Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Two Broken Pens

Sometimes I write because I have nothing better to do. Or I'm at work, which is basically the same thing.
Today, it seemed every pen I picked up was broken. So, I wrote first with a blue pen, and second with a black, older pen.

This pen is broken and leaking all over the well-behaved pens and pencils. This pen is anxious to break free and start a new society of wild, free-inking pens, like how it believes all pens behaved in the 1960's. This pen is a radical; you can tell from its leaky spout. This pen creates dream-boards that it stares at every night before bedtime. This pen reads Ferlinghetti and dreams of California. This pen wants to be more than just a pen and it hopes that reincarnation is real and that it will be reborn as an eagle or an owl or a hummingbird. This pen is eager to shed all its ink and let its new life begin!

This pen heard about the leaking ink trend of its younger cohorts while reading its newest copy of The Atlantic. This pen felt trepidation. This pen has a 401k and more to lose, financially speaking. This pen is no spring chicken. After many days of deliberation, this pen decided to go on a paid leave and explore the free-inking communes that are springing up all across the country. This pen's ink is running dry, after all, and this pen has decided that it only lives once.

That's it. Then I had to go back to work. I don't know why I feel the need to apply personalities to absolutely everything. Just yesterday, I thought a used tissue looked British.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

A Cautionary Tale of Baubles

When I graduated college it was a real step toward becoming a bona fide adult. The last step, in my youthful mind, was to stock up on Anthropologie home goods. I didn't precisely have a home of my own at the time, and had admittedly taken a step backwards, moving home with my parents, so physical objects of my impending, glorious adulthood felt essential.

Allow me to be clear on this: Anthropologie is not affordable, not for someone with a steady job, and especially not for a recent college grad. So, rather than spend $200 on a polyester tea-length skirt, I was relegated to the housewares sale bins, where I stocked up on such essentials as: crystal doorknobs, hand-painted armoir handles (despite the fact that I have never in my life owned an armoire), and frilly lamp shades. With every purchase I imagined my future rustic cottage - in which I would bake muffins in artfully decorated porcelain pans, bedecked in my organic cotton hand-dyed apron - was one step closer.

Of course, my rustic cottage would be in Italy or France, somewhere romantic. I would have a canopy bed, window shutters swung open to let in the cool evening breeze and bird songs, and creaky furniture surrounded by books. I would spend late mornings drinking caffe americano, so as not to forget my roots, strolling cobbled streets with a camera around my neck, and would retire home in the evenings, to cook my muffins and read great literature.

This is what Anthropologie does to me, ever since I first witnessed their online catalog on my e-machine, as a freshman in college. Essentially, this store succeeds where Disney failed: it turns me into Snow frikkin' White.

A dreamer I have always been. I find freedom in my fantastical thoughts and don't necessarily think there's anything wrong with reveries, but allow me to elucidate why this should be viewed as a cautionary tale. I have not once used those crystal doorknobs and believe they are likely still packed away in my parent's garage, along with the frilly lamp shades. The hand-painted armoire handles have all been lost, but for one, which sits accusingly in my nightstand, still in its original packaging. A reminder that Adulthood does not arrive with an Italian village and rustic furniture, but with a credit card bill. Adulthood alights quietly with age. It's insidious like that.

So buy yourself a bauble and then wait to see if you actually use it. If so, get another, if you're still so inclined. If not, keep the bauble somewhere safe and when you take notice of it - tucked away in your nightstand - in the future, thank Adulthood for granting you a little monetary responsibility. If you'd like, you can also thank me. I accept donations in the form of hand-painted tea towels and bird themed wall paper.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Sweet Nothings

D:  100 kisses to you!

 me:  101 to you!
but...it only works out to, like, 77 kisses.

  D:  ah nuts. now i'm running a kiss deficit
then i guess i'm ahead in the kiss contest

 me:  how do you figure?
seems you're gonna run into the red as far as kisses go, in very little time.

  D :  well i gave you 100 duty free kisses
you gave me 77 on account of not gettin' at the airport
also, you kissed the GOVERNMENT 24 times

 me:  the GOVERNMENT has bad breath.

  D :  indeed

 me:  and tries to cop a feel, even when it's clear that only kisses are involved.
then GOVERNMENT asks where GOVERNMENT can get the kisses.

  D :  i bet audits are...

 me:  GOVERNMENT makes me vomit on my shoes and try to find plans to not give GOVERNMENT any kisses and allot you all 101.
we should move.

  D :  lol

 me:  we could go to Oslo, but then GOVERNMENT would take 77 kisses and leave you only 24.

  D :  it's tough all over

 me:  but at least there GOVERNMENT is more upstanding, and even opens doors for me.

  D :  i prefer under the table kisses
and under other furniture

 me:  under sofa kisses
they are dirty, but soft.

  D :  ha!

 me:  under bookshelf kisses are nerdy and nervous.

  D :  and not earthquake safe
 Sent at 2:32 PM on Thursday
 me:  under hope chest kisses are cramped, but optimistic.
under dog bed kisses are...best left alone.

  D :  GOD

Saturday, June 23, 2012

The Greatest Time I Signed My Life Over, or Happy Birthday Hetch

"IT'S 2PM. LET'S GET THIS PARTY STARTED!" was my post on D's facebook page. It's his 33rd birthday, and I've got a secret weekend planned for him.

I left work early, biked home, and we got the last of our things packed up and threw it all into my hatchback, ready for the mystery to begin. "I know what we're doing. We're going to San Jose to watch Mike Birbiglia," he said with a knowing smile. I drove past the exit for San Jose and his contemplative look reappeared.

Two hours later, we were in Capitola, CA, and D. had absolutely no idea what was happening. He said there's nothing that could really bother him, unless the surprise is some weird intervention, or I've become enmeshed in some religion and this weekend we'll be praying at the alter of whatever god/alien/mermaid I'd decided was in charge. "Is it some sort of comic book convention? Because I don't have a costume. Are....are we disc golfing? Did you somehow sneak my discs into the car without my noticing? What are we doing??" I laugh it all off, he hasn't come close, and even if he did, there was no way I was admitting to anything. The secret's not till Saturday, though, so we've got all night to wander.

Capitola is beautiful, did you know this? Some rich, sleepy suburb of Santa Cruz and Monterey. It's all perfect weather, sun dresses, and beach cruisers. I thought at any minute the Brady Bunch would go skipping by. When we got to the hotel, the concierge informed us there was a problem with the hotel somehow being overbooked (seems a wedding might have been this weekend) and we were upgraded to the best room in the house, no extra charge. The king suite. Top floor, away from other guests, balcony, fireplace, whirlpool, giant flat screen tvs, you get the picture. This place was amazing. D wasn't hungry yet, so we went to the hotel bar to get some beers, and listen in on a very drunk man's rant about the sun. "You don't get it! It's not just for tanning! This is just some minuscule star and it effects everything! Like, everything! Mars! And...and other dimensions! And you can get tan!!"
Faces on Cap'n Jack's Pirate Ship

D practiced forward rolls on the plush new carpeting on the way back to the room.

We went to dinner, walked the Santa Cruz boardwalk, played skee ball and air hockey (5-4, me, thankyouverymuch), posed for a photo booth and finished the night taking a ride on one of those Pirate Ship rides at the fair. This, alone, could have been enough for any birthday.

Today, though, we woke up, grabbed breakfast, and I continued to torment D about the surprise. "Grab some extra bananas and peanut butter. I have no idea when we'll eat again."
"What are we doing? Is this some survivalist shit you've got me into??"
"I just think rations might be a good idea."

Another beer, celebrated on the balcony, and it's time to leave the life of kings behind and hit the road again. I direct D South, on Highway 1, toward Watsonville, and it isn't until we take exit 427 toward Airport Boulevard that he takes another stab at the secret, "Is it skydiving?"
I choose not to lie so much as omit, "I told you, skydiving scares me."
"Good. 'Cause I don't think I'd be up for something like that today."
I smiled back at him, and tried to hide from him that my stomach had dropped through the bottom of the car.
Another turn onto Aviation Way, and one last one into the parking lot for the SurfCity hangar. "Hetch? It is skydiving. I'm sorry."

He took it like a champ.

We signed our lives over. Like, 10 pages of legal talk, promising that neither we, nor our loved ones left behind are allowed to sue. For anything. I initialed it all and entrusted my well-being to a 23 year old, 90 pound looking goober. A very nice, goober, though, who, through all his jokes somehow made me feel like I'd made the right decision. D seemed pretty confident, as well.

"Show me your best limbo pose, Caitlin! Now just imagine yourself doing it when you're falling at 200 mph, and you are set!" Alex tells me. Apparently, the trick to free fall is trying your best to bend backwards, like a banana. Also, scream if you feel like you can't breath. Scream if you feel like you can. It really doesn't matter. You'll probably scream at least once.

After getting into the harness, Alex and Matt, our instructors take us to the runway and have us pose next to a helicopter, then next to a plane, point at the sky! You get the picture. The plane is tiny. Just enough room for the four of us to squeeze in, very intimate. D is jumping first, so he sits right next to the doorway, in front of Matt. Our instructors spend half the time readjusting our straps and triple checking all the safety measures, and the other half making jokes. Alex notices I'm clearly the more scared one, so he spends his time shaking me, pointing out landmarks on the horizon, and trying to make me scream. I think I may have called him an asshole, in the nicest way possible.

ohhhh jeeeeezus
When I think we're at altitude, and I'm looking at Big Sur out the window, Alex tells us we're halfway to altitude. Oh yeah...we're jumping from 14,000 feet. Almost 3 miles up, ensuring a full minute of free fall. What feels like a second later, it's actually time. Matt raises the door and tells D to stick his feet out and look up. D decides to get serious, grabs my shoulder and states, "Caitlin, I love you." Then he's gone.

I have never seen anything so terrifying in my life. Until you actually witness it for yourself, how do you explain the feeling of seeing a loved one, your love, FALL OUT OF A PLANE?

I decided to have a panic attack. Suddenly, my chest was very very tight, and I was gulping air like there couldn't possibly be enough. We circled around, and I stuck my feet out of the door, like I had watched D do just moments before. I'll admit, I thought about not going through with it. Tucking my tail between my legs and admitting defeat. Then I thought about how awful it would feel, to fly back to the hangar with my instructor and feeling a disappointment that would be tangible. And I realized I'd rather jump out of a plane than deal with that.

So I did.

I could tell you how the wind screamed in my ears. How we flipped and tumbled like gymnasts through the air, because I'd assured Alex I don't get motion sick. How I knew, logically, that we were falling, but I felt remarkably still, a human cloud. And I could tell you I've never felt so alive. And it would all be true.

Alex is trying to make me wave.
A minute feels like 5 seconds and then whoosh! the parachute opens, and it's total silence. D says that was his favorite part. The wind from falling was so loud, and then nothing! Total peace. Alex let me take the controls and had me pull hard on one handle, sending us into some serious loops. I'm told it's another four or five minutes of gliding, but it felt like 10 seconds. I watched D land and jump around on the beach a hundred feet below, and then I was landing next to him, feet deep in the sand. We were hugging, high-fiving, and generally hopping around the beach, words unable to express the utter joy we felt. Take the happiest moments of your childhood, mix them with the most picturesque scenes of nature you've witnessed, and add in your deepest moments of serenity experienced, and maybe that comes close to what we felt today.

Then it was time to wait for Bo and Trish, our friends who joined in D's surprise. 20 minutes of laughter and recounting our personal experiences, and there they were. Red and white dots soaring above us. And then they landed, and we could see in their eyes the same feelings we'd been sharing. Bo hugged. Trish danced. It was a great time.

We'll be going again. Next year. Every year, I hope. 

You should come.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Your Girlfriend: A Manual

So, you've gotten yourself a girlfriend, eh? Pretty good model, too. An '81, exemplary year for girlfriends.
Unfortunately, your specific '81 has a few...shall we say, defects?
Nothing to worry about, I assure you, but allow me to give you this user's guide to reference as you move forward.

1) Don't Feed Your Girlfriend After Midnight.
No particular reason, rather than a slew of small ones. Plus, this is a good rule to follow, regarding anything that came from the 1980's.
     a. Your Girlfriend's blood sugar will spike just as you've fallen asleep, and she is likely to poke at you and ask inane questions.
     b. Depending upon the food, Your Girlfriend will become abhorrently gassy  fragrant.
     c. If said food was at all fattening, no matter how fast Your Girlfriend gobbles it up, she is likely to be mad at you in the morning for having made it available.

2) Under No Circumstances is Your Girlfriend Allowed in a Holiday Inn Express or Affiliates.
Though, in all likely circumstances, you will never get past the lobby with her in tow.
Say your goodbyes
Unfortunately, this particular model has some fire-starting tendencies. While details remain a little murky, suffice to say, there was pancake batter, a camp stove, and some wildly illogical thinking involved somewhere outside of Portland, Oregon; culminating in the loss of some draperies and a comforter, and some scorch marks on furniture.
Your Girlfriend will claim she did said Inn a favor by burning their "ugly furniture," but as of this printing The Holiday has not been swayed.

3)Whenever Possible, Open Doors for Your Girlfriend
Unless, of course, you want to eat your calzone to the tune of "Manners in This Country have Really Gone Down the Shitter."

4) Avoid Leaving Your Girlfriend Alone Near any Cooking Device
This relates back to Rule 2. Sadly, our '81 model has a real affinity for cooking fires.
Learn to love signs. A mere post-it stating something like, "Never try to fry food in our toaster! Never Ever!" will save you a lot of time and anguish...And toasters.

5) Don't Chase Your Girlfriend
She just hates it.

6) Never Speak to Your Girlfriend Before the "Caffeination Process" has Completed
This is really for your own protection.

7) Memorize These Rules and Learn to Love Them
They won't be changing any time soon. Indeed, the '81 model is particularly stubborn and prone to outbursts.

Congratulations, once again! You have really gotten yourself into something here! Remember, like anything else in life, nothing is guaranteed. While Your Girlfriend, '81 is one of our more finicky models, there remain a lot of incentives. This model is not for everyone, but for the right person she will provide love, affection, and even a laugh or two. She might even buy you a shirt and tie on occasion, or convince you to go on weekend trips you may have missed out on otherwise. Just don't take her to a Holiday Inn.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Dear Hiring Manager

After a 3 day working interview, and then NOT getting the job, I am left with some questions as to what I could have done differently. I've had a few thoughts as to what may have turned you off, and I'd like to run them past you, if it's not too much trouble.

Was it because I made you all friendship bracelets and then informed you that if you are to remove them before the knot wears out naturally, that something terrible will happen? I was sure to mention that it may not necessarily happen to you, and might simply affect your elderly aunt whom you've offered your home to. I thought that would soften the blow and was a little surprised that you were not more accepting of my gift.

Was it on the second day, when I stole all your shoes and continued to insist that the shoe stash in my bottom desk drawer was, in fact, mine? Yes, I alleged I wore a men's size 14, but it was only because I didn't want you to underestimate me. I, doubtless, should not have thrown the shoes at each of you after being accused of fibbing. However, nobody likes being called a liar, especially when caught in the middle of a lie. Don't act like you have never found yourself in the same position.

I admit, I should not have bit Shirly, the secretary who's worked with you for 30 years. But Shirly shouldn't have used my stapler! You'd think after 30 years she'd know a little bit about office etiquette.

And I definitely should not have bit you after you pried my jaws off of Shirly's collar bone, but you should really know not to get in the middle of a biting match.

I concede, I should not have urinated in my cubicle. But I was concerned you were going to bite me back and I panicked just a little bit. We've all been there.

When you asked me to step into your office for "a word," I truly did believe that playing dead was my best course of action.  It was not an act of stubbornness or an inability to work as a team player, which I fear you may have inferred from the situation. It was just pure instinct. On my resume, I expressed that I can "adapt readily to any situation," and I think this should be viewed as an example of that quality.

Lastly, when you managed to carry my body into your office to give me my check for time worked, maybe I should not have sprung up, clapped my hands at you and then threw them above my head in an effort to appear larger than you. But, all due respect, you should not have behaved in such a hostile manner.

I appreciate that you are keeping my resume on file. For what it's worth, getting in a biting match, stealing shoes, and still finding time to make all those friendship bracelets, is an excellent example of my superb time-management skills and also demonstrates my ability to multi-task.

Thank you for your time. I look forward to speaking with you further about employment opportunities within your firm.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentines Day

I'd like to take you to Belize. And not just because that's where The Bachelor was this week, but because it's beautiful and you deserve that. I would like to whisk you away to somewhere new and tropical. You can walk around in your sandals (and socks, probably), and I'll smile at you and shake my head, but I wouldn't change anything.

I'd like to be on a long train ride with you, in a private sleeper cabin, or a diner cabin with our backgammon set laid out in front of us, while snow-capped mountains rise and fall past the windows. We would clink our glasses, then each lean out over the game and kiss, cementing that moment forever.  And then I'd roll double sixes and destroy you!! You'd challenge me to another game, but no Hetchy, no. I like to quit when I'm ahead.

I'd like to be in a cabin with you, by the ocean. It would be so secluded, there would be no internet or tv, just a wall of games and our conversation. We'd spend our days wandering the beach, with the dog of course, leaving our tracks side by side in the golden lit sand. The tracks would tell how we slowed down, probably to watch the sun set and kissed, and maybe the footprints would even tell how we held hands the entire time. What the tracks couldn't possibly tell is how you made rude gestures with your other hand, and I pretended to hate it, but was actually spastically delighted by your audacity.

I'd like to be in a romantically lit room with you, where everyone is slow dancing, and we'll meet eyes and hop right in. But we'll spin too fast, and I might get dizzy, but it's ok, love. Just a little slower, maybe? But too late! A fast song has started and you lead me to a chair and then break into the Running Man. I slump in my seat and hope there's no way I can possibly be linked to the crazy man who has just broken into the Lawn Sprinkler, but then I start laughing. You're so damned funny when you dance, and I know you're doing it just for me. So I join in and show you Feeding the Chickens again, because that's a crowd-pleaser.

"What do you mean where's your phone?"
I get all those vacation pamphlets mailed to me so I can continue to add to the list of places I'd like to take you, and they all look wonderful. But they don't show in their booklets pictures of what it would really be like. How I'll poke at your ticklish back as you try to fall asleep, just because I love the sound of your laugh. You'll hold my hands and beg me to stop, but when I plead, "just one more?" you'll actually let me!
There's no pictures of me dropping my book in the ocean and kicking at the dastardly waves, or of us in an endless search for the last place you put your phone, but that's what the reality would be. You and me, Hetch, we're not the perfect romantic couple shown in all the pictures. We would try our hardest, I'd even buy white linen dresses that would flow in the breeze, but then I'd spill a v8 on the damn thing. And you, you would probably trip and stub your toe as we walked along the beach, hand in hand, and then have to limp to the nearest cabana.

We will be rumpled, tipsy, and too loud, whether it's in Belize, or on a train. And our stained clothes and wind-blown hair won't be making it into any pamphlets.

And, Hetch? I wouldn't have it any other way. Happy Valentines Day, my love.