Friday, December 01, 2006

Today I have a heavy heart. The air is damp, the ground saturated and the sky is cloudy causing the grass and evergreens to appear in varying shades of bright greens. The grayness of the day is fitting, though, because fate, chance, and a small physical weakness has caused a great light in the world to be extinguished. I don't want to be overdramatic and sensationalize this event, but at the same time, this person deserves, well, really requires a moment or two of my thoughts.

My friend, and the friend to so many others, Mike Franz, had a brain aneurysm on November 2nd while working out at the gym. He is 26. To give you some perspective, this man stands at six foot five, at least, and though trim, definitely takes up a lot of space. His booming voice can be heard from fields away--and despite wearing large, brightly colored mouth guards, his voice and words came across loud and clear. When I had the pleasure of unexpectedly running into him at some tournament or around town, I could expect a massive, all-encompassing bear hug, maybe even a little 360 degree twirl. Once my feet were gently placed back on the ground, I would look up to see a wide, open grin shining down on me. That is Mike.

For now, that is all I can muster. A moment of magical thinking--Mike, please, mend your brain and come back. Your spirit is missed.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Today I went to hear a speaker discuss the relief efforts in Indonesia from the December 26, 2004 tsunami. All I knew ahead of time was that this woman is a fellow alum of Wheaton College in Massachusetts and that she works for the Red Cross. What I expected and what I experienced varied greatly.

As people from campus trickled into the room, people were talking, laughing and eating the provided lunch. In front of a large projection screen hunched a blonde woman wearing all black. Long legs crossed in front of her, hands tucked tightly beneath her thighs, spine rounded so her chest nearly touched her knee, and hair neatly combed into a ponytail--this woman swathed in black all but disappeared behind her lap top screen. For me, her nervous energy was palpable. Later on, I would realize the nervous energy was not related to speaking in front of a group, but instead to all that she has seen, heard, touched, tasted, done and will never do.

Ellen got up to speak in front of the group, but quickly decided to sit, again crossing her legs and tucking her hands beneath her thighs. Speaking quietly and disjointedly, her talk began. She introduced herself as a former executive for large advertising agencies, though her presentation style made me wonder if she had ever given a presentation before. Still hunched, nervously glancing around the room, Ellen's shaky hands tucked loose strands of hair behind her ear. When I stopped watching her body language and listened to her story of transition from advertising executive to humanitarian, I understood.

After working in a number of Eastern European nations and the Gaza Strip, Ellen took on the challenge of Banda Aceh. Stepping willingly into the dessimated landscape of Banda Aceh, Ellen took on the task of creating a line of communication between the Red Cross and the local people. She sees great deal everyday and works with local people who still shudder and shake from their experience with the tsunami. Tirelessly, Ellen works 18 hour days in spite of, or to spite, the feeling that the challenge may be insurmountable. She oscillates between the hope of progress and the reality of impossibility. The Western world wants pretty pictures of newly built homes and smiling children at play, but Ellen sees both the good and the bad. There is still so much to be done, but I perceived that she thinks it never will be done. The more she spoke, the closer her chest dropped to her knee.

Fellow attendees asked Ellen some wonderful questions and she gave candid answers. The Red Cross and other organizations are doing amazing things to support the people of Banda Aceh, but I wondered how they support the delegates who witness death, destruction, and disease. I wondered how these aid organizations support the delegates who put their heart and soul into projects that may never be finished--where their efforts may be a mere drop in the proverbial bucket. I asked. Ellen asnwered.

There is no mental health support for these delegates. No counseling or psychiatric care. Just like our soldiers, we send these workers overseas into deplorable conditions with the mission of making things better, but we do so without providing the support they need upon their return. Instead, they are left to carry this burden--the burden that we only want to hear in minimal soundbites and see in a few heartwrenching photos. We don't want to hear it from the mouths of loved ones or see it through their eyes. We can't relate to their experiences nor do we want to acknowledge that someone we love has been permanently altered because of their service. Left to decompress, to find a comfortable place for the horror in the insulated environment of their own mind, some of these workers and soldiers begin to collapse inward. The burden is too heavy to bear, not because they are weak, but because they are brave enough to actually take action, to feel, to see, to touch, to hear, to experience that from which most Westerners are protected.

As I watched Ellen squirm, shift and struggle through this session, I realized how hard it must be to share her stories. Not just to share her stories, but to edit the stories knowing that we didn't really want to know the full extent of the damage. Though her candor was striking, it was clear that she was protecting us, but I still wondered, who would protect and take care of her.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Twenty-seven is an interesting age. People make so many different choices and end up in so many different places. Many times I have a met fellow 27 year old (or there abouts) and wondered how we could possibly be in the same age group. Some are now married with children, stay-at-home moms participating in weekly play groups. Some are high powered executive types who wear really nice suits, eat at really nice restaurants and drive really nice cars. Others like to date 20 year olds, attend college parties, boot and rally every Saturday night and are lucky if they hold down a "real" job. Some are graduate, medical or law students, poor but working toward something. Then there is me, and I don't think I am that unusual, who worked a couple of years after college, went grad school, graduated with a Master's instead of the projected PhD due to a change of heart, struggles to make ends meet with an unfulfilling job while trying to figure out what to do next and pay off education debt. Naturally, I do have a bit of a complex about where I am currently because this is not exactly where I thought I would be at 27. Don't worry, I am coming to terms with, or going through the phase of acceptance, my current station in life and I have hope that soon enough, my path will be clear. Or, so I thought.

One of the perks of my current job is EAP, Employee Assistance Program. This program provides me with 6 free counseling visits, 1 free half hour session with a CPA and 1 free legal consultation. (Of course, the legal consultation would have been helpgful to know about last year follwing my car accidnet and rodent incident, but as usual, I missed the boat.) Yesterday, I decided that EAP should offer these services in a specific order, especially for poor 27 year olds like myself. Here's why.

I took advantage of the half hour with the accountant, and I am glad I did because I found out that not making enough money is really my problem. Phew! So glad to know that I am doing everything right, I just need to make more money. The next logical step was to then book an appointment with the free counseling service to talk through the stress of the knowledge that I just need to earn more money but can't. When the counselor causes my psychological breakdown, at least I know I can turn to free legal services to sue for pain and suffering--the pain of talking through the stresses that show no signs of dissipating and the suffering of knowing the free counselor can do nothing to help. Thank goodness for EAP!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Routines can make life feel repetitive and boring sometimes, but they can also make life more comfortbale, and sometimes, sometimes, a little more enjoyable. For instance, I ride one or two buses and the train everyday from my small-ish city to the smaller suburb that houses my small college--which is also my employer. Somedays I certainly resent that a normally 25 minute commute by car takes an hour and a half--adding a solid three hours on to my work day. Other days, I feel so glad to hear the rumbling welcome of the train that will take me, stress free, to the smaller suburb in exactly 28 minutes.

As I walk down the stairs of the station, the deep bass of the engine vibrates through the air. Through the doors, I walk to the first entrance on to the train and turn right. I then take the two-seater directly behind the four-seater with the table. If I am on the early train, I also nod and smile to the guy who always sits in the fourth seat on my left. Usually there are only 3 or 4 others in the car with me. I place my backpack on my right and hug it to my side. Then my headphones cover my ears (I don't have ear buds because my ear holes are too small), and I press play on my IPod Mini. Sometimes it is on a quiet mix or Garden State, but usually my morning ears prefer the Magnetic Fields, Coldplay or Damien Rice, if I am feeling a little depressed. Once that is sorted, I do one of three things--lean back and stare out the window, read a news source, or read my novel du jour. Sometimes this is my entire trip, other times a rowdy group of three men and one woman sit at the four-seater to my forward right and I eavesdrop. I still cannot figure out their dynamics--friends, co-workers, husband and wife with friends--am working on that.

After disembarking, usually the only one getting off among hundreds embarking, I gently push through the throng, walk into the little station and sit on the bench in the far left corner. This gives me the best view of the whole station and the bus stop. Usually, I wait approximately 22 minutes for the bus. In this time, I read the Metro or subtely watch the interesting lady who sells coffee at the station. She is a chain smoker who likes clicky-clacky shoes, dark make-up and taking smoke breaks between trains. I also know she doesn't always wash her hands after using the toilet. I think I watch her in the hopes that I will see her wash her hands or at least use hand sanitizer behind the counter. No positive sitings yet.

At 8:30, my bus arrives. Sometimes I chat with the bus driver--I am usually the only passenger. She has two granddaughters she worries about (they've had a rough time of late), loves to sail and to travel around the U.S. She drops me off near my office building even though it is not the real bus stop.

After work, the afternoon routine begins. I catch one of two buses- late or later. I am usually the only passenger, though students occasionally ride and mostly on Fridays. I look forward to seeing my afernoon driver--he is smart, funny and hopeful. At first we didn't talk on the ride, now we always talk and I am glad. We talk about politics, censorship, movies, music and more. He wants to go back to school but he's scared--though he claims he is too old--just like he is scared to date again after his divorce. He is smart though--and he thinks a lot. Not much else to do working this job, he says, but read during the breaks and think during the drives. I talk with him until the automated signs announce,"Train Appraoching."

As I walk down the platform, I look over my right shoulder to check the distance of the train's single headlight. I bounce down the two sets of steps, turn right, walk under the overpass and bop up the two sets of steps to the south-bound platform. Quickly, I move toward my usual waiting point on the north side of the pay phone. As the train approaches, its bell rings -ding, ding, ding- getting louder with each foot of progress. Within a moment, I feel the rush of air from the passing locomotive and smell the burning rubber as the brakes engage. I move forward and stand in the yellow Do Not Stand area as hundreds of commuters disembark. They hit the ground running and hurry to toward their cars to be the first out of the lot.

The bearded, bespectacled conductor stands between the two cars and shifts from foot to foot like a bored, depressed zoo animal. Right, left, Watch Your Step. Right, left, Watch Your Step. Right, left, Watch Your Step. Each word said in a monotone barely audible above the din of descending passengers. Everyday we meet, everyday amidst the hubbub, he says,"Tickets, please." I show him my pink pass, he squints at it, says thanks and goes back to his routine. Right, left, Watch Your Step. I always think he could teach Eeyore a lesson or two. As more and more people get off the train, I stare unabashedly at the conductor--right, left, Watch Your Step. I take in the neat,black beard, conductor uniform (hat included), steel-toed biker boots and the gold band adorning his left ring finger. Each day, I wonder if he is happy, if he likes his job, wife, life. Maybe he just gets through the day and saves his personality for when the bell tolls at the end of the work day.

I climb up the right side stairs once the flow of people stops. Taking the first open two seater--I don't like seat mates--I sit down, put my bag by my side and pull it close. Taking my headphones out of my bag, I place them on my head and choose my music--more flexible in the afternoons with my music selection. Sometimes I proceed to scribble furiously in my journal. Other times I read my novel du jour (see former blog from October). I never read the news in the afternoon--this is my time to decompreess. "Providence, last stop. Providence, last (mumble)..." The conductor shuffles through the car, enthusiastically and clearly announcing that Providence will be the last stop. I smile.

The train pulls into the station 28 minutes later and I patiently wait to get up the stairs. This station rarely has working escalators so departing and arriving passengers maneuveur and push past each other-all eager to reach their destination, each insensitive to the other's eagerness. When I emerge from the platform, I either turn right toward downtown and the bus depot or I turn left toward my wonderful boyfriend waiting in front of the State House. This is where my routine ends and spontaneity is rediscovered--at least until the next morning.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Sometimes I wonder why I feel totally overwhelmed by life. Well, that may be a little overdramatic, but sometimes the slightest change in routine, or that one extra chore makes me feel just a little crazy. Then, Melanie asked me to write about what I read everyday... take a I know why. Perhaps I should cut back a little... actually, now that I think about it, I realize I even forgot some! I need to go find my paper bag...more soon.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Have you ever laughed in a public place? I mean, have you ever thrown your head back, let the glee bubble up from your gut and explode out of your mouth in a public place? Have you ever gotten the giggles so badly that your eyes water, your stomach aches and your knees weaken--in a public place?

Recently, I had the pleasure of both reading a wonderful novel and experiencing uncontrollable laughter while riding a very busy commuter train home from work. While reading Everything is Illuminated (a fantastic book by Jonathan Safran Foer, worth its own posting) I have smirked, giggled, grinned and grimaced many times, but this day was different. This day, Foer strung together one of the most hilarious string of events I have read in ages, if ever, and of course I read it while squished on a rush hour train.

As I began the new chapter, my lips quirked upwards and quickly spread to a full-faced, goofy smile. The situation rapidly escalated to fits of giggles, usually smothered by my free hand. At some points, I had to balance my book on my lap to utilize both hands to smother. Soon after the dual hand technique, Foer dielivered his most powerful and masterful blow and I was lost.

My tummy began rumbling and shaking, my chest contracted, my Adam's apple bobbed, my head tilted back and my mouth flew open to emit a roar of laughter. All of my cells vibrated with joy. I laughed until my eyes watered. Until my stomach muscles complained. Until my lungs wheezed. Until I collapsed forward to rest my head on my back pack. Until I couldn't laugh anymore because implosion was a giggle away. In this moment, I gently closed my book and put it on the seat beside me, hoping this physical separation would help me regain control.

From the beginning of my giggles, I was aware of my fellow passengers sending inquiring, curious looks my way. Some smiled with me, some squirmed uncomfortably in their seats--but most stared wonderingly at the girl crowing with glee on the commuter rail because of a book. Yes, because of a book. It is unclear if they thought I was crazy for laughing with such gusto on the train, crazy for laughing that hard because of a book, or just plain old, straight up crazy. Nonetheless, people were sadly disconcerted by this break in the norm of public transport. All I have to say is--wait until I read a sad novel. Watch out!

Friday, October 27, 2006

If it's possible to be bouncily groggy, I was this morning. With sleepers still embedded in the corners of my eye, I stumbled to the bus stop. Crisp morning air massaged my bedwarm face as I took a deep breath. Another day, another dollar, I think. Then I take another deep breath and smell fall. Chimney smoke, earth and chill mingle in my nose and I know my favorite season is tryly here. I feel happy. As my IPod fills my ears with music, my mind clears and I relax into my day. I get off the bus to walk to the train station. The cool air and the song in my ear makes me bouncy despite my still blurry state. Luckily, I do this walk so frequently, I don't need to think about where I am going.

As I meander down the sidewalk in my sleepy little world, I encounter a really large, rather disoriented, hairless tailed, football sized, beady eyed....guess?!?! Guess what I saw? Yup! A HUGE rat! He was scurrying furiously about the sidewalk. Unlike the insolent Rat BAstard, this poor rat looked freaked out and confused. He ran toward me, got within three feet and then ran away as fast as his little legs would carry him. The fact that I was screaming like a banshee may or may not have caused this flurry of activity--but I'm not sure. Rat then ran out into the road and head first into (not under) the bus' tire. He backed up, shook his head and scampered between cars and buses. I couldn't tell if he made it not--but this rat was easily the size of a squirrel, so I do know that any driver would have seen him coming! While Rat ran for his life, I continued screaming and doing that special gross out dance--the one where you run in place doing something akin to jazz hands. Whether or not people withnessed this act of courage and bravery I am not sure becasue I didn't dare look around me.

After smoothing my coat, I continued walking to the train station with only periodic returns to the gross out dance. While walking, I find myself worrying that my serious over raction may have caused Rat to sprint to his death. Unlike Rat Bastard, Rat had every right to be on the sidewalk doing his buseiness. He had not violated my personal space or pooped on my books. I won't ever know Rat's fate, but at least he will have this blog by which to be remembered.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Whether or not you are a fan of the Dixie Chicks, I strongly recommend listening to their performance on David Letterman. You can find it at: On this website you can also view the video of this song. Once you have done this, continue reading below.

In case you have forgotten, the Dixie Chicks were tarred and feathered about 3 years ago for Natalie Maines' comment about being ashamed that George Bush is a fellow Texan. The response to this comment led to the burning of DC cds, loss of radio play, stores refusing to sell their albums, shows pulling interview slots and death threats. They were booed and protested whenever they did make public appearances. While the Dixie Chicks did not back down, they did take a brief hiatus from the recording/concert world to raise their families and collect themselves. This year, they came screaming back with "Taking the Long Way."

On David Letterman, the Chicks sang a song from their new album entitled, "Not Ready To Make Nice" and they blew me away. Not only did they confront the criticism of three years ago head on, but they transcended the drama to impart a beautiful message of strength, resilience and the right to free speech. Maines' powerful presence and emotion-filled voice is inspiring. She is "mad as hell" and not willing to squelch that emotion to make others happy. In a time where dissenters are urged and in some cases, forced to seethe silently, Maines' stands up, yet again, to make a call to arms.

It is time to stand up, to protest, to write letters. No longer can we go round and round with semantics and morality--it is time to speak out. The Dixie Chicks have withstood death threats, booes and boycotts. They have paid the price for speaking their minds. They are not flip-floppers and equivocators, but instead have come back with the same message in plain English. It is out there, no mincing of words. It is time for all of us, those who agree with Maines', to stand tall and get active. For three years we have been quiet, but now, Maines' has bravely sent out the call:

I'm not ready to make nice,
I'm not ready to back down,
I'm still mad as hell
And I don't have time
To go round and round and round
It's too late to make it right
I probably wouldn't if I could
Cause I'm mad as hell
Can't bring myself to do what it is
You think I should

Forgive, sounds good.
Forget, I'm not sure I could.
They say time heals everything,
But I'm still waiting

It is our job to answer Maines' call--to be mad and loud as hell.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Here it is. . . my beast of burden! Don't tell me how it could improve, I have already submitted it and your comments will just lead to a truly neurotic moment. Just enjoy, smile and send the admissions people happy thoughts so they accept me with lots and lots of funding!

Amy Greer
Statement of Purpose
GSLIS Applicant

From the day letters finally formed words in my mind, my nose has been in a book. Whether escaping to a fantasy world or attempting to understand horrific events in our history, I find serenity in the written word. At the ripe old age of 6, I discovered big buildings filled with books for me to read, and I was hooked. Libraries have always been my port in the storm, my familiar amidst the unfamiliar, my structure amidst chaos and my house of knowledge. Now, at the ripe old age of 27, I want to contribute to the very system that helped foster my love of learning.

With my MLS, I hope to work in archives and/or special collections as a librarian, a preservationist, an educator, a communicator and a historian. As a librarian and preservationist, I want to organize and maintain historical documents and artifacts for the education and enjoyment of subsequent generations. As an educator and communicator, I want to inform the public of the many resources available to them in understanding our history and our future. As a historian, I look forward to handling such precious materials as letters to friends, playbills, manuscripts, and much more. Through one profession, I can fulfill innumerable goals and pursue a variety of interests, while acting as a public servant.

Through my studies at Wheaton College (in MA), I developed a deep interest in the histories of both theatre and sexuality. An intriguing research project on the theatrical norms and mores of Louis XIV’s court and an intensive independent study on Oscar Wilde compelled me to apply to Master’s programs in theatre history. Once in the Theatre History program at the University of Pittsburgh, I delved deeper into the 17th century while continuing my exploration of Oscar Wilde. Much of the research I did throughout my two-year program focused on the development of sexual norms on stage ranging from the 17th century to the beginning of the 20th century. This research incorporated dramatic literature, primary sources, paintings, commercials, and costume designs to gain a well-rounded understanding of the cultural modes.

During this time, I gained familiarity with and appreciation for the myriad of materials in the Curtis Theatre Collection housed in Hillman Library. Handling these primary sources dating from 150 years ago and beyond enthralled me. Not only was the material itself fascinating but so also was the way in which the materials were preserved, stored and maintained. I found myself asking just as many questions about how the archivists maintained the collection as where to find my materials. By preserving these artifacts, the Curtis Collection fulfills its mission to offer all people the opportunity to have direct contact with history—and it is in this mission I want to participate.

Becoming a librarian and archivist will allow me to actively pursue my passions. Wheaton and the University of Pittsburgh have fostered my love of research and history, and now I look to the University of Rhode Island to provide me with the knowledge to help cultivate others love of research and history. I believe I have an obligation to our young people to preserve and protect precious items that illuminate our past and inform our future. I know the University of Rhode Island is the place to help me fulfill this obligation.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Let's face it, focus has never been my strong suit. Sure, I can focus on a conversation, a movie, a book, but when it comes to choosing a paper topic, a boyfriend or a career, I find it nearly impossible to focus on any one thing. Having been raised to be a lifelong learner, I have been both blessed and cursed with a love of many subjects. Over the years, I have dreamed of being a toll booth collector, a veterinarian, a cashier, an actress, an equestrienne, a professor, a writer and a librarian. Whenever I enter training for one thing, I dream of doing another. It is not so much that the grass seems greener but more that I don't ever want to feel pigeon-holed. Knowing the world is my oyster both excites and terrifies me because the opportunities are endless. For many, this cliche suggests that over time they have the opportunity to explore many areas. They will never be trapped in one occupation but instead may dabble in many fields--perhaps at the same time. For me, my oyster--my life of opportunity means that I have much to choose from, with "choose" being the operative word. It means that after far too much researching, exploring and discussing, I will eventually need to take action. I feel forever frozen in a world of indecision and opportunities while I continue in jobs I hate.

Now, after reading the above, imagine me trying to write a statement of purpose. Not statements of purposes or a brainstorm of possibilities, but a statement which outlines a singular purpose. Ladies and gentlemen, this is my worst nightmare--and my task for the day.

I am supposed to be writing a statement of purpose for entrance into a graduate program in library science. I am supposed to be outlining the reasons I want to attend library school, what qualifies me for library school and what I hope to do post-library school. At this point, I am confident that library school is right for me as it offers me a myriad of neat opportunities AND actually makes me employable for a change. Well, it will at least present me the chance to get a job that I might actually LIKE--a major change for me. And, part of the reason I am attracted to the field is that there are many directions it could take me, making it rather difficult to state a singular purpose to gain entry into a program. While I recognize they are not going to hold me to any stated purpose, it is difficult for me to even pick one thing to focus on, whether binding or not.

I love books--always have, always will. I love teenagers--their moodiness, their questioning, their need to fit in contradicting their desire for individuality. I love learning new things, just because I am interested. I love researching topics to better understand the whole picture. I love touching historical documents, wondering who originally owned them and what their story was. I love the musty smell of old books and the gluey smell of new ones. I love the whining spines of old books and the cracking spines of new ones. I love the anticipation of the first line and the sadness of the last. I love the excitement on the faces of young people as they experience a great book for the first time. I love perusing and meandering through stacks of books, marveling at the amount of energy, creativity and thought contained within each binding. I love the numbers and letters that instruct me of each book's subject. I love sharing my passion for all of the above with others. Because of all this, I want to go to library school. I want to excite others with literature, history and creativity. I want to preserve the work of others for the enjoyment of future generations. I want to make this information more easily accessible. How I will do this and through what modes, I am not yet sure--that is why I want to attend library school. It though school I hope to find my niche within the library world and I take it from there. Is that a clear enough statement of purpose?

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Oh, the joys of rural Maine, high school fashion, richie-rich prep schools, mediocre a cappella, and modern travel. Over the past few weeks, I have smirked, grimaced and grinned at the places my job takes me. If nothing else, I have learned a great deal about people this past year and will marvel for years to come at the audacity and obliviousness of my fellow humans.

Today alone was exciting enough to last me a while—at least until the fall season. After an evening of a seriously upset stomach, I awoke groggy and grumpy. A college fair awaited me, but it would be an hour and a half drive just to get there. The drive went smoothly enough, and I was even able to eat a bit of breakfast with little protest from my testy stomach before the kids came. The kids—oh, the kids! Too busy seeing and being seen to speak with the lowly college reps, these adolescents pranced, preened and puttered by the rows of tables. After two hours of people watching, I packed up and hightailed it out of there.

When I got my car, I checked my voicemail to discover that my 5:15 flight had been cancelled and the only other flight was leaving in about three hours. I was three hours from the airport, at least, and knew I would have to be a speed demon to make the flight. In my haste, I neglected to check my gas gauge. Needless to say, approximately twenty minutes into my drive, I heard that dreaded ding informing me that I would soon run out of gas. The problem with this scenario was that I was miles from the nearest gas station in rural Maine. Houses were about ten miles apart and the land in between consisted of beautiful, large marshlands. My palms began to sweat and my brain whirred with possible solutions to this conceivably uncomfortable situation. I slowed my pace and coasted down hills, while praying and making promises to God. After miles of imaginative worst-case scenarios playing through my mind, a gas station appeared on the horizon. With this problem solved, it was on to Augusta to catch my flight.

Normally, I am a ten-mile-above-the-speed-limit kind of girl. I like to test the limits but not get too crazy. Today, however, I went a bit crazy. I will not disclose details for the sake of those who love me, or for those who would like to arrest me, but I definitely made good time today. The Pontiac G6 can move! Because my luck of late would have me miss the flight out of Augusta, I called Enterprise to create a contingency plan. They were great, as always, so I plowed onward knowing somehow, some way, I would get home tonight.

Of course my bladder always decides to be a diva when time is of the essence and throws a monstrous hissy fit. Demanding my undivided attention, I had to make a pit stop. At this point, gas stations are about thirty to forty miles apart and they are the only places of business along the route. Now, logically, this would mean that each gas station would have a public restroom because that is just what you do. When you are the only place for drivers to stop, you have a public bathroom out of love for your fellow humans. After running into two stores in a rather odd fashion, seeing the sign that said," No Public Restroom," and then hightailing it out of there (much to the amusement of the locals who hung out at the gas station), I finally found a bathroom. I get out of the car, run gingerly into the store (having now held it for about an hour or more), just in time to see a mother, a baby and a diaper bag step into the one bathroom available. At this moment, my heart dropped and my bladder shrieked. I paced, back and forth, back and forth, knowing that standing still would only get me stuck in some awkward position where moving would cause an accident--speaking from experienceembarrassingng to recount here. As a 27 year old, moments like these are truly humbling. Here I am, a smart, young professional doing the peepee dance in a public place where the wrong move could lead to a serious accident. When the mother and child pushed open the door, I flew by them, gave them a gentle shove out of the way, slammed the door, and finally found relief. Thank God!

An hour later, I pulled into AugustaÂ’s airport (which, by the way, consists of one airline counter, one bus counter, one rental car counter and, naturally, one Thai restaurant) and ran inside to find out if I could make the earlier flight. The airline attendant took my ID and was ready to put me on the plane when I realized my luggage and everything was still in the rental car I had not yet returned.

I madly unpacked my car, throwing out the amazing amount of trash I haccumulatedted in my two day trip to the butt crack of Maine. On my return to the "terminal," the flight folks loaded me and my bags through security. The two security guards were very stern, clearly taking their jobs very seriously. In my discombobulated state, I continuously broke the rules of airport behavior, rankling the somewhat uptight security guard. Once I got through the first guard, I had to deal with a man who decided my laptop required a special security procedure. By this point, the plan had been loaded, the four other passengers boarded and they were just waiting for me. The plane also sat about 30 feet from the security area, the pilot observing my progress with interest. The security guard determined that my laptop passed the tests and I was free to walk the thirty feet across the tarmac and board the plane.

Because Augusta, Maine is not the most popular of destinations, only smaller propeller planes fly in and out of this airport. This plane was a sixteen-seater with one seat on either side of the aisle. The pilot asks us to spread evenly throughout the cabin to balance the aircraft. Without hesitation, the five nervous passengers obey the pilot--the awe and fear palpable. After a warning that the weather may cause turbulence, we taxi. Watching the pilots do their thing was fascination, but I have to say, I now know why there is normally a barrier between passenger and pilot. The view out of the windshield is absolutely terrifying! Blank horizon or whirling earth loomed large through the small glass windows--neither image brought peace of mind. I slept--my usual reaction to any anxiety producing situation.

With the announcement to prepare for landing,awokeoke the whirling earth in front of me. Greens, browns and blues swirled in front of me, causing my stomach to mimic the motion. My natural reaction was to swear, loudly, ascribing God-like qualities to excrement. The four men balancing out the front of the plane concurred. Any desire I had to pilot planes evaporated as I witnessed the sheer terror of landing a plane. Though my somewhat hysterical laughter drew odd looks from my felltravelersers, I feexhilaratedted by the miracle of flying and the skill to land despite the whirling earth. I moved from one phenomenon to another.

Standing at the bus stop at Logan Airport is truly entertaining. Still marveling at the miracle of flight, I exited the terminal to the din of car horns, shouts and sirens. My reverie broken, I entered a world where anarchy ruled and the little guys lose. Cars, buses, and shuttles moved about with abandon. No longer did the rules of the road or directional lines apply. Somehow, some way, these vehicles cycled in and out of the lanes without colliding. It wasn't pretty, but it was marvelononethelessess.

As I write this, I sit aboard the Bonanza bus that will bring me to my sweetie after a long couple of days away. For the next hour, I can reflect on my spring travel, listen to the guy in front of me hock lugies and marvel at this odd thing that is my life.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Some men apparently do find pathological nervous chatter and awkwardness attractive. ; )

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Okay, so last night's blog was a little dour because, admittedly, I was feeling really sorry for myself. I then had a long chat with a good friend in the wee hours of the morn and after much laughter and a few tears, the poor me phase has passed, for now. He reminded me of the funny aspects of my life at the moment, making me so grateful to be blessed with good friends, great family, and, Gold help me, a well functioning sense of humor. Here are some things I have not discussed about the past week.
Since returning from vacation, I have starred in my very own cartoon. When I arrived home on Tuesday evening, I saw that the entire contents of my bedroom sat in my kitchen and living room. None of it had been cleaned, and most of my books and clothing sat in large black plastic bags. Because I was waiting for my room to be bleached and shampooed, I had to sleep on the couch and leave my things where they lay for a couple of days. Feeling slightly overwhelmed by the condition of my apartment, I vowed to spend the weekend revitalizing my apartment, making it even better than it had been before. The cleaners came Wednesday and I was cleared to move back into my room for Thursday. A surge of excitement shot through me, and I began to plot out the next few days.
On Wednesday, I needed to take two buses down to the airport to pick up the car my brother and I share from long-term parking. It is early and I am very sleepy so you can imagine my surprise and disappointment when I realize I left the parking ticket at home. The cashier called his manager. The manager said that I could leave the lot if she could see my license and registration. Well, this is no problem because I am licensed, insured and registered. I pull out the little yellow envelope in my glove compartment and nonchalantly hand it to the manager. She very politely asks why I have a MA license with a CO registration, and why the names are different. The registration turned out to be my parents' old registration, and my registration had, of course, disappeared. So, now I look like a thief, and she kindly tells me I need to go home to retrieve the ticket. Three buses later, I arrive back at my house, officially late for work to find my ticket tucked exactly where I left it and I leave again to catch the buses back to the airport. I drive to work in my car without registration or proof of insurance, praying I will not be pulled over. Perhaps this should have been a sign.
On Thursday, I woke up feeling refreshed and bit sheepish about the events from the day before. This was the day I was going to get it all together. I had big plans to have my bills on auto-debited, to reorganize and throw out a lot of my possessions and many other exciting organizational plans. Nonetheless, I had a positive feeling about the day as I hopped in my car to head to work. As I drove down the road that leads me to work (about 5 minutes away), the truck in front of me stopped to turn left. I stopped behind him. In my rearview, I saw a pickup truck come barreling around the corner with no evidence of slowing. I watched as he plowed into my rear end at 40MPH, shoving me into the truck in front of me. My car was squished and my neck whiplashed.
On Friday, I had a date (actually a second date with the same guy, which does not happen to me very often) so I was pretty excited. We had to change our plans given the whole whiplash thing so he brought me yummy food and we settled in to a night of movie watching. That night, I made little eye contact with my date. My neck was too stiff to alternate between watching the movie and looking at him. I could choose one or the other, but I could not do both. Whenever I laughed, I had to wrap my hands around my neck in order to hold my head still. Finally, after two movies and a tasty meal, we sat facing each other on my couch so I could finally make eye contact. By this point, I just kept my hands wrapped around my neck, like I was choking myself. Here I am, attempting to turn a second date into a third, and I have my hands wrapped around my neck. Hot!
A third date happened a couple of days later, but my confidence had taken a hit. By not being able to look at my date much on Friday, I now felt shy about looking at him too much. Having dated very little, I am clueless about initiating flirty touches and teasing gazes. I have read about it, wrote about and watched it happen, but when it is my turn to charm--forget it. On Sunday, I think I finally got a glimpse into the life of boys who must feel totally overwhelmed by the responsibility of making the first move. Augh! I am inept at enacting all the creative ideas I have about the art of flirtation and seduction. Perhaps men find awkwardness and pathological nervous chatter attractive. I will just have to wait and find out.
Darkness has the amazing ability to foster passion, lust, worry, sadness, defeat, and fantasies. When the lights go out at the end of the day and I lay nestled in my bed staring at the ceiling, I am struck by thousands of thoughts--some romantic, some fantastical, some funny, some sad and some frustrating. At these moments, alone in my bed, the intensity of big decisions or frustrating events weigh heavily on my mind, chasing sleep away for who knows how long. I feel truly alone, unable to pick up the phone because my friends and family all have respectable jobs that require an early wake-up call. The more I think about it though, I am not sure I would call even if my pals were all night owls. How can I explain the strong feelings that only gain clarity in the dark?
Tonight I grapple with a few pressing issues that involve new cars, surgery, back injuries, job searches, etc all while listening keenly for any noise that may be a rat invader. I struggle to find a comfortable position for my tired, whiplashed neck and back. I try to stay positive about the dramatic cartoon that is my life at the moment, but in the darkness, this task is also a struggle. At the moment, my car is totaled, my neck/back is sore, my surgeon is waiting for me to book a date and my stomach feels nauseous. I cannot book my surgery until my back is healed. I need to find time to buy a new car, but I have missed work because of the accident so now I am not sure when I can go car shopping. I do not want to have surgery again because I hate anesthesia, shots in the stomach and sleeping with my feet tied together, let alone another month on crutches. I hate my job but cannot really leave until I have these other things taken care of--but who knows what will happen next to trap me into this God forsaken job. Through all of this, I try to smile, have some fun, relax and even enjoy some of the time off, and most of the time, I am successful. But, when I turn the light off and stare at the ceiling, my current situation flashes before my eyes. All my daytime attempts at finding the silver lining disappear and I grapple with the real deal which, to use a very precise colloquialism, totally sucks. Tomorrow is a new day, hopefully bringing some sunshine and good fortune my way.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

As I sit in the Atlanta airport, the exhaustion seeps deeply into my bones. My vacation away from the rats proves not to be a vacation, just a temporary relocation. While I had hoped to leave the rat saga behind, Rat bastard followed me to Georgia and South Carolina, as always, insisting on my undivided attention.

On Wednesday evening, I did one final assessment of my disgusting room taking pictures both to document the damage and to show to my family. Rat bastard posed for the camera and proudly displayed his handy work. My roommate and friend finally saw the true extent of the damage and were satisfactorily disgusted. While riding the train up to Boston, I listened to sad music and allowed myself about an hour of true self-pity. My sense of humor was waning and my shoulders ached from carrying a little too much weight of late. No tears were shed;it was worse. I sat curled in ball, staring out the window wondering where I could go to hide from the real world. God, fate or whoever it is that snaps us sharply from self-pity decided that I had wallowed enough for now.

On the Red Line T out to Somerville, I was awkwardly loaded down with a large backpack, a roll bag, a laptop and a purse. People avoided sitting next to the overloaded girl, so luckily I had a whole bench to myself--or so I thought. About two stops into my journey, a well-dressed, young, professional woman sits down right next to me. I barely batted an eye at her presence, still listening to the sad tunes. When the girl doubled over and vomited all over the floor, I quickly moved my suitcase out of the way and tried to comfort her. Of course, this would be the one time I do not have a tissue or anything to offer so the poor thing is sitting next to me, cradling her blueberry-red wine puke in her hands. As I looked around the car, I realized that there were only two of us on the full car who were paying this young woman any attention. Books and Ipods were of much more interest or importance than this sick woman who had already puked twice on the train. With the help of the day's news, the man and I had covered the vomit, though the woman's stomach interpreted this as another canvas to paint. At this point, the lovely man sitting across the aisle and I made eye contact. Through this momentary meeting of the eyes, we communicated that this had been a rough week for both of us and it figures that the person who would sit next to us had to barf. She was compelled to sit near us, puke her guts out and smell up the car. I began to laugh--hard. My life may not be fabulous right now, but at least I am not barfing on the train and with this thought, she leaned over and spread the cheer on to her designer leather bag. Great!

Thursday was spent traveling and sleeping. I had to wake up at 3:30AM to catch my flight. It is still dark at 3:30--and people were cranky. At the ticket counter in the airport, a customer asked the customer service agent for a pen and she said she did not have one without making any effort to find one for him. He responded," Thank you. That is very helpful!" While this was a provocative comment, it did suit the moment. Sensing his sarcasm, the customer service agent proceeded to tell the man that it was not her job to have a pen, it was her job to provide customer service. The irony was lost on her. After arriving in Savannah, I ate the fattiest meal known to humankind at the one and only Waffle House and went to bed with images of grits and rat shit dancing in my head.

The first full day of vacation was spent on the phone with health inspectors and exterminators. Each professional claimed that though my landlord was not doing a good job at exterminating Rat bastard, he is practicing due dilligence and, therefore, I cannot call in anyone else for help. Later that day, I received annoyed phone calls from my landlord and from my stressed out roommate. After a couple of hours on the phone, I just threw my hands up and said," Great!"

Finally, we all arrived on the island for the wedding. The house my cousin rented for us was stunning and my family was reunited. Life was okay...until I walked inside to find my aunt running around frantically, stressed out cousins and angry extended family. At this moment, I knew that my "vacation" was over and reality sunk in. Now, this is not to say there were not some shining moments throughout the weekend, but overall, the weekend was a wash. There were no family meals or time to play. From the time of arrival to the time of departure, we were put to work doing menial tasks for the wedding (though we were on the groom's side) or playing diplomat. Great!

When my family left the island on Sunday to catch flights or check into the hotel for the night, we finally had a family meal. It was great to sit and take in the smiling faces of my parents and brothers though we were all a bit tired.

Monday I made the mistake of checking my email before touring Savannah with my mom. The email stated that Rat bastard had died and the room had been clean according to Health Dept. standards. The following email from my roommate stated a different story. We now have all of my rat contaminated items in our living room and kitchen, uncleaned, while our broom and some rat feces remain in my bedroom. I have been repeatedly told to be patient and relax becasue the job was being done professionally, we now have direct evidence that states this whole thing has been a half-assed effort. My landlord is offering to cover a professional cleaner for our home or take $200 off rent, though neither of us have lived there for about 2 weeks. He is not offering to replace my mattress and curtains, have my clothes dry cleaned or wipe down my other belongings. I take issue with this, though I am not sure how to proceed yet. For now, I just say," Great!"

R.I.P. Rat Bastard 2005-2006
May this worthy foe enjoy many a compost heap in rat heaven.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Images of the Rat Saga
Below, you will see shots of the poop under my bed, the present left on my drawers, the poop on my Bible and Rat bastard himself. I don't think I even need to provide commentary other than to say, this is only the half of it!

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

One piece of advice from me to you: Do not vaccuum rat poop. It does gross things to the body.
Rat Saga, Part 4....and the last entry before going on a much needed vacation

Sadly, since I last wrote little has changed. Rat bastard still rules over my bedroom until he dies the death of a poisoned rat. For the past week, I have been sleeping at either my brother's house or in my roomate's room (while he stays elsewhere because he thinks our house is gross). I periodically venture into my bedroom with some sort of blunt, heavy object to grab a necessary item, staying for as little time as possible. The smell is becoming a bit unbearable. Yesterday, my roommate decided we should do a progress check and what we found was truly disturbing, causing my sense of humor about the whole thing to wane. Actually, let's be honest...I have never had a sense of humor about the whole thing. I simply try to present the situation in a humorous manner to convince myself that all will be okay in the end.

Anyway, my bedroom is literally covered in rat poop. Some of you are, perhaps, imagining a little pellet here, and another there. Well, this image would not do Rat bastard justice. This rat poops in piles, particularly enjoying sites under my bed, behind my desk, in my closet and next to my TV. It has chewed some of my clothes, possibly burrowed in some of my things and nibbled on my book pages. Right now, my room is a rat infested, poop-filled space that bears little resemblance to my former sanctuary.

People keep telling me to be patient and just let the rat poison do its thing. While I understand that freaking out does little to assist the situation, I also understand that all my things are being ruined. If these objects were just clothes or linens, I may feel differently, but this rat is destroying my precious books and my valued space. From now on, as long as I live in this apartment, I will be fearful of another rat coming to visit. My space has been tainted and made foul by significant amounts of rat shit and I am supposed to be patient? With all the technology we have in the world, with all the advances, we have no other way to get rid of rats than to wait it out. I think that sucks. My nerves are frayed, my temper is just barely contained below the surface and my patience with people has worn thin.

While I am excited about this vacation, my leaving town means nothing can happen with the rat traps until I return on Monday. As I enjoy some fun in the sun, a rat will either be destroying more things or a rat carcass will be smelling up my space. The exterminator said," I don't mean to scare you, but the rat has probably burrowed into one of your bins or drawers. We will probably find the body in one of those." My vacation means that the rat has five more days to either rot, chew or poop all over my things. On Tuesday, I get to go in with the exterminator and the cleaners, search for the rat and then take my things out of the room. Everything I own will need to be cleaned and disinfected. The damage to my books and clothing will have to be assessed and then, I am to return to life as it was before. Somehow, I don't think it will be that easy. I am angry, grossed out, frightened and tired. And while I try to keep laughing about this whole thing, the smell I encountered upon entering my room this morning may have put any attempts at humor to rest.....for now.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Rat Saga, Part 3

Rat bastard now has full reign over my bedroom. He resides somewhere within those four walls, remaining elusive to all who seek him. Poop and plaster can be found anywhere from under my bed to on my TV stand, yet Rat bastard himself has yet to be spotted. Yesterday, all the exit routes from my room were plastered shut. My bed was overturned and my closet cleared, but the rat(s) linger still. My room is now a rat haven where they eat the bottoms my dresses, pages in books, etc.

Last night, in attempt to get a much needed full night's sleep, I crashed on my couch in the living room. Rat bastard thwarted me again when he began digging furiously in my room, scratching loudly enough for all to hear (except my roommate, of course). At 3AM, I woke to his feet working furiously, contemplated finding a hoe and ending the hostage negotiations (my bedroom being the hostage). The thought of walking in my room, killing a rat and going back to sleep somehow did not sit right with me. First of all, what if I missed? Then I would have a pissed off rat running around my room and who knows what vengeful things he would do. Secondly, what if I hit him but did not kill him? Then I would have a pissed off injured rat running around my room wreaking havoc and bleeding everywhere. Thirdly, what if I did kill him? Then I would have a rat carcass in my bedroom at 3AM and I would have to clean it 3AM. I also feel that if I am the one to kill Rat bastard in my bedroom, he will haunt me as long as I live in that space. Then I philosophized about whether or not rats have souls and if they could actually haunt me forever more. Needless to say, that good night's sleep so sorely need eluded me again. I now sit pissed off and loopy telling my story.

Today, an exterminator will set traps in my room to catch Rat bastard and his friends. For the next few days, rats will be perishing in my room on my things. Apparently, removing my belongings from the space will cause the rats to burrow and we won't be able to properly catch them. My things are truly rat bait. So those souls may haunt me still! Great!

Obviously, I will not be staying in my room for a while and will be sterilizing everything I own before I sleep there again. For now, I wait for the systematic decimation of Rat bastard and his crew, hoping that one day soon I will have a good, fear-free, restful evening where scratching and furry presences will no longer plague my dreams--and my bed.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

The Rat Saga: Part 2

Rat bastards! This would be my new term of endearment for the furry-except-for-the-tail varmints that reside in my apartment. Yesterday, the exterminator and contractors came to get rid of the rats and seal all points of entry. Last night, I finally fell asleep, despite the scratching sounds above me. I had faith that the rats no longer had a way into my apartment and, more importantly, into my bedroom. In the wee hours of the morning, I heard a new scratching in wall by the head of my bed. Pushing through my drowsy state, I realized the rat bastards were just inside the wall with a thin layer of sheet rock separating them from me. I called upon my newfound expertise in thwarting rat invaders and turned on the light next to my bed. Apparently, rats are not fans of light. The scratching stopped.

At 6:30 this morning, the saga took a new and ugly turn. As the sun rose, I decided I could afford to turn off my lamp and hopefully get some much needed sleep without a light in my eyes. Within one minute the scratching began again, louder this time. One minute after that, a lovely black rat struts to the head of my bed on my heater board. It looks me right in the eye and continues to strut behind my bookcase and under my bed. That's right! I now have a rat under my bed at 6:30 on Sunday morning.

Last time I encountered a rat, I screamed and threw things. This time, I was not scared--I was pissed. Not only had the exterminators not exterminated all of the rats, but the contractor clearly missed a spot. And, on top of that, the rats spent the day brainstorming how to traumatize the party pooper. This morning, there were no dainty screams. This time, the rats heard, in full detail, what exactly I thought of them--while standing on my bed, of course. Then, I heard the damn thing rustling underneath my bed. I was alone in my room with a rat--or two-- at 6:30 in the morning. Clearly, the rat had won this battle. No way in hell was I going rustling through my things to find the rat bastard. I conceded, grabbed my computer and left my room.

As I sat down on my couch, the realization that I had a rat in my room finally struck home and I cried. Then, I realized I had a rat in my room, and I laughed. With the special skill that women seem to posses, I sat on my couch laughing and crying simultaneously and, of course, I called my mom.

Now my project is to go through my room, lifting my futon and opening drawers to find the rat and the entry point. This afternoon, two lovely Honduran men who speak very little English will help me rifle through my room, moving furniture and emptying bags, tryinig to find the hiding rat. If we find it, we shoot to kill. Yes, you read that correctly. We are under strict orders to kill any rat we find. And, when I say we, that does mean that I am expected to help in the finding and eliminating of the rat that has set up shop under my bed. Watch out, varmints! I don't give a rat's ass if you are a mom, cousin or generally nice guy, you are dead. You infiltrated my sanctuary, and now you pay! As I write this, the insolent creatures have slid down the wall into my closet. Great!

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Last night, St. Patrick's Eve, I ventured out into the bar scene with trepidation. It had been a while, a very long while actually, since I went out to dance, play and meet people. With my job eating up most hours of each day, I have relied on old (but wonderful) friends, my brother and the internet to sate my need for social interaction. Most of my friends live a distance away so those interactions involve holding a phone to my ear. My brother is wonderful but medical school is even more demanding than my job. The internet thing has yielded some okay dates but nothing worth pursuing. I have ended the online dating thing as it was useless to me. Over time, I have become frustrated by my inability to meet new people "the normal" way--face to face. Without ultimate, I no longer have a ready made peer group and often wonder where the interesting people around my age hide. While one night onto town will not and has not revitalized my social life, it made me hopeful that some fun, interesting people do exist in my city. With the reassurance of their existence, I feel energized and ready to find them. Needless to say, this night out was important for both body and soul. I was pleasantly surprised!

Friday, March 17, 2006

Rats! In this case, not a common expression of frustration, but instead the name of the rodents freeloading in my apartment. That's right! Those disease-ridden, hairless tailed, sneaky, food-ruining varmints have taken up residence in my walls and are rapidly expanding to the areas within.

Last night, my roommate and I sat watching TV (NCAA basketball, of course) when we heard the scratches and pitter-patter of little feet in the apartment above. While we were both a bit disturbed by the sounds, knowing they were made by some unwelcome beasts, we felt relieved because they were upstairs--not watching TV with us. This was soon to change!

At around one o'clock this morning, I got up to go to the bathroom and unwittingly disrupted a disco party hosted by our rat neighbors in our kitchen. They were partying under our kitchen table and by my bedroom door, having a grand old time. Luckily, my presence had them scattering as if the police had arrived at an underage drinking party. I am sure my loud screams of horror may also have inspired their hasty retreat. Upon seeing the hairless tails scuttling to safety, I did what any good woman does--I screamed bloody murder and jumped on top of my bed, clutching my chest the calm my racing heart. This incident was exacerbated by the fact that I had to pee quite badly--the reason I rose from bed in the first place--and therefore, I needed to leave the safety of my bed to utilize the loo. What if the little bastards came back after I retreated to my room? What if there was one waiting for me in the toilet (story to follow)? Decision time loomed--to pee or not to pee, that is the question. I chose to pee, because, for those of you who know me, there was never a doubt as my bladder wins every time. My brilliant plan was to turn on my light to scare these large buggers, throw a few pairs of shoes into the kitchen to hit any remaining critters while running Rambo-style into the bathroom. Slamming the door, I quickly scanned the bathroom to make sure no other rats were present, lifted the toilet seat with my toe to make sure it was not full of rats and finally relieved myself in a squatting position in case any decided to make a surprise return. My relief was short-lived, however, when I realized I would have to get back to my room and all of my ammo was spread on the kitchen floor. I ran for it, slammed my door and jumped into bed with my face covered in sweat, my heart beating wildly, and my skin twitching at any unusual (or usual) sensations. Needless to say, sleepiness had also made a hasty retreat and continued to elude me until the wee hours of the morning. Where was my roommate through all of this commotion? Sleeping peacefully in his room, apparently unaffected by the scratching, thudding, screaming, running and slamming happening one thin wall away. Reassuring, isn't it?

Well, the story is not yet over. This morning, I awaken, disgruntled and bemused, to a cheerful," Good morning, Roomie! Sleep okay?" "Ha!" I answered and proceeded to tell the tale, or should I say tails, of the evening's events. He just smiled and said we should call the landlord. While this is true, and I am sure my anxiety will do nothing to fix the problem, his calm, cool and collected appearance this morning irked me. When I read his IM away message, I knew why. It said," The good news is that the rats seem to prefer [her] side of the apartment..." Great, so now the rats love my side of the apartment, want to hang out with me and possibly give me the Bubonic Plague. While I am flattered that they clearly know who the cooler roommate is, I would prefer the rats take their Ricketts and kindly leave me alone.

Sometimes, when I develop a fear of something I research the scary thing to make it less frightening. Over the years, I have found this to be a healthy and helpful way to deal with anxiety. Today, this usually good plan did nothing to appease my anxiety, instead it fueled my already frenzied state. Here are some of the interesting, and in no way comforting things I learned about rats.

Rats are smart, sneaky rodents that infiltrate a home and then mate like crazy. They live in your walls, cabinets, plumbing, compost heaps and many other opportune locations. Despite their larger size, rats can squeeze through tiny holes and under doors. While partaking of your various groceries and grains, rats break the rule of shitting where you eat and instead, shit all over where they eat and what you eat. In doing so, they spread good cheer, Ricketts, Salmonella, and of course, that pesky plague. When not eating your food, rats like to nibble on your electrical cords or fingers and use your plumbing for a water-park. Sometimes, rats even cause electrical fires and massive infections from their handy work! Man, are they good or what?!

My favorite of their tricks is the rat-in-the-toilet trick. I had never heard of this until a good friend of mine was paid an unexpected visit while she relieved her bowels. This usually pleasurable bathroom experience was cut short by a splash in the toilet not of her doing. With quick reflexes, she turned just in time to see a hairless tail swish down the drain. Apparently, this rat, or a fellow flume rider, appeared in her neighbor’s apartment later that same day. His experience was similar to mine, though he was dealing with a wet rat straight from the toilet and he killed it.

What is the moral of this story? Make sure you keep your toilet lid closed and do check before you sit. You never know what toothy, disease carrying creature could be waiting for you! Oh, one more thing, rats only bite 15,000 people and cause thousands of illnesses a year so no need for concern. After all, the worst they can do is single-handedly wipe out half of Europe.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Yet again, I am sitting at work with nothing to do, knowing deep inside that this is the calm before the storm. With this job, I work, work, work my fingers to the bone and then wait to be worked to the bone again. I would enjoy the down time if I had a say in how I spent it, but instead I just sit bored at work looking dreamily out the window, surfing vacation sites on the web and thinking of all I would do if I had the day to myself. Today, I have decided to write my blog and unload some things I have been pondering the past couple of days.

As we drove into work yesterday, my roommate/co-worker asked," Do you ever feel like we do the same thing everyday?" In the melancholic silence that followed, I imagined myself running on a big metal wheel in a cage of sawdust, pooping near my food bowl. Then I contemplated jumping from the moving vehicle. Shortly after, we passed three kids at their bus stop--the same three kids we see everyday standing at their bus stop. I waved. They looked at me funny. So much for shaking up the routine.

In January, I moved in with a guy--just a guy, not a lover or boyfriend or anything. Since that move, I have contemplated what I like so much about living with guys--not lovers or boyfriends. Over time, the advantages of a male roommate have become clear.

Firstly, the apartment is clean-ish, but there is no pressure to keep the place spotless. While we both clean up our dishes and wipe up our messes, it is acceptable to leave a cup on the counter overnight or drape a coat over a chair for a while. Well, let me just say that I leave my cup on the counter and drape a coat of a chair overnight--my roommate is actually quite neat. He calls the momentary lapses in cleanliness my "grace period."

Secondly, I feel absolutely no pressure to look nice in my apartment. Of course I use some discretion in my home fashion choices, but overall, lounging in sweatpants, a t-shirt and no make-up is not a big deal. Why? Because he is not competing with me--he does not need to out-dress me or be prettier than me or criticize me to make him feel better. He just doesn't care! And, if I do ever have a boy over, he won't try to seduce him! A nice perk!

Thirdly, I can watch sports whenever I want. I will never catch flack for shutting myself in my room and watching basketball all afternoon. That said, I actually never catch flack for shutting myself in my room period. Certainly, my roommate and I enjoy each other's company, frequently occupying our side by side "his and her man chairs," cheering for Donald Trump firing his latest victim or whincing for the next American fallen Idol--but there is also an understanding that needing time alone is okay too. No one's feelings are injured or ego bruised when I choose to curl up with a book in my bed over watching a movie with him. Oh, the joys of drama-less living!

Lastly, my culinary ego is stroked on a nightly basis. My roommate is adept at making pasta, sandwiches and sausages--that is about it! Of course I encourage him to branch out and try following a recipe, but he chooses to stick to familiar territory. I, on the other hand, am frequently experimenting with my own combinations or a new recipe creating anything from curry to brown bread to chicken parmesan. All of my creations, whether sweet or savory, are hailed with praises such as: "God, that smells so good!" Or, "That looks delicious. May I please have bite! Oh man, that is good!" Whether he compliments to earn a free meal or he genuinely likes my comestible creations, this nightly ego stroking does a body good.

After discussing these pros with my roommate, he has asked me to write about the cons of living with a male roommate. In the interest of preserving my happy home, and respecting the privacy of all those involved--I plead the fifth.

Monday, March 13, 2006

I just wrote a great entry, if I do say so myself, and with the click of a button, it was gone! I am so frustrated, I could cry! Oddly enough, it was all about the angstiness of the late twenties and here I am, angsty over the loss of my entry. Anyway, enough whining! Have a good one!

Friday, February 17, 2006

Wow! It has been a while and my typing fingers feel a bit rusty.

I am sure a number of you out there are wondering about the elusive application process and the people who choose the class of 2010. Well, I can tell you, as person on the inside, that the admission process is hell for both the students and readers alike. My days are filled by essays about sad family situations, influential coaches, and desperate attempts to distinguish through the very things that make them the same as everyone else. Following those essays, I read writing samples about Hester Prynne's scarlet Letter, Gatsby's hedonism and Hamlet's madness (we really need to mix up the canon a bit). Then, guidance counselor reports, consisting of either a novella or a paragraph, try to portray each student as unique by their involvement in the National Honor Society or their trip to the Dominican for habitat for Humanity even though most guidance counselors are writing the same for their students. Through all this reading, my job is to decipher the true scholars from the rest and make a case for them at a committee meeting. There is no glitz and glamour around this process--it is a bunch of overworked people desperately reading as fast as they can while attempting to give each kid their due respect. There is no rubric, no secret formula or magic quality that ensures entrance--though we do have rules to maintain consistency from reader to reader for the sake of fairness. This disillusioning process--the one that has created a multi-million dollar industry--is really and truly a crap shute. Maybe the sad story of the mom getting hit by a truck and becoming quadriplegic will strike a chord in the reader, causing them to fight hard for that kid to gain entry. Perhaps the essay about glasses representing the phases of growth will make a counselor laugh, sympathize and put that kid on the top of the heap. Or maybe, the kid is truly a standout because she maintains a straight A average with all AP classes, wins national viola competitions, runs at an All-American pace in cross country, does not require financial aid, writes beautifully and graduates early to work in a start-up orphanage in the war-ravaged Rwanda. These kids do exist and they truly are rock stars--but, obviously, they are not the norm.

Amidst the monotony, however, there are some original and beautiful essays that bring tears to my eyes or make me throw my head back in laughter. Their honesty, their attempt to express their true selves-their passions-- make me love what I do. These essays give me hope that their are kids out there who are still kids ready to take that next step. They are exploring and writing about their amazing family history in Japanese Internment camps. They are pushing past life altering bouts with cancer, back injuries, epilepsy. They are seeking understanding of war, whether it is Vietnam, Iraq or World War II. They are traveling, absorbing and then thinking about other cultures who find true happiness beyond the material. They are loving their mom, sister, brother, dad, friend who left life early but whose influence is permanent. They are hopeful, resilient, loving, pensive, confused, angry, smart, articulate and eager. They are ready to take the next step--to stretch themselves into doctors, lawyers, nurses, actors, writers, humanitarians, diplomats, architects and photographers. And, no matter what my college, or any other college says in response to their applications, they will still be doctors, lawyers, nurses, actors, writers, humanitarians, diplomats, architects and photographers.

It is our job as friends, parents and siblings to let them know that no admissions counselor or committee is truly responsible for their future. It is our job to support whatever route they choose, reminding them that dreams and hard work can take them anywhere whether or not the envelope is fat or thin.