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Sixteen

3 Sep

The most bizarre thing keeps happening to me.  Okay, probably not the most bizarre thing ever to happen to anyone, and maybe not even the most bizarre thing to ever happen to me.  But, I just don’t understand it, and it’s happened three times in this past week.

I’m a twenty-six year old, and I’ve been happily married for two years now to an amazing man.  I’m five-foot-nine and not your average twig.  Only the rule-following waiters card me when I order wine (as they should, of course).  Not only did I graduate — from college — five and a half years ago, I came to college back in 2000.  To put it in more drastic terms?  This year’s college freshmen (Who are what, eighteen-ish years of age?  More?  Less?) were about nine years old when I started my college journey.

So WHY do people keep asking me if I’m a freshman in college?

I’ll excuse the first transgressor, even though I shouldn’t.  It’s perfectly logical to assume someone who wants to purchase a book called Welcome to College is, indeed, a freshman.  Except, of course, when the person who’s buying it has just explained, “I’m leading a group of girls who will be taking some freshmen through this book this year; I need to know what’s in it.”  No, sir, I’m not just starting college, and by the way, did you hear a word I just said?  Didn’t think so.

The next girl, I can (kind of) understand, too.  It was dark.  It was crowded.  It was loud.  I’m with my petite friend Kristin, who introduces me to a girl she knows, a senior in college.  Wide-eyed, the girl says to me, “Can you believe Kristin’s twenty-seven?”  Kristin informs her that I am almost the same age.  The girl studies me, then exclaims, “No way!  I totally thought you were a freshman!”  She laughs. I sigh.  People tell me this will be a great compliment one day.

There is no excuse for what happened today.  

I’m writing my novel at La Madeleine again, on my nifty white MacBook with a red file folder out on the table beside it.  It’s bright, my wedding ring is visible, I even tried to dress all sophisticated so I wouldn’t be mistaken for a freshman again.  It didn’t work.  The lady at the next table turns to me and starts a conversation that goes like this:

Lady: Having a good day?

Me: Oh, yes, very productive, thanks.

Lady: So, are you in college?

Me: No, actually.

Lady: Oh!  You’re about to start college, then?

Me: [Awkward pause.  Incredulous disbelief.]  Actually, you are the third person this week who’s thought I’m a freshman.  I graduated back in 2004.

Lady: [Does math in her head.  Jaw drops.] From college?  You’re kidding.  I thought you were sixteen before I asked, actually!

Sixteen?  Sixteen?  I don’t get it, I really don’t.  I know some people who get mistaken for the students they teach on a fairly regular basis, but me?  Not so much.  Ever.  Not until this past week, anyway.  I don’t know what I’m doing differently as of late, maybe I need a haircut or something, but this needs to stop. 

The woman made up for her mistake by telling me (rather sincerely, I might add) she thought I looked like an Abercrombie & Fitch model.  I feel better knowing her judgment is just that terrible, since no one in her right mind would mistake me for one of those.  That must mean I don’t look sixteen, either.

Agh.  I guess this is just another reminder that everyone has their own different perceptions of the world around them.  It just so happens I met three people who have the same different perceptions of me, all in the same week.

Okay, Seriously?

28 Aug

So, now I have proof I’m not just paranoid: there is a fresh dent in the back right side of my husband’s Honda Accord, as of half an hour ago.

I feel like I’ve written so stinkin’ much about bad drivers lately, so I both apologize and thank you sincerely for sticking with me.  Now, thanks to a college girl in a white pickup truck who didn’t look before she backed up, I’m writing about it again.

Fortunately, it doesn’t look too bad and no one was injured.  And, thanks to Aloof Pickup Girl’s insured father, we shouldn’t have too much to pay, right?  In all these years of bad drivers, I haven’t had too much experience with actually having to use insurance, so we’ll see how that goes in real life.

Now that my love has set the claims process in motion, and has set up a meeting to assess the poor Honda’s damage, we are going to proceed with our initial plan for tonight: food and relaxation!

Sylar

26 Aug

Sylar¹ and I have a lot in common, it occurred to me yesterday.  Except I’m not a super-hero (nor a super-villain, for that matter) and I don’t slice people’s foreheads open and I don’t have caterpillars for eyebrows².

Poor Heroesthey’ve had about a zillion plots, loose ends dangle like frayed wires, they drop characters and whole stories without looking back.  For some reason (let’s just call it a Lost-shaped hole in our lives), my husband and I spent several summer evenings watching every Heroes episode they’ve made thus far.  We walked away confused, yet mildly intrigued, by the entire thing.

Sylar was one of the more intriguing characters, at least back in season one.  Back then, he was this power-hungry murderer with no remorse.  These days, he’s a lot less interesting.  The writers are basically toying with motivations like “I’m a product of the circumstances around me, I’m a victim, therefore I slice people’s heads open,” while in the meantime giving him lines fit for a doofus.  

So, a couple of days ago, I was toodling along the highway at a 30mph pace³ and for some reason, thought of Sylar.  Though I am not a fan of his reasoning – victim or not, it is not okay to eat people’s brains – a small thought formed in my head.  Perhaps I, too, am a victim of my circumstances!  Perhaps my lack of patience with stupid drivers is merely the result of many, many, many experiences with people who should never, ever steer a vehicle.  

For example:  on the day this thought popped in for a visit, I’m on my way to a friend’s house (a little late, which made things worse).  I’m toodling not by choice, but because there is a thousand-year-old lady “driving” the ancient car in front of me, with her blinker flashing left.  She swerves left, then back again, then she veers toward the line…but it seems she has no intention of turning.  I’m so close behind her, I can see her reach to the lever beside her steering wheel.  The blinker flashes right momentarily, then switches back to left – at which point the windshield wipers also begin flailing about.  By the way, it was a hundred degrees with no clouds in the wide, blue sky.  Eventually, I made a break for it and passed her, as did a long line of other victims.  The wipers wiped and the blinker blinked the entire time I was behind her.

I could type four different examples from the past 48 hours of things like this†!  I’ll spare you, but seriously – I’m losing patience for a reason, people!  If anyone knows of a place where all the drivers are kind and competent, please let me know and I’ll be on the next flight.

 

¹Villain-extraordinaire from Heroes, played by Zachary Quinto, in case you aren’t familiar.  

²(Anymore) 

³Speed limit? Sixty.

†Man wearing the eyepatch, I’m referring to you.  People make mistakes – the guy in front of you hardly seemed to care that you ran into his back bumper.  What worries me is that you didn’t even notice you’d hit him!

Gray (Though I Like it Spelled Grey Better…)

19 Aug

Why is it that people are so quick to see things only in black and white, but nothing in between?  And then, why is it that people who only see gray forget that black and white must exist in order for gray to happen at all?

I know that’s not much of a blog post, really – it’s so short.  I’m sure I have more to say on the subject, but at the moment it feels best to just leave it at that.  Gray has just been on my mind lately, for reasons not completely related to today’s outfit, a light gray shirt paired with dark gray pants (though choosing that outfit may have had something to do with the fact that gray has been on my mind).

Oy vey.  I’ve gone all artsy-fartsy on you guys.  I’m such a drama queen sometimes.  I’ll be back to my non-vague self soon enough, I promise.

You Really Want to Know? Really?

2 Aug

Do you ever get questions that are impossible to answer?  Questions that make you wonder, um, can you think for yourself?  Questions like these, for example:

“Where’s the bathroom?”  Do I look like I know my way around the Shanghai airport?  Being here once before does not make me an expert of this airport’s layout.  I know ‘bathroom’ is difficult to say in Chinese, but come on – that’s, like, the first thing we learned here.  And you’ve been here once before, too, just like me.  Seriously.  There is a sign two feet away from you that shows you where to go.  

Can I switch to an aisle seat?  I feel sick and don’t want to sit in the middle.”  Do I look like the flight attendant you just spoke with five minutes ago?  She printed your ticket five minutes ago, I’m sure you could go back up there and ask her.  Do I look like I have the necessary authority to switch your seat? 

Lately, I’ve been thinking a little about other such questions and the people who ask them.  I’m a few years beyond the dreaded, “What are you doing after college graduation?” question* but others have risen in its wake, especially since I started writing my novel.

Now, don’t get me wrong – these questions are not ignorant ones, like the ones above.  It’s just that they are the ones everybody asks.

What is your book about?

When will you be finished?

Have you sent it to a publisher yet?

Legitimate questions – difficult to answer.  I’m finding the responses I give depend entirely on who’s asking.  

Some people want to hear nice, quick answers – how you wrote your fantastic breakout novel in one month and scored a publishing deal (and got paid some major big bucks, oh, and they want to make it into a movie) with the first person you showed it to.  Things like that.

 These are the questions that are the hardest to answer, because most people who ask them don’t expect to hear a five- or ten-minute long explanation**.

They’re even less thrilled when you explain, “Well, actually, writing a book takes a good deal of time…Yes, I was still working on this same book months ago…Yes, I’ll probably be working on it for several more months…”

It kinda reminds me of the whole “How are you?” thing where people have time and energy to handle your “I’m great!” but not your “Well, my week was pretty lame, actually, and here’s [thirty minutes explaining] why…”

Sometimes, though, the rare gem of a human being makes your day and wants to hear the truth.

Like the whole “How are you?” thing, these questions feel wonderful to discuss with people who care to hear the real, not-always-neatly-packaged answers.  Some people expect a five-second answer, but are pleased when you tell them more than that.

Thank goodness for people who understand that writing a novel is not a project where you snap your fingers and a finished book appears.  Thank goodness for people who understand the desire to produce my very best possible work, and not just fly through it for the sake of seeing lots and lots of ink-covered pages.  Thank goodness there are people who know, and care, that writing is not just about the finished product but how you got there.  Kinda like life.  

 

*Fortunately.  Being an International Studies major who does not want to work in politics or move overseas does not lend itself to a wealth of job opportunities.

**To clarify: I’m not talking about instances where you are supposed to be succinct, like when pitching your novel.  That’s totally fine with me.  It’s more the I’m asking because I’m being polite and don’t reeeeally care thing that bothers me.

Navy Shirts & Zebra Skirts

30 Jul

Confession:  In the past week, I’ve watched Coraline more times than I’ve done the 30 Day Shred.  My husband said the movie was great – I wouldn’t know, since I fell asleep a third of the way through.  I tend to do this (accidentally, of course).  Just goes to show you how great Lost is, since I never once fell asleep while watching it.

Anyway, back to my confession.  

The negative?  All those posts ago, I was gung-ho about making it through thirty straight days of pain.  Now, here I am, having to admit I abandoned the Shred after the delicious massage I got on our anniversary.  It would have just been wrong to put all those knots back in my neck after she worked so hard to dig them out!  Right?

The positive? After eight long months, the LA Fitness opened in my town.  Finally.  I repeat, finally.  I’ve been going there, instead of doing the Shred.

Everyone I know was beginning to wonder if the fabled gym would ever actually open its doors.  They promised a December opening back when I signed up last November, and, well, it’s almost August now.  For months, it loomed desolate on the corner, bricks in tact but with a jungle for a parking lot.  When I saw a sign that boasted “LA Fitness opens today at 4pm,” I texted my friend, Ha.  I’ll believe it when I see it.  

Lo and behold, the myth was true after all.  

I’ve been there every day since.  Seven minutes each way beats thirty, for sure.  Right off the bat, I noticed two distinct differences between the new gym and the old one.  

First: it’s so nice to see a variety of people working out.  At the old gym, it seemed like only the fast and the super-fit frequented it.  Not so, at this one.  Just as a church is not for the perfect, a gym is not (only) for the in-shape.  Everywhere around me, I see people learning how to lift weights or do crunches for the first time.  Not everyone has proper clothing to work out in, and it reminds me of the days when I’d walk the track in my jeans.  It’s kind of like watching The Biggest Loser in real life, and I hope we all stick around long enough to see some real transformations.

My second observation is not so heart-warming.  However, it is inspiring: it inspires me to talk some sense into one of the sales-people who works there.  Who on this planet works at a gym, and wears the company’s standard-issue navy t-shirt with a zebra print skirt and red heels?  Or, tucked in to a black skirt that goes higher than the belly-button and is paired with gold gladiator sandals?  I thought maybe it was a one-time offense, but no.  It is an everyday thing, apparently.

So, I abandoned my shredding goal.  Truthfully, I don’t feel that bad about it.  The shorter drive leaves plenty of time for a solid workout and time to get a lot done on my novel.  Now, the novel?  That is a goal I will accomplish.  

I’ll keep you posted on the novel (and perhaps on other outrageous outfits worn by the sales girl).  In the meantime, don’t spoil Coraline for me.  I plan to rent it one morning or afternoon, drink a lot of coffee, sit in an uncomfortable spot, and not fall asleep.

Pat Benatar’s Coffee Slave

27 Jul

Attention, Snooty Blonde Woman who wiped out the entire pastry case at Starbucks:

Riding here in a limousine does not give you the right to treat the employees (namely, my friend Wanda) like dirt.  Don’t deny it – I was behind you in line, and heard every word while starving to death.  Okay, not to death.  But starving.  

So what if you are Pat Benatar’s* coffee slave?  It’s not generally considered nice to order the staff around, then ask, “Have they started my cups** yet?”  First of all, the “they” of whom you speak is Wanda, who is currently bagging your two trillion pastries, so no, she has not started your cups.  And when she replies it will take four years (ahem, minutes) for your coffee to brew – since you need gallons of it – realize that Starbucks was not warned they would get hit by Hurricane Coffee Slave today.  

Appropriate ways to treat your barista include the following: gratitude, in abundance.  A non-demanding attitude***.  Not taking ten minutes to order when you see Wanda is the only one available to ring people up, and that a line has formed behind you to the door.  While I’m on the subject of lines – next time, it might be a good idea to step aside when you wait for your order, too.  It looked like Wanda was having a hard time taking everyone else’s requests while you waited (impatiently) for your coffee right in front of her cash register.  Just a thought.

So, in case you’re wondering, everyone in the entire building watched your drama unfold.  Of course, I heard every word because I was behind you the whole time****.  Even though the lowly baristas didn’t look like you’d offended them, there is indeed a reason you carried your spoil back to the limo all by yourself: solidarity.

It’s a good thing I wanted oatmeal, since you took all the scones.   

In the future: be nice, and the world will carry your coffee for you.  You will spill less, and therefore become a happier person.

All my best wishes,

The Girl with the Growling Stomach

 

*Hearsay.  A woman in the drive-through told my friend Ann, who told me.  Pat Benatar, if your coffee slave is a charming angel, my sincerest apologies.  

**”Started my cups?”  For future reference, this doesn’t really make sense.  Do you mean, “Started making my drinks?” or “Did she get my order?”  How, exactly, does one start a cup?

***This means, you say, “May I please have…” instead of, “Give me this, that, and every one of those, at this very instant.  Please grow three more arms, while you’re at it.”

****Starving.

Maintenance Man, You Read My Blog?

16 Jul

Dear Maintenance Man,

I apologize, and all is forgiven.  

Why didn’t you tell me you read my blog?  How else would you know our friendship was in grave danger, unless you read yesterday’s post?  How else would you know I was worried about Remy the Cat’s ninja-like escape tactics, and therefore, you were extra-careful as you opened the door?  

Well, thanks to you, all is right with the world (of our kitchen) again.  I appreciate the way you dropped what you were doing in the parking lot, followed me to my apartment, and then made quick work with your mad repair skills.  You do care, after all.

So here’s a big thank you for restoring my faith in repair people everywhere, Maintenance Man, and for restoring our kitchen to perfect harmony again.  Well, except for the orange ravioli film I told you about yesterday, but that’s not really your problem.

 

You are forgiven,

The Girl with the Red Bird and the Ninja Cat

I Thought You Were My Friend, Maintenance Man

15 Jul

Dear Maintenance Man,

I thought we were friends.  

Remember that little conversation we had about the birds – how that red bird has made both of my birdhouses his home?  Remember how you helped me carry my laundry to my door when you were cleaning the walkway the other day (and how I didn’t complain about the ear-splitting noise of your machine, even though Remy the Cat was completely freaked out)?  

You even tamed the vicious sprinkler for me, the one that decimated my succulents and flooded my porch.  Our parking lot is still a river every time it rains, but I bought some golashes, so I can deal with that.

But seriously?  Our sink’s garbage disposal has been broken since Sunday, when we called you.  I sincerely appreciate you coming by on Monday and letting yourself in to the apartment while my friend and I were sweating to Thirty Day Shred.  I really thought you would come back, especially since I asked you to return in twenty minutes and you said you would.

But, you didn’t come.  It’s getting increasingly difficult to move around the dirty dishes we can’t rinse in our backed up sink; the sink, by the way, is now a nice shade of orange from where the ravioli residue crept toward its eventual death.  

Call me crazy, but since I very clearly said, “Please come back in twenty minutes,” I did not expect for my husband to get a phone call saying you attempted service twice, and that I told you to come back both times, especially since this is not how it went down.

I thought we were friends.  Of course, if you resolve this soon, I am willing to forgive you, since I would miss those chats about the red bird and the extra hand with my laundry.  When you come, just watch out for Remy the Cat.  He tends to greet people at the door, and if you’re not careful, he may just run for his life out that door.  If you lose our cat, I think our friendship will be forever ruined.

 

So!  Thanks in advance, Mr. Maintenance Man,

The Girl in 134 West

Seriously, Is Sprint Trying to Sabotage Me?

3 Jul

Bzzzzzzz.  Bzzzzzzz.  I hear the Hungarian Dance melody of my husband’s phone somewhere in the next room.  Ten minutes later, it goes off again.  Once I’ve peeled myself out of bed to give Remy the Cat his morning Greenies (after a few your-foot-is-a-mouse-under-those-covers-and-I-must-pounce-and-destroy! episodes, I gave in), it goes off again.  Too bad my sweet husband has the day off and I’ve never worked his phone before.  Also too bad that I have no clue what time it actually is.

His phone says 7:59am when I turn off the first alarm.  Mine said 8:45am when I woke up, but I’m not so sure I trust it, because last night, it said it was midnight when it was actually one in the morning.  Our phone contract is up soon, and I’m convinced Sprint has this secret plan to make our phones go all haywire suddenly, which will eventually lead us to be enticed by the cheap phone + new two-year commitment = no more screwy phones deal.  This would be dandy except we both want I-phones, and everyone knows (especially Sprint) that we can’t get service on them through our current provider.

This is not the first time our phone clocks have proved unreliable.  Over the past two weeks, both of our phones have oscillated unpredictably between three time zones.  The weirdest part is how they will revert to normal when you get a text message (sometimes) and then, five minutes later, it’s wrong again.  Just Monday evening, for instance, my phone said 7:52pm on the outside display (WRONG!).  I flipped it open, and the inside said 8:52pm.  I flipped back and forth a few times, showed my husband, and then mysteriously, they both matched – on the wrong time.  

Oh, well.  At least we have a microwave, a wall clock, a wristwatch, and the digital television guide to help us figure out what time it is, right?  You would think so.  

Unfortunately, all of our time-keeping mechanisms decided to backfire at once.  Our wall clock is almost out of batteries, so it is perpetually in the six- to ten-hour range of wrong.  The power went out the other day, and our microwave needed re-setting.  Whether by human error or machine vengeance, this clock now says noon when it should read ten in the morning.  Then, when I was still pouting from my sore loss at Canasta (our newest game obsession), the TV news said 10:15pm in the corner, when Jimmy Kimmel had clearly finished his entire show already.  A few days ago, after his set of phone alarms rang an hour early, my husband woke up to his upside down wristwatch.  He thought he was crazy late for work because the time looked like 9:07 when it was really 7:15.  

So…hmmm.  I guess Sprint probably didn’t sabotage our microwave or the local news or the wall clock’s batteries.  They probably didn’t creep in and turn his watch wrong-side up, right?  Which means this is all either a very, very twisted plan to keep us from buying I-phones, or it’s just a very, very strange (not to mention annoying) coincidence.  Ah, the little things we take for granted.  I guess I actually figured out how to shut off his misguided alarm, since I haven’t noticed it for a while.