There is a lot of stuff right now, for me and for the general world but I’m mostly always focused on just me, that is kind of terrible. I don’t feel well again. I felt better for a long time and now I don’t feel well again, and it’s shitty just like before, but with the added bonus of anxiety and distress at the sensation of being dragged back down into a craphole. I sleep a lot, mostly.
And, you know, other terrible things.
Anyway, here are some things I like right now.
NUMBER ONE. Facebook groups. I dunno, man, I am just into them. I like how I am in a bunch of different groups with a bunch of different purposes with a lot of the same people. And I like the groups I’m in with not the same people. I like how groups are being used, or at least, how I’m now seeing them being used. Like how you can just make a group for any damn thing and be in it and post in it or not or just read things. This doesn’t make sense and that’s fine. You know, the idea of people deleting Facebook or being addicted to Facebook never really made sense to me before – post something, look at some things, leave. What else is there to do on there that you’re spending hours a day? But groups, man. I don’t participate a ton, but I just really like being in them and reading things and saving links for projects and recipes some alternate universe version of myself might take on some day. You know any good groups I should be in? Add me to some Facebook groups. Make a Facebook group with just you in it and add me to it. I’m fine with that. Don’t add me to any direct sales groups, fuck off with that shit, but otherwise, yeah, put me in all your groups.
NUMBER TWO. Being basic as hell. I don’t really like the word or the concept, not so much. Especially not the whole “basic bitch” phrase. I dunno, you know that’s insulting and meant to be insulting, but the concept goes against everything I’ve come to learn about myself in recent years, so I’m not into it. But accepting the concept as a THING that we all understand, OH MAN I LOVE IT. Fall is when it seems to come out the most, but obviously being a basic person is a year round endeavor. But examples from right now: what, leggings, warm boots, top knots? Yes, yes, yes. Sign me up for all of those things. Those are all things I love. I love doing basic shit. Being incredibly average and predictable is my jam. I like watching fall tv show premiers and I like putting stickers in my planner and I like stopping for coffee. I get that the whole “basic” concept is meant to be sort of, “haha, look at you, liking things other people like,” but you know me well enough by now, or maybe you don’t, so I’m telling you now, I think that liking things that other people like is the absolute BEST THING IN THE WORLD. Yes. Put me down for one of everything that average people are enjoying the shit out of. Make space for me. I’m coming to enjoy shit with you.
NUMBER THREE. Korean television. Guys, it just keeps getting better, I promise. I don’t want to accuse anyone of anything, so I’m going to use myself as an example here, but BEFORE I started watching Korean television, it was impossible for me to imagine it could be as good as American television. I mean, I guess I just assumed the US was where quality entertainment came from. I don’t know if I thought it would be hokey or poorly produced or what. I don’t think it was a conscious thought, just some kind of embedded ethnocentrism I wasn’t super aware of. So anyway, I know I’ve beat this drum forever, but I don’t really plan to stop. It really is just as good as American television. It’s just as well produced, just as complex and interesting, and it’s just really, really great. I do think you’re missing out on something awesome if you haven’t tried them out, and I hate when people miss out on awesome things.
Okay, well, that’s about all of the things I am liking right now. I hope you are liking some things, too. Add me to Facebook groups about them.
This was part of a way bigger post I have shrunken due to excessive… me-ness.
This is something I need to make sure Penny knows before she leaves our house someday: she’s got to know where money comes from. I mean, I know she knows I go to a job, and I know most kids know that’s where money comes from, but where it really comes from.
I go to my job and there are things that need to be done. It’s not a hard job – you don’t need any experience or special talent to become a good employee really quickly. But you have to work. You have to show up and do all the things that need to be done. I’ve got an eight hour shift, and I go there, and I do things for eight hours – the whole eight hours, I do the things that my job requires. Then they give me money for that.
It’s not a hard job and it’s not a hard concept. But the kind of turnover you see in food service and similar make it clear that not everyone – like maybe people who are new to working or maybe just this type of person who exists – really has a firm grasp on the concept. Talking to my sister, who is a manager at a restaurant, makes it clear that it’s obviously not just something I’ve noticed.
I need to make sure Penny knows where money comes from. That you go to a job and do the job and that’s how you get the money. Not by just showing up, not by getting a job and then calling out a lot or not calling at all and not showing up, not by doing as little work as you can possibly get away with. If someone is going to pay you to do a thing, you must do the thing. That is how work works. It is not going to always be fun, but it’s also not very difficult – show up for your assigned shift and do the tasks assigned to you. That is the whole thing. You get money for doing that. No, there’s not a lot of time to socialize, and no, you can’t really dick around on your phone the whole day. But all you have to do is do the work you’re supposed to do during the time you’re assigned to be there. That’s it.
If someone is willing to pay you to do something, that means your work has value. If you’re taking money for doing something, that means you have to do it. If you don’t want to, or you find ways not to, or you make things difficult on everyone else, there is someone else out there who is willing to do those tasks for that amount of money. The money comes from doing the work.
I know Penny knows we go to work, and I know she knows we have money to buy things. I’m reasonably certain that she gets the work/money connection. But before I send her out to get a job of her own someday, I swear to you, Penny’s future employer, I will make sure that she understands that the money you are willing to give her is conditional on her doing the tasks that need to be done. That anything that someone will pay you for is work, and that the work matters to her employer. That if she won’t do the work or tries to find ways out of the work, then she won’t get the money. That there is no task or work duty that she is to good to do, no matter how tedious and un-fun. If someone wants to give her money, the work has value, and she needs to do it. Even if she thinks it’s a stupid way to do things. Even if she’s bored. Even if she’d rather be somewhere else doing anything else. Money comes from work and work (in most cases) is not just showing up.
There are a lot of things we need to teach Penny, so much that it’s overwhelming when I start to think of it. How to be a good person. That she doesn’t have to light herself on fire to keep other people warm. That she’s in charge of her body. That not everyone is going to like her and that’s okay. That she’s not going to like everyone and that’s okay, too. How to honor commitments and make phone calls and take care of her belongings. So this is just one of them, in a really long list of stuff, and I’m not saying anything about any other parents, or about any particular generation of children, or anything about anyone specific when I say that I hope you will make sure that your kids know this, too. That they don’t just understand that you leave all day and then buy them things. That they really get that when you leave, you do things that have value, and that value is reflected in your paycheck. That you have to earn the money, it doesn’t just appear. And that they’ll be expected to do the same thing someday, too.
There have been a lot of things over the last week that I have felt like talking about, stupid stuff mostly but this is my website and I’ll do what I want. I haven’t written any of it yet, though, because I felt like there was one big thing I needed to get out of the way before I could do anything else. It just feels weird not to talk about it.
Last Friday, the World’s Most Handsome Dog left us.
If you’ve read this blog or read temerity-jane for any length of time, you know all about Brinkley. When I first met Brinkley, I was obsessed. Totally obsessed with this dog. For a year or so, probably every 4th post was about Brinkley or had a picture of Brinkley or a mention of something Brinkley did. He was Phil’s dog. He was four years old when I met him. Honestly, a not insignificant part of the reason I agreed to date Phil (after a very long year of attempts on his part) was because this dog was part of the package. He was Phil’s since he was a puppy, but he was my first dog. Because he was certainly mine, too, though of course I recognize the significance of Phil raising him from being a terrible puppy into being a frankly kind of terrible dog.
He was so lazy. He was the world’s laziest dog. Whenever he’d get sick – and if you’ve followed along, you know that was a lot over the last couple of years – it was hard to describe it to the vet, because he just LAID AROUND ANYWAY so what was the difference? But we always knew.
Anyway, I don’t want to go into some overwrought thing about my dog, because that will make me cry and it will make you cry and it won’t be any good for anyone. Instead, I want to Swistle this whole thing and tell you what happened, how it went, and what you might expect if you ever have to do this. I don’t really know what else to do here. You know I loved this dog. You know I’m totally devastated in a way that feels like it’s never going to stop. We don’t need to go over that and I don’t want to drag you down into it with me.
So you know last summer, Brinkley was diagnosed with serious, serious cancer. We honestly thought we’d lose him within a couple of weeks. But he held on, and he held on. We had him to the vet now and then to adjust his medications and to make him as comfortable as possible. Everyone told us we’d just know when it was time, but I want you to know it’s not that easy for everyone and every dog. We didn’t know. I still don’t know. And that’s really hard.
Picture by Allie Brosh
About two weeks ago, he started looking really bad. Very slow to move around. Very reluctant to get up. In fact, he had this spot he liked to lay in, right in front of the back door, and if you were trying to come in, he just… wouldn’t move. You either had to try to shove him WITH the door, or yell through the crack for someone to come help you. But then, he was always a lazy dog. Regardless, my “something is not quite right here” instincts with Brinkley have always been pretty accurate, so we made him an appointment for Thursday. We knew that this was the appointment where we were going to ask – is it time?
Over that weekend, he stopped eating his food. He’d still go for a pizza crust if you had one to offer, and he was still taking his pain medication wrapped in lunch meat. He’d done this before, stopping eating for a day or so, but this stretched on for more days than ever. On Monday morning, the week of that Thursday appointment, I called the vet and asked if they could please work him in, and they did.
It was good and bad, that appointment. They said his heart sounded terrific and strong. They said his teeth looked like he’d lived a long healthy life. They also said he was clearly in pain in his back legs. That the femoral pulse was very weak. That he was anemic, that his liver was swollen, and that he was full tumors – some harmless fatty tumors, some certainly the spread of the cancer. He was confused. But they said he looked happy.
Happy, so that means it’s not time, right? No, not exactly. The vet said it was time to talk about Brinkley’s promotion. That’s exactly how he phrased it – talking about Brinkley’s promotion. We talked about how he certainly didn’t have long, and I understood that the longer we waited, for every extra day we tried to steal, we were running the risk of some major traumatic event happening. A seizure, or a rupture of some sort, or the loss of use of his legs, or something else that would constitute an emergency. Something that would mean we’d have to rush him in to be put down. So he was happy, but he was on his way out, and it became clear that it was a good time. We scheduled it for that Friday, four days later. It felt really, really wrong.
These are the things I want you to know about choosing to euthanize your sick or elderly pet. If you’ve already done this or you don’t want to know about it, maybe don’t read any more.
Things That Were Easier Than Expected:
Enjoying Brinkley’s last days without the constant questioning we’d been doing for nearly a year. Is he okay? Is this it? Is it time? Is this what they mean when they say you’ll know? All of that had been going on for a long time, and it made it really hard to enjoy Brinkley as Brinkley. He was a constant source of worry for us. That’s selfish, I know, but taking that off our plate brought him back to being just our big dumb goofy dog.
The ability to make his last days special. He got lots of attention. He got to get up on the furniture. He got so, so, so many treats and snacks. We had a hamburger party the night before. He ate three hamburgers and a whole lot of fries. He was in Brinkley heaven.
The actual process. A lot of the dread – not nearly all of it, but a lot of it – that I had in that week was not really being able to understand what was going to happen, having never seen it before. It was not scary. The tech came in and gave Brinkley a lot of treats. She gave him a shot that was a major sedative, then she left. We hung out with Brinkley and loved on him until he got tired, then we helped him to lay down on a blanket. About 10 minutes later, two techs came back. They shaved a spot on his leg and took out a very large syringe filled with bright pink liquid. They told us it works fast. They started the injection with no delay. It was a very thick fluid, so it was a slow injection. About halfway through the syringe, they stopped and checked his heart, and he was gone.
The next day or two. They weren’t terrible. They weren’t good, but they weren’t terrible. I was significantly more torn up in the two or three days before than I was in the two or three days after. Something we’d been dreading for a very long time was over, and our sick dog wasn’t in pain anymore. I felt good about our decision and I still feel good about our decision.
Things That Were Harder Than Expected:
The techs and vets at this office have seen Brinkley a lot over the two years we’ve lived here. In fact, our very first order of business upon arrival was to find a vet. He was at the vet before we had furniture, for a sick and terrible abscess on his leg that we didn’t know if he’d survive, let alone keep the leg. He did both. Point is, everyone there knew him. I felt very collected, mostly, when we were in the vet’s office, until the tech gave him a treat. Then she got down on the ground and kissed him a bunch and told him what a good dog he was. Then she leaned in and had private words with him in his ear. That was hard. That was really, really hard. There was ugly snort crying.
That second injection. They said it worked fast. I thought they’d put it in, then we’d see his breathing slow, then he would slowly leave us. That’s not what happened at all. When they took it out halfway through, I was upset. I thought that his old leg had blown a vein or something and they needed to start somewhere else. That wasn’t it. They bring in more than they think they’ll need, and they administer more than needed. There was no slow slipping away. He was there, and then he wasn’t. It was so fast. I was ready, but I wasn’t ready.
The sick “oh god undo undo” feeling that kept cropping up at random for the rest of that night. Feeling like we made a mistake. That he could have had maybe a couple more days or maybe even a week. Being absolutely unable to grasp the reality of the fact that we’d made a permanent decision we couldn’t change. Questioning myself over and over if we should have waited for what other people mention – that their dogs can’t move without assistance, that they have accidents in the house, that they refuse to get up at all. Brinkley was such a people dog. He wanted nothing more than to be with us and make him happy. He wouldn’t have behaved like that even in his worst pain – which we know he was in – because it would have kept him away from us. Still. It just kept dawning on me that we couldn’t undo it. Then I’d not think about it for awhile. Then it would dawn on me all over like it was a new realization. That was brutal.
And speaking of brutal. Penny was fine that first night. And the next day. But Saturday night, it seemed to hit her. I can’t go into descriptions on this, but it was awful. Awful, awful, awful. Phil and I had to trade her off between us to handle it. It was so terrible. We expected it, sure, but the reality was harsh.
It’s been over a week now, and it was just yesterday or the day before that I looked around and really realized he’s not here. And that he’s not coming back. At all. Ever. Just… gone. No Brinkley anymore. If that could stop cropping up out of nowhere, that would be swell. Any time now.
Something I’ve had to tell myself over and over is that it’s better a week too early than a minute too late. Most of the time, that makes sense and I find it comforting. The rest of the time, it sounds like the most horrible combination of words I’ve ever heard. How could a whole week too early be better? How could a minute too early be better? And I can’t stand, CAN’T STAND, to hear “better place” one more time, not ONE MORE TIME. Brinkley’s very best place in the world was right next to us and there’s nowhere ANYWHERE EVER that dog would want to be. He’s not in pain anymore, and that’s good. He doesn’t need his sick old body anymore, and that’s good. But there’s NO better place for Brinkley than right where he was, and he can’t be here anymore.
Sheldon hasn’t been eating much at all since it happened. He was confused the first day, then mopey. He’s slowly coming out of his mope, but he needs to be around us at all times, and he’s very subdued.
What’s funny and terrible is that now that Brinkley’s gone, we’re noticing what a really great dog Sheldon is. He listens to commands. Brinkley didn’t, Brinkley didn’t give a shit, Brinkley does what Brinkley wants. He doesn’t eat toys – we’ve been able to take down all the gates that kept Brinkley separated from everything Penny owned, and Sheldon has just calmly followed us around to hang out. He’s so patient with Penny, where Brinkley had very little interest. Sheldon wore pants on his head for five minutes today, because Penny put them there, and what the hell, Sheldon’s game.
Sheldon was decidedly not a good dog when we first got him. He bit me all the time and tore my pants right off me in the yard one time. He jumped and punched people in the stomach. He got over our fence and ran away every damn chance he got. But somewhere in the last six years, he’s changed, and we missed it, because I am telling you without shame, Brinkley was the favorite dog. Now Sheldon’s the only dog, and he’s really not so bad at all.
Anyway. Brinkley was a great, great dog. The very best. He’s gone now, and we miss him.
A list, by Kelly.
Scented trash bags
People who open a straw and just leave the paper right there, the trash can is 4 steps away, what the fuck is wrong with you
That thing where you get a really low grade fever which is just no big deal at all except your whole gottdanged body hurts like someone beat you with a baseball bat
The way EVERY phone system says, “please listen closely as our menu has changed.” Listen, you can’t all have recently changed your options. It has NOT, you KNOW it has not, and I know it has not, you’re just trying to politely say “please don’t mash 0 til you get to speak to a person, you impatient asshole.”
OH AND THOSE PHONE SYSTEMS THAT MAKE YOU TALK so you’re yelling “NEW SERVICE” or “REPRESENTATIVE” over and over and over until you JUST MASH 0 TIL SOMEONE SPEAKS TO YOU
The farts of dogs who have recently gotten into cat food
Childrens’ games that take 10 minutes to set up for 45 seconds of playing
Desserts and other dishes that involve hot fruit
When the shower curtain won’t stop sticking to you because you can’t get the shower head adjusted exactly right so it hits you in the dead center of the back so you have to stand off center in the shower.
This is Stitches. He is an Abomination.
When you’re just trying to have casual chit chat with a customer and they start going off about some random topic in such a way that all you can do is just not say anything else at all because it turns out they’re kind of a racist or an asshole or a racist asshole and they’re talking like of COURSE you agree with them, like it’s assumed you’re the same kind of asshole, when you’re actually a totally different kind of asshole
That thing where when you flex your foot or stretch your back and you know as you’re doing it you’re going too far but you do it anyway and then get the massive cramp you knew you were going to get
When you get a new phone and it automatically adds all of your email contacts as ACTUAL contacts so you’ve got like 8000 people you’ve only ever emailed one time ever and didn’t even enjoy that one interaction
The way children behave in such a way sometimes that you’ve got to threaten to take away stuff YOU ACTUALLY ALSO WANTED TO DO and then you have to follow through with it
BMI measurements at a 5 year old well check you just fuck right off with that
Ok, I think that’s it for now.
Obviously if you’re working in retail or food service, you’re going to have some complaints about the way people behave. It’s fun and/or cathartic to bitch about these things to people in similar jobs. Basically my entire text message thread with my sister is us complaining back and forth to each other about the shit people do, and it works because the shit people do is the same everywhere.
But it’s not as easy to complain about these behaviors to other people, or to people in general, or on a blog or whatever, because first you’ve got the people who will respond by saying, “Well, I do that.” And there’s an expectant pause where you’re supposed to tell them no, no, it’s fine when you do it. Or, “Well, I do that, I guess you hate me.” Which is irritating because maybe I hate you and maybe I don’t, but if I do it has nothing to do with this one specific behavior you engage in, and if you don’t do it, you almost certainly do other stuff in your life that I don’t care for, same as I do in mine. Something can annoy me without me hating every single person who has ever done it, and something can annoy me without me hating anyone at all, but rather hating the repeated behavior. Like, okay, I’m going to give you an example and if you get your feelings hurt, I’m really sorry. Here is an annoying thing people do. They order together, then play fight over who is paying, going back and forth and back and forth and both waving their cards at me, saying, “Take mine!,” “No, don’t take his, take mine!”
First of all, I will tell you, one time I got in one of these credit card battles with my friend, years ago, and I lost when he told the waiter, “Don’t take hers, she’s saving up for the methadone clinic.” So maybe consider going right to that if you find yourself engaged in this sort of skirmish. Second of all, I can’t tell you how very, very little I care whose card I take. I will take the first card that lands in my hand and run it and be calling for the next customer before the battle can begin, if I can see it coming and cut it off at the pass like that. Now, the people who do this are not assholes. In fact, they’re all very likely very nice people. And it doesn’t really bother me. But it happens a lot, and I am working, and I am not at all invested in who is paying for your drinks. Just give me a card and move to the side.
This isn’t something that makes me angry or makes me visibly roll my eyes (they’re rolling on the inside) or hate anyone who does it. I don’t. It’s just one of those little things you see over and over and maybe commiserate with someone else in the same line of work about it, and go on with your day. I don’t spend all day thinking about it, I don’t slam into the house and regale my husband with my irritations. It’s a thing that happens a lot, you notice it, you sigh, you move on.
That brings me to the second kind of people who will respond, the people who are MORTALLY OFFENDED that you get annoyed by customer behavior, because this is your job and they are your customers, and how very dare you. To those types of people, I just want to say, come on. Shut up. Being annoyed by a customer doesn’t mean I’m anything less than polite to them. Disliking a certain common behavior doesn’t mean I’m spitting in drinks. It’s part of the job, yes. We all have parts of our jobs we don’t like, but it seems like only customer service people are supposed to not only accept these things as part of the job, but also either enjoy these things or get the fuck out. And again. Come on. Shut up.
ANYWAY, those are two of the reasons it’s just generally not a good idea to bitch about this kind of stuff on your blog. People get offended for various reasons, both reasonable and assholeable. But I have been thinking about something people do, something that can get real awkward for both parties involved – you and me. This mostly applies to food service people, I assume, and maybe even especially to baristas. Since it gets awkward and potentially embarrassing for both parties, I figure it’s safe to tell you so that you can be spared the potential pain yourself.
In any kind of food service, there’s a lot of turnover. If you have a place you visit multiple times a week or even every day, you’re going to see a lot of new faces over time. That’s common, I guess. But it’s when you get used to seeing the same people over and over that you get into trouble with this situation. Especially because remembering the faces of the people who serve you isn’t exactly top priority. And I’m not saying that like, damn, people are assholes, they don’t even recognize me after I’ve made them coffee? Of course not. Why would you? There’s only so much space in a person’s head and memorizing the face and name of a person you interact with for two minutes is not top of the list, and that’s FINE. This is definitely true when a rotating cast of people wearing the same clothes occupy the same spot on different days. You don’t have to remember. You’re not expected to remember.
But on the SAME NOTE, you can’t expect those people to remember you, either. And that’s kind of comforting in a way, like when you were younger and buying like, 8 bottles of lube and a gross of condoms and was worried about what the cashier would think. Maybe he went home and told his spouse, “hey, someone bought a fuck ton of lube and condoms today,” but maybe not. And he almost definitely won’t recognize you if you come through the line again another day. And he probably wasn’t thinking about you as soon as the next customer came up. That’s comforting.
If you go into the same coffee shop several times a week, you’ve probably got a regular order, and maybe the person who works there knows your regular order, but sometimes those people change. Actually, often those people change. But if you’re consistent, pretty much everyone will eventually nail down your usual order. But consistent to me probably means something much different than consistent to the average coffee customer, right? Say you come in twice one week a new person is working, and you order the same thing both times. Then the next week, you come in again, and you say, “I’ll have my usual.” Don’t. Don’t do that. You’re setting up the awkward moment where I feel like I’m supposed to know what you want and don’t, so I can’t just punch it in and start making it like you’re expecting, and I have to tell you, actually I have no idea who you are or what you like to drink so you’re going to need to tell me. And I feel like I have to fall all over myself apologizing, saying I’m new, saying I have a bad memory, whatever, anything to ease the brief awkward tension where we both realize you think I should know who you are and I don’t know, and me wondering if you’ve confused me with the other girl who used to work here but looks nothing like me.
If I see someone come in and I know I’ve seen them before, I might say, “Hi, how are you. Remind me what you like to drink again?” to kind of avert that moment. But chances are if you’re not an every day, same time, same drink customer for many days in a row, it’s not going to stick for quite a while. I mean, eventually it does. When I’m making a big chain of drinks and this one older man comes in, I pop his iced coffee cup right on the end of my line and he reaches around the register to lay down $3.05 for me to get to when I get to.
OH SPEAKING OF THAT MAN, he’s the sweetest, he’s really kind and gracious and says how much he appreciates me and compliments my multitasking skills. He reminds me a bit of Mr. Rogers, if you can imagine that, always with something kind of meaningful to say and just really nice. So I’ve got this mental backstory going on that he’s probably a serial killer, and I can’t seem to shake it every time I see him, but you know, if he is, he’s probably really successful because he’s just so nice, who would even suspect?
(ME. I SUSPECT.)
Anyway, this is my point. It’s all right if you don’t recognize that it’s someone new behind the counter, but if you’re not very certain this is the exact same barista you’ve been seeing every morning for a year, maybe just state your drink order to be safe. And if it is a new person, and you recognize them, maybe don’t order with the phrase “I’ll have my usual” until that specific person has confirmed verbally, at least once, that she can recite your order from memory.
I dunno, maybe it’s not awkward for customers to say, “I’ll have my usual” and be met with a blank stare. Maybe that doesn’t bother anyone but me. But I am telling you anyway, just because I’m nice and I swear if you say, “I’ll have my usual” and I have no idea what it is, I am definitely doing a panicked mental inventory, trying my very damndest to remember it for you, because everyone likes to feel like they matter or make an impression or that their presence is noted, even for something small like a latte, and I would spare a person that tiny deflation of ego (you don’t remember ME?) or embarrassment (I didn’t even recognize that I’m talking to a different person than I usually do and I am an asshole) if I can.
I promise you though, if you do go, and you go often, and you order a consistent drink, they WILL grasp it fairly quickly and you’ll shave like 45 seconds off the whole transaction. More if you have a fussy drink. (Which are fine. It can be as fussy as you want, I promise.) ALSO if you go often and you order a consistent drink, like, say, you German man with the tall non-fat latte, and then one day order a tall mocha TOTALLY OUT OF NOWHERE, I will definitely say, “HEY!” and give you a disgruntled look. A good-natured disgruntled look. But notably disgruntled.
FIRST OF ALL, I have a confession. A couple of days ago, I posted on Twitter about a miracle that had occurred. I used up a bottle of shampoo and a bottle of conditioner on the exact same day in the exact same shower. I know, I was shocked, too. But it happened. I chalked it up to cutting off over a foot of hair back in the fall. It’s long again now because my hair and my butt and boobs are the only parts of me that have ever reliably grown, but still.
So I was in the store with Phil the other day looking for new shampoo and conditioner, and mentioned to him that they didn’t have the one I like, and he said, “Oh, I guess I shouldn’t have used so much of your shampoo, then.”
THANKS FOR TAKING AWAY MY MAGICAL MOMENT, PHILLIP.
SECOND OF ALL, remember the other day when I complained a lot? I had forgotten one of the complaints. I’m well-rested right now so I’m not feeling as uppity about it, but I’m going to tell you anyway – here’s a thing that annoys the shit out of me: songs and other media talking about how a woman doesn’t know she’s beautiful and that makes her beautiful. What. Why can’t she know? Did you see that post on reddit or somewhere a while ago where a woman was on a dating app of some sort and started responding differently when guys told her she was hot or whatever? Like, instead of blowing it off, she said, oh, thanks, or something like that. And she got responses that were crazy. There was this one where a guy is like hey, you’re hot, and she said, oh, thank you, and you know how he responds? WHOA WHOA WHOA, a little full of yourself, eh? And she’s like, huh? And he TELLS HER, you’re supposed to say something like, oh, no I’m not, or something like that. Like he actually expected her to deny that she was hot, EVEN THOUGH HE HAD JUST TOLD HER SHE WAS, and her failure to do so revealed some kind of massive personality flaw. There was a screen shot and all that went along with it, but half-assed combinations of “lady says ok when a guy thinks she’s hot” pulled up nothing I was looking for, imagine that.
Obviously there’s this whole problem a lot of us have with taking compliments, because compliments can be uncomfortable, and that’s something we’ve all got to work on personally, as adults, but at the same time, you’ve got people actually believing that not acknowledging your good points is a huge part of what makes them good points. That shouldn’t be a thing. Why is a girl not knowing she’s beautiful part of what makes her beautiful? Is it that you want to date an idiot? Or are you an idiot? Because I am telling you, if she is beautiful, she probably knows, and if she doesn’t know, she will know some day when she grows up and gets comfortable with herself and stops dating morons who want to be the only one to be allowed to confer the word beautiful onto a woman.
THIRD OF ALL, someone damaged my scooter in the parking lot at work. They didn’t hit it, because it’s always parked in such a way that that’s not really possible. There’s scratches in the paint down one side, at the back end and front end, and also the end of the brake lever is damaged, as well. It looks like someone dropped it and it hit the curb. However, if it had been actually knocked over, the cowl bars would have taken the hit, and if they didn’t and the panels hit, they would have cracked. No, what clearly happened (you’ll have to trust me because this is my scooter and I know it) is that someone was ON it and was surprised by the center of gravity on it. That takes a bit to get used to, it’s low and heavy. So they lost the balance – I’ve done it. Once it starts to tip, if you’re not very strong or very tall, it’s very hard to keep your grip without shoving your body under it as leverage. So someone was on it and it tipped, and they didn’t drop it straight to the ground, but more held it and slowed it as it went down, and banged it off the curb.
THERE WASN’T EVEN A NOTE.
Who DOES that! Who just GETS ON someone else’s vehicle in a parking lot, let alone damages it and doesn’t say anything? I’m so upset. I wanted to be the first one to damage it. Not really, but you know what I mean. I have insurance, but I don’t feel the deductible is worth it for some scratches like that, especially when I’m such a new driver and likely WILL scratch it myself. We’ve kind of decided to just let it go for now, and in a while, after I’m done getting all my beginner scratches in, we’ll get it fully painted so I can have the pink scooter I originally wanted. But I have to SEE the scratches all the time and it just REALLY CHAPS MY ASS, not because the damage is so upsetting, which it is, but because I find it SO BEWILDERING that it’s something people will do. Touch and potentially harm something that IN NO WAY can be mistaken as belonging to them. You can’t just DO THAT. Except clearly people do, and this is definitely one of those “two kinds of people” situations, because it would NEVER CROSS MY MIND to do such a thing.
LASTLY, yesterday I was at work, and I had made new CDs for the coffee shop a couple of days ago because the old ones have been there for years and I couldn’t listen to one more Jason Mraz song. A couple came in and the lady was pregnant. They got two coffees and were leaving when the song changed to Ben Folds’s Gracie, and the man goes, “Aw,” and the lady said something I didn’t hear, and the guy said, “Do you want to sit and listen?” So they sat down on the couches and sat there quietly, and after a minute, the guy wiped his eye a little, and when the song ended, they got up and left. Guys, I think they’re having a girl and I think her name might be Gracie.
You know how in your marriage, or your relationship, or in your whatever you’ve got going on or not going on that works for you, you eventually fall into these little routines, like a kind of division of tasks, the smaller ones. Not who does the yard work and who doesn’t do the yard work and instead sits vulture-like at the window to make sure not a single half-blade of shorn fresh grass makes its way into the house, but I mean how other things are broken down. Like if I am getting ready to take Penny somewhere, Phil makes her a roadie and loads her in the car for me, then I take her away and he sits and stares at the wall for an hour, I assume, because that’s what I do when I’m suddenly left alone in the house and overwhelmed with the possibilities of doing things in my own home without interruption. You know, however you break stuff up. Routines and all of that.
And I’m not talking about how a marriage works, specifically, because there are people who have Very Firm Ideas on how marriage in general should work and will not hesitate to tell you you’re a bad wife or bad husband or bad whatever your role is. There’s this really strange – to me – idea of fairness that people like to apply to marriage in general, the idea that it should be 50/50 or otherwise equitable, which, okay, I get that, but those same people also want to be the ones to decide what is fair or equitable, and that’s… not a thing. You can’t apply one standard to all couples, like Person A does tasks X, Y, and Z, and Person B does equally weighted tasks of T, U, and V, and that’s fair and how it should be, so if you’re only doing X, leaving Y, Z, T, U, and V for the other person, you are definitely doing marriage wrong and you’re terrible at it and you’re probably going to get divorced. You can’t do that, though, because you can’t be the arbiter of how tasks are weighted universally, and also about what other people consider a good partnership, or even be the person to decide that it should be fair. Do you see a ferris wheel? Do you see a man selling tickets? IF NOT, IT’S NOT A FAIR, SO FUCK RIGHT OFF WITH THAT SHIT.
I admit this is a very personally irritating topic and most other people probably don’t give it much of a thought, but I have learned by now to not talk specifics about how my own marriage works, because it will not be long before I am told it is WRONG and I should STOP and be DIFFERENT, and that is just infuriating in its stupidity, because you’re not a part of this, Lemon. But while I am now wise enough to not put that kind of business out there, it does not stop me from wading in to infuriating arguments on Reddit on the same topics, and really, I’m getting all heated up just thinking about the last one I threw myself into.
It’s especially irritating to me, likely, because I know we’re operating outside whatever a bunch of people may consider the norm to be, and people are prickly about stuff they’re insecure about. Not that I’m insecure about my marriage itself, or maybe I am, but that’s not the topic or anyone’s business anyway, so I’m going to leave it there as an either or – either I am or I’m not and both are equally possible – because I don’t want anyone thinking too hard about my marriage because I find that upsetting. Actually, I don’t like it when people think too hard about anything about me. I don’t like to be thought about. It makes me anxious and uncomfortable. I want to be The Silence of humans. Just forget I exist entirely until I appear in front of you. Then we’ll probably do something nice together instead of me kidnapping you and turning you into a murderous astronaut, but up until the murdery part, I’m The Silence, ok?
WHAT I’M GETTING TO IS THIS. You remember that show, Mad About You? Of course you do. It was one of those sitcoms that does a little bit of show, then the theme song comes on, then the real show starts. So there would be this little part or joke, just a minute or so, before the theme music, that wasn’t really tied to the rest of the episode. I don’t know if television shows still do that. I don’t really watch a lot of sitcoms. But you probably remember when that was a thing even if it’s not still currently a thing, so I feel fine moving forward with the description I’ve given there. So this one episode, it opens with one of these little vignette dealies, and Paul and Jamie are standing at the same small sink in their bathroom, brushing their teeth. I can’t remember the exact details, but they’re cooperating, like one toothpastes up and passes the tube and the other turns on or off the water, and it’s clear they’ve done this a million times. Paul leans over to spit in the sink, and he spits, and Jamie leans over, too, and spits right into the hair on the back of his head. He stands up, and he’s got this look of absolute shock and betrayal, and he’s like, “I thought we had this.” And she’s got nothing to say for herself because they’ve been together forever and they’ve brushed their teeth a million times, right next to each other, every day, twice a day, and then she suddenly loses the plot and goes and spits right in his hair, and something like that seems, almost, in some ways, more shocking than if she was like, oh yeah, I slept with six other dudes over the past year or so. Because that at least is so far out there and crazy that it seems more possible than her spitting right in his hair.
I have a point, and the point is that Phil ordered extra cheese on my green pepper and onion pizza last night, and I’m having a really hard time getting over it. I just… what? What, Phillip? In what life that we’ve lived together, outside of parallel universe me, who I remind you that you do not know, have I ever wanted more than the exact standard amount of cheese on anything? Extra cheese? We’ve been together almost eight years, and he ordered my pizza with extra cheese. I’m seriously completely boggled that it happened and frankly, still feeling a little wounded this morning. This was cheese completely out of left field.
There is a really unsettling and then settling thing that I think happens to everyone at some point, or maybe actually it doesn’t happen to everyone, but after it happens to you, you realize it’s very likely it happens to everyone. I say both unsettling and settling because there’s the before, before the thing happens, and then it happens, whatever it is, and it’s so shocking to realize it can happen, and then once you know it can, everything is fine in a new way.
You know those things that happen to other people but definitely don’t or won’t happen to you, whether you consciously think it or just kind of assume in the back of your mind that it’s just not something that happens to you. Maybe because it’s just so unlikely, you’d never expect it, or maybe because you just don’t see yourself as the kind of person those things happen to.
Let me give you a list of the kind of stuff I mean, the stuff that happens to other people exclusively, before the day it happens to you. Other people get in major car accidents. Other people lose their jobs. Other people’s kids grow up to be drug addicts. Other people’s spouses cheat. Other people get divorced. Other people get cancer/some other devastating diagnosis.
So all that stuff happens to other people and you just feel it won’t happen to you, because really the odds are small/your kid is not that kid/your marriage is solid, etc. Then stuff like that happens to people you kind of know, like on the outskirts of your social circle, and it’s shocking. Then it happens to someone you know, and you realize it’s closer. Kind of like, whoa, that was close, because I know that person, but it’s not actually close because life is random, so it’s not like disaster looked at you standing next to someone and chose them instead.
There was this guy, when I first started working. He was from another store, covering another person’s last week of maternity leave. He did a lot of my training, since he was there and I was there and after a week he went back to his own store. I saw him again once or twice when he came to pick something up or drop something off. Anyway, he was at his place and I was at mine. A week or two ago, a lot of the shift managers where I work were travelling up to where he worked to cover shifts there. My boss was talking to me about being shorthanded over there, how they’d lost a shift manager. People are in and out at these jobs all the time, obviously, but she said someone had died. And I said, “You don’t mean Steven, do you?” (That’s not his name.) And she said yes, he’d died. He was coming home from somewhere and his car crossed into the other lane, and that was that. And that’s one of those outside of the social circle things, not someone I considered a friend or knew well, but I knew him, and he was close to my age and worked in my same job and was doing something I do. You know, driving a car. It’s weirdly surreal when one of those other people things happen to someone who is one of your people, no matter how tangentially so. I don’t in any way think his death was about me or that I’m personally affected other than “Geeze, that is fucking sad and I liked that guy,” and I haven’t in any way made it about me, other than thinking over my shock, because that’s what it was, shocking. I mean, people die ALL the TIME. But when it brushes by closely – and I realize this is not that CLOSE but you know what I mean – it’s a little unsettling.
Anyway, all of these things happen to other people. Other people fall asleep at the wheel and drift into traffic. But then, something on the list of things that happen to other people – maybe something you’ve given so little thought that it wouldn’t even occur to you to think about it being something that happened to anyone, but if you HAD, it would definitely be something that happened to other people – happens to you. And that is fucking unsettling. Even if it’s just a little thing, in the grand scheme of things. Because if this can happen, then suddenly all of the other people things can happen, too. There is literally no reason any of those things might not be you someday. Not that there was any real reason they wouldn’t be you before now, but suddenly it’s very clear that you have no secret special protection from life changing, bad, weird, or otherwise giant shit happening to you. (I do realize that coming to this understanding is very possibly a hallmark of emotional maturity I did not possess before a certain point in my life, and maybe normal people achieve that much earlier, and maybe you’re reading this like, “this is not news, you absolute walnut,” but I can only live inside this one head.)
For awhile, it’s really unsettling. A thing happened that wasn’t supposed to happen to you, and now you’re totally open to all the other things out there. Like this one thing wiggled in through your secret force field, the one that you had that was better than the unfortunate others, and tore it all the fuck up and now it’s all coming. You are now the other person. You are someone else’s other person, and shit happens to the other people. Now you will get all the shit, because you are in the other category now, where the shit comes to live.
That’s a long phase, or maybe a short one, I don’t know, because this is all hindsight now, where you’re just braced for all the terrible things that are coming for you now, now that you’re on this other side, and that’s unsettling, but eventually it’s not anymore. Eventually, it flips to the other side. Okay. Something that happens to other people has happened to me. Being the incredibly self-absorbed person that I am, that leads me to believe, finally, what was definitely true all along – that there are no other people. I have long considered myself to be the most average person I know, and if I’ve suddenly fallen into the other category, my self-centered mind gradually shifts to the understanding that of course I am still normal and average, and it’s not that these things happen to other people. They happen to normal and average people, of which I am one. And everyone else is one, too, except for the people on the ends who make averages like me possible.
And you know, that’s fine. Realizing you’re not secretly protected from these things should be unsettling, and it is, but then it’s really, really, fine. Understanding that the crap that only happens to other people could be lurking right around the corner for you, too, is kind of calming, in a weird way. This is life as it happens to all people and you’re going to keep living it. It’s easier to be gracious to people who are having a hard time, even if you can’t imagine yourself ever having the same kind of hard time, because of course you could have the same kind of hard time. It’s easier to swoop in and ask for what someone needs when they’re struggling, when before you would have been the type to hang back, not get involved, or not intrude, because it’s suddenly so much easier to imagine yourself in their shoes, or even kind of assume you will be in a similar set of shoes some day. It makes it easier to motivate yourself to work to keep what you have, stay healthy, talk to your kids, dedicate yourself with renewed energy to your marriage, not out of a “please let it only be them and not me” kind of motivation, but out of an understanding that no, not everyone gets to keep what they have, and there’s no criteria for choosing who does and who doesn’t get to hold on to it all.
I realize now this sounds like some kind of deep philosophical bullshit, or more likely one of those obnoxious “live every moment like it’s your last!” inspiration type crap heaps, and I hope you know me better than that. I’m not going to tell you how to live your life because I don’t really care, because I am totally self-absorbed and I accept that about myself, and you should, too. About me, I mean. I don’t care what you accept about your own self. It’s just one of those weird before/after realizations, where life is one way before and another way after. Like when I found out the plural of beef is beeves. You can’t come back from that shit, you know?
When I started working at the coffee shop, the girl who was training me made sure to point out the regular customers and their regular orders. It helps, a bit, when you’re very busy, and you see someone you are familiar with come in, and you can just tack their drinks onto the end of the chain you’re making and ring them out when you get a second. The way this coffee shop operates is that one person works alone from open to close, so when it gets busy, little things like that aid you in keeping things moving along.
The coffee shop is located on a military base, so, you know, I see a lot of military people. Not just USAF, though. There’s Italians, British, Germans, and French, as well. Groups of them are really regular. Germans come in around lunch, Monday through Thursday, and they mostly drink lattes, and they take over the sitting area of the shop for 30 or 40 minutes, and it’s very reliable. A little earlier in the day, the French guys would come in. There were about 6 or 7 of them. Two would come together, and order a double espresso each. The other group would come in a bit after and order double espressos as well. All of them, double espressos, all the time.
One of them is just really friendly and chatty and was always interested to know about whoever was working there, talk about what he likes about New Mexico, how it’s different from France. He wanted to know what our husbands did and talk about what he did (a fighter pilot). And another was very big and very gruff, and he would sometimes drink 4 double espressos in a day. IN A DAY!
Anyway, these French guys, they were the first guys I got to “know” working there. I knew their drink (singular, because they all want double espressos, all the time) and they knew the exact cost, but I would always ask them what they were having, and they would pretend like they might order something else. “Oh, hmm… double espresso?” And they would put their change out on the counter and count it out together and pay in exact change every time, and I’m not communicating this well, but they’re adorable and I really enjoyed them and how reliable they are.
As you can probably tell by my awkward switching back and forth between present and past tense – because they still ARE French guys and they still DO drink double espressos – the French have left. In the last couple of days they were here, they were paying in more and more coins, trying to shed all of their American money. One said they were leaving soon, and it turned out to be within a couple of days, then they started coming in out of uniform, as they were preparing to leave, and then one by one they would tell me it was the last time they were coming in.
The big guy came in for the last time on Tuesday, and he walked in and kind of just spread out his arms, like, “Well.” And I was so bummed. I don’t even know how to explain. I put an extra shot in his cup and slipped my own $.75 into the register, which is not something I do, because I can’t be buying drinks all the time for people or I would be poor. I didn’t even tell him I did it, I just did it because I wanted to, and whether he noticed or not, who knows, because he was The Last French Guy, all of his friends had already flown out and he wasn’t hanging around in the shop like he had every single day since I started working there. I asked him if he wanted his receipt, like I always do and he always declined, and he declined this time, too. I guess he was not especially interested in making his last visit symbolic, because of course not, these guys travel a lot and this was just another coffee shop on yet another base. The really nice guy told me that one of them was going home and then deploying 15 days later, and the rest would likely be deploying in a month or so, so they are busy guys, those French Air Force guys.
It is kind of ridiculous how bummed out I have been about the fact that they’re gone. Today was the first shift I worked with No French Guys, and it wasn’t weird or notable, except that I only had to refill my espresso beans just one time instead of two or three or four. And more French guys will be coming in a month or so, and I expect my espresso sales will go back up to former levels, but they will not be the same French guys, so they will not be MY French guys, and I don’t know, I think this has given me unexpected ennui.
I remember my first non-training solo encounter with one of the French guys, and he was very nice, and when he left, he said, “Good bye, madame,” and I was so fucking charmed, I texted Noemi immediately to tell her, because, I don’t know, she’s French, they’re French, and I’m really only capable of the most basic of social connections. One of the girls I have trained recently is a lesbian and I’m surprised I haven’t texted Noemi about that, too. “Hey, I met a lesbian! You’re a lesbian!” and then the conversation would peter out from there because that’s really all there is to say about that.
But the French guys. Maybe because they were the first customers I knew? But I also know a lot of the Germans quite well – and by know, I mean, I recognize them and they recognize me (probably because I am dependably behind the counter and making coffee for them), but I don’t know their names and they don’t know mine (I mean, I assume – theirs are on their uniforms as is my own, but I haven’t registered them so I assume they are the same). And I would miss the Germans, if they left, which, you know, I don’t know if and when they will or when new Germans will rotate in. And the French guys weren’t the only customers I know. There’s a really lovely gentleman who comes in three or four times a week and he wants black iced coffee, the cup filled to the top with ice and as much coffee as I can get around the ice, and then he will put the lid on it himself, and when he sees I’m busy, he reaches around the register to lay $3.05 on it and hangs back to wait patiently. If I’m very busy, he makes sure to compliment what a great job I do, and today, he took the time to tell me that the girl I trained recently, who worked her first solo shift yesterday so I could get a day off, after only one real day of training – that girl – he took the time to tell me that she had done a wonderful job and “tell her we’re all proud of her.” How fucking adorable is that.
I love the coffee shop. I really, really do. I especially love the regular customers, because they are so regular and dependable and unfailingly kind and understanding that this coffee shop is a one lady show. When I kind of “took possession” of the coffee shop, though – it’s not mine, it’s just that as the regular part-time person now, who gets the bulk of the hours, I don’t just come in and work a shift anymore, but am now also responsible for doing all the ordered and dealing with the vendors and making sure everything is running when I am not there, so it feels like mine and my boss treats it like it is mine – when I took it, there were The French Guys, and they have been a massive part of this whole thing. And it doesn’t sound like a whole thing, because it is just a job, but what had happened was I started working at first in December, and I was also hired for another job, off base, at a coffee shop in a bookstore. I told my boss about needing to schedule around another job, and she said she’d wished she’d known I wanted to work in a coffee shop, because they needed someone in our coffee shop. Things worked out so that I didn’t take the one off base and trained to work as kind of a respite type of help in this coffee shop instead, and that started in January. By February, I was working there 2 and a half days a week by myself, and by the end of March, it was my coffee shop. It feels like a whole thing, because it happened kind of fast and now I am kind of a mini-boss of the place, like one of the “your princess is in another castle” Bowsers, and it’s nice, really. I genuinely liked coming in and working a shift at whichever restaurant I was meant to be in that day and going home, but it’s also nice to have a feeling of ownership over this little shop and my boss empowers me to really just do what needs to be done and trusts me to just Handle Things, and that’s nice, too. It’s responsibility, but not Responsibility. I guess it depends on how you look at it. It’s manageable responsibility. Comfortable responsibility. Busy and vital, but not stressful responsibility.
Right, so, when I got the coffee shop, there were The French Guys, and now there are not, and it’s so unexpectedly a thing, I just wanted to write it down. They were here and now they’re not, and I am very, very, mildly bereft.