An Open Letter to Winter

Dear Winter,

Why you gotta be so cold?

You’re seriously like an ex-boyfriend. I remember you semi-fondly until you show up on my doorstep and test all that’s left of my patience.

Some of my animosity toward you is due to the harsh reality of growing up. I remember when a snow day was a magical experience: a day full of endless possibilities, full of games and glory, a day to live! A day where I could grab my shiny toboggan and glide down a hill, feeling weightless and free. I thought I could regain some of this magic when I started working at a school again. But, when you’re 26 and live with your parents, a snow day does not mean a day to rest or dream. It does not mean your dad is going to load you up in the car and head over to the local golf course. It means he is going to hand you a shovel and tell you you’re on your own.

I also remember when winter meant Christmas, and Christmas meant people would be cheerful and generous and I could skip about thinking, “Gosh, I’m blessed,” as I tore open presents under the tree. Now winter/Christmas means, “Crap, I forgot to get my brother’s roommate’s girlfriend’s hairdresser’s cousin a present this year. Everyone is gonna be so upset with me,” and, “Thanks for the socks.”

Perhaps it’s not you, winter. Perhaps it’s me.

But I kind of think it’s you, too.

Because even when snowy days and Christmas were awesome, they only made up about 3 of your days.

Because, also like an ex-boyfriend, you screw with our heads so much, there’s an actual disorder named for you. And its acronym is S.A.D. You make people S.A.D. Why do you like darkness so much? Do you think it makes you deep? I feel like if we personified the four seasons, you would be the guy who wears all black and writes haikus on a typewriter in the park.

You suffocate us, winter. You make it impossible for us to breathe fresh air without it feeling like we’ve been punched in the chest.

But my least favorite thing about you is that every day, for your entire duration, my co-workers walk into the office and inevitably say, “It’s so cold outside.” To which I am required to respond, “…yeah.” You create idle chit chat, winter, and for that I will never love you.

Sincerely,

Jillian

P.S. I probably don’t hate you that much. I just hated having to slip and slide my way to work today. Forgive me, winter. As far as weather goes, you probably top tsunamis.

 

In Memoriam

Say not in grief, “He is no more,”
but live in thankfulness that he was.
–Hebrew proverb

Oh, sweet paycheck, our time together was so brief. I feel I barely knew you, and yet you gave me as much as you could. That’s the kind of paycheck you were: one of hope, one of spirit and good intentions, yet, like all things, ephemeral.

I remember the first time I saw you. I don’t normally go for blind dates, but when I heard about you, I knew I would love to meet you. And though I expected to see you in my bank account that day, I was surprised at how you fit in so seamlessly. You were just there for me, as though you were always supposed to be—like some cosmic force had intervened, like every decision I’d ever made was leading me toward you.

Oh, paycheck, I was selfish! I know that now. It just all started off so innocently. I needed your help with some light holiday shopping. And you were so resourceful, so helpful and wise. Supportive. Perhaps that’s the one fault you possessed: your inability to tell me no. I was your weakness almost as much as you were mine. But you gave and gave and I took and took, and that’s why you will always be greater than me.

Now that you’re gone, I can’t help but reflect on all the things I could have done better, all the things I could have done for you: did I really need to have sushi for lunch? Was the $10 glass of wine at the restaurant really any better than the $10 bottle I had at home? I would take back the gingerbread latte if I could, dear paycheck. I would if I could!!

A part of me would like to believe that you’re still watching over me, from paycheck heaven, sending me sage messages about fiscal responsibility via the gentle breezes that brush over my face. But what I truly believe is much more beautiful than that: that you’re everywhere, that a piece of you is in all things, that when my friends and family politely thank me for their Christmas presents, I will see you in those presents and think of you, and when those presents get continuously re-gifted at future workplace holiday parties, I will hear you echoing in eternity.

My Top 5 Most Awkward Halloweens

I had a lovely post all written out for today, perfectly catered to reflect my awkwardness, and then my work computer crashed and I was told the files were not recoverable. So, alas, here we are. It was important to me to get a post out today since I missed last week, so I guess I’ll just have to wing it.

Halloween has always been such a weird time for me. You’d think it would be my favorite holiday, as it combines two of my favorite activities: being overly theatrical and soliciting candy from strangers. But for whatever reason, Halloween always leaves me with a particular, profound sort of emptiness. Maybe it has never lived up to my expectations. Or maybe I just associate it with less than fond memories.

I’m really looking forward to the weekend ahead of me: I’ll spend time with friends I haven’t seen in a while, I’ll get to sleep next to my boyfriend, I am entirely too proud of my costume. But I have no doubt I will still feel weird and moody and uncomfortable and somehow lonely. Because that is what Halloween does to me.

Anyhow, here are some of my awkward Halloween memories to share with you.

The Time I Thought I Turned My Dog into a Pumpkin

The first Halloween I have committed to memory is when I was three years old. I was dressed as a fairy princess and was upset that I wasn’t accomplishing real magic, despite having a magic wand in my possession. My father, bless his heart, convinced me that if I closed my eyes very tightly, I could turn my dog, Brittany, into a pumpkin. While my eyes were shut, my father very swiftly put Brittany into another room and put a pumpkin in her place. I opened my eyes and my jaw dropped to the floor, but my reaction was not what my father was hoping for. I became grossly upset with myself, worried that my dog was gone for good, that she was trapped in a pumpkin and terrified, and that I had used my powers for evil. Of course, my dog did come back, but I retired my wand that day, and a part of me thinks that the reason I’m so obsessed with dogs is my penance for trapping my dog inside a pumpkin. And my punishment is that they usually ignore me, for I need their love way more than they need mine.

The Time I Learned a Lesson About Society

When I was five or so, I really wanted to be Belle for Halloween. She had brown hair, brown eyes, and liked stories, so we were essentially twins. My mom, at the time, told me that all Halloween stores were out of the costume, but I knew the truth when I saw my skinny cousin wearing the costume a few weeks later: they didn’t make the costume in my size. Chubby girls couldn’t be Belle. I will believe in progress when I see a movie with an overweight woman as a romantic lead, and not a single comment is made about her weight. Dear world, promote health, promote happiness, and stop making women feel like shit about themselves all the time and then telling them their insecurity is unattractive. You’re unattractive, world.

The Time That Somehow, Every Single Year, I Managed to be Either the Only Kid in School Who Wore a Costume, or the Only Kid in School Who Didn’t

Every…damn…time

The Time I Went Trick-or-Treating by Myself

Up until the eighth grade, I only really had one close friend, and we went trick-or-treating together every year. But one year, in the fifth grade, she had pneumonia and couldn’t go. I had two options: I could mooch off of my brothers’ candy, or I could go by myself. Destiny’s Child was big at the time, and so naturally I valued myself as a strong, independent woman, because Beyonce told me to, so I went by myself. I’m not sure if there is a sadder sight than a 10-year-old going door to door, her mom waiting for her at the curb, with her head hung in defeat because she realized this was incredibly boring, miserably asking, “Trick-or-treat?” in her voice that is 50 years ahead of her body, development wise. This is the first time I can recall having the weird Halloween feelings; feelings of overwhelming loneliness that are evoked by the sights and smells of Halloween to this very day.

The Time I Had Alcohol

My first alcohol experience was on Halloween. I had approximately four sips of Kahlua, so naturally I felt wasted. I ended the night eating an entire bag of Oreos and watching Donnie Darko.

So, combine a dog’s soul forever encased inside a vegetable, the denial of my royalty due to unfair discrimination against kids who love to eat, a slew of memories of getting it wrong, a lone trick-or-treating, and the mind-fuck that is Donnie Darko, and you get one awkward time of year.

By Accident of Memory

Hello everyone! No, I’m not dead yet. I’ve just been insanely busy. My work life took a turn and also one of my best friends got married. Shout out to them for throwing the best wedding ever! And shout out to me for remembering to keep hydrated throughout the night. This is one of the reasons I am not dead yet.

Anywho, back in action!

There are tons of things science still doesn’t understand, but I’m pretty sure it knows way more about the brain than I do. Ergo, a part of me is tempted to hand mine over and say, “Fix, please.”

My brain rarely processes lessons learned from certain experiences, i.e. what is the correct thing to say at that point in time, when it is best to say nothing, when to not nervously peel my nails off, etc. Do you know what my brain remembers? Every episode of every TV show I’ve ever seen, the lyrics to Missy Elliot songs, and the name, birthday, and other scattered fax about every person I’ve ever met. Up to and including what they were wearing when they told me those facts.

It comes in handy sometimes. I know the ISBNs of every book in my company’s database without having to look them up. I know phone numbers off the top of my head. I can remind people of upcoming events like anniversaries or birthdays so that plans can be made. In college, my memory was depended on. People would ask me about assignments, details of conversations we’d had months earlier, lines from plays. It was nice. It made me feel like I had a purpose. But I’ve also realized that my memory is not often impressive.

In order to not come across like a Creepy Kevin, I usually have to pretend I’ve forgotten a lot of things.

It took me a long time to teach myself to pretend to forget (see, never remembers any life lessons! My mind is one dastardly creature!). Back when I was a bartender, I had a semi-regular customer order the short ribs, claiming he had “never tried them before.” My response?

“You’ve had them before. Last December. December 15th.”

He stared at me, clearly taken aback, and I was taken aback by his taken aback-ness, which caused me to keep rambling on about December 15th, 2013.

“I was wearing a black button-down with white feathers on it. You’d had a mimosa and then switched to beer. Brooklyn Lager. You were with two friends. I made them Tokyo Teas because they were curious…”

More stares.

“At any rate, you seemed to enjoy them.”

“Yeahhhhhh.”

There was another time where someone asked if anyone had this guy Chris’s phone number. I was only casual acquaintances with Chris and surely never had cause to call or text him, but I still was able to recite his phone number off the top of my head. Everyone stared.

“…Well, Chris called Ed last week but Ed didn’t recognize the phone number. He read it off to a few different people and one of them had it in their phone as Chris. I just remembered the number.” Staring. “I’d heard it a few times at that point.” Staring. “It’s just like memorizing lines!” NO I AM NOT STALKING CHRIS STOP JUDGING ME! I AM MERELY FILLED WITH GOOD INTENTIONS AND INSECURITIES!

I went to an event with my boyfriend a few months ago where a lot of people I’d met at a writers’ conference were going to be. I was nervous about attending the event and was comforted by the fact I’d see a few familiar faces.

With the exception of my boyfriend’s ex roommates, who obviously remembered how heavily I come down stairs and how poorly I park, only one or two of them actually remembered me. I decided to give this whole nonchalance thing a whirl.

“Hey, I think we met once but I don’t remember your name.”

“Oh, hey, yeah it’s Jillian. And your name again? Sorry.”

But in my head the whole time, I was going, “Your name is Tristan. You’re from Missouri. You’re a poetry concentration. Your birthday is July 18th.”

Then another girl came up to me, and the same conversation ensued, and I tried to switch off the marquee of facts about Jennifer flowing from brain-edge to brain-edge, but still, “Your name is Jennifer. You are also from Missouri. You teach yoga. You have a cat.”

Truthfully, I think it’s kind of sad we live in a world where I have to pretend details about other people aren’t important to me. I do not care one bit if people remember anything about me, though if they did, I wouldn’t be offended by it, because I understand that the brain is weird and life is weird.

This is just a little quick entry to whet your appetite for the mediocrity to come on this blog. Now I must tend to the unleavened cookies for my first Passover Seder and answer the work emails I’ve been pretending don’t exist.

The 12 Awkwards of Christmas

The first thing with Christmas that’s so awkward for me,

Not breaking things on the Christmas tree.

 

The second thing with Christmas that’s so awkward for me,

Manhattan getting crowded,

And not breaking things on the Christmas tree.

 

The third thing with Christmas that’s so awkward for me,

Enthusiastic carolers,

Manhattan getting crowded,

And not breaking things on the Christmas tree.

 

The fourth thing with Christmas that’s so awkward for me,

What if they don’t like it?

Enthusiastic carolers,

Manhattan getting crowded,

And not breaking things on the Christmas tree.

 

The fifth thing with Christmas that’s so awkward for me,

PANHANDLERS WHO MAKE ME CRY!

What if they don’t like it?

Enthusiastic carolers,

Manhattan getting crowded,

And not breaking things on the Christmas tree.

 

The sixth thing with Christmas that’s so awkward for me,

Receiving gifts and wishes,

PANHANDLERS WHO MAKE ME CRY!

What if they don’t like it?

Enthusiastic carolers,

Manhattan getting crowded,

And not breaking things on the Christmas tree.

 

The seventh thing with Christmas that’s so awkward for me,

Pushy salespeople,

Receiving gifts and wishes,

STOP SHAKING YOUR CUP AND TELLING ME YOUR KIDS ARE STARVING!

What if they don’t like it?

Enthusiastic carolers,

Manhattan getting crowded,

And not breaking things on the Christmas tree.

 

The eighth thing with Christmas that’s so awkward for me,

Scary inflatable snowmen,

Pushy salespeople,

Receiving gifts and wishes,

PANHANDLERS WHO MAKE ME CRY!

What if they don’t like it?

Enthusiastic carolers,

Unfurls chart on how to avoid getting trampled in Rock plaza (chart is blank),

And not breaking things on the Christmas tree.

 

The ninth thing with Christmas that’s so awkward for me,

The smells make me hungry,

Scary inflatable snowmen,

Pushy salespeople,

Receiving gifts and wishes,

PANHANDLERS WHO MAKE ME CRY!

Maybe I’ll get them 7 backup gifts just incase.

Enthusiastic carolers,

Manhattan getting crowded,

And not breaking things on the Christmas tree.

 

The tenth thing with Christmas that’s so awkward for me,

People being cheerful,

The smells make me hungry,

It looks like a rapist in my peripherals!

Pushy salespeople,

Receiving gifts and wishes,

PANHANDLERS WHO MAKE ME CRY!

What if they don’t like it?

Enthusiastic carolers,

Manhattan getting crowded,

And not breaking things on the Christmas tree.

 

The eleventh thing with Christmas that’s so awkward for me,

Work holiday parties,

People being cheerful,

Seriously, how many things can smell like gingerbread?

Scary inflatable snowmen,

Pushy salespeople,

“…thank you.”

PANHANDLERS WHO MAKE ME CRY!

What if they don’t like it?

Enthusiastic carolers,

Manhattan getting crowded,

And not breaking things on the Christmas tree.

 

The twelfth thing with Christmas that’s so awkward for me,

Political correctness,

If I drink, they’ll judge me,

People being cheerful,

The smells make me hungry,

Scary inflatable snowmen,

I came to buy underwear and now I spent 12,000 dollars,

Receiving gifts and wishes,

PANHANDLERS WHO MAKE ME CRY!

What if they don’t like it?

FA-LA-LA OVER THERE, PLEASE!

Manhattan getting crowded,

Who am I kidding? I broke everything.

 

Wishing you and yours the merriest of Christmases/happiest of Hanukkahs/ the kindest of Kwanzas/a magical Merlinpeen/Festivus for the rest of us! I will continue to stay home and shop online and pray it all arrives on time (because not having a gift to present is an awkward category in and of itself).

 

Awkward Giving: What I Have to be Thankful For

  1. Smart phones, so that when I arrive somewhere entirely too early, I have something to stare intently at…and thus I will never appear lonely.
  2. Texting, so that I may stare at and study the words I have carefully constructed for at least 10 minutes before pressing Send, and can avoid the horror that is improvised telephone conversation.
  3. People who screen their calls, thank you. You are too kind to let me leave the message I have scripted and rehearsed 7 times before dialing.
  4. Technology in general, for making everything less personal.
  5. Caution: Wet Floor signs, so that when I do slip, I know I’m slipping on something normal people slip on.
  6. All the air I haven’t tripped over, thank you. Don’t let the bully air get you down.
  7. Blinds and darkness, so that no one will ever have to see me dance.
  8. Alcohol, so that on some glorious evenings, I feel like I can dance. And I am not ashamed.
  9. New York for being the kind of city where talking to strangers is frowned upon.
  10. Tide-to-Go, OxyClean, and all other stain removal products, thank you. You have saved me countless dollars on several new wardrobes.
  11. Dogs for just chilling instead of judging.
  12. Artists and scientists, so that I always have a group to bask in social awkwardness with.
  13. Trivia, so that I always have a fun, weird, and random conversation tidbit to blindly hurl into the uncomfortable silence.
  14. Fictional characters for being the easiest friends to make.
  15. Fandoms for giving us ways to make new friends.
  16. Words for giving me something to hide behind.
  17. Pants, so that I may take them off after a long day.
  18. Blankets for keeping me warm through the insomnia.
  19. Warning labels, peeping toms, and general ne’er-do-wells, so that when I lie awake at night, I can panic about whether or not my counter cleaner accidentally touched my food or whether or not there is someone outside my window instead of tumbling into an existential crisis.
  20. Online ordering and delivery for limiting the amount of people who truly know how much I can eat and for keeping all conversations regarding such to a minimum.
  21. Dessert.
  22. Self check-out, so no one need ask why I need so much hummus.
  23. Anything one can fidget or futz with in their hands.
  24. Vacuums for easy cleanup after something gets knocked over.
  25. Open space where I can pace.
  26. All of my ex-boyfriends, lovers, and flings, for providing me with some enormously entertaining anecdotes.
  27. Family, who have to love me despite my cluelessness, and friends, who for some reason choose to.
  28. You. You’re awesome. Way to go, you!

Wishing you and yours the happiest of Thanksgivings. Eat, drink, be merry, be wild, be daring, be curious, ask questions, hug someone (or pat them on the shoulder with a kind, yet forced smile), and for the love of God, have your Tide-to-Go pen handy!

 

My Top 5 Most Awkward “Um…I Don’t Know How to Take That” Moments

Today in America, we celebrate a man who hopped on a ship to find a better way around the tip of Africa. However, he went the wrong way, landed in a strange, rural land amongst a group of locals, and told them he came from a place called Italy in the name of a place called Spain and had now “discovered” them.

Much like those natives probably felt, there have been things said to me in my dating life that have made me scratch my head and go, “Lol what?”

I am not always a tactful person. I think I have made that pretty clear. To the point where I’ve adopted the role of the listener in all of my friendships, and try to keep my words very calculated when the time comes. I have also dated some not-overly-tactful people. And here we have further proof that double negatives don’t work in psychology. –Tact+-Tact=Compliments+Offense=Um…I don’t know how to take that. (Write it down because there will be a short quiz at the conclusion of the post. Also, I’m pretty sure it was on the GRE.)

Here is a listing of the highlight reel.

5. Him: When I first met you, I thought you were the cute and innocent type. But that’s not true, is it?

I get this a lot. People often don’t know what to make of me. I look like I’m 17, sound like I’m 52, and don’t know how to hold a conversation about normal things. The combination just contributes to my awkward. The thing here is that he didn’t elaborate. Did this make me a good witch or a bad witch? What was my type, then? Does this mean I am not cute and guilty? Like a criminal? And not even a cool criminal, but the kind who gets caught and thrown in jail and never attracts the stereotypical attentions of the other criminals because of her not-cuteness but behind her harsh exterior, she just wants to feel loved, dammit? Or was it his way of saying I’m sexy and worldly? I never learned.

4. Him: I feel like you’re the kind of girl people date.

Great so…are you asking me out on a date?

This was before I understood the hook-up culture I was growing up in. I thought that dating was what people did after they had pleasant conversation and exchanged numbers at parties. I didn’t realize being “the kind of girl people date” in college pretty much completely benched you during tonsil hockey season. Also, does anyone else see that this almost contradicts what I was told by number 5? WHO THE HECK AM I, ANYWAY?!?!

3. Him: The first time I saw you, I thought, “I wouldn’t say no.”

Thanks, I guess? I mean I suppose his not ruling me out right away is what allowed us to get to know each other better and date for a bit. But even just an, “I thought you were pretty,” or, “You seemed interesting,” are very nonchalant comments that would have sufficed. I guess it’s good to know I’m not repulsive, but what does a “not no” mean? That as long as I shave my legs, I only kind of resemble a yeti?

To recap, so far we have learned that I am a not-cute, not-innocent dateable distant relative of Sasquatch.

2. Him: I’d say you’re in my top 3.

Out of how many? Top 3 what? If your top 3s are anything like my top 5s, we may have a problem here.

  1. Him: Out of 100? I’d give you an 85.

This actually isn’t a bad score, especially if a 100 is like Grace Kelly or something. But at the time he was my boyfriend of 3 months or so, and I’ve always been a bit of a Hermione Granger type about grades. A B would bring down my Girlfriend Point Average significantly.

As I write all of this, I realize I guess I go for the candid type.

Also, I think my life’s goal is for Columbus Day to be replaced with Awkward Day, when everyone can have a day off from work in the name of all that is awkward. Because that’s what America is really about.