In the Interim

Ohhhh, goodness.

It’s been a while, hasn’t it guys? Boy have I got some catching up to do.

I know I always make the excuse when I don’t write for a long time that I’ve been busy, or lots has been going on, but I promise that when I don’t write for two months, there’s been some things going on.

Let me explain.

In my post from January when I talked about how I missed my friend’s wedding because I got lost, I also talked about New Year’s resolutions, and I made a short and simple list of what I hoped to accomplish this year. In case you don’t want to click that link and re-read that (I certainly try to forget that ever happened), let me refresh you on what those resolutions were.

Sara’s New Year’s Resolutions for 2014
1. Finish my novel.
2. Get a job.
3. Move out with my sister.
4. Get a tattoo.
5. Go on a date (maybe).
6. Not miss any other weddings I am invited to.

So, to bring you up to speed, let me tell you how close I am to achieving any of these.

1. Finish My Novel.
Okay, this is kind of a throwaway if you’ve read my blog at all, because I not only finished my novel, I self-published it on Kindle in July. And while I haven’t checked in a couple months, I’d sold like a significant amount. Like, well over 500 as of Septemberish (Maybe? To be honest, I stopped checking because I was afraid people would stop buying it and I didn’t want to know).
But anyway, I well surpassed any expectations I ever had. I also am about to self-publish the first run of paperback copies of my novel, and so many of my amazing and wonderful friends have signed up to buy it, which still just blows me away. Like, I still can’t really believe sometimes that people want to read my novel, much less PAY MONEY for it. I honestly still find it hard to believe that people actually want to read this blog.

Whoa.

Whoa.

But anyways, the point is that I think I can safely check this resolution off as completed.

2. Get a job.
This is also kind of obvious if you read my blog, because I’ve also been working at a wedding shop since July. Getting to dress people up in wedding dresses and veils and also getting to do so myself = automatic awesomeness. Not much else to say about that. I’ve truthfully already picked out my dress, belt, and veil and I tried to say yes to the dress, but my boss pointed out that I might want a fiance first. I just laughed that off, because I probably need a boyfriend before I even worry about that hurdle. But the job hurdle? Check!

Just call me Gatsby!

Just call me Gatsby cause I’m making paperrr.

3. Move out with my sister.
Okay, so this is kind of the big one. This has rather been the one occupying most of my time. As I type this, I am laying on the couch in the living room of the house I share with my sister.
That’s right, guys. I moved out. And it’s super, super weird. Like, I honestly feel like I did in college, when I was just living at school but my home was with my parents. It’s not helping that I had to leave Gus with them because he’s obsessed with running outside and we live on a super busy corner of a super busy street. I also miiiight have gotten a new cat named Henry who is like ridiculously adorable.
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He had to live with my parents for a while though, because it literally took us like two months to get our new house (duplex, actually) ready for us. I swear to god, it was a money pit. We just kept finding more things wrong that had to be fixed. I’m pretty sure that I have spent as much money in the past three months as I have in my entire life.
But he and Gus instantly became best friends, and now I feel incredibly guilty about taking him to our house, especially since we’ve already brought Finn up here (who took a full two days to come out from under my bed and even look around). So this has resulted in me going back home rather a lot.

HOW CAN I LEAVE THEM THOUGH

HOW CAN I LEAVE THEM THOUGH

But for better or worse, we are moved out and giving this thing a go. It is exciting, because we moved in just in time to celebrate Halloween and we had some adorable little trick or treaters come visit.

I also might have made a visit to my parents' house...

I also might have made a visit to my parents’ house…

We’re also planning on having Thanksgiving for my parents and some of my other family members at our house, so that’s also pretty cool.
But moving out? Check.

4. Get a tattoo.
So this is also kind of a new one. One of the main issues with getting a tattoo that I’d had before was that I couldn’t decide which one I actually wanted first. But after I lost Boo, it kind of helped me realize that I wanted a cat tattoo first in honor of him.
Thanks to my amazing best friend Brenna and her (then) fiance Jennings, I managed to accomplish this one.10699704_10153380516909057_5693046581355142999_o

Best photo of the whole experience.

Best photo of the whole experience.

The final product and its inspiration.

The final product and its inspiration.

Getting a tattoo is not exactly the most pleasant of experiences, but it was nowhere near as bad as I thought it would be. I have like zero pain tolerance so I honestly was terrified I wouldn’t be able to get through it. But the whole process only took about 10-15 minutes, and Brenna held my hand the whole time so I managed it. I am unbelievably pleased with the result.
I decided to get it on up my upper left leg, right where Boo always used to curl up and sleep against me. It makes me feel like where ever I go, I have him just right there with me. It’s honestly one of the best, most important things I’ve ever done for myself, and I love it.
So tattoo? A painful but well worth it check.

5. Go on a date (maybe).
Ah, despite my strong misgivings and uncomfortableness with the whole idea of dating, I even did this. Thankfully the date I went on was with a friend from high school who was very cool and nice about the whole thing and picked an awesome date (going to a local art museum) and the whole experience was really perfectly fine. (Except for the part where we got trapped for thirty minutes in the same parking lot where I went the wrong way and backed into a car–I’M TELLING YOU THAT PARKING LOT IS SENTIENT, IT IS EVIL, AND IT HATES ME).
But I did it, guys. I went on a date. Check. (But seriously, no rush on the next one because those things are emotionally EXHAUSTING)

6. Not miss any other weddings I am invited to.
Perhaps the hardest one of all with my sense of direction. And yet the two weddings I’ve attended since I last wrote were two of the best, most wonderful of my life.
In September, my long time friends from college, Lauren and Scott, were married in a sweet and elegant ceremony in Tulsa. They even asked me to read a poem or something along those lines during the wedding (they also told me they didn’t want me to tell them what I was reading, which let me tell you IS PRESSURE.) I went with one of my favorite poems of all time, Shakespeare’s Sonnet 116. Luckily, I think they liked it and my speech, and I was absolutely honored when they asked me to be one of the witnesses that signed their marriage license. It was truly an absolutely wonderful experience, especially since I got to go to the rehearsal and dinner and spend the evening before with Lauren.
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In July, on the exact same day that I started working at the wedding boutique, my very first best friend Brenna got engaged. It was one of the best days of my life when she subsequently asked me to be her maid of honor. She was married in an absolutely gorgeous and stunning ceremony in Norman, and I literally cried through the whole thing. It was both strange and wonderful, because I couldn’t see her the entire time after she came down the aisle, but I could see her fiance’s face and the way he was looking at her was just pure love. I could tell he adored her and I was just so happy I couldn’t stop crying. I had tissues hidden in my bouquet and I’m sure it looked like I was literally wiping my face with flowers, and it was still one of the best moments of my life. I was afraid from the moment that Bren asked me to be her MOH that I would bawl my way through my speech, but luckily I think I cried it all out during the ceremony. Though I choked up a couple times, I managed not to cry during my speech.

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I also managed not to miss any of the weddings I was invited to. Check, check.

So. As you can see, I genuinely have been busy. I managed to complete all my resolutions, and by October–with a couple of months to spare!

That being said, life, as I have learned repeatedly, is always up and down. And the past few days for me have been very down.

My cat Gus, as I mentioned, stayed at my mom and dad’s house. A few days ago, he started throwing up everything he ate. My mom eventually took off work and took him to the vet, and they gave him a nausea shot to help and said he didn’t seem seriously ill. Unfortunately for me, I didn’t take the news well. I had a panic attack–the first I’ve had in months.
I talked before about how much I struggled with depression and anxiety in the past year and a half and what an enormous challenge it was for me to overcome. But with the help of my family and my doctor, I got counseling and I also got medication, and it has seemed to make all the difference. That’s why it made this panic attack so absolutely terrifying–I thought I was better. I though I was DONE with panic attacks.
It was so scary to realize that, even with regular medication, even with special medication to help me prevent it if I felt one coming, I could still have panic attacks. It was exactly the way it used to be, the same sickeningly familiar symptoms. I got dizzy and nauseated, and I couldn’t seem to stop crying, and I felt convinced that Gus was going to die at any minute. Ironically, an incident when we thought Gus might have eaten something poisonous and I had one of the worst panic attacks I’d ever had is what made me finally stop and say, I think something is wrong and eventually led to me getting help. It was a bizarre kind of full circle.
My sister drove me to my parents’ house, and I spent the evening there with Gus, who seemed to be doing better and who even managed to eat and keep it down. I started to feel better, and it seemed like he was better as well.
The next morning, I woke up and started getting ready for work, only to get a call from my mom that Gus was throwing up repeatedly again. We both agreed that we desperately needed to get him back to the vet for bloodwork–the problem was, no one could take him. Thankfully, my incredibly understanding boss let me have the day off so I could get him to the vet.

The experience I’m about to relate is not for the faint of heart, so if you’re squeamish about medical stuff or have a weak stomach I suggest you skip it.
I rushed to my parents’ to get Gus, who absolutely hates riding in the car. So, he proceeded to climb into my back window and howl for the fifteen minute drive to the vet. The vet doesn’t take appointments either, so when we got there we had to sit in the car and wait. We waited for almost an hour, and the only reason they called us back was because they had to have the bloodwork done by 10 in order for us to get our results back that day (it was Friday, and if we’d waited any later we wouldn’t have gotten them back until Monday).
So they took us back to like a nurse’s station where they do the blood drawing. They had to shave a little chunk of poor Gustav’s hair off, so he has a little bald spot on his neck where they drew the blood. Now, let me preface this by saying that as you may know if you’ve ever met me, I kind of have a problem with needles. Like, I hate them. Like, they literally make me sick. Like, I haven’t gotten a shot since I was 17 and my mother could no longer make me get them.
So they were trying to draw blood from a vein in Gus’s neck, but the first needle they used was too small. So then they had to get a bigger needle. And as they’re struggling to draw blood, the nurse is like “I think I should’ve got an even BIGGER needle.” Now, you may be wondering why I didn’t step out of the room since I have such a problem with needles, right? Well, in the first place, I didn’t realize I had a problem with needles when used on pets. I’ve seen my dogs get shots a hundred times and it never really bothered me. Second, poor Gus looked absolutely terrified as they held him down and I know it cannot feel good to have people stabbing at your neck with different needles (that phrase literally makes me sick to my stomach). So, trying nobly to be a good cat mom, I stayed so I could pet him and talk to him. As they were drawing the blood, however, I heard one lady say, “Man, this blood is so dark and thick.” I, of course, immediately looked at the syringe, because this concerned me. What did that mean? Was that a bad sign?!
She followed it up by saying, “Of course, you’d expect that in a cat that’s been throwing up.”
I felt immediate relief, followed by immediate heat. A short time later, I realized that I was staring at that little bald spot where they had the needle in, and I was getting even hotter. I realized I probably should’ve taken my coat off, and proceeded to sling it somewhere (I honestly don’t know where I put it). Abruptly, I realized I was also very sick to my stomach, and somewhat desperately I inquired where the bathroom was. They told me it was out of the room, down the hall and around the corner.

Now, I remember walking out the door of the room, but after that my vision disappeared. All the sound started roaring in my ears, and I felt myself fall against a wall. I was sentient enough to realized I had fallen into the wall, and I heard myself say, “Oh, oops!”
I don’t have any memory of what happened after that until I woke up and found myself sitting on the floor. I was incredibly confused and disoriented, and couldn’t figure out where I was in the vet or how I’d gotten there. I probably wasn’t out more than five or ten seconds, but I was DEFINITELY out. A nurse came out into the hall and goes, “Oh my god, are you okay?!” I sort of realized then that I’d fainted, and I replied in a low miserable groan, “Noooo.”
Then, I proceeded to throw up on the floor of the hallway at the vet’s office.
Yep. On the floor. In the hallway. At the vet’s.
I heard someone go, “Oh no.”
Then, a trash can was shoved at me and I managed to throw up three more times into it before dry heaving for a bit. At this point, there were people flitting about everywhere, because the more people to see my shame, the merrier! Someone handed me a roll of paper towels as someone called for a mop and I realized that I was half-sitting in my own throw up. It was then it occurred to me that I was within one of the lowest moments of my life.
I started apologizing repeatedly, and everyone was super nice, of course. The nurse brought Gus out into the hall and he was just meowing in her arms like, “Um, what are you doing? I am the one who is sick, not you!”
They made me sit in a room and drink a glass of water while I was waiting for the doctor so I could recover. Unfortunately, this also left me time to sit and stew in my shame and humiliation.
When I finally got to go home, I immediately collapsed in an embarrassment-and-exhaustion-fueled sleep. When I woke up that afternoon, I realized that I still had some throw up in my hair and I had to take a shower.
So, all in all, definitely one of my finest, proudest moments.

This was only the second time I had actually fainted; the other was when my sister had to have surgery and they put the IV in and got blood all over her hand. I made my way into the bathroom, sat on the floor, all the sound started rushing and getting louder in my ears, I passed out for a few seconds, and then I threw up three times in the toilet. Nice and tidy. To be fair, I hadn’t eaten dinner the night before, then I’d barely slept, then I didn’t eat breakfast that morning, and I was overall incredibly stressed.
I have to say, my second experience with passing out was much worse than the first. Again, to be fair to me, I hadn’t eaten dinner the night before (panic attacks kill my appetite), I didn’t sleep well, I didn’t eat breakfast, and I was incredibly stressed.
So I think I’ve figured out the recipe to make me faint. Needles + blood + lack of sleep and nourishment + stress = shame and embarrassment. A winning combination.
Luckily for my sanity, we got the results back that same day and Gus’s bloodwork was completely normal, so I count it as worth it.

Basically, in the interim since I last wrote, I have been checking off resolutions… and humiliating myself in brilliant, awe-inspiring form.

So pretty much the same old, same old.

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It’s Going Down, I’m Yelling Tinder

Hi, everyone.
I know it’s been a while since I last wrote, and I apologize. I’ve been pretty busy lately running around with friends and trying to find a job (as ever). You might remember that at the beginning of May, I wrote about how the Buzzfeed post I authored went viral, and it resulted in me getting a job offer to write articles for the British website WhatCulture.com. In the month of May I wrote three articles for about 90 bucks (whoop WHOOOOOO)!!!

SOMEONE PAID ME MONEY TO WRITE WORDS THIS IS CRAZY

You can check them out here:
9 Underrated Kid’s Movies You Didn’t Realise Were Awesome
20 Reasons Being A Single Woman Is The Best 
20 Obscure Movies With Hilarious IMDB Descriptions

Just a note, the single one was originally written as just being directed at single people in general, but then my editor randomly changed it after I submitted it and so now the title doesn’t really makes sense.
Ah, the realities of writing for someone else.
But seriously, I love writing for What Culture and everyone has been incredibly kind and I strongly encourage you to go check out, not just my articles, but everything else on their cool Britishy website. I’d love it if you’d share or comment on my articles, too, as it helps my standing within the pecking order.

But now, on to the most exciting thing I’ve been doing lately.
Friends, it’s finally happened.
I joined Tinder.

Heh. Heh heh.

I know what you might be thinking here. Sara, you’re saying, don’t you know Tinder is for hooking up?
Yes, yes, Unspecified Mystery Reader, I had heard that. That’s why I never tried it or anything; I was just as skeptical as you. But I actually talked with one of my friends that had Tinder, and she told me it’s not really that bad and she recommended I try it.

I thought about this for a good long while. As you all may or may not have figured out by this point, I’m a bit awkward and unfamiliar with this whole dating tomfoolery. If you don’t count times when parents drove because we were too young, I’ve never been on an actual date. At the age of 22, this often comes as a surprise to people, and makes trying to date even more awkward. It’s made it easy to make excuses and never really give dating much of a go.
Now, as I have said repeatedly on this blog, I do NOT think there is anything wrong with being single. In fact, I think being single for a long period of time is one of the greatest things I’ve ever done. It allowed me to really sort myself out and figure out what I wanted and needed in a potential partner.
On the other hand, however, I’m just getting dang curious what all the “dating” fuss is about, and I’d really just like to give this whole thing a whirl. I even made a resolution for New Year’s that I would go on a date this year (probably).
But by May, my options still weren’t looking good. So impulsively one day, I plunged in and downloaded Tinder.

Eh, why not?

Let me explain the basic premise of Tinder for those of you who have never been desperate enough to use it. You create a profile where you can pick a few pictures to put on, along with a short bio. Then you set parameters like age range, gender, and distance from you. Then, Tinder looks for people who fit into your parameters in your area

Genuinely one of my favorite things to come from the internet.

You look at the profile and pictures of the people Tinder suggests to you, and it will show you if you have any mutual friends or likes on Facebook. Then, you either swipe left if you’re not interested, or right if you are. If someone you’re interested in also swipes that they’re interested, too, then it will show you that you are a match. You then have the ability to message each other and start a conversation. If you swipe left, then you never see that profile again–even if you swiped left by accident.
The first time I tried to use Tinder, I became very stressed out. I am terrible at making decisions, and Tinder is literally making what is essentially a snap judgement about someone based almost entirely off their appearance. I didn’t even swipe the first time I got on, because I felt so agonized about the prospect of making a mistake. I stared at this one guy’s profile for like fifteen minutes, paralyzed with indecision, before I finally panickedly closed Tinder by hitting the back button like five times unnecessarily. It took me a few hours to get my courage up again.
Tentatively, I tried again, resolving to be firmer and more hard-hearted. I braced myself, and swiped no on a couple of people. I immediately felt incredibly proud of myself. I could do this… I could Tinder!!!!
Then I came to a guy who I WAS interested in. Again, I felt crippled with indecision. What if I swiped yes on him but he didn’t swipe yes on me?! What if I was rejected BY A PHONE APP?!
And then, the beauty of Tinder dawned upon me.
WHO CARES IF YOU ARE REJECTED BY A PHONE APP, YOU NEVER HAVE TO SEE OR SPEAK TO THEM EVER AGAIN!!!! IT’S LIKE DATING WITHOUT ANY SORT OF PHYSICAL CONTACT!!!! I DON’T EVEN HAVE TO LEAVE MY HOUSE TO PARTICIPATE!!!

The excitement this realization brought me is perhaps a bad omen for someone who claims to want a date.

But back to my story. Bravely, I overcame my trepidation, and swiped yes for the first time. Instantly, a little message popped up on my phone saying we were a match.

Classy girls protect identities.

Classy girls protect identities.

Wait…. we’re a match? We really are? You’re saying someone looked at my picture and my profile and thought, YeahI’d be interested in her?!?!?!

God, what was I waiting for?! This dating thing is a PIECE. OF. CAKE. I started swiping like crazy, soon becoming drunk with the power to reject or approve potential soulmates (probably). And, even more heady, almost every single guy I swiped that I was interested in had already said they were interested in me.
It was a miracle– THESE GUYS DON’T THINK I LOOK LIKE I’M TWELVE YEARS OLD!!!!!!!!
Pretty quickly, a few guys even MESSAGED me. I was chatting with guys in a romantic context on my phone…. THIS IS THE FUTURE.

And, happily, most of the guys were really nice. Unfortunately, one fella got right off to a bit of a personal start, and inquired about my feelings on “butt stuff.”

And so I blocked his ass; hopefully that got the message across. One of the nice things about Tinder is you can block someone at any time and they can never see your profile or contact you again.
Overall, most of the guys I was matching with who messaged me were really nice and not creepy. However, there were definitely a few interesting profiles I came across:

Oh, hi there, pretend Eric Church.

Oh, hi there, pretend Eric Church.

Okay, but I really like his style.

Okay, but I really like his style.

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I left his name because, oh my god his name is Countryman?! Also, I thought he was Kevin Durant for a minute.
But speaking of NBA players, the most exciting moment of my Tinder experience came when a profile was suggested to me that is most likely someone pretending to be Steven Adams of the NBA Thunder (my new favorite Thunder player if Derek Fisher retires), but OH MY EVER LIVING GOD IT COULD BE STEVEN ADAMS ON MY TINDER AND THERE IS THE POSSIBILITY HE MIGHT SWIPE RIGHT ON ME.

THE ONLY PROBLEM IS I WOULD PROBABLY SPONTANEOUSLY EXPLODE

I should’ve taken a screenshot of it, but I have NEVER swiped yes so fast on a Tinder profile in my life.
The most traumatizing moment definitely came when I discovered my own cousin on Tinder (I CAN NEVER UNSEE), and also horrifying was when one of my best friend’s younger brother appeared. But also cool was finding a couple guys I knew and went to school with. We both swiped yes on each other and then laughed about how we were both on Tinder.

Then, a guy I went to high school with but I didn’t know at all during that time matched with me. I’d actually played against him a couple seasons in indoor, so we’d at least nominally met, but I didn’t think he’d really remember who I was. Yet he straight away asked me to play with his indoor team, but I unfortunately have been injured with quad tears for the past two months (a whole other story that I will get to on another post). But, to my shock, even after I told him I couldn’t play, he asked me to still come watch his game. AND there was definite flirtiness (I think).
Was… was this a…. DATE?!?!

COME ON SARA KEEP IT TOGETHER

Let me just explain how surreal this is to me. This guy, who we will call The Lad (remember, classy girls protect identities), was really popular in high school and played football. I NEVER even came into contact with him in high school, much less spoke to him. I always just admired how hot he was from afar. And now I think he might have possibly asked me on a quasi-date??????

hahaha what I don’t know how to react or handle this or even breathe send help please help

But, as with all things when it comes to me and guys, this situation is not so simple. The Lad asked me last Sunday to come to a game that is tomorrow, Saturday. So Sara, you’re saying. What’s the problem with that? That actually sounds really simple. Why don’t you just go up to the game and watch? It’s not a big deal, and it’s not like you don’t spend a majority of your time in soccer arenas anyway. Just do it. DO IT. GO TO THE GAME.
Well, Overly Insistent and Pushy Mystery Reader Who Sounds Like My Family and Close Friends, here’s the problem.
I haven’t spoken to him since then. He hasn’t messaged me or contacted me at all since Monday. What if he forgot he invited me, or he only matched with me so he could ask me to play and then when I couldn’t he felt obligated to invite me to the game to be nice? If he was really interested, why hasn’t he talked to me? What if he’s just a big creep?
Now you may be thinking that I sound absurd, or silly, or why in god’s name don’t I just message him? But I have accepted this about myself and dating– I have to take baby steps. Really, really tiny baby steps. Maybe more like a couple weeks old baby steps that aren’t really steps at all but are just the baby kicking its legs around in the air under its mobile.
To date, I’m going to need a LOT of encouragement and reassurance. I am the most oblivious girl alive sometimes, and I NEVER realize when guys like me unless they come right out and say it– and even then I’m still a bit skeptical. Dating is just a whole new world for me, and I am no Hernando Cortez to go rushing right in and conquer it ruthlessly and without fear– the natives reportedly ripped out hearts, remember.

Yep, I mix history and dating. Maybe why I'm still single?

Yep, I mix history and dating. Maybe why I’m still single?

And so I waver indecisively, as agonizingly unsure as the very first time I faced a profile on Tinder. Should I go? Should I not? Should I message him? The answer is not clear to me, and I am struggling mightily with my natural shyness and awkwardness in a romantic context. I’m sure I’ll update you on the thrilling conclusion to the pathetic sagas of my love life, whatever they may be.
I just don’t understand why I ever thought Tinder was a good idea. Maybe I’m going to give up on this whole dating thing after all; my stress levels are rising exponentially and I don’t understand how so many people do the dating.

I’m starting to seriously question whether I’m cut out for it at all.

I don’t think it’s for me.

 

 

The License Plate Prophecy: A Farce

Well, Readers.
I am finally feeling recovered from my rather unfortunate first experience with subbing, so as promised I am bringing the story of my first and only interview–also a disaster.
As I have mentioned, I graduated from college in April of 2013. I applied for my first job in May, and to date I have had one single interview. To say that my job hunt is going poorly is something of an understatement.

Am I laughing or am I crying?

I have been very vocal about my struggles with the job hunt, both here and on Facebook, and so a lot of my friends are well aware of my problems. And since I have great friends, they look to help me out. About a month ago, my friend Amanda, whom I met at college, let me know about a job opening that she thought I should apply for at the place where she worked. It was a clerical position at the Oklahoma City Parks and Recreation department.
Wait, wait, a job at the Parks and Rec department? So what you’re saying is I might get this job and start making money again? Because you know what that would mean….

Another great thing about this job is that it was part-time, which meant I would be able to be off by 2 every day– which was perfect because I had accepted a position as a coach for an under six girls soccer team. We had practices early in the afternoon during the week, and so I would be able to get off work in plenty of time to make it to their practices. So I jumped online and applied, feeling like things were finally looking up for me.
I met with the contact parent for the team I was supposed to coach, things went great, and we had everything arranged. A week later, I checked with Amanda to see when they would begin reviewing applications, and she told me that their building had actually flooded and so they would have to deal with that before they started looking into hiring anybody.
I was somewhat disappointed, but not discouraged. Then, shortly after that I got a message from the contact parent on my team– one of the dads had decided he wanted to coach, and so they didn’t need me after all.

I’ll admit, I was pretty crushed.
And then, even more time passed and I never heard anything back on the Parks and Rec job, and I grew slowly more depressed. When my bank account went below $100 for the first time since I opened it, I knew I had to do something. My sister, who recently graduated with her second college degree in Early Childhood Education, suggested that I  attend sub training and start subbing. It seemed the only option at that point. And so I went to sub training, requested a replacement social security card , a paid for a sixty dollar background check so I could start subbing (you can read about that in my last post)

Two days later, I got a call from my friend Amanda’s boss asking me if I could do an interview.

Come ONNNN

But I didn’t want to turn down a job opportunity, so I scheduled an interview.
A little while later, Amanda gave me a heads up that I wouldn’t even be interviewing for the job I had originally applied for. Instead, I would be interviewing for a front desk job dealing with people’s calls and anyone who came into the office. Wait, wait, wait… people? You want me to deal with people?!
I felt my stomach sink. I can’t deal with people, guys. I am shy, and non-confrontational, and easily overwhelmed in unfamiliar social situations, as I am sure you all are well aware if you read my blog regularly. A front desk job was exactly the opposite of what I wanted to be doing.
I started talking it over with my family, and the more we discussed it, the more we realized that it would probably be better for me if I just went ahead with subbing. I was going to be making the same amount, the commute was nonexistent, I wouldn’t have to ask off right after getting the job for when we went on vacation during Spring Break, and I had already agreed to sub for my mom. I realized that I had agreed to an interview for a job I didn’t want to take.
I immediately got in touch with Amanda to talk it over with her. She had gone to a great deal of trouble to get me the interview and to recommend me to her boss, and I felt terrible her hard work was going to waste. But Amanda is very kind, and she was completely understanding. She suggested that I go ahead and come in just to talk things over with them and to get the experience of interviewing.
Ah, if only I had known what kind of experience it was going to be.

My interview was scheduled for nine in the morning in downtown Oklahoma City. According to my GPS, the drive should take 26 minutes, so I woke up at 7:20 to make sure I would have plenty of time to get ready and still make it down there in case traffic was bad. I left at 8:20, a little later than I wanted but still with plenty of time to make it–or I should’ve. But of course the drive was worse than I thought, with lots of traffic, and I didn’t make it to downtown until about 8:50. But ten minutes was surely going to be plenty of time to park and find my way to the Parks and Rec building.
Ah, the naivete of youth.
I was excited because whenever you came in for an interview, you could park in a specific parking garage downtown and the department would pay for it. Now, as you all may recall from when I missed my friend’s wedding because my GPS stopped working, I am very bad with directions and navigating. So when it finally occurred to me that the parking garage they had told me to park at was on the corner of two streets that were not the same as the street the Parks and Rec building was on, I got a little nervous. I just started turning down streets, and luckily for me, it only took me a couple extra minutes to find the parking garage. I breathed a sigh of relief and pulled in.
Not so luckily, however, this was one of the most confusing parking garages I had ever been in, and I could not seem to figure out what way to go. It was also packed, because it was a Monday morning in downtown, and there was no sign of a spot anywhere. I came around a corner, and was almost hit by another car. I shot her a dirty look, confused as to why she was driving right down the middle of the aisle, and kept going. I came around another corner, and was almost hit by another car.
It was at this point that I realized I was going the wrong way down the one way section of the parking garage.

Did I take stupid pills this morning??

Ughhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

You know what one of the worst things about doing something really stupid is? It’s when you know you’re doing something stupid, but you can’t fix it. Somehow, I had managed to get into an area that was only supposed to be an exit.
parking garage

 

I was driving as carefully as I could, ashamed and confused, trying to desperately to find a parking spot I could pull into and turn around in. But, as I mentioned, the parking garage was packed, and there was nothing. I was on the fourth level and had almost been hit by two or three cars when I realized that I was just going to have to try and pull into a corner, as close to a car as I could, and then pull an Austin Powers and try to slowly pull forward and back until I could turn around.

I have been reduced to Austin Powers.

I got as far over in the one way aisle as I could, and tried to wait until no cars were coming, fervently hoping that no one was going to come around the corner and hit me first. Finally, after three cars came around the corner, almost hit me, and honked vociferously, the coast was finally clear. I made my move, and pulled up as close to the car on one side of the aisle as I could.

If nothing else, I learned that a job I would not be suited for is construction or architecture.

If nothing else, I learned that I would not be suited for a job in construction, architecture, or design.

I got right up close to the car, and then I noticed that their license plate said “HITNRUN” on it. I laughed a little and thought to myself, Haha better not hit them! After I had pulled up as close as I could, I started backing slowly up, hoping no one would come around the corner. I had almost enough room to cut the wheel, when suddenly I felt a bump. I froze, and slowly turned around.
And that was when I realized I had backed into the van behind me.

I managed to turn around and get facing the right way, but I made sure to back up and pull really close to the van I had just hit. Luckily, it was very large, very sturdy, and I had hit it going very, very slowly. There was not even a mark on it that I could see.
Please don’t call the cops on me, but I was the perpetrator of a hit and run.
That’s right. Hit and run. Does that sound familiar? Remember how I told you that the car in front of me said “HITNRUN” on the license plate? Yeah. I pulled up to a car that said hit and run on in, and then I hit the car behind me and ran.

And yet, it was happening. I swear this to you…  you can’t make that kind of stuff up. You just can’t.

Finally I managed to get going the right way, expecting at any moment that a policeman was going to show up behind me and arrest me. Again, as I mentioned, the parking lot was full, and I simply kept driving and driving and driving to find a spot. Finally, on the 8th floor out of 9, I found a place and pulled in. It was nine o’ clock by this point, and I was late. I rushed to the elevators, got in, and then realized I had no idea where I was going.
Somehow, it had never occurred to me to ask how I got from the parking garage to the Parks and Rec office. Vaguely in the back of my mind I was apparently just thinking that the two would be connected. But again, they weren’t on the same streets. Confused, terrified, and anxious, I took the elevator to the ground floor and started wandering along the street. I walked a block up to Main Street, but then had no idea which way to go. I picked left and started walking, but after awhile I realized the numbers were going the wrong way. I tried to look as far as I could down the other way, but saw no signs relating to the Parks and Rec department.
At this point I was utterly bewildered. I was freezing cold because I hadn’t brought a heavy jacket or gloves, not having connected that I was going to have to walk. I was late, and had no idea where to go.
Finally I messaged Amanda, who THANKFULLY responded very quickly, asking me to call her. I did so, and followed her directions, crossing a street and walking down the other way until I finally stumbled upon the entrance. I made my way to the elevator, arrived at the second floor, and went into the first office I saw. I had thought my friend Amanda would be at the front desk, but there was no sign of her. I was ten minutes late by this point.
The lady at the desk was on the phone, and I had to wait almost five minutes before she was done. She was very apologetic, and I told her I was there for an interview. Then she asked me who I was there to see.
My mind went completely blank.

Ohhh… uhhhh…. ummmm…..

“Karen?” I asked hesitantly.
“Great, I will let her know!” the friendly receptionist said.
Oh thank God, I guessed right.
At that moment, however, Karen came walking by, and the receptionist told her I was there for an interview. She looked slightly panicked, and told me to just have a seat for a few minutes because she had to meet with her boss. I collapsed onto a nearby bench, drained.
After a few minutes, I was relieved when Amanda finally appeared. She told me that she was afraid Karen had forgotten she had the interview with me. At that point, I had no desire to go near the parking garage anytime soon, so I wasn’t too worried that I was going to have to wait. After ten or fifteen minutes, Karen finally came for me and called me back. I had thought that Amanda might have mentioned that I wasn’t going to take the job, so I went in thinking that they might just talk to me in case I ever did apply for a job with them again.
I was slightly startled when Karen brought another lady in to help with the interview process, and when we sat down and she started to ask me questions, I realized that she was really going to interview me.
“So what do you want to tell us about yourself?” she asked me.

Uhhhh…. weeeeeeell, actually….

I then haltingly began to explain how I hadn’t heard from them in such a long time after applying that I had gone through process of sub training and getting my background, and how I really felt that it would be a better fit since I wouldn’t have to drive thirty minutes every day, etc. etc. As I spoke, I could see their faces getting more and more confused. Finally I wrapped up my stumbling explanation, and told them that I felt terrible and I was so sorry and I just wanted to come and explain everything to them in person.They were incredibly kind and understanding, just like Amanda had been, but I felt like they were just wondering what on earth I was doing there. I felt like the biggest idiot alive. I thanked them, said goodbye to Amanda, and got out of there as fast as I could.  I had still been considering the idea of maybe, possibly taking the job when I left my house that morning, but after everything that I had experienced I don’t think anything could have induced me to do so.

NOOOOOO I AM NEVER SHOWING MY FACE IN OKC AGAIN YOU CAN’T MAKE ME

I made my way back into the infamous parking garage, and naturally got off the elevator on the wrong floor, wandering about for a few minutes before realizing my mistake. In a daze I got back on the elevator, went up to the right floor, and got in my car. I think I drove the carefullest I ever have in my life going out of that parking garage. The whole incident seemed so absurd at this point that I slowed to a crawl as I went by the spot of my ill-fated attempt to turn around. I looked over the van I had bumped into as carefully as possible, still seeing no evidence of my car’s assault upon it. Then, because I was doubting my own eyes, I looked on the other side of the aisle just to confirm that there really had been a car with the license plate “HITNRUN” that also just happened to be the one car out of the hundreds in the nine floor parking garage that I chose to turn around by before fulfilling its unknowing prophecy. I started to take a picture of it, because it seemed impossible anyone could credit the story I was telling without proof, but naturally at this point a car came up behind me, and I had to drive on.
It was a one way garage, after all.
I pulled up to the exit area, thinking there would be a person there to take the ticket I had been given to pay for my parking. But after pulling up, I realized there was no person, and that I had stopped too far away from the ticket machine to put my ticket in. I rolled down the window, hoping against hope that I would be able to reach it but knowing it was impossible. I was going to have to get out of the car and put in two different tickets with three cars waiting behind me.
Out of nowhere, a man appeared, offering to take my tickets and put them in the machine for me. “You’re lucky I was here to do that for you,” he told me scoldingly. I only nodded and thanked him, because of course some random man would happen by just at that moment to put my tickets in for me. Clearly my life was a bad play, and he was just playing his part.
I pulled into the street, and all I could see in my mind was that license plate, emblazoned in big letters “HITNRUN.”
I started laughing, and didn’t stop until I was almost home.

 

And then I died. The end.

The Curse of the Sub

Oh, Readers.
The purpose of this blog has always been to take the often silly and ridiculous things I experience in my life, and to share them with you. Occasionally life throws something your way, and it’s either laugh or cry, and I have always tried to be the type that laughs at the stupid or embarrassing things that happen to me (or that I do, more like it).
Well let me just say, my life has been CHOCK FULL of the absurd lately. As you all may know, my post-graduate job hunt has been going… poorly, to say the least. I finally decided to try subbing, because I live right by a lot of the schools in the district, and THEY CAN’T TURN ME DOWN. It’s also a great part time gig that doesn’t require you to have a set schedule. After I went through the steps to become a sub, though, naturally I finally got a call back from a job I applied to.
However, I hadn’t even been able to write up the post about what a disastrous experience my one and only job interview was (don’t worry, it’s coming though! UPDATE: Here it is!) before I got approved to be a sub yesterday and decided to take a position today in a desperate attempt to get at least one day of work on the upcoming pay cycle– because subs only get paid once a month, and it’s for the month before.
poor gif

For me, getting approved to sub took way longer than it should have. You have to have copies of your Social Security card, and I discovered when I went to sub training that my parents apparently lost mine years ago and never replaced it, because that’s DEFINITELY not something you’ll ever need.

Thanks Mom and Dad!

I therefore had to go to the Social Security office (an adventure in and of itself) and request a new one, which didn’t come until Monday. Then I had to take my papers to the administration office, wait for my $59 (!!!!) background check to come through (which my parents had to pay for because I literally did not have enough money in my account), AND to be put into the system officially before I was able to sub.
Last night I finally got an automated call that told me I was in, and so I decided to take a look at the available jobs to see if there were any I wanted. The way subbing works is that teachers throughout the district put in a request for a sub on a website, and available subs can look through and decide if they want to take them. The nice thing about subbing is that you never have to accept anything; you can have a day off any time you need it without having to request off or anything like that.
I looked through all the available jobs, and saw one that was to sub in Spanish at the high school–the same high school I attended, mind you. I minored in Spanish, and so I thought, hey, why not!

I love this joke so much, thanks college education.

This morning I arrived bright and early at my former high school, because you need to be there at least twenty minutes before the first bell rings. I also needed to get there extra early because they have rebuilt the majority of my high school since I attended it. It is now giant, fancy, and terrifying. The new cafeteria looks like it should have been in High School Musical, I swear to god.
Eventually I wandered my way to something called the freshmen office, which did not exist when I was in high school. In fact, when I was in ninth grade, we were in our own separate building, which has now been turned into a fifth and sixth grade center (I don’t even know guys, it’s bizarre).
I checked in without too much problem, got my little sub sheet, and then a kindly teacher led me to my room since I had no idea where to find it. In a disorienting twist of fate, I was actually subbing in an old part of the building that had existed (and where I had Spanish) when I was in school, but was now connected to buildings that did not exist when I was in school. Along the way I saw my 8th grade math teacher in the hall and said hi, which was pretty strange.
Luckily, my teacher I was subbing for was super prepared, and had written everything the kids would need to do on the board, as well as leaving detailed instructions for me of what I needed to do. Mostly I would be taking attendance and giving kids extra packets if they had forgotten their workbooks, and just ensuring no mayhem ensued. I wrote my name on the board, which was absolutely surreal, since my mother has been a teacher my entire life, and she is the undisputed Mrs. Rowe in my mind.

You cannot understand how wrong this felt.

You cannot understand how wrong this felt.

My first period class came in, and naturally it was a huge class that really liked to talk. Trying to be a good sub, I took attendance right away and then sent a student to the office with it. I got them started on their assignments and told them that it was my first time subbing so they had to take it easy on me (that was a mistake). They took this to mean that they could chat as much as they want, and I got tired of getting onto them after a while so I just let them. So I got everything sorted, aaaaand… then I did nothing.
Seriously. There was like nothing for me to do. As I would come to realize throughout the day, subbing is both simultaneously incredibly stressful and incredibly boring. This boredom led me to messing about endlessly with things on my desk, and I ended up taking a minute to actually read my sub info– and what did I see but a note about how you are NOT supposed to send kids to the office with attendance because someone will come from it.
Oh, fantastic.
Not even an hour in, and I’ve already messed something up.

Just swell.

Just swell.

Even better, a student that I had turned in as absent ended up coming late, so I just had to hope he had checked into the office. A girl came in to pick up my attendance, and I had to tell her I’d already sent it. She looked at me like I was an idiot, a very lowering feeling. Yeah, okay, girl who is eight years younger than me, I get it. I messed up. Whatevs.
So I was off to a rocky start, but I was resolved to do better second period. Practice makes perfect right? So my second group came in, and, blessedly, they were perfect. Sat down, got right to work, and were very quiet. I made sure I took attendance, and did NOT send it with anyone. I also wrote a note on the back apologizing for sending first hour’s attendance with a student, and making sure they knew the student I had marked absent actually had showed up. I had no problems with these kids, which made me even more bored. I had already looked at every poster in the room and messed with every available thing on my desk, and I felt like a creep just staring at the kids.

“hey kids don’t do drugs, also don’t get an English degree or you’ll end up subbing in your old high school”

Finally I gave in and looked at my phone. It was my turn on a game of Words with Friends, so I played that–and of course, a video ad came on after, blaring loudly into the quiet room. My class just looked at me like I was such a loser–again, a very lowering feeling. Whatever, kids. I make 60 bucks for doing this, and you chumps are doing it for FREE. Suckas.
After second period, I had lunch time. That means I was supposed to eat lunch at ten thirty. TEN THIRTY. For almost every day of the past ten months, I haven’t even been awake by ten thirty, how am I supposed to eat my lunch now?! During sub training they told us we weren’t supposed to really go off campus during our lunch, but I didn’t know what the procedure was if we were eating at the school and I was too scared to brave the High School Musical cafeteria by myself.
So I found my way back to the freshmen office to ask what to do. The moment I walked in, the student office aide took one look at me and goes, “Ohhh, don’t you look adorable?!”

That’s better, eight years younger than me kid. I have hope for your generation yet. I spoke with secretary, who informed me that I was actually more than welcome to go off campus to grab lunch, as long as I was back in time. I hurried over to the nearest Subway, thinking I would just get myself a sandwich and save it to eat later. Luckily there was no line, and I made it back with about five or ten minutes to spare.
My third period class appeared soon after, and I took roll. They started out very talkative, and one kid asked out loud what “cansado” meant. Oh yesss, here was my chance to show off my skills. “TIRED!” I almost shouted, excited because I knew the answer. Also, because I was feeling it very strongly.
The kids were impressed, naturally, and somebody goes, “Whoa, she speaks Spanish!”
“Oh I have a minor in Spanish, actually,” I told them impressively. “So you can totally ask me if you have questions, and I might be able to help you.”

There’s a 30-40% chance I can actually assist you!

They settled down pretty quickly, and did their work quietly, so I thought it was going to be another nice, easy class. Unfortunately, that was not to be, and I ended up having to threaten to send a kid to the office. It felt very strange, I just kept thinking in my head I don’t really have the authority to send someone to the office though, surely? Luckily I didn’t actually have to resort to such drastic measures. I guess my intimidating face was pretty impressive.
The hour after that was my planning hour, so I went and visited my 8th grade Spanish teacher since her room was right by mine, and along the way I found my sophomore math teacher’s room as well, so I chatted with them. It was quite the blast from the past, especially since my former middle school Spanish teacher was now at the high school in the old room where I had Spanish in high school. I finally was feeling hungry, so I ate my Subway sandwich. It tasted slightly strange after sitting out for awhile, but I had little other choice.
Fifth period showed up, and kids started filtering in. One student came in and goes, “Wait, you can’t be our sub. How old are you? You’re not old enough to be a sub!” I assured her that I was 22, and, in fact, more than old enough to be the sub. “Oh you look like a teenager!” she said disbelievingly. WELL YEAH YOU KNOW WHAT, SO DO YOU OKAY.  If I’m being entirely truthful, however, I was surprised it took that long for a student to say it.
After the bell rang, I started taking roll. Halfway through, however, they came over the intercom to announce the winners of a week long fundraising contest between the different grades. My class was made up of freshmen, and they let out a deafening cheer when it was announced that they had won, and were to report to the auditorium for a reward assembly. I had to yell them down in order to finish taking roll. I was almost as equally excited as they were, because it meant that I had an unexpected free hour.

I’M FREEEEEE

Now, you may be saying to yourself, okay, that stuff you’ve told us so far is kind of embarrassing, Sara, but that’s nothing SERIOUS. I mean, after the cheesecake pizza story or getting lost and missing your friend’s wedding, a mix up in attendance is negligible. And beginning of fifth period Sara would have agreed with you– I was actually mildly surprised at how relatively normal things were going. But as fifth period wore on, I began to feel slightly unwell. My stomach started getting wonkier by the minute, and finally I felt the urge to go to the restroom in fear I was going to lose my lunch.
I didn’t throw up, so I washed my face and neck with cool water to try and help. I went back to my room for the start of sixth period, and sat for awhile before I realized that the assembly must last two hours, and I would have another free period.
I wanted to be excited, but I was not feeling so hot.

It felt a little like this, except instead of the stocks I fell into tummy upset.

I was feeling progressively worse and worse, and when I finally ran for the bathroom, this time my lunch made its unwelcome reappearance.  I started shivering soon after and felt hot and cold, and I realized that I was more than likely not going to be able to cover my final seventh period class. I wasn’t sure what to do so I tried to call my sister (she’s going to be a teacher and has subbed before) so I could ask her what to do. She didn’t answer, however, and I remembered she was taking our dog to the vet. So finally, unsure but feeling even worse, I made the long trip back to the freshmen office yet again.
Of course, the secretary was speaking with a parent, so she told me to just sit down and wait. And so, trying not to throw up again, I sat down and waited for five or ten minutes while she finished with the parent. She then called me forward, looked at me, and then goes, “Ohh, you’re the sub! I’m sorry, I thought you were a student!”
Sigh.
After embarrassingly explaining the situation, the secretary attempted to call a few people to see if they could cover the class. Finally she told me, “Just go on home, hon. You can’t sub if you’re throwing up.” In a fluster of shame and nausea, I rushed back to the classroom, collected my things, and drove my way home, where I fell into bed and slept about four hours.

So there you have it, Dear Readers. My first attempt at substituting ended in an episode of suspected food poisoning. I’m guessing that things went south when I let my sandwich sit out for a couple hours before eating it. So… in a ridiculous joke of the universe, my first day of subbing was ruined by none other than Subway. Because, you know, my life is one big cosmic joke.

I’m just going to take this as a sign that I was absolutely right when I decided I was not meant to be a teacher.

Thoughts From A Chronic Groupon Massage Purchaser

Hello, Dear Readers.
I want to start off today’s post by asking you something. When you hear words like “luxury” or “relaxation,” do certain images come to your mind? Perhaps something like kicking back with a drink in your hand, or reading by the pool, maybe even a hammock in the quiet of the great outdoors. For many people, pampering is the name of the game when trying to relax, often along the lines of some sort of spa day. And once your mind drifts that way, perhaps you, like many people, also find yourself picturing that stereotypical image of a massage on the beach at sunset.

Something like this.

I must admit, I have always bought into that glamorous idea of a massage, where someone soothes away all your tension in a lovely place that smells good, while soft, magical music plays in the background. As I grew older, the appeal only increased. After a hard soccer game, when my body was tired and aching, what could sound more heavenly than someone to rub my feet? Or when I was studying for an important test, and my head and shoulders hurt from hours spent hunched over my notes, what could be better than someone to rub those knots away? To me, a massage sounded like the very height of luxury, the kind of thing rich or famous people did every day to deal with the stress of their glamorous lives. But this always seemed an unreachable goal for my poor, middle class self– an effervescent dream that danced in the sunset on the horizon, never attainable.
Then I got a job. And a bank account. Of course, I did not realize it at the time, but this was the first step on a long and colorful road I would come to embark on. Today, I’d like to share with you some of the more memorable impressions I have received in the world of massage.

The first massage I ever received was not exactly your typical experience. My family and I went on vacation to Hot Springs, Arkansas which, if you have never been, is a town that was essentially made up of spas and resorts when it was founded. Today, there are still a number of these old spas that are still functional and you can visit them– for a price. But it just so happened that at the particular time we were going to be there, my mother discovered that one of the spas was having a very special deal– you could go through, not just a massage, but an entire spa routine in their historic spa. And, best of all, it was SUPER. CHEAP. Like, I had enough money in my bank account to afford it, and there would still be money left over afterwards.

IS THIS REAL LIFE MY DREAMS ARE COMING TRUE

The only thing that made us hesitate was a slight catch– it was customary to go through this entire spa treatment… naked. Now, this was not like a you go into a dimly lit room and take off your clothes and get under some covers naked, this was like you take a special mineral bath, then you go and get hot towels put on you, and then you sit in a old-timey steam machine, and then you get a massage naked. This required you to move from place to place. Neither my mom nor my sister nor I were especially keen on this idea.

But after some researching, we found something that said you could wear your bathing suit if you were more comfortable that way– perfect!!! After scouring the process, we realized that we would have to take our tops off for the massage part, naturally, but just wear a two piece and that’s not even a big deal, just pop it off and lay down on the table under the sheet. Solid. I’m sold! So we booked our spa treatments, and gleefully headed off to immerse ourselves into the luxurious world that until now had only been the realm of the rich and famous. Not any more, movie stars.
Let me ask you another question, Readers. Whenever you were younger and in school (or perhaps you even now are at that age) did you ever go to gym class and have to do something called stations? You know, where the teacher sets up like six or seven activities and you spend five minutes at each before they blow a whistle and you have to hurry off to the next one?

CURSE YOU STATIONS

CURSE YOU STATIONS

Well, picture something similar to that, but in an even hotter and sweatier environment than a school gymnasium, and all your fellow classmates seem to be at least sixty years of age and up, and also completely naked. Now, I am an enormous advocate for loving your body and being comfortable in your skin, and maybe by the time I’m sixty I will be as confident (or perhaps just utterly indifferent) as those ladies seemed to be in their nudity. I had not (and still have not) attained that level.
We were hustled from “luxury” to “luxury”– first a bath in a tiny curtained cubicle, and then into one of the steam machines, and then to a table set up next to a ton of other tables where the lady inquired what my “troubled areas” were that I wanted the hot towels on. I felt very unprepared and overwhelmed, like lady, I have never done this before, you tell me (“Uhhh… my right knee kind of hurts?”)
During this time I kind of became separated from my mom and sister because you just had to go to wherever a “station” came available, and in some places you just had to wait. (Oh hi, don’t mind me here, just chilling in my wet bathing suit freezing my butt off and trying desperately not to stare at the naked lady who is so wrinkly and sagging that somehow things are drooping in just such a way that her modesty is remaining intact.)

Let me give you a tip, do not ever, under any circumstances, google “wrinkly saggy old ladies” because the internet is why we can’t have nice things

Finally all that was left was the massage, and feeling much like cattle being herded, I was directed back to another area of the spa to wait my turn. But first, I was required to rinse off in a special shower, to make sure I did not have any minerals on my skin. I say this shower was special because it was in the open– and a lady was just sitting by it, like a secretary at a desk. I started to get in when I was informed that I needed to take my bathing suit completely off.
Completely off.
My bathing suit.
.

I found myself mumbling some sort of protest, something about how that couldn’t be right because it had said I could wear my bathing suit. The shower secretary simply stared me down with steely eyes, informing me that I needed to wash off the minerals so my skin would be prepared for the massage. Slowly, in a daze of horror, I found myself taking off my bathing suit, three feet from a complete stranger, who carelessly turned on the shower thing, indifferent to the fact that my soul was slowing withering as my body attempted to shrink in upon itself.

Pretty sure this was my expression the whole time.

After this shameful procedure was finished, I was allowed to wrap myself in a towel, which I then had to huddle in for a period of ten-ish minutes (that felt like an eternity) as I found myself just sitting in a chair against a wall as I waited my turn to see a masseuse, like someone in the waiting room at a dentist’s office. Except, you know, I was completely naked except for a small towel with strange people about my person.
Finally it was my turn, and I rushed into the room, ready for the entire procedure to be finished with. But the best was yet to come, my Dear Readers. For my masseuse then instructed me to take off my towel, get onto the massage table, and then cover myself with the sheet.
I stress the “then” part, because the order this was supposed to occur in was very important. If you’ll recall, I was naked under my towel. And then I had to get myself onto the massage table. I am a very short person, if you didn’t know, so it was more going to be a climb onto the massage table–this would not have been a graceful procedure if I was decked out in mountain scaling gear.
But alas, I was naked.
You’re a human being, you have a body (unless of course you’re an alien or a ghost or something, in which case, that’s freaking cool, and thanks for reading my blog!)– I’ll just let you ponder why this might be uncomfortable.
Ah, if only my masseuse would have stepped out for this event, it might have remained just awkward instead of one of the most humiliating tasks I have ever been instructed to perform in my life. But she did not. She simply bustled about the room preparing things as this occurred.

Here’s an adorable puppy awkwardly climbing to take the sting out of some of the things I have asked you to imagine already.

To this day, it still occasionally strikes me that there are two strange women floating about Hot Springs, Arkansas who have seen me in my altogether.

But let’s take a minute to pause here. That story indicates to you that I found my first massage experience pretty traumatic, right? So why, you may be asking, does my post title seem to indicate that I have purchased massages numerous times?
Well my friends, never let it be said that I have shied away from or been held back by awkwardness in my life. (Seriously, though, I would never be able to do anything if I let a previous awkward experience with it ruin stuff for me.) Eventually, I discovered websites like Groupon, and LivingSocial, and CrowdSavings, all simply swimming in deals for massages at different places. And somehow or another, I found myself succumbing to the siren lure of that mystical, magical image of the massage on the beach at sunset– not that I have ever had a massage on a beach at sunset. But still, the image tempted me.

SO TEMPTING

Luckily, the majority of my subsequent attempts actually went very pleasantly. Massages became an indulgence I could occasionally afford with help of a discount website, and when I was stressing over a midterm, I could simply schedule one of the massage deals I had purchased to help me relax.
But as with all things in life, from time to time stuff doesn’t go quite as expected. This happened when I bought a groupon to a massage academy, that I came to find out was in a… less affluent part of town. This particular groupon was incredibly cheap, and I realized it was because it was going to be given by a student studying to be a masseuse, not an actual certified one.
Now, if you have followed my blog for any length of time, you have probably received the very accurate impression that I do not have a great deal of experience with boys. But what you might be surprised to hear is that I have actually been talked out of my bra by a man.
His name was Jesus, and he was a man in his (I’m estimating) mid-40’s. He also happened to be the student masseuse that I was scheduled to receive my massage from. Now, as I mentioned, this whole situation ended up feeling very dodgy. Typically when you get a massage, you undress down to your underwear only. But in this case, when Jesus instructed me to undress to my comfort level, I was feeling distinctly uncomfortable. I was in a bad part of town, at a somewhat rundown massage academy, facing a massage by a man for the first time. To make matters worse, my sister was not getting a massage at the same time like she had every other time before, so I was all alone. I opted to leave not only my bra on, but also my shorts.

Okay, I’m ready!

What proceeded was one of the strangest experiences of my life. Jesus started asked me lots of questions about myself and life, and he began making predictions about what kind of person I was based on where I had tension in my body and what kinds of chronic aches I had. At one point he was asking me why I let people push me into doing things I didn’t want to do and encouraging me to stand up for myself. He continued to give me life advice, all while periodically “pushing out the bad auras” and “throwing them away” (always followed by a literal shaking of his hands after hovering them over my body a few inches). It was almost like receiving a massage from a fortune teller– he talked really fast and sometimes with an accent I couldn’t understand so I just nodded sometimes even though I didn’t know what I was agreeing to and I think this led him to make some inaccurate predictions because I provided him with false information and now sometimes I’m secretly afraid he laid a curse on me and that’s the real reason I’ll never find a boyfriend (probably).

He actually kind of looked like Zoltar, maybe I should have listened to some of those predictions…

Suffice it to say, I left that place confused, oily, and a different person.
My most recent massage was this past week, and luckily it was at a place called Petra’s, where my sister and I had been before and really liked. Because neither of us have any semblance of a love life (the excitement with Jesus was a couple of years ago, sadly) we tend to end up doing everything together instead, and we had what was essentially a couple’s massage (or the single sisters’ massage as I like to think of it)…. aka we were in the same room.
My first tip about getting a massage is make sure you go to the bathroom before you start. I didn’t need to, but I still pretended I did because I wanted to check in to the massage place on Facebook because I had thought up the oh so clever caption “I live for the massage, massage, massage, live for the massage-sage, live for the massage-sage” to put with it. Yes, I know I am a product of my terrible generation and I’m obsessed with social media and blah blah blah. But really, I just love terrible puns, and I was not passing up my chance to parody Lady Gaga.

This post took me a really long time to write because I got lost looking and laughing at the Google search results for puns

Another tip when getting a massage (especially if you are a lady) is to make sure you shave really well. It’s a slightly disconcerting feeling to have someone massaging your legs and you suddenly start thinking Oh god oh god oh god oh god did I remember to shave above the knees last night (nope!). My masseuse was really nice, and it just seemed like I owed that much to her, but it was too late at that point.
The biggest problem I have noticed in my chronic massage experiences is that I have trouble just being. Like, the point of a massage is that you’re supposed to just lay there while someone else pampers you. But the problem with massages is that you’re supposed to just lay there while someone else pampers you. Without fail, every two to four minutes I feel like I should say thank you, but what kind of body oil slick slope does that lead to? Where do you stop? How many times is too many times to say it? Is she silently judging me because I’m not saying it and she thinks I’m an ungrateful jerk? Or if I started saying thank you periodically, is she going to think I’m a freak and it will get really annoying?
I usually spend the first ten to fifteen minutes occupied with thoughts like this, and just trying to keep my eyes closed (Third tip– If you’ve never had a massage before, I’ve realized that it is definitely best to keep your eyes closed so you’re not just uncomfortably staring at your masseuse). Finally I’ll come to a point where my brain will think, well, it’s too late now, I’ve gone too far as it is and she’s going to think of me what she’ll think of me.

Gratuitous Doug gif, because it’s guaranteed to be Funny (DO YOU SEE WHAT I DID THERE)

Like me, you may have noticed in life that things you really build up an image of in your head rarely end up being like you think they will. I was finally relaxing, beginning to enjoy my massage, and I was at last able to keep my eyes closed without having to scrunch them. I’m settling in, and I perk up my ears to allow myself to be soothed by whatever dulcet sounds were drifting through the room. Now, if you’re talking about soothing background music, I definitely prefer things that have to do with water– rain, rushing rivers, babbling brooks, thunderstorms, etc.

Something about this is soothing to me on a visceral level.

Unfortunately, a rainy day soundtrack had not been selected for our massage time. Instead, something that sounded like electric guitars in space was playing. Not terrible, just… strange. We came to the point in the massage when it was time to roll over and put your face into that little face rest thing that has a hole in the middle. Not necessarily the most comfortable thing to put my face on, but not a big deal, of course. Unfortunately, around the point when my masseuse began working on my arms and shoulders, it came to my attention that my eye itched. Ferociously.
In case you didn’t know, it is very hard to make subtle, stealthy movements when someone literally has their hands on you. I began trying to rub my face on the thing, but the itch was just so located that I couldn’t get it to the face thing to rub on without essentially just turning my head and rubbing my face up against it like Baloo in the Jungle Book does with that tree.
http---makeagif.com--media-8-12-2013-Va35v6

My arms also happened to be otherwise occupied, so there could be no quick, casual scratch and run either. I suffered through for the next five minutes before the itch finally faded. Around that point, my masseuse moved up and started rubbing my neck… and then my head. She was massaging my scalp, guys. You know those people who, if you play with their hair, they will actually literally melt into a puddle? Yep, that’s me.

So accurate it hurts.

So accurate it hurts.

Another fun fact about me– when I get really relaxed, I have an unfortunate tendency to drool. So for example, when I’m really, really tired at night and I sleep really heavily, I’m much more likely to drool. Makes perfect sense, right, I mean my muscles relax so my mouth gets very slack and so slobber is much more likely to come out (It’s science). Well, when this lady began massaging my scalp, I fell into utter relaxation mode.  I wasn’t concerned any longer about the fact that I might have forgotten to shave or that my hair might have somehow suddenly started producing dandruff the very day I got a massage or even that my bare chest was currently smooshed into a table.  I don’t think I even knew what my name was.
Regrettably, however, this led to an unfortunate circumstance– as my lady finally quit rubbing my scalp and went back to rubbing my shoulders, I emerged from my stupor to find myself with my mouth wide open, drool hanging precariously from my lip. My eyes had barely had time to process the fact that I was staring down at my masseuse’s tennis shoes when I felt the drool lose its tenuous battle with gravity. In slow motion, I watched it plummet towards the ground, and the desperate refrain running through my mind was please don’t land on her shoe please don’t land on her shoe pleasedon’tlandonhershoooooooooe

The last thing my spit ever saw

With my track record, Readers, it’s really a miracle that I didn’t end up drooling on my masseuse’s shoe. But maybe fate owed me one– I did fall asleep once on my then-boyfriend and I literally covered his arm in my sleeping spit.
The rest of the massage passed without too much incident, and I found myself enjoying the experience immensely as a whole. Another, very pertinent tip to know about massages is that you should expect to feel like you just finished wrestling a greased pig in a vat of Crisco when you finish. I generally go straight home and take a shower after. That aside, I certainly felt relaxed after I was done, and that, of course is the point.

So what I’m trying to say, Dear Readers, is that if you’ve been eyeing those Groupons lately and dreaming, like I did, of that massage on the sunny beach, I encourage you to go for it. It more than likely won’t be exactly what you were expecting, but isn’t that the best part of life? Sometimes you don’t get what you thought you would, and yet you end up loving it.
As for my final tip about getting a massage– don’t try to write a blog about it, because no matter how you try and phrase it, writing about someone putting their hands all over your oiled, lotiony half-naked body just comes out sounding so awkward.

But hey– never let it be said that I allow awkwardness to stop me.

Oh schwelllll!

 

Pizza’s Peculiar Recurring Role in My Life

Dear Friends, I want to tell you a story.
I know that you’ll find this hard to believe, but once upon a time I was painfully, terrifyingly awkward.
Now, I can guess what you’re thinking– what do you mean, Sara, once upon a time? Aren’t you still painfully, terrifyingly awkward?
And you are partially right, I am still very awkward.

I’m about this level of awkwardness now.

However, compared to my younger self, I now have all the confidence of Grace Kelly at a state dinner in Monaco. To put it kindly, when I was younger I sometimes became overwhelmed in certain social situations.

I was that blonde lady on the right.

So, big surprise, in high school I was not one of the popular kids. I’m not saying I was like an outcast by any means; I was acquainted with most everybody in my grade and I had a large group of friends. I just was not in the popular crowd. Now, I can’t speak for other places, but at almost every single high school in my state, the most important people at a school are the athletes. And generally, football players are the priority. For example, when I was in high school we put in a million dollar football field but didn’t have enough books for every classroom. Completely logical, right?
But anyway. So as you may know, I am an avid lover of soccer and I have played my whole life. This includes all four years in high school. It just so happens that after our million dollar football stadium was put in, the rule became that any time we played while it was raining, we played on the football field because it had turf. I was a sophomore the first year this rule came into effect. I won’t attempt to describe to you now just how awkward I was as a fifteen year old. Instead, I will let the following story speak for itself.

We had a home game, and I was incredibly excited because I got put on the varsity roster.

VARSITYYYYYY

I don’t actually remember, but I’m going to take a wild guess and say I didn’t even get to play, or if I did it was only for a few minutes. But what I do remember is that we had to play on the football field, because it poured down rain the whole time. I also remember that we won the game. The boys’ soccer team played right after us, and they won their game, too. I don’t know how or who or why it happened, but the word went around that all the Varsity players (THAT INCLUDED MEEEEE) were allowed to go eat Mazzio’s Pizza buffet for FREE.

I DON’T EVEN LIKE MAZZIO’S BUT ALL I HEARD WERE THE WORDS “FREE” AND “VARSITY”


Now, I must admit I don’t even really like Mazzio’s Pizza. However, I was particularly excited on that occasion for a specific reason. About two weeks before that game, I had gone to Mazzio’s with my dear friend Kasey and her family, and I had stumbled across a little piece of heaven.
It was called cheesecake pizza.

IT’S CHEESECAKE… PLUS PIZZA. NEED I SAY MORE.

Let me just lay this out for you, guys. When I really like a food, I am serious about it. Really, really serious. And when I rolled into Mazzio’s that rainy day of my sophomore year, all of my focus was directed on securing and consuming as much free cheesecake pizza as I could. The second I went through the door, I headed straight to the buffet, gleefully scanning it for the magical concoction I just knew was there waiting for me. But as my eyes ran through the offerings in front of me, I saw nothing that looked like the remembered cheesecakey-pizzaey delights of two weeks before.
Disappointed, but not defeated, I returned to my seat to keep a gimlet eye on the buffet, for surely they would be putting out the cheesecake pizza any minute now. Thus, I spent the first approximately fifteen minutes darting frenetically forward every time a new pizza was put out to eagerly check if it was cheesecake pizza.
Finally, my stakeout was rewarded when I saw a lanky teenager disinterestedly shove onto the buffet what my discerning eye recognized as my eagerly awaited prize, and my legs quivered as I leapt from my seat and charged forward towards the buffet.

“CHEESECAKEPIZZZZZZZAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!”

But when the fevered haze of gluttony cleared from my eyes, I was frozen with confusion. For what I saw before me was not what I remembered from two weeks before. It sort of  looked like my cheesecake pizza, but it wasn’t exactly the same.

“Is… is this a trick? Cheesecake pizza, are you hiding in the ceiling?”

Try to understand my dilemma here. I had built myself into such a state of anxious anticipation, that my mind just could not seem to comprehend that what I thought was cheesecake pizza, just might not be cheesecake pizza.
I stood there, staring at the pizza before me in bewildered contemplation. Was it cheesecake pizza? Was it not cheesecake pizza? I just could not seem to confirm either way. As I was frowning down at the pizza in this fog of confusion, I gained the vague awareness that someone was standing next to me.
Now, have you ever just known that you had a weird look on your face? Like, you could just feel that there was some bizarre, contorted expression firmly planted on your features? As I slowly turned my head to see who was standing next to me, I realized that I had one of those looks on my face:

If I had been an animal in high school, I would have been Libby there.

I simultaneously became aware that I looked like a drowned rat, with my soaked hair straggling all around me and my too-big, bulky hoodie on, with all trace of makeup washed away and skin still clammy and pale from the cold. The other thing I became aware of was that the person standing next to me was none other than Hunter Smith.
Of course, this probably means nothing to you, but let me give you some background– remember how I said athletes took priority in our school? Well, Hunter Smith, although a sophomore like me, was already something of a celebrity at our school. He was a star on the football team, but he was one of the best players for the boys’ soccer team as well. He was also, naturally, one of the most popular kids at our school. Though we were around the same age, in the same grade, and played the same sport, I had never spoken a word to him, and I was fairly certain he had not the slightest idea who I was.
I could only stare at him in a sort of bewilderment. Much like my mind could not comprehend the discrepancies between the cheesecake pizza I remembered and the cheesecake pizza that I had found before me, I could not comprehend that Hunter Smith was standing next to me, looking at me. The most popular guy in school was standing next to me, and I could only stare at him in disbelief.

Umm… you can’t be standing there?

Into the dead silence, Hunter innocently asks, “Hey, what is that?”
Oh, Readers.
All I can say in my defense was that I was already in a somewhat strange state due to the distressing situation with the cheesecake pizza. Then, you add to that the fact that someone I was in awe of (I’m not joking, I was outrageously and comprehensively intimidated by Hunter Smith and his athletic skills) was speaking to me, and I can only say that my brain simply shut down.
I took a deep breath, and then suddenly launched into this whole, long, stumbling explanation about how I thought it might be cheesecake pizza but I wasn’t sure it was cheesecake pizza because I’d been here two weeks ago with my best friend and got cheesecake pizza and this didn’t look the same as that pizza and blah blah blah blah blah. I honestly don’t even know all of what I said. Eventually, after who knows how much time, I came to my senses and realized I was rambling on to Hunter Smith about cheesecake pizza. Abruptly, right in the middle of  a sentence about heaven only knows what mysterious existential examination of the nature of cheesecake pizza, I stopped speaking. And resumed staring at Hunter.
Into this void of discomfort, Hunter politely says, “That’s cool. Is it any good?”
Ah, Readers.
This time I have no defense for what happened. I can only cringe.
In response, I scoop a piece of the much pondered pizza onto my plate, pick it up, and proceed to shove half of it into my mouth. Then I stood there, chewing. As I continued to stare at Hunter Smith.

Hiii. Just me here. Chewing.

After a good fifteen or twenty seconds of chewing to finally make it possible to swallow the half a piece of pizza I just ate, I finally manage to free my mouth to snap back this witty rejoinder: “It’s okay.” I then shoveled three more pieces of pizza onto my plate.
And then I stood there.
And continued to stare at Hunter Smith.

No. No, I don’t have any idea what’s going on either.

Into the absolute vacuum of awkwardness, Hunter replies, “Well, I think I’m going to get some.”
I nod dumbly back, and continue to stand there.
Hunter stands there.
We stare at each other.

EXCEPT WE WERE A FOOT APART

At last it occurs to me. In my fervor to secure ALL the cheesecake pizza for myself, I had unconsciously placed my body squarely in front of it. I was essentially hunched over its spot on the buffet, completely blocking all access to it. There was no possible way for Hunter to get to the cheesecake pizza.

BACK OFF MY NOMS

“BACK OFF MY NOMS”– my unconscious psyche.

Slowly, slowly I uncurled myself from the space around the cheesecake pizza where I was crouched like a beast of prey over my hapless victim. Then, without speaking a word, I backed away, turned around, and walked off.

Yep, and just walking away now.

For the two remaining years of high school, I did everything in my power to avoid Hunter Smith, which thankfully was not that difficult. You may think that this story is now at an end, because it surely has to be, because it could not get worse.
Ahh, but Readers. If you thought that, you underestimate my mind-bogglingly vast affinity for awkward, embarrassing situations.
Senior year of high school rolls around, and somewhat to my pleasant surprise I found myself in the soccer Homecoming Court. My naive mind did not comprehend immediately the potential for unpleasantness here, because I was actually really excited to be in the Homecoming Court… yay! The exciting shine of that wore off instantly, however, when someone mentioned to me how we were going to be paired with an escort from the boys’ team.
And Readers, you already must have guessed that Hunter Smith was one of the candidates for the boys.
But I was optimistic. I staunchly reassured myself that I would not be paired with him! There were six candidates each, which meant I had an 5 in 6 chance of not getting paired with Hunter Smith. Those odds were practically unbeatable. I would be fine.
You know already, don’t you?
What I failed to learn was just how a boy and a girl candidate were paired up– alphabetically by last name. Aka they put us in alphabetical order and matched us with the corresponding boy.
Hunter Smith. Sara Rowe.
In the Soccer Homecoming Court of 2009, Smith and Rowe were the corresponding names.

Now, most all of the girls on my team had heard the great Cheesecake Pizza Story at one point or another over the years, and they were absolutely loving it that I was paired with Hunter. The story made the rounds again, and it just so happened that Hunter’s girlfriend at the time was the athletic trainer for the soccer team. I had to get my ankle wrapped every day for a while, and somehow I ended up telling her the story. She thought it was hilarious, and told me she was glad I was the one paired with her boyfriend and not someone else. I did not share the sentiment.
Fast forward to the day of homecoming, and as so many big schools insist on doing, we had to have a PEP RALLY. And this pep rally had to feature the Homecoming Court for soccer! And of course, it had to be a THEMED pep rally. Our theme? Black light. So we find out kind of last minute that our escort will, well… escort us down this aisle set up in the gym, through a sword arch made by the ROTC, and then we will sit in chairs in front of everyone for the duration of the pep assembly. Awesome. Fantastic.
So we gather outside the gym, waiting our turn to be called. Hunter is, thankfully, off talking to the boys. A minute or so before its time for the first pair to walk, they line us up just inside the doors to the gym with our partners. This is the first time I will have spoken to Hunter Smith in two years. Let’s just say I was slightly anxious. Luckily, he says very little, merely a hello and a how are you. I think, hey, maybe I can survive this. The pair in front of us takes off. We’re next. It’s totally dark in the gym, may I remind you, except for black lights everywhere. I realize it’s much easier to face Hunter when I don’t really have to see him. He takes my arm. We step forward. And then we are walking the tarp aisle laid out.
Oh. Oh I got this.

LIKE A BOSS

I throw my shoulders back and I STRUT. I am a senior. I am in the Homecoming Court. I am escorted by the school’s athletic champion.  And my fervent wishes have come true, and he clearly doesn’t remember that time two years ago I made a fool out of myself. I start smiling so big that I know my pearly whites have got to be absolutely GLOWING in all the black lights around us. We reach the ROTC members lined up on either side of the aisle, and they make a freaking SWORD ARCH over our heads as we go by. I am ON. TOP. OF. THE. WORLD.
Then, Hunter casually leans towards me and says, “So… had any cheesecake pizza lately?
….
…..
……

I am, as the last time I was near enough to Hunter Smith for conversation, struck speechless. He chuckles and says his girlfriend told him about it. Then suddenly we are at the chairs, and Hunter escorts me to mine before going to sit with the boys on the other side. I cannot tell you to this day what happened during that assembly, because my mind was frozen with horror.
When the evening rolled around and it was actually time for the actual Homecoming ceremony, I hid in the dressing room as long as I could, pretending to get ready. Someone finally had to come get me to tell me it was time to go take our places. Hunter– who let me stress was always kind and polite to me, except for the teasing during the assembly– very sweetly said how pretty I looked. And because I am the living embodiment of Socially Awkward Penguin, I told him, “You too.”

This happened last week.

Then we were strolling, me trying to keep up in high heels, which I feel like I don’t even need to describe to you how that went. Luckily we didn’t really have time to say anything, and no more references to cheesecake pizza were made, and after Homecoming was over the Hunter Smith saga came to a thankful close.

Oh, hi, why am I wearing these shoes and trying to walk on grass again?

Oh, hi, why am I wearing these shoes and trying to walk on grass again?

The regal Soccer Homecoming Court of 2009

The regal Soccer Homecoming Court of 2009

But Sara, you are saying, now that I’ve finally stopped rambling about cheesecake pizza long enough for you to get a word in. That story was painfully humiliating, why on earth would you ever share it?
An excellent question, and I thank you for it, because you have created the perfect segue for me.
As I blogged about before, I am a big fan of CiCi’s pizza buffet. Unfortunately, the last time I was there someone thought I was a man, and I proceeded to eat half of a pizza to comfort myself. I went again to CiCi’s for lunch this week, and I am happy to report that nobody mistook me for a member of the opposite gender. But alas, who to my wandering eye should appear, but Hunter Smith, who I have not seen since I graduated high school.
Me. Hunter Smith. A pizza buffet.
It all came rushing back to me, and to ensure that a repeat of the infamous Cheesecake Pizza Incident did not occur, I pretended that I did not see Hunter Smith. To be honest, I’m not even sure that he recognized me, or knew who I was.

Ah Readers. Isn’t it funny how sometimes life comes full circle?

That Time I Got Stuck in My Pool Steps

Ahhh, summer.
For me, the word conjures up all kinds of iconic images.
Things like riding around in the car with the windows rolled down:

“WHY DID YOU CHANGE MY SONG, MAN?!”

Or enjoying a delicious snowcone with my sister:

“This is not Tiger’s Blood…”

Or I picture myself finally getting that tan my pasty white skin has been crying for since I started putting on shorts way too early in the year because I was so tired of jeans:

I’m using a lot of animal media in this post, aren’t I?

But I think one of the main activities most people picture when they think of summer is, of course, swimming. Whether it’s at the beach, the lake, or at a pool, people quite wisely love to combat the relentless heat by immersing themselves in a body of water. When I was very little, I was terrified of swimming. I insisted on a life jacket, water wings, and constant parental supervision. I would spend the entirety of my time in the pool clutching onto the side and slowly inching my way around. Then, suddenly, I simply decided one day that I loved swimming. Through the rest of my childhood, my father had to bully and threaten me any time I was in a pool because I would refuse to get out. My favorite trick was to simply duck continually underwater and pretend I did not hear him telling me to get out.
Considering how much I loved swimming, the fact that I did not have a pool of my own was a constant, painful ache in my soul. I would pitifully try to worm invitations into the pools of my luckier friends who had one in their own yard. I tried to con people into taking me to public pools, and whenever we were at hotels, the time I spent at the pool was always measured in hours. I was a fish without a pond of her own.
Then, when I was in seventh grade, we moved to a new house that had a lot of land. And my parents finally decided we could have a pool. It was like the fruition of every childhood dream I had ever had, and I finally got my pool.
Nine years later, I must admit my zealous devotion to swimming has waned a bit. Actually owning your own pool has a way of doing that. It’s a sad case of losing interest in something once you have it. Also, pools are a huge pain in the ass. They require a lot of care, guys. And they are really expensive to maintain. And then you have to close them down every fall and reopen them again every summer. For me, the glamour of pools has been swept away in a backwash of wasps and leaves (you’ll understand that if you own your own pool).
My job every year when we open the pool is the ceremonial Cleaning of the Pool Steps, and it is the worst part in my opinion. Each summer brings to me another episode of Inside the Wedding Cake. Sadly, in spite of its misleading sounding name, that is not a TV show about me eating different types of wedding cake (if anyone is interested in making this show, however, I AM AVAILABLE). Now, most people whose pools I have swam in either have an in-ground pool with steps built in, or else they have an above-ground pool with a simple ladder. We, on the other hand, have an above-ground pool with an expandable liner that is partially sunk into our yard. This apparently meant we had to have a unique pair of steps. They look like this:
pool 3
We generally refer to them as the wedding cake. Now, just looking at these steps you might wonder what could possibly be difficult about cleaning them. Well, for the outside part, there’s nothing. But I also have to clean the inside of the wedding steps. And trust me, the inside is always much, much nastier than the outside. Dirt, leaves, bugs, and water all collect inside of the wedding cake, and it’s my job to get them out. Unfortunately, the only way to do so is to get inside of the wedding cake.  And this is the reason I am the one who has to do it every year- because I am the only one who will fit inside.

Nothing a claustrophobic person loves more.

Inside the Wedding Cake; Or, Sadly Not A Show About Me Eating Different Kinds of Cake

It’s a complicated business, cleaning inside the wedding steps. First of all, even if I scrubbed everything inside of it to a perfect bleachy white, it still would not be clean because all the gross, nasty stuff collects at the bottom. You have to tip the steps over so the gross stuff comes out the side.
pool 4
Those holes you see in the bottom are worthless, because that section is raised and all the gross stuff just collects in that little moat running around it until you tip it out over the lip. I also can’t just get inside of it and clean because I will hit my head. You have to lay the wedding cake on its side. And much like Aladdin trying not to be crushed by the giant turret as it rolls off the cliff, I have to be delicately positioned to slip into the wedding cake when we lay it on its side.

Pool maintenance is dangerous work.

Normally, my kind family will move the steps into the middle of the yard and assist me by gently lowering it onto me, giving me time to get situated inside of it without smacking my head or scraping myself going through the too small opening into the inside of the steps. Yesterday, however, my parents had to go and run an errand. I was not too worried, however, because my sister was still there. She was reading when I went to go outside and clean the steps, but I assumed she would be along shortly.
I wander over to the wedding steps, which are resting on our deck, just as they always are when the pool is not open. I look at the steps, which are both larger and heavier than me. Then I look at the path down the steps of the deck, out the narrow gate, and far away to the yard. I decided I can clean the steps just fine on the deck.
Let me foreshadow here and just say, this was my first mistake.
My second mistake was thinking to myself, Oh, Rachel will be along shortly. I’ll just go ahead and pull the steps onto me and start cleaning.
This was a rather difficult and unwieldy maneuver to attempt, and it should have been a clue to me that I was, perhaps, making a poor decision. But I had my bathing suit, I was ready to swim, by god, and the steps were standing (quite literally) in my way of the pool. So I pulled them down over me, scraping myself a few times while trying to wedge myself into it and actually get the steps to lay on their side. When everything was arranged to my satisfaction, I went busily about my work and had the inside cleaned fairly quickly. I scrubbed the last slimy spot and sprayed everything down with the water hose (cleverly threaded through one of the small holes in the side of the wedding steps) and sat regarding everything in satisfaction.
Then I tried to lift the wedding cake off me.
It barely moved. About this point it occurred to me that I had never heard my sister come outside. I tentatively called for her, thinking I had surely just been distracted. There was no answer.
I called again, much more loudly, and heard nothing but the wind in the trees and the chirping of birds.
With more force, I shoved at the wedding cake. It moved, and then slammed to a halt. I tried again, and it lifted to exactly the same spot and then banged to a halt. I realized then, what happened. In all my blind maneuvering inside the wedding cake trying to get it to lay flat, I had managed to wedge the rail of the steps under the rail on our deck.

Like this.

Like this.

I began frantically trying to scoot the whole thing back, but the incredibly awkward angle of my person within the steps made it essentially impossible to get any leverage. Even when I managed to scoot the steps back a ways, they were met by the large pot of plants my gardening mother had put upon the deck. A very heavy pot of plants.
I began thrashing about, panickedly shoving forward and back and up on the pool steps, desperate to get them loose. I also began hollering for my sister, even knowing that there was no hope. She clearly had forgotten to come outside. Tiring quickly, I eventually slumped back, trapped in a world of sharp, dripping wet plastic and shame. Distantly I wondered if I would have to sit there and listen until my parents finally came home and then try and scream for their attention.
It was a low point in my life, Readers.
After sitting morosely in my damp prison for a few minutes, I figured I might as well keep trying to get out. I kept trying to slip the rail out from under the rail while simultaneously scooting the steps back. I don’t know how much time passed before I finally felt the rails give. A little bit more space opened up in front of me, and I decided there was no way I was sitting in there any longer. So I wedged my legs out of the too narrow opening. And then I started scooting. I dragged myself on my back, feet first, inching along the rough wood of my deck through about a handsbreath of space between the steps and the deck.

This much.

This much.

There were leaves and dirt and god knows what sticking to my back, but as I slowly wiggled my way out, all I could feel was the rising, exuberant joy of being free. With a last, great lunge, I threw myself forward and allowed the wedding steps to smash to the ground, as I let out an exultant shout. Luckily, only my dogs were around to see me, dripping water and leaves and dead bugs in my bathing suit, madly punching my fist into the air next to where the steps lay on their side like a conquered beast. I am a heroine, I thought joyously. I rescued myself.

Then I looked at the steps, looked at myself, and realized that I had trapped myself in a set of pool steps.


Ah, summer.
Car rides, snow cones, sun bathing… and self-entrapment. In wedding cake shaped pool stairs.