April 20, 2012
Anyone who reads this blog might notice I haven’t written a post in a while. The reason is that I’m focusing my blogging efforts on a new project called Hot Dog Beehonkus »
Last month my father was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease – a reality I can’t quite stomach. Even though I’m taking an antidepressant, coping with this is tough. Soon after receiving the news, my parents picked me up in Atlanta to take a day trip to visit Timber in Augusta. When they dropped me back off, I sprawled myself across Daddy and cried, and then clung to him sobbing not wanting them to leave. My mother pulled me into the car and begged me to stay positive for my family’s and most of all Daddy’s sake.
Mother’s entreaty influenced me to start a blog about our family’s struggle to remain positive in light of such a frightening and horrible disease. The title Hot Dog Beehonkus encapsulates my father’s lifelong passions: hot dogs and my mother’s behind, which he fondly calls her “beehonkus.” Plus, it embodies the importance of finding joy and humor in circumstances that at first might only seem sad. Please check it out to stay posted on what’s going on in the world of Wages.
February 29, 2012
Ryan and I finally moved into a house, and the settling process is over for the most part. The master bedroom boasts three closets, so I naturally enjoy the use of two, while Ryan’s wardrobe comfortably fits into one. The other night I migrated my frocks from my old apartment, and in a sweaty haze I threw them into a pile on the new bed.
“I knew you had a lot of clothes, but Jesus,” Ryan gaped. “Now I understand why you have trouble deciding what to wear.”
“Don’t worry, I plan to get rid of some of them,” I assured him.
“What about this? This is ugly as sin,” he suggested. He dangled a sheer green shirt with a felt psychedelic pattern horizontally attached to the middle. Opaque bell sleeves flare from the tips.
“You don’t like it? For some reason I can’t part with it,” I sighed, seeping ’90s nostalgia.
“It’s trying too hard.”
“Fine, I’ll toss it.” I threw it into a tall box I had used to move my clocks. “Why don’t you help me decide what else to get rid of? I can’t clearly judge some of the stuff I’m emotionally attached to.”
“Looks like a teenager,” he commented on a Custo Barcelona top with a mermaid, tail swirling from front to back, nipples burning red.
“You won’t wear it,” he informed me of a short-sleeved shirt with color blocks of eyeballs on the front.
“You’re kidding,” he squirmed at a sheer number with a dragon tattoo painted pattern.
“I don’t know, I still like this one. Rayanne Graff wore this exact shirt on an episode of My So-Called Life.”
“All the more reason.”
“FINE,” I sniffed, reminiscing over sporting it in high school when it hit above my bellybutton. I don’t want to imagine whether it now would even cover my chest.
“I’m bored now. Can I stop?” Ryan pleaded.
After Ryan sauntered away, I surveyed the waist-high pile clothes to drop off at Goodwill, and realized how much my style has changed just in the past couple years. At 18 I swore I’d never stop dressing weird, but now at 27 I see how clothing largely suggests one’s age.
I still love my female torso necklace, spinal cord earrings and breast-sized peacock necklace. They add just enough edge to solid tops.
February 9, 2012
I recently realized one of the greatest perks of Ryan’s and my impending cohabitation: no more shag bags. Anyone who has been in a serious relationship sans shacking up can relate to the neverending cycle of packing and unpacking outfits, pajamas, exercise clothes, shower accessories, a laptop and even a pet. Not to mention cooking equipment and food if she plans to prepare a meal for her significant other. Friday nights are particularly troublesome when I consume more than an hour feeding and playing with my cat, throwing some important belongings in my suitcase and speeding to Ryan’s house. Famished and ornery, we grab dinner around 8 p.m.
Packing shag bags gets old.
Just a couple Fridays ago I heaved my suitcase out of my trunk and wheeled it to Ryan’s front door, soon greeted by neighbor and friend “Mick” walking his chihuahuas. Their nails neatly clicked the sidewalk, their dresses ruffling in the wind.
“You won’t be having to deal with that much longer,” he pointed toward my luggage. We spent at least five minutes commiserating per his past packing shag bags full of work clothes and running gear and all other kinds of accessories one needs to feel at home. “You’ll save so much time,” he assured me. “So much time.”
What will I do with my new-found plethora of disposable hours? I hope to do more writing and cooking. And, well, shagging.
February 3, 2012
I lost more than 20 pounds last year. It started with P90X and continued slowly coming off through Christmas. I’m not going to lie – I like being this small again without intentionally starving myself, but I could do without people’s comments and even worse, group input.
“You can’t lose ANY more weight,” one coworker has told me multiple times.
“Yeah, you’re going to disappear,” someone else in the room usually chimes in.
Just yesterday as I refilled my cup at the water cooler, the constellation of commentary began.
“When you turn to the side, I see nothing.”
“What did you eat for lunch today?”
I floated through the verbal cloud and into my colleague’s office. She had overheard the commotion.
“From someone who used to be rail thin… I hope you let all this roll off your back. You eat what you CAN.”
Then I realized how much I used to envy naturally skeletal people such as my sister who have grown up amidst harassment, accusations of anorexia and genuine hatred emanating from the hearts of the obese. At the height of my own eating disorder, I loathed her for downing an economy size bag of Funyuns that disappeared into thin air, while I fretted over snacking on an apple.
“I really like these pants, but the zero is still too baggy,” she used to sigh in Contempo Casuals.
“Poor baby!” I rolled my eyes, coveting her jutting clavicle.
Now I’ve experienced the stress of my pants not staying on. All my old work pants hang inappropriately low and threaten to fall off while I walk. I was forced to buy new slacks in a smaller size that still are too big. I decided to move down only one size because I’m sure I’ll gain some weight back.
“You look great! What’s your secret?”
“PLEASE fill me on what you did…”
“Don’t forget to tell me about this weight loss.” – echoes daily through my brain.
“If you really want to know,” I finally revealed to a colleague. “It’s because of anxiety, depression and excessive alcohol consumption.”
“Oh… … …”
Now that I have my life under control, I’m waiting for the needle on the scale to creep rightward. I guess my dresses will form a womanly pooch at the stomach, instead of caving inward.
And I’m sure I will annoy my sister with jealous remarks again when she inhales a laundry basket-sized tub of popcorn at the movie theater.
“Bitch,” I will snarl when she offers me a bite. And I will indulge in one handful.
January 26, 2012
My department employs a couple graduate research assistants every semester. Over the years, I’ve had sporadic issues with our GRAs from time to time. Yesterday, however, our new Indian GRA blew away my former grievances by proclaiming I’m a sinner for eating meat.
P’s initial intention was pure, as he knew I had been sick and asked how I was feeling.
“I’m a lot better. It’s amazing what chicken soup will do!” I announced phlegm-free.
“Oh, I had to wince when you said that. I’m a vegetarian,” P put up his hands.
“Okay, it’s amazing what soup will do…” I shrugged.
Later, P entered my office to ask a question, just after I had lapped up a bowl of chicken tortilla soup.
“I hope the smell doesn’t nauseate you,” I joked, gesturing toward my dirty dish.
“Well, it’s part of my religion not to eat meat.”
“We have very different religious beliefs.”
“I have to tell you that your eating meat is a sin,” he started. I pursed my lips and clenched my fists and filtered out the rest. “– and you are carrying the weight of that sin –”
“Don’t ever discuss your religious beliefs with me again. And I’ll never talk about meat around you again.”
“It’s fine, but don’t bring this up ever again.”
A few hours later P approached me to offer his congratulations on my recent engagement.
“I have to get used to this because where I’m from, marriages are arranged.”
“I know, I roomed with a girl in high school whose parents’ marriage was arranged.”
“I know you think it’s weird.”
“I don’t, it’s just your culture.”
“It’s okay if you think it’s weird. I think it’s weird.”
“That’s good for you, but I don’t think it’s weird. Thanks.”
I have received a lot of judgmental glares and passive-aggressive comments in my life, but I’ve never been directly damned, particularly for something as culturally neutral as eating meat. Hopefully P learned from what happened yesterday and never will discuss religion in the workplace, when he gets his first real U.S. job. Lord knows I learned a lot about appropriate professional conduct through misfires, stumbles and falls.
I popped Ryan up on Gchat to inform him of the fiasco.
“Well I’m going to Schlotzsky’s,” he wrapped up my venting session.
“GET A MEAT SANDWICH,” I begged.
“Yeah, atta boy!”
January 25, 2012
Now that Ryan and I are engaged and moving in together, reality has hit: I’m going to have to sleep under his hideous comforter. My bed set is much more soothing and beautiful, but alas, I have a full-size mattress and he, a king. So we’ll be snoozing beneath the ugly suede patchwork comprising two-tone hues of brown, and my gorgeous blanket will go in the guest room.
If money weren’t an object, I’d rush to Macy’s and purchase a new gender-neutral spread, but I am in financial crisis mode. Somehow, I will cope with the transition from napping beneath lavender fabric with tree branch silhouettes to struggling to doze while wrapped in a stylistic disaster.
Only my mother understands. “What does it look like, Bobbin? WHAT?” she winced through the phone as I attempted to describe the comforter. “Oh, god…”
My mother recently talked to a member of her church in great depth, as my father is experiencing some extremely stressful health issues.
“S.B. called to check on your daddy today,” Mother told me. “You know, she said you can always register for a new comforter. People could go in together on it.”
The above exactly matches the conversational flow. Ryan was flabbergasted.
“Oh, hi, Robert is doing fine, but Bobbin…I’m worried about her. Her fiance’s comforter is just UGLY,” Ryan joked. We lay in my bed guffawing before finally nodding off.
Now that I think about it, using Ryan’s atrocious comforter won’t be that big of a deal. Sleeping and waking won’t change scientifically, only aesthetically. Our retarded jokes still will sound funny; his blackbird hair still will form a nest on top of his pillow; and I still will hit snooze several times before actually getting up in the morning.
But that doesn’t mean I won’t register for a new comforter.
January 21, 2012
Despite Ryan’s and my anticipated move date of March 1, I started researching rentals during the holidays. Really nice homes remained vacant throughout New Year’s. Then last weekend, it seems like a lot of couples had recovered from Christmas and hit the streets in search of housing. The competition has ferociously escalated, since I’m no longer looking for a cheap dump but a clean, relatively spacious whole abode.
A realtor for a Victorian house I adored set up a lock box on the front door knob, so prospective tenants just had to know the code to get in. When we pulled up one late Saturday afternoon, a four-person family already hovered around the front porch. One of them, perhaps a college student, smoked a cigarette.
“What?!” I screeched while we glided past them. “Smokers shouldn’t be allowed in this beautiful house!” The family turned and stared at me like grazing roadside cattle. Ryan and I floated around the block and parked at the curb to watch their activity. Then we repositioned ourselves a few feet from the driveway after they went inside. Upon exiting, they spotted me monitoring them from the side car mirror. As if to rub it in, the smoker spent an additional 10 minutes snapping photos of the structure’s enchanting lavender exterior. They drove to one end of the block, turned around and rode in slow motion past us; I acted like I didn’t see them. I sprinted to the lock box when they turned the corner.
“I LOVE IT!” I echoed through the high ceilings and crown molding, only having stomped through the living room. I slammed through the spacious kitchen cabinets and kicked at the back door until Ryan opened it for me, leading to a private deck and storage shed. “It’s perfect!” I stampeded back inside and up the steps to a huge master bathroom with a double vanity and a separate shower from the garden tub. “Let’s take it!!!”
I left a voicemail with the realtor about lease negotiations, despite the house’s proximity to a sketchy section of Hill Street. You have to weigh the pros and cons… Unfortunately, two people had applied before me, but the realtor encouraged me to fill out an online form plus $50 fee anyway. “After all, the first applicant provided a false social security number, so you never know what will happen,” he explained. No thank you, I’d rather throw that $50 at hiring a mover.
Ryan and I have looked at about seven houses now, one of which we went goo-goo for in Ormewood Park. Upon arrival, I was ready to play The Game. I drooled over the three decorative fireplaces, crown molding, sparkling hardwoods and large basement – where Ryan could set up his music equipment, a.k.a. Dude Den. Halfway through our appointment, two guys traipsed inside and greeted the homeowners.
“Well since we obviously have some competition, can we go ahead and fill out an application???” I asked, hands on hips. The two guys soon left.
Yet again, another couple had beaten us to the chase, putting us second in line for a house that met all our criteria. I guess the homeowners wanted a back-up in case the first application fell through.
The next day we attended a “group showing” for a craftsman bungalow in the East Atlanta Village. The concept of group showings stresses me out, since multiple people mill through the house and try to win over the landlord with a responsible aura and charm. The guys I had scared away from Ormewood Park already waited on the front porch five minutes prior to the appointment; they winced when they saw us.
Perhaps administering a taste of my own medicine, they dominated that homeowner’s attention, not even offering me a chance to prove that I am both edgy and adult.
“Let’s just get the fuck out of here,” I whispered yet reverberated to Ryan. That’s fine! I didn’t want to live behind the Graveyard anyway.
If those guys show up to the next house we want, it’s war.
January 18, 2012
Ryan and I are looking for a house to rent. Of course, now that we are engaged, everyone asks when the wedding is.
“I don’t know – we need to shack up first!” I usually respond. Unfortunately, I worded it exactly that way to a group of extremely religious coworkers during a cookie social. “Hopefully my dad won’t freak out too much, since I have a ring,” I elaborated per their blank, blinking faces.
“Good for your father!” | “Mm-hmm!” | “Let me tell YOU.” — they murmured while I wandered away.
Because I have such an obsessive personality, I need to tackle one stressful project at a time, and finding a nice house is more important to me than a wedding. Ryan and I are searching early, which has given us plenty of time to agree on desirable neighborhoods. We are aiming to save more money, so our budget is putting us in places like Grant Park, Ormewood, East Atlanta or…North Druid Hills. I quickly learned that securing shelter with a lower rental rate equals higher crime or living in the boondocks. Sorry, but now that I’ve been living in the middle of the city for more than 6 years, I consider North Druid Hills the outskirts of Atlanta.
Last week we made an appointment to look at a huge, relatively cheap house near the intersection of Clairmont and LaVista. The farther I coasted up the interstate away from downtown, I grew more and more depressed, passing distant I-85 landmarks such as Proof of the Pudding and Guitar Center – stores I only pass when I’m taking a road trip to Dahlonega! As the Clairmont exit approached, I fretted over never seeing my friends again… quick meetings to grab a drink at Sister Louisa’s Church of the Living Room & Ping Pong Emporium would turn into entire-night endeavors; people no longer would meet at my house before catching a show at the Earl; and my commute to work would at least triple. Not to mention, I would be moving farther away from Southern Comfort; a jumbo tear slid down my cheek at the horror.
“How’d it go in North Druid Hills?” my coworker asked me.
“We decided we can’t live all the way up there,” I explained.
“All the way UP THERE?!” she guffawed.
“Don’t come to my house, then,” another colleague commented. (She lives in Lawrenceville.)
Of course North Druid Hills and Lawrenceville are nice areas. I, however, would rather have less square footage and more crime in order to achieve an urban lifestyle. That means driving past murals painted along Dekalb Avenue, going for jogs in Freedom Park, traipsing lazily to Saturday art festivals and going to poetry readings in Candler Park with cool old people. In fact, one of the cool old people at the latest poetry reading lamented her decision to move outside the perimeter.
“I’d find a place that’s smaller and maybe a little dingier just so you can be here, in the middle of everything,” she advised me.
If that means always looking over my shoulder, keeping a Club on my car and constantly carrying mace with my finger strategically poised on the nozzle, I’m fine with it. I need the curvature of Estoria Street, the staked baby heads at Dekalb and Krog, and most of all the energy that emanates from the center of this city.
January 10, 2012
I started exercising regularly in sixth grade, when my track coach taught our team how to lift weights. Since then I have done just about anything to burn calories and minimize ennui: hula hooped, dribbled soccer through a maze of flower pots, run backward up hills, skipped across football fields, taught kickboxing classes, engaged in group strength training, hobbled up and down bleachers, swam with a snapping turtle, etc. Strangely I have been on a six-month running streak; now that winter has hit, I often use the indoor track at the Georgia State University fitness center.
Gym attendance always explodes in January: loofahs hang from every locker; lines form behind the elliptical machines; meatheads usurp the free weights. The 0.125-mile track even overflows with walking coworkers, hip-to-hip couples and lone runners such as myself. While I find a healthy amount of simultaneous bustle energizing and motivating, a crowd on the track diminishes the quality of my work-out. Let’s start with the four female colleagues who form a wall, ignoring the sign requesting that walkers occupy the outside lane and runners, the inside lane. Breaking through their yick yack is like playing a game of Red Rover. As I elbow through them they act as if I were the rude one; the process repeats itself 16 times.
Then there’s the guy with one percent body fat who sprints 100-meter repeats for cross country preseason training. He nearly shoves me over the guard rail onto the basketball court below and jogs with high knees as a cool down.
“Fuck you,” I mutter, further jamming my headphone buds into my ears.
The most uncomfortable situation of all is when I gain ground and find myself jogging at nearly the same pace as another girl in front of me. With every stride I come closer to stomping on her heels. She eyes me over her shoulder, so near I hear pop music emanating from her iPod. Being the bigger person, I sprint halfway around the track so the issue won’t arise again. I monitor her progress in my peripheral vision.
Utilizing the track on my lunch hour at the same time as a colleague perhaps is worse, particularly if said colleague passes me. Thus far only one coworker, fortunately male, has lapped me. I always roll my eyes and huff when a ponytail prickles my face and arrogantly flops ahead.
It is different, of course, when I pass people. It is understandable when I sprint and grunt like a hog on my last lap, stomping to a halt where I left my water bottle.
“That’s right, keep going,” I mouth toward the other track patrons while I limp in the outside lane. “This wouldn’t be happening if I were running. I’m walkin’. Yeah I’m walkin’.”
For the sake of public health, I should be happy that the track is overcrowded. But as always, the slow attrition through February and the restoration of peace and quiet by March will come as a relief.
January 8, 2012
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I awoke on Christmas morning with my mother’s Westie Obi flopped across my face, my cat MacGyver lodged between my legs and the backs of Timber’s feet pressed into my hip. Timber and I grew up with rooms to ourselves, but she gave up her bed for a friend visiting from overseas.
I navigated out of the tangle of limbs and opened my bottle of Xanax. Some alprazolam and a jog would help mellow out this particularly stressful holiday. Layered in henley shirts and topped off with a flapping red scarf, I ran past cows, rolling hills, roadkill and Canadian geese. Cold air and chicken litter overwhelmed my lungs.
I sauntered down the driveway, the Pretenders blaring through my iPod and numbing my ears. I made gunshots with my fingers, which already had numbed. Because Timber had arisen and hopped in the shower just as I departed for my run, I knew I would have just enough time to clean up and go to church – a gift, in my opinion, to my father. While my mother and I stood around the stove island sipping coffee, I heard the bathroom door swoosh open, immediately followed by little scampering Taiwanese footsteps. Timber’s guest had taken my turn.
“I’m sorry, Mother, I can’t go to church looking like this,” I sighed, pulling off my toboggan and revealing stuck-together bangs and flattened, frizzy hair. She followed me to the living room, where I opened The Best American Short Stories 2011 edition, content with reading it while everyone else endured a boring and depressing sermon. The sound of wetness broke my concentration, and I looked up to discover Mother sniffling by the Christmas tree and clutching an ornament.
“That’s all right. If you don’t want to go…” she whispered.
“Mother, I didn’t say that I don’t want to go. Stop making things up. I haven’t showered in two days, that’s all.” (Timber and her friend stayed with me in Atlanta for a few nights; that and other holiday errands cut into my grooming time.)
“Can’t you wash your hair in the kitchen sink?” Mother begged, releasing the ornament from her forlorn grip.
“But my body stinks, too, Mother. I’m nasty.”
“Bahahaha. BAHAHAHA!” she sobbed.
“God, fine. Come help me wash my hair, then!”
We continued bickering while I stared into pecan pie remnants on a plate in the sink, and Mother sudsed my hair. She suddenly slammed off the water.
“Did you apply conditioner?” I panicked, lifting my sopping head. She stomped toward me shaking the conditioner, squirted a blob into her palm and threw the white mass at me. “What are you doing? Are you crazy?! Help! Timber, HELP!” I screamed. Mother sauntered down the hall and then reappeared, halfheartedly rinsing the conditioner from my hair. Then she threw a towel at my head.
Growing up with one shower in the house became problematic in high school when Daddy, Timber and I fought over the prime 6:30 a.m. time slot.
“Git outta the sharr! I’m gon’ be late!!” Daddy often yelled while beating on the door.
How sentimental to feel that way again.
Christmas panned out nicely, but Timber’s friend was miserable. Since he didn’t grow up celebrating Christmas, he probably didn’t realize that at least for my family, the holiday involves a lot of eating, sitting and driving past hillbilly lights. So when I departed for Atlanta, they practically chased me back. I texted Ryan that I was home, threw on Frank Sinatra’s Greatest Love Songs album and sat poised to play it upon his ascension up my staircase. (We hadn’t had any Sexy Time since we got engaged more than a week prior.)
Timber soon texted me: “Ummm. I hear loud music, and I’m not sure if we should come inside yet… in case we’re interrupting anything.”
This holiday was the most chaotic, stressful and yet fulfilling of my life. Bring it, 2012.