Character Limits Are My Kryptonite

I was trying to write a tweet today, and I couldn't fit it all into 140 characters and get my point across. I know, no one is surprised by my inability to be brief. It's nothing earth-shattering or ground-breaking, but it might come off as one of those tone-deaf "I am so profound, look at me in my leather armchair near mahogany bookshelves faux-refurbished industrial swivel chair in my chevron-bedecked living room pondering life and using my Voice to impart to you my secret wisdomous thoughts" blog posts that I kind of hate. Or something.

Growing up, my family was very free and liberal with the phrase "I love you." Not in a careless way. We truly, 100% loved each other (even when we hated each other). No matter what was going on, no matter how we behaved, no matter the occasion, we said "I love you." Sometimes, we would say it when someone LEFT THE ROOM. They were coming right back! We knew they were coming right back! And yet, we still made sure they knew it before they left our presence. It's how we say good bye on the phone: "Love you, bye!" We are a very loving family that is not afraid to show it.

This is not to say that our home was paradise or that we never fought. Sister and I shared a room until I was 12, so you can imagine the carnage. We fought like cats and dogs; we BRUISED each other frequently. There was the normal amount of raised voices and tempers and frustrations that any family has. But we never, for one second, doubted our love for one another. A lot of this comes from our faith, which is at its essence built on love. If we truly believe what we say we do, how can we act in any other manner?

Anyway, my point is not to brag about my family, although I do think they are incredible people and I'm so grateful to have been raised in a home like this. My point is, even with never going a day without hearing and saying that phrase, I was fully an adult before I became comfortable with saying it to anyone I was not related to. Maybe this is common? I'm not trying to pull the Special Snowflake card here, I swear. But I remember most of my friends saying "I love you" to boyfriends at an age younger than one would expect someone to HAVE a boyfriend, let a lone be in love (and we can argue about whether they even KNEW what love was at that age at some other time). So maybe this comes from me never having been in a romantic relationship. I've never been in love, so I've never said "I love you" in that way. I don't know.

What I do know is that, despite coming from a loving home and despite growing up in a faith defined by love, I was...embarrassed? hesitant...UNCOMFORTABLE...with telling my friends I loved them. I have no idea why. I maybe thought they would judge me? Like that word was too big and too potent to attach to a normal friendship? Maybe it was a fear that they didn't feel the same way and then we're both left in that awkward space where there's pressure to say it anyway and there's unintended rejection if it isn't said. Maybe I believed, erroneously, that that phrase is only for blood-relatives and romantic love (that would be the dumbest rule ever, if it were true).

And now, nearly 600 words later, I'll tell you that that information? Just ground work for the thought I was trying to tweet earlier. So now you can see why I couldn't fit my idea into 140 characters. THIS is that thought: One of the greatest joys, one of the best discoveries, of my adulthood so far is realizing that I CAN say "I love you" to people who are not related to me and also that I have people in my life to whom I WANT to say it and who willingly say it BACK.

Like I said, probably not earth-shattering. Probably, most of you do this without thinking. But the magic of the Internet is those "me, too!" moments, so I thought maybe I'm not the only one. I have struggled for much of my life (again, despite the loving family and my faith) with feelings of inadequacy and fear of rejection and the expectation that people do not actually want me around. Typing it out like that, it sounds so WOE IS ME, but it's not like that. It's just this stupid, insidious, ugly thought that creeps into my thoughts when I'm in a group of people or spending time in someone else's home: "They don't actually like me or want me here. They're just putting up with me. It's an obligation to them. I'd better leave before I make it awkward for them to ask me to go." Ugh. Not pretty. And not true for most situations.

So the fact that I have people in my life who are not biologically programmed to love me, people who are not only willing to spend time with me, but are willing to say out loud that they LOVE me? That's pretty much the best thing ever. I still hesitate infinitesimally before I say it sometimes. Or I allow them to say it first, just to be sure. I'm still pretty awkward with it (although I would submit that there is very little with which I am NOT awkward). But it's become so common that I almost take it for granted. That's what hit me today. How normal and average and unremarkable it seemed to me when my friend said it right before she hung up the phone yesterday. Because it actually isn't--it's really rather extraordinary. I hope you this in your life, too.


How Does One Sneeze at 25 Pounds?

If you follow me on Twitter, you know that work is a little crazy right now. More than a little crazy. Stabby, Ragey, and Resentful, to name a few of the lesser-known dwarves (spell check is telling me "dwarfs" is the correct term here and I'm just not sure I can live in a world where that's true). Hard to believe though it may be, I have once again found myself in an untenable boss/employee relationship, and at this point it's basically an Internet meme. But lamer and without cats. That's not even what this post is about.

Since 40 hours or more of my week are so frustrating and sideways, I've been allowing the rest of my life to get frustrating and sideways, too. I haven't been eating well, which means weight gain and spending too much money eating out. I haven't been resting well (intentionally taking time to do things that fill me up like reading my Bible, going for walks, or a dozen other beneficial things) and have instead been allowing myself to get mindlessly television-drunk to avoid dealing with my emotions. I've been skipping out on my Tuesday night church thing because I just don't want to do anything after another awful day at work. Recently, I've even been skipping church on Sunday, using my Christianese excuse of "sabbathing" which basically just means I wanted to sleep in, and I've experienced a noticeable decline in my attitude, perspective, and ability to deal with the misbehavior of others. Huh, stop spending time worshiping the One who gives me grace and I am suddenly unable to extend grace to others. Weird...

Anyway, I've had enough. I refuse to let this one area of my life infect the others. And I refuse to let another boss or job have this much power over me. It's going to take more energy and more deliberate planning, but I need to take control where I can find it and start living life on my own terms. Oh, good Lord, I sound like a cheesy self-help book. Next thing you know, I'm going to be talking about pampering my inner goddess and waking up to the existential power of the glowing temple of the pool of inner light within my subconscious MIND or something. Geez. Mostly, I just want to stop feeling like I hate everything.

So. I'm back at WeightWatchers. I know, same song, different verse. But so far, it's the only thing I've tried that has given me any kind of success. As you might remember, I was posting regularish updates last summer about my weight loss. Then this day happened, and I just kind of fell off the wagon. I have lots of excuses, most of which bear the names of national holidays at which we eat copious amounts of food, but it doesn't really matter. One of the major reasons I picked up and moved across the country was that I needed to change some patterns in my life (huh, another song on repeat), including my weight. Now here it is, over a year later, and I'm about 25 pounds lighter than when I got here. Twenty-five pounds is nothing to sneeze at, to be sure, but it's far from my goal. I have almost 100 pounds to lose yet, so a few weeks ago, I restarted tracking my food. I'm still not going to meetings, because that leader kind of ruined it for me for now. But if you look at the proverbial weight loss wagon, you'll see me, uh...teetering on the back edge. But I'm IN and that's what counts for now.

I don't know that I'll be posting weekly updates or not. You all saw how well I maintained that last time. Plus, who really cares? I mean, *I* do, obviously. And I'm sure that some or most of you are kind and compassionate human beings who are happy to cheer someone on as they do something good for themselves. But who really wants to read the statistics of my scale every week? Probably no one but me, and that's perfectly fine. I lost about 5 pounds in the first week (no expectations of continuing at that pace, but it was a nice surprise on Friday morning), so it's going well so far. I also have a goal to walk 20 miles in April. I'm at about 4 so far, so we'll see. But I wrote it in the bullet journal, so it's bound to happen.


And Then We Shall Make Our Awkward Escape

It's my six month "anniversary" at work today, so I am now eligible for sick days. Hooray for the common cold! Only six more months until I earn vacation days, which I think I'm going to use to go to Hawaii with Roommate. After six months, I'm still incredibly grateful for the paycheck, but am still pretty ambivalent about the job itself. Some days, I kind of hate it and want to run away. Some days, I love the work and can see a future here. Most days, I just show up, do my best, and pray that God directs my steps. 

The following is an IM exchange between me and one of my coworkers, right after we had a discussion about our boss occasionally sometimes being somewhat of a...damp...blanket about our fun, which she has very right to be. This conversation is one of the reasons I'm loving my job today, despite it easily being a day that I would want to run away from. Also, it's another piece of evidence in the long campaign to prove that I am not entirely normal. It's like I'm playing a game of Non Sequiturs, except I SWEAR all these things relate.

COWORKER: By the way, my new desk is facing directly towards the dumpster outside that says "Kill Joy" in graffiti. I'm not a fan of this.

ME: Ha!
Sucker of Joy

COWORKER: I have a sneaking suspicion of who may have painted the dumpster.

ME: Haaaaaaaa!

COWORKER: I want to run away Forest Gump style. Like just take off and see how far I can get. But I don't run very fast so probably not a good plan.

ME: I am also slow of foot


ME: We need a better plan
A getaway car
OR camel

COWORKER: I think camels are also slow.

ME: I don't know. The Middle East has done pretty well with them

COWORKER: I want a donkey.

ME: Plus, who's going to try to catch us when we're on a camel? They're going to give that thing a wide berth.
They spit, you know.
You can have a donkey. I think I'm sticking with a camel.
We'd make an interesting pair, fleeing into the night on our odd quadrupeds.

COWORKER: Tell A to have her husband come with two camels and a donkey. And two eligible bachelors.

ME: Done.
Where are we going to go?
Just pick a direction and gallop?
Or do we have a destination in mind?

COWORKER: Anywhere but the kill joy area.

ME: Tahiti?
Can donkeys swim?
Or do they get seasick? Because we COULD take a boat.

COWORKER: I don't know about donkeys, but I can't. I quit swim class when I was 6.

ME: Boat it is. And LOTS of life preservers
For you AND the donkey


ME: I am all about ass safety

COWORKER: Lol! Me, too. I protect mine at all costs.

ME: I always make sure mine is covered

COWORKER: Pretty much. I really do want to ride a donkey someday, though. And a side car. I've always wanted to ride in a side car.

ME: I just had an image of a donkey WITH a sidecar
And now I'm imagining a drunk donkey.

My brain is a scary place to be.


Everything's Coming Up Bagels

I have an apartment!

I think.

It's a whole long story and I was all set to blog about it, but when I told the ladies at Bible Study last night all the sordid details, I realized it is interesting to exactly no one, including me. It's a lot of "she said this, then I said this, then she PROMISED this, then I was disappointed" and not a lot of interesting. But the bottom line is: after thinking I was going to have to abandon this rental company and fight with them to get my money back, they managed to get me into the floor plan I wanted for the price I wanted in the gated protion of the complex like I wanted. Now, I haven't actually signed any documents, so this is really no more secure then the LAST TIME I thought I had an apartment and is actually LESS secure because they have proven themselves UNTRUSTWORTHY since that time, but I'm throwing caution to the wind and getting my hopes aaaaall up. I have no one to blame but myself if I'm disappointed. Well, and them. I will definitely blame THEM. And probably myself not at all.

After the awfulness that was Friday and the recovery period that was Saturday and Sunday, I was not really expecting this week to be spectacular. Then my boss called me in for an impromptu performance review. I say impromptu only because I did not know it was happening that day or that minute, but I DID know it was coming. It was supposed to be last week, but she had to cancel for one reason or another. Anyway, I only really had 15 minutes to fret about it before I sat down at the table and got to it, so that was actually nice. I am, after all, a champion fretter.

I had completed a self-evaluation a few weeks before and knew that she would be adding to it and critiquing it, but I really had no idea what to expect. I've never had a performance review. When I worked for either of the Wonder Twins, they just yelled or sent passive-aggressive emails every few days and it was just kind of understood how my performance was rating (poorly. ALWAYS poorly). Then I worked for my church for a while, and they were mostly just pleased that I showed up at all. I mean, I basically created that job and asked if they wouldn't mind paying me gas money to do it, prettyprettyplease, so it's not like they really had performance metrics built in.

So I go into our newly-tiny meeting room (we recently put up a wall down the center of our conference room to make more offices and now we have a sad folding table and these four giant Executive Conference Left-Over Power Chairs that barely fit in the room) and my boss is late and I'm just fretting away. She comes in, hands me a copy of my self-evaluation and a copy of her edits to the same document. And then she tells me I have one of the highest scores she's ever given a new employee.


No, this is the part where you air all the grievances you've been storing up for the last five months. All the things you SHOULD have talked to me about, but didn't have the guts or the interest, so you just let it fester. This is when you really get to pull that bait-and-switch maneuver my other bosses were so fond of. This is where you yell and I cry and you pat yourself on the back for being a excellent molder the young minds of the future of tomorrow.

Instead, you say that you LIKE me? That you're very glad you hired me? That you're impressed by my abilities and you value my constructive DISAGREEMENT because it makes you better at YOUR job?

This must be black magic.

Seriously, guys. I have no idea. I went in with dread in the pit of my stomach. I expected some dark secret festering rage to smack me in the face. I had NO REASON to expect this (in fact, when she had announced that reviews were coming, I did a nervous chuckle and not-actually-jokingly asked, "Do I have anything to worry about?" and her answer was "No." But that's part of the tradecraft). Everything has been going relatively swimmingly, so I shouldn't expect the worst. But expect it, I did. I guess some of the old wounds still haven't healed, although I think this meeting went a long way to helping them.

She showed me places where I can improve and they were all things I agreed with--even though I totally had to bite my tongue to keep from getting defensive about them because that's ALSO what I'm used to in meetings like this. She showed me places where she was more confident in my abilities than I had been on my review. The overall score she gave me was higher than the score I gave myself. This is partly due to it being on a scale of 0-4 and I didn't know we were ALLOWED to use FRACTIONS, but I still would have probably given myself the same score because SCREW FRACTIONS.

Also, if you gave yourself a 1 or a 4, you were supposed to provide documentation to support it and the only thing I gave myself a 4 on was a statement that said something to the effect of "Is nice to others" and I AM nice to others. Really REALLY nice (at least out loud) and I go out of my way to BE nice, but how exactly do you document that? Anyway, she only gave me a 3 on that because while I AM nice to others and probably even nicer than many on staff, all of the ways I am nice are basically expected of all staff members and a 4 is designated "EXCEEDS expectations" and since we're all Christians and are EXPECTED to be like JESUS, ain't none of us getting fours on that one. Apparently.

Anyway, this is all to say that yesterday was a good day for me. I got an apartment and not only did my boss NOT yell at me (the opposite being a pretty standard Monday in my experience), but she said some very NICE and CONSTRUCTIVE and UPLIFTING things to me. So Monday totally kicked Friday's butt. And by kicked its butt, I mean Monday made a shank out of all the happy things that happened that day and STABBED Friday in its black little heart until it DIED. Wow, that, uh, got a little dark. Sorry. In my defense, Friday was a really awful day.

So I am going to tempt the wrath of the whatever from high atop the thing* and leave the title as it is, even though the last time I used that phrase, I had an interview get cancelled and when we finally rescheduled it, I was LATE to it and did not get the job and also other bad things happened. And even though leaving the title as is kind of giving me the heebie-jeebies (which I want noted for the record, which can be used as a mitigating factor in case of an appearance said wrath of the whatever).


Weigh In: Ten Percent and the SPIRAL OF DOOM

I went to my very last WeightWatchers meeting today. For a little while, at least. It's cheaper to do it online and I fume/cringe/gripe though my meetings (if I go at all), so it doesn't seem other the money right now. But I weighed myself on my new digital scale and it looked like I had lost enough weight to equal ten percent of my starting body weight. At WW meetings, you get a cool keychain in the shape of a 10 (that will hold other rewards, like the 25lb washer and the 16-week charm) and everyone claps for you and generally makes a big deal. So I decided I would go to ONE MORE meeting, get my keychain, and peace out. That's exactly what I did.

I wish I had never gotten out of bed this morning.

I REALLY wish I hadn't gone to that meeting.

The meeting was fine. Great, even. But this day, aside from (and directly after) the weigh in, was a complete disaster. I'm raw and teary and angry and embarrassed and eighteen other GIANT emotions. Here's a quick timeline of my day today:

7:30 am: Wake up and realize that my body will refuse to go back to sleep, despite my plans to sleep in today. Watch an episode of Flashpoint on Netflix in bed (this show is awesome and you should watch it and I love Canadians).

8:30 am: Get up, greet Bean and baby, convince myself to go to my meeting, leave for my meeting. I spend the drive working hard to stay under the speed limit, which is something I have been very good about since being pulled over on Saturday. I am reformed! REJOICE!

9:15 am: Stop at Starbucks to get a free latte courtesy of a screwed up beverage last month. Go to my meeting, weight in, get my keychain, be lauded, and smile graciously awkwardly. TODAY IS A GOOD DAY!

10:15 am: Leave my meeting, call my mom to tell her about my weigh in, giggle a lot. TODAY IS A GOOD D--wait, why are there flashing lights?

10:23 am: Get pulled over. Apparently, in my excitement about my weigh in, I lose track of my speed. I recognize this before I see the cop and am at the speed limit by the time I see his lights. This does not matter. As I pull to the curb, I catch my tire in a drainage slope and hit the curb HARD with my front passenger tire. Get ticketed for speeding and lacking proof of insurance (which is at home, on my dresser, exactly where one should keep such a document).

10:34 am: Pull away from the cop with ticket in hand. Get half a block away and realize there is something seriously wrong with the front passenger tire. Pull into parking lot. See flat tire. Call my mother and cry. Call Bean and cry some more. Bean sends her family to come rescue me.

12:15 pm: Pull out of the parking lot with a spare tire. Head to the shop where the tires are insured. Get a new tire, costing me only $23. Think maybe this won't be so bad. Realize that the ticket will likely be over $100. Cry again.

12:37 pm: Drive SO CAUTIOUSLY home, staying at the speed limit the whole time. Get passed by EVERYONE, some who do so in a disgruntled fashion. Do not see any cops. Get home and get a lovely hug from Bean. Try not to cry. Grab my proof of car insurance. Spend 20 minutes looking for my medical insurance card. Open two CDPs, because this day needs more than one (thanks, by the way, to Ginger for the make up and Miriel for the necklace! They brought joy to this awful day). Leave the house.

1:25 pm: Arrive at the courthouse to pay my fine and put this all behind me. Stand in line for 23 minutes to be told that the cop has not turned in his paperwork yet (he has 24 hours to do so), that my ticket is not in the system, and that I must return another day. Also I'm notified that the ticket will be $167 BEFORE administrative fees and credit card processing fees. Cry some more.

2:00 pm: Go to an auto shop to get my oil changed, which was on my list of errands before my day took a sharp nosedive. Present coupon for a $19.99 oil change, tire rotation (ridiculously unnecessary at this point), and break check. When my car is returned to me, I'm told about damage to the tire rod on the front passenger side that will cause major problems if not fixed in the next few weeks. But hey! It'll only cost $315. Also: I need new wipers, might need a new battery, and the oil pan is leaking. Forgo all options but the actual oil change (with other services described in the coupon), pay $25.72 for my oil change. Leave confused and weary.

3:15 pm: Return home believing that Crappy Day Presents must be mailed today (it's actually the 30th) and panic about wrapping paper and flat rate boxes. Find the actual ship date and relax. Talk to Bean, who reassures me that, although this day sucks, I do not suck as a human being.

3:37 pm: Leave for the grocery store for milk, a flu shot, and a DTaP. Sign up for shots at the pharmacy, go get milk while they're prepping. Buy the wrong milk (1% instead of skim), ice cream, and candy bars (in an effort to see how much of that 10% I can gain back in one night).

4:12 pm: Get flu shot, which my insurance covers at 100%. SCORE! Pharmacy nurse says good-bye. I ask for my DTaP (which I'd signed in for). She says it was not on her form and it will be several more minutes until she can get it ready. I stare forlornly at my ice cream. Pharmacy tech tells me my insurance will not cover DTaP and that'll be $60. I call my insurance company, whose obnoxious automated system tells me I'm covered for "Adult Immunizations: in network, out of network, in office, out of office; at 100% with no copay." Pharmacy tech shrugs and says her fax machine tells her different. Pay the $60, take another needle to the arm, go home with soggy ice cream.

The night did not get better from there. I won't go into more details, but it just sucked all around. For the only the second time since I moved to Texas, I uttered the phrase "I wanna go home." I don't really, but I DO want to run away from the mess that five minutes of excited distraction have cost me. I won't because I'm a grown-up, but it's really tempting. I decided against calling the apartment complex to check in on that mess of a situation (which I'm not sure I posted about, so you might be confused. Basically, it's a mess and I don't actually have an apartment YET, but they took some of my money and I'm not sure if they plan to make good on their promises), because I was done crying at this point and I thought I might yell really loudly if they told me what I expect they will tell me.

I ended the night in the kitchen with Bean with chocolate milk and prayer, because that's how we roll (okay, technically, I'm ending it blogging, but whatever). This is exactly what I needed at the end of this day--to remember I have a God who loves me, whether I break the law or do everything right. He will forgive and He will be with me and this day does not get to win. I'm not trying to get all philosophical--I don't have enough brain cells free at the moment to do that--I just know that this day is not some kind of cosmic mistake and it will not get in the way of the larger plan. And that it is perfectly okay to say "That day SUCKED."


Bad Decision Tuesday

The Dumbest Decisions I've Ever Made, A Bulleted List

  • Moving in with Liar. I still want my $900 back.
  • Reading the word "Szechuan" on a restaurant sign aloud as "Saskatchewan." In front of my junior high youth group and pastor. And then not reading their incredulous expressions before wondering aloud at the business viability of a restaurant devoted to such a specific Canadian cuisine.
  • Moving in with Crazy Boss Lady. I absolutely regret moving in with a psychopath.
  • Being a stupid over-achiever and electing to take high school chemistr. The reasons with decision was dumb is four-fold:
    • I had already fulfilled my science requirements 
    • the teacher turned out to be a demoralizing jerk and also kind of pervy
    • I could have been taking...art? I dunno. My school had very few electives, but anything would have been better than chemistry
    • it was the only B I ever got in high school and was the reason I did not get to be Valedictorian 
  • Eating all the leftovers in my fridge at the end of college. 
    • I regret the stomachache
    • I also regret that this was the moment I started gaining back the weight I had just lost
  • Not trying out for volleyball in sixth grade when no one knew what they were doing and I would have probably made the team and thus been more active and maybe would not have gotten so heavy during adolescence and would not have had all those wistful moments freshman year when I realized I WAS interested in volleyball and that all the girls already knew what they were doing and there was no chance of me making the team. 
  • Blogging about Big Jerk Boss Man from the office. I've recently reread that post and...despite being true, it was MEAN. I'm about 97% sure he read it and I wish I'd never written it, because I know it must have hurt him. I cannot apologize, because he's gone now.
  • Bangs.
  • Veering toward the ditch instead of the wide open street while playing Bicycle Cops and Robbers with my brother and a neighbor kid. The resulting broken fingers from my desperate attempt to use the handlebar brakes and my hyper-extended fingers ramming into Neighbor Kid's shoulder blade kind of put a damper on that summer. Brand new rock climbing wall at the summer camp facility? Noooooope. Not with a cast on your hand. Swimming in the lake instead? Nooooope. No with a cast on your hand. Changes in barometric pressure fourteen years later? Suuuuuure, if you like dull aches that no painkiller will touch.
  • Telling that girl in seventh grade my worst thoughts about myself and my fears about what other people think of me. It was seventh grade. We'd only been friends for a few weeks. How did I not see that coming?
  • Those six months I overused the word "spiffy" because I thought it made me seem quirky and interesting. 
  • Thinking I could write poetry.
  • Resting my head on Travis's shoulder and holding his hand during that play about Thomas Edison. I didn't even like him. I just thought that was what you were "supposed" to do. It wasn't really a big deal, but I still wish I hadn't been so...easily swayed by my peers..
  • Allowing my mouth to say stupid things, like the time I told Corey I wanted to sleep with him.
  • Putting so many of my worst decisions on this blog.


Grand Adventurous Schemes for Adventuring and Stuff

When Roommate and I were in college, we had these grand adventurous schemes. Well, really, Roommate had these grand adventurous schemes for adventuring and also going on adventures and I would stand next to her, nodding along while silently thanking sweet baby Jesus that we had neither the funding nor the time to accomplish any of them. Adventurer, I am not. This is why Roommate and I are so good for each other. She pushes me to be brave and I keep her from finagling her way onto the roof of the science building and possibly getting killed or worse, expelled.

I remember once idly commenting that the fountain in the middle of the quad would be really fun to play in, since its bowl was just a sunken portion of the quad with no barriers, and that maybe someday we would sneak out of the dorms late at night and run through it (because I was pretty sure there was a rule somewhere that you were not to play in the Fountain of the Holy Spirit or at least it was REALLY frowned upon by the priests who ran our school). Roommate's eyes lit with a fanatical gleam and I instantly cringed, because I knew one way or another, I was going to end up in that fountain. And sure enough, amid the stress and worry of studying for our last set of finals of our Freshman year, Roommate suggested the perfect way to blow off a little steam.

And oh. my. god. It was SO cold. I spent much of it worrying we were breaking eight million rules and possibly angering God Almighty and also there was a random creepy dude who was definitely not a student sitting in the shadows of the quad watching us, even though it was well after midnight and no members of the public should have been anywhere near that part of campus, GOOD JOB PUBLIC SAFETY. But it was, hands-down, my favorite memory from that year. In fact, the picture of Roommate and I dripping wet and shivering afterward with my patented Uncomfortably Close and Awkward hug remains one of my favorite pictures of us in existence.

It became a tradition--on the Monday of Finals Week (which never had a final and often had your last class of the quarter, even if you were scheduled to take the final for that class the next morning and there was no way you would be learning anything new that day because sometimes my school was ridiculous), when the clock neared midnight, we would drop our books and scamper to the quad and, with muffled shrieks of glee and oh-my-God-that's-freezing-why-do-we-even-do-this-to-our-selves, we would fling ourselves in and out of the fountain, trying hard not to impale our limbs on the abstract sheet metal flame-ish things that were meant to represent the fire of the Holy Spirit (OR SOMETHING I WAS NOT AN ART MAJOR) or stub our frozen toes on the strategically placed fake boulders that were supposed to represent man's Earthbound flesh (I'm completely making crap up don't trust a word I say). And also avoid the lurking creepers who kindly offer to take photos fro you so that you don't end up with what will later be dubbed the "selfie."

Sometimes, we took friends with us. Sometimes, we went just the two of us. We NEVER went in Fall Quarter when, much to Roommate's chagrin and my everlasting gratitude, the school shut down the fountain to avoid the FROZEN LAKE METAL SPIKE DEATH TRAP that would inevitably ensue in the Pacific Northwest in December. We took pictures in the fountain in our robes on graduation day. The night before we handed over the keys to our apartment and went our separate ways, we waded through, opting not for the rambunctious shenanigans of our "younger" days, but for a more sedate and placid good-bye (OKAY I HAD A TUMMYACHE because I moronically refused to "waste" the leftover food in our fridge and spent our last days EATING IT INSTEAD WHAT AM I NEW?).

Oh my God, Elise, that wasn't even the point of the post. The point of ALL that was to say that Roommate makes me brave. She is so very good for me. But when she gets that gleam in her eye, the introverted play-it-safe line-toer inside of me just quakes. Because I know it's going to be awesome, but it's going to push me out of my microscopic comfort zone. And most of the time, it's not even anything dangerous or illegal or even scary to anyone who is not a chicken (*cough*me*cough*).

And the whole point of THAT is just to intro my ACTUAL topic for this evening, OH MY GOD STOP TYPING. So. Roommate has schemes; she makes me brave; I spend a lot of time praying her schemes never come to fruition because I am a big fat fraidy cat. Twenty-eight words. 28. Seriously, me?

Anyway, during our junior year, when we were living with Liar in our Ghetto Palace, Roommate suggested we take a road trip. And I smiled encouragingly, thinking it would be like that time we drove from [Prominent Pacific Northwest City] to [Prominent Non-United States City] for a three day weekend, except without as much Vicodin and I would remember to wear pajamas. Oh God, I want to leave that sentence as it is and just let you guys wonder, but I am terrible and being mysterious and also I'm a truth-teller (it goes hand-in-hand with being a line-toer) so I will divert this post a SECOND TIME to tell you the really lame story of our trip to the Great North (which is NOT Far North, but IS Far North Adjacent). [If you'd rather live with the mystery and just get on with this post, meet me at the next paragraph.] We had planned it for months for the first long weekend of the term. My friends wanted to go drink somewhere it was legal to do so at age 19 (as if they didn't take the copious opportunities to drink illegally right where we were, but whatev) and I wanted to see some place new. But right before we went, my friend broke her hand playing rugby and had to have surgery. But since we were using her car to get us there and we'd already paid for the hotel, she came along hopped up on painkillers. Oh, and I forgot to pack pajamas. Nothing bad actually happened to my pajamas or myself without them (except I had to sleep in my jeans or nothing at all in a shared bed in a cheap motel). That's all. You would have been better off with the mystery, huh? Sucks for you that I have Chronic Honesty And Truth Telling Effusive Reaction (or as the professionals call it: C.H.A.T.T.E.R.).

And we're back. So I'm thinking, fun day-trip! Maybe a weekend in Eastern [Name of Pacifically Northwestern-most Pacific Northwest State]. At best, something out of state, maybe to her hometown a couple days' drive south. Nooooo. That will not DO for Roommate. No, she has GRAND adventurous schemes, remember? One day, she comes home with a map of the US and a box of stick pins (you know, the kind with the colored plastic ball at the end that you see in cop shows to mark the places in the crime scene photographs where they found evidence? Those ones). So we cleared a wall of the office (Ghetto Palace, remember? We totally had an office. Or a really tiny, oddly shaped third bedroom that no one wanted so Roommate and I ended up bunking together. Literally. With bunk beds. We were sooooo cool.), put up the map, and began marking the places we wanted to see. I got the red pins. She got the yellow ones. And blue were for... God, I can't remember. Towns with funny names? Yeah, I think that was it. Towns with ridiculous names that we wanted to visit sight unseen, just based on the name alone. Maine had some really spectacular ones, if I remember correctly.

And we began to plot our course. We were going to graduate college and immediately get our dream jobs. Mine would be on the East Coast, because that's where my industry was based and all the best graduate schools were there and of course I was going to have the time, money, and drive to work full-time AND go to school. Sure! Hers was in England. So we were going to drive across the country together with all of our stuff in the back of the car, making our way through sights and tourist traps and WORLD'S LARGEST WHATEVERTHINGAMABOB and crazily named towns. Eventually, we would end up in the [Insert Major Metropolitan City and Seat of Power on the East Coast], where my dream job would be waiting for me. Like, literally, they would have been waiting two months while I drove across the country at a leisurely pace, taking breaks for adventures wherever they found us, as Corporate America is more than happy to do for inexperienced new grads with no references and bad interviewing skills. From there, Roommate would board the next available flight across the Atlantic with only the possessions she could fit in a carry-on and take off for the British Isles, where HER dream job would be waiting, but not before she stayed in a few hostels and really roughed it for a few weeks, probably meeting a punk rocker who also played professional football (or as we stupid Americans call it, SOCCER) and falling madly in love.

It was, in short, pure fantasy. And it was SO fun to dream about these things, especially for me, since I put very little stock into our ability to accomplish any of it. I could dream and put pins in our wall with abandon, knowing they didn't constitute anything more than a flight of fancy. A few months later, we moved out of the Ghetto Palace (partly due to the financial tomfoolery of Liar and partly due to the encroachment of the ghetto into our palace and the gunfire that became a common feature of our evenings).

We carefully took the pins out of the map and unsuccessfully tried to refold the map into its original impossible 9"X4" rectangle (DAMN YOU RAND MCNALLY). We had grand plans of putting it up in the new place, but we never got around to it. As graduation loomed ever nearer, we realized there would be no "perfect jobs" and actually, thanks to the credit crisis and the economic downturn, there may be no jobs at all. We were both moving home to our respective hometowns to mooch off our parental units until we could scrape something together. The road trip had died.

The plans for the last hurrah shrank in some ways and expanded in others. Instead of several months, we chose a week. Instead of just the two of us, we included three of our close friends. Instead of across the country, we crossed part of an ocean, staying in Roommate's uncle's beach house on the North Shore of Oahu. And it was perfect. And as you might have guessed, I had to be talked into even THAT small of a plan (see also: CHICKEN). The five of us made a pact that no matter where we were in life, we would come back in five years. Next summer will be five years. I don't think many of us thought we would have spent the last five years the way each of us have, but for better or worse, at least four of us are going to make it back to that beach house next year. I don't care if I have to sell a kidney to make it happen. What? I've got two. I bet I'll barely miss the other one.

While I was in Far North, Roommate didn't really bring up the road trip. It's just too hard to even find time to fly to one another, let alone drive anywhere. But now that I live in Texas, Roommate has that gleam in her eye again. She has new grand adventurous schemes for NOLA and Nashville and Graceland and the Grand Canyon, using my place as a home base. And this time, I'm actually considering it. I don't have a map or pins yet, but I think I might be brave enough to buy some soon.