Archive for October, 2010
Today as I was driving to work, Jimmy Soul’s song “If You Wanna Be Happy” came on the radio. I immediately had flashbacks to high school when I, along with a few of my friends, went through a phase when we would listen to mostly ”oldies” music. I, in particular, was a fan of the Jimmy Soul song, and I remember singing it more than once around my group of friends. I have no idea why I endorsed that song with such enthusiasm, especially since it’s chorus maintains that “if you want to be happy for the rest of your life, never make a pretty woman your wife, so from my personal point of view, get an ugly girl to marry you.” Regardless of the reasons behind it, I enjoyed the song and sang it (along with many other equally awesome golden oldies) quite often. Which made me wonder….
…how in the world did I have so many friends in high school?
I mean, I was not your ordinary, cool student. Heck, I wasn’t even your ordinary, uncool student. I was just uniquely me, and I just did whatever made me happy. Even if what made me happy was singing to my guy friends about making ugly women their wives (which, by the way, annoyed me even then because I could never figure out if I should imagine myself as the pretty woman who the guy shouldn’t marry or the ugly girl he should chase after. Thinking about it now, however, I’m going to take the fact that I’m still single as proof that I’ve always been the pretty woman. Haha.).
Despite my inherent dorkiness, however, I always had lots of friends. And not just any friends–amazing friends from all walks of life and made up of all different personalities. Looking back, one of the best things about my friends was not that they put up with my insanity, but that they often times encouraged it or joined in on the crazy.
For example, today’s trip down memory lane reminded me of the many times that my high school best friend and I would cruise around town in my little red car with the windows down and the sunroof open. “But, Erin,” you might be thinking, “lots of high school students cruised around town with their windows and sunroof open.” Yes, you are correct. But did lots of high school students blare “The Hokey Pokey” through the speakers, sticking their right arms out of the sunroof when “you put your right arm out?” I feel it’s a pretty safe bet to say no, they did not. But Melissa and I did. And we would laugh hysterically and have the best time.
Similarly, there was a group of us (guys and girls) who went to lunch together pretty much every day our senior year. This was around the same time that Jewel’s song “Foolish Games” became popular. I don’t remember why or how it started, but that song became sort of the theme for our lunch-time adventures. We’d all jump in the car, pop in Jewel’s cd, and sing “Foolish Games.” At the top of our lungs. Every day. We loved every minute of it.
Again, how was it that we were fairly popular in high school?
The song ended just about the time I was pulling into my work parking lot, and as I parked, I felt a ping of sadness at the thought that my carefree days of spontaneous dancing/singing with friends might be behind me. Oh to be a kid again, I thought to myself.
And then I had a flashback to this past weekend.
I was in Norman for Calico’s 30th birthday, and on Saturday night, Calico, Diego, and I were all sitting around watching football. A little bit earlier in the evening, we had muted the TV and started streaming some Halloween songs on the computer to make gourd-carving a little more festive. The carving was now well behind us, but the music was still playing. We each had our respective computers in front of us and were not paying much attention to each other when “The Monster Mash” came on the radio. Without really needing to take time to discuss the situation with each other, we all stopped what we were doing, stood up, and broke out into the best mini-monster-mash-dance-party you ever did see. After the song was over, we sat back down and continued our night as usual. It was pretty awesome.
Remembering that, I realized that no matter how old I get, I never have to stop breaking out into spontaneous song or dance. That thought makes me happy. Perhaps Jimmy Soul was wrong, and it’s not getting an ugly wife that will make you happy for the rest of your life. Instead, maybe the secret to life-long happiness is letting loose, enjoying those you’re with, and finding the fun in every day situations.
Then again, my ex-boyfriend went and got himself an ugly wife, and I hear he’s pretty happy these days.
Halloween’s this weekend, and my Facebook newsfeed is full of updates about the exciting costumes that everyone’s putting together for Halloween parties and adventures. Again and again I hear friends make mention of the fact that Halloween is their favorite holiday, and often times their costume-preparation starts weeks in advance.
While I don’t dislike Halloween, I do not share this unbridled enthusiasm for dressing up and for celebrating this holiday. Don’t get me wrong, as a child I lived for a night of trick-or-treating with friends. As an adult, I’ve loved living in places where little kids come trick-or-treating at my door, and I get to ooh and aah over the pretty princesses or cower in fear at the sight of the swamp monsters. I’m also fairly certain that when I one day have kids of my own, I’ll be as passionate about adorable children’s costumes as the next person, and Halloween will once again become an exciting holiday for me. At this point in my life, however, my excitement for Halloween is limited to the constant availability of bite-size candy and the opportunity to spend an evening with some of my best friends listening to the monster mash while carving gourds.
So why am I somewhat indifferent to this spooky holiday? Well, I can’t say for sure, but I have a feeling that it may be due to my childhood costume experiences. You see, while my childhood was pretty dang spectacular and my parents made every effort to give us a great life, they may have been a little lacking in the Halloween costume department.
While other kids were decked out in costumes resembling superheroes, witches, or cartoon characters, I was generally decked out in random clothing items pulled straight from my mother’s dresser drawers and accessorized with random finds from the family linen closet. Case in point: the other day I was looking through old photo albums and came across a picture from Halloween 1986. All of the kids in my neighborhood were gathered together for a group picture. There was my friend Nancy who dressed up as Rainbow Brite in a head-to-toe commercially made costume. Then there were the two little girls from across the street who were dressed up as Dorothy and the Scarecrow from the Wizard of Oz. I’m pretty sure their mom made their costumes, and she made sure that not a detail was amiss. The rest of the neighborhood kids had on various masks and were dressed up as monsters, skeletons, or princesses. And then there was me. To this day, I’m not quite sure who I was trying to be, but I’m thinking that my mom and I decided that I would be an angel. I stood tall among the other kids wearing an old red shirt of my mom’s with a random scarf slung around the waist. The shirt came down to my knees, so I guess it was a dress of sorts? The outfit was made complete with some homemade angel wings and a magical wand made out of a hanger and a pipe cleaner.
The next year I wanted to go as a rock star, so my mom gathered my hair into a side ponytail, hairsprayed in some glitter, put me in one of her more colorful sweaters, and sent me on my way. What a rockstar! A few years later, I hit the streets wearing a random ugly man mask (which we must have found somewhere, because I’m pretty sure we never bought it) and draped in my dad’s army blanket. I’m not sure what look I was going for with that outfit, but if it was of an uncreative dorky girl, I’d say I pretty much nailed it. The year I went as a witch, I think we actually did buy me a real mask, but, again, I dressed in one of my mom’s black shirts.
My mother/linen/paper look didn’t end with trick-or-treating either. Oh no—it seeped into my school activities as well. In my Catholic school, we didn’t celebrate Halloween. Instead, we celebrated All Saints Day (Nov. 1) by dressing up as our favorite saints. I’m pretty sure I went as Mary every year. My mom wrapped me in a blue sheet and put a blue towel over my head. I think one year we went a little crazy and switched it up a bit with a white towel instead of a blue one. I don’t even think we secured it with anything; I’m pretty sure we literally just draped it over my head. To be fair, dressing up as a saint doesn’t leave much room for super-exciting costumes, but I do remember that many of my classmates went a little further than a sheet/towel combo in their choice of outfits. For example, there was one classmate that came as St. Joan of Arc wearing full body armor and carrying an awesome shield. Another classmate came as St. Patrick and wore a green robe and carried a giant staff. Another was St. Francis of Assisi and wore a friar’s robe and carried around a bunch of stuffed animals. Me, though, I just showed up year after year in my sheet.
Despite my less-than-stellar costumes, I always ended up having a great time on Halloween, and I never really noticed that my costumes were rather lacking. I mean, I was the girl who went through a phase in which I repeatedly wore an oversized sweatshirt, tights, and patent leather shoes as an outfit because I thought I looked absolutely adorable in my homemade sweatshirt dress (which, as a family picture will attest, had a huge picture of Garfield covering the front). And I was also the girl who, despite waking up at times with crazy tangles in my hair, only brushed the front of her hair because “no one could see the back.” Talk about the inability to see another’s perspective.
Not noticing that my costumes were somewhat lacking, however, did not mean that I spent all of October quaking with anticipation at the thought of dressing up on Halloween night. No, for me, it was always about a fun night with friends and never about the costumes. And so, as everyone else gets all dolled up in their creative and crazy costumes this weekend, I plan on having a great costume-free evening with friends.
Although, now that I think about it, my mom did accidentally leave a shirt here the last time she visited, and my linen closet is filled to the brim with towels and sheets, so maybe I’ll dress up after all.
This month is breast cancer awareness month. People everywhere are wearing their pink to show support for breast cancer survivers and sufferers, as well as to remind women to be proactive in their fight against breast cancer by engaging in regular self-examinations and mammograms. This is an incredibly important issue, and one that is dear to my heart, as my childhood best friend’s mother passed away five years ago from breast cancer. It’s an important concern, and I believe that everyone should support the cause any way they can.
That being said, I hold breast cancer awareness responsible for one of my most embarrassing moments of the last year (I have to qualify that, because I’ve had a lot of most embarrassing moments in my lifetime).
I can be a bit of a hypochondriac (thank you, Dad), and I am (and always have been) a hard and fast rule-follower. Taken separately, these characteristics can be amusing and somewhat obnoxious, but fairly easy to handle. Taken together, I turn slightly obsessive in my fight against all possible medical conditions. As a result, when I heard that women should perform self-examinations regularly, I took it to heart. I’ve always been a girl who likes to do well on her exams, but an exam that can lead to better physical health and to early detection? This is the kind of exam that I aim to ace.
And so, for the last several years, I did my part and engaged in self -examinations. Regularly. With great passion and enthusiasm. If there was a cancerous cell lurking in my body, I aimed to find it. Just like the ads and the doctors and the women in my life told me to do.
Not terribly long ago, it was time for my latest annual exam (sorry, guys, I know this post is a little lady-heavy). These appointments are the worst. I absolutely dread them, and they’re always just so awkward. For me, the worst part is the breast exam, because it’s the only part of the visit when you’re in a compromising position and actually have to look the doctor in the eye. This particular visit was the first time I had ever seen this doctor, so my discomfort level was alrady increased. Luckily for me, he had a great sense of humor (which I respond well too), so I felt a little more relaxed and settled back in my chair waiting for the exam to begin.
In the course of our conversation, he asked if I was married or single, and I said single, and we talked about the plight of the single girl. It finally came time for the breast exam, and as he was doing his thing, he asked me if I ever give myself self-exams, stating the importance of engaging in that behavior. Always aiming to please and pass my exams, I said with much enthusiasm, “Of course I do! Regularly!” Just like the ads instruct. I’m such a good woman.
“How often is regularly,” he asked me.
“Every morning when I take a shower,” I responded, feeling a little smug that I was such a go-getter and overachiever.
My smugness sooned turned into humiliation, however, as the doctor immediately stopped the examination, looked me in the eye and said, “Really? Every day?’ “Yep!” “Erin, you’re only supposed to do it once a month. Otherwise you aren’t always able to tell a difference. Promise me that from now on, you’ll stop examining yourself everyday.”
Oh the horror. I hope you never have to experience the mortification of having to hear your ob/gyn tell you to stop feeling yourself up on a daily basis. I can tell you from personal experience that it does some major damage to your self-coolness factor. My face turned bright red, and I made some lame joke about getting cheap thrills anyway you can (way to make it worse, Erin!), and then promised that I would limit myself to one time a month.
You’ll be proud to know that so far, I’ve be successful in this attempt.
While I have a few other stories related to breast exams up my sleeves, I can feel my parents and close friends cringing at the fact that I just posted a story about an ob/gyn visit and my zeal for self breast examinations, so I better save those for a different time.
In the meantime and in honor of breast cancer awareness month, I’d just like to take this opportunity to remind you ladies (and to tell you fellows to remind those ladies in your life) to be sure to check yourself regularly. Just not every day.
Do you remember when you were little, and you’d do something stupid and your parents would sit you down and tell you that a wise girl thinks before she acts?
It turns out that I didn’t learn that lesson very well.
While there are many, many stories that provide evidence for this fact, the most recent involves a match.com date I went on a few weeks ago. Yes, after my recent move to my new big city, I decided that maybe internet dating would open my world to the plethora of tall, dark, and handsome bachelors that I was certain existed around every corner of my new city, just waiting for me to log on and create a profile. Unfortunately for my love life, but fortunately for my blog life, so far all that I’ve experienced have been dating doozies rather than dating dreams.
Anyway, a few weeks ago I went on a date with a guy that I had been e-mailing for a few weeks. Let’s call him Goofus. (Sidenote: do you remember the comic strip Goofus and Gallant in Highlights magazine? Man, I loved reading that as a kid. If you’re not familiar with the strip, it always had two side-by-side pictures in which two boys engaged in a similar task. Each week, Goofus would demonstrate the incorrect behavior, while Gallant would demonstrate the correct behavior. Seems to me that I tend to attract the Goofuses of the world, while I’m searching for my Gallant. But enough of my random side thoughts. Back to my date).
So, Goofus and I had been e-mailing back and forth for awhile. To be honest, I wasn’t sure we would be a match in the romantic sense, but he seemed like someone who could make a good friend. He seemed pretty funny and like a fairly nice guy. So when he asked if he could take me out, I happily said yes.
We had a nice dinner at a cute little hole-in-the-wall restaurant, and conversation flowed nicely. During dinner, we talked about match and our experiences thus far. While he was a nice guy and I had a nice dinner, it became clear that we might not be a perfect match. Realizing this, I blurted out something about how I was really only on match to meet new people in this big city (which is actually quite true) when he asked me what I hoped to get out of my match experience. He seemed to understand and even agreed with me that sometimes two people are just better suited for friendship rather than for romance.
Those of you who know me well know that I am in no way, shape, or form a girl who can easily tell a guy that I’m just not that into him. Just thinking about having that conversation makes my stomach scrunch up in knots. As a result, I often do whatever I can to avoid those actual words, and often times I come up with excuses or subtle hints in the hopes that the guy will catch on.
Those of you who know guys well know that they never catch on. They need the words, or else you end up with stage 5 clingers who text you every day to check on you despite the fact that you haven’t responded to a text message in over a month.
This is why, on my date with Goofus, I felt exceptionally proud of myself for stating clearly that I was only on match for friendship. ”Yay, Erin!,” I thought to myself. Like I said before, from my perspective it appeared that Goofus and I were on the same page. This made me happy, and I thought that maybe my match.com-for-cool-friends plan had actually worked. A happy Erin is an unguarded Erin, so when he asked me if I’d like to go next door for a drink, I said of course! Afterall, even though neither one of us actually said, “Hey Goofus/Erin, even though you’re a great person and I’m sure you’ll make someone very, very happy, I’m just not that into you,” we did say that we wanted to make new friends, and in my mind that was saying virtually the same thing.
Unfortunately for me (and I suppose for Goofus, too), what was in my mind did not quite match up with what was in his mind.
I just didn’t quite know that yet.
So, there I was, a newly-friended girl having a nice evening with a nice boy, not worrying at all that maybe he thought things were going to progress to a level that I was in no way going to let happen. Once we were settled in the 70s-styled bar with beers in hands, Goofus told me that he wanted me to go pick a few songs to play on the jukebox. He told me it was a test of sorts, to see what kinds of musical taste his dates have when they’re only given limited options.
Not one to back down to a challenge, I skipped over to the jukebox, money in hand, ready to show him that I am a bit of what one might consider a musical connoisseur. Haha, not really, but as I flipped through the 5 pages of available cds, I did think to myself that I was just going to choose any song that caught my eye that I genuinely loved. I wasn’t going to worry about whether it was cool or lame, because, again, who was I trying to impress? I was just having a beer with my new friend Goofus.
It is at this point in the story where I wish beyond wishes that I would have learned the think before you act lesson, for my first musical song choice proved to be a turning point in the mood of the night. As I flipped to page two, my eyes immediately honed in on a song that I listen to and sing fairly often (judge if you will, haha) and truly love. Without thinking, I put in my dollar, typed in song choice 0301, and started looking for my second song choice. Standing over the jukebox and searching for my next song, I heard the music begin, and soon Marvin Gaye’s soulful voice filled every corner of the stale-aired room.
Yes, friends, in a moment of utter only-Erin-would-make-this-mistake stupidity, I picked “Let’s Get It On” as my first song choice.
Now, I’m sure that most of you have enough sense to realize what kind of message this might send to a date. But on the chance that some of you leave your common sense hats at home when you go on dates (like I clearly do), let me spell it out for you. If you are not interested in a guy, it’s probably not a wise choice to play ‘Let’s Get It On’ for him on your first date.
By the time I realized what I had just done, it was too late. Goofus had snuck up behind me and put his hands on my back, excitedly telling me that I sure do make “aggressive song choices.” I went into panic mode rapidly explaining that I was definitely not trying to send a message, but that I merely liked the song, and that I like it more for the way it sounds than for what it says (which is true!). Goofus just laughed and said that he likes my aggressiveness. Clearly he was a lost cause as he was in no way listening to what I was saying.
Not quite sure what to do, I decided to escape to the bathroom in hopes that some magical bathroom fairy might swoop down and save me. One did not, and so I had to once again go back out into the bar. We had been sitting catty-cornered to each other, with me in a chair and him on the adjacent couch, but when I came out of the bathroom, he had moved down so that now there was a big empty space between him and end of the couch.
Seeing that he had an arm around the empty space and being the considerate girl that I am, I kindly took my original seat in the chair. I naturally didn’t want to interrupt what appeared to be a private moment between him and his imaginary friend.
You can probably imagine how awkward the situation had now become. I had just played “Let’s Get It On.” Goofus had moved over and draped his arm around the couch in anticipation of me coming back from the bathroom to begin my song-promise of getting it on. I ignored this fact and sat back in my original chair, leaving a gaping hole between us. Awkward.
I did my best to continue conversation as normal as possible (“So, um, how about those football quarterbacks? Looking good, huh?” “I like pizza. It tastes good. What about you?”). He finally interrupted my crazy rambling and told me to move over on the couch with him because it was too far for us to lean forward and try to hear each other. I did, because, if you’ll remember, I’m not good at saying “no, thank you, I’m not interested”. As we’re sitting there (with his arm still draped on the couch behind me), he decides we should play the first-date question game (as in, “so, Erin, tell me what your expectations are for tonight and for me.” I hate this game. No metacognition on a first date for me.). After I said something stupid and evaded answering the question, he leaned in for a kiss. Oh no. I start panicking at this point.
Most normal people might stop here and say that they are just not interested in the other person or suddenly remember an important morning meeting and make a fast exit, but I am far from normal. And so, I made the situation worse by pulling back and giggling an exceptionally uncomfortable giggle. I can’t help it, it’s what I do when I’m uncomfortable. Goofus mistook my giggle for excitement and tried to go in for another kiss. I pulled back and started spouting out every excuse I could come up with (“Um, I don’t kiss on the first date.” ”I’m not comfortable with PDA.” “I haven’t brushed my teeth since we ate that garlic dish at dinner.” “Jesus appeared to me in the bathroom and told me that every time I kiss a guy, an angel dies, and as a result I’ve suddenly taken up celibacy.” Okay, so I didn’t say the last one, but you get the picture).
I underestimated Goofus’ persistence as he kept trying to lean in for a kiss. Finally he said that if I wasn’t comfortable kissing, then would I please let him give me a shoulder massage, as he has “masterful hands from years of trumpet playing.” Thinking that this would at least allow me to turn away from him, I agreed. Meanwhile, I had downed my beer in hopes that we could get out of there sooner, while he had taken maybe two sips. I literally kept telling him to drink faster and finish his beer. He just laughed and said that beers are meant to be enjoyed, not downed.
He’s clearly never been on a date in which he played Let’s Get It On for a girl he didn’t like. In those situations, beers are most definitely meant to be downed.
As he started massaging my shoulders, I stared off into space, creating my escape plan. I was just in the middle of telling him that I really needed to get going soon because I had an early day the next morning when all of a sudden he leaned in for a surprise earlobe attack. I don’t know about you, but I am not a fan of tongues in my ear. Not when I like you, not when I don’t like you, and definitely not when you sneakily tongue my ear from behind.
I whipped back around, told him again to finish his beer,and said that I had to go home and go to bed. He smiled and told me it was cute that I got so shy when I liked a guy. In retrospect, I have to give him credit for his ability to spin everything I said into something that was in his favor. Oh, Goofus.
The night couldn’t have ended more awkwardly, as I once again attempted to evade his kisses by quickly pulling away from his embrace and quickly opening up my car door. He told me that I should really start enjoying the moment and stop making my kisses so short. I needed to learn to kiss longer, according to Goofus. I told him thanks for the advice, but I had to go. I jumped in the car and headed home.
We haven’t been out since. He was a nice enough guy, but he just wasn’t right for me. Though neither a love match nor a friendship evolved from our date, at least it taught me to stop and think about the situation I’m in the next time I decide to indulge my love of Marvin Gaye.
Yesterday, as I was driving home from Oklahoma, I ended up behind a big truck with an attractive cowboy in the driver’s seat. I followed him for a long while, daydreaming the whole time that maybe, just maybe he was the future Mr. Me.
About an hour into our drive, he suddenly began shaking his head back and forth. At first I just thought he couldn’t contain his excitement for a song on the radio and was doing the cowboy car dance. His cowboy hat moved left, moved right, left, right, left, right. He finally stopped shaking his head, but then he took up slapping himself in the cheek. Hard. Again and again.
It was at this point that I became concerned. I continued to watch him, and he repeated this process about six times for the next 10 minutes, with brief interruptions in which he would vigorously scratch behind his ear. I didn’t know whether to call 911 or laugh or move my car far away from him. So I did what I always do when I don’t know what to do.
I called my mother.
She didn’t answer. I called my best friend Diego (haha, this is the “internet” name that he requested for all my future posts concerning him). He didn’t answer. It was late, and not wanting to bother my potentially sleeping friends, I had to continue to drive alone with no one to share my concern about the itchy, slap-happy, dancing cowboy in the car in front of me.
It was at that very moment that I decided that I would start blogging again immediately. Where else can I talk about all my random day-to-day experiences at any time of day without fear that someone won’t answer the phone or might be asleep?
This isn’t my first attempt at blogging. I did semi-well for awhile, but then nearly two years somehow slipped by between posts. I have high hopes that my second attempt will be more successful than my first. Given that I tend to get myself into awkward and/or random situations on a regular basis, I’m pretty sure I can find something to write about every few days.
And so, here it is. My first blog post on my new blog.
Oh, and if anyone’s wondering about what happened to Definitely-Not-The-Future-Mr. Me, I continued to watch him engage in the shake-slap-scratch routine for about 20 more minutes. Diego called me back and together we decided that he was most likely not having a seizure, so there was probably no need for me to call 911. Perhaps he was just trying to stay awake? When it finally came time for me to exit, I had to pass him. As I drove by, he looked down and smiled at me, almost as if to reassure me that he was not, in fact, having a medical emergency. Here’s hoping.