Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Bitchin' Kitchen.

"Please, sir, can I have some more?"

I am, in my normal double-life, a pretty rockin' cook. Maybe it's the genes that were passed on to me by my foodie father, who's the chef in the family. (My mom is a strictly meat-and-potatoes type of cook, though she does make mean buttered noodles.) Maybe it's the fact that I was raised in a food-centric family for whom Anthony Bourdain is close to God and the brunches of my childhood were spent in places like Tavern on the Green and my father thought nothing of feeding me escargot at the age of 9 or taking his 14 year old daughter to Nobu. Maybe it's the fact I like to eat good food, and this past summer, being on a limited budget, found myself cooking my own meals more often than preparing them from a store-bought option or eating out. Because of this, my body has aligned itself firmly in a newly-healthy capacity: foods with lots of preservatives, chemicals, or high fat content now make me mightily nauseous. I'm used to knowing what I'm putting into my body now, mainly because I'm making my own food. It's good, yes, but it also requires dedication to actually cooking.

I. Love. Food. Hence, I also love going to the gym. You can't have one without the other, unless you are one of those fabulously lucky people for whom your metabolism does all the work. or you're a man. My metabolism decided that body-heat and burning ALL of those calories were superfluous jobs. Mainly, my metabolism sits around on the couch and watches the Food network.

Being a college student on limited income made this fact very apparent early on. It's not unheard of for me to spend over $30 in the specialty cheese section of City Market, stocking up on Vermont's own Lazy Lady Farm's goat milk cheese, fresh baguette, and pate. (Pate, sweetbreads, and foie gras top my favorite foods. If it used to be in an animal-- dear god, I love it.) My father used to say that he was raising me on a diet that I would find out I was not able to afford on my own. So true. The childhood dinners of surf-and-turf, chicken carbonara, fall-off-the-bone spare ribs, chicken cordon bleu and lemon-white wine-and garlic infused scallops may be gone, but I have become a pretty good cook in my own right.

Don Daddy's proud.

I recently finished reading Julie & Julia, and I suggest that you leave your computer this very second and go buy, borrow, or steal-- yes, steal-- a copy of this book. (Actually, finish this post first, please.) Any book that contains the line, "...Reading Mastering the Art of French Cooking was like reading pornographic Bible verses," is sure to be a winner with me. And it was. Julie Powell made me think about food, and blogging, in a way the likes of which I've never seen someone devote such loving, foul-mouthed, laugh-out-loud funny tragedy and triumph to before. I have not seen the movie, but as always seems the case, I can't imagine it can be better than the book. Julie's prose is so witty, poetic, and shocking by turn that I can't ever imagine the movie's script doing it justice. You just can't fake love like that. Pornos have proven this.

Both my recent adventures in the kitchen and Julie & Julia inspired me to compile a list of the best recipes and cooking advice I have for single (slightly broke) college girls. (And men, if you guys cook, too. If you do, let me tell you, your stock with women gets a significant boost. A boost that's right up there with having the body of Paul Walker. None too shabby, fellas.) From the quick, simple, and heart-and-stomach warming, to the dinner to make him propose (marriage, sex, a relationship,) to you, here are my tried-and-true recipes for a life well lived in the kitchen.

Creamy Rice:
This is great for cold or chilly days when you need something that sticks to your stomach and bones (in a non-fatty way,) and will warm you from the inside-out.

(It should be stated right now that I cook by feel, taste, and instinct. (Thank you again, Dad.) I refer to it as "cooking by the seat of my pants." This means that sometimes, I won't include measurements, because honestly, I don't know how much of something I put in. At times like this, I expect you to add the ingredient to YOUR taste-- see what works for you. That's what I do. Cook for your own taste-- not someone else's who just happened to get a cookbook deal or has a few Michelin Stars next to their name.)

Rice-- 1/3 cup is enough for one big serving. (I prefer white jasmine rich because if it's more delicate taste and floral smell.)
Water-- 3/4 cup.
Butter- 1 tablespoon or pat.
Milk or Cream.
Garlic Powder.
1/2 of a Chicken Bouillon Cube, or Chicken Stock.

Bring the water and butter to a boil in a pot. Add rice, cover with a lid, and turn down to a simmer. Allow to simmer for 20 minutes, or until the water has evaporated. (Most people will make you swear on your mother's grave to not lift the cover or your rice will DIE. I'm not like that. I am impatient and a visual learner and have a bad habit of burning my rice if I don't occasionally lift the lid to check it or eve-- god forbid-- stir it around a little more. So I'm not perfect. Sue me.) When rice is done, turn off heat and add your milk or cream, garlic powder, pepper, oregano and chicken stock. Stir in until creamy, or, if you use a bouillon cube, until it has thoroughly disintegrated. Enjoy!

Spaghetti and Chicken Parmesan:
This is one of my favorite quick dinners, and gives me a great energy boost before going to the gym without weighting me down and making me feel full. Protein + sugars= short and long energy boosts.

Spaghetti (store-bought is fine-- I like Barilla, or whatever is cheap but still looks like a decent noodle.)
Spaghetti sauce (store-bought, or homemade, either way is good. I don't have time to make my own usually, so I go with Prego. I'm not a fan of chunky sauces, and Prego's not chunky. I even used to make my dad puree his homemade spaghetti sauce for me, but then, I would eat his sister's chunky sauce with no complaints. It made no sense, but she married an Italian and makes one hell of a homemade spaghetti sauce. This marriage is also the reason I can my father "Don Daddy." My Italian uncle died, and if you follow Italian criminal history and family genealogy, you understand why.)
1 egg.
Butter or olive oil.
Garlic powder.
Your favorite type of cheese, shredded, or Parmesan cheese powder. (I like both, because I love my cheese.)

Start by putting water in a pot to boil. While water is reaching boil, crack your egg into a bowl and stir the white and yolk together. Coat your chicken in the egg, then dredge in a mix of salt, pepper, garlic powder, oregano, rosemary, basil, and flour. Put that now-breaded chicken into a hot pan with butter or olive oil coating the bottom, routinely flipping it so that all sides cook equally. Add spaghetti sauce to this pan with chicken when the chicken is almost fully cooked (should be the color of your skin in the center if you cut it-- not pink or shiny). Add spaghetti to boiling water-- cook until done. After draining pasta, put on a plate, and arrange the chicken and sauce over the top. Sprinkle on shredded cheese, or Parmesan.

Rotisserie Chicken, or "All The Possibilities":
I love buying a rotisserie chicken at the supermarket occasionally. During middle school and high school, I had to drive 45 minutes one-way to the barn where I kept my horse to take lessons and ride at least 3 nights a week, usually more like 4. (True Life: I Was A Competitive Equestrian. Now, I ride for fun, but there was a time in my teens of A-rated jumper shows and regional championships.) Because of this, dinner had to be on-the-go, and preferably, not always McDonalds. So my mom started buying a rotisserie chicken and bag salads from the grocery store, so I could have a somewhat nutritional meal in the tackroom after my lesson, and so I could eat before 10 PM. Once I hit college, I fully realized the possibilities of this chicken on my meager budget-- you can stretch it for DAYS. A rotisserie chicken usually costs between $5 or $7, which is cheaper than actually buying your own chicken and roasting it yourself. Since there's no cooking involved, here are your options on how to use your bird:

Night One: Rotisserie chicken and a bag Caeser salad, my old favorite stand-by.
Lunch for Day Two: Use some of the leftover chicken to make a chicken salad sandwich. I like adding hard boiled egg, shallots, and salt and pepper to mine on crusty artisan bread.
Dinner for Day Three: Use the rest of your leftover chicken to make the Spaghetti and Chicken Parm recipe above.
Voila! Chicken for 3 days or more on $5! That's what I call "Frugal Fancy."

Wedding-Ring Worthy Steak and Parmesan Oven Fries:
This is like gold, ok? This is like La Perla lingerie or men's Kryptonite. USE IT CAUTIOUSLY. Be kind. Be gentle. It's not fair to cook this for every Tom, Dick, or Hairy Dick. Other girls who don't have this recipe need marriage proposals too, ok?

Are you ready for this? No, you are not ready for this. But you are possibly more ready than the man about to eat it is. You know what's coming. He doesn't. Brace yourself. It's such a simple recipe with such a strong affect.

Steak. Go big. Go Sirloin. If he's going to feel like buying you Tiffany's or Harry Winston, you can afford to give the man some Sirloin.
Potatoes-- I like Yukon Golds.
Parmesan Cheese powder.
Dried Basil.
Curry powder.
Garlic powder.
Olive oil.

Take your steak, and rub in salt, pepper, oregano, basil, rosemary, and garlic powder onto each side. Put in a pan coated with butter or olive oil set to low heat. Cook to preference-- rare, medium rare, well-done, whatever. (I'm a rare or medium-rare girl, myself. I like to see it bleed a little bit. Scary, I know. What do you want from me? The family's from Austria-Hungary/Romania area. I can't help it.)

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Lightly coat a sheet pan with olive oil so your potatoes won't stick to the bottom. Cut your potatoes into quarters length-wise, and then cut them again to about the width of half of your thumb. (I generally get about 5 potato slices per quarter, if that's any indication.) In a large bowl, combine a decent amount (around 1/2 to 3/4 of a cup) of Parmesan cheese with salt, pepper, oregano, rosemary, basil, garlic powder, and enough curry powder to give it a little kick. In another large bowl, coat your potato slices with olive oil. Gradually sift in your Parmesan/herb and spice mix until most every potato slice is coated. Arrange your potatoes on your coated pan so that they are touching as little as possible. Bake one side for 10-15 minutes, then flip all the potatoes and bake the other side for 10-15 minutes, or until cooked through.

This looks like a ridiculously easy and simple recipe, I know. This doesn't look lime anything grand. But it is so man-tastic. As soon as you start smelling the steak and potatoes cooking, you'll get it. Believe me. I once had a friend's boyfriend taste just FRY and tell me that if he wasn't already in a relationship, he would have asked me out then and there. And then he proceeded to ask me out. He was kidding...mostly, I think. It's true-- men do think with their stomachs, and they go crazy for this dinner. I say reserve the right to only use this after you're serious about keeping a dude around, after the 5th date or so.

Bitchin' Brownies:
Not so much of a recipe-- more of a guideline. In high school, I was famous as the girl who would make brownies for my guys. (I also baked a new dessert in increasing difficulty for every Thursday AP European History class-- starting with brownies and ending with French puff pastries with a hazelnut creme filling and shaved Colombian chocolate dusted across the glazed tops. There were 7 of us in the class {my favorite teacher, Brownell, and my senior year boy included,} so it wasn't like I was making 24 of these babies. I would have killed myself.) That was my mark of ownership. I made you brownies-- you were my boy. Unsurprisingly, most guys went along willingly with this. The secret to my bitchin' brownies was in the process of making them; from scratch will always be more involved, but it doesn't need to mean better than store-bought. Sometimes a girl just doesn't have the time to do all that work. So, regardless of if you're making it from original ingredients or from a box, here's the rules to follow:
-2 eggs, not 1.
-Stay somewhere between cake-like and fudgey; still thick, but not totally dense.
-Do not bake them to death-- people like warm and slightly gooey brownies more than fully-cooked bricks, err, brownies.
-Icing is over-kill. This is not cake. This is not a decorative cookie. Plus, icing gets messy when you're pushing papers around or trying to flip pages at the same time, like all my boys were.
- A cool and more portable way to make brownies is to fill paper cupcake holders with the brownie mix in a cupcake tray and make brownie cupcakes. (Great for road trips. I like to make them for our Montpelier and Worcester outings.)

Chocolate Chip Cookies:
Men love chocolate chip cookies. Women love chocolate chip cookies. EVERYONE loves chocolate chip cookies, but these little bitches are my Baker's Kryptonite. I can make a homemade terimisu to DIE FOR and the most angelic angel cake, but I can't make a decent batch of C.C.C's from scratch to save my life. If they taste good, they are not cookie-shaped. If they're cookie-shaped, they are over-cooked, and not gooey in the middle like I like them. So, I cheat. I use store-bought batter. I'm a Pillsbury girl. If, like me, you don't like to admit defeat, bury the wrapper in your trash and no one needs every know that the little giggly doughman in white is the real chef behind your stellar, perfect, cookie-shaped and just-gooey-enough masterpieces.

I hope you were able to get some ideas to feed yourself, and your men if you have them. Or, and I'm sure they'd appreciate it, too-- your girls. Enjoy. I'm glad I can maybe help feed more than just your spare time.


Wednesday, September 23, 2009

All My Single Ladies.

All my single ladies-- this is for you.

You're tired of being strong. You're tired of cooking dinners for one and cold, lonely nights spent hugging a body pillow and having to break open the pickle jar yourself and kill your own house- and apartment-invading spiders.

You feel, at times, like your train is never going to come in.

You watch your friends in relationships and want to execute a graceful mix of bawling and vomiting.

You really, really, really just need to get laid.

It is time, my friend, for you to face your fears and get back on that horse. Get out and meet people. Sitting at home on your ass in your favorite (ratty) pair of college sweatpants is not going to find you a man. Mr. Right is not just going to pop through your door one day, sent on a mission from God, asking, saying, "Oh, hey-- there you are! I've been looking for you! Are you still single?" No, little lady-- he is not. So dust yourself off, put on your party clothes, and go do something social. Outside of your apartment. Outside, even, of your apartment building. Possibly, outside of work and campus.

This is a good time to mention it's time for you to tackle another big-girl goal: going to a restaurant or movie solo. Yes. So scary. I too know that feeling of "Oh my god, she is totally judging me right now. She totally thinks I am a huge, single freak who no one loves," when you tell a maitre-de you want a table for one. But believe me, neither the maitre-de, nor the other people eating in the restaurant, nor the guy behind the ticket counter at the movie theater really care about your single status so much. It's you that cares. Only you. So time to start pretending that you don't care.

Believe me-- no one knows how you feel better than I do. I was (and still am, until Perfect decides to finally make an honest woman out of me,) the quintessential Single Girl. I did what I wanted when I wanted, drank too much, smoked too much, flirted too much, spent too much money, went out too much when I should have been home sleeping-- oh, wait-- I still do all of that. Some Single Girls can never break their solo habit. For some of us, it has become so ingrained and a part of us that without that Single Girl life, we feel lost. When I'm not in a relationship, I always manage to convince myself that I hate commitment, and would be the World's Worst Girlfriend. It's not until I'm back in a relationship that I realize that so many of my Single Girl qualities actually make me a killer girlfriend-- my independence; my sense of fun, spontaneity, and adventure; my desire for sex; my cooking skills; and my shopping skills, because it's more fun to dress your man than it even is to dress yourself.

But. And there is your big, hairy "but."

Maybe right now just isn't your time to be in relationship. Maybe, instead, you're going to have to focus on yourself, and your other, non-sexual relationships. Maybe now, while you don't have a man, is the best time for you to reconnect with your friends and family. It's almost October. It's getting chilly at night and is the perfect time to take some hot hard cider, grab your best girls, and hit a haunted mansion or corn maze and make some of your own, totally girly fun. Do the things that you can't do when you're in a relationship, and you'll find that when you're keeping busy and having a good time, you don't have the time to spend brooding alone about how you're single and want a man.

This isn't to say that when you're shrieking your head off being chased by a volunteer firefighter dressed up in a werewolf costume in a haunted corn maze, that you won't find yourself wishing that there was some guy whose hand you could be squeezing right now as he acts all manly and "protects" you, but...

That time will come, too. If you work for it. If you really do your best and make yourself the best person you can be and aren't afraid to go out there and take charge and ask for it. (Use any in-class or work group or partner assignments to practice your flirting techniques and being outgoing and aggressive. It's great time because you're forced to work with these guys you don't know that well, and a little harmless flirting never hurt anybody. Plus, getting group work done and dating is scarily similar-- you want to be just pushy enough to get something accomplished, but still be sweet enough that these people want to stay in touch and work with you again because they like you. It's like cold-calling someone. Same basic principals-- you're trying to be as nice and polite and winning and charming as possible. You don't want to get dumped or hung up on. See? Ta-da! Brilliant.)

You, lady, on your own, as a single, solitary unit, are far stronger than any other man or couple. You are a lean, mean, self-sufficient machine. So who cares if the random dude you met at the bar never called you? It doesn't mean you're unlovable. You know what, I love you. I fucking love you for how strong you are, and how optimistic, and at the same time, how fragile you can be. I love you for your hopes and your dreams and for what you deserve. I, a perfect stranger to you, maybe, love you for the fact that you're going through the same exact thing I am right now, and that means that I am not alone, and in fact, you are not alone either.

Excuse me if this isn't so Perfect themed, or happy-relationship-centric. I am a bit "egggggh" about relationships and him at the moment. No biggies-- just lots of little things adding up that are making me think. So I'm trying to steer clear of any big, forward-thinking Perfect posts at the moment. Hope you understand.


Tuesday, September 22, 2009

S.O.S-- Save Our (Relation)Shipping: Care Packages From The Killer-Cool Not-Girlfriend.

So, another dilemma calls for another mass poll. I'm sending Perfect a care package at college. That much has already been decided. Mainly because I texted him this afternoon for his mailing address. Some flirting and trying to weasel out of my what I was sending him later, I got his address. He didn't get any hints as to what I'm sending other than me saying "it's totally you and I don't think you could/should live without it."

At the beginning, the care package consisted of the book that sprouted this whole idea, The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook, and a card. It's true-- the WCSSH lived on my bookshelf for awhile, and has been lent to a couple exes and boys in the past, but when I looked at it with fresh eyes a week ago, I was like, "Damn, that is so perfectly Perfect. How to land a plane? How to fend off a shark? How to deliver a baby in a taxicab? How to jump off a bridge into water? Hey, wait-- this may keep him alive longer and safer when jumping off concrete barriers at the Mills!" I am all for keeping him alive longer.

So we started with the book and a card. As of 3 PM this afternoon while I was texting him for his address, that was what the care package consisted of. But give me time to think, money in my bank account, and the challenge of being the world's best Not-Girlfriend, and I get dangerous.

"I need another little something," I thought. So while card-shopping at Borders (we'll get to the card itself later), I picked up a few Vermont postcards thinking of scrawling a "Greetings from Home!" on the back of one if I could find one of Montpelier.

I one-upped myself.

Almost right after I finished that thought, I picked up one of a beautiful rural town in winter and flipped it over to read the location. Worcester. I can take a sign.

So we have the book, the (soon-to-be-infamous) card, and the postcard of Worcester/home. But no-- this wasn't cutting it. I needed something fun. I needed something that Spencer's Gifts didn't sell because I wanted something neither beer- nor sex-themed because I don't want him A.) drinking his way into another girl's vagina with the help of my loving gift, or B.) in another girl's vagina with the help of my loving gift. Melissa suggested a mini First Aid kit to go with the WCSSH. Perfect. Helpful, and themed. I loved it. To EMS we went.

But as we're standing in EMS debating over small First Aid kits, I get struck with a thought. I don't want to be considered the (gasp!) Mommy Girl. I don't want to be thought of as the girl who's constantly telling him to be careful and watch out and oh go, don't do that! I want to be the fun girl who sends great care packages. I want to be the best Not-Girlfriend there ever was. I needed...something fun. And a mini battery-operated light-flashing frisbee was fun. There was only a moment of worry about the fact that while I can palm it comfortable, Perfect's hands will eat it up-- what the hell? It's a mini light-up frisbee! It's great! It's...dare I say? PERFECT.

At the register, after forking over my debit card for the umpteenth time that day, the guy behind the counter looks at me. "Hey. How are you?"

I huff a sigh. "I'm good."

"That doesn't sound good."

"Well, I'm just trying to put together a care package for my guy and spending more time and thought and money on it than I thought I would be originally. But I guess it's a good day if you're having a hissy-fit over being generous."

And then this total stranger said something while ringing me out that made my ears ring. "Hopefully he's not out drunk and hooking up with another girl."

Ummm, EXCUSE ME? I worry enough about this on my own time. Aren't you paid to make your customers feel GOOD?! Thankfully, after seeing my glazed and then bitchy expression (the bitchy more at the thought of what if Perfect is out getting some other girl off rightthissecond), Register Dude calmed his shit down and assured me I was putting together a kick-ass care package a guy would love. Thanks.

So...we have the WCSSH. The Worcester postcard. The mini First Aid kit, which will totally be used, with Band-Aids and athletic tape and aspirin and alcohol wipes...yeah, I feel good about that one...and the mini light-up frisbee, which is a great homework breaker and roommate bonder. (Melissa, my roommate of the past 3 years, bonded over a light-up rubber ball our freshmen year. Anything light-up and toy-themed is apparently the key to roomie love in college.) And then...there's the card.

Oh, the card. I have to say, I'm not really posting this to sway my mind about sending it. I'm posting this to see the responses I get A.) about the care package items and if you think Perfect will like/enjoy/use them/love me a little more for sending them, B.) to see how many of you think I'm totally off my rocker for sending this boy a care package, even though I send EVERYONE car packages, (They're kind of my deal. I make bitchin' things to send to people. Although it's usually to my girl friends and that's why I'm freaking out so much about this particular very "boy" care package,) and C.) to prepare for what Perfect may think about the card. Regardless, that card, and it's message, are going into the care package box tomorrow. Perfect knows my humor. I know what he takes seriously and what he doesn't. If I can get away with telling him one of my other lovers took the sexy pics of me, I can get the point of this card across in the way it's supposed to be-- funny college sexy humor-- and not the way I wouldn't want it to be taken-- I want him to follow the directions on it because I'M SO IN LOVE WITH HIM.

I'm not. To clear up any questions. I adore him with all my heart, and I do love him, but I'm not IN love with him. I still haven't had enough time or time with him to see if he's someone I could be in love with. My gut tells me that yes, given time and the chance, I could, but my mind is telling me I've had neither time nor the chance.

...Although it was pointed out that we have now known each other for 5 months and been more or less together for all of it. (I'm going for the "less." True, for the first month we were solidly together, but June and July were iffy and weirdly polite and formal and non-thrilling. August and September are shaping up well though as to the Return of the "Us.")

So. The card. It reads on the front: "How to please a woman? Love her, die for her, take her to dinner, miss the football for her, buy her jewelery, be interested in what she has to say... How to please a man? Show up naked; bring beer."

The inside is blank. In it, I plan to write, "Sorry-- couldn't ship any beer."

See? Funny. Light. College. Not crazy wannabe housewife and babymama. No pointed hints that I want him to skip the football or buy me jewelry. In fact, I would yell at him if he turned the football off, and my father the goldsmith and jeweler is the only man I accept jewelry from, thanks. I also plan on writing some other little stuff about the contents, like "Have fun, and the First Aid kit is for when you need to stick yourself back together after jumping off those buildings and wrestling those alligators," (referencing inside the WCSSH). Keep it light. Keep the front of the card and him thinking about me, naked, with beer, and the inside calm, cool, collected, sweet, and funny. The best Not-Girlfriend there ever was, in other words. The kind of thing that will make him want to take this Not-Girlfriend and tear the "Not" right off of the beginning.

So, loyal readers, what do you think? Is this a winning care package? Will my dyslexic Prince Charming be so taken with the survival guide's quirky subject matter that he'll maybe read some parts of it and keep himself alive a bit longer and not succumb to a random drive-by shooting or shark attack in quintessential, land-locked New England-town Fitchburg, Mass? Does this score me major boy brownie points, and, as I screamed in the parking lot outside of EMS to Melissa, not realizing that there were families waiting to get into the Italian restaurant next door, does this at least deserve getting fucking laid next time I see him? (The amount I have spent will remain a secret known only to me, but in any case, the sex would be worth it. I don't expect a care package of my own back, unless you're counting the package inside his jeans, and then, YES PLEASE.) And, how do you think the card will go over? Hmmm? Hmmm???

Tell me. I'm all ears.

...And eyes and lips and arms and legs and boobs. Of course. Sillies.


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

"To Be Irreplaceable, One Has To Be Different." Fall Fashionista.

Yesterday afternoon, I watched the Lifetime movie "Coco" about Coco Chanel. One of her immortal lines happened to snag my ear like a dog on the end of a chain.

"To be irreplaceable, one has to be different."

What works for fashion works elsewhere, too. Self-marketing in both your professional life and in your relationships is incredibly important. For me, as a writer, it's asking myself: "What makes me a different writer people want to read from the thousands of other writers? What is special that I have to offer?" I know what the industry is like for writers. How many other young women are out there writing about love and sex and relationships? Thousands. Millions. How many of them can also write about fashion and review books and movies and food and music? How many of them can edit? Know how publishing works? Can run a staff? That is where my strength lies-- not in my content, but in the parts that make up my character and experience.

In relationships, the concept of being irreplaceable probably means more to me because the thought of being replaced leaves me terrified, with a deep, wrenching hole in both my heart and stomach. "What sets me apart from the other girls?" is what you have to ask yourself, especially when you're dealing with someone like Perfect, who has a veritable harem. So I call and text less-- not every day, maybe every two or three days. Sometimes I let it go five, long enough for him to notice my absence and wonder what I'm doing. I flirt harmlessly with other guys, letting it spill out to public places like my Facebook wall, where he can see. (Jealousy is a trait I've have just started to realize will motivate Perfect. Being an illogically jealous person myself, I can work with this.) Sass him back when he needs to be put into his place, because you can be damn sure no other woman is sassing him back. The boy can get a bit big for his britches, and those are some big britches in the first place. Make him work for it. Friday night when he was begging for pictures of me, I didn't send one, even though it killed me not to. He's used to things coming to him easily in life, and having to wait and work for something makes it so much more delicious when you finally do get it. Extending the suspense is both seductive and invigorating. As another quote Chanel said to one of her lovers, "You can be very cruel."

"Like anyone who is in love," he replied.

And to get back to the fashion segment of the Chanel quote on irreplaceability, sometimes it means not following trends. Acid-wash may be a huge look for fall, but I absolutely abhor it. Instead, I counter with the idea of plaid and denim: a red plaid shirt with either jeans or cut-offs has that rustic fall look that appeals to me so much. A bright red plaid shirt with light jeans and black boots has the same "BAM!" factor of acid-wash, without the bad 80s flashback aftertaste.

Another look I'm loving right now is the color combination of hot pink and gray worn together. I own a cute little colorblock dress with a hot pink ruffled top and a hair-waisted gray skirt, but a more casual example of
this combo saw in the newest Victoria's Secret catalog completely blew me away, but realistically and stylistically. A long, hot pink hoodie or sweater worn over gray leggings with Uggs is the perfect relaxed fall outfit. I'm a college student-- I strive for the least amount of fuss necessary. This is right up my alley, and it looks cute while still remaining supremely comfortable. It makes you looks like the girl who rolled out of bed, ran a hand through your hair, out this on, and waltzed out the door. Which you did. Men love this "relaxed chick" idea. But please, if you're going to rock a laid-back look like this, do do more than rolling out of bed and pulling it on. Doing your hair and wearing some more attention-grabbing makeup than normal can turn an outfit like this into something downright striking.

Layering, especially in climates like Vermont in the fall, is essential. Pairing relaxed boyfriend jeans with one of your short summer dresses and an oversized or long cardigan or sweater and flats transitions you from warm climates (buses, cars, restaurants, your apartment,) to cooler climates (outdoors, classrooms, movie theaters, your boyfriend's apartment).

Right now, I'm finding myself wearing more and more men's-wear inspired pieces. During the Current's Layout Weekend, it was actually
one of the shirts I bought for Perfect but haven't had a chance to give him yet. (Plus, I'm enjoying them.) I wanted to feel comfy and warm, and hey, now it will even smell like me when he gets it. Win/win. A few days later, it was one of the small V-neck men's sweaters I bought on sale at Old Navy, dark skinny jeans, and metallic gold ballet flats. Yesterday, it was a striped button-down shirt belted at my hips that looked like I was wearing one of my (nonexistent) boyfriend's dress shirt, but in reality, it was just a long button-up. Men love seeing you in their clothing. Wearing clothing that gives the illusion that you're already wearing a man's clothing makes other men wonder what their clothing would look like on you. Cute. It's literally dressing to flirt.

I call these sandals the
"jewelry for my feet." They are so cute, so sweet, and so adorable that they instantly make me smile and put me in a good mood every time I look down at them. Plus, the leather is so soft it doesn't feel like you're wearing straps, the tassels are fun to play with when I get bored and need a distraction in class that isn't texting Perfect, and I most definitely got my pair for $20 at T.J Maxx. I win.

I recently went on a massive sweater hunt, stalking the ever-illusive perfect light-weight fall/winter sweater. I found
this one at Anne Taylor Loft, which was made in the exact fabric and flattering cut that I like-- I swear that this cut makes you look RIDICULOUSLY slender-- but the three-quarter sleeves weren't exactly my thing. If you're going to wear a sweater, you might as well have long sleeves, right? Push them up if you get hot. It's better than if you get cold from missing that extra four inches of fabric. Then I found these at American Eagle. I liked them because they were full-length sleeves, and I felt the stripes made them young, sporty, and flirty. But they were cotton. Surprisingly, cotton is not my favorite. It sticks and stretches and doesn't breathe well and...well, I'll end up getting the purple and blue striped ones, but only because the colors look really good on me. But then...then I went to Pac Sun, and found Nirvana. In clothing, that is, not the grunge band sans infamous lead singer. These sweaters are made of the same light-stitch fabric as the Anne Taylor ones, but in full-length! And they're striped! It's like ATL and AE had beautiful sweater babies! I was so pleased with life.

As far as relaxed, lazy weekend t-shirts go, I like the message in
this one. It's cute, it's sweet, it's flirty. However, why anyone would wear this shirt, even if it applies, is faaar beyond the scope of my understanding.

Dressing for an occasion excites me like to other. Halloween is coming up-- dress for the occasion! During the day, this may be black-and-orange themed, or something whimsical and slightly costume-y if you can get away with it at work or school. At night-- dress the fuck up! Go for a stroll around the neighborhood in costume even if you're too "old" to still get candy when trick-or-treating. I'm sure, if you're in the twenty-something crowd that I am, especially in a college town, some of your friends or local nightlife establishments will have bitchin' themed parties. Get back in touch with your childish side. Buy candy. Get lost in the magic of the holiday. And if dressing up is not your cup of tea-- good news for you-- basic black looks good on everyone and it's right in tune with this holiday.

I'm starting to think about taking Cait down to surprise Perfect for his birthday in December, and asking John, Knight in Shining Honda Armor, to also meet us at Perfect's college, converging on him from all friendly sides. I recently bought this dress, and and thinking that this may be, (at least for now,) the outfit I'd wear to surprise him.

Then again, I just got this top, too, which I'm a big fan of. I'm not used to wearing drapey shirts, but I like it. And that's Miss Alli with me, looking all hot.

We were off for our first Kitchen Bitches 2.0 restaurant review, so look for that here soon! In the meantime, ciao, bellas, and remember-- be irreplaceable!


Sunday, September 13, 2009

"Well, It Seemed Like You Might Be Asking."

I had the most INTERESTING conversation with Perfect last night.

Firstly, yes, you read that right—your tired eyes are not deceiving you—a conversation (text, albeit,) was had. The first multi-text conversation since he left for college, and it lasted for 6 HOURS. (There was driving and eating somewhere in between there, so I’ll trim it to 4 hours, but still—6:30 PM through 12:30 AM.


Secondly, against all my better judgment, and all Caiti’s better judgment, Perfect may now have a slightly scandalous picture of me in his possession. Now, before you go all medieval and shit on me (yes, you, Caiti), let me start from the beginning and explain.

Yesterday, Alli, Melissa and I went to Montpelier and Worcester for an end –of-summer weekend blowout. We cleverly called it the “Girls’ MON(tpelier)-(Worce)STER Adventure.” We did all the things we normally do: blasted music, took gratuitous amounts of pictures and video, got coffee, climbed on cannons on the State House lawn and offended families with our sexually-themed poses, skipped gaily through Montpelier without a care in the world of being yelled at to get out of town by Perfect from Capitol Copy now that he’s three and a half hours away in Massachusetts, bombed down Route 12 into Worcester, took some more gratuitous pictures, stopped for gas, took two new “field trips” around Worcester to further adventure, went to the Pots, went skinny-dipping, were caught by a family, walked down the road naked, went to Dairy Crème, had to hold myself back from slamming my medium chocolate/vanilla with rainbow sprinkles twist into the face of the girl who served it to me…you know—the usual.

I should make an aside here so you don’t assume I’m a normally violent or vindictive person. Although I love the ice cream at Dairy Crème, I fucking hate their wait-staff. It seems as though every girl who has ever left a flirty or potentially loaded comment on Perfect’s Facebook wall insinuating SOMETHING works there. Really. And the one who handed me my ice cream cone yesterday was the same girl who posted lyrics to a bump-and-grind song that due to the content that followed afterward, I can only assume she and Perfect ground it out together to some night this past summer. I know, I know….assuming makes an ass out of “u” & “me,” but really—I know Perfect. I know how he loves to dance. I know how he loves to grind. I remember his caveat to me of, “I see pictures later and I’m just like, “whoa, it wasn’t like that!” You know? It’s just dancing.” Yeah, it may just be dancing, but I am a dancing fool who loves to dance just as much as he does, and you know the only people I really grind with? People who I’d let get into my pants, because they might as well be, anyway.

It wasn’t that whole fiasco so much. I’ve gotten past (most) of my issues concerning what may or may not have happened, and channel it in a productive way: I downloaded that song onto my iPod, and when I’m running at the gym, if I start to think I won’t make it another quarter-mile, I put it on. And thinking about it, imagining them fused at the pelvis, well…that burns me through the next quarter-mile with energy to spare. It works. So it wasn’t so much THAT, as the fact that as she reached out, cone in hand, our eyes locked as I realized who she was, and her eyes flashed in recognition of who I was, and then…she smiled at me. This really nice, friendly smile that said, “oh, hey! I know who you are! We have friends in common.” And I just wanted to reach over the counter, grab her by her hair, and smash her forehead repeatedly against said counter with an identical perky smile on my face that said, “Oh, I know!”

But my whole psychotic tirade is an aside to the point.

While at the Pots, Melissa took a picture of Alli and me standing in our towels in front of the swimming hole and waterfall. And yeah, ok, so we may have been obviously not wearing bathing suits because of our blatantly bare backs, but I didn’t think much of it, because I sent it to Perfect later while we were at Dairy Crème with a note attached saying, “Wish you were here! (It’s fucking cold!)” Previously, I had fired off a spur-of-the-moment and not really seemingly important text that we were running a bet, and could he finish of one of the gigantic Dairy Crème large ice cream cones? When he replied back to that verbosely and in multiple sentences and thought processes, it was obvious he was feeling chatty. Maybe that’s what us going five days without talking to each other will do for him. I decided that hey, still parked in the Dairy Crème parking lot while Little Miss Pelvic Thrust was watching us through the glass service window, it would be a good time to send him that picture. So I did.

I should realize by now that Perfect is one of those very few people in my life who always manages to shock me. If I think it’s one way, he’ll be thinking in another direction. If I say “up,” he’ll be thoroughly “down.” When I finally get exhausted from being constantly on my tip-toes and throw in the towel and least expect it is when he always seems to pounce, and it always knocks me off guard. He knows exactly how to push my buttons, in what order, and how I liked them to be touched.

“That’s nothing! I’ve seen better pics!” he said.

At first, I was shocked. Then, affronted. Then, realization dawned and I realized what I had meant to be a friendly photo of something familiar and an “I’m thinking of you” was taken to a “yeah, I’m familiar with your naked back and now I want to think of you fully nekkid” level.

“Hahaha, please,” I texted back after I had recovered. “That was just supposed to be a pic from home. Believe me, if I were going to send you pictures to get your pulse racing, I’d know to send a better one than that.”

Perfect, in full button-pushing mode, called my bluff and raised me. “Oh yeah?”

“Yeah. I’ve sent some well-appreciated pictures before, but only to the very, very good, and the very, very lucky.”

“Haha. Very, very?”

“A girl’s got to be discerning,” I texted back, with the sort of Victorian haughty sniff that I hoped he caught on to. “Can’t just give them away, you know.”

And then Perfect said the thing that just literally blew my mind right out of the water. “Haha, true, but I have had sex with you!”

Excuse me. Gentlemen in the room? Please stand up. Oh, Perfect, I notice you’re NOT standing? Good boy. Right answer. Although yes, I will admit, it, ahem, got the ocean below rolling when he said this (ohhh, I’m so easy), it got both my libido and pride going in tandem.

“So what?” I asked, maybe a little forcefully; I don’t know, you tell me after you read this. “You want a picture? Do you think you’re very, very good or very, very lucky? Just because I’ve had sex with you doesn’t mean you get a complimentary picture. What’s in it for me, hmm?”

I like to pack as much sass as I can into my 5-foot-3-inches as I can. Sass is something that I feel Perfect doesn’t get enough of in his daily diet. He’s more used to things and/or women just falling over in front of him. I don’t like to fall. As evidenced by the above.

There was about twenty minutes of silence from his end in which I started to worry if I had completely called our little game of non-penetration stimulation off with my loads of…sass. Up until this point, Perfect had been texting back seconds after I sent him a text. (I love that promptness. Nothing says “I’m home in my dorm room and bored and horny” more than a very prompt response. I live for those prompt responses. They are one of my favorite things. Especially if the subject matter built around them is naughty by nature.)

I also started to worry that I may be on the receiving end of a dick-a-licious picture text. So I did what was natural: called in a girl friend’s expert advice. Between the two of us, Caiti and I reached a decision: make sure he’s alone, is sober, and promises to not show any sent pictures to anyone else. Trust is key. Also, DON’T SEND ANYTHING WITHOUT GETTING SOMETHING FIRST. Also, men’s idea of sexy tends to be, literally, balls-to-the-walls. Men have, do, and will continue to think that sending pictures of their packages is hot. They expect titty shots in return. Women, on the other hand, think there’s nothing more tasteful and teasing than a pretty, sexy, and pretty sexy lingerie shot to get things rolling. Women tend to send progressive pictures, each with less clothing than the last. Again, it’s about building both trust and suspense. Men tend to go BAM! There it all is, all at once, and all in the front.

Understandably, I was having some performance-anxiety issues with the idea of actually having to send Perfect a picture if that’s what it came down to. The whole “I’ve seen better” had started to churn around in my head. A.) Oh, really? How many girls are sending you nudey-pics, Mr. Perfect, and B.) What is he used to getting, and so C.) What does he expect? Don’t get me wrong—like I told him, I’m not new to this. And my pictures in the past have been well-appreciated. I also have a nice stash of some pictures already on my cell phone’s memory that I took when Perfect and I were officially together on my birthday, the night that he was supposed to be able to spend the night but ended up not being able to. Let’s just say, the money I dropped in Victoria’s Secret that day was not wasted that night. He had asked for pictures that night, as well, but I heeded the advice of a different Caitlin—Cait—and kept them to myself. But this was an issue of: if he were to send a picture of his artillery, what the fuck was I supposed to counter with? This snatch ain’t seeing a cell phone camera, HELL to the NO.

Instead, I got a different kind of response: a major scale-back. After I read the sassy response out-loud to Alli and watched he face go shocked and slack-jawed, I had started to draft a clarification, but Perfect beat me to it. Wounded. (I forgot he was sensitive. Oops.) A bit affronted. Hurt pride. “LOL, I don’t know. LOL. I wasn’t asking.”

“Oh, well, that last text was supposed to be teasing, not harsh. Text doesn’t translate tone well, hahaha. And I seemed like you might be, so I was trying to decide if you were good or lucky.”

“Haha, am I good or lucky?” AHA. There we go. Back where I wanted. Good save! Carissa fumbles the come on, but recovers it to score a touch-down response somewhere in her end-zone. (Excuse me for a moment. I love football and sexual football metaphors.)

“Well, from what I remember, you were good, and I’d say you’re pretty lucky, but it all depends on a few things.”

“Like what?”

“Are you asking now, for starters?”

“Well, I am if you’re offering, haha!”

Oh no. I wasn’t going to let him escape with this one, oh no. This was not my horny little doing, my friend. His sex-mind was what got us here in the first place. I was just doing a “friendly” thing, which he turned into a “hey, we fucked and I’d like to see where we can still go” thing.

“You were the one who brought it up. And you should know this isn’t a one-way thing. If I send you something, I expect something in return. Can you deal with those terms?”

“Well, I’m not in a place I can do that now with my two roommates in the room, so I guess that means tonight’s a no, haha.”

My libido cried at the same time I considered saying, “That’s what cars are for. Or bathrooms. Or vacant rooms. Or a dark bike-path devoid of passers-by.” Instead, I reigned it in, leaving him to do the thinking on his own.

“Aww, that’s a shame. Well, if you get creative, let me know. I’m down for it.”

“LOL, alright.”

I put down the phone.

An hour later, still thinking about it, I picked it back up, took advantage of Perfect’s now 24/7 coverage that was the only thing that kept me from doing naughty things like this when he lived at home in Worcester, and sent him one of the pictures I took the night of my birthday. Before you kill me, especially Caiti—let me explain. It’s tasteful. I’m covered in a pink-orange lace teddy and flouncy matching underwear. I’m wearing heels that make my legs look a deceptive mile long. The lighting is low, I’m tan and toned, and half of my face is covered by my hair. It’s very Victoria’s Secret catalog, maybe because the lingerie IS Victoria’s Secret. I figure, give him something to think about so he doesn’t go off texting those other little hussies who will apparently send him pictures no questions asked. (To this, I think, really? I can’t see One Time Girl firing off candids of her boobs, so who does that leave? Dairy Crème girls? Grrrrrrrrrr…)

“There’s a little something to start you off,” I told him. “I’m making you a tab. I expect you’ll pay it off when you can. Sweet dreams.”

“Haha, oh, that’s a little better,” Perfect responded back.

“Well, enjoy it killer, because that’s all you get fo’ free, hahaha,” I said. He remained quiet for the next twenty or so minutes, which from previous knowledge is about the time we’ve decided it takes for him to sneak off to whack off. When he texted me back, it made me hoot with raucous laughter.

“Haha, who took that? LOL.”

Now, Mr. Perfect, you can hide behind your “haha”s and your “LOL”s, but really, by now, I know that’s how you dress up, disguise and hide what you’re really trying to say when you’re a little bit unsure of how it will go over. And this “Haha, who took that? LOL,” had concern, jealousy, and just the right amount of delicious male possession all over it. I couldn’t resist baiting him a little more. So easy.

“Hahaha—one of my other lovers. No, I took it myself. I’m holding my cell, see?” And it was true. Almost front and center in the picture, shining in my hand was my cell phone, outstretched to catch my image in my mirror. (Yes, I had to Myspace it up to take the picture in the first place—I’m so, so sorry.) But it felt good knowing my nearly naked body was so captivating he didn’t even notice it until I pointed it out.

“Haha, oh, ok.” Blatant relief.

So. Excuse me, again. Here I am, thinking he’s sleeping around with all the new freshmen girls, getting ready to expect the worst, and yet, apparently, he’s still feeling possessive over my body and worrying about other people seeing it? What is not adding up here? Could Perfect be—gasp—holding on, too? I try not to lead my train of thought down that road, but really—what gives for his concern and desire to make sure I am not passing myself around like I am thinking in a worst-case scenario he is passing himself around?

As I told the lovely Miss Sarah, men are hounds. I like to keep this in mind, which may not fit with the whole "think positive" thing I was supposedly trying to, but I always, ALWAYS keep a little part of my mind that tells me, "He's off sleeping with another girl. Right now. Possibly, two. Possibly, he's sleeping his way through his college/local bar/city/gym."

I have found that if I keep this possibility in my mind, I am never quite so shocked and pissed off as I would be if I didn't consider it a possibility in the first place, or train myself to expect it.

Maybe it's teaching men a bad thing, though. Maybe it's teaching them that we expect bad behavior from men. But honestly, even while I'm intimately texting or talking to Perfect, I can't help but wonder what other girls he's also texting/talking to/looking at pictures of. Maybe I'm guarded. Maybe I am a pessimist at heart. But maybe, it's also smart.

I would cry “double standard” if it wasn’t for the fact that this new development makes me feel deliciously tingly inside. Perfect is still somehow, even just a little bit, attached. Hostage relationship, we have a win!


Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Settling In The City, and The Chains That Bind.

[“So are you a pipe, or are you a diamond? Because pipes burst under pressure, but diamonds are made.”]

Life’s a funny little bitch. Sometimes, just when things are going right, a wrench gets thrown into the works from somewhere unidentifiable, and then you’re left sitting on your ass, wheels spinning in the air kind of uselessly. Basically, you’re wasting time for a bit.

That’s what I feel like I’m doing right now: wasting some time. Perfect is still rather incommunicado, though we did text back and forth a few times yesterday. Knowing that I’ve been getting the same treatment (if not more contact,) than his family and his other friends keeps me even most days. Also, I’m reminded of something Cait said once: Perfect likes to get close and cling to people, and then he likes to have his space for awhile. Admittedly, we were pretty close in contact the week before he left for college—I’m considering this a good time to let that contact a little loose, give him his head (as we say in the horse world), and let him settle in a bit.

In the meantime, I’ve been doing little things: sending him video clips of guys in flying-squirrel suits jumping off of cliffs in Switzerland and coasting the airstreams; setting up play-dates for him and two of my guy friends who also love downhill and free-ride biking when he comes back home for a visit; and just generally keeping a watch on him from the wings. He’s tired; he’s struggling with being back in school already; he’s being run weary by meeting people, commitments, and starting training for the track season. I don’t need to be another burden right now. I’m being the coolest non-girlfriend there ever was—he better realize I’m the shit.

Meanwhile, I’ve been getting some interesting developments of my own. I get lonely too, you know. I like testosterone and male company in my life. I love to flirt. And lately, there’s been no shortage of available men. I’ve been bumping into my beautiful Writing Lab Boy everywhere, who apparently saw me everywhere this summer: at the mall, on the beach, at a party, on the street, in the gym. (I am so happy I looked tan and fit and good in my itty bitty bikini this summer. Thank you, lord.) The other day, riding the god-awful-early-morning bus to campus for my 8 AM class, Blowdryer Boy sat next to me. The heat coming off of him along with the smell of his cologne and shampoo was almost intoxicating in my early morning haze. (The Bailey’s Irish Crème that may or may not have been in my coffee also helped with this haziness—both to add to it and then erase it. Yes to starting out shitty mornings the good way.)

Blowdryer Boy is one of those people who exist in my group of friends whose path sometimes brushes up against mine. For awhile last spring, I flirted with the idea of ending up in bed with him. I didn’t, though, and most of the time, I’m sure I made the right choice.

The night before, I had had the shittiest night’s sleep since May. I crammed for three hours with homework, and then was kept up from 12:15 to 1:30 by my roommate’s pseudo-boy and his friend laughing in the living room. I woke up at 6 AM, for some reason thinking I had to take the 7:10 bus, and not the 7:35 bus, meaning I missed out on an extra thirty minutes of sleep. By the time I got around to making my coffee, I was already thoroughly disenchanted with life. Missing Perfect profusely—that was the shitty night’s sleep; the feeling of him being there was gone, snapped like a guitar string—and having Blowdryer Boy so near tempted me into the “what ifs” that I generally like to try and stay out of. Like I’ve said, I’m generally a one-man woman. But sometimes, distance and no word can get to be a little much on my nerves and heart.

So sometimes, like this other morning, I like to think about it. But when it comes down to it, Blowdryer Boy would be settling after Perfect. Blowdryer Boy would just be a waste of time and a warm body to replace the warm body that I really want. (And I’m pretty sure that most of the time, Blowdryer Boy can be bitchier than I am.)

Also, I recently found out what happens when you play with other people’s private property: you get fixed up. Generally, I try to keep my hands to myself in matter like this, but there’s this beautiful sport bike that lives in the same parking garage as my Civvy, and Alli and I recently did an impromptu photo-op with it. We touched it as little as possible while still admiring it and handling it with care, and then I posted the pictures on my Facebook profile, thinking that in my protected and private account they’d be safe from any angry Hell’s Angel owners looking for revenge and a new leather jacket made of my skinned hide for touching his bike.

Well, surprise. Facebook—it’s not that safe anymore, kids, at least not when you have mutual friends with said bike owner. A few days after the pictures went live, I got a comment from a friend who said they knew the owner. The next morning, I got a friend request from the guy. I accepted it, thinking, hey—I played on his bike. Might as well be nice. Fortunately, instead of being a hulking antichrist, the guy turned out to be a stocky senior. Who reverted back to the third-grade playground practice of asking our mutual friend to ask me if I’d be willing to meet him for a set-up.

Actually, it went more like this:

Mutual Friend: “Motorcycle Boy would like to meet you; shall I set up a meeting?”

Me, hemming and hawing about if I really wanted to do this: “I'm kinda figuring things out with the guy I was seeing this past summer, so I feel the need to get that disclaimer out there in the disclaimer of not leading anyone on, but seeing as he (unknowingly) let me molest his bike, I would say it's only fair to be able to apologize/thank him in person. Plus, I love meeting new people!”

I thought I was pretty clear about the fact I wasn’t looking for anything more than a new acquaintance. Apparently not, though.

Mutual Friend: “Haha, he was like "Pam I wanna meet this girl!" He’s a sweet guy, haha. He's leaving in December I think, anyway, so it doesn't have to be anything serious. He said he Facebook friended you, so I dunno if he's messaged you yet or not.”

No, he hadn’t. He’s letting our friend do his dirty-work for him. But whatever. I want to get on that bike, come hell, high water, or a fix-up. I just know to be very up-front about the fact that I am in what I’ve taken to calling a “beautifully complicated and daily-evolving relationship.” But seriously. I want to get on that bike. It’s worth it. And new friends are nice, too.

All these boys suddenly crawling out of the woodwork are making me wonder: could I really settle for one of them while I wait for Perfect? The more and more I look at it, the more and more I realize how easy this whole thing is, really. You are attracted to someone. You let your interest be known. You resist the urge to do the right thing and get to know them or categorize your feelings, and instead, just fall into bed with them. You wake up, get dressed, and walk out. Done. Simple. Over.

Can I do that, though? Could I use one person while wanting another? My heart says “no,” while sometimes, my mind whispers “yes.” Perfect would never need to know; Perfect is probably off doing the same thing with all the soft little freshmen co-eds, and that’s why he’s so tired, my mind whispers to me. Just do it. Just work out your frustration and your lust and your feelings on someone else. Don’t waste time, and youth, and beauty, and your body. Don’t go another year without sex. There’s no reason to.

But at night, at times like this, lying on my bed, the bed I slept with Perfect in, and loved Perfect in, in the same sheets that still, months later, at times still hold wisps of his scent, I think no, no, no, no—I could never do it. I miss him, and I want him, and no one else is going to replace him or fill his hole. To try and do so would be me, settling. And after my many past frog princes, settling is one thing I told myself I’d never do again. Settling was the rut that Perfect saw me in and pulled me out. Settling was what he told me I didn’t deserve.

But, am I settling for this distance between us? The air in this state feels so empty, sometimes it’s hard for me to breathe around the hole that seems to be there; something suddenly missing. It feels like there’s a hole in my Vermont, and you better believe it’s a huge one, because that boy is massive. At any given point in time, I can give you a general idea of in what direction the important people in my life lie. It’s a spider-web of love that crisscrosses the U.S, sometimes even the globe, of what I imagine being thin gold chains running from my heart to the other person’s.

The best way I ever heard this phenomenon described was in Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus’s novel, Dedication. (Which I highly recommend, by the way, especially for people who have ever had any interested in the musician/muse relationship.) As Kate Hollis, their main character and heroine, they write:

“…I feel this thing take root in my stomach, this rubber band thing as Jake Sharpe comes back from the concession stand. A twinge tells me to turn around and, sure enough, he has just walked in the doors at the top of the dark aisle. The band tightens as his narrow silhouette approaches. Then, when he slides past I tuck my legs up on my chair and our eyes meet…and it is taut between us. Loosening as he plunks himself at the other end next to Benjy… I slide my hand to the center of my chest while staring up at the screen. This thing is different from living down Jake Sharpe, different from avoiding Jake Sharpe, even different from knowing Jake Sharpe thinks about what I look like. This new Jake Sharpe thing is happening inside me, all the way at the core… I am piano-bench straight, every inch of me realigning to this new state, this Jake Sharpe Compass I have just become” (McLaughlin/Kraus 68-69.)

Like Kate, if you ask where someone is, I can point, assuredly, in a direction after a moment’s thought, giving that little heart-string a gentle mental tug, and waiting to feel in what direction the pull back comes from. It’s how I also know what direction home is. It’s how I know where my roommates are; where my best and dearest and closest friends from home are; the sisters of my heart and mind and soul. And it’s how I can feel Perfect. What once used to be a thick and relatively short gold chain, full of feelings running back and forth this summer is now one of the thinnest links; one that is full of static and loss of sensation and makes me feel empty in the pit of my stomach and heart. There isn’t that proximity. There isn’t the thought that we’re only a less-than-an-hour drive away from each other, if we really needed to be there, standing next to each other, breathing the same air, and sharing the same space, feeling that electric crackle in the air, and then the sublime stillness that I feel when my body is molded seamlessly up against his—weight on weight, cloth sticking to cloth, skin on skin, hands on body, no start and no finish to us.

Instead, I have this three-hundred mile long chain, and a tentative grip on it. I give it a little pull, and wait for it to jingle back in response. Sometimes the return tug is long in coming. I begin to unravel a little bit, but for the most part, I hold strong, using sticky tape and gritted teeth to keep this girl together. I’m tough. I’ve been through worse. I can do this. I want this. I’m a fighter; I don’t just lie down and cry and give in. If he needs his time and his space to settle in and make his life kosher, than I can damn well have the same time and space to use to my own advantage. There’s always more work I can do on myself. Just like whatever is happening between Perfect and I, I am also always a masterpiece in progress, some days darker and more linear, some days bright and effervescent. There’s really never any telling, anyway.

Looking at being part of a relationship like this: he needs his time, I need my time to have no idea what the hell I’m doing and to grapple with feelings—we’re both in different states, at different colleges, leading different lives—how do you try and integrate someone like a significant other into your life like that? How does it work, really? Can two people living in two different circles stay together with themselves as the only constant and shared thing?

[If I never sing another song, another song, another song…can I still sing your tune?]


Friday, September 4, 2009

It's An Editorial Illness.

I may have mentioned a few times that I actually have a life outside of the drama that you usually read about on this blog. It's sad, but true-- there are somehow enough hours in a day for me to be productive AND have some form of drama going on.

One of the many hats I wear is quite the jaunty one. I happen to be, through some fluke of moral ineptitude or momentary lapse in sane judgment on one of my professor's parts, the Editor-in-Chief this year of Champlain College's newspaper, the Current. Though I accepted this post with mild skepticism, no idea what I was doing, and a vague feeling of nausea in between bouts of giddy excitement and daydreams of bossing around freshmen newsy minions, I have to admit that though I will periodically find myself cold-sweating in mid-afternoon about if we'll have enough stories to make even a small first 8-page issue, I'm enjoying myself.

Other than page count and submissions, the other thing that makes me slightly lose my gourd is having to write my editorials. I am a love/sex/relationship columnist, for christsake. Editorials are deep. Editorials are supposed to change lives and perspectives and mean something. I generally write to try to get people to change the brand of condoms they use. (Trojans all the way, baby!)

So you see why I have a sort of mini-existential crisis going on. What can I write about, in my own tone, that's subject matter will be both informative and appropriate for an audience not only of college students (who I'm sure would have no qualms reading about why I curse Durex into the far corners of hell for being generally tiny condoms), but also for college faculty, alumni, and perspective students and their hovering helicopter parents? Also, I get into a little bit of a moral bind here-- first and foremost, this is a college newspaper. I want to make it interesting for the college's students to read. I want to make it something that they'll pick up; that they'll want to pick up. For the past few years, while it showed a REMARKABLE turn-around under last year's EiC, the Current has strayed into the gray territory of being targeted more toward the "adults" who read it, and not the students at the college. Lots of news, lots of interviews of "important" faculty members, lots of ass-kissing, not much fun.

(Ahem. Ever notice "faculty" contains the word "cult" in it? Hmmm.)

Being a hardcore lit fan in whatever media I can get it, I've been picking up the Current on-and-off for the past few years. Last year was the first year I started to see a more student-oriented vibe to it-- more reviews, more loose and informal editorials, less of the college-mandated ass-kissing. It was a start, but I really wonder sometimes if they're ready for me. I'm already slating beer reviews and advice columns and fashion articles and mountain reviews in the winter. Oh, and also, my editorials-- I'm trying to decide how many of them can be sexual in nature before I get ganked by faculty for lewd and lascivious conduct.

But hey. This is my dog-and-pony show. This is my paper, my editorial policy, and my editorial judgment. I'm putting my name and reputation on this, so it better be something I'm proud of and feel strongly about. And I do. I'm not sure if this is what Warren Baker had in mind when he told me he wanted someone in the post who wasn't afraid to "shake things up and had questionable morals and ask the hard questions," but I do believe I fill the "questionable morals" part of that equation. Today, my morals are pointing south, or, down. I'm horny as fuck, and some of these freshmen babies are looking awfully good.

So, without further ado, I'm subjecting you to my first two forays into the world of the Editorial. The first is the one that will be in the first issue of this year's Current, which is going to press this Tuesday morning! It's about college life-- real college life. Since the undercurrent (har har, excuse the pun,) theme of this first issue is about welcoming freshmen to campus, and we have lots of pictures of Orientation and tons of information about clubs on campus and event schedules and an advice column directed at freshmen issues, I decided to be the Big Voice of the Hard Truth. With some humor. A sort of, "what to expect now that you're here" guide. Yes, I reference drunkenness and drugs, but hey-- it's real life, people. Deal with it.

The second editorial is about relationships. Yeah, that's right-- I went there. I figure a big part of college is meeting new people and wondering where your next lay is coming from and if you're really dating and what the FUCK is going on, and there's this word being passed around more and more and more every time I talk about my love life or hear anyone else talk about their love life, and that word is "complicated." If "complications" are becoming more prevalent on the scene of our lives, I figure it's up to an editor to point this out and set the record straight, right?

Tell me what you think. Tell me if you think student's parents will swarm outside of my apartment with hot tar and pitchforks. Tell me if you think faculty will shrill my name to be ousted from the school. Tell me if you think the students are going to read it and give a collective sigh of relief that finally, here is an editor who acknowledges their interests and burning desire to know whether or not it is ok to cheat on your long-distance girlfriend if she is in another state. (Not ok, by the way. You're in a relationship. Grow up, man up, and deal with it. Same for you, ladies. You're with that other person for a reason, and a cute drunk freshmen is no excuse to forget that.)

Editorial One: "Camp Champ 101"

"I don’t know about you, but this past summer was an experience. My status as “unemployed” meant scheming up creative ways to pay for gas and groceries (cashing in Susan B. Anthony dollar coins for a quarter-tank of gas; debating between buying Oreos or toothpaste; hello, awkward life moments,) or growing in maturity while losing weight because it sometimes came down to choosing between getting places or eating. I’ve always thought that adventure feeds the soul, anyway. I hope your summer was less existential than mine.

Now that school is back in session, I’d like to formally welcome the Class of 2013 to our campus! Almost 550 new faces now reside here on the hill, the second-largest incoming class Champlain has ever had. Champlain also recently made good press with its inclusion in the newly-released 2010 edition of U.S News & World Report’s “America’s Top Colleges” as one of the “Top Up-and-Coming Schools.” This is good news for this year’s graduating seniors—more name recognition opens more job opportunity doors, something that I think we all realize the importance of in today’s economy.

But I realize that right now, the economy may be the least of some of our worries. For a lot of new freshmen, this may be your first time living away from home. There’s a lot you feel like you don’t get about “Camp Champ” and college yet, but even more that you think you do know. (By the way—“Ireland” and “the GBTC” are the same building, not separate ones as you may think.) I remember my freshmen year. (Mostly.) It was an exciting time—getting to move out of the sticks of rural Vermont, and getting to meet new people, a lot of whom I still am honored to call my friends, two years and many shenanigans later. They say that college is where you go to build your future. It’s also where you go to meet the people who will affect you for the rest of your life.

To this note, I’ve decided to dedicate my first editorial to you, Class of 2013. Both as a friend and cousin of people going away to their freshmen years of college, and as an upperclassman here at Champlain (how did that happen so fast?), I’ve compiled a list of what I consider the most important lessons you’ll learn while here at college. Learn from my (sometimes painful, sometimes gleeful, sometimes hilarious) mistakes, and spare yourself some hard learning. For our upperclassmen readers, I’m sure there are some points that will hit home for you, too. I mean, come on—I can’t have been the only one who actually thought wearing my ID card on a lanyard was an ok fashion statement.

The Top 20 Things I Wish I Knew When I Was A Freshmen:

- Your bed is not only going to be where you sleep (most of the time,) but it’s also going to become your couch, your homework area, your entertainment center, your personal phone booth, and even occasionally, your dining room.

- You are going to find out that every urban legend you ever heard about college cafeterias putting laxatives in your food is more or less true. You’re going to learn to eat sparingly at the caf because of the instant food-bloat you get from what you eat there. Gaseousness was never attractive to anybody.

- Quarters are not part of your personal currency anymore. Quarters are worth far more than a measly 25 cents, because that’s how your laundry gets done now. (I haven’t spent a quarter on anything but laundry for the past two years, and getting them back as change makes me SO HAPPY, it’s not even funny.)

- Girls go to the gym to work out. Please do not interrupt us, especially when we’re sweating it out on the treadmill, running a 5K. Guys go to the gym to do one rep of lifting, grunt, and then walk around and admire themselves in the mirrors. They think there is some sort of instant result here, or at least, they’re hoping for this. They admit to it. It’s just what they do. Pay no attention to them, unless they’re sitting on a piece of equipment that you want to use, and then, ask them to move nicely.

- You stay the same age. It’s the freshmen who get younger.

- Two people CAN fit in a narrow twin-size college bed. Just make sure this is someone you want to be this close to. Also, it helps to be creative about sharing space. (Also, be safe, please. If you’re gonna love, use a glove. Babies and STDs both top the “Unwanted” list for college students.)

- Ramen. Easy Mac. Chips. Cookies. Popcorn. Brownies. Pizza. Wings. Soda. Alcohol. Cigarettes. Anything that can be classified by its chemical compound and resides on the government’s list of controlled substances. Hamburgers. Chicken patties. Salads loaded with ranch dressing. Don’t kid yourself. This is what you’re going to be ingesting. Get yourself to the gym as much as possible, or that Freshmen 15 will be the Freshmen 30.

- Always set your alarm earlier so if it’s a horrible day out, you give yourself the time to debate going to class or skipping it to sleep in or checking your Mymail account to see if your professor cancelled class. But no skipping classes more than 5 times each a semester. That’s a recipe for failing out.

- Get involved with clubs or activities on campus. You need something to put on your résumé or grad school applications, and “partying every night” isn’t it.

- There is an equation for good grades and relative leniency from professors, and it goes something like this: participating in class discussions with valid, well-thought points and actually trying to achieve some level of academic conscious thought + staying after class to chat with professors + promptly responding to any emails from professors > than doing all of your homework/attending all of your classes/getting in all assignments on time. Believe me—I’m a Dean’s List student who hates doing homework and likes sleeping in.

- Walking around campus and taking the stairs are good ways to burn off beer calories. In fact, walk down the hill to Church Street and back up. Not only is this a great way to waste some time and burn some calories, it’s also a great way to get acclimated to the town. There’s always something happening—you just have to find it. Look in local newspaper’s Events sections and on bulletin boards around campus. You’re sure to find something interesting.

- So, ok, smoking is bad for you. Yes, we know this. But the chances of you picking up the habit in college are great. Promise yourself, your friends, your family, and anyone else who will help moderate you that you’ll stop after graduation. (In my case, after grad school.) Smoking a cigarette 2 or 3 times a week when you’re really stressed for 4 or 6 years isn’t like smoking a pack a day for 20. Yes, it will affect you, but I’m not planning on living past 75, anyway. But really, the easiest way to be healthier in general is to not start smoking in the first place. Be stronger than I was—don’t cave to the pressure.

- Alcohol poisoning is not something you want. Eat a good, high-protein meal before drinking, make sure to stay hydrated with water throughout drinking (a glass of water between drinks will do the trick, and looks like vodka if you want to save face,) and most importantly, KNOW WHEN TO STOP. If you can’t stop, then you have a drinking problem, my friend, and believe me, I know how not fun those are. In that case, know your trigger points: what your favorite beverage is, at what point or number of drinks down you start to lose coordination, sound judgment, or consciousness, and who your friends are who will look out for you and actually physically take your drink away from you no matter how much you swear or scream at them.

- If you’re a girl, be smart—don’t walk alone after dark. Even be aware during the day. Calling or texting someone to let them know where you’re walking and what time to expect you home is a good game-plan. Also, no iPod on at night. That really isolates your awareness.

- Guys—your masculinity is not directly tied to how good you are at beer pong or how many girls you managed to sleep with in one school year. Really. I promise. Chill out. Relax. Girls will like you more for it.

- Grown-up: Splitting textbook costs with your roommate for one set of textbooks because you’re taking the same classes.

- Not grown-up: Pressing your cell phone to your forehead and savagely whispering, “text me back, you giant idiot!”

- Long-distance love with your boyfriend/girlfriend at home does not mean the death of your relationship. It just means you may have to work a little bit harder. It’s up to you to decide if it’s worth it.

- Make a friend with a member of the faculty, be it a professor, or staff member. Having someone who will vouch for your character as either a job reference or as a friend is invaluable.

- Go to the job fairs. Get a job. Do work/study. Everybody loves money, and yes, it does make life easier. And if you haven’t taken a look at the total of your tuition bill and what you’ll be paying back in loans after you graduate, believe me—you’re going to need it. LOTS of it.

Best of luck to you all this year, and be sure to keep picking up the Current! We’re putting a lot of work into it this year to bring you the most interesting and informative content we can, from campus news to mountain reviews, articles on fashion to advice columns, sports events to movies, books, music, and food. Until next time, keep it easy.

And um, get to your 8 AM classes, lazybones.

Editor-in-Chief of the Champlain Current."

Editorial Two: "It's Complicated." "No SHIT."

"There's this stigma that's been associated with the term "complicated relationship" for so long, the mere idea of this Facebook relationship status sends shivers of terror into teen' and twenty-something's hearts everywhere. Tell a friend or relative that you're in a complicated relationship, and they're bound to give you a sympathetic look and tell you love is hard. Well, yeah-- it is. But honestly, complications are being given a bad rap.

This term is coming up more and more in daily conversation. Maybe it's because we're in the age of instant gratification and using technology to make the simplest things even easier for us, but it seems like everyone seems to be using the word "complicated" a lot more lately. I'm guilty of using it, too, but honestly, I can't think of a word that sums everything up better than "complicated." What is so horrible about complications, anyway? I like a little spice in my life, and without the periodic complications, relationships can get boring. It's almost as if complications are a relationship's natural defense from keeping us from falling asleep at the love-wheel and letting things get staid and us get lazy. Complications make us work. Complications make us learn valuable lessons.

Furthermore, a "complicated relationship" is almost an oxymoron. Show me an uncomplicated relationship, and I'll show you an unfunctioning relationship, or a relationship void of the two main components of why people get together in the first place: drive and passion. Some of the best and most famous relationships were complicated: John Lennon and Yoko Ono, Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio, Johnny Cash and June Walker, Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz. They may not have all worked out in the long run, but they were the romances that captivated everyone. The ones that did work out were the ones that showcased the sort of togetherness that seemed effortless, a clever disguise that masked the hard work that goes into dealing with someone day-to-day even when you love each other enough to try to achieve that goal. Say what you will-- Yoko may have broken the Beatles, but John was willing to compromise that to stay with her. That's dedication despite the complications.

There's no such thing as a relationship that isn't complicated. People by nature are complex beings who want different things-- therein lies the complication. A relationship is about striving to achieve the best possible compromise between two people while still retaining your autonomy. One of the best ways anyone in a relationship can deal with complications is to be yourself, and let their partner be themself. This person (hopefully) loves you for you, weird little quirks, snoring, clumsiness and all. If they see that you're willing to stay chill through the long-haul, they'll be more willing to be tolerant, too.

Complications can include, and are not limited to:
- Distance.
- Differing opinions on what members want out of a relationship.
- Different attitudes, points of view, or habits and hobbies.
- Third parties, (friends or temptations).
- Self-made drama.
- Miss-communication.
- Not clearly stating intentions.
- Not speaking up about something you feel strongly about.
- Lunacy.

The only time complications become a problem is when you let them. (However, lunacy might be a deal-breaker if it's not just a fleeting emotional response, but instead, a real chemical imbalance.) If you're making a complication a big deal, then it's going to be one. If you assess it and decide that it's not worth the pain and panic to your relationship, then it won't be, because you're not making it into a huge thing. No one should expect a relationship to go off without a hitch. No one should expect to be happy 100% of the time they're together with someone. But you should expect to be happy most of the time. The only way to sort through your complications is to actually face them, head on, like an adult. Warning, this may involve actually having to talk to your significant other. But as long as you approach it calmly, reasonably, with a sense of humor, and and as a united front to work through it together, there's absolutely no reason why you can't say proudly, "I'm happily in a beatifully complicated and daily-evolving relationship" and mean every word of it.

So take that, Grandma. I'm not settling down anytime soon, and yes, I love all my "drama."

Editor-in-Chief of the Champlain Current."

I'm not totally thrilled with the second editorial, as I feel it's missing a little of my je-ne-sais-quoi, but I'll work on it more and be back with a revised edit. In the meantime, lovelies, I hope that gives you some food for thought. I'll be back with another one of my regularly scheduled life-posts soon, although I have to admit-- having Perfect away and busy and not in ever-day contact is killing my excitement, not to mention, my mood. I miss the boy, a lot.


Thursday, September 3, 2009

And Not-So-Sweet Goobyes.

Please allow me to make up for all the time I didn’t post with the most epic of Epic-Posts.


Tuesday, Perfect strayed back into the territory of “We Might As Well Be Dating” when he sent me a picture message of the 1 pound hamburger he devoured for lunch. He was so excited about this feat of digestive strength, the excitement continued through the rest of our afternoon discussion. Every text was promptly responded to. He was sweet. We were funny. It was great. I felt, again, like I had my boy back.

Wednesday afternoon, while I was on a ropes course with the rest of my Peer Advising staff, being piggybacked and carried around by men for hours, getting my ass groped by my friend, and watching people hang suspended by rope on a high-wire far above my head, I got a text from Perfect. Actually, my cell phone, which was located in my bra cup because the white spandex leggings and old blue soccer shorts I was wearing didn’t have pockets (oh, such a winning outfit!), received a text from Perfect, making my right boob vibrate like it has never vibrated before. There was some spastic movement to get it out, but it was worth the whole shocking endeavor when I read that he was coming to Burlington on Thursday, but didn’t know what time yet. He was driving home, and by the time I could respond to him, was out of service. Boo. So later that night on Facebook around 11, I caught him on Facebook chat right before he signed off and went to bed to tell him that I was in training until 3:30 and please, pleeeease could he come in the later afternoon/evening? “Ok, I will try hard,” he told me.

“Ah, yes—thank you,” I said. “Now g’night with you.”

“Nighty night,” he said. I wished him sweet dreams and in response he gave me the sort of Perfect answer that one must imagine him saying with a suggestive tone, possibly with an undercurrent of, “yes, sweet dreams about you and me having hot, hot, sweaty, animalistic sex.”
“Oh, I will.”

Or maybe it was me that had the dreams about him and I having hot, hot, sweaty, animalistic sex. Guilty as charged.

What Should Have Happened:

Perfect, by all accounts, should have gotten into Burlington around 3:30 on Thursday afternoon. Because Cait and I had already discussed the fact that she wanted to go shopping with him, and I wanted to give them their alone time so he and I could have our alone time later, she was supposed to go home quickly after training, drop her stuff, and meet him on Church Street to take him away-to-college shopping. (This is one of their things they’ve been doing together for years, shopping.) Around 5:30 or 6, when they were done bleeding debit card money to Burlington’s retail establishments, he was supposed to come over to my apartment so that we could have some chill time alone together and catch up. Just really laid-back, fun stuff. We can’t shut up once we get on a roll, and plus, I wanted to take him on a walk to the underpasses to show him the amazing graffiti there, because I know that’s something he’s interested in. At some point, when I felt comfortable, I was just going to say, “Look, last time we talked seriously, you pretty much told me what you thought was logical and what you wanted, and I agreed to give it a try. Well, I tried, but it’s not working for me. I still feel the same way I did about you in May and June, and I honestly think we should just give this a try. It doesn’t have to be serious—in fact, I would be great with it being casual. But if we try and it works, then it works. If it doesn’t—no harm, no foul. But I think we’re missing out on a lot of fun stuff we could be doing, and I’d like to give us a try again.”

If he said yes, let’s give this another solid effort, theoretically, we would then fall madly into the closest possible bed, (hopefully, mine,) and have earth-shattering sex. Then I would whip out my trusty planner, we’d schedule our first visitation weekend, and then celebrate by having some wet and wild shower sex. (This is that “fun stuff” I alluded to earlier: sex. We basically have a relationship without the sex and this point, so wouldn’t that be fun to add?) I would visit him, he would come up to see me, it would be great, the sex would be amazing, and life would be generally beautiful.

If he said “no, I don’t feel that way,” then I would counter with a very polite, “well, then I’m confused, because that’s not what I’ve been hearing from our friends,” and delve a little deeper into the Is-He-Scared-Or-Is-He-Just-Over-Me? debate. In the end, if this were my answer, I would know to shake hands and call us good friends, get back up in the saddle, and start looking again. But he would know. And that’s all that would really matter.

What Really Happened:

Perfect and I kept in touch all day Thursday with check-ins and planning. I wasn’t sure if Cait knew he was coming, and she wasn’t sure if I knew he was coming, so by the time we both spoke up and but our heads together in joint effort with Perfect around 1 PM, I thought we had a pretty good plan worked out. Cait would meet him at 3:30 when we got out of training downtown. They’d shop and get their time together to catch up and say their goodbyes. Then Perfect would come to my apartment so we would get out alone time to catch up and try and work things out and say goodbye. (And, again—possibly fuck our brains out.)

Instead, when I texted him at quarter after 5 to check in and see if he was being close to done with Cait, I got an interesting response. “Cait’s on her way now.”

Ummm, excuse me?

Apparently, Cait had decided that today, yes, TODAY, THIS AFTERNOON, while Perfect more or less patiently waited for her by wandering around Church Street and bought two shirts at American Eagle, it would be a good time to get another piercing.

“I don’t know if I will be able to get over there!” Perfect texted. “I got a late start!”

“What time do you have to leave?” I asked.

“I was hoping to be home at 7, but that won’t work, lol,” he answered. It was, by then, almost 6:30.

“Uhhh, no, I don’t think so—hahaha—but I’d like to see you regardless of where you are, so please don’t leave!” I, um, I guess I almost begged.

“Well, if you want to come to Church Street real quick, I can say hi and bye.”

“Livid” does not begin to describe my emotions. In fact, “livid” now needs a new definition, because I far surpassed its limits.

“Oh my god, this is bullshit,” I texted back before I could control it. “Where are you; I’ll meet up with you.”

“Me and Cait are just walking out of Urban Outfitters. I need to leave soon. This was a real quick trip for me, sorry.”

I looked at Emily, who had happened to come home with me and witnessed this entire debacle, and I swear to god I felt smoke trickle from my nose and ears.

“This. Is. BULLSHIT! BULLSHIT, BULLSHIT, BULLSHIT!!!” I screamed while applying more mascara, grabbing my keys, and forwarding those texts all at once. “That’s IT! This is IT!”

I slammed out of the apartment, into my car, and rocketed downtown while blasting some…I can’t remember what it was—I think Matchbox Twenty. Yes, that’s right—“Push.” Because I was damn tired of being pushed and pulled around like this.

“Where are you?” I texted Perfect after parking at the top of the parking garage.

“The mall on Church Street—Pac Sun.”

By the time I got to the mall, I still hadn’t calmed down. People were visibly avoiding having to be near me. I could feel the anger crackling around me. It’s a wonder I wasn’t shutting lights off, something I normally do when my body’s energy gets out-of-control mad. (Yes, I’m a power gremlin. I can’t wear watch batteries, use motion sensor-activated sinks, toilets, soap or paper towel dispensers, and I occasionally turn off store- and streetlights.) I took a quick trip to the ladies room for one last look. And that look was manic. I called Emily to try and have her calm me down as I walked to Pac Sun, listening to her soothing voice and thinking Zen thoughts. I walked into the store, and did a lap. No tall, hulking manbeasts. No mutual friends.

“That’s it,” I told Emily. “This is going to be his balls on the floor of Pac Sun.” And then I turned around just in time to watch Perfect and Cait walk in the door behind me. Perfect looked wary and possibly, a little scared. Cait looked oblivious. Also, significantly more dressed-up than she had looked a few hours previously. So, she spent her time while she was supposed to be with Perfect going home, showering, changing into a cute dress, doing her hair and make-up, getting stuck with needles, and then commandeered my time. Great. What friends are for, right?

“I’ve got to go,” I told Emily. “I’ll talk to you later.”

“Don’t kill him,” were her last words to me. “I don’t want to have to visit you in prison.”

As I looked at Perfect, looking at me, I was struck more by what hadn’t changed than what had. He still had the same look in his eyes the day he did when we saw each other after sleeping together—that looks of, “hey, I really like you,” along with a look of, “we’re here; what’s going to happen now?” But it was pushed back further and hidden with wariness, and dropped eye contact. We both circled around each other, almost sizing the other up as we did our, “hey, what’s up?”s. He became infinitely interested in a clothing rack. I lifted up a hoodie’s sleeve. We existed in the same place as each other, just standing there, soaking it in, our little psychological feelers testing out the waters, the vibes, the attitude. No one spontaneously exploded. He tried a hoodie on. I tried on a coat.

“That fits you really well,” he said. We looked each other dead in the eyes, the first lingering eye contact since we’d been together. I saw them, then, really, and it was as I suspected— nothing had changed. He may have gotten a little sharper and a little more guarded with me, but then again, so had I with him. But when it boiled down to it all, it was him and me. It has always been him and me. Cait drifted around, either clueless or pretending to be. I calmed down a bit.
And promptly got worked up again when after buying said hoodie, Perfect turned around and announced, “I’ve got to get going. I was supposed to be at John’s house at 7.”

“Ok,” I gamely said as we walked out of the mall. “How is Mullett?”

“He’s good,” Perfect said as we all stood on Church Street. “Man, I’m hungry.”

“So am I,” Cait said, rubbing her stomach. “Well, I’m staying downtown.”

Perfect looked at her. “Hey, I need cash for parking,” he told her, and she goggled at him for a minute before cracking her wallet open. I was impressed at his balls, but then again—only fair. If she made him wait for longer than the 2 hour free parking, then yeah, she should pay for it.

Money now in hand, Perfect and I both vacillated. “I’ve got to go back to the parking garage,” he said as he and Cait traded bags so they had all their individual items separated and in hand to leave.

“Oh, which one? I’m parked at the top of that one,” I said, pointing.

“So am I.”

“Great—walk back together?” I asked, and Perfect and I both looked at each other. A loaded look. Yes. Our five minutes alone.

“Yeah, great,” he said. We started to turn in unison.

Cait saw. “Hey, Perf, would you please drive me to Flatbread? I’m meeting Heather there for dinner.”

We both turned back and gave her the sort of incredulous look that people usually only make in movies. My mouth may or may not have actually been hanging open. This was the most aggressive semi-cock-block I’d experienced of my life. “Are you shitting me?” I wanted to say, shaking her. “Flatbread is one block down the street. You’re going to make him drive you there so that he and I get no time together? Get. The. Fuck. Out.”

Instead, Perfect gave a shrug and a look and said, “Yeah, sure.” Ok, so I can sort of understand this—you never deny your best friends something. If Nora or Alli or Melissa or Caiti were to say, “hey, give me a ride from your mailbox to your house?” I’d shrug and say whatever and get my car keys out, too. But really—am I alone in thinking this is completely unacceptable, childish, selfish behavior THROUGHOUT on her part?

So our (un)merry gang of three trooped up the stairs to the parking garage, chatting about tattoos and college and how I was going to throw Cait off of the parking garage roof the first chance I got. (Not. But I would have loved to somehow work that into conversation topic.) Perfect led us to a Jeep Wrangler, and I stood behind it, looking at it a bit unlovingly. A.) The Douche drove only Wranglers, making his way through 4, and B.) it wasn’t the loved/hated 4runner.

“New car?” I asked as Perfect put his bags away.

“Naw, it’s my dad’s,” he said, turning back around and coming to stand closer to me where I stood on the driver’s side of the car. Cait, who I had thought would at least have the decency to get in the car and give us some quasi-privacy, stood at the other side of the bumper. Perfect started playing with the rubber that lined the frame of the car door. Cait got the hint and put her bags away.

“So,” I started. “I really would have liked to get a chance to hang with you, but oh well. When do you leave, again?”

“Saturday. School starts Monday.”

“Oh, well,” I said, shifting from side to side, uncomfortable as he watched me. “I’ve got Orientation to work at, and then classes, but I’ll call you when things settle down. Pass on my wisdom and stuff like that, ok?”

“Ok,” he said. “I’d like that.”

And then he came up to me, hunkered down, and gave me the best hug of my life. For two people separated by a solid foot of height and a proverbial elephant in the room, we mesh together so perfectly, it was hard for me to let go as he held me and rubbed my back. As always, one of his massive hands spanned my entire back, warm and comfortably heavy, just so there. I clung on to his shoulders, and closed my eyes, breathing him in, the scent of boy—clean laundry, forest air, soap, deodorant, and musk. The same smell that still lingers on my sheets and in my pillows. The same smell I’d know anywhere. We stood like that for a good thirty seconds, and then like little cracks fracturing us apart, let go, little by little. It felt like a sculpture being chiseled apart. Or maybe that was just my heart.

We said goodbye, and I walked across the roof of the parking garage to my car. The Wrangler revved to life, and I stood by my car, pretending to look for my keys and waved back as Perfect and Cait drove by, waving—Cait, enthusiastically; Perfect, a single deliberate rotation of one hand from right to left. Goodbye. And then, they were gone.

I sat in my car, gulping down dry sobs because the tears wouldn’t come, blasting “Kiss The Rain,” and wondering if this was it. I turned my engine over, drove up to the Admissions building of my college that sits conveniently overlooking Main Street, and ran across the parking lot to sit on the porch and watch cars drive by. I knew Cait—she would dawdle saying goodbye to Perfect when he went to drop her off at Flatbread, and traffic was bad. Sure enough, 10 minutes later, I watched the Wrangler chug to the top of the hill and looked across at Perfect, sitting so solid in the driver’s seat, a bit like a salmon in a sardine can. And although that bitch may have gotten his last minutes, I was the last person to watch him leave Burlington.

I went home and ran two miles in the trails by the river about, mad at him, mad at Cait, mad at the situation, and mad at myself. Alli and Dan found me an hour later and took me out for ice cream, or rather, a stirring rendition of “This Is Exactly Where I Was Three Hours Ago,” complete with “we’re parking one spot over from where Perfect parked,” “we’re walking down the stairway we walked up,” “we’re standing on the street where we stood,” and “oh god, I feel like shit.” When a lady accidentally stepped on the back of my foot in Ben & Jerry’s, the only thing that kept me from turning around and taking her out with a flawless right hook was the fact she looked like my mother. When two college guys hooted after me and my short shorts, I almost turned around to harass them back.

“Do we need to take you to Mr. Mike’s tonight so you can get in a fight?” Alli asked me.

“YES,” I answered vehemently. Something in the way I said it or looked when I said it must have made her reconsider.

“Maybe not,” she amended nervously.

With help, I drafted a text and sent it to Perfect at 9, not expecting a response back until the next morning. “So I’m not gonna lie,” it said. “I was a little disappointed about today. I really would have liked a chance to spend a little more time with you. Would you be free to meet tomorrow in MontP middayish?”

As I was driving Emily home around midnight, I got one of the great shocks of my young life. At 12:11 AM, Perfect texted me back. “I got to get college stuff going! What do you need to talk to me about?”

“It wouldn’t take long, I promise,” I texted back, while driving. (Very dangerous—don’t follow in my example.) “I’d just like a chance to actually see you before you leave.”

“I don’t know! Can we talk on the phone?”

“I’m driving my friend home right now and I’m hella tired after last night…I’ve got the morning free so it would just be easier if we could make that work. And I hate phones, if you can’t tell by the texting, hahaha,” I replied, trying to keep the tone light.

“I am busy, though.” Stubborn. Obstinate. A little bit mad and peevish. This is both Perfect and I I’m talking about by this point. It was like 12 rounds of passive-aggressive text-boxing—I’d punch him with a “visit tomorrow,” and he’d counter back with a “call me now” punch of his own. Neither one of us were giving in, so I dug in.

“When are you not super-busy tomorrow, or if you have to go into town for anything anyway?”

“Atta-girl,” Emily coaxed from the passenger seat beside me. “Don’t let him win! Don’t give in! Don’t give up!”

“I am at home packing and have plans with friends and need to take care of the dogs! So we can’t talk on the phone? What’s so important? You’re creeping me out! Lol.”

Now, for any men reading this, telling a woman she’s “creeping you out” is pretty much the recipe for an instant fight. Emily watched me puff up and tried to deflect. “I’m sure that’s not what he meant,” she said. “You know, like ‘freaking me out’ or ‘making me nervous,’ not creeping like "creepy"!”

I’d give her that, and looked over at her, flushed and hot with nerves and anger, but voice still droll and sarcastic humor still intact. “Well, he just saw me. It’s not like I’m trying to tell him I’m three months pregnant with his child. Or going to profess my undying love to him. So I guess no, I’m not creepy.”

Instead, I texted this back: “”Well, you’ve been freaking me out, so join the club! I just want to clean slate before you leave and I’d rather be able to do it in person because it’s easier for me than calling.”

And then Perfect made the mistake that broke the argument’s back: “Clean what slate, I am really confused and drunk right now with friends.”

Ok, so, not only are you admittedly DRUNK, but you’ve been furiously texting me for the past hour now in front of your friends, so, excuse me, but wouldn’t that appear a little awkward? “No, we’re not together, but I’m going to text her and ignore you and get into a very couple-esque argument about seeing each other over here in the corner while we’re supposed to be out chilling together.”

I hope his friends are as confused about us and I am, because that way, I’m not alone in this.

“Then this definitely isn’t the time to debate this. I’m tired and driving,” I told him with finality.

And then, Perfect did something I would have never expected from him. “Ok, drive safe, bye,” he said, and then he turned his phone off. End of conversation. Firstly, he NEVER tells me to drive safe—that’s my line to him. Last-ditch effort to say, “I’m mad at you but I still care.” Secondly, Perfect NEVER gets mad. And thank god, because I bet he can Hulk up really quick. But no—Perfect does not get angry. Perfect gets mildly annoyed. It is mind-numbingly hard to get a rise out of Perfect, and him turning his phone off is the equivalent of another man yelling and throwing things. Or storming away for “a drive” as some prefer to do. I have to admit, I was a bit perversely pleased that I was able to get a rise and response out of him like that. If I could crawl under his thick skin enough to instigate that response, it’s got to mean something, right?
And in other news, that was out first real fight. Spats, we’ve had before. They blow over, but the next morning when I texted him to say “Hey, good morning, I’m up—let me know when you have coverage so we can continue our 12 rounds,” and watched the little green Verizon check-mark appear ten minutes later when he got coverage and the message was received but not responded to, it was obvious that this wasn’t just going to “blow over.” Whatever. I was still pissed. The “creeping me out” comment still stung, hard. And I didn’t have much riding on the chance I’d get to see him again before he left, either.

So I was surprised that evening when in the middle of a dorm’s first hall meeting I was attending during freshmen Orientation when my cell rang and it was a text from Perfect. “Hey,” was all it said. But “hey” is how Perfect makes up for all our little disagreements. He always texts me back first to try and make up before I text him, and his “hey” is a joint “I’m calmed down” and “I’m sorry.”

I love his “hey”s.

“Hey, I’m in a dorm meeting for my job—can I text you back when it’s over?” I asked.


After the meeting, I sent him a text back. “Hey—so I think we had a massive communication breakdown last night. I was just really tired and cranky and wasn’t communicating well to get my thoughts across.” (And that’s as far as I’ll get to saying “I’m sorry.”)

“Ok, what did you want to tell me?” Perfect asked. “Just go for it.”

This is where my little brain started to churn to life. Why the need in Perfect to talk and for me to say something? All I ever asked for was to hang out/chill out/see each other in person. Not once, and you can check back in the texts, did I ever say something like “we need to talk” or “I need to talk to you.” The closest I came was saying I wanted to see him to clean slate. He was the one who came up with all the talking. Huh.

“No, that’s the thing—it was more of a chill thing since we didn’t get to really see each other yesterday. But, you know, I’m sure there would have been talking, otherwise it would just be weird.” Again, trying to keep tone light.

“Yeah, sorry,” he apologized for it again.

“Yeah, it kinda sucks. Will you be in coverage later? I’m eating but I’ll call you after.”

“I might be.”

“Ok. It’ll be like, 10/20 minutes.”

So, after eating and generally gnawing on my fingernails and cold sweating, backed up by the lovely Marissa who so nicely agreed to patiently sit on the stone wall behind East and watch me pace on the phone so if anything went wrong I wouldn’t be alone afterward to do something drastic like lie down in the middle of the pavement and wait for a car to run me over, I called Perfect. That’s right, my little fingers went down the contact list in my cell phone, found his real name, which, for the slow of you out there, is not, in fact, really “Perfect,” and pressed send. He picked up on the third ring, and I was yet again reminded that his voice starts somewhere around his kneecaps—possibly, even his ankles.

We chatted for six minutes, about this, that, and everything, except for US. Now, this may not seem like such a stellar performance, but let me remind you it only took us three and a half to break up. We talked packing, or lack thereof, as he got called into work; roommates and worries (how he and two other guys are supposedly going to fit into a men’s double with one shared refrigerator;) my day; about my “fun and weird” little quirks (his words, not mine,) when fire trucks with sirens blasting passed him on his end of the line and I had to tell him that due to my sensitive hearing I’d have to hold the phone away from my ear until they were gone; how we were both bummed we didn’t get to spend more time together and was he sure that he had no time this evening? (“No…I’m on my way to dinner with my parents now and then I have to pack, and tomorrow morning I’m going over to John’s house before I leave to say goodbye to him and his family,”) and just general other little things. He told me his game-plan for heading to school, when he started classes, etc. I told him about working freshmen Orientation and how he better participate in his icebreakers because they’re a bitch to organize.

It was funny, though—he was audibly nervous, stuttering a few words, “umm”ing all over the place, and repeating statements. It was sweet; it was cute; it made me light up and go flirty. We both worked hard at bringing “us” back to normal and making up, and by the time he told me he was at the restaurant and had to go, I felt good. “Ok, good luck with everything. Safe trip. And I’ll talk to you soon,” I told him. Though I didn’t get to give him the speech, it had occurred to me halfway through our conversation that it was ok—it was more important to make sure we were ok than to further rock the boat. I’d wait a few days—let him settle in to college, let me get through my first week of classes, and then we’d go from there.

After I hung up, Marissa looked at me from across the parking lot. “I could hear him,” she told me. “He’s got a sexy voice!”

“Yeah, I know,” I told her. “Whales can hear him it’s so low.”


The thing that drives me crazy, however, is that one night, I’ll go to bed sure that it is over and done, and that was Perfect’s final chance and he’s made it clear that he’s over it all, over me—and then the next day, it’s all sunshine and smiles and hard work and apologies from him, and I rest my head on that same pillow that 24 hours ago I was sure was my Bed of Pain and this time, am convinced that he is one of the best people in the world and I adore him. (All considered, though, and I’m not saying this just because I’m dick-whipped, but he is a pretty stellar human being. And I’m sure he’s even better-seeming if you’re not romantically involved with him and don’t have to deal with the hot-and-cold bullshit.) It’s all so very emotionally taxing. My feelings aren’t used to this much whip-lash. Normally with my men, it’s cut and dried: they’re dicks who don’t really want to work for anything, so don’t expect much. With Perfect, it’s almost the complete opposite: if something goes down in a way not planned or doesn’t end well, he’s perfectly contrite and willing to meet me somewhere half-way to make up for it.

…Most of the time.

What’s Happened Since Then:

So, it’s now the third of September. Perfect has been away for six days, and, strangely, that’s how long it’s been since I’ve heard from him. I’ve sent him three texts that were received, but not responded to, and I know he’s alive because he’s been on Facebook posting. I get that life is different. I get that he’s adjusting. I get he’s busy with classes, and I get that his family was apparently still there on one of the days I texted him. But honestly, this is scaring me. because I also understand that he’s off meeting new people, and some of those people will be cute girls who will just be dying to get with him, and I can get a little insecure. The longest we’ve ever gone without talking was for six days when I ran away home and then to Saugerties because I was so mad at him I COULDN’T talk to him. This is weird.

I thought we were ok. I thought we had made up and were back on track. I thought he wasn’t mad anymore. But honestly, I have no idea what’s going on with him. Alli brought up a valid point that maybe, he kept bringing up talking because he knows EXACTLY what’s going on and wanted to hear me say it. Emily seconded her with another good point:

“If he’s the one who broke up with you, and he wants you back, he’s not going to want to be the one to say if first and look like an idiot who made a huge mistake. He’s going to want you to say it so he can then agree and he can save face. He may be scared to look like he was wrong. And you’ve been so chill with him and staying friends that he may honestly think it’s ok with you, and that you don’t want more. And by you saying you just wanted to “hang out” and deflecting all of his attempts to “talk,” it might really seem that way to him.”

Huh. Apparently, I may have been too cool of a cucumber. If that’s the case, and he does think I feel only platonic for him, the silence can be explained by him being away and trying to get back over me. What do you think, dear readers? Is he wanting to talk so we can banish the elephant in the room and he can straighten things out by saying, “no, I think we should just be friends,” or could he also be waiting for me to say the words “I want you back,” first? I’m honestly at a loss for this one.

Or, he could just me mad at me. But WHYYYYYY?! What does this uncharacteristic silence mean? I may have to actually ask Cait, who I’ve been generally avoiding due to latent anger and grudge issues since her stunning little immature performance last Thursday. (Oh, it’s been a week since I saw him. Ohhhh.)

Anyway, I’m calling him tonight if I don’t hear back from him before then. Even if he doesn’t pick up, I’ll still get to leave a message on his answering machine and ask what his damage is. Marissa and I will be downtown to meet her beau, so it would be a good time to be somewhere where I can’t flip the fuck out.

I’ll let you know how it goes, and until then, darlings,


P.S-- And of course right as I publish this, he texts me back, but then doesn't answer the next text I send asking if I can call him later because I'm running off to class...of course. So confuzzled. As I said to Alli, "At least I know he's alive, unless he's figured out a way to text from the grave."