Thursday, October 27, 2005

Mourning My Newfound Practicality

I can’t believe it either. Today, I bought shoes far more sensible than I wanted. Convincing The Boy*-- after complaining of my Sharpie-aided “repairs” wasn’t enough-- that boots with broken heels just wouldn’t get me through the next two seasons, I ventured out to buy new black boots. It wouldn’t be my preference, but I live in boots in these, the least fair of seasons. Because they just make sense. And I know, my life is changing; my footwear needs are changing. I just wasn’t prepared for the sensibility that overcame me this afternoon.

They are my first pair of Aerosoles. My feelings were as mixed as the signals I unintentionally delivered to unsuspecting men in the days before I met The Boy. As you can see above, they are pant boots; not those awful “booties” I will never understand, and not the knee-length hooker boots I so adore. That’s not what makes them sensible. Referring back to the visual aid, you will notice the heel is only about two inches high, and it’s far from stiletto. I winced, spotting the red, pointy-toed, black-heeled stilettos across the aisle, then eyed my black, square-toed reliables. With rubber soles. And cushioned insteps. Neither of those amenities has been on my list of must-haves—let alone in my closet—since my parents funded my fetish. And even then, it was only when Dad paid.

Please don’t misunderstand me; I don’t feel these shoes are frumpy. But they are a completely different species than the knee-high street-walker boots that strike fear in the hearts of cockroaches in corners everywhere that I have in my closet. And love beyond all reason. I feel scandalous in those shoes, sometimes apologizing with my eyes when both women and men raise disapproving eyebrows. Then, sometimes I don’t apologize.

There will be no raised eyebrows as I stumble (because, let’s face it, shoes can’t change everything) through life in my Aerosoles. There will also be less limping, less complaining from The Boy about how slow I move when he insists on walking everywhere, even when it’s freezing, less foot pain, fewer shin splints. Less. I fear that I will grow so accustomed to walking without pain, that my beloved stilettos will go unworn. Walking out of Off Broadway with my sensible purchase, I had the distinct feeling that this was only the first of many times I would depart a shoe store, forlorn, knowing that I had acquired what I needed, but that was all. These shoes are my spinach; roughage for the soul.

* For those wondering why I would need to convince The Boy before making a purchase, never fear, that rant is coming soon.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Please, Allow Me to Entertain You

Do I really have to apologize for the poor treatment you feel you have received? What’s the problem? Not enough to read while you slack at work? No longer able to entertain yourselves, eh? God forbid any of you who actually know me resort to calling or e-mailing me. (And, Parker, those “I love your blog and feel guilty for not writing you, but then I don’t,” halfhearted attempts at repentance don’t count.)

I share this venom with you, because today I received an e-mail admonishing me thusly:

“You do need to update your blog. You can barely call that Starbucks one an entry. Us crickets have high expectations and I have to be honest with you, that's what friends are not meeting them. I didn't read it for a week and I missed NOTHING.”

Yes, that is an actual e-mail from an actual cricket. And my only response can be, why did you take a week off in the first place? Shame on you.

Since last we spoke, my relieved crickets, I have been maintaining. (Because, as I reassured a stressed-out classmate last night, “Well, it’s not like you can crack under the pressure, because you don’t have time to crack, so you’ll wonder if you can keep going, and then of course you’ll just keep going because you don’t really have a choice.” Hmm. Looking at it now, it might not have been the help she was seeking.)

First, it’s a good thing I have been so underwhelmed at “work” these days. Otherwise, I’m not sure how I ever would have accomplished all the school work I’ve had. Professionally, things are, allegedly, going to attempt to drown me in about a week’s time, and now I fear that the quality of my school work will slip. Because, really, I don’t have time in any area of my life except for here. I’ve never met anyone who was relieved to come to work, but sometimes it feels that way. We’ll have to figure out a new juggling method.

Brother returned to the area last weekend (did you not hear the fanfare?), after an emergency landing in Nashville delayed his flight four hours and thoroughly freaked out our mom. He was devastated to learn, as we all eventually do, that you can go home, but it’s never going to be the same again. At 24, I’m finally starting to be okay with this, but at 17, he is in denial that it’s even true. Because classes and parties and football games go on even if he’s not there. Kids date and break up and make new friends no matter where he parks his car at night. He started to get over his disappointment by the time we saw him on Saturday.

We had just arrived at my parents’ house, much to the beagle’s surprise and joy, when my mom greeted The Boy and his offer to help with, “There’s a project for you downstairs.” So, I made dessert; he assembled an elliptical trainer. He mused, "Do you ask me to do things just so I'll be out of your hair and you won't have to socialize with me?" To which Mom replied only with laughter.

When Brother finally decided to bless us with his presence a couple hours later, we all marveled over his growth and weight gain and newly-spiked hair for a few minutes before the boys discovered Madden on PS2. And that was pretty much the end of it. At one point I heard yelling and various, “For the love of GOD” and “Are you KIDDING me?” statements coming from the family room, punctuated by raucous laughter. Brother creamed The Boy, and the male family members couldn't get enough of the spectacle. They left dinner early for a rematch. I had to drag them away for dessert, which they left early as well. At 10:40 I was exhausted, knowing that 6:00 would come early.

Me: Honey, I’m really glad you’re having such a good time, but it’s nearly 11:00. You know I have to get up at 6:00 tomorrow. Can you please wrap this up?
Him: Babe, GOSH, just give me twenty minutes, the game will be over.
Me: UGH.
Brother: Jeez, Christi, just let us play.

Me: Honey, pleeease? It’s 11:00. I’m so tired. You know I’m sick. Can we please go?
Him: Baby, REALLY, it’s best two out of three! If I leave now, we won’t know who won!
Me: (continuing to remind him what time it is, what time I will get home, and what time I need to wake up, which is about three hours before he does)
Him: FINE (throws controller)
Brother: GOSH, Christi, I can’t believe you. We only had half a game left. You’re so ridiculous.

Kisses, hugs, and goodbyes. Once in the car, I said, “Babe, I’m sorry you couldn’t finish your game, but can’t you try to see where I’m coming from?”

He replied, “No. I don’t understand why you wouldn’t let me finish the game. It was best two out of three. Why do you have to be so selfish?”

The next day, waiting for the boys to show up to lunch, Mom informed me that Brother pouted for a full 10 minutes after we left. I called Brother to ask what was taking them so long.

Me: Where are you guys?
Me:You heard me.
Him: Uhh….Best Buy?
Me: We are all waiting for you at the restaurant. Everyone is here. What are you doing?
Him: Taking care of some unfinished business.

Getting in the car after lunch, The Boy lamented not being able to see Brother again for a couple of months. “I really miss that kid.”

But sometimes I think maybe it’s best for everyone involved that, for now, they live thousands of miles apart.

Those of you hoping for more misadventures from my return to higher education, D.C. edition, may be disappointed to know that I have navigated our fair nation’s capital without a hitch the last two weeks in a row. (I feel confident it would have been more, had I not been out of class the previous two weeks.) This week I got my first graded assignment back (one of two that feature prominent crickets). I was the first person in the room and, when the professor arrived, she complimented me on my story and asked if she could talk to the class about it. I (blushed) and said sure.

At the end of class, when she gave papers back, she began to talk about mine…and then she read it—in its entirety—to the whole class. She stopped to compliment my word and choice and quote usage and unique style—again, in front of everyone—and I did my best to control my facial expression. What is the appropriate one? I think I chose a mix of embarrassment and apology. But then, walking to my car in the cold rain (I remembered my umbrella and a jacket this time), I called The Boy to brag. Because if you can’t let your biggest fan support you, what is the point?

Friday, October 21, 2005

Help a Sista Out?

So, as you probably know, I'm a writer. I write. One of the pieces I'm currently working on is a story about Starbucks and its effect on American culture. To that end, I would really appreciate it if you would spend a couple of minutes taking my survey. It's short, I promise. Come, on, you have to. All the cool kids are doing it. Plus, maybe your name will make it into the story and you'll become famous. You never can tell.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Someone Please Call 911

Maybe it’s because I’ve spent too much time listening to Little Sister’s teenager voice, or maybe it’s because of the inordinate amount of trash I am wont to read when there is nothing more productive I feel compelled to do, but lately I find myself saying one phrase repeatedly: I’m over (fill in the blank).

For example:
“Hey, Christina! How’s the painting going?”
“Ugh, I’m so over it.”
“How’s school going?”
“I have another story due, and I’m so over it.”
“How are things with The Boy?”
“Well, I’m kinda….”

Just kidding on that one. But I’m not kidding that my lack of enthusiasm has extended so far as to reach my beloved life teammate. I found myself comforting a friend by reminding her that we all get scared, no matter our station in life. First, for example and for many, the prospect of lifelong singleness may keep them tossing and turning. I, for one, had that fear and did not think for a second that it was irrational. (Well, it wasn’t just that. I thought I’d probably get married, but that I’d end up marrying someone I wasn’t attracted to.) Anyway, regardless, that was a fear. Now, here I am, mired in premaritalness, and the thought of marriage is sometimes daunting. But, of course, that’s not how I put it; I said I was scared to get married.

A few days later, said dear friend approached me nervously: “You know when you said you were scared to get married? Uhh, that’s just normal stuff, right?” And she was right to wonder and right to check, but apparently my words have been betraying me. Once again, it would seem, it is time for an attitude adjustment. Anyone know a good mood chiropractor? Aetna doesn’t accept mine.

I hesitate to say that we are fresh, but here we are, still standing, after New England came to town. People were just everywhere. Visits with those guys are always nice, but they leave me feeling like a grandma or Nanny from the Muppet Babies (you know, minus the striped stockings. Because, really.). I just walk around behind the boys, picking things up, cooking meals, dolling out Excedrin. I am younger than everyone who visited, but after they left, I just felt so old. I would say I just can’t do it anymore, but I don’t think I really ever could.

Despite my rapid aging, the weekend was fun, and most of the house got painted. There is just trim work left, except for in the bathroom. I attempted to face off with the wallpaper on Saturday, despite being told repeatedly that we had neglected to buy the proper tool. I got about a four and a half by two foot strip finished. It took me at least an hour. I feel like that bathroom will never be done.

The Boy’s movers are coming tomorrow, and he is a headcase. Despite my repeated attempts towarn him that two evenings of packing after a weekend of familial company was not realistic, voilà. I know it will get done, but I’m not looking forward to learning how. The scariest words I’ve heard lately? “Babe, the only thing left is the kitchen, and you said you would help with that, so really that’s not a lot at all.” Show of hands, who knows this statement is not at all true?

Another story due tonight, and it is my first workshop with these people. I’ve procrastinated writing it until today, because I’m not thrilled with the notes I took. Much like when dear Tara (The Fan) ceases the telling of her own story because she loses interest, I feel that I cannot successfully sell my writing if I don’t believe it’s worth buying. And I don’t have high hopes for this one.

Enough, is there a doctor in the house? I tried to tell you, these alignment issues are really pervasive.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Is that a Notebook, or are You Just Happy to See Me?

Last night I called The Boy from class, where I had been released on the campus of JHU to “observe and record a scene.” Sure. Ain’t no thing. Except my travails on said campus are dramatic and well-documented . I was only given 25 minutes to complete my assignment, and obviously that is not enough time to get lost, find my way back and capture a scene. So, I went to the building next door, where I witnessed a one-woman show masquerading as a social change group meeting. Also, I saw a salsa class. And also, a guy who looked a lot like Ron Isley, but with cornrows. Surprisingly, no one seemed to notice me.

I say it’s surprising, because Friday night I set out in Cross Street Market to do the very same thing. For back-up, I brought The Boy and Ryan. I figured they could cover me. In the brief few moments The Boy stepped away to buy a beer, it started. A tall guy in an oxford and jeans who looked more Capitol Hill than Federal Hill approached me. And by “approached me” I mean “assaulted me with his closeness.”

Him: What are you doing, taking notes?
Me: Yeah, kind of.
Him: About what? Are you writing about me? Just watching things? Why are you doing this?
Me: I have to write a story for a class. If you’ll excuse me.
Him: What is it going to be about? Do you have any ideas? What are you thinking? You must have some ideas up there?
(NOTE: I still get annoyed when The Boy, a.k.a. The Love of My Life, asks me what I’m thinking. So you can imagine my irritation with this guy, who was rocking Preppy, I feel confident, from the first time it was cool.)
Me: I’m just watching what’s going on.
Him: So you’re just going to see what happens, huh? Well will you tell me? Will you tell me what happens?
Me: Fine (and I spun around on my stool).

Thankfully, Ryan arrived to rescue me. The Boy had witnessed these happenings from afar and sent him. Bless him. Preppy when Preppy Wasn't Cool changed positions all evening so that he could stare me and The Boy (who was wearing paiting clothes, including an inappropriate t-shirt) down. Really, if you're so insecure that you think it's about you that the girl you are miserably hitting on is engaged, I don't really know what to tell you.

So, unfortunately, my notebook and I could not go unnoticed. It baffled me; in a place where a toothless, tattooed man wearing long jean shorts OVER jeans and menacingly wielding a golf umbrella can yell things like “Who’s your daddy,” and, “Why won’t you have somebody call me,” then later, to a fire fighter, “I’m really messed up, you have to believe me,” without ANYONE noticing, I cannot sit quietly on a stool, in a corner with a notebook and pen without people stopping midsentence then talking to their friends about me. Welcome to Baltimore.

As I was saying. I called The Boy from class, expecting him to be at his apartment, packing, as his move is scheduled for next week. (So far, he has packed his DVDs, and only because I convinced him he could do so while watching Monday Night Football.) His voice echoed on the phone. “I’m at the house,” he said, purposely vague. The Home, if you will. Patiently, if tersely, I asked what he was doing there.
“You won’t believe it, babe, but there is just so much to get done.” I did, in fact, believe it, as we have scheduled a painting party for which seven people from Connecticut are coming down this weekend. They are not, however, coming to help The Boy pack. I kindly reminded him of this fact.

An hour and a half later, as he had requested, I called once I was finished with class. He answered, echoing. Another hour later, he showed up with "Serengeti Plain" paint (the green in what will be our bedroom) all over his hands, but none on the clothes he had worn to work. Apparently, he had painted in his boxers. At least the man has his priorities down.

Regarding the planning of our blessed event, we have successfully found and booked a photographer and d.j. and received our save-the-date cards. Since there is really no need to send these cards to everyone we are inviting, I assumed it would be a breeze to address and send them. Until I looked at the list on which The Boy and I collaborated. My portion includes full names, children’s names, where applicable, addresses, phone numbers, and e-mail addresses. His list actually says the following: Mike, Stacy, Child 1, Child 2. I don’t have any idea what these people’s last names are or who their children are or even in what states they live. I asked The Boy, again, to get this information for me, and he replied, “Oh, but that’s one of those Christina jobs. You’re just so good at stuff like that,” to which I replied, “I know nothing about magic.”

At work, I have been moved from my counter into someone’s old office. With a door. I have no reason to shut the door, but I do, simply because I can. I returned to my fake office with a happy meal today, and was dismayed as I watched it get cold, while Hawaiian Shirt Guy (we’ve become quite close) and Hawaiian Shirt Guy in twenty years came to visit. They did not only know I had not eaten my lunch, they followed me in and commented on my happy meal box. It’s pretty bad that I’ve only spoken to this guy for several months, and I already impatiently finish his sentences. Maybe, much like my iPod Party Shuffle, he needs to mix it up a bit more.

I neglected to tell you crickets that the toasted-cheese-exposing Texan, she of the voice just shy of dog-whistle range, is no longer with us. For secretive reasons that it’s about time were no longer a secret. I had occasion to use her desk today, and all that remain are crumbs and two packets of Arby's sauce.

Such is life.

Friday, October 07, 2005

There’ll be Time Enough for Countin’ When the Dealin’s Done

I am now a proud, if broke, homeowner.

Now, I realize I have little room to complain, as my situation is not like most. My fiancé (and co-borrower) is also my mortgage broker (and one of my bridesmaids is his assistant). My father is my real estate agent. My mother is my title processor. And my aunt works in the title office too. The first of the differences that this nepotism presents, aside from not getting taken, is that I got to choose what kind of Otis Spunkmeyer cookies I wanted at my settlement. Oatmeal cranberry and chocolate chip (check and check). The boy wanted coffee (hazelnut, check).

The seller had already moved to Tennessee, so it was a family affair. Mom’s boss did the settlement, but I’ve known her since my not-so-triumphant return to Maryland, so that was comfortable too. If only I hadn’t looked at that huge number that represents how much I will have paid over the course of 30 years…but I keep telling myself “I will not live in this house forever. I will not live in this house forever.” And, really, I won’t.

After I signed 1,684 documents, some of them twice, we were mini-showered! My aunt and parents and Mom’s boss visited our Hecht’s registry and made some fabulous purchases. Not, of course, without difficulty. My aunt called me, panicked, that morning, telling me she had looked at the registry just out of “curiosity” and found some interesting information.

Before she told me what it was I knew. “Oh my gosh, it’s the wrong wedding.” Believe it or not, I have still not escaped the ghost of the wedding that never was. I remembered that my mother and I, in the absence of my “fiancé” at the time, had half-heartedly registered for china three years ago. Oops. And it was still in their system, under my nickname. Which is a name that many people know me by, meaning that the wrong registry was bound to be seen. And the boy is far too fantastic to have the ghost haunting our greatness. I wrote a strongly worded e-mail to the people there and received an immediate apology for any embarrassment it caused. “Oh, there is definitely embarrassment,” I replied, “but that’s certainly not your fault.”

Incidentally, we also learned that The Boy got married to a certain Sherri Smith in New York a couple of years ago. I told him about this, and he said, “I knew that skeleton was bound to come out at some point.” I wonder if she needs a new wedding dress...

At the settlement table, The Boy said, “We’re considered first time Maryland home buyers because the house I bought with my other wife was in New York.” Nice.

But, onto the mini-shower! We got great stuff, including our stellar, stemless red wine glasses (to go with the complimentary “Capitol Title Red Wine” we received at settlement) and champagne flutes (to go with the non-complimentary Brut we picked up later that night). Most important, though, was the package addressed only to The Boy. He was ecstatic (“THIS is what showers are like? I wanna come!”). He gently opened the paper to reveal a Waterford box. (“Ooh, it’s crystal,” he said. Do you realize how funny it is that, two weeks ago, he didn’t know that?) Yeah, so he got his beloved butter dish. A freaking $60 butter dish. THANK GOD.

We immediately went to The Home (as The Boy calls it), and toured it with my parents and Little Sister, who asked “Okay, which one is my room? I think I’d like the front one,” and then, “Can I paint my room any color I want?” Umm, no, probably not. The Boy has made great strides, some of them more than I can even handle, in this last year, but I don’t think a purple and pink striped guest room would fly with him. The man has his limits.

Mom and Dad took us to dinner at Our Italian Restaurant (no, really, first date, place The Boy asked my dad for my hand, first anniversary, etc.). After that The Boy and I bought bubbly and toasted to us while we obsessively toured The Home. He was all knocking down walls and adding rooms and I was thinking, “This wallpaper comes down, yes?” We need to work on tweaking our "vision."

After an exhilarating night of measuring every inch in the house, we are off to buy paint and supplies today. I don’t think Home Depot is ready for us.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Give a Girl the Correct Footwear, and She can Conquer the World

Last Tuesday I surveyed the backseat of my car. A 12-pack of diet cherry coke, a couple of empty water bottles, a Bible and several Tupperware containers lay beneath four pairs of shoes. Linen stiletto mules and black, wing-tipped pumps were strewn across the floor, their heels pointed menacingly in the air. Another pair of shoes, flats, peeked out of my attaché. How did it come to this?

I find that my life has come to be defined by the foods that I eat but, more importantly, by the shoes that I wear. Unconvinced? Let’s walk through Tuesday. 6 a.m., red and white Sauconys for running around the park. 8 a.m., chocolate brown, peep-toe stiletto pumps (Parker and Tara—don’t they sound super cute?), a triple threat Power Bar and a Big Gulp diet coke on the way to work. 11:30 a.m., a 100 calorie pack of Ritz Snack Mix and dirty, white canvas Nike slides from my bottom desk drawer for walking with the ladies in the office. 12 p.m., back to the peep-toe pumps and, shortly thereafter, a rosemary chicken Lean Cuisine. 4:45 p.m., camel-colored suede moccasin flats for powerwalking up steps and across quads for my class and a six-inch tuna on wheat from Subway on the way.

And so, really, my new hobby is changing my shoes. Maybe I was inspired (or shamed) by the flats-wearing pedestrians in D.C. (Although, unless it’s flops in the summer, I’m not so inclined to wear actual flats. I’m working toward a compromise. Last week it was Nine West olive green, round-toe low-heeled pumps that I got for $24.98, but saw elsewhere ON SALE for $59.99. Really, you can’t beat it.) Or, maybe all this shuffling is bred out of necessity. Two weeks in a row, I got a little overzealous with a callous shaver and skinned the bottoms of my feet. Any idea how painful it is to walk excessively on raw feet? (You don’t have to raise your hand, but should you be unfortunate/compulsive enough to know this type of pain, try Band-Aid’s cushioned blister bandages. Really, they're remarkable.)

Or maybe— and I’m kind of assuming this is true, all the while hoping it isn’t— I am finally learning what “grown-up shoes” really are. In college, in preparation for an induction ceremony, I took inventory of my closet and saw
scores of four-inch platform shoes. It occurred to me that my impending graduation would need to breed some changes in my life. One of them, I felt certain, was that I needed more adult hair. I vowed to cut it. (And, after the unfortunate marital “false start,” as a symbol of my “independence,” I did chop it. But that was several years ago, and here I am, a bona-fide adult, growing it out again.) But I also decided I needed grown-up shoes. And, for the record, my dad told me I was ridiculous, while insisting that it really isn't necessary or possible for form and function to marry. Obviously, I think you know where I stand on this matter.

I bought a pair of square-toed, stacked-heel black dress shoes from Payless. They slid off the back of my heels, so I stuffed the toe with toilet paper. I hadn’t done that since I was six. Dressed for my induction ceremony, I walked through the dining hall to get rid of my tray. On the way, I had to pass a table full of football players eating Sunday dinner. I knew they were watching me as I approached; I assumed it was because I looked so sophisticated. I tried to play it up with nonchalance as I walked by, but my stacked heels skidded on the floor and I fell, tray in hand, to my knees. There I was, directly in front of their table, on my knees, with my tray. I think one of them helped me up. They just stared at me. One said, “Oh my God, are you okay?” I don’t know if I answered him. I yanked my skirt down and walked (more carefully, but still with purpose) to return my tray. On the way back, I leaned into the table, “And thanks for not laughing directly in my face, guys. Really, that is impressive.” And my cheeks were really red.

Anyway, so, the moral of the story is, those were obviously not grown-up shoes. Grown ups do not deliberately laugh in the face of blisters and hammertoes and wear stilettos under any conditions (except for those crazy girls in New York. I could never live there. The implied footwear peer pressure is too much for me). Sometimes, coolness be damned, grown ups suck it up and wear loafers. I’ll have to remember that later today as I walk by the cute little undergrads and try not to feel frumpy.
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