Monday, July 23, 2012

You're never fully dressed without a smile or, you know, clothes.

I’m not what one might call a smile-er. I’m generally a very happy person and pretty excited about life. It’s just that, if I’m not actually laughing, then I’m usually in some deep, consuming thought that leaves my “resting face” a little…. Indifferent, or often, intense. In my old age, I’ve become more aware of this and I’ll consciously make the decision to smile at opportune times, but most of the time, I’m in a whole other world, just enjoying the inside of my head. There is something about smiling that complete strangers feel comfortable criticizing each other about it or demanding it from one another passive-aggressively. The absolute worst is when someone I don’t know walks up to me and says, “You know, you’d be so much prettier if you’d smile.” Ugh. What possible progress could they think they are making with me? Is that supposed to make me happy? When I do actually get to know people, I usually hear this exact phrase: “Wow. You’re so nice. I thought you were a bitch when I first met you. Ha ha.”  I was even almost fired on the first day of my job here in Los Angeles because I didn’t smile enough. I remember the first few months I worked there, my face would ache after shifts from smiling so much. It has been about a year and a half since my first day at that job and I will still have days when I leave and I have to massage my face while I drive home. So now because of this job, not only is smiling not a natural quality of mine, but it is a chore. That’s fine. I recognize its importance. The simple act of smiling can lift your mood and the mood of those around you. I’m all for smiles. But, sometimes, I just need a break. I look forward to letting my face just, rest. Today was one of those days.

Today started out great. I ate a healthy breakfast. I even went for a hike, which I haven’t done in a long time. The drive to work was totally free of traffic. I got to work with 5 minutes to spare. (This is rare. Usually, I’m running into work still fastening my belt and wiping the stains off of my shirt. I don’t like to waste a minute of time there that isn’t absolutely necessary.) Work was going really well. I was motivated, having fun with my co-workers, and I was smiling A LOT (so I thought) and it didn’t even hurt! I got done fairly early and was excited at the prospect of a work-free rest of the day. As I was leaving, my manager pulled me aside and said, “Hey, Andrea. You did great today. I’m really liking your leadership and communication skills with the team.” (Discussions with Managers usually start off this douchey, so I wasn’t alarmed.) “However, today I noticed your smile has faded a bit. Here, we like to maintain a positive mental attitude and…………” I didn’t hear much of what he said after that. I’m sure it was more brilliant, corporate rhetoric inspired by the BAFOONS who run the company. I was fuming! If there was ever a reason to not hate this job and to SMILE, he just squashed it a hundred times over. What did they want? Should I show more teeth?! Both rows?! Hell! I’ll even show gums if that’s what they want!! I CAN SHOW IT ALL BABY!! But, I said “Ok,” and I left.

My face had been through so much that day that I just let it do what it wanted on the drive back to West Hollywood. I puffed and stretched my cheeks as I filled my water bottles at the Aquafil. I tried to see how far I could suck in my lips between my teeth while I picked up my prescription at CVS. Then, I just let it all go as I walked up to Trader Joes to grocery shop. I was probably even drooling. Who cares? My face was relaxed and I was feeling great.  As I approached, I noticed two youngsters with clipboards outside the store stopping people, asking them to donate to the Red Cross. ‘Oh no!’ I thought. This was a confrontation to dread later when I would be leaving. Of course I WANT to donate to the Red Cross. I just don’t want to do it today if requires me to talk to one of these kids. They were occupied with other patrons as I walked in, so I could only hope they would still be distracted as I left. I hoped this as I started to shop. By the time I was checking out, I had forgotten about all about the Red Cross. (I AM starting to see how this makes me seem like kind of a jerk, but you understand, right?) I enjoyed a small-talk free and practically smile-free check out experience (I wanted a break from smiling, but I’m not an animal.) I left with my parking validation, change, and receipt in hand. Before the automatic doors opened, I could see through the glass that the two volunteers were now unoccupied and waiting to pounce on their next victim. As I walked through the doors, a gust of wind hit me and I was fumbling to get the contents of my hands into my purse. I looked up, dreading the inevitable interaction.  The girl volunteer looked at me and exclaimed, “Miss, you dropped something!!”  I turned and looked all around. I probably dropped cash or even worse, my parking validation. I was quickly looking up and down, all around. The wind was really blowing and money could have been at stake! I saw nothing. As I turned back to grab my cart because it had started to roll away, she said laughingly, “you dropped your SMILE.” Still laughing, she pointed at me with a gotcha’ gun. A GOTCHA’ GUN.

I must say, I’m very proud of myself for not leaving with a handful of that little bitch’s hair.

The memory is a little blurry and in slow motion, but I think I knocked her clipboard out of her hand and gave her male counterpart a good glare as I walked by. I think they asked if I had a moment to talk about the good work of the Red Cross, but I did not respond. Years of experience has taught me that most of my initial reactions to these kinds of situations are of the “over” types. I just walked to my car with my hands gripped tightly on the handle of my cart. I took deep breaths and tried to sort through what she had just done to me and the irony of the whole situation. Not only had that volunteer made me dread the end of my shopping experience, then tricked me, making me look like an idiot in front of several strangers, but she had brought to my attention, a new, totally fucking annoying and NOT funny way to point out that I was NOT SMILING.

When I got home, I was still fuming and hoping that I could share every detail of this story with my boyfriend, but he wasn’t home. How unfortunate for him. I was met by my cat. I settled for venting to her and angrily said, “Everybody SUCKS today, Fitz!” She looked at me with the indifference one might expect. So, I smiled at her. Still, she was indifferent. She totally gets me.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

ME vs. The small-talkin', produce slingin', Trader Joes Cashier

I hate small talk. I find it mind-numbing and exhausting. Whether it is the weather, the weekend, or work, I don’t care what you think about it and I don’t care if you care what I think about it. Small talk is uncomfortable and I’m not naturally good at it. It is the very definition of hard work.  I know there are some who enjoy this and they usually have way more friends than I do and make them very quickly. I get envious of this sometimes and I’ll make attempts at it, but usually I just end up moving to the 2nd tier of friendship development with someone I think is an idiot. There are unavoidable adult tasks like doctor’s appointments, hair appointments, dentist appointments, and grocery shopping where small talk is rampant and REQUIRED if I don’t want to seem like a complete bitch. (I wish I didn’t care about other people’s feelings or what they thought about me because that would solve a plethora of my problems.) Alas, I small talk as much is necessary to be a socially acceptable human being.

Today, I was strolling through Trader Joes on my bi-weekly grocery shopping trip. I actually really enjoy it. I think it has to do with how much I love food and that to me, grocery shopping still represents my independence from my parents and a sure sign I’m making a really good adult. Near the end of this shopping trip, it came time to choose my check-out lane. More importantly, I was choosing my cashier. I choose a cashier based on many factors. It depends on the items in my cart, my mood, whether or not I’m in a time crunch, etc. For example, if I’m at Target buying tampons, but I’m late for work, then I’ll definitely choose an older female who looks like she may not speak English. Easy. No feminine products/male cashier embarrassment AND no possibility of time consuming small talk. In this way, I love language barriers. Today, I was in no rush and in a decent, laizzez-faire mood, so I just chose the shortest line. I got in line behind a young guy and girl, probably in their early twenties, wearing their 90s LA chic, pre-torn jeans, and their sunglasses (INSIDE!) I know these types. They live in Beverly Hills with their wealthy parents. They don’t work and the hardest thing they’ll do all week is decide whether they’ll bring Mimosas or white wine for this weekend’s poolside brunch. Gross. The cashier in this line was an ethnically ambiguous male also in his early twenties. He was cute enough, in that little kid kind of way. He had curly hair, a mildly pimply face, and sort of a high voice. Their small talk:

Cashier: “Hey, guys. You find everything alright?” He said this in that, “I was my class’s vice-president in high school,” voice.

(Long, weird pause.)

90s Chic Male: “Oh… uh… yeah man.” He was too busy checking his phone.

Cashier: “How’s your weekend so far?”

(Longer, weirder pause.)

90s Chic Male: “Oh….. uh…. Good bruh…… Can you put the blueberries in a separate bag?”

Cashier: “Absolutely! Sorry about that.” The cashier digs through the bag for the berries he’d bagged 30 seconds ago, switches them to their own separate bag, and continues to sort without any help from the two. I couldn’t help but feel sorry for the cashier. He was just trying to be nice and these two couldn’t even be bothered to smile or make eye contact.

90s Chic Female: Looked up from texting to say to her friend, “Ugh. Oh my god. David’s bringing Sarah. Jen’s gonna be pissed.”

90s Chic Male: “Serious?” Cashier still bagging.

90s Chic Female: “Yeah.”

90s Chic Male: “Maaaaan.”

90s Chic Female: “Yeah.”

The cashier barely finishes their bags before the two grab them  and walk off, still on their phones, still having their riveting conversation about David, Sarah, and Jen what a devastating disaster today’s party was gonna be. He, so sincerely, bid them farewell, “Have a great weekend, guys! Thanks for coming in!”

They did not respond.

This was infuriating! This cashier was so sweet and was probably making just above minimum wage at this silly job and was JUST trying to make some small-talk. (I said I didn’t like small talk, not that I wouldn’t defend someone’s right to have it if they wanted it. Bleeding Heart Liberal, right here.)

As the two douches walked off to live their obviously, too awesome for anyone else life, I moved up, determined to turn this cashier’s day around. I would be nice, charming, make eye-contact, be interested in everything he had to say, maybe muster up a joke or two, AND I would help bag my groceries. This was gonna be awesome. I just knew after our interaction he would feel so good about himself. He would probably walk a little taller today.  ‘Here we go, Andrea, your good deed for the day. You should be proud of yourself,’ I thought as handed the cashier my cart with the kind of smile that hurts your face muscles. (I should know by now that any time I think I have a good idea of how a situation will turn out, it will probably turn out the opposite.) Our small talk:

Cashier: “How are you doing today, Ma’am? Did you find everything ok?”

Me: Lots of eye contact and smiling, “I’m good and yes! Thank you so much!” I began to bag my own groceries like a good consumer.

Cashier: “How’s your weekend so far?”

Here we go. Here’s my chance. This guy and I were going to relate and we were both going to be better for it! Me: “Its good. I’m working all weekend so it’ll be busy, you know?”

Cashier: “Oh, like right now?”

Me: Still smiling. “What?”

Cashier: “Are you working right now?”

‘Oh no! Was he serious? Oh my gosh, he’s sincerely asking me this question. This was going downhill faster than anyone could’ve anticipated. What job would require me to be working right now with no make-up, my work-out clothes on, and canned beans in my cart?!’ Me: “No. Not RIGHT NOW. Right now, I’m grocery shopping…. For myself.” I laughed, hoping he wasn’t going to be this stupid the rest of our time together. “I work later on tonight.”

Cashier: “Oh. Ha ha……” He looked at my goat cheese as he rang it up.

I panicked! ‘Oh my gosh. He’s looking at my cheese! He’s going to comment on my groceries. I HATE it when people comment on my groceries. Please don’t! PLEASE….  D….’

Cashier: Holding up my goat cheese, “Have you tried this one?”

 Me: “……….Have I tried Goat cheese?” Oh, my brain was on fire! I was losing interest so fast. I had no smile now. This was just miserable. This was the worst kind of small talk because it was already clear that we were never going to understand each other. He was a simpleton and I was not willing to deal with it. (Don’t worry. I’m still not as bad as the couple before me because at least I paid attention and gave him a chance.) It was all my fault. I had engaged him. Maybe he was happy just asking if I had found everything alright and how my weekend was. Perhaps I had caught him off guard by responding sincerely and the goat cheese question was his nervous attempt at taking our interaction to the next level. ‘Why is he scanning so SLOWLY?!?!’

Cashier: “Yeah.”

Me: Sigh. “Uuuuuhhhh, yes.  Yes, I have.”

Cashier: Still just holding my goat cheese and not scanning the rest of my items, “Is this the honey flavor?”

I was holding my middle fingers at my temples now. Me: “No. Just…. The regular flavor.”

Cashier: “Oh. Cool. I’ll have to try it.” He continued to scan. “So, where do you work?”

‘Oh, Jesus. Kill me.’ Me: “At a restaurant,” I smiled that kind of smile that, to an intelligent person, should indicate I don’t want to say anything more about it.

Cashier: “Oh! Are you like, a chef or something?” It felt like he was talking soooo loudly. People were definitely over-hearing our conversation now.

‘Ok, not only are you stupid, but you’re really bein’ a dick. You’re really gonna make me say it? Fine!’  Me: “No, I’m a server.” (I didn’t want to engage him further by explaining that I was really an actress and artist, blah, blah.)

Cashier: “Oh!” He was excited at this for some reason and was definitely talking louder now. “Which restaurant?”

I let out a sigh. I was not hiding my frustration now. It’s ok, he wasn’t getting it anyway. Me: “Oh, just a restaurant in Pasadena.”

Cashier: “What kind of food is it? Like, what do they have?”

‘Is he seriously NOT done scanning yet?!?! I didn’t even buy that much today!’ I was impatiently waiting for each item and snatching it as he slid it my way to put it in my bag. I couldn’t waste a second getting out of this. Me: “Oh, steaks, burgers, and stuff. Heh, heh.” I was really trying hard not to engage him or anyone else that could definitely hear us at this point. God forbid we bring in a third into this disaster.

Cashier: “Is it worth driving to Pasadena for? Maybe I’ll have to try it.” It was so forced. He was really working hard here.

‘Fuuuuuuuuccccck. No, no, no. You do NOT have to try it.’ Where was this going?! What does that even mean? Was he going to drive to Pasadena, ask for me, sit in my section, and when people ask how we know each other, he’d say “Oh! I’m the cashier at her local Trader Joes, so naturally I’m here to visit her at her place of work!” Its weird!  Me: “Oh, its just a corporate, over-priced, plain ol’ restaurant. Ha ha.” ‘Please, please, please don’t make me say more.’

Cashier: He looked at me with disapproval, “That’s the way you talk about the restaurant you work at?”

I cocked my head to the side and lifted an eyebrow. ‘Touche, Trader Joes Cashier. I thought I was attempting to teach the life lessons today. I thought I was passing the judgment.’ Me: Defensively because I was caught off guard by this response, “It’s just a restaurant job while I pursue other avenues. And no, it is not worth the drive.” I swiped my debit card with a humph.

Cashier: “Well, I hope your job gets better!”

‘What?! Are you serious?’ I looked around to see if anyone was listening with the “is he serious?” look. Who did this kid think he was?! This was an unmitigated disaster!  Not only was our small talk painful, but this kid was actually feeling sorry for ME! Could I leave knowing he was going to think I was leading a miserable life in which people needed to be sorry for me? ‘I hope your job gets better?!?!’ What a little asshole!

I took my bags, placed them in my cart, and turned it toward the door. With both hands placed firmly on the cart, I turned back toward him and between two very tight and angry lips, I smiled and said, “thank you so much! I hope you have a great rest of the day!”

I left breathing heavily, trying to process what had just happened. THIS was the very reason I dreaded these kinds of interactions so much.  I couldn’t go through the rest of the day thinking every time I engaged someone in small talk, it would be THAT awful. I had to convince myself the next time would be better. Otherwise, the rest of my life would be one hell of an uphill battle!

I went over our conversation in my head to figure out what I could’ve done differently. I recommend you re-read  just the conversation written bold. It’s much worse without my interjections.  My mistake was in how I tried to relate to him. He obviously loved his job at Trader Joes, while I was operating under the assumption we were going to connect by “Damning the Man” and perhaps exchange some witty banter, both of us knowing it wasn’t going further than the validation of my parking. This started us off on two entirely different wave lengths. I should’ve detected it right away and played by the “I love my job” rules, but, believe it or not, I have a hard time acting when it comes to this particular subject. Also, other people were listening. You never know who could over-hear me say “I just LOVE serving delicious hamburgers and French fries to the guests at MY restaurant and you’ve GOT to try the key-lime pie! It’s worth the drive alone!” I just can’t do it. It hurts my soul to even write it.

He said, “I hope your job gets better!” It’s NOT going to get better!!  It’s not because it’s bad. It’s because it’s not what I want to do with my life! BUT I CAN’T EXPLAIN THIS TO A CASHIER AT TRADER JOES IN THE 90 SECONDS WE HAVE TOGETHER! Do you see my point?

THIS is why I hate small talk.

Monday, July 9, 2012

How I almost became a Trophy Wife

This is probably the only RomCom I'll ever write, but I'm not making any promises.

My boyfriend/fiancé/best friend has been so for almost 8 years now. We met right about the time we both turned 22. We’ve spent almost all of our twenties together. AKA, our sexual primes. I have plenty of relationship stories, but I’m not going to tell any of those now. Now, I’m going to tell you a story that happened during the 4 months we were “separated” in the summer of 2011.

I’m going to change almost all of the names, places, and even some of the details of this story as some of the people who read my blog at this point would definitely be able to figure out who this is about. I’m obligated to leave the innocent protected because I’ve been told I should write a movie or book about this at a later time.  I’m taking a great risk here, but, THIS is a story that must be told. This is dedicated to every girl I know that has that one, single man in their life that is a COMPLETE fantasy. Whether it is a celebrity, someone you went to high school with, the hot cashier at Whole foods, or whoever. It is pure fantasy and would likely be ruined if you ever managed to score an actual date with this guy. Surely, the first delayed phone response or fart would ruin your entire, personal, lady mental world. My point is that it should remain just that, a fantasy. Because, and I hope I’m not REALLY crushing anyone’s dreams here, that IS all IT is.


His name was Jerrod Finkley. (Ha ha. No, not really. What a stupid fake name.) In high school, Jerrod was an athlete, at the top of his class, and drop dead, mouth-wateringly, out of this world, stupid gorgeous AND 2 years older than me. In high school, I was totally awkward, had a white girl fro, and was often mistaken for a boy. I was just lucky my best friend was beautiful, popular, and talented, for this is why high school was not a total failure for me. I was also lucky in that I was also a little talented myself. It allowed me to be a part of our varsity Pom team, our dance program, our theater program, choir, and the advanced track academic program. (Thank you for my talents, God. For, without them, I would not have survived my teens. My awkward stage lasted from 8-21, guys. It was rough to say the least.) My sophomore year was pretty cool. I was discovering all of the talents I mentioned above and growing out of the phase where I dressed like a thrift store lesbian. Jerrod was a senior. He was one of those completely unapproachable seniors because of all the things I mentioned above. This year was moving along well. In fact, my best friend, Abigail Jenkins, had started dating a senior. He was sort of cool, but most importantly, he was best friends with Jerrod. In the high school world, this meant that as the single “best friends” of a couple who was dating, Jerrod and I HAD to hang out. Jerrod was so nice about it. I knew he was practically doing charity work hanging out with me while Abigail and that guy she dated for a bit made out, but he would even often tell me how cute I was. Oh man, did I mention he was hilarious? I remember that year he was the lead in our school play, yet again proving that he was, hands down, the most talented, perfect being I had ever made contact with. When Abigail broke up with his friend, it was an understatement to say I was devastated. This meant our obligatory hang outs were going to end. My memory gets foggy around this point, but that’s fine because there was really no contact between Jerrod and myself for several years. Screeeeeeeetch, scraaaaaatch, FLASH FORWARD.


My Fiancé and I had broken up. “Fiancé” doesn’t really describe him well enough because we were best friends that put ourselves in a situation that was doomed to fail.  We moved from our 3 bedroom home in a suburb of Phoenix to a studio apartment in Hollywood. 1600 square ft to 400 square ft can ruin any relationship. We fought, had no sex, and I thought I needed to find myself. We took a “break” and I made friends, hiked, drank and got the appropriate amount of self definition I felt I needed during this time. On the 15th, an overcast day in April, I was feeling particularly low and had just returned home from my demeaning LA serving job and got a notification that “Jerrod F” had sent me a message on Facebook. I hadn’t seen or heard from Jerrod since high school! What could he possibly have to say?!  All I could see of the message on my laptop was “Jerrod F. – I think you are….”…….  Ecstatic, I ran, put on my stretchy pants and poured myself the appropriate amount of wine it would take to receive the following message in my FB inbox:  Jerrod F- “I think you are gorgeous. I thought it back in high school, and I definitely think it now. I just wanted you to know….” (the same FB font it arrived to me with. CTRL + V’d from the original message. Somehow seems more organic this way. His words are somehow more authentic. I am sure this is how Jerrod would have wanted it.)

I fell out of my chair, stunned with the pure joy the message had brought me. I read it several times to make sure I wasn’t somehow making it up in my brain. Each time, it got better.  Rightfully so, I facebook stalked him. Turns out, after pursuing a career in acting, and later a career as a concert Cellist, he was studying in Nowheresville, USA to be a SURGEON! This extraordinary human being not only thought I was “gorgeous,” but took the time out of his very adult, very important life to get onto his computer, click on my name, and send a message saying so. The dorky high-schooler in me was flying high!

I FLOATED around for a whole day. I winked at men that were easily out of my league because Jerrod thought I was “gorgeous!”  I mean, WHAT?! Who was I, Reese Witherspoon?!  It was a marvelous 24 hours. I begged my new LA lady friends for feedback on how I should respond. The response had to be the right amount of casual and clever to leave his Midwestern-ass spellbound. After much debate, on April 16th, I responded:  “I don't know what prompted such a sweet message, but it could not have come at a better time. So, thank you! And you're not so bad yourself. I've always thought so.”

Ha Ha. The perfect, casual retort. It looked as though I was carrying on a lifestyle that was both too busy to leave a more, involved thought out response and too self-involved to leave a more “I fucking LOVE YOU! I HAVE FOR YEARS!” response.  Oh my, I was just fantastic.

Then a day or two went by. I had not gotten a response. I checked my internet connection. It seemed to be working normally. Yet, I had received no response. Was I crazy? I would read over our exchange on FB just to ensure it had actually taken place, and my own response to make sure I had said nothing crazy or silly….. No response.

Finally, on the evening of April 19th, I got the notification he had responded on my phone on the way home from an audition in my car. I started to breathe at an accelerated rate. I waited until I got home and snuggled under the warmth of my covers to read what would surely be the start of our romantic, facebook relationship. The message said, “Are you going through a bad time?”  Oh, Ok. Um…… How deep should I get here? I mean, he WAS asking for it, wasn’t he? I’d had a glass of wine or two in me so I responded immediately because I have no patience sober, let alone a little tipsy. Later on in the evening of April 19th, I wrote: “Not a 'bad' time necessarily. My fiance and I are separating after 6 years.... its tough and exciting all at the same time. Just moved to LA 7 months ago, so I'm pretty excited at the thought of taking it on alone. Its just that, after six years, you gotta wonder if you still got it goin' on, you know? The compliment was nice to hear.” (I’d decided to use a lot of shortened, ebonic like words to keep it super casual. Like, whatev.)  I mean, YOU asked for it, Jerrod. I responded immediately because I felt you’d asked for it. This was the relationship YOU had asked for. I slept soundly that evening knowing full well I’d wake up to a prompt response from him because we were definitely THERE facebook relationship-wise.

Morning came and no response. Fine, he was busy. I was busy. No big deal….  Days went by. It was driving me nuts! Occupying my every thought! I would show a picture of him to my friends just so they would have an idea of the ordeal I was going through. When they saw the photo of the tan, blue-eyed, surgeon Adonis, they would pat me on the back and “Aaaaww” with sympathy. It was only so reassuring, and then, on the morning of the 23rd of April, 2011, I received this reply: “I could easily love you”

W….. T….. F…..?

Seriously, W…. T…. F…..?

I showed this response to almost everyone I knew. I even used it as a way to reconnect with people from high school because it was so astonishing. Everyone was blown away.  He was…. Oh my…. And I was just…. normal and he said “I could easily love you. “ What did it mean? He could “easily love” ME? How should I respond to this, “I could easily love you, too?” Was he joking? I mean, it’s a weird thing to say. He had to be joking. I decided after much debate to keep my response ambiguous. This time, I was definitely NOT stupid enough to respond the same day so I waited. His average wait time was 3 days, so I was going to wait at least that. I debated with friends on what my reply should be and took some time for myself. I got a massage, a mani/pedi, got some work done and exactly 72 hours after “I could easily love you”  arrived into my facebook message inbox, I responded with the artfully crafted, well thought out, 5th and final draft of “Aaannddd, so when will you be in Los Angeles next?”

It was perfect. It showed my interest. It was funny. It was casual, just in case this was all a joke. WHAT WAS HAPPENING?! I was beginning to pack for Nowheresville, USA. It was sounding really awesome with that one kind of cool landmark it had and the great schools it had for our future, tan, blue-eyed, curly-haired genius children. Who needed my acting/dancing/singing/writing career here in LA? I could have a SURGEON! I could be trophy wife, right? Sure. I would have to lose my brassy, no BS attitude along with the rest of my personality, but he was a beautiful, like take a “Happy Mother’s Day to Mrs. Finkley” add out  in the West Valley View for simply creating such an amazingly perfect human being, kind of beautiful. I know a girl or two who would definitely go in on that add with me.

I was no idiot. I kept myself busy for the next few days knowing I would receive no response for at least 3-4 days. Whatever. No Big. I was busy, living my awesome, new, LA life. I did everything I could to avoid Facebook so, after 72 hours, I would casually catch whatever reply he decided to send. May 1st brought this response: “ you mean you won't be coming to Nowheresville anytime soon?? J  Ha! A smiley face? I knew where this was going. I was practically engaged to this man. I dreamed of my friends from back home saying things like, “Did you hear Andrea and Jerrod are getting married?” “Yeah, I hear he drove all the way out to LA without stopping, picked her up, carried her out to the beach in Santa Monica, got down on one knee an proposed to her while dolphins sang and star fish mated on the shore.” “Yeah, I hear she said, Yes.” “Yeah, she is most definitely not the less-attractive one in that relationship.”

Ha ha. Jealous bitches. I clicked the locks on my suitcase as I composed what would surely be my last facebook reply. Phone numbers had to be exchanged at this point and our amazing, one-on-one conversations had to begin to start making our children. I sent the, OH SO clever : “Well, it is a shame that there isn't much to do in Nowheresville because I have a feeling you and I would have fun.

and just a reminder, I have the beach. LA-1 Nowheresville-0”

I couldn’t wait to begin our romance. We would tell our grandchildren about the cute, archaic, facebook exchange that got us together. I waited for his reply that would surely give me directions to his place in Nowheresville.

Turns out, I was going to wait a long time. A week passed. Did I say something wrong? Had I been too sarcastic? Men have complained about this trait in me before. Two weeks passed. Ok. Perhaps he was busy with doctor school or something. Yeah, that was it. Doctor finals. Then I began to go through all the stages of grief. There was some denial, some anger, some tears, but then, I began to realize that this was, of course, not really what I wanted. It was unrealistic. I didn’t want to be anyone’s less attractive, sidekick trophy wife.  And, quite frankly, I didn’t want to be anywhere near Nowheresville.

He never responded. A few months later after all of this, my boyfriend and I mended and are now living happily ever after in the best relationship I could ever imagine. Jerrod was the best thing that could’ve happened to me at a really low time in my life. Even now, whenever I’m low, I still look over our FB exchange from more than a year ago and I feel better. I felt beautiful and confident during our Facebook messaging saga. He allowed me to escape to an amazing fantasy world where I felt feminine and beautiful and I was treasured for it. But, Jerrod was just that, a fantasy. I’m happy to have him stay that way. In my world, Jerrod doesn’t fart, leave his shit everywhere, or call me crazy AND he returns my texts in a timely manner. It still bothers me at how perfect he seems to be. According to FB, He’s started is residency, has a great girlfriend, is a great friend to his friends, is a great son, blah, blah. It’s unreal. But that’s fine. I prefer him to stay that way. Unreal.


I have a friend that knows both Jerrod and I from high school and she and I sat a few weeks ago over hamburgers and talked about how we would pull that lady astronaut, no-stopping, wear a diaper shit if Jerrod said, “Come to Nowheresville today.” I definitely have that dedication. Don’t test me. It’s just that, I like my REAL life. It’s pretty cool and hasn’t been shaped by anyone else’s dreams. I have a supportive, challenging, and uplifting partner who farts, leaves his shit everywhere, and takes way too long to reply to a text. In this way, I’m very lucky.

Friday, July 6, 2012

How the Russian saved Thursday.

Most of my life is spent being late for something or overreacting to something I feel is “happening” to me. It’s a state of mind that can best be described as always in an intense, important, all encompassing rush. Out of all of my faults, most of which I’ve accepted and decided not to try to change at this point (I mean what IS the point? I’m almost 30. Old dog, new tricks. Blah, blah,) these are two I would really like to change. I think I would be a happier, more care-free person. I’m all for that. I mean, I don’t need to be like, hippie/surfer care-free. I’m too smart and self-aware for that. But, more “chill?” Yes, please. Today was one of those days where both of these faults clashed in a perfect storm of tiny, well-timed events that will definitely not sound like that big of a deal, but if you were a fly on the wall in my parking garage this morning, you would’ve seen the very definition of “flying off the handle.” 

Almost every morning I take a Pilates class that I must sign up for online prior to class to confirm my attendance. If I don’t show up, they charge a $15 penalty charge to my credit card. The classes are also intense and only 40 minutes long, so if I’m 2 minutes late, I’ve missed the whole warm-up. This morning I signed up for the noon class. I had decided to try to be really productive and start a load of laundry before I left for class. It takes me exactly 6 minutes to get to Pilates and exactly 4 minutes to walk down to the laundry room in the parking garage, put the quarters, the soap, and the clothes in the machine and start the load. So, naturally I rushed out of my apartment at 11:51am with my load in my arms, my purse on my shoulder, my quarters in my left hand, and my keys in my mouth. I awkwardly locked my apartment door and dashed off.  (If you’re doing the math in your head right now, you’re right. I was already a minute behind schedule, naturally.)  I hurried out of the elevator to the laundry room, unlocked the door (because it locks automatically) and set everything down on my machine. Checked my phone:  11:54am. Eek! I was behind schedule. I began to throw the clothes in the machine at a hurried rate. In my rush, I knocked my keys off the machine and onto the floor. I would have to remember to get them later. My hands fumbled as I tried to get the 8 quarters in the slots. “Why are they so damn tiny?!?” I hurried faster. I started my machine and set my laundry basket on top like I normally do to lay claim. I grabbed my purse and my soap and rushed out the door toward my car, letting the door slam behind me. Normally, I like gentle door closes but, I was late! Checked my phone: 11:55am. I’ve never made it to class in 5 minutes but if I sped, rolled through a couple stop signs, and there was no traffic on Crescent Heights, I was certain I could do it. I was actually really excited at the challenge. “This is gonna be a good day, Andrea,” I said to myself. I got to my car and reached for my keys.....

“Oh my god, oh my god, oh god, oh god…” I mumbled as I frantically dug in my purse for my keys knowing full well they were on the laundry room floor. “Aaaahhhh!”  I yelled this as I ran to the laundry room door to try to open it, just in case this was the one time it wouldn’t have automatically locked. It was locked. “Shit! Shit!” Checked my phone: 11:56am. I was panicking! My boyfriend/roommate was at breakfast with a friend so I had been locked out of my car and my apartment and was probably not even getting to class at all at this point! “The landlord!” I yelled. I could NOT for the life of me remember what his apartment number was! I didn’t have his phone number! I didn’t know what to do!  They were going to charge $15 to my card and I won’t get my, oh so important work out in for the day! This would make me feel lazy and bad about myself for the rest of the day! What if I couldn’t get to my keys?! How long would I have to wait outside? Could I run to class? I would never make it on time! My day had gone from great to god awful in 30 seconds! I grabbed my phone and dialed my boyfriend’s number. Maybe he could bring me his key.  As the phone rang, I spotted one of our old, Russian lady neighbors on the 3rd floor on her way to the elevator. My boyfriend answered and I screamed, “Nevermind!” And I hung up. He never questioned it as this is a regular occurrence. I ran to press the elevator button so I would catch my Russian savior on the way down. I just prayed she would have her key to the laundry room. Checked my phone: 11:58am. Ugh! I was so mad, I was panting and fuming. “I might as well not even go,”  I pouted to myself much like a 1st grader would.  “Even if she’s got the keys, I’ll be so late. Everyone will look at me when I walk in. It will be awful.” The elevator seemed to be taking FOREVER. I pressed the elevator button over and over, not because I thought it would come faster, but because it was making me feel better. The doors opened and I yelled, “DO YOU HAVE YOUR KEY TO THE LAUNDRY ROOM?!?!” My Russian lady neighbor’s eyes widened and her head cocked to the side a bit. “I was doing laundry and my keys fell on the floor and the door locked behind me and I’m locked out of my apartment and my car and I’M REALLY LATE FOR A PILATES CLASS…..” Wah, wah, wah, why me, me, me.  

She gently motioned for me to step into the elevator and she took us down the garage. As we got to the laundry room door, she pulled out her key and stopped, turned to me, put her hand on my arm and in a Russian accent said, “I’ll open this for you if you promise to breathe and relax. You’re too young and beautiful to be so anxious. Also, this laundry room is too expensive and dirty. You shouldn’t use it.”

I was mostly surprised she spoke English, but these words really resonated with me. She had made me realize how worked-up I had gotten over almost nothing. I had spent the last 5 minutes giving myself a heart attack and feeling sorry for myself. It was a big fat dose of perspective. I mean, Holy Crap. What is wrong with me? Checked my phone: 11:59am. I thanked my new mentor profusely, retrieved my keys and trotted to my car and I was going to be OK with being late to class. It just was not a big deal. During the car ride, I took deep breaths. I thought about how silly I had behaved and how there were so many people in the world that have it much worse than I. I should never be so upset. I began to list all the things I was grateful for. It was a nice drive.

My Pilates class started 5 minutes late today. 

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Andrea, the Hayworth Apartments Vigilante

I was taking one of my post-lunch, day-off-from-work naps, when I was rudely awoken by the sound of deep bass from one of my neighbors playing their music. I love music and even loud music, but when it is not my own, the sound of it is one of the most gut-wrenchingly annoying sounds in the world to me. I stumbled off my couch and into my kitchen to look for a snack. Eating is my second favorite thing to do on my day off and now, thanks to my neighbor, napping, my first favorite wasn’t happening. Nothing in the kitchen looked appetizing and then I remembered I had Ranch Sunflower Seeds in my car. They were leftover from the road trip from which I had recently returned home. This meant I would have to make the long trek to the garage, which, in my apartment complex means a long walk and an elevator ride, but the sunflower seeds would be worth it. And it would also give me a chance to see which neighbor was playing their music so loudly. I would never do or say anything, as it was 4 o’clock in the afternoon and not 2am, but I could at least scowl in the direction of the music. In this way, I am a very old soul.

  My apartment complex here in Los Angeles is a lot like Melrose Place, less anybody young and good-looking and a pool. By this, I mean all the apartments face-in toward one another. There are only 30 units, thus making it very easy to see where the music would be coming from. As I walked through the center of the complex toward the elevator, the music became louder and as I got closer, I discovered it was coming from the 2nd floor and more specifically, unit 211. The door was wide open and the music was blaring. They might as well have put the speakers on their welcome mat. ‘What an asshole, ‘  I thought. What could possibly be going through their mind?  I shook my head and continued on into the elevator.  Upon entry into the elevator, (the ONLY access to our garage, otherwise, I would have taken the stairs and this story may never have happened) I noticed a hand-written sign posted in the elevator. This had become a recent trend in our complex that began a few months ago when someone lost a blue Swatch watch and posted a reward. Since then, there have been other lost-and-founds, furniture for sale, and lost pet signs posted. Seems it is a good way to communicate as everyone who drives has to take the elevator. Today’s sign was different though. It read “Whoever stole the blue lawn chair please return to #211. I JUST put it out yesterday and I have had it for years. SHAME ON YOU.”  That’s right. Apt. 211. The very apartment that was blasting their terrible music was using our innocent apt. building elevator communicating medium for shaming! The BALLS this tenant must have. I admire them.

I laughed as I got off the elevator, retrieved my seeds, and got back on. Walking back to my apartment, I cringed listening to the Maroon 5 coming from 211. It seemed even louder now. Something came over me and I realized this was an opportunity I had to seize. I threw open my door, dropped the seeds, and grabbed the closest writing utensil I could find. It just so happened to be a red Sharpie. I casually walked back out my open door and toward the elevator. I carried my red Sharpie between my index finger and thumb and upright along my wrist so that it would be hidden from plain view. What I was about to do was very risky because, at any moment, one of my neighbors could emerge from their home and surely catch me in the act. I pressed the elevator button casually so not to suspect any possible on-looker. The doors opened and I walked in. I pressed the “G” button to take me to the garage floor so that I could have 30 seconds alone in the elevator. As soon as the doors shut, I turned toward the sign and on it, I wrote “Perhaps your blue chair was stolen because you play your music so damn loud and with your door wide open. I don’t have your blue chair, but if I did, I would keep it out of spite. Shame on YOU!”

I had only enough time to write this brilliantly composed retort before the doors opened to the garage. I prayed there was no one waiting to ride the elevator back up because surely they would make the connection between the fresh red ink and my red Sharpie. There was no one. I pressed the button for level one and rode it back up. I walked out into the courtyard and toward my apartment with a sense of satisfaction that cannot easily be described. I had found a direct, totally anonymous, ironic way to tell my neighbor to SHUT THE FUCK UP. I smiled for about an hour or so after the fact. As I ate my seeds, I fantasized about the tenant of unit 211 finding their note had been tampered with and their attempt at shaming had been thwarted. I imagined other tenants would laugh and revel in the joy that someone had “really given it to 211.” It really is the little things in life that bring the most joy.

I don’t know if 211 ever saw my response.  The sign was taken down later on that evening. Let’s just say that afternoons in the Hayworth apartments have been pretty quiet the past few days and I can’t help but take it just a little bit of credit. It was a good Thursday.