Jay, my friend Mary, and I were at the 23 mile mark of the marathon route, about three miles from the finish line where the bombs went off. It was sunny and breezy, a cover band was playing, we had drinks in hand, and we were tracking both friends who were running as well as Joey McIntyre. Because, I mean, of course. It’s JOEY MCINTYRE. Jay said he wanted to run with alongside him and sing “Please Don’t Go Girl”. We agreed that would be amazing. Marathon Monday is a day of good cheer and community, surely Joey wouldn’t mind.
Right after we hooted at my friend Amy as she ran by we decided to head across the street to one of our favorite gastropubs. As soon as we entered we saw that everyone was staring at the tv, which was showing the alarming headlines of the two explosions. We were bewildered and scared, both for our friends who were spectators down in the Back Bay as well as our friends who were running. After some quick math we figured that with three miles left, and the time the bombs went off, Amy would have had to run 5-minute miles to be there at that time. She’s good, but not 5-minute mile good, which made us feel slightly better… but we still weren’t sure.
It was so surreal, staring at the footage of the explosions then looking out the window at the runners still going by, no idea what had happened.
We heard pretty quickly from our spectator friends, but in the meantime a police officer had entered the pub and bellowed “Everyone OUT!” Rumors that they were finding more devices along the route spread and we decided it was best to get away from the scene entirely. When we got back to our ‘hood we settled at a different pub to wait for news and try to eat something. When the news came back on, everyone fell silent. It was one of those eerie moments when everyone is holding their breath, hoping for the best. Two dead, including an 8-year old child. Horrific pictures. No information about why it had happened.
Finally we heard from Amy, who texted and sent a facebook message saying that she and her boyfriend were fine, that they were half a mile from the finish when they were stopped and diverted from the route. Relief.
Since then it’s been a strange mix of incorrect news reports, statements from officials that are heartfelt but have no information, and general worry. That part of the city is still shut down for forensic analysis. Jay works downtown and was concerned he’d never make it down there. But really, all we can do is wait. Will information on who did this and why change anything? I don’t necessarily think so, but it might help people feel less scared and confused.
In the meantime, Jay made it to work tonight just fine. And, as if the universe knew we needed something to lift our spirits, Jay heard from a distant the unmistakable sound of Puppy Bike.
When last I regaled you with news from NPW land, things with my little Italian landlord couple were still up in the air: would they turn out to be constantly up in our grills? Should Jay and I get the $100 a month off our rent down in writing? Was this all a ploy to have us somehow indebted to them so we’d feel guilty about not sweeping the sidewalk with them every Thursday afternoon?
In the end, Jay and I decided to risk paying $100 less and not get it in writing. I mean, the woman brings us plates of homemade manicotti, is she really going to sue us next August? By all appearances it seems she really wanted us to be able to save some cash since we’d be lugging our laundry out every week or so, and that c-note every month was a pretty sweet bonus. Plus, while I’m not a lazy person in general, dropping my laundry off and then picking it up washed, dried, and folded turned out to be one of the great joys of my life.
Then one day she came and knocked on the door and proudly announced, “I buy-a you a washing machine!” WELL THEN.
So, fine. I’ll do my own laundry, I guess. I dragged it all down to the basement where she instructed me on how to wash my clothes. Great!, I said, so where’s the dryer? Oh, she did not buy a dryer! There are no dryers. She hangs every last piece of clothing on a clothesline that stretches the entire length of her basement. NOT THE MOST CONVENIENT, MADAM. Still, I warily put the clothes in to wash, promising to return in 45 minutes to spend another 45 hanging things. But when I got back down there, she had already hung all our clothes, including my underwear, all over her basement. Hmm.
Ok, I promised. I’d be down tomorrow to fold them all! The next afternoon there was a little knock on our door. You guessed it! There she was, with a folded basket of our laundry. I did exactly 20 seconds of work. This same routine has happened a few times. She insists on doing it, and most of the time plies us with homemade pizza or cookies while she does.
Rent time rolled around and Jay and I debated. Should we just add back in that $100? She subtracted that money because we didn’t have laundry in the building and now we do. In the end (and after much back and forth), we decided to do the honorable thing and just pay the $100 extra. I brought down the check and left it with her husband.
Less than 20 minutes later, she came up the stairs holding two $50 bills and a bag of homemade fettucini. “You-a pay too much!”, she scolded. I tried to explain, but she waved me away with instructions on how to boil the pasta properly.
I don’t know, you tell me. Best landlord ever in the history of the world? Whatever; even if it turns out that she’s not, that Sunday evening delivery of homemade pizza might cancel it out anyway.
Last weekend Jay and I moved into our new place. And when I say new, I basically mean brand new- this place was completely redone not even six months ago and it is the most pristine apartment I’ve ever lived in. Granite counter tops, ceiling fans in every room, a bath that has two different shower heads. Basically, it is a gleaming gem in a city of crazily expensive apartments. We’ve already made this place look pretty baller and it’s only going to get better when we find the time to shop for new furniture (why, WHY did my couch not fit up the staircase?).
Now, coming from an apartment where the landlord was a condescending dick, we were thrilled to find that our new landlords are a tiny old Italian couple who live below us. When we signed the lease we sat at their dining room table, which was covered with plastic, and she pressed us with homemade blueberry cake and cans of Pepsi while chatting away in broken English. Adorable, right? I KNOW.
But the thing is, they’re all up in our business. It’s like we’re living in their home- not paying to have an apartment in the same building as them, but like they’re our grandparents and we’re just crashing here. The little lady hand delivers our mail to our door and shoves it in the crack of the door jamb. They helped us bring our stuff up the stairs. They helped me fold up a tarp that was covering my poor couch in the driveway when someone came to take it away.
I know what you’re thinking- NICEST EVER! But see, here’s the rub- they’re almost TOO nice. The other day I was on the couch perusing craigslist and Jay ran outside to do something, leaving the door open. When he came back, we both went into the kitchen and I noticed a brown bag on the counter. When I opened it, it was full of homemade Italian cookies. Um. When did she come into my apartment?! She’s just creeping in while we’re not looking?! Gah!
Then Monday came and she stopped me in the hallway while Jay was at work. In her roundabout, half-English, half-Italian way she told me that she felt bad that we didn’t have our own washer and dryer in the basement and that I should leave our laundry in the hallway so she could do it for us! You guys. I haaaaate doing laundry. But never, ever would I want my 80 year old landlord digging through our underwear and lugging it up and down the stairs! When I politely demurred, she countered with “Well, we take one hundred dollars off your rent then, to pay for you to do laundry somewhere.”
Jay and I discussed it. A hundred bucks is some serious bucks to save, and for that money we could have a laundry delivery service come pick it up and bring it back. But what if something happened and we ended up owing her that money? Who asks their tenants to pay LESS? Is it taking advantage of their niceness to accept? Is it foolish to accept? Are we going to feel like we owe them something?
Who would’ve guessed that having the sweetest landlords in the world would bring so many more issues than having an asshole for a landlord?
So. What do you think?
Nothing makes a girl want to dust off the old blog more than buying a new MacBook, apparently! So here we go.
When last we spoke, school was just wrapping up and things were looking pretty grim. It was a fake it till you make it situation the last few weeks before summer vacation and truthfully I did much more faking it than making it. Now it’s August, two thirds of my summer is already gone, and I’m feeling like my Summer To-Do list has been woefully neglected despite our best efforts to get in as much fun as possible. Let’s kill two birds with one stone here; I’ll tell you what we’ve been up to, which will help me feel better that we HAVE done a lot of really fun things, and will also fill you in. I’m sure you’ve been dying to know.
- We searched for an apartment for weeks, and just when things started to seem really dire we found an amazing place at a great price. The kitchen alone makes me feel swoon-y. If you come visit I promise a dinner party.
- I went to the Outer Banks in North Carolina for a week with my besties. Things of note in NC: liquor is cheap, surf shops are not, the ocean is super warm and delightful as long as you don’t think about all the stingrays and sharks, and damn if they don’t know how to BBQ some pork. Also, I’m super tan. Try to mask your jealousy.
- Jay and I have made a solid effort at trying to eat and drink at outdoor venues. This includes a lot of al fresco dining on his back porch, where (and I am not exaggerating AT ALL) we spotted a 5-foot long possum strolling up his neighbor’s driveway like he owned the place. It also includes some gorgeous places like the Legal Harborside Roof Deck in Boston and Abbott’s lobster pound in Mystic, CT. Yay for being outside!
- Speaking of Mystic and being outside, Jay’s parents have a sweet pool at their house that we have frequented this summer, accompanied by bloody marys, wine, and various other adult beverages.
- We had a mini-picnic on the Esplanade. While we were sitting there we heard a dog yipping and Jay calmly but excitedly breathed into my ear, “It’s puppy bike!” You guys, Jay has been telling me about puppy bike for months now; it’s a man who rides his bike with multiple baskets on it around the city, and he has a whole bunch dogs in the baskets. Those dogs LOVE being on that bike, and that dude clearly LOVES riding them around. Every time Jay sees him while he’s at work I get a text that just says PUPPY BIKE!!!!! So clearly when puppy bike came riding past us on the Esplanade it was like seeing a legend. I felt warm and fuzzy the rest of the day, every time I thought of those dogs hanging out on that bike.
In fact, I’m going to end the list there. Nothing tops puppy bike. My summer has been lovely after all.
I’m just starting to enter that antsy phase where I know things need to get done, but it’s really too soon to do them, you know? I just need to pack up all my belongings, make sure to go into school a few times before September, and get my game face on for another year of elementary kids.
Who wants to take bets on whether I’ll make it?
Back in my younger (and far stupider) days, at the start of every summer, my friends and I would play a game we called Oven. We’d wait for the first really hot day and pile on layers of clothes, get in the car with the windows rolled up, and drive around the heat blasting. The first person to have to bail out was obviously the loser. Sometimes I think back on this game and wonder 1) what made us so masochistic, 2) why no one ever thought to say “uh, this is foolish”, and 3) why I would never even think of playing this game now; namely, because I am a wuss. Even sitting with the air conditioning on, I still feel uncomfortable having a warm laptop resting on my legs.
These days, the start of summer is of course the first day I don’t have to go to school. I’ve been looking forward to being on vacation for so long that I think at this point my yearning for it lasted longer than my actual summer will. This past school year was a rough one, the hardest since I started in my district in 2005. The last week of school was so awful I could barely bring myself to even think about it once I left the building. Luckily, this year I had so many other amazing things going on in my life that it wasn’t like I was slumping through all these months feeling depressed, but it was definitely hard enough that I often felt like even talking about it was a burden to Jay, my friends, and my family.
And now, it’s over. I don’t have to go back there for months. I should feel elated, right? The burden has been lifted! I can head to the beach RIGHT NOW THIS VERY INSTANT if I wanted to! Instead I woke up this morning feeling as anxious as ever. What gives, brain? Can you give a girl a break? Why do I need to be up at 7 am doing dishes and thinking about what books I should have added to the summer reading list and why all the apartments on craigslist are so expensive?
I think I’ve been spending so much time trying to convince myself that if I make it to the end of the school year, all my worries about it would magically disappear. It feels disappointing to realize they’re still here. I guess maybe I need to give my brain more than twelve hours to adjust to being in vacation mode, but man, I really hope that relaxed NPW shows up soon. She’s been missed.
This week a substitute teacher approached me in the library and said she wanted to let me know that the computers “were not letting her out to google”. She said it very gravely, like it was something I should be jumping up to investigate right then. I informed her that my computer was working fine, and the network seemed to be up and running smoothly (for once). She looked at me suspiciously and said, “Well, maybe it’s just not letting me get to google.”
Inwardly rolling my eyes, I got up from what I was working on and went to look at the computer where she was sitting. She had up the library catalog and I could see she had typed GOOGLE into the catalog search bar. I just don’t even… I can’t… my brain melted.
Still, me being me, I explained to her that she was using the library catalog, not a search engine. “Yes?”, she responded, like she couldn’t see how that was a problem. I then told her to erase the current URL and type in google.com. She clicked to the end of the URL and proceeded to backspace one letter at a time while I stood there grinding my teeth. Twenty-seven minutes later she finally, gingerly, tapped the caps lock key and wrote GOOGLE, and sat there looking at the screen. Didn’t hit enter. Didn’t ACTUALLY TYPE a URL at all.
And while I stared incredulously at the back of her head she muttered, “See? This is the problem with knowing your home computer so well. THIS computer is very strange.”
Guess she better just stay at home for the rest of her life then.
I made the mistake recently of counting up how many weeks I have left in the school year. While there were far more weeks left than seems possible, I still feel like I must be nearing the end of the line. We’re already well into April! That means only May and part of June! Plus I have next week off for April break! Oh who am I kidding? Summer break is forever away and I am NEVER GOING TO MAKE IT.
Sorry. Had to take a minute there and get hold of myself. The thing is, I gave myself a deadline of April to decide what I wanted to do about this job. Since we still do not have a contract here (going on two years now!), the likelihood of my middle school position coming back still does not seem great (going on four years now!). Should I stick it out and hope that next year will be the year I get to return to what I actually want to do, or cut my losses and start applying to other schools? If I’m being honest here, both options sound pretty terrible to me, but salary-wise I’d be dumb to leave this district. Ugh. It sucks that everything comes down to money, doesn’t it?
Lately everything about school has been pushing my irritation levels to maximum capacity. There are days when the kids are so far up in my grill that I actually feel a physical response to flee. Have you ever had thirty 8-year olds shouting your name while you try to do something? It’s alarming, to say the least. The other day I had a line of twenty kids waiting to check out books and one lone kid at the front of the line who had this conversation, mostly with himself: “Hmmm. I have a question… what was it again? Hmm. Oh yeah, I remember! Wait. What was it… oh yeah! So, do you have any books in this library?”
AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH THE END.
And it’s not just the kids. A couple weeks ago I came back from the bathroom to find two teachers huddled over the printer. One of them nudged the other and hissed, “YOU ask her!” Come to find out, they were arguing about how to open the printer tray to add more paper. This is not a joke, people. Two grown-ass, Masters’-degreed women could not figure out how to open the paper tray of a printer. Commence self-destruct sequence.
On the bright side, poor Jay will listen to me complain until I run out of ranty things to say. That’s not to say I enjoy bitching about it, but I have some willing listeners and that’s pretty great. And my weekends have been so jam-packed with the awesome that it makes the work weeks bearable; beaming a shiny beacon of light at the end of the ugly work tunnel. I guess I couldn’t really ask for more than those weekends with my awesome friends and amazing boyfriend.
(But seriously. Should I stay or should I go?)
DISCLAIMER: Please do not be alarmed when you read this post. I’ll just start at the end to let you know that I am completely fine. A little more loopy than normal, maybe, but that’s to be expected. Also, lady bits will be mentioned briefly. Please bear with me.
With that said, I spent last Friday night in the ER. That day had started off just dandy; it was the kickoff for our huge author conference at school and everything had gone off without a hitch. I was feeling pretty pleased with myself and went home to hang for a little while before going out and celebrating. I was sitting on the couch reading, minding my own business, when out of the blue I was hit with a wave of stomach pain that almost made me pass out. Ladies: imagine cramps, magnified to the point of being doubled over.
I tried to wait it out and lasted about twenty minutes before the sweating and crying made me text my roommates that I needed them to come home from grocery shopping immediately. I had no idea what was wrong, but I was pretty sure it was not going to go away on its own like I had hoped.
Fortunately my roommates were not far and Catherine drove my sorry self to the nearest hospital. Which, also fortunately, is not far either, less than a mile away. A sign of how sick I was: I barely noticed anything about my surroundings or the fact that I left my roommate in the waiting room until I was on a bed with a steady stream of narcotics pumping into my veins. (If you’ve never had an IV, I do not recommend it. It feels disgusting. But oh, sweet relief of pain medication.)
Since I had never been to the ER for something like this before, here are some of the things I noticed: first, everything takes an inordinately long time. Unless you cry, then pain meds come pretty fast. They decided on a CAT scan and an ultrasound and it took three hours just to prep for the CAT scan, including drinking a half gallon of some nasty fluid, which was the only thing I was allowed to eat or drink for the entire eight hours I was in the hospital.
Second, most people have no awareness that curtained off “rooms” are not soundproof. In the three adjacent rooms I heard from a woman who had been hit by a car, another woman who had scabies, and a Tufts undergrad who had broken a rib skiing and was very concerned that he wouldn’t be having sex for a while. No amount of narcotics could drown out their conversations.
Third, doctors do not at all like to tell you what they might be checking for. I won’t lie, it’s scary as shit not being able to move for pain and no one will speculate as to why. Eventually I got out of a nurse that they were checking for all kinds of things: appendix, kidney stones, gall bladder, ovarian cysts. No, no history of any of those things in my family. No, I’ve never experienced any of those things before. Yes, it is freaking me out to be wheeled around the ER in my bed like I’m some kind of terminal patient.
Many hours and two staff shifts later, my final ultrasound revealed a ruptured ovarian cyst the size of a plum. Since normal ovaries are the size of an almond and do not explode inside your body, you can imagine what was causing the pain. Apparently ovarian cysts are very common and not normally serious, but they definitely sound pretty terrible when you are not aware of that fact.
Jay was the best and picked me up from the ER, filled my prescriptions, and made me ramen at 3 am because I hadn’t eaten since my 11:30 am lunch time. He also spent the weekend making sure I was comfortable and offering to do everything for me because he’s the sweetest. (Even after I threw up all over his car from pain med nausea. That’s love, guys.)
Five days later I still feel awful, like someone keeps punching me in the kidneys repeatedly, but at least I don’t feel like I might pass out from the pain. Plus, those fantastic pain drugs they gave me in the hospital? They sent me home with some too. Plus side: they take away the pain. Minus side: they make me feel like sleeping through this entire week of author conferences that I have been planning since September. I mean, it’s pretty dark in that auditorium. Who’s going to notice me anyway?
While sitting in traffic this evening, contemplating life, I realized there are a few things I know definitively about myself. I present you with a sampling of these absolute, unwavering facts:
1. I hate when people use the word “sammy” for sandwich and “hubby” for husband.
2. I will try to sing like Florence and the Machine while in the shower.
3. I feel happiest when I’m near the ocean.
4. I’ll never not be a reader, and I don’t care what other people say about YA literature. I love it.
5. I’d never purposely misspell words in order to shorten them.
6. I’m meant to work with middle school kids. I get them and they get me.
7. I’m gonna try to pet your dog.
8. If you fuck up the copy machine and walk away, I will hunt you down and embarrass you about it.
8. I love my friends, family, and Jay.
You get the idea.
For a long time, wanting to write to express myself was on that list too. Personal blogging has gotten a bad rap over the years but they’re still my favorite pieces of writing because I always want to feel like I can relate to other people all over the world. And for a long time, it was important for me to also feel like other people could relate to me.
While I don’t think that urge has gone away completely there are now so many other ways for me to put my thoughts out there it’s become less necessary for me to put in the effort of writing something full and coherent. On twitter I can throw any random musing up and 140 characters later, I’m out. If I see a picture I like I can throw it on a pinterest board and peace. So, you know, things change.
On top of that, I live with two of my best friends and am in a relationship with someone who truly values communication- on every topic, big or small. Still, over the past few months there have been a few people who have asked about my blog. All I can think to answer is that I’m happy to have it, and happy to have people read it, and that’s all I need for now.
Well. That, and a glass of wine, because really, who reads without wine?
You guys! I’m so glad we all made it through 2011 together. There were definitely a few rough patches along the way and I was a bit worried, for all of us really, but it looks like we survived the worst of it. Luckily I feel really good about the way things ended and 2012 is already shaping up to be a great year.
Still, the dread of having to return to work tomorrow after having an amazing week off for the holidays has definitely set in. The next few months are probably going to be worse than ever, since tomorrow starts our big union fight for a contract. Picketing is now mandatory. Every teacher is walking in and out of the school building together at our exact contract hours. We’re not allowed to bring any work h0me with us. Normally this kind of workplace stress would send me into a frenzy of anxiety and worry- how will I get everything done? What will I do with the kids? When will I plan lessons? But somehow I have this feeling it’s all going to be okay.
Plus, I printed out the forms for a year-long sabbatical before I left for break.
What would I do with a year off? Right now I have no idea. All I know is I’d really like some time away from school and this district and the stress it has brought me. It still remains to be seen if I’ll ever fill these forms out, but just the physical presence of them in my work bag makes me feel a little better.The possibility is there. It’s tangible. I could do it.
The other reason I feel like it’s all going to be okay is because in addition to having amazing and supportive friends and family, I also have this amazing guy. I guess in the era of Facebook I’ve never really “announced” being in a relationship, so I didn’t fully realize that people would be ALL up on it when I did. But the comments and likes on my relationship status change were hilarious and lovely, so I thank those of you who saw it. Plus, I think he’s one of the best people I know, so I’m pretty sure that those of you who come to visit me will dig him. All we do is laugh. Besides my really close friends, I don’t think there’s anyone whose company I’ve ever enjoyed so simply and purely. Basically: he is lovely.
So that’s that. I hope the first few days of your new year have been as joy-filled as mine. Cheers.