23 October 2007

I Am Not a Dog Person revisited

Although I am still living in the suburbs, I am in the city a good 3-4 nights each week. Thanks to my good friends that live in the city and my boyfriend, I have a place to stay any time I want to get out of the 'burbs. Each week the nights I spend in the city change, except Saturday night. I cannot tolerate being in the 'burbs on a Saturday night. It feels even more pathetic than being here on any other night of the week, which is to say that it feels unbearably pathetic because it is only Tuesday and already I feel pretty damn pathetic.

This past Saturday night I went out with a girlfriend. We had fun and went to bed fairly late. For some reason, however, no matter how late I go to sleep and how drunk I am at the time of falling asleep, I am still up and around before 8:00. So I woke up early that Sunday, and I decided to take friend's dog for a walk. Some of you may remember that I am not a dog person. But that does not mean that if there is a dog in the room, I cannot figure out what to do with it. The dog was clearly eager to go out, so I threw a leash on him and took him for a walk with me. My intention was simply to get coffee and bring the dog home, but it was such a beautiful day in Chicago that I decided to walk around Bucktown for a good hour.

I learned a few things from this excursion. First of all, I confirmed that I am not, in fact, a dog person. I found myself annoyed with every totally natural dog-thing he did. I mean seriously, how many times do we have to stop and sniff the fire hydrant? Yes, another dog pissed on that hydrant. And, Henry*, those are leaves. Mystery solved. Enough with the stopping so we can smell them already. The second thing I learned is that, in spite of the first lesson I learned, if I am ever single again, I am going to buy a dog. I looked like poop when I went on this dog walk. My hair was in a pony tail. I had on workout clothes and running shoes, and I was wearing no makeup. Yet, I got hit on by more people than I did the night before when I was out on the town in full makeup**. None of the men was particularly attractive, but neither was I. Imagine if I had on even little makeup... a dash of blush here and an application of mascara there. Finally, I learned that dog owners somehow manage to ignore the fact that their dogs are sniffing each other's asses when they greet. Should we not acknowledge this? I mean, I would not expect a dog owner to acknowledge it if she encounters the same people on her walk all the time; but why not make a funny joke about it the first time? "Hey, didn't I see your dog at [insert local bar here] last night pulling that same move on a blond?" I mean, why the fuck not? It is so uncomfortable for me to watch this perfectly natural ritual happen. The whole sniffing situation paired with the daddy of the aggressor dog hitting on the mommy of the submissive dog makes for one awkward situation. Am I the only person that finds this impossible to ignore? Finally, I learned that I miss living in the city even more than I thought. It was a perfect fall morning in Chicago, and I walked that dog as long as I could before I had to head back to the 'burbs. So I had to suffer through some awkward dog sniffing moments along the way, but it was worth it. Is it Saturday yet?

*That's the dog's name, the same dog, in fact, who helped me to discover originally that I am not a dog person.
**Which isn't really saying much, since I don't generally get swarmed when I go out, but two guys in hit on me during my dog walk.

24 September 2007

"V as in ________"

I was shopping with my friend one day, and he had to spell his last name to place an order. He has a V in his last name and as he spelled it he said, "V as in Victor." I started thinking about this, and I asked the sales associate what word was most commonly used with "V as in _____." She said, as I suspected she would, "Victor." This puzzles me. Who the hell is Victor, and why do so many people agree that he is the guy for the "V as in _____" example? Since that day, I have asked everyone I know, and nearly all said that they would say "V as in Victor" if they had to spell something with a V in it. One or two patriotic types said "V as in victory," which might actually be worse.

I started thinking about hilarious alternatives to Victor. Now, if one wants to get blatantly gross, I would suggest "V as in Vagina," but I think one runs into the possiblity of offending someone with that choice. A more interesting approach would be to say something that might just make the person a little uneasy, such as "V as in Velvet-y" or "V as in voluptuous." This standard could be applied to other letters of the alphabet as well. Instead of "M as in Matthew", one could say "M as in moist," a word that causes many people to cringe. "P as in penetrate," "P as in push," or "T as in touch", "N as in naughty" "D as in discharge." I could go on for days. All these words are gross to be sure, but none of them is totally R-rated when given a neutral context. It is only R-rated to the person who has his/her mind in the gutter, which many of us do. If anyone tries this approach, PLEASE post a comment and let me know your results. I have not met anyone that has used this borderline dirty approach on a complete stranger. Anyone have any suggestions for borderline disgusting words? Or if you use something other than the standard "V as in Victor," please share.

But seriously, I do think we should push for something or someone other than Victor. I asked a friend of mine, whose last name begins with V, to try Vito. She is Italian, but that is not why I suggested it. I just like the name Vito, and I thought it would be a good substitute for Victor. The plan did not go well. The person whom she was talking to started laughing when she said "V as in Vito." What is so damn funny about Vito anyway?

On an unrelated note, I know I have not posted in a while, and I am seriously going to try to write more. As I said in my comments on the last post, I am feeling uninspired because of my current life situation. If things would start looking up, I might be more inspired to write. Until then, it is a struggle to get myself on a regular blogging schedule. I am going to work on it. I promise. It is really nice to see the people that keep coming back and prodding me to write. Ooh that is a good one, "P as in prod."

29 June 2007

My iPod is queeny

To keep me busy here in the 'burbs*, I have decided to get a job. Now, to be honest, my instinct was to keep myself busy at Oak Brook mall. I decided, instead, the mature thing to do would be to work to stay busy rather than spend to stay busy, a concept that I wish had occurred to me at 22 rather than 30. I am working at a trucking company with my mom. I have no idea what I am doing. I know that on some days I sort papers into separate piles. I put the originals in one pile and then the duplicates in another. Then I staple the piles together and put them in a stack and hand them to another person. I do a few other things too. I take these small cards and input data from them onto an Excel worksheet. Inevitably, one of the nice ladies working there will ask me something like "Did you get the Savannah pay sheets done" and I have to ask her to phrase her question using simple terminology, such as "Did you put the numeric information from the blue sheets and white sheets onto the beige machine with numbers and letters on it?" Then I am like, "Oh yes, they're right here."

It is mind numbing, and I am certain I am losing IQ points each day I sort papers into piles. They are paying me a fair wage, however, and the hours are flexible so I think I can spare a few IQ points. Frankly, I am losing no more than I would lose on the average Saturday night drinking binge. To pass the time, I listen to my iPod while I am doing my tasks. If I am just sorting documents into piles, I like to listen to the podcast of "This American Life", which I download every week. But if I am putting the numbers from the blue, pink or white sheets into the computer, I put my iPod on random because, although it is mind numbing work, I do need to pay attention at least a little while I do certain tasks; music can be good background noise, while Ira Glass' compelling stories of Americana simply cannot be tuned out. **In order to expose myself to all of my music, I try to listen to any song that comes up, even if it is one that I do not necessarily like very much. As it turns out, my iPod is a gay man with shitty taste in music. It picks Elton John, but only the bad songs like "Candle in the Wind". Or Queen, but only annoying songs like "Good Company." The other day the song "Let's Hear it for the Boy" from Footloose came on. I suddenly felt very embarrassed, and I immediately felt the need to switch it. I have this fear that just as, say, "Let's Hear it for the Boy" comes on, a news reporter is going to come up to me and ask me what I am listening to for some kind of story about people and iPods. I can imagine myself trying to justify having such a shitty song on my iPod and explain how it does not accurately represent my taste in music. "Wait! I should have been listening to Built to Spill! Or Pavement! Or the Flaming Lips! Or anything! ANYTHING BUT LET'S HEAR IT FOR THE BOY! " In fact, I am getting a little nervous just thinking about this unlikely situation.

* Yes, I have officially moved to my parents' home in the 'burbs. I am two days into it and already I am kind of losing my mind. Other than that, it's great.
** I have a lot of music on my iPod that I got from my ex-husband's collection. He has, let's call it electic tast in music, so there are hundreds of songs on there I have not listened to.

11 June 2007

Abraham Lincoln was the 16th President

As I have may have mentioned before, I have a long commute to work every day. On average, I spend a good 2 hours each day in the car, roundtrip. This gives me a lot of time to think about various things... from my exciting life to the state of Illinois roadways. I spend an awful lot of time, in fact, on the latter.

One of the three roadways I take, I-88, is undergoing construction. The signs claim it is a "rebuild-widen" project, and I think that is supposed to make me feel better about the giant clusterfuck this constructions has caused on what used to be a smoothly run tollway. One of the first things they did in the 'rebuild-widen' clusterfuck project was install an electronic roadsign, much like the one seen in this photo. The one on the I-88, or the Regan as it is now called, spans the width of the highway. When I first saw that this was going up I thought it was an outstanding idea, even if I was a little bit annoyed with how much traffic it caused. I figured the sign could provide useful information, such as travel times, or, in the event of an emergency, evacuation information, like the one in the photo.

I overestimated the Illinois Department of Transportation in assuming it would want to use those costly signs to provide useful information for travelers. In fact, I would guess that on one out of every 30 days that sign displays useful information such as travel times. The other 29 days, it displays one of three messages:
  • U Drink, U Drive, U Lose
  • Click-it or ticket
  • Trucks take a longer time to stop. Please keep a safe distance away.
Not only is that first one annoying because it is written like a text message, but it, like the other messages, is a completely obvious piece of advice that could have been conveyed without spending millions of dollars on materials and construction crews and causing a lot more traffic than even an expert like me would have anticipated. Click-it or ticket? That is the one message the Illinois Department of Transportation wants to give me in the one second it has my attention? Are you fucking kidding me?

I am not here simply to rant about the useless information provided by those costly signs; I have a suggestion for how to improve the situation. If IDOT refuses to display useful traffic information, which I still maintain is the most obvious use for a sign that spans the width of a highway, I suggest using the sign to display information that the average American should have. Maybe IDOT should get its hands on the US Constitution and display things like the rights guaranteed by the First Amendment. Or during Black History month, the sign could display information about important black people*. Frankly, I could come up with a million more interesting messages to display on the sign. How about a word of the day? Or a random fact about a famous Illinois resident? Or the cost of a ticket for speeding in a construction zone? Really anything other than U Drink U Drive U Lose would make me happy.

If you were in charge of the electronic road signs, what would you display?

*Well, I guess they could provide that information any time really, but you get my drift.

04 June 2007

Is that your name, Rrusty?

Now that I am off for the summer, I finally have time and motivation to write. Plus, my "loyal readers" (i.e. Marc), have hassled me enough that I feel bad for neglecting my blog. I have not posted since February, but I do not really have a reason for why. Every time I sat down at my computer to write, I could not bring myself to go to this page. If I got an email alerting me of the comments made on the blog, I just deleted them because thinking about responding felt like a lot of work. It is the worst case of blogger's block I have ever had. Anyway, I do have something to write about now, and, except for a little rustiness, so far I am in no pain.

My lease expires on July 1. That is less than a month away. In fact, it is a mere 26 days before I move. What exciting plans for my living situation do I have planned? Oh it is very exciting; I am moving in with my parents. You heard right, loyal reader! I turned 30 not two months ago, and I am taking a giant step back to suburbia and living with mom and dad. This was not an easy choice for me. In fact, I will not be totally confident that I will go through with it until I have all of my clothes, shoes and other personal belongings stored in my old bedroom and I am crying hysterically on my old bed. Then I will know for sure that I have officially made the decision to move into my parents' house. Honestly, my parents are fine. We get along well, and I like spending time with them. I think it is obvious why I am unhappy about this situation. I am 30. I, as everyone does, had expectations for where I might be at this age, and let me tell you, I never thought I would be where I will be in 26 days.

There are three things keeping me sane as I try to come to terms with this move. In no particular order they are:
- Money: By September, I should be completely out of credit card debt. By the end of the year, my car will be paid off. I will also be able to start saving money as well.
- "I've made a huge mistake" is the name of the blog for a reason. Although this is not the easy choice, it is the right choice. How does that saying go? The right choice is not always the easy one? I keep telling myself that. Then a friend of mine, who pretty much always makes the right choice, said in an email "You are making the right decision." That helped. I am going to tell her that today when I go to lunch with her.
- The light at the end of the tunnel: The Cop and I have been talking about buying a home and getting married... in that order. My hope is that both of those things will happen during my Winter Break, with a private wedding in Maui or Mexico the first week in January. I am prepared, however, to wait until Spring Break, with the wedding happening the first week in April. This option is clearly a DISTANT second to the December/January plan, but I am trying to stay positive about it. Plus, that gives me more time to save money for a home, furniture and a flat screen TV.

That is my boring post after a several-month hiatus. I promise to try to write something funny and entertaining on my next post, which will hopefully be within the next week or so. Now who wants to cheer me up and tell me moving home is not going to be that bad?

22 February 2007

Disturbing or hilarious?

On any given day, I hear some pretty interesting things as I roam the halls of the suburban high school where I teach. Some of the things I hear are kind of funny-- like the girl I overheard in the sophomore hallway near my room. "Jobs are hard when they make you do stuff," she said, in the most stereotypical 'bored teenage Midwestern girl' voice you can imagine. Mostly, though, they are disturbing. Once, as I worked at my desk, I heard a girl shout, and I do mean shout, to her friend in the hall, "I got LAID last night!" I felt like walking out there and offering her congratulations in her amazing feat. God knows it is a challenge to find someone to sleep with you when you are a teenage girl with low self-esteem.

By far the most horrifying thing I have ever overheard was said by a girl that was no older than 14. I was leaving the building and passing the mass of students waiting by the exit for their buses. This is a particularly perilous time to leave the building for a few reasons, not the least of which is that you are likely to overhear students in their first moments of freedom after being held captive in school all day. They are loud. They are rude. And they are crude. Apparently, they are also whores.

Here is what I heard Tuesday when I left work. A few boys and one girl were standing together waiting for the bus. One of the boys was carrying a platter of cookies, which he probably made in his "Foods" class. The girl said "I'll give you a blow job for one of those cookies."

Now, you have to understand; I walk past thousands of kids on a weekly basis. I hear stuff that I have to let slide-- curse words, arguments, anti-teacher propaganda-- even if it is my instinct is to turn around and beat the shit out of the offender. If I stopped every kid that appalled me, I would not make it to class. To be fair, I did not exactly ignore this girl, but I wish I had done more. As I stopped dead in my tracks, this misguided girl realized she had offered a blow job for a plate of cookies in front of a teacher. I simply turned to her and said, "Can you please at least have the courtesy not to talk like that in front of a teacher?" When I got in my car, I could not help but think I should have said more. But what? What can I possibly say to a 14-year-old who is willing to offer a blow job for a cookie? Here are some options:
1. "I will give you a lifetime supply of cookies if you promise never to offer sexual favors for cookies as long as you are alive."
2. "Come with me; we are going to the social worker."
3. "Give me your cell phone so I can call your parent/guardian and tell him/her what you just said."

The worst part was her reaction, or lack thereof. She glanced at me with this coy look on her face, a look like, 'oh I'm so ashamed that this old lady heard me being slutty. I'm so naughty aren't I boys?' I wanted to drag her by the hair into my car and tell her that she was making a fool out of herself. It was almost like she was proud.

On one hand, I find this story HILARIOUS. On the other hand, I find it disturbing. If it happened in a movie that was a parody about how high school girls are turning into cheap whores with low self-esteem, I would find it hilarious. But it was not a movie. It was at my job, and it was a real girl with low self-esteem who, at the very least, thought it was appropriate to portray herself as a cheap whore.

How about you? Is this disturbing or hilarious?*

*I won't be offended either way.

02 February 2007

I'm not a dog person

I have a good friend who is the type of person who will do anything for you if you ask. Technically I do not ask for many favors from Friend, but I know when I do he will say yes. Because of that, and because I want to be a nice person, I am happy to help him out when he needs it. Then he got a Puppy. He's little, fluffy and energetic. When Friend asked me to dog sit Puppy for one night, I was not exactly thrilled at the idea of fulfilling this request. In fact, I was terrified. I have never had a pet in my life*, and this is the first dog I have ever really been around for more than a few minutes. But seeing as how I live three blocks from Friend, have a predictable work schedule and have been on the receiving end of one or more of Friend's favors and good deeds, it was a reasonable request which I felt I ought to fulfill.

My first task was stop at Friend's house on Monday and let Puppy out so he could pee. This is a manageable task, even if you had a relatively petless childhood. Sure it was kind of annoying trying to calm Puppy down enough so that I may put on his collar. And it was also a little frustrating trying to get Puppy to stay focused long enough to actually exit the building before he pissed with excitement. And frankly it tried my patience a little as I stood outside waiting for Puppy to find the right place to take a piss in the 8 degree weather. Not surprisingly, I also did not like picking up Puppy's poop. But I was out of there in under 10 minutes so I was feeling confident.

Once I got past that event, I figured the one night's stay on Thursday night would be a breeze. I mean, how bad could one night be? I kept a fish alive for a good three weeks when I was a kid, how could I fail at taking care of a harmless little puppy for one night?

How to fail at taking care of a harmless little puppy for one night in three simple steps:
Step 1: Do no play with Puppy. Friend left me a bag with toys, treats, food and a note. The note indicated that puppy would be eager to play once I got him home because he had been caged all day long. So I got Puppy in the house, and I thought, 'Ok, dog, play.' But he did not. He just stared at me as if he expected me to play with him. The idea of playing with the dog baffled me because, frankly, I do not know how to do that. I have seen people wrestling on the floor with dogs. But Puppy weighs maybe 5 lbs; I don't think he would last long in a wrestling match with a full-grown woman. And to be honest, if he were a safe wrestling weight, I would not roll around on the floor with an animal that licks his own asshole on a bet. I still do not know what Puppy expects of me. In fact, this very minute he is moping around with a bored look on his face and whining every so often. It is a little sad.
Step 2: Overestimate how long Puppy can go between bathroom breaks. That had to happen only once. Now I take him out every 10 minutes, which is great as Chicago is reaching its lowest lows of the winter.
Step 3. Make Puppy feel unwelcome in bed. Friend told me that Puppy likes to sleep in Friend's bed with him and has never slept in his own cage before. Friend said I did not have to let Puppy sleep with me, but I would probably have a better shot at a good night's sleep if I allowed him to do so. So I laid down some towels on the bed, set up a barrier between him and I so his dirty paws did not touch me. I figured I had met all the requirments for a good night's sleep, even for an animal. Not the case. I was very tired yesterday so I try to lie down in bed by 9:30. Puppy looked at me like I was joking. So he whined, and cried, tried to get out of bed, and stared at the door, and tried to jump on me several times, in a failed attempt to be charming and playful. Finally I realized two hours had passed since the last time I took him outside. There I was in the below zero temps trying to convince Puppy that he should be peeing, not trying to chase his tail, make his paws dirtier by running around in the snow or chasing the occasional car that passed. When we got back in the house, I put Puppy on the floor and let him whine until he gave up. I feel asleep, and when I woke up at around 2:00, Puppy was still awake, curled up under my nightstand and listening to Miles Davis with me.

Overall, I have decided that while I may like the occasional visit with this puppy and others like him, I am not, by any stretch of the imagination, a dog person.

* I did have a fish once, but I didn't realize until this dogsitting incident that owning a fish does not qualify one as a pet owner.