Category Archives: Anecdotes

Hey, My Weekend was Great. Thanks for Asking.

Ask about my weekend. I dare you.

Ask about my weekend. I dare you.

Hey, thanks for asking how my weekend was. I appreciate you thinking of me on a Monday morning when we’re all desperately crowding around the coffee like bison around a watering hole in a dusty, dry summer. I’m going to choose to believe that your question was sincere and not just a way to distract me so you could take the second-to-last cup of coffee and avoid having to make another pot. So, thanks again. It was great.

Oh, you want to hear about something cool that I did. Oh great. I did tons of cool stuff that I can tell you about and I’d love to do that right now. I’d love for you to know every single thing that I did this weekend just so you can know how cool and relaxing and fulfilling my life is and how it completely validates everything I do at this office for 50 hours a week.

Oh, what did I do? Great. I’m so glad you asked for details. I’d love to tell you all the things that I did, so I’ll go ahead and do that now I guess.

On Friday I went home at 8:30 after going to happy hour where I tried a drink that was hot pink and tasted like a scream. I got home and tried to watch an episode of Arrested Development but IT WOULDN’T LOAD. So like a baller I wrote in my journal by candlelight for a little bit before going to bed at 9:20.

But get this, on Saturday I woke up before dawn and did a whole morning of vision-casting, trying to figure out what to do with my life. I created mad google docs and made sure to update my mint.com account with my recent cash purchase of coffee ($2.00) and answer any personal emails from the week. I pounded down some peanut butter oatmeal and a calcium chew and futzed around before taking a leisurely walk around Stowe Lake where I saw a couple making out.

But wait, it gets better. On Saturday night, I did things with my friends – like eat food and see a show. And on Sunday, I slept in until 8 am and took a freaking walk in the park and talked to my sister who I love and then I went to West Oakland where I bought 8 candles and did improv and then came back and made a mother flipping lentil dish before going to eat dinner with a friend.

So are you happy now? Are you happy now that you know every detail of my weekend? Do you feel like you know me better? Do you think what I did was cool? Because it wasn’t. Nothing of what I did was cool, and it never will be. BECAUSE MY WEEKEND WAS JUST LIKE YOURS. WE DID THE EXACT SAME STUFF AND WE HUNG OUT WITH FRIENDS AND ATE FOOD AND OUR LIVES ARE NOT INTERESTING.

So thanks for asking how my weekend was. How was yours?

P.S. What’s the deal with mayonnaise. Why does everyone hate it?

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Meet Deb. She’s My Plant and I Love Her.

This is not deb the plant.

Last Saturday, I did something I’ve never done before. I turned 24. The great wheel of time, to which I am strapped, completed a rotation and left me all of the sudden an entire year older. My 24th birthday was on my mind constantly as a 23-year old. I was always thinking out loud to my friends about how I wanted to celebrate, debating between redwall-themed singing picnics to contra dancing to singing sea chanties in the Maritime National Park near Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco.

This is partly because my last birthday kind of sucked. I had just moved to San Francisco, had 3 friends, and worked until 10 pm at a restaurant where I felt as valued as an empty toilet paper roll one does not care enough about to throw away. In hindsight, it wasn’t all that bad, but I sure did like to complain about it to myself throughout the year.

I also thought about my birthday constantly partly because I am a ham and couldn’t wait for the next spotlight. So I wanted to make sure my next birthday party was awesome. AND. It was. I had new friends, we went to karaoke after eating family style Italian food and I wore a Scottish skirt with a peasant shirt and felt like the belle of the ball, and I think I was. My friends confirm that I was.*

But something was missing. There was a gap somewhere, even though my belly was full and I was surrounded by my dearest friends whose cheeks I want to pinch and whose backs I occasionally massage.

Deb

This is deb.

After contemplating this issue deeply and inhaling some of the second hand smoke from the KLM flight attendants sitting in the courtyard where I sit writing this blog post, I believe I’ve come to the conclusion I seek. My birthday was missing Deb. Deb is a plant. She is a succulent. Her full name is Deb Echevaria Elegans Drevets, and she is wonderful.

She is my little darling and I want to tell the world about her. The way she sits so patiently and silently, the sly way she grows, the way her leaves sometimes die and I have to pluck them off – it’s all too magical to put into words and sometimes, when I look at her, I just want to hug her and tell her that she’s all mine. I can’t, of course, because the oils on my skin can stain her leaves, so I just look at her and beam. It’s nice to care about something aside from myself, to move the focus of my life from me to Deb.

So when I say that I’m so over my birthday – aside from the literal way that my birthday has passed and that I’m metaphysically done turning 24 – I’m also done with the party being about me. I’m not that great. I’m only great in relation to other plants and in relationship with them. I’m great in my capacity to care for Deb and give her everything she needs, whether that be a new pot every 4 years, a good watering every 2 weeks or putting her outside for some socializing with the neighborhood flora. I’m gearing up for act two of the play, featuring not me, but Deb and me and starting with a musical number in a style known as deb step. I know I’m ready for this next phase in my life, but is the world?

Send your thoughts to [is] [the] [world] [ready] [4] [deb] [and] [emily] [at] [gmail] [dot] [com].

For more posts about my birthday, check out What My Birthday Means for You and Birthdays Mean Facebook Notification Overdose.

*They did not, in fact, confirm that I was the bell of the ball. I just assume they would agree with me.

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That’s Just Me Staring at Your Ear

Scowl_earI find myself staring at ears a lot nowadays, on the subway or when I’m standing behind people in line at Peet’s. I zone in on the ear, or the back of the neck, or the elbow of the jacket, where it’s pulled tight but I can still see some wrinkles in it from where it’d been crumpled up and left in the passenger’s seat.

I try to memorize every detail possible, or at least take them all in.

The staring started after I got interested in other people and wanted to swim into their lives and know all their stories and secrets. I’m pretty sure that makes me the opposite of a psychopath, so you don’t need to worry about my mental health, mom. Also, I’m taking vitamin B12 which improves mental function and tastes like candy.

The ear is a very personal part of the body. Only best friends and lovers know the ears of others intimately. I myself don’t know my ears very well. If you stared at one long enough, you might get to know it better than I do, and then in that one way, you would know me better than I know myself.

The same applies to certain parts of clothing – the back of a shirt or a coattail. I’m not aware, as I’m going about business as usual, how my clothing sits on me, how the wind is affecting it or what the pattern of raindrops is on my back or umbrella. Only someone else could know those things about me.

In digging into these minute observations, the boring pattern of ear hair, where a certain mole falls on the neck, or the mundane way the fabric appears to be worn at the knees and the jeans are feathering, I feel – and stay with me here – that I’m taking back control of time and adding detail to the blurs that other people can become around me.

earOften, during the past month or so, I’ve wished I could memorize every single face I see, the eyes and the nose and the skin tone and the blemishes, and that I could understand something of the story behind that face, where she had come from and where she was going, what he was thinking about and hoping, and everyone with a different story, all of them distinct but reassuring in their similarities, in the familiar concerns everyone has, the desire for good health and love, the dream of  taking time off to be with family or friends or travel the world, the fears of being alone or not living a life that’s worthwhile.

Jostling, rushing for a seat on the bus, walking past others on the streets – this is the way I have to live in a city. I’ve learned the ways to cope when there are so many people and so many heartbreaks and joys that could burst out and give me some perspective on my life. It’s self-defense, and it’s necessary.

But on the MUNI, when I’m staring at ears and dress pants, it becomes clear that there’s really nothing between me and this other human, that I could reach out and start a conversation with them and they would respond as they would respond. That’s the real fear – that there’s nothing there, no barrier, not a single thing.

We’re all in the same vehicle together with our burdens and curiosities and there’s nothing stopping us from sharing them with one another, except for everything.

And now I’ve overstepped the bounds of this article of talking about my new habit of ear-detail-gathering, and I know longing for intimate conversation on the MUNI is bizarre and would be psychotic except for those B12 vitamins I’m taking, but I guess I just want to remind myself that life is more interesting than the boundaries I create for myself.

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The Flossing Jar

The flossing jar

The flossing jar is less a jar and more a cream dispenser, but who cares about formalities?

I read an interesting quote in my paperback vampire novel two weeks ago. The vampire Pandora spoke to her victim before sucking the blood from his body, telling him,  “You should do something every day simply because you would rather not do it.” It was solid advice, and something that’s stuck with me.*

Since I’ve read the quote, I’ve gone to the dentist and purchased protein powder. These events are relevant to this story.

For the past two months, my diet consisted of a daily gallon of salad and some oatmeal. Note the lack of protein.

At my first physical in seven years, the doctor told me that I should eat lean protein in the morning to boost my metabolism and make my hair grow long like Tarzan and to make my muscles bulge from my slacks and Christmas sweaters.

I was ready for this to be a huge hassle. The idea of having to plan to eat protein seemed so unnatural to me that I hated myself for even thinking about it. Nevertheless, I figured I should follow the doc’s orders, so I bought Musclez protein powder, 2 dozen eggs, 5 cans of beans, and 6 cans of tuna and prepared for the lean protein haul. As it turns out, garbanzo beans taste incredible prepared can-to-microwave, but this was only a minor consolation for the protein nuisance.

In order to motivate myself to become a protein-eater, and thinking of that vampire quote,** I said that this was going to be the one thing that I do every day, the thing I do in order to build character and become famous and successful.

Shortly after my trip to the doctor, I went to the dentist, who peeled my gums off and sandblasted my teeth before removing the shards one by one. In the midst of removing a tooth splinter, he asked, “How often do you floss?” “Never,” I said. “You should floss,” he said.

I hate flossing. It takes time and it isn’t rewarding. So I thought to myself, this could be my thing, the thing I do everyday even though I don’t want to. Almost as soon as I’d resolved that conflict, I came across a glaring contradiction. I already had the one thing: the protein! And then they came like a flood, the millions of things I do every day that I’d rather not do, like shaking hands with all the invisible people in my room every morning, sleeping in occasionally, going to work, and getting my hair cut.

My day was filled with things I do even though I’d rather not. True, most of these activities are things I have to do and don’t do just for the heck of it, but still – 75% of my day is built out of necessity.

So I thought, maybe something equally important is finding an activity I love doing so much that I’d rather die than not do it. That’s why I do improv, and make time every day to eat calcium chews and sing loudly to myself in public.

And I solved the flossing problem by putting a quarter in a jar every time I floss; one day that jar is going to buy me a Carnival cruise ticket.

*****

*This story isn’t true. The quote is from somewhere else, but I couldn’t remember where.

**Again, not actually from a vampire.

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My life through the songs I’ve screamed

Chapter 1: Edmond, Oklahoma-“Under Pressure” by Queen

I was concurrently enrolled at the local community college my last year of high school. This was not, as most people assume, because of my insatiable love for learning. I took college classes because it  gave me a shortened school day that I could use to work on my television-watching hobbies.

My house was roughly a four minute drive from the high school and yes I drove every day. I’m from Oklahoma–unnecessary wheeled transit is what we do best.

On the way home from school my last semester in Oklahoma, as soon as I got in the car I would blast “Under Pressure” by Queen. I had to get the timing just right, in order to match the song with the drive. I loved nothing more than getting in every little “Umm ba da” or “Dee dee dee dee” right along with Freddie and then screaming at the very end, right as I was entering my neighborhood “WHY CAN’T WE GIVE OURSELVES ONE MORE CHANCE.”

As I was pulling into the driveway, “This is our last chance, this is ourselves, under pressure…….” And then I would switch off the ignition and run inside and make a cup of noodles for lunch and watch an episode of one of my hobbies.

Chapter 2: Boston, Massachusetts- “Endless Rope” by Patty Griffin

I went to college at Boston University with no time to transition out of a crush with a German man 5 years older than me or my ongoing crush on Conan O’Brien. I was also unprepared to be lonely and uncertain of where my best friends were. This led to me to identify with songs by Patty Griffin with lyrics like, “Say goodbye to the old streets that never cared much for you anyway…different colored doorways you thought would let you in one day” or “Sometimes all I can do is weep weep weep with all the rain coming down.”

I often found myself walking back to my dorm late at night. The street would be mostly deserted and the night city felt like a secret. One of my favorite things to do while I was walking alone beneath the street lights and watching the stoplights turn green and crossing in the middle of the road was belt out the song “Nobody’s Crying.”

I would scream the end of the chorus, “Just have this secret hope, sometimes all we do is cope, somewhere on the steepest slope, there’s an endless rope, and nobody’s crying.” Note: I was never crying when I sang this song. Note: that’s probably not true.

Chapter 3: Cairo, Egypt-“Rolling in the Deep” by Adele

My second apartment in Cairo was located about a 20 minute walk from the nearest metro stop, a 20 minute walk along a highway that I would take every morning and evening.

In order to pass the time and forget my unfortunate location in an exhaust cloud on the freeway, I memorized songs, one of which was Rolling in the Deep. I would sing it at the top of my lungs while weaving through traffic, and go somewhere else in my head. I believed no one could hear me from the noise of the traffic, and I never felt more free than when the sun was setting and I could hear myself above the chaos screaming “YOU HAD MY HEART INSIDE OF YOUR HANDS” against the honks and the vrooms and the noise of a revolution settling.

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