The First Time

20 Dec

The night is replayed in her mind as disjointed flashbacks; the wait for it to come, the absolute feeling of trust that time, place, and people couldn’t be tweaked to be made more perfect. “More perfect” seems an atrocious, meaningless idea, in fact, only thought of by someone unfortunate enough to not have partaken in the moment. Her sight, hearing, and sense of smell were aligned with her heart – beating strong and happy – attuned to perceive the slightest change in her body. She wasn’t sure whence the change would first appear: would her toes tingle first? would her knees give out? would her chest burn in heat, her heart too fast to be contained? would she feel sick before she felt great? A slight worry emanating from her hardened, dark subconscious – the part of the brain bred for telling her how wrong and dumb she is – was flicked into nothing after a careful look into the eyes of her accomplices. They were with her in anticipation, holding on for the moment they’d thoroughly and carefully tried to predict so many nights before.

It came to her first. She may have been more spiritually open, a better listener of her own flesh, or maybe just physically weaker and succumbing. Whatever the reason, or combination thereof, it came to her first and she knew it right away. She saw dear faces, felt a pleasant if forgettable breeze that circulated the clear, starlit September skies. One blink later, and her arms were raised, her knees bent, her eyes shut. She bit her lower lip. The tingling feeling did come, but it stopped not at the toes, calves, hips, or abdomen. It was everywhere simultaneously, and there was nothing left for her to do than to part her lips into a beautiful, wide smile. Yes. Yes! Hahaaaaa, YES! She found her fingers on her neck, providing the caress she craved and now refused to deny herself. She wanted to touch her legs, her arms, her hands, her own face, lower back. She wanted to meet herself via these fingers so mindlessly used, so rarely appreciated. But before she embarked in this rediscovery, she looked to the others. I want you to feel this. I want you to have what I have. You deserve it. I love you.

Words repeatedly suppressed for fear of rejection, fear of misunderstanding, fear of embarrassment, fear of the silence… Fear now was not part of her vocabulary. She hugged them tightly, noticing her forearms and fingertips extend to touch as much of the loved one as the embrace physically could. What she didn’t reach by limb, she hoped to touch by spirit. Eventually they would all be with her, she knew it.

As she waited for them to join, she felt the necessity of turning to the sky, and opening her ears. Everything that should be there, was. The breeze was gentle on the skin of her face after a day’s hard sun. The melodies intertwined with the oxygen she breathed, and she felt them equally important to take in, equally vital for the maintenance of her system. Suddenly every part of her was alive, every action, however slight, sparkled like the millions of stars lighting the sky that night. She had complete trust in the love she felt inside, the hands of her partners, the smiles of strangers.

When they all came, she was ecstatic. She could feel their love, she watched as they moved closer, touched, gifted her with warm smiles, eyes overflowing with kindness. For the rest of the night they danced, talked, cared for one another, so aware of what they shared together.

Stuff and things

14 Dec

When you’re working 10 hour days, at a new job – for which you interviewed extensively and brilliantly, leading your then-prospective employers to believe you are god’s gift to their professional lives – and you suffer with an irrational, seemingly ever-growing phobia of mice; creatures that are concurrently inhabiting your kitchen, leaving fecal evidence of their trespassing, you MAY enter a short phase of self-doubt and/or hate. Whether it lasts three days or three weeks, this emotion drags your confidence down to 100 year-old, mother of 7 breast levels, and thus the suffering seems dreadful and eternal.

But it’s OK. Somehow, I have not (yes, I was just using the third-person singular, and have suddenly switched to first, when I was indeed speaking about myself the entire time. I can do that, this is only a silly blog, you’re lucky I’m not misspelling shit all over the place) fucked up at work, and not only am still employed, but am rather well liked by said employers, who believe me to have powers similar to those of Super Woman. I don’t have her boobs and I certainly don’t possess a magic golden lasso… but I do possess other ASSets that enable me to stay afloat, and actually help me believe that I may, in the coming weeks, surprise myself and become all that I can be.

A huge presence in my daily doses of self-esteem recharging has been friends. I see mine on a weekly basis – Chillout Tuesdays (and sometimes Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and once in a blue moon, Mondays). The dogs join us, as do yummy paleolithic diet snacks with sides of pizza, DJ Leo’s uplifting mixes, and marijuana. She’s there, helping us relax, laugh, discuss ideas, tell stories, and draw inspiring pictures while competing in Pictionary.

I’m no artist to begin with, but under the influence of weed (a fantastic little plant that helps me let go of my self-imposed absolute concern with time and to also thoughtfully evaluate every aspect of a decision, thought, occurance with utmost care), getting Marx Brothers as a subject to draw in front of equally altered friends who must then decipher my modernist hyerogliphs, is like, a joke. I knew they were directors, but I also knew my teammates would have no fucking idea who these guys are, and as such, we were doomed to lose with me frantically etching crude stick figure-like representations of a crowd inside a movie theatre, that my two comrades would fail to interpret. What I did instead was start with a very clever idea; I decided to draw Karl Marx. I drew a round face with a double-helix-style head of hair and matching long beard, sticks for a body, and a prominent, large book sitting at the end of its straight-line arm. My frenzied pointing at the “Karl Marx” and “movie theatre” drawings ended when the last drop of sand finally reached the bottom of the plastic timer.

“It was the MARX BROTHERS!” I shouted.

“What. the. Fuck. Juliana!! Are you serious? The Marx Brothers? What the fuck is that,” asked my sore-losing teammate, pointing to my post-modernist, no. 2 pencil on recycled paper rendering of the father of communism. “You could’ve drawn BROTHERS, for starters. You can’t just draw something that looks like what you think this thing would look like if someone who knew what you were thinking were guessing it.”

At this point I was laying on the couch, hands covering my shamed face and hushing the sound of own my laughter at my pre-schooler illustrating strategies.

Whatever. What I lacked in drawing powers, I made up for in guessing abilities. “A thesaurus,” my friend called me. I don’t believe it true, but I enjoy having my ego inflated.

Pictionary is fun, as is the game Mafia. We play that a lot too, and I’m usually doctor or peon, never the killer. So it’s not always as fun as it could be. One of my fortes is, of course, telling stories. My friends are kind enough to let me hijack their ears for extensive high-decibel recreations (with occasional physical interpretation) of my true-stories. Like the time I had a bat in my apartment, or the the time I thought I’d lost my keys and had to spend the night at a friend’s house. I should tell you guys about these too. And maybe even share my story of being fondled by a teenage Cambodian and my thoughts on sex with Asians… I should share all of this.

The Happy Thoughts of a Zombie

13 Dec

I’m exhausted. The nicotine and the THC are battling it out inside my body, and the stimulant in them is about to get reinforcement from the cup of coffee I just brewed and will soon drink. It’s nearly 11pm, and after a long weekend filled with pleasant surprises and late nights, I should be going to bed.

I love to sing. There was a time when I would lock myself in the bathroom and turn on the hair dryer – or I’d get in my car and drive with no particular destination – so I could sing as loudly and freely as I wished to, without fear of being heard by neighbors. Now I can’t help but sing out loud while walking the dog, I can’t help but turn up the music and belt out words as soon as I get home from work. It’s a shot of life that courses speedily through my veins.

I need a shot before succumbing to sleep, so I’m pacing the floor as I wait for the coffee to cool. I don’t have the body of my 17 year-old self – the one who would be up on a Friday at 6am for school, drive immediately after to a 6hr restaurant job shift, dash home for a shower and change, hop back in the car for a 45min drive to a night of dancing, flirting, kissing, Dunkin’ Donuts stops at 3am, followed shortly by a 10hr shift at aforementioned restaurant job. I’m certainly not she in body, but I think I’ll always be in mind. I can’t sleep, I won’t sleep because… I haven’t written in over two months. I think the words, I rearrange them in my head, I punctuate them into phrases and sentences. I rearrange the sentences. I think up a title and an outline, maybe even come up with a tag item. But I know it – because I hear it now – there’s a low voice in the back of my mind that says, “eh, that’s boring. Who cares. You should do expense reports first.” I’m not sure why I’ve been listening to that bitch.

I find myself awake too because it’s that time of the year. Holidays, reflection, where have I been, where am I going, who do I love, am I worthy of great, sensual, long bouts of sex with an attractive, strong guy who will pull my hair and do other things?

[pause for recouping]

For some reason I’m filled with love for my family, my friends; my wonderful friends who make me laugh and feel fantastic in my own skin. I’m filled with positivity and hope and the clear, near tangent belief that age 28 will be the best I’ve had thus far. It’s soon approaching. I’m excited.

I think about the people I’ve met, the little things I’ve gotten out of them that will hopefully stay with me forever. I think about my poor neighbor and the time I called the cops on him because his party was loud and I was intolerant of the fun he was having. I think I’d rather not be that girl. I’d rather go talk to him and find out that he’s a really nice boy and I should bake him some cookies because while the neighborhood is fantastic, we have a mice infestation in the building and the superintendent is a jackass. No one told him that when he signed the year lease and that isn’t fair.

I think about my dog, how funny she is when she barks and runs in her sleep, how loving she is, how lucky I am to have this living teddy bear spending time with me, and I get sad when I notice the dark semi circles under her eyes. She’s getting old and I’m going to lose it when she’s no longer around.

Sometimes I wish I could share my thoughts with someone really special. And most of the time I feel lucky, content, and ready to go to bed when I realize how eager my tired fingers have been to transpose my silly thoughts.  I think my life’s pretty great, I think I’m not perfect, I think I’m still as curious and giddy as I was at age 11, though with quite a few more tricks up my sleeve. I think I’m looking forward to Christmas and a New Year. I think I may need an Adderall tomorrow. I think I should remember to write about the night I was cracked out and homeless.

 

Depressing Thoughts of Unhappiness and Loneliness – A Holiday Season Special

13 Dec

I laid in bed, eyes wide open, searching for words to convey how sorry I was for my sullenness of late, and how much I needed him – my boyfriend – to show that he cared, if our relationship was to work. Next to mine, his body shifted from left to right, signaling he too was unable to fall asleep. Without thinking, I moved closer and embraced him. He didn’t hug me back. Whatever, I thought, giving up, and moving as far away from him as I could without falling off the bed.

“I can’t do this anymore,” he said moments later.

“Do what?” I asked.

“This. Us.”

My stomach tightened and my throat dried up. I felt paralyzed, but a voice in my head whispered calmly: It’s over.  It was a Tuesday night, two days before Thanksgiving. We avoided each other on Wednesday, and I was off to my parents’ house where I spent the long weekend dissecting our entire relationship.

We had started dating two years earlier, shortly after meeting at a mutual friend’s party. His tattooed arms and leg caught my attention, but it was his unshakeable confidence, as I perceived it, that kept my interest all night. He sipped his drink, alone at the bar, until eventually people gravitated toward him – myself included. He was funny and insightful, yet I left that night knowing very little about him. When I happened upon his picture on a dating site weeks later, I got in touch right away.  Through our mutual friend I learned he was separated from his wife and was the father of two children.

“I don’t think he’s right for you,” my friend had said.

“Why?”

“I don’t know. I know you and I kind of know him and I just don’t think he’s right for you.”

I disregarded my friend’s hunch, and accepted an invitation to dinner – and then a few more. Two months into the relationship I met his daughters (who were quick to shower me with love and attention), and a few months after that, we moved into a new apartment.  As we shopped together for furniture, I was enamored with what I thought he represented – a good man; a dedicated business owner who somehow balanced work, a personal life, and fatherhood brilliantly. Someone from whom I could learn, and who preferred to stay in and cook a gourmet meal for two, instead of going out on Friday night. Nearing my 25th birthday, I was surrounded by women in long-term relationships who harped on incessantly about wedding plans. I’d never been one to do things exactly like everyone else, so moving in with a father of two seemed like something Juliana might do.

What was uncharacteristic of me, however, were the behavior and lifestyle I took on as months passed. I stopped returning friends’ phone calls, turned down invitations for the usual summer weekends in New York, and regularly showed up alone to the few gatherings I managed to attend – including my own 25th birthday bash. I had a great time that night with friends, but only after I’d had a few drinks. The Vodka Cranberries quickly helped me forget how I’d stood in the bedroom a few hours earlier, arms crossed, incredulous of my boyfriend’s words.

“I have a lot of work to do. My brother’s only visiting for a few days, that club is not his scene, and I don’t want to leave him alone,” he stated.

“You can’t not do work on a Saturday night? I’m sure your brother won’t mind one night alone, on my birthday,” I argued, pointlessly, as he sat with eyes fixed on the computer screen.  “I can’t believe you! I’ve been planning this party for two months.  My friends are looking forward to finally meeting you. It’s my 25th birthday!” I was running out of arguments and sounding more like one of his young daughters pleading for dessert before dinner.

The discussion went his way that night, and similar episodes would happen a few times; whenever plans involved things he didn’t feel like doing. The reasoning generally made perfect sense to him and absolutely none to me, and still he got his way. I began growing tired of defending him and his busy schedule to myself and my friends – sweet people who nodded politely, but whose eyes asked me, “What are you doing with this guy?”

What was I doing with this guy? I was preparing meals for the family, taking the girls to school three times a week, cleaning the apartment, and caring for two dogs: mine and his. What had started as ‘lending a hand’ to an overbooked boyfriend, quickly turned into my routine. When he spent Saturday afternoons in front of the computer, in the company of beer bottles, I stared from doorway – unsure of what was happening in his mind yet hesitant to ask – “Nothing. I’m fine,” delivered with a smile, seemed harsh words to hear. Yet it didn’t seem normal to me that a “fine” 28 year old, “very happy” in with his relationship should spend hours ignoring his girlfriend on one of two monthly Saturdays they got to spend alone. I knew of his independent, self-reliant tendencies, and I knew of the pressures he felt from running a business solo. He’s probably just stressed out, I thought, and I settled for gently encouraging him to stop at beer number three. I figured if I were not confrontational, I might gain his trust.

But there is a fine line between being non-confrontational and not speaking up at all. I was certainly treading on the side of the latter. I went about my routine – his routine – with a zipped mouth when I felt overwhelmed, and hoped everything would be fine once he found the right employee to hire, the right babysitter for the girls… The weeks wore on, and my resentment grew. I was irritated often, and not my usual light-hearted, warm self. My family took notice, as did my friends, but it was a specific episode with his younger daughter – just three years old – that highlighted to me how I was somehow turning into a brooding version of myself; an undesirable yin to my cheery yang.

It was a hot Saturday morning – normally occasion enough for waking up with a smile.  et I went on mechanically, as I’d now come to do: set breakfast for the girls, shower and dress (I’d come to love the blissful, quiet minutes the shower brought me), round them up – two dogs and two children – to the park. Sometimes I managed to read a page or two of a book as I minded the fogs and the girls.  He was at work. “I’d love to spend time with the girls on Saturday, don’t worry!” I’d told him. And so I did, every time they were at their dad’s house. On that particular summer Saturday, the older daughter was off to a play date and I figured I’d take the little one along to run some errands. I’d forgotten something important at home and was visibly irritated. Her imaginative, long, and oftentimes nonsensical stories were barely minded by me. Being the remarkably perceptive girl that she is, she stopped midsentence, sighed, and asked, “You feel angry today, right, Juliana?” Her voice was sweet and calm, and she was looking at my eyes through the rearview mirror.

“Yeah, I think I do. I have a lot of things on my mind,” I confessed to the three year old.  “But you know what? I think we should go get a doughnut and forget about all this stuff right now. Do you want to?”

She smacked together hands, feet, and lips into a unified “YES!” I pulled over at Dunkin’ Donuts, and we sat inside for nearly an hour. I held back tears as I watched her, telling her creative little stories that made no sense whatsoever, with chocolate smeared over her lips. In the back of my mind were voices, telling me how unhappy I really was in my relationship. I felt tired, trapped, and yet in awe of this incredible little girl and her sister, both of whom I’d grown to love. I gave her a kiss on the forehead as she said, “I love you, Juliana.”

The four of us had become a unit; a family in the eyes of other restaurant-goers and Toys ‘R Us salespeople. I thought of us as a family too. I had dived head first into a situation I treated as some kind of fairy-tale; an instant-family love story. But the love story soon dried out, and I was a 25 year-old living someone else’s life. My spontaneity was gone, and my friends were turning into sporadic email buddies. Even when we did hang out, I’d often get a phone call a few hours later from my boyfriend, wondering when I’d be back. For some (stupid) reason, I would feel guilty about leaving him alone and would try to hurry back home. More often than not, within the hour after my return he would focus on work or go to bed, and I remained awake and alone on the couch.

I ignored advice from friends, and advice that I myself had countless times given to girlfriends who found themselves stuck and unhappy: “A relationship is a two-way street. Don’t let him make you feel guilty about voicing your needs.”  Those had been my own words, yet here I was, allowing my life to fall into someone else’s schedule, and in the process, forgetting completely about who I was and what I wanted out of a relationship.

Only months later I would find myself on our bed, hearing him say those two words: “This. Us.” I didn’t want to believe he was breaking up with me, or that he had spent days planning how to tell me, without ever hinting at the fact he might be feeling this way. Yet over Thanksgiving break, as my parents and sister confessed they were happy about our break up, I finally stopped apologizing for him and myself; I acknowledged I’d been naive and complacent in a situation that undoubtedly was bad for me. The petty thoughts of “why didn’t I do it before he did?” crossed my mind, certainly. But most of all, I was relieved it was over, even if left without the elusive “closure” every woman seeks.

A year after our break up, I bumped into him at the supermarket. We talked for a few seconds and I excused myself soon after. That very night he wrote me an email, where he apologized for “being unfair” to me, and revealed that he thought about me often. As I stared at the screen, I said to myself, “I needn’t gloat about how insanely happy and free I feel, how I’ve been enjoying my time as I please, without sudden obligations I resent performing. I needn’t tell him how great it feels to leave that life in the past. Just be nice and move on.” And so I chose my words carefully and wished him and the girls my best – sincerely, politely, concisely. As a friend had put it soon after the break up – perhaps a bit dramatically – but certainly ringing true, “Dude, he did you a favor. You got a second chance at life.”

 

German toads and whale poop prove Robert Siegel is more mature than me

11 Oct

Jesus has never been my homeboy, but I’ve grown quite fond of Bob Oakes. He is intelligent, cheerful, mature, and real. And soft, like a teddy bear. Cuddly uncle Bob Oakes, travelling to Western Massachusetts in his hybrid car, reporting live from townie bakeries at 6a.m., trying his hardest to pronounce Spanish names without an accent. Uncle Bob Oakes is the coolest. I’m not sure why I’m talking about Bob Oakes (I guess I talk about Bob Oakes any chance I get), because the story that’s on my mind is a bit Robert Siegel read on whale and fish poop. Apparently whale poop helps fertilize the ocean and Robert Siegel said ‘poop’ and ‘feces’ and ‘dung’ and ‘floating poops’ on air like, twenty times. And the researcher contributing to the story described the weeks he spent watching whales poop and tracking their floating dung across the ocean waters. It reminded me of my college years and the radio anchor career I never had.

At four o’clock on Thursday evenings, I’d race from dining hall to campus center, down the escalator and into the radio station, tucked away in its obscurity. From this dungeon a fellow Journalism student and I read the news live at five o’clock, broadcast to the school and surrounding community. But before we could read them, we had to search the newswire for our stories; a couple national, a few more local, a bit on stock market numbers, and one piece of ‘interest,’ or however it was called. We rewrote them on the spot, so they’d be more listener-friendly, rehearsed for a few, then went live. Only 15 minutes, I believe, or maybe a half hour. I pretty much always read the market numbers because I loved the way they’re done on radio – The Dow Jones industrial average rose seven points to twelve thousand, one hundred seventy six point thirty three points, while the S&P500 was up by two points, closing in at two thousand, nine hundred five – so fast and relaxed, with just right intonations and minimal breathing noise, giving the impression I understood and cared about what the fuck I was saying. As long as I sounded like I was reading for NPR, I was happy.

The local news were fun; while we generally had to include the boring university funding bits, we also got a few robberies, trial cases, and domestic violence stories. They seemed real and tough, and called for a somber, dignified tone. Soon after, fluff news would be delivered with intrigue and delight, and chuckles when appropriate. I knew I could do a better job than the NPR chick with a lisp who seemed only able to write yawnful reports on fishing, the ocean, and similar tediousness. Until the evening I found an AP story on exploding German toads. Apparently there were toads or frogs in Germany being born with extra limbs and the tendency to burst. I thought that was an ‘interesting piece’ and decided to include it. Except when my co-anchor and I began rehearsing, we realized neither could read through the piece; especially the part where it mentioned how the frogs were filled with gas. We didn’t have enough time to replace the story, so we went with it. I was to read it. Problem was, because we were trying so hard not to think about it, it was all we thought about. I did just fine on my market numbers piece (no slips, not one!), but as Jess began reading the story right before my piece on the European amphibian crisis, she started chuckling. It was all downhill from there. I think I read it with a serious face for seven seconds, and then cracked up. Hamburg… exploding toads filled with gas… a shower of limbs… pool of death… It was too much. It was awesome. I laughed, nearly cried through the whole thing. Jess had to leave her seat and go laugh in the corner of the room, as I struggled to get the words out, now being squeezed through my vocal cords, and in spite of the tears streaming down my cheeks. I looked through the glass walls and the production chick was mortified; her jaw was to the floor, and she looked ready to kill me. I got in trouble, though I didn’t lose the gig. But I sort of lost my appetite for news anchoring. Serious news, anyway.

Boys like me, OK?

9 Oct

I talk to my mom every day. Every single day I call her, tell her about what I’ve been eating, with whom I’ve been hanging out, the cleanliness (or not) of my apartment, how work is going, what I’ve been reading, movies I’ve been watching… my father is usually in the background, cracking jokes at my expense. Last week, as we were saying good-bye, she said, “OK, don’t forget to call me, I need to know how you’re doing. You live alone and Tori can’t pick up the phone. There’s no one else I can reach to make sure you’re alive; you have no boyfriend, you’re a card-carrying PN.” PN, in Portuguese, stands for “pega ninguem”, which can be translated as ‘someone incapable of hooking up/finding a boyfriend”, generally due to being ugly, weird, lacking in confidence, and such other qualities. Not sure how to defend myself against such accusation – what should I say? “You don’t know what you’re talking about. I’m a such a ho, I hook up with a different guy every month” – I nod and agree; “right, right. Thanks, mom. I’ll call.”

Little does she know that I could’ve had like, 5 boyfriends in the past two years I’ve been single. I’ve been asked out, and had my boobs grabbed at clubs. I’ve been catcalled, and offered a chance to perform fellatio for very attractive men, with enough money to pay for a cab ride back to my place after. And little does she know how adored I am by tow truck drivers and toll booth collection workers all over Massachusetts. In fact, every Sunday when I visit my parents, there’s a silver fox working at the Mass Pike exit I take to my parents’ house. I won’t be seeing him anytime soon, now that I use FastLane, but when I did… he would caress my fingers as I handed him my exact change, and tell me how cute my car is, and how pretty are my eyes. He’d ask me where I was going, and tell me how much he’d enjoy taking me out to dinner at Olive Garden. He was young too, definitely no older than 55.

As for the tow truck drivers; I met one, as we waited inside our respective vehicles for the light to turn green, and he saved my life by telling me the location of the closest gas station, as I drove around with a near-empty gas tank in the wee hours of a frigid Sunday morning. I pulled up, walked by Dorchester homeless men huddled against the wall in their torn clothes, and paid with cash for my full tank of gas. I walked back to fill up my car, but couldn’t get the hose to pump. Moments later, he was standing next to me:

“Hi, I drive that tow truck, you asked me where to find a gas station.”

“Oh, hi!” Are you going to kill me?

“I came after you because I wanted to tell you that your break light on the right side is out. I can help you replace it, if you want, it’s easy.”

His name was Julian. He was a dark-eyed, dark-haired, olive skinned cutie with a beautiful Puerto Rican accent, and just-below-the-ass oversized Dickies pants. I thanked him for the offer, but assured him my father could take care of it. He saw I was struggling with the hose, and offered to help. Surely enough, within seconds he got the gas to pump. We said our goodbyes, and he walked to his truck… only to return and hand me his phone number neatly written on a McDonald’s napkin.

“If you ever need anything, call me. I work in Boston every weekend, overnight shift.”

How sweet is that? Fuck AAA, I can get VIP service, bitch.

After Julian came Edgardo. Edgardo is divorced with three children, one of whom just started college. He owns a beautiful home in Florida, and shares an affordable apartment with three roommates just 7 miles from my house. He towed my car once, and let me and my dog ride home in his truck. He promised he’d teach me how to change a tire. One sunny afternoon, while I lay tanning by the pool, I decided it might be a good day to learn how to put in the tire I’d bought for my car. He came over, smelling so fresh and so clean, crisp white socks on brand new Adidas sandals. He jacked up the car, took out the spare tire, put it back on, and walked me through the process. I did it like a pro. We moved on to a real tire – it was heavier and scarier, and I thought the car was going to tip over, but I did it all by myself. We chatted for thirty minutes, and I learned about his plans to open a tile installation business down in Daytona Beach. I evaded invitations to dinner and expressed my urgency to return to my chores.

Two weeks later I received a text from him, in Spanish, telling me he’d seen my car in the town of Concord (it’s FAR from where I live). I was afraid he’d been following me, but it turns out he was working out there. And then there’s the fact that my car is… memorable. I’ve only seen two others in the same model and color in the five years I’ve owned it. Last night he texted me when he saw my car on the highway, late at night. “No andes solita en la noche, que te van a robar” (Don’t go out alone late at night, you’ll get robbed). Silly Edgardo thinks we’re in Mexico.

The truth is, I could be gearing up to move into a fabulous house in sunny Florida, managing my boyfriend’s new and booming tile installation company, never again having to worry about changing a tire or replacing a car battery. I could be enjoying the company of a gorgeous young Puerto Rican, probably without any children, who’d save me $40 per year on a AAA membership. I could be playing golf every Sunday with a well-preserved silver fox who’d treat me to dinner and buy me pretty dresses. My mother has no idea what a catch I am.

Bot for hire

27 Sep

A couple of weeks ago, after I found out I’m soon to be laid off, I asked Jesus to take the wheel on my behalf and find me a job. I waited all weekend… nothing. Monday came around and I dusted myself off, vowing to never count on him again. So far I’ve applied to 24 different positions and am working with three different recruiters – they don’t know about each other and I feel deliciously adulterous. One of them has known me for five years; he placed me at two of the three jobs I’ve had. Last week he scored me an interview for a job at a Boston non-profit, for which I felt well-qualified and confident. I was to meet first with a partner organization’s office manager, and if that went well, with the CEO soon after. I was excited; I liked the location, I admired the work the organization does, and I suspected the position would challenge me positively.

Knowing I’d be meeting with women only, I chose to wear a pantsuit. I leave the skirt and heels, with a hint of French perfume for male interviewers, so as to suggest, “see what you’d get to look at all day every day, prancing around the office?” Of course once I’m hired, I go right back to flats and pants, and they can’t do a thing about it.

I was on time, I looked capable and motivated and proactive, like a Jane of All Trades wearing about 17 invisible hats… I also smelled like reduced operating costs. The pretty girl interviewing me seemed cold and disengaged at first, but I charmed her with my big, interested eyes, and anecdotes of super-human multi-tasking abilities. We shared stories of volunteer experiences, and by the time she walked me out, her pretty blue eyes were lit up with love for me.

And then silence. For 48 hours the recruiter heard nothing, not a speck of feedback. On the third day, he emailed me:

She thought you were a really nice person and qualified candidate.  She is however going to move forward and bring back two other candidates.  She said she felt they would click better with the CEO.  Nothing against you… just felt these other two would be a better match. Ugh… I’m sorry!

It felt like high school all over again; the many face piercings and short hair scared away the boys who had no idea of my superior kissing and video-gaming skills. Except in this case, I couldn’t figure out what had gone wrong. I looked good, I spoke eloquently, and as I mentioned, I smelled like success. I wore pants. My resume was printed on luxurious, textured paper. I made her laugh and smile. I OFFERED HER A PEN because she’d forgotten to bring one into the interview. I remembered the receptionist’s name on my way out.

I’ll never know why I wasn’t chosen, but I’ve come up with a couple of plausible culpable factors for this colossal conundrum:

1. The CEO is a raging, miserable bitch;

2. I came across as a real person.

Truly, I believe this. I smiled quite a bit, and most of it was genuine because I was excited about the interview. But I see now what a huge mistake that was. The recruiter had told me to “just be myself,” when he should’ve really said, “go in there and show them what a well-oiled, recently tuned up, multi-tasking, multi-lingual robot you are!”

I was weak and naive: I showed emotion and a personality. I believe I even suggested I might have interests that I pursue outside of work hours. I feel ashamed, as once did after waking up naked on my dormitory bed, and noticing the vomit inside the unlined trash receptacle – especially as I was hit with the memory of also having thrown up in front of my crush’s bedroom door, having failed to wait till I reached the bathroom. But I learned my lesson: I haven’t touched tequila since. Wednesday morning will have me face-to-face with a male CEO of an internet start-up. My mouth will give him nothing but Gizmodo, while my pencil skirt shall recount other tales…