Book Excerpt – Two-Fer Tuesdays

pexels-photoIt was Tuesday, and I was sitting at my desk, which was two medium strides away from the bathroom, and my dead-end job was promising to bind me to it for eternity.

I had the unique and questionable privilege of being able to observe every person walking in and out of the bathroom. My co-workers, whom I also referred to as “Work Friends,” felt a deep sense of obligation to chat me up every time they used the loo… which was often, and in some cases (Derrick) too often, much to my chagrin.


“Please come to Happy Hour tonight. It’s Two-Fer Tuesdays; that’s two drinks for the price of one, but they give them both to you at the same time. We can split the cost of one drink, but each actually get a full drink of our own!” The Cogs in the machine, that’s what I called us and when I say ‘Us’ I mean the ones of us that dedicated our work hours to work and got paid a pittance for it. This was Elaine; a cog. She was always trying to make it OKAY for me to spend money with work people after work hours.

“What if I just want water?” That is how I treated Elaine: with obnoxious requests I knew she would accept.

“Yes! So you’ll come! Yay! Also, do you know Adeline?”

“No,” and frankly I wasn’t interested in knowing Adeline or anyone else from the company on a personal level. I didn’t want another excuse to NOT walk away from this job. I didn’t want it to become more bearable by making friends. I liked being the loner here.

“You’ll love her. She’s new, one of them, but you’ll love-love-love her, promise.” By Them Elaine was referring to the Marketing people. And I was suspicious of her promises of “love-love-love”.

The Marketing Team was the Pride of the company. The rest of us were just trying to survive out on the Serengeti of day jobs. And since your title defined your merit, it was difficult to blame them for believing they were the very best of the company.

I needed to get out of this Happy Hour.

“Shoot… I forgot, I might have something I already committed to, but I’ll let you know for sure by the end of the day.”

Elaine could see through my poor attempt at a lie, but honestly, the title “Marketing” was equivalent to Narcissist, and I just didn’t want to spend the evening biting my tongue and fighting the urge to challenge this newbie every time she wanted to dominate the conversation with her branding ideas. Or the numerous accolades awarded her in MBA school.

Gag.

As I watched Elaine walk away disappointed, I knew I was going to end up going, and maybe split the cost of a drink with her, and talk to this new Marketing woman – Adeline, and maybe make a new friend.

Gag.

I Hid A Bag of Dark Chocolate Covered Almonds – For My Sanity.

IMG_5002I am wildly uptight when it comes to cleanliness and basic household etiquette. Think Monica from ‘Friends,’ but maybe a little worse (and for another day, let’s discuss the ‘Friends’ Haters… just stop, people. Stop it. I’ve watched it so many times, forwards and backwards, and you’re wrong; it’s delightful, and perfect, period).

My mother has long referred to me as fastidious.

I suppose cleaning is my way of controlling the chaos of life. There are worse “habits” used to control the uncontrollable, like not eating, binging & purging, excessive exercise, and I’ve dabbled with them all; but honestly cleaning is the one that makes me feel the most in control amidst the chaos. It’s not just the act of cleaning, it’s that a clean environment allows me to relax. And as far as addiction and personalities go, I repeat, there are far worse things than being fastidious.

It’s not just cleaning. I have to set hard boundaries within my living environment, too. You are allowed to be yourself in my home and not conform to my standards of cleanliness and I’m okay with it, but if you start to impose upon my boundaries I freak the fuck out. Maybe you do too and maybe you don’t even know it…

I have an almost 2-year-old toddler. Guess what he does? He throws food on the floor and thinks it’s funny, so I laugh and also try to teach him that food stays on our plate or at least on the table or preferably in your mouth to consume. And I don’t freak out, because he’s a baby and I can clean it and it’s totally fine. But when my 35-year-old brother in law does it and doesn’t give two craps about who will be cleaning it and what stain it may leave or that it’s happened at all, I start to panic. I swallow down the annoyance that starts to build up inside of me. I push it deep, deep down and I breath and smile, and I stare daggers at him, but I bury the pending freak out because he’s my guest, and family to boot.

I stare at his brother (my husband) and wait for a signal that it will all be fine and that he will clean it up and then I take several deep breaths, plan a 4 mile run, skip the next two meals, and buy and squirrel away a giant bag of dark chocolate covered almonds to shame-eat secretly, without sharing, and it calms the monster brewing in my belly.

You guys! It’s not just dropping food on the floor with abandon that gets under my skin: it’s the week’s worth of toothpaste stains on my new dark wood bookcase; it’s his toenail clippings in my high pile shag rug; it’s razor blades on the floor of the shower my toddler bathes in; it’s a beer bottle cap in the small hands of my 21-month-old who desperately tries to shove the jagged edged piece of metal down his throat after scraping it along his tongue.

Daggers staring down a dead man walking.

It’s wet underwear strewn across my front porch and wet towels left on top of stuffed animals to grow unneeded mildew and create more laundry that will be left for me to do. It’s empty Starbucks cups and plastic straws littering my front lawn. It is used tea bags everywhere, except in the trash.

It is so much more. It’s interminable.

And, AND it is all so unnecessary. UNNECESSARY. There are towel hooks for wet towels; there’s a dryer for your underwear; there’s a trashcan in so many different rooms plus several outside for EVERYTHING ELSE!

My eye is twitching right now, you guys. Writing this out for you is almost like reliving the frustration.

I watched for a week as our baby gates were treated as mere decorative obstacles and left open for his 35-year-old male convenience whilst my nearly 2-year-old eyeballed the staircase with Olympic-gymnast-enthusiasm.

I tell you this not to be a tattletale, not to open myself up to criticism regarding my rigidity, not to hurt feelings, but to understand myself better because I didn’t handle it well you guys. I did not.

You see, I couldn’t stop him, I couldn’t clean fast enough. The mess was OUT OF CONTROL! Dirt, stains, odor… CHAOS!

I set boundaries and I believed that manners were/are self-evident. I believed baby-proofing, dining tables, and towel hooks should invite use. I expected our houseguest to know all of this without having to be told. My home is not a hotel; that’s the guesthouse out back (see that blog post) and for God’s sake the total strangers renting that out treat it better (and pay us) than my B-I-L treated our actual home while we lived in it with him for a week.

And then I lost it.

At him. On him.

I freaked the fuck out.

And I told him that towel hooks are for wet towels to be HUNG ON and baby gates are not for the convenience of adults to use at will, but to protect the life of a BABY, and that knives & razorblades & sharp jagged beer bottle caps are DEADLY WHEN SWALLOWED and that it is MY HOUSE and he should TREAT IT WITH RESPECT.

Silence.

Slowly he opened his mouth and without an ounce of thought he yelled back. Absurdities such as, ‘he didn’t know that it would require work to live with a baby’ and that ‘he didn’t know that toddlers cannot comprehend basic safety.’

The irony.

So I banished him to his (my son’s) room where he screamed and threatened to leave (on the eve of his flight home).

I agreed he should leave. A hotel is a much better place to treat with reckless abandon.

He said nothing.

He didn’t leave.

And after an hour of separation and a loaded dishwasher and cleaned counters later, I invited him to come back downstairs.

He picked up where he left off – sullying every square foot of surface area I had just spent a very angry hour cleaning to regain the control I had lost.

That one cleaning left me with a night’s worth of control, and I felt better long enough to wish him well on his flight, take a family picture with genuine smiles, and not resent the weekend-visit-turned-into-9-long-days.

My house is not completely back in order by my standards, but it is back in my control and I can sleep more soundly tonight.

And those dark chocolate covered almonds are now out in the open for everyone to share, by everyone I mean new visitors and Jason.

Someone Stole A Towel

3332e5238659a1b6115fe907e33b69a7Someone took a towel.

We’ve all done it before. Taken a towel from a hotel. Most of us out of necessity, but someone took a towel from the AirBnBeeber.

Someone stole a towel.

Writing the word “stole,” sounds a bit savage, premeditated… aggressive even. I actually do not think that it was aggressive. No, this was not an act of malice, I’m positive. And I’m 73% certain that this was an isolated incident by whichever individual took the towel. However:

Someone did pilfer a towel.

Listen, and I’m serious now, you don’t accidentally pack a large, fluffy white bath towel in your overnight luggage from your AirBnBeeber without noticing. No, you take it, snatch it, loot-abscond-with-nab-heist-borrow-it, but you do not accidentally pack it.

Like I said, we’ve all taken a towel from a hotel before. And honestly, for the most part, hotels are big corporations, not people, and do not notice a towel missing here or there. In fact, I’m pretty sure they have it fixed in their quarterly budgets to replace overused and missing towels. Just in case this is a bigger issue for corporations than I am giving credit, for those of you working in Hotel Hospitality, no need to correct me. I’m sure your loss prevention team has made all staff very aware that towel disappearance is your major expenditure and you need to nip it in the bud. But that’s off topic, let’s get back to the little guy and why you should not steal my towels at the AirBnBeeber.

Towels are expensive. Like very. If I didn’t put nice linens, fluffy soft, clean white towels in the unit, you would leave me a low rating, a less than five star review and I would suffer bookings all on account of the fact that I didn’t provide nice towels. So you get nice towels, and I got robbed.

There have been toilet paper thieves, excessive coffee pod thieves, sugar thieves, books and game thieves, and now towel thieves. You guys, seriously, even purchased at Costco towels are EXPENSIVE. Please stop stealing towels.

I have been trying to put myself in the shoes of the abductor, like, did they get take-out and spill some dark sauce and use the towel as a rag to sop it up. Embarrassed by their mistake they took the towel to leave no evidence behind?

Did they wash their underwear in the sink and it didn’t dry before they left so they took the towel to wrap up their damp items?

Or did they decide on a last minute trip to the beach before their flight when it occurred to them that they had nothing packed for a beach stop so they took a towel, but just one to share, out of courtesy as to not steal two towels. Maybe I should thank them.

I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know.

If you’re a towel snatcher, hotel robe abductor, extra soaps on the maid’s cart pilfer and feel you’re entitled because it’s there, here is a little sage advice – AirBnB is not for you.

And if you’re a compulsive towel snatcher may I suggest you start traveling with your own towels? Yeah, just pack one from home. Then you won’t feel the need to borrow (never to return) your host’s.

 

College Dorm Life – Rough

I’m going to die of heat exhaustion. I can’t breathe. Is SADS a thing (Sudden Adult Death Syndrome)?

Those were the most prevalent thoughts I can remember from my freshman year in college. Waking up in my pitch-dark dorm room to the sound of any one of my three female roommates performing fellatio… oral sex… giving head, to a strange (and some-what stinted) male cohort.

With the spine of an ostrich, I would quickly, quietly, pull my comforter up over my head and shallowed (is that a even a verb?) my breathing so as not to draw any attention to the fact that I was awake. I would stay there, sweating through my pajamas in my saturated bedding like a frightened child without bladder control.

My hair (now matted to my forehead and neck) started producing droplets of sweat on it’s own, one drop after another slowly started down my brow and splash, splash, splash they fell into my eyeball one after the other. Why wasn’t I blinking? Were all my reflexes shutting down? Panic consumed me and I would think, I’m going to die.

I thought it so loudly, projected it with all my might that surely one of them would hear me and stop what they were doing. If not from embarrassment, then from knowing they were about to kill me. How did they never hear me thinking!? How did they not hear the loud pounding of my heart, the echoing drips of my brow sweat or the sloshing of the pool created in my bed from said sweat!? Were they deaf? I can still hear my heart pounding like an echo from the past. Loudly.

So, suffocating, wet, and unable to sleep I schemed how I would get back at them for attempted murder.

And just as I’d figure out how I would build my time machine, go back to the beginning of the night to give a strongly worded speech on basic roommate etiquette, I’d pass out.

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I thought I would love my first college roommates. I thought we would form bonds that would last a lifetime. On move-in day, I walked into our itty-bitty, teeny-weeny dorm room and thought, “this place is huge!” There were four beds, four desks, four dressers, and a bathroom. It was twice the size of my room back home (that I shared with my sisters) and had one bathroom to share between the four of us which were way better odds of ample bathroom time, than the single bathroom I shared for eighteen years with six people.

As my father and I dragged in the second hand, faded black, military duffel bag with it’s duct-taped handle (which until very recently I thought was actually ‘duck tape’ and could never figure out the connection between ducks and adhesive so I finally gave up), we heard three voices heading into my new dorm room.

With self-assured and measured pacing, three women (not girls) appeared. “Your bunk is there. That’s your dresser, your closet, and your desk. We put stickers on our items in the fridge,” said the tall blonde one.

“We have a fridge?” fridge was all I heard. It was mini, brown and the top worked as an extra shelf for what appeared to be a very thin, artsy, glass-vase (which I later found out was a bong).

“Well, we, rented it from the university along with the microwave. If you want to use them, you’ll need to chip in for the rental. Didn’t you read the welcome pack?”

Truth be told, I skimmed it. The welcome pack arrived late – only a day before move in, along with my decision to go to this university, so I was behind on everything. I had, however, memorized the names of my roommates, their interests, their parent’s professions, and of course each of their majors:

Kelly: Played on her high-school field hockey team, fought for the right to try out for the wrestling team, and won, but never played due to no guy ever matching her weight class. She out weighed them all and she wasn’t fat. Kelly’s father was a Waste Management Engineer… I’m still not sure what that means, but I watched Soprano’s and decided it was better not to ask. Kelly’s chosen major, Early Childhood Education.

Amy: Played on her high-school field hockey team (and was Kelly’s teammate). She and Kelly grew-up three houses away from each other and have been friends since birth. Amy’s long-term goals were to teach art at the pre-K level, open an art gallery in her industry-deserted hometown, and travel to the Louvre. Amy’s father was a Human Organ Transporter. Soprano’s, Soprano’s, Soprano’s. Amy’s chosen major, Art History.

And lastly there was Rebecca.

Rebecca: Played on her high-school soccer, volleyball, and girl’s basketball teams. Rebecca turned her life around after being caught using marijuana on her high-school campus 180 times (that’s everyday for an entire school year, people). Realizing the ill affects of her choices, she became a teen mentor to other kids heading down the path of marijuana addiction and was awarded a full scholarship to university for her humanitarian work. Rebecca’s mother was a CPA, a single mom, and grew marijuana for medicinal purposes. Rebecca’s chosen major was accounting.

I picked up the end of my duffle with the duck duct-taped handle and commenced dragging it sluggishly toward the empty bed when Kelly, tall blonde, grabbed the center handle, picked up the bag with minimal effort and tossed it onto my mattress. My father and I stared in awe.

If these were your average college freshman, then I needed a couple rounds of steroids and a few more years of hard living to catch up in stature and confidence. I stood alone next to my bed and as I turned around I saw the three of them, Kelly – tall and blonde, Amy – equally as tall and brunette, and Rebecca – oddly short with the thickest, longest, curly locks I’d ever seen – standing shoulder to shoulder assessing me. They stared me down like an opponent, they were the defensive linemen and I was the quarterback in the end zone missing her team. I immediately labeled them: Ladies-I-Would-Not-Want-To-Meet-In-A-Dark-Alley.

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As I lay, once again, trapped there in my bed pretending to be asleep for the twenty second time that month, I pulled out a mini Three Musketeer bar from the stash I’d begun keeping in my pillowcase. I quietly, expertly unwrapped what may have very well been the last thing I ever ate, as surely this may have been the night I succumbed to the lack of oxygen in the coffin that was my bed. Then I heard it, for the first time, someone spoke during this nightly ritual, “Open your mouth I need to cum,” strained, impatient, urgent and then silence.

NO MORE. My moment was now. The point of no return, I sat straight up, dripping sweat from my soaked head and I turned on my reading light, opened a book and began to reading. No mouths would open again that night, but a deep cleaning of someone’s bed sheets was in order.

The next day, after my classes, I returned to my dorm room to find my duffle bag packed, less my reading lamp – which lay, purposefully destroyed atop my bag, and a note that read:

“You should find a new place to live.”