You never call. You never write. At most you’ll send me an email when you’ve decided to move forward in your relationship with someone else, which, to be perfectly honest, seems a little callous when we haven’t even had the chance to discuss where things were going between us first. I know these things happen, and people just fall out of touch, but it feels like I’m putting in all the effort and you’re just playing hard to get.
Like last week, when you called and asked me what I was looking for. I told you I wanted to experience life: explore new adventures, learn new skills, meet new friends and collaborators. You asked if I thought I could do that with you and I said yes, without a doubt, with conviction and strength and bravery. You said you would call back within 48 hours and now it’s been an entire week! Every telephone ring I look for your number on the screen. Phantom cell phone vibrations haunt me in my sleep. I can’t work, I can’t focus, I can’t stop thinking about you and the way I imagined your suit and tie and your corner office with catered Friday lunches.
All my friends tell me I shouldn’t call you; that it’s a waste of time and you’re not worth it. Or worse, that you might think I’m desperate or clingy when all I want are some answers. When can I come in to meet you? What hours will I work? Is there room in that office for me? But if I call you’ll think I’m a loser, or just incapable of following instructions, but you, you are worse. You’re a liar who never called! And maybe I shouldn’t harass you with a follow up email, but I just want to make sure everything is in order and that you’re still alive and in business. My grandfather responds faster to an email than you do. I mean, are you really qualified to make this sort of administrative decision when you clearly struggle with responding to your own correspondence?
I know a lot of people are interested in you. How could they not be? You’re successful, talented, creative, and rolling in the dough. You’ve got a lot to offer a girl like me, and that doesn’t go unnoticed. So I want you to know that I’m fully aware that you’re getting a lot of other offers to consider, and you should. I’m not going to be the girl to write you a cliche letter telling you that you are the coffee to my early mornings, the champagne to my mimosas, or the Sriracha to my breakfast burrito. I just won’t. Enough is enough. I’ve told you how I feel--in fact, I’ve told you many times within the last few weeks, within the last few years--and now it’s your turn. Good or bad. I can’t not know how you feel about me any longer.
Will you hire me? (Check yes or no)
All the best,
What It Feels Like (Edition)*: When you’re supposed to be trapped in a blizzard but get less than one inch of snow.
I despise the jinxers out there. There are two kinds of people who jinx in this scenario: those who cry snow day at the very mention of flurries, and those who pray for a fluke, a weather channel prank. Today’s for you, jinxers, may you enjoy your snowless day off. My heart, on the contrary, aches. I stayed awake all night, not caring that the news had already broke; school canceled for what? I waited up like a lover waits for her gentleman’s reply to her text What are YOU thinking? Fair trade organic coffee beans hid in my cupboard while almond milk and local cage-free eggs rested quietly in the fridge. I still waited, even as the forecast kept pushing you back, further and further from my sight, until the chance of light snow at 5am was all that remained. I fell asleep to the whisper of crappy television, knowing in my heart of hearts, it was all gone. My chance at the soft, silent light of the night. The freshest, and the best, the white ground before the corruption of slush and dog piss was, irreparably, lost to the sea. The current no longer drifting in but pulling you further north once more. Say goodbye to the angels, the sleds, whiskey in your coffee. I have not earned today, so I sit inside, hiding from the sun, for it melts all that is left of the evening’s fall.
With only four more days to go until Christmas, I’ve locked myself in my apartment with my sick little body and super-sized bottle of NyQuil where I can safely avoid the swarm of holiday shoppers, sight-seeing “flockers,” and general jerks during this busy shopping weekend and, hopefully, recover from this cold in peace. I put in my hour at Trader Joe’s earlier, and after frogger-ing my way around the post-work crowd and discovering some Trader Schmo had bought up all the semisweet chocolate chips, I think I need to remind myself of my rules of retail shopping, especially applicable during this time of the year.
It’s quite simple, really: have some goddamn respect. This goes for the people waiting on you and the people waiting with you.
As a former retail associate/server/basic bitch at a handful of markets, bakeries and restaurants, I’ve wasted my time trying to help too many assholes. People often say that everyone should have to work in retail in order to better understand how to treat other people. This theory is part of our whole “treat others as you’d like to be treated” mantra. I’m sorry, but I don’t think you need to work as a cashier to know that throwing a handful of empty peanut shells at an employee is a shitty thing to do. Throw your own trash away, get off your phone, and* use your words. This means if you’re unhappy with a product, confused about a sign that said 50% OFF, or just not sure what you want, maybe you should ask. Politely. Because instantly yelling at someone who has little to no control over the situation, and who probably worked on Thanksgiving and probably has to work on Christmas Eve is mean. Don’t be a bully.
Respect your fellow shoppers by not pretending that the concept of a line is totally foreign to you! If a 2 year old knows how to line up, so can you. Respect your fellow shoppers by not ramming into them to get to something or somewhere faster. Seriously, dude at Trader Joe’s, I wasn’t going to grab the last 39 cans of sardines you shoved past me for. Respect your fellow shoppers by getting out of the way if you’re contemplating how many cinnamon scented candles you’ll need for the next week. The answer is one. You only need one candle.
How about we just steal the three rules of every museum and use them everywhere we shop? That means no running, no yelling, and no touching.
If you don’t know someone, don’t touch them. Don’t push them. Don’t ask to hold their baby or touch their fur jacket, ‘cause that’s weird. Don’t yell at someone because they got the last Queen Elsa doll and don’t yell at your kid for wanting to be anywhere but shopping with you (who could blame them?). Don’t run into me and we’ll be cool.
Finally, to go above and beyond all you have to do is say thank you! But don’t fucking smile unless you really mean it, because we’ve already got enough fake commercial bullshit this time of year as it is.
*Preschool Teacher Alert
Apologies for the disappearing act, you probably robotic visitors you, but it’s happening again. The plague of my West Philadelphia residency has spread. No, I’m not talking about anarchist vegans on the prowl. No, it’s not bearded guitarists crooning from the front porch. No, I’m not even thinking about Omar, the neighborhood court jester. Please, I can brush those all off my shoulder without even breaking into a sweat. It’s those masked critters that are hunting me down--the kind that won’t back off in a draw. Their intimidation factor is at an all-time high, and as I see it, their only goal is to have me peeing my pants.
There’s no specific name for what we’re about to talk about today. There are at least five different big words to describe you if you’re afraid of cats: you have elurophobia, felinophobia, ailurophobia, galeophobia, or gatophobia. Take your pick. Maybe I could say I have agrizoophobia, the fear of wild animals. Maybe better, I’m lyssophobic. You know, afraid of rabies or of becoming mad. But really, I’m already mad and this is strictly about my (not so) irrational fear of raccoons.
Just look at those guys. People make stuffed animals that are fluffy and soft, comforting toys for a child to fall asleep cuddling. Calendar images with their lunar eyes gazing out into the evening sky, climbing trees, and nibbling on scavenged grub. Raccoons are portrayed as cute, cuddly critters and embraced as a symbol of curiosity and exploration. Those aren’t the bandits I know.
Let me explain. It happened for the first time over four years ago. A cigarette break on the front porch overlooking 44th Street. Midnight. Past bedtime. I was alone, inhaling tobacco and staring out at the street rather than laying in bed with a book or resting up for work like I should have been. Perhaps it was a warning: stop smoking, don’t go out alone at night, move closer to your parents. Suddenly, a thud to my left made me jump. My eyes met two more staring straight back, unnerving, a raccoon the size of a pit bull shaking menacingly before me. It felt like minutes that the two of us stared at each other, neither backing down. I refused to unlock my gaze as I slowly rose to my feet on the ledge I had been sitting on and began to back up, climbing slowly over the metal railing to the connected porch behind me. The monster kept staring, kept shaking. After what felt like an eternity, he ran away, down the front steps of my porch and up the sidewalk, looking as though it was running towards the porch I now stood on. I jumped and ran inside, slamming the door, myself now shaking.
Take two. A new apartment, a few blocks away. This evening it’s earlier but still dark. I’m walking home, planning to take the back gate in through the alley and make my way to the front door. There it is. Next to the gate. Smaller than the last, but just as bold. We meet eyes. It knows I’m trying to get past. Instead I briskly change directions, crossing the street and intending to make an unnecessarily large circle back around the opposite direction to get inside. The raccoon follows. I run across the street again, it follows! It’s only 7 p.m., where is the rest of humanity? I sprint back across the street, around, and inside heaving like I’ve just run a marathon. I now know their aggression is building.
Numbers three and four. Yet another apartment. This time and the next, it’s my back fire escape. Luckily, this time and the next, I’m not alone. It’s late. We’re loudly listening to music, debating a world full of sorrow and pop culture, and drinking too many beers, when I feel staring again. If I were to imagine a gaze more intimidating, I might believe I was facing pure evil itself. We stomp. It stays. We stomp again, louder. This raccoon is less ambitious. It backs down quickly and retreats. I retreat indoors, vowing to stay away from my precious fire escape.
Finally, we come to the most recent of encounters. Once more, a new apartment. Once more, a late night cigarette. It’s quiet out. We’ve yet to establish an ash tray out front, so I walk to the alley to toss my butt in the garbage cans. I lift the lid. Two masked eyes hiding in the trash! The lid drops with a thud. You know the rest.
I’m aware that, especially written down, it sounds like this feud is a fabrication that my neurotic self has created. A way of feigning fear and danger into an otherwise boring existence. A misunderstanding of a gathering creature that is simply searching out its next meal. An animal once at home, now being driven out of its neighborhood by the buildings and people and automobiles that have come to stay.
Or maybe I’m the raccoon whisperer. Perhaps I’m being called on a spiritual voyage, a mission of discovery or riches. The seeker in them is calling on the seeker in me. We’re sharing secrets, the things we’ve discovered. Even maybe, encouraging reckless abandon in one another, moving forward without fear of the unknown.
It’s all in my head. I’m being stalked! It’s pure coincidence. This I say to you, raccoons, whatever your intentions may be: It’s time to put an end to my raccoon chronicles. Stop following me, stop showing up at my home, and stop staring me down. Let a girl smoke in peace.
Have any of you guys come to the inevitable mid-twenties decision that it’s finally, really, actually [going to do it this] time to get your shit together? I’m talking like you’ve spent the last eleven or so months laying around with your boyfriend smooching and binge-watching Breaking Bad and Scandal, smoking pack after pack of cigarettes and drinking bottle after bottle of tequila, putting off that whole finding a new job thing and then all of a sudden it’s the beginning of summer and you’ve got to find a new apartment, find a new job, arrange travel plans to go wish your grandfather a happy 90th birthday that requires renting a car and driving across the state, start getting back in shape AND quit smoking but also realizing that although you have to do all of this, you have NO CREDIT? Cause that’s what I’m going through.
Here’s the thing: some of it’s great. Forreal. I haven’t smoked in three days. I’ve gone on three runs and completed about three hours of yoga since Sunday. I feel great (minus the nicotine cravings that get really intense on that trolley ride home)! I’m getting healthy! I’ve also eaten an entire bag of gummy bears and gulped so much seltzer down that my body is approximately 90% sugar and bubbles right now. Baby steps. Oh, and that apartment thing: I’ve got a great one, one to share with the person I love, one to make into a home; if only the landlord would send over that lease. Again, baby steps.
Here are the downsides:
But that’s the thing. Summertime I want to drink and eat crappy hotdogs off the grill with my friends, and cigarettes go hand in hand with that. I want to spend my weekends hiking or swimming or visiting my family, and applying for jobs and credit cards is a drag.
You might be thinking, “Hey, Jayne, getting your shit together is never fun,” to which I would agree. But summer’s a whole different enchilada. I got spoiled as a kid. Three whole months off just to ride my bike around and go to the pool and eat french fries every day? Never having school on my birthday?! I mean, DREAM TOWN. So I know I’m complaining about nothing new, like usual, and most of the time I’m content enough with the maturation process. Today, I’m just craving a bit more youthfulness. Any of you got any hints at growing old with grace?
In the meantime, I’ll just be sitting in my floppy straw hat on the front porch, waiting for Peter Pan to show up with some elixir of youth. That’s how it works, right? Fifty bucks a vial, no wrinkles for awhile.
I’ve gotten a bit of a bad rap from my roommate James about being somewhat two dimensional; he even suggested I turn my blog into the two sides of me: Judgy Jayne and Jelly Jayne.
Judgy Jayne comes out a lot around the apartment, probably because it’s easy to sit up on the porch with a beer and talk about everyone that walks by. In fact, this is one of my favorite Philly pastimes. Seriously though, sweatpants to work: not okay. Sweatpants to the corner store: probably a bad idea. Sweatpants at the airport: unacceptable. I’ve still got a few Southern ways in me and dressing down to travel is off limits. I refuse to arrive at someone’s home after not seeing them for years wearing sweatpants with Juicy written across the ass. Actually, I never want the word juicy to be written across my ass. There is no Juicy Jayne! (Except when I’ve got a plethora of carrots and the energy to clean all kajillion pieces of my juicer.)
Jelly Jayne might be a little more endearing? Some of you probably recognize this one from South Park: Wendy is so jelly after photoshopping the appearance of another “not so attractive” gal from the fourth grade and all the boys start fighting over said photoshopped girl after the picture is leaked online. But I can’t help it that I’m jealous of the girl and guy up on stage that got to kiss my boyfriend, or that I never want to hear about your dating past EVER, or that everyone on facebook is going on vacation and I’m stuck in Philthy Philadelphia indefinitely! Some things aren’t fair!
But guys. After an evening of botching up cover letters where I'm supposed to sum myself up in a list of positive adjectives, I'm starting to lose my mind. There are many sides of me. Take for instance my most common side, Jittery Jayne. It usually comes out after a full french press pot of coffee and the buildup of years worth of anxiety. Actually, this side probably comes out most days of my life. Oh, my hands are shaking? I’m used to it.*
Then there’s Jiggly Jayne. We all probably have days where we’re something of this nature: Blubbery Barbara, Dumpy Daisy, Portly Portia. You know what I’m talking about. Fat days are the worst, but also the best. Because on my fat days, you can bet I’m not saying no to a second slice of pizza or that Twix bar in the checkout line.
The most rare form is the endangered Jolly Jayne: if you catch this side, take a picture please so I don’t forget that some days I’m happy! Carefree! In the mood to run and jump and hug you if I see you on the sidewalk! Oh my god the sky is beautiful and the flowers are blooming and I’m gonna climb that tree because TODAY I CAN.
But watch out! Here comes G-G-G-Jayne: the lady that doesn’t want to shave. And I’m still going to wear shorts.
Finally, I’ll mention Judicial Jayne. I would say she’s the one that likes things to be fair, but usually that ends up determining which toddler had the troll with the pink hair first. Sometimes she mediates, and most of the time she listens to your side of whatever story you’ve got to get out of your system. But she’s easily distracted, probably by her Judgy/Jelly self.
It’s hard to describe yourself as one type of person without contradicting yourself with another. (And j-adjectives kind of suck.) It's also really hard to create a resume or cover letter that shows the charming/creative/innovative/passionate/dynamic/headcase you are accurately. If you've read any of my previous entries, it's probably clear that I'm a lister, but when it comes to listing "organized, mature, self-starter, great communication skills," I start to freeze up. I'd rather list to you the things I love (coffee, bunny rabbits, ceramic tiles), the ideas I'm passionate about (art education, healthy eating options for all, universal healthcare, Twin Peaks), and so forth rather than tell you what I think you want to hear about me as a person.
I’ve seen a lot of articles titled things like “Who I am and Why” and “What I do and Why,” or you know, a more clever version of exactly that. But really we’re all just people: so judgy or jelly or jolly or jiggly (or, you know, creative or organized or a great leader)-- I can think of words for each of those starting with most letters of the alphabet. The real point is that some days I feel jealous, and so does everyone else. Some days I feel fat, and so does everyone else. Some days I just want to make fun of a stupid outfit and I know I’m not alone! And some days I want to stop trying to convince you that I'm the best person for the job. Please stop defining people into ones and twos, please stop making life about how well we can write a list about ourselves, and please, for the love of god, stop wearing sweatpants in public.
*This post inspired by Jittery Jayne
All my pillows are in a garbage bag in my attic. My blankets are up there too, along with all my dry-cleanable only sweaters and my winter coats, because March fooled me again. I’m sleeping directly on my mattress, with a sheet and comforter, or I guess trying to sleep. Because it was. It happened again. It was lice.
Did you have lice as a kid? I never did. My first experience with this plague was at 24, not even two whole years ago. I jinxed myself writing that last post, I suppose. Never again will I call an “urge” an “itch.”
My body is a petri dish, where germs and bugs and anxiety come to thrive. Growing up, my family affectionately (or at least, I hope affectionately) referred to me as “Sick Girl.” I was sick on every holiday, birthday, or major event you could imagine. I had strep throat so often, I’m pretty sure amoxicillin should have just been on permanent hold for me at the pharmacy. But guess what: I’m still Sick Girl. Or Sick Lady, maybe? One of the things people tend to say when you start teaching preschool is that your immune system is going to be out of this world. What they don’t tell you is that in order to obtain that out of this world immunity, you will be sick. All. The. Time. Yeah, sure, I probably won’t get the flu virus that was going around last year, but this year’s is almost surely going to hit me. Because I am at the forefront of germs. Kids don’t stop getting sick. Germs and viruses and bacteria don’t go away, they just change as we become immune to them. As we adapt, the germs do too. So every time something new is going around, one of the kids is going to get it. I’m usually the next in line.
I’m not sure how much more I can take. Five days ago I had bugs crawling in my head. I’m the girlfriend that probably gave her boyfriend lice. I’m the reason he shaved off his beautiful hair. (R.I.P. beautiful hair.) Last week I learned about something called rectal strep. Have you ever thought about how similar your butthole is to your throat? It’s an image I wish had never entered my head. My anxiety is building, to the point where I constantly feel like I’m walking across a tiny thread stretched out between my bed and my place of work, and the only place I really feel safe is tucked away under the covers, or at least three beers in.
All I’m really trying to say is: be nice to teachers. Because the kids often aren’t, and the sicknesses never are. They just keep coming and coming and coming, like the Energizer Bunny of runny noses and violent coughs. And if you’re a hypochondriac like me, it’s hard to feel safe around those bacteria soaked monsters (I mean children, of course). Soon I will escape the germs. Keep your fingers crossed for me.
heavy heeled when walking; heavy handed when pouring a drink