Red Necks and Rednecks

It’s about half-way through Roommate’s visit to the Far North. We’ve hiked, we’ve fished, we’ve gone to several local restaurants, we’ve visited tourist shops, we’ve seen one of the crazier towns in the area, and we’ve laughed a lot. I think we’re making good progress. However, she tells me that no amount of magic is going to induce her to move here. And I unfortunately think I believe her…

Yesterday, we were going to go up through a beautiful mountain pass in the area, both to see the view and to get to the other side, where the local… charm…is abundant. However, I apparently temporarily forgot that I live in the Far North. And that even though it is late May, the snow has not melted from the entire area. Especially mountain passes. So, while we had planned on driving across, we were prevented by park service fences and gates. Stupid park service. Protecting us from icy mountain cliffs and snow drifts three feet deep. Those guys are just raining on our parade.

Anyway, we had planned on doing one of the easier hikes at the top of the pass, where there’s a recreation area. Unfortunately, it wasn’t just the road across that was snowed in. The recreation area was also closed. So hiking wasn’t really an option. Disappointed (and annoyed at my lack of research), we turned around, drove down the mountain, and then around the base of the mountain to our original destination.

Let me tell you about the Far North for a second. It is a strange place. We have very strange customs, like jumping into frozen lakes in just underwear in order to prove some sort of machismo I have never fully understood. And we have strange people. I mean, some of the people I share this beautiful land with are out of their flipping birds. They collect moose poop to make arts and crafts. They have conspiracy theories that make Area 51 seem like a cute bedtime story. They are ridiculous and I love them. We also have strange weather… At the top of the mountain, there was ample snow on the ground. At the bottom of the mountain, it was 84 degrees.

This temperature is unusual for both the area and the time of year.  And while I don’t want to look a gift horse in the mouth or anything, it was actually kind of uncomfortable. And I was wearing an ill-advised (ahem… Roommate’s advice… ahem…) tube-top, which was cute but completely impractical for someone of English-German-Danish descent. What I’m trying to say here is that I’m very fair skinned. And cannot be bothered to remember sunscreen (and even if I do, I hate it so much that I “forget” to reapply). And it was 84 degrees out with direct sunlight. Not a cloud in the sky. You can imagine the results.

I’m not the most crispy I have ever been, but I’m pretty red. And I am afraid of getting skin cancer and/or looking like I’m made of leather by the time I’m thirty, but I just seem to constantly burn. Yes, a lot of it is preventable. But sometimes, I do everything I’m supposed to do and I still end up with aloe vera slathered on my aching skin. So sometimes I don’t bother slathering myself with the SPF—it doesn’t always work and it feels really gross.

I went to bed last night without a shirt on to avoid straps, since I hadn’t worn straps when I burned. I woke up this morning, wondering if I was going to be cracked and peeling or blistered and screaming, but it was just a slight blush. I heaved a sigh of relief, put on a high necked t-shirt, grabbed the SPF 55, and headed out for another day of adventure, figuring I better not push the envelope too far in one week. We went hiking in another part of town today and conquered a mountain. A very small, butte-like mountain, but a mountain. That we conquered. And I’m happy to report that I received no new burns today. A few scrapes, lots of sore muscles, and about a ton of dirt in my lungs, but no burns… So there’s that.

Tomorrow is church and then teaching Roommate how to shoot a gun. Despite what her father says about rednecks, there is no irony in that previous statement. Knowing how to shoot a gun to protect oneself and learning to be safe around guns in general does not run counter-intuitive to what Jesus taught us. And while my neck may be temporarily red, I am not a redneck. I just happen to live very close to a lot of them…


Magic Needed

Yesterday was my biggest brother’s birthday. He and his wife live in California with my adorable baby niece and are the only members of my immediate family who don’t live within 10 miles of my house. I think they would like to return to the Far North in the future, but there aren’t a lot of jobs here in his field of work. Instead, they’re preparing to move across the country so that he can work in Maryland. Fortunately, his wife’s parents live near there, so it’ll be a good situation for them. But that means they are pretty much as far away from home as possible.

And every time my other brother (we’ll call him big brother--not to be confused with biggest brother), his wife, my sister, and I get together here in our hometown (which is about twice a week), I am keenly aware that we’re missing a few people. Yesterday was such a day. Sister, Roommate, and I slept in and were still in pajamas when my sister-in-law called to see if we wanted to do lunch. We all rushed into showers, clean clothes, and make-up and made it to our favorite local restaurant by half-past noon. If you had seen us 45 minutes earlier, you might think this was a miracle. And you would be right.

Anyway, during lunch, I asked big bother if he could take us out on a lake in his john boat, so that Roommate could get to experience some of the beauty that is the Far North. My brother is also really into fishing, so I asked if he could take us to the river sometime while Roommate is in town. I’ve been fishing for most of my life, but I don’t currently have any of the gear and he knows the best spots. And I’m sure that there are a great many people in California who know how to fish, but Roommate has somehow managed to live a quarter of a century without learning. It’s practically a way of life here, so I figured we could teach her. Or he could. My fishing skills are negligible. Yes, I’ve been doing it forever, but that doesn’t mean I’m good at it.

This request is how we turned an impromptu lunch with big brother and his wife into an entire day of fun with them. We fished until dinner, which we had at another local favorite place (the best sandwich shop in town). Then we headed off to Youth Group, which is a mid-week church event for 6th-12th graders run by my brother and his wife and that my sister and I volunteer at. After we ran round with teenagers for two hours, we ended up back at my brother's house to watch Tangled and eat ice cream. All in all, a great day! And a fantastic way to introduce Roommate to my hometown and my family. But, like most days with the four of us family members, I missed the other three.

Maybe someday, all the people I love will live in the same place, Roommate included. I’m hoping this trip works some kind of magic on her and she suddenly wants to exchange year-long summers, soccer, and her family for dark/cold winters, 24-hour daylight in the summer, and a completely different culture. Yes. Magic. That’s what it would take. And I’ve only got five more days to find it!

Oh. And, yes, I called Biggest Brother and wished him a happy birthday. It sounds like he could have used a little magic--his birthday was pretty crappy. But he was home with my niece by then, who was cheering him up with her adorability and her sweet smiles. She's a cute, quirky kid--while he was on the phone with me, she insisted on having a sippy cup in each hand (one with milk and one with water) and being carried around while she drank from both. He was laughing by the end of the conversation, so maybe he found a little bit of that magic...


I Did a Dumb Thing

My weekend ended up being a lot more productive than I planned. I swear: if you’re having trouble getting stuff done, just make a plan to be completely lazy. It will almost always get shot to hell. In my case, it ended up being a good thing. About an hour after my last post, my friend called me and asked if I could watch my godson for the evening. I will never pass up an opportunity to hang out with that kid, who is adorable and awesome. However, he happens to be two years old and the house was a mess/not completely safe for toddlers. I had planned to clean on Sunday and Monday, in preparation of Roommate’s visit (and a completely unrelated dinner party my sister planned for Tuesday night), but Saturday was supposed to be a lazy day.  Or not…

Instead of watching Friday Night Lights for hours, we compressed two days worth of cleaning and organizing into a few hours. It was all worth it, though. I got to discover Elliott Moose, my godson made me laugh out loud several times, and I got super sweet cuddles from him after bath time, which made my ovaries ache to have my own babies (TMI? Oh well…).

In any event, this changed the face of my weekend, but it all worked out (probably better than it would have, since my sister and I are world-class procrastinators and needed a kick in the butt to get going). By Monday night, I had one last sink-full of dishes left to scrub and two bathrooms to clean.  Since I knew thought I had a few hours on Tuesday before Roommate’s flight landed, I went to bed with a plan to finish in the morning (did I mention I’m a world-class procrastinator?).

This morning completely got away from me. Every chore took ten times longer than I thought and I kept adding things to the list. Also, I think I may be allergic to Windex, because I was nauseous for most of the morning, even with the windows open and trying to hold my breath when I sprayed anything. I finally finished most of it and my sister said she’d do the rest while I went to get Roommate. I was a half-hour late getting into the shower, which meant I was a half-hour late leaving the house. The airport is about an hour away, so I was very late. 

And that was before I realized I was out of gas. So into a Shell station I flew and tried to fill up as fast as I could (incidentally, I don’t think saying “Come on. Come on. Come ON!” makes it pump faster). After the gas pump failed to stop auto-pumping and spilled half a gallon of expensive gas on the ground and my car, which I got to pay for, I was on my way.

I was probably going to miss Roommate coming through the security gate and would have to catch her at baggage claim, so I was stressing that the trip was getting off to a bad start (who knows why… I’m just weird like that). But. Then. I was about two-thirds of the way to the airport when I realized that I may have done a dumb thing. A very dumb thing.

You see, Roommate had planned to come in July. Then she changed the trip to a different week in July. Then she switched it to May (do you see why I didn’t trust her when she said she was coming?). And she sent me each itinerary. And I had already put the first trip in my iPhone calendar. Do you see where this is going? Let me give you a hint: it’s going to a dumb place. Yes, I had remembered the arrival time of one of the July flights, not the May flight. So I got to the airport seven hours early… Yes, I’m that girl.  That dumb girl.

I had a choice to make. I could kill seven hours (SEVEN hours!) in a city that had no real attraction for me except for the airport.  Or I could drive an hour back home and do the trip again later in the evening. In other words, I could waste an eighth of a tank of expensive gas and put 180 miles on my car in order to have a few hours at home and join the dinner party for an hour or I could waste seven hours and a lot of money shopping for things I don’t need….

I came home.  But I came home a dumb girl. So, let this be a lesson to you all: stupidity costs money.  Another lesson: check flight times (and the dates of said flight times) before you leave for the airport. It will save you a lot of time and money. And it will save you from being dumb.

And… Roommate just texted me to say she has finished her layover, boarded her second flight, and will see me in three and a half hours. I’m a dumb girl!!!!!

[Updated to add:] So, I somehow still managed to be 30 minutes late picking her up from the airport. But we got to eat frozen yogurt, so there's that. And really, if you do the totals, I was still 6.5 hours early. Or something...


Saturday Morning Sloth

I woke up this morning with ridiculous bed-head. Like, the worst bed-head I have ever seen on my head or on others. And yet, it could have passed for an actual hairdo if I had been starring in a movie about a heavy metal band in the year 2073 (trust me, in my mind, that scenario works). I would show pictures, but I’m trying to keep my identity vague on this website.  Plus, I’m not sure I actually want to be linked to hair this bad.  Seriously, I don’t know how I accomplished it without the aid of hot metal and shellac-strength hair products.

Anyway, I woke up at 8:39 this morning. Since I hadn’t fallen asleep until 1:40, I thought this was a bit early. So I rolled over and forced myself back to sleep. For my own good. And I woke up at 9:39. So I gave up. Now I’m lying in bed watching the Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian on television and trying to figure out the likelihood of accomplishing anything productive today. If I were a magic eight ball, I would probably say, “Outlook not so good.”

I would stay in bed all day, but I think my sister is going to demand my attention and there isn’t room in my bed for her and me both. Which would end up with me on the floor. I’m not sure how she does it, but when we hang out in my room (rare), she always manages to get my bed and I take the floor. She’s sneaky and I have to watch out for her tricks. Given half an opportunity, she will play the you-do-it-you’re-closer card or the but-I-have-a-cat-on-my-lap-and-you-don’t card.

Yep, there she goes, yelling from the living room for me to come watch the Royal Wedding.  No, you’re not crazy; it did happen weeks ago. But she couldn’t stay up that late/ get up that early to watch the live coverage (and I had no interest at all), so we’re just now getting to the DVR. We are so back-logged on our DVR, it’s almost not worth trying to catch up. After we watch two strangers in a foreign country say, “I do” (which they did weeks ago, so it's not even that momentous now), I think we’ll end up watching roughly 7.4 hours of Friday Night Lights. Again, you’re not crazy. That show is off the air. We’re chronically behind on discovering awesome shows, so we get them on DVD and consume them in vast quantities until we’re sick of them. In fact, I think we haven’t watched any television show on the day it airs in a year and a half.

Happy Saturday to you and yours.  May it be more productive than mine will be.


Words Taste Like Peaches

Today is my last day at work before taking a week and a half vacation. I haven't had a vacation yet this year. Actually, from January to April, I barely had a weekend! Okay, so in late April, I got a Wednesday off to recover from travel and then I worked an hour and a half each on the Thursday and Friday after. But that's not really a vacation... So, I'm really looking forward to tonight, when I don't have to think about work for thirteen days.

The reason for this vacation is Roommate, that special human being who has been able to live with me without causing either of us damage and continues to love me for reasons I'm not clear about. She arrives next Tuesday and I have planning and cleaning to do before then. Like I mentioned in earlier posts, she and I met during freshman orientation at college. We were fast friends and, by Christmas break, we were each other's college best friends (neither of us was ready to let go of the high school best friends that we left behind, so we made the distinction).

I'd like to say that we bonded over common interests and the fact that we found each other to be fascinating human beings (which we did and we are), but it was probably much more practical than that. We ate meals at the same times, so we would often sit together. As we talked, I discovered something about Roommate: she had a TV. I did not. And that was very important. You see, I watched my favorite ABC shows with a group of other freshmen, but I just didn't fit in with them. Plus they talked over the entire episode of Grey's Anatomy in which we found out Derek had a wife. So that was never going to work. But Roommate and I had the same taste in TV shows and she was willing to have me over to watch them. The rest is history! 

Later, we discovered we both loved West Wing, Harry Potter, Olive Garden, and Target, among many other things. Since I never really fit in anywhere and am uncomfortable in new social situations, I was overjoyed to have someone who got me so easily and who was willing to go with me when I had to try something new. In fact, we meshed so easily I can't believe we didn't grow up in the same family. But she grew up playing soccer in East Bay, California, the third-born in a family with three brothers. And I grew up in a small town in the Far North (I'm being sly and vague here--are you catching that?), trying everything from tee-ball to ballet to horseback riding (and sticking with nothing), as the baby of two brothers and a sister. 

The nature of geography and expensive airfare meant that I've been to her hometown multiple times and she has been to my hometown a total of zero times. Freshman year, she talked about visiting me over the summer. Instead, she used her money to study abroad in Italy for three weeks. What a waste of a summer, right? The next year, she again talked about a summer visit, but I went to DC on an internship and she had to save her money to return to Italy for half of our junior year. The next summer we barely even mentioned it, since our rental situation was sucking away so much money that we knew she couldn't afford it. 

Finally, she talked about coming up after graduation (after we scrapped an epic, but prohibitively costly month-long road trip across America), but we went to Hawaii with some friends instead. Plus neither of us had jobs, so what money was going to pay for it? The next year, she used her Far North money to go see her little brother in Scotland and travel Europe with her oldest brother. Again, what a waste! When she told me she was going to do this instead of visit me, I despaired of her ever seeing the Far North. She promised Christmastime, but I knew the Californian in her couldn't handle 20 degrees below zero and 18 hour darkness. And true to my suspicions, I spent Christmas of 2010 without her. I got to have my adorable baby niece and my brother and his wife though, so it all turned out okay. 

When she canceled Christmas (not the holiday, just the trip--she doesn't have that kind of power or Grinch spirit), she promised summer 2011. I laughed at her. I told her I would believe it when I saw it. In fact, I said I didn't believe she would ever set one toe in the Far North. But she proved me wrong. And I will gladly eat my words (they don't taste so bad after all). Because she arrives on Tuesday! And I can barely sit still thinking of it.


Three Things I Might Wish You Didn't Know

I am that weird type of person that cannot discover a new blog and only read the posts available on the main page on the day I discovered it (I make it sound like there are others who do this… I have no idea if there are others). Instead, I have to go back to the very first post, however long ago it was written, and read from the beginning.  I admit, it’s a strange habit. And it actually keeps me from reading new blogs sometimes, because the undertaking seems too much to accomplish in my available free time. But, for me, it’s like picking up a book and turning to page 100 to start reading. It’s just wrong. This is also why I cannot (usually) start watching a TV show that has been on for several seasons, unless the previous seasons are available on DVD so I can catch up—this typically means that someone I know owns all the seasons, because I am too cheap to buy them unless I know I like the show (which I can’t know if I’ve never seen it) and I’m too lazy to go rent them one disk at a time.
When my sister introduced me to The Pioneer Woman in late 2008, I therefore had to start with her archives. It only took me nine months to catch up… And about a month ago, my sister sent me to Temerity Jane and the inevitable happened. I haven’t caught up yet, but it’s been interesting clicking on links that don’t exist anymore or going to blogs that have died years ago. Anyway, in one of TJ’s old posts, she sent her readers to a (then-current) post by Hyperbole and a Half. The post was about winning.  No, not the Charlie Sheen weirdness called #winning (which is how I see it in my head anytime anyone says that word in reference to that man). I mean, creating little games and contests for yourself, completely inside your own head, and then winning at them. I could not believe how many of my ridiculous thoughts were in that post!
Since I read it this morning, I caught myself “winning” like her all day.  I find myself racing people on the highway and winning—not racing in a speeding or dangerous way, but just seeing if I can accelerate at the green light before them or nudge the nose of my car a little past them before I slow down to make a turn while they keep going. Or sorting my M&Ms by color and winning if they come out even. Checking the clock and winning when it’s within a few minutes of what I guessed it would say. And I count all kinds of things, almost unconsciously and win when it comes out to a multiple of five. Someone on her site mentioned that these might be symptoms of OCD, but the rest of the comments reassured me that everyone has this kind of quirky behavior to a certain extent. This is one reason I love the internet: learning you’re not the only weirdo out there. Oh, and I totally win when I walk down the hallway and don’t crash into a wall or fall on my face, but this has less to do with OCD and more to do with IDS.
What is IDS, you ask? IDS stands for I’m a Dancer Syndrome. And before you tell me that’s not a real thing, I would like you to stop and listen.  IDS is real.  IDS is serious. IDS is a non-curable, chronic disorder that wreaks social and physical havoc and may or may not be hereditary. You see, my sister and I fall down a lot. A lot, a lot. An embarrassing amount of lot. And it’s strange, because my sister was a ballet dancer for most of her childhood and young adult years—she had no problem being graceful while doing ballet. I quit ballet in the second grade and am therefore a completely explainable klutz. In any event, she and I have both gotten ourselves into situations that the laws of physics seem to deny are possible.
One day, she fell at work and a coworker told her not to be embarrassed, but to wear it proudly. To jump right back up, raise her arms above her head, and shout, “I’m a dancer!” as if calling out, “I meant to do that!” She and I (and our mother, who suffers with a much milder form of the disorder) found this to be hilarious and have taken to doing exactly that when we fall down. This coping mechanism did not cure us (it wasn’t even a viable treatment) and we will continue to fall down.  But at least now we have something funny to say when we get back up.
And basically, this post just highlighted three of my very strange behaviors in an unplanned, stream of consciousness way. I’m not sure how I feel about that, but I’m posting it anyway.


The Roommate Saga, Part Three: Crazy Boss Lady and the Queen of Mount Coffeelava

See Parts One and Two.

Roommate and I lived together for the rest of college. It was as great as it had been in the dorms, but with the freedom of our own place. Our apartment was tiny and we slept in bunk-beds to make all our furniture fit, but it was the best year of my college experience. After college, we both moved back to our hometowns (there were no jobs anywhere for recently graduated liberal arts students in 2009) and into our parents’ homes. I eventually got a job in the industry-we-don’t-talk-about-here and it was better pay than I expected--this will be important later. The only downside was that it required me to relocate, on a temporary basis, with my entire office each year. It’s hard to explain the whys and hows without going into what I do for a living, which would be breaking the rules of this blog. So just accept that it was reasonable to a) have to relocate for this amount of time and b) consider living with my (female) boss and another (female) staffer for that time period.

Now, hindsight being what it is, living with my boss and coworker was the worst mistake I could have made, even if my boss had been sane and had understood boundaries. But she wasn’t and she didn’t. Not only was I living with my boss in a strange town and therefore spending all my waking time with her (which is not healthy), but she was... The only term that ever comes to mind, for me and for others who have met her, is bat-sh*t crazy (please excuse the foul language... I will try to keep it to a minimum, but this is the one phrase people use to describe this woman) . The magnitude of her insanity cannot be accurately described in the space of this (or many other) blog posts, but here are some examples: she wandered around naked (she’s 65), conducted staff meetings in my bedroom (usually in our pajamas), controlled when I used the car we shared, listened to my personal phone calls through my bedroom door, and just generally inserted herself into all avenues of my life. It was four months of hell.

We were also living with one of the other employees. Let’s call her the Queen of Mount Coffeelava. Now, I try to give everyone the benefit of the doubt, but this woman was dumber than a box of rocks--I began to wonder if she had some sort of mental incapacity or perhaps had early-onset dementia, because no normal person should act this way:

Every single day, without fail, she would reheat her paper cup of coffee in the microwave. This particular microwave had a dial instead of a keypad, so she would simply twist it an indeterminate amount, press start, and walk away. And every day, without fail, the coffee would get so hot that it would explode and scald, so that acrid smoke and boiling coffee would pour out of the microwave (some days, the paper cup would even light on fire!). She would return ten minutes later, stare at the microwave in absolute astonishment, and say, “I don’t understand why it does that.” No matter how many times I explained that the degree you turn the dial directly corresponded to how much time the microwave ran or that 30 seconds should be enough to reheat the coffee, I witnessed an eruption of Mount Coffeelava every day.

These were the women I was trapped in an office and a house with for four months. The job itself was bad, the Queen of Mount Coffeelava’s lack of intelligence drove me out of my ever-loving tree, and Crazy Boss Lady was incredibly difficult to work for, but the living situation was what made me semi-seriously consider harming myself or others. It was like my boss thought she was my mother, but I was a child she wished she had never had. Which, of course, was like a giant hug each and every day. Looking back, I realize I was on the verge of a nervous breakdown by the end of my time there (I spent 20 minutes talking to a seagull I had named Steve). There were many points at which I should have quit and gone home, but I had a borderline-irrational fear of unemployment and by this point I had started to believe it was my fault she was treating me this way.

However, near the end of the relocation, she backed me into the wall of a public hallway and screamed in my face. Later that day, she decided to put me on layoff, but she used the word “termination.” When I asked if that meant I was fired, she actually did fire me. She then tried to offer me my job back and, in the first sane move in four months, I told her I would never work for her again and if there was any doubt about my employment status, I would quit. For about ten minutes, I felt brave. Then the crippling fear and overwhelming inadequacy flooded back.

I returned home to live with my sister (who is not bat-sh*t crazy, a lying thief, or a pot-smoking socialist, so I think I’m doing well...) and spent the summer unemployed while I considered seeking counseling. I was later hired by someone in the same industry who had watched me go through the ordeal with Crazy Boss Lady and respected me for the way I handled it all. Crazy Boss Lady is, by far, the worst roommate I have ever had. And, Lord willing and knock on wood, she will keep that title. I’m not sure I could handle anything worse.

And yes, I have often wondered if there’s a pattern here, since the common denominator in these stories is me. And I’ve actually devoted more-than-a-normal amount of time to figuring out what I’ve done wrong, even months after living with these ridiculous women. Did I make mistakes? Absolutely. Could I have done things differently and changed the situation? Probably. Did I learn something each time I went through a bad living arrangement? Definitely. But does it help me to dwell on how badly I was hurt or the way things went wrong? I doubt it. So I’m going to try living by my father’s advice: “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all” (Romans 12:18). For me, that means not living with anyone other than family or Roommate, who is basically family anyway.


The Roommate Saga, Part Two: Munchie and Liar

See Part One.

Roommate decided to study in Italy for the fall semester of our junior year, so I was on my own.  We planned to move off-campus into an apartment when she got back, so I decided it would be smartest (and cheapest) to stay one last semester in the dorms. I was assigned a roommate, a sophomore who liked sex, marijuana, and radical communism (which is actually pathetically cliche). We’ll call her Munchie. Munchie wasn’t around for the first half of the semester, since I had told her I was uncomfortable with her boyfriend staying the night in the same room as me (call me old-fashioned, but I don’t fancy trying to sleep next to practical strangers while they fool around). Munchie therefore decided to stay at the boyfriend’s place practically every night. And I had the room to myself. It was really nice. Until they broke up.

It was then, smack dab in the middle of midterms, that I discovered two things about Munchie. First, she snored like a freight train (no human body should be able to produce that decibel). Second, she liked to combine weed, alcohol, and caffeine (this didn’t strike me as healthy, but what do I know?) which resulted in late night munchies. This meant she often microwaved things at three in the morning, regardless of who may have been sleeping with the head of her bed next to the microwave. Luckily, it was only a couple months total and she and the boyfriend got back together before finals. On my last day in the dorms, I went up to my room to get the last of my suitcases and… Well, when I tried to open the door, I found that I couldn’t. Because she and the boyfriend were up against it. Naked. And stoned. Which was a pretty predictable end to that living arrangement.

While I was living with Munchie, I met a girl in one of my classes who was looking to move off-campus, too. Knowing that it would be easier to find a place on three rent budgets instead of two, Roommate and I agreed to have her join us. We found a two and a half bedroom condo (don’t even get me started on the weirdness of this condo arrangement... that’s a whole other post) that seemed nice and was within the price range we could each afford (or so we all agreed...). Roommate came back from Italy,we all moved in, and we all lived happily ever after.  Or not.

We had signed a year-long lease in December, but by June, the other girl (I affectionately call her Liar) had bounced every single check she had written to our landlords. There were also many other Liar-based conflicts, but the main problem with that living mistake situation was that we had to break the lease, find new renters, and realize we were out a whole crap-ton of money because of Liar. Roommate and I ended up taking her to small claims court for over $900 of unpaid debt. She didn’t appear and we were granted a default judgement against her, but had no way to take her to collections. She was my worst roommate. Or so I thought...

Still more roommate drama coming up! It gets worse. A lot worse.


The Roommate Saga, Part One: Smelly, Roommate, and Boston

When I was in college, I had some awful (and I mean awful) experiences with roommates. My first roommate, freshman year, was the typical never-showered, partied-all-the-time kind of roommate. Let’s call her Smelly. Smelly came from a town close to our private university, with a relatively privileged background. This meant that her parents were footing the entire bill for college. Which meant she didn’t have to do well in class to keep her scholarships (like me) or work to pay part of her bill (also like me) or worry about getting a good job right off the bat to pay for her loans (again, like me). [I was by no means underprivileged and I too had help from my parents, but I still worked part-time and I walked out of college with a pretty sizeable debt looming over my head]

For some reason, she was an education major, although she didn’t seem to like going to class, studying, or even learning very much. I have enormous respect for teachers, especially those who teach in public school, but if this girl’s GPA and partying habits are typical for the next generation of teachers, I’m homeschooling my kids. Anyway, I naively thought she was the worst roommate in the world. Over the next four years, I would radically change my thinking.

Sophomore year, I moved in with my best friend, who I met at freshman orientation. Everyone said not to do it, that it would end our friendship. They were so wrong! She gets the title of Roommate—Roommate with a capital R. Every day was like a slumber party. The only downside was that we often had trouble remembering to study, because we were having so much fun doing other things. Sophomore year was wonderful. But, alas, it came to an end. Not a bad end. Just a temporary, geographic end.

You see, I got an internship in Washington DC after sophomore year and Roommate went home to California to live with her parents. I got stuck living with two of the girls from my program in DC. One didn’t stay past two weeks, but during the time she was there, she would leave the front door unlocked and open in the middle of the night, because she kept losing her keys. Since I’m a small town girl slightly afraid of big cities and DC is one of the most crime-ridden areas in the nation, this made me uncomfortable. But again, she moved out quickly and I’m not sure she can be categorized as much more than an annoying houseguest.

The other roommate (we’ll call her Boston) stayed the entire time and we became friends. For three weeks… Then she went on a weekend trip to attend her brother’s wedding and came back a different person. I’m not kidding: on Wednesday, I helped her shop for dresses for the wedding; on the following Monday, she wasn’t speaking to me. Everything I did sent her into a passive-aggressive whirl. I tried to talk it out or fix it, but she wasn’t having it. I had no clue what I was doing wrong and the tension transferred to the office, which was uncomfortable to say the least. On the last day of the internship, she went out with friends and wasn’t home when my cab came to take me to the airport. I haven’t seen her since. And I’m not particularly sad about that…

Tune in next time for the continuation of The Roommate Saga and meet Munchie, Liar, and Crazy Boss Lady.

P.S. The whole reason for posting my (hopefully) colorful living history is that Roommate is coming to visit! She’s taking a six hour flight from her hometown to mine for the very first time in the six years I’ve known her. She has promised this visit at least once a year during each of those six years. And now she’s finally going to visit. So I’m taking a moment to relive what a great friend she has been to me and what a blessing living with her truly was.


Day One

So, I've started a blog. And I don't quite know what I'm doing or even why I'm doing it. My best explanation is that I've called myself a writer for almost ten years, but I don't have a lot written down to show for it. So I guess I should probably start writing.

A few things about me:

Thing the First: Elise M. Seaton is not my real name.  It is a penname derived from part of my given name and parts of the names of people I admire. I created it ages ago to use if I ever wrote a novel. But it's become a blogging name instead. Since no one uses a pen to write a blog, I'm going to call it a keyboardname. See Thing the Second to find out why I need one.

Thing the Second: I work in an industry where blogging about my job might quickly end my career. So, even though it's something I could blog about with passion and humor, I'm not going to talk about it at all. What can I say? I like having a paycheck. And I'm using a keyboardname to avoid even the appearance of crossover between my job and my personal life.

Thing the Third: My interests are diverse and strange when taken in combination. I have no idea if this blog will display any kind of cohesive thought process (I'm kidding myself if I think that applies only to my blog). There is no real over-riding theme, except my life and my experiences. And now that I look at what I just wrote, I wonder if I'll ever have any readers...

Thing the Fourth: I have odd talents. Like I can write with my toes. The letters are large and messy, but if I were ever in a situation where my hands were tied and I needed help (and that help could be attained by writing a letter...), I could probably get myself out of it. Or maybe not. I can also recite all the presidents forwards and backwards with their first names in under three minutes. Which comes in useful far more often than the toe-writing thing, strangely enough.

Thing the Fifth: I own six or seven barely filled journals, which stands as evidence of my complete lack of follow-through in all things, especially writing. But I figure if I have even an inkling that someone is waiting for me to write, I might actually do it. I guess you could call this a self-improvement project.

Thing the Sixth: I’m incredibly hungry, so I’m going to have lunch with my best friend and my godson at the BEST sandwich shop in the world! Have you gone to lunch with your favorite two-year-old lately? I highly recommend it.