven't stopped listening to Noah and the Whale in three days.

It takes so very little for me to feel like a grown up and it also takes very little to remind me that I'm not, really. I put things off and put things off. I have a pile of unopened mail sitting by the front door. Seeing all of it reminds me that the rest of the world sees me as an adult--opening it reminds me that I'm woefully unprepared.

If I were to die, say in a tragic car accident, the newspapers would say, "A McPherson woman was driving southbound..." To anyone who reads the paper, there it is, my whole identity wrapped up in the town where I keep my stuff, my gender and, to some degree, my age. I don't know if I'm ready for that or not but it's not exactly the type of thing that you can stave off. My age is progressing if my mind isn't. The rest of the world is moving even if I like to think that mine isn't.

It's dark and grey outside. It rained a little bit and the whole day feels a little weird and hazy. This is my favorite kind of weather. I went to the library to print off some documents, I went to work to print off some more documents. I did some grocery shopping and purchased things like kitty litter and Worcestershire sauce. Then I went to the offices in town that wanted all of the printed documents and I delivered them in a timely manner. I did all of this with a solid amount of gasoline while listening to a woman sing in French on NPR. Adult. Grown-up. I went to the video store (because I like to support local where I can and I can rent my movies at a store--there's something nostalgic about it that I like) and they didn't have The Graduate and I thought, "Damn you, Netflix. Maybe you're right. Maybe I do need you."I would like to see The Graduate.

Friday, March 4, 2011

The One Where She Didn't Have A Stroke

Yesterday, I was scheduled to work the most awesome shift ever. I didn't have to go in until noon and then they let me come home at five! I mean--it couldn't be more awesome. Let's be fair, though, a girl can't survive on many shifts like that so it's kind of a treat. Like when your mom would slice up bananas and sprinkle powdered jello on them for desert. TREAT! But not every day, you'll get cavities. I am confident that all moms fed that to their kids. I don't want to live in a world where that didn't happen.

So there I am at work, wearing my favorite shoes (I can only wear these shoes when I work a short shift--it's like they don't believe in working more than five hours at a time). I'd been there for about twenty minutes, happily going about my business and doing what I do in a time-efficient manner, answering questions, smiling, signing for packages, finding new and exciting ways to say, "Lolz, you're the first one to make a joke about how I'm not doing any work!" I'm just standing there--keeping it real--when out of nowhere I start to feel this pressure behind my eyeballs. Now, this is either acute glaucoma or it is what I think it is and I think it's a migraine. Ten minutes later I was rendered completely useless--and also right (and also relieved to not have glaucoma--that shit freaks me out).

It's like my brains decided that I haven't been paying enough attention to them. They get all bratty like that, sometimes. How do my brains not know that I've been giving them far too much attention. They get all spoiled on my self-evaluations and then when I have to think about something else for a few minutes, the brain gets pissy. I can't handle it but what can I do? I have to give in to the tantrum. I was dizzy--and I was on the favorite shoes. Also, someone decided to pledge all of the wooden surfaces in our department so there's slick residue all over the floor and when I was helping a customer, I fell. It was all I could do to not just lie there in a heap and say, "My manager will be back soon. Take whatever you want and please, if I die, cover my face with a napkin." He showed up right before I exploded. And what a relief, too, because. Sheesh. The mess. When he showed up, I was sitting on a stool, holding a pen limply in my hand--and not at all in a manner that is conducive to actually using a pen. It was very Bob Dole of me.

I wouldn't use the word "chronic" to describe my relationship with migraines, but I might say "unsurprising". The first time I had one was when I'd first moved to South Dakota. So I was... 23? I don't know. Ever since that first one, I get one every six months or so. There's not really anything to do about it except take way more than the prescribed dosage of ibuprofen and Excedrin pm and go to sleep. So, I did that. I woke up, hung over, at around 5:45 pm and it made the whole day feel bizarre.

And that's why today feels like a Wednesday. Even though it is Friday. But I'm bright eyed and bushy tailed (that's a figure of speech, for the record) and ready to take on the day. Happy Friday, I guess.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

In Which She Says, "Too far? I think that was way too far."

I make the rules. I break the rules. I do what I want. I'm bored. You can only do Charlie Sheen Madlibs so many times before you run out of creative "violent verb"s.
Blah. Blah. Blah. In the interest of full-disclosure and credit and what not, I've been doing this. I got it from here.

What type of cell phone do you have and how would you rate it?
I have a Sony Ericsson... um... thing. It has a built-in Walkman doohickey and I like it very much. By most standards, it is not a fancy phone and anyone else would be itching for a new one. But my previous phones are so ridiculous that I'm still pleased with this guy. I got him when I renewed my plan with AT&T. So, there's a bonus answer for an unasked question: AT&T. I realize that I am of the minority here when I say this, but I have never had trouble with them. I've always gotten incredible coverage and their customer service people are kind.

What has been your most serious injury?
The summer before my kindergarten year, my older brother broke my arm. He broke my left arm. You'd think that would make me a right-handed person or even ambidextrous but you'd be wrong. What it made me was completely useless. I remember my dad feeding me a banana. Probably re-evaluating some life choices while I happily chewed and occasionally said, "More, thanks."

What is one movie you hate and why?
Transformers. There wasn't a second of that film where I didn't think about dying.

How many email addresses do you have?
I have one that I actually use, one that I send all the junk mail to, one that I never shut down and one at work. So, four? At work I have to ask people for their email address and you would be shocked at how many people [lie like the lying liars that they are and tell me they] don't actually have even one.

What website do you waste the most time on?
I don't consider Facebooking as a waste of time. I waste my time at Tastespotting. Now, that is a waste of time. I'm never going to carve little faces into my Baybell cheese or fry a whole fish--eyeballs and everything. Nope.

Which mexican restaurant makes the best salsa?
I... I don't know. I don't care about this question so, instead, I'll pretend that you asked me about which coffee shop makes a coffee that you think about way too often. The coffee shop that makes you want to drive to Denver, Colorado just for one more taste of the delightful nectar (I know what you're thinking in your brain, you, and you'd better knock it off), the answer would be that I don't know. I don't remember the name of that place. (Update: I heard from a reliable source that it was called Kaladi Bros. Coffee. Let's see if I can be awesome and provide you with a link. You're welcome.)

What is your dream car?
This is a question that girls have answers to? My dream car would be one that was paid off and had affordable insurance. Was new enough that I don't have to worry about it crapping out on me but not so new that I'm showing off. Lots of windows. If I could get a car like Doug Funny's mom drove, that would be ideal.

If you could spend up to $100 with no strings or restrictions or guilt, what would you buy?
Ugh. Only $100. I was going to say new bedding but to get the ohmahgah-I-wanna-die-in-this-bed-don't-ever-make-me-leave type of sheets, you need a little more than $100. Or maybe $100 and Hot FedEx guy. Too far? I think that was way too far. But... I'ma leave it. He's hot, you guys! And at this point, he's kind of a mascot on the blog. So, it stays.

To answer your question, I would buy a set of hot-rollers, fancy tampons and new socks.

What is your favorite board game?
Boxers or Briefs! I like games where there aren't any real winners.

Except the last time that I played Cranium, I experienced the most incredible game-winning play ever. I was on a team of winners. These winners were named Steven and Libby. It was late and Steven was, frankly, sick and tired of playing this game. He was curled up on the floor with a pillow. I did all that I could to pull us along until something came up that required my partner. It was the last play--charades. Now, that's a two-person job. I nudged him awake and said, "this is it--if we win this, you can go to bed." With a grunt, Steven pulled the card from the deck. Stood up, staring at me with eyes of sheer irritation. Eyes that said, "I'm doing this because I'm your friend but I don't like it." He held the pillow in front of himself. Dropped the pillow. Dropped himself and resumed his slumber. I threw my hands up in the air and screamed, "Gravity!!" His hand came up for a high-five and that's how we won the game. Mind readers, we used to be.

How often do you change your hairstyle?
I get it trimmed every four months or so. Every time I say, "can you give me, like, a shit ton of layers this time? Last time they only gave me, like, a bunch but I want an actual shit ton." And then they say, "gross." I decide to "try" bangs every eight months or so. It's always a bad idea.

Gosh. This post needs a photograph. I'll Google image the 15th word in this post, grab whatever picture looks interesting and then begin this post with it. You won't even get it until right here. Right now, at the very end. (The word was "bored", God that frog is huge.)

I love you, tonight. I feel like telling you that, reader.