Portion Control, Your Sassy Half Friend

I recently stood in the chip aisle at target debating between buying a family size bag of Cheetos and the smaller, but still a horrible decision size bag of Cheetos. To set the scene further: I also had a bag of peanut m&ms in my hands. On this particular

The sweet nectar of life, salt and fat.

The sweet nectar of life, salt and fat.

day in the Target chip aisle I was suffering form the worst and most off-balance hormones that I have experienced in recent memory. I’d wept multiple times for silly reasons. I’d become raging angry at a mosquito. And I’d been starving for 4 days. By that I mean, to my core insatiable hungry. For 4 days. Nothing could fill that gaping maw. It went to my bones, back through generations, a hormonal hunger not seen in eons. No matter how much protein I ate or water I drank I was starving. Which led me to the Target chip aisle. Which led to hormonal gorge fest 2015.

Good news: the hormones are leveling out and I am not hungry (like that any way) anymore. Bad news: I could still easily eat all that food again right now if it was in front of me. Because no matter how healthy I do eat (and enjoy eating), there’s nothing like a freaking Dorito. For that reason, I never buy junk food. Ever. Because I can, as has been previously stated, annihilate a bag of chips, cookies, pretzels, etc. without a second thought. No kidding, the higher order thinking in my brain shuts down and I inhale. I can’t even indulge in it even once in a while because of Portion Control.

Eff that guy, right? He’s there for you, kind of, like “oooh, great job you ate a super food salad and everything was perfectly measured. I’m so proud of you. See? This is how you get a thigh gap!” and you’re forlornly staring into your salad all, “But I don’t want a thigh gap…” and then! When you do find yourself elbow deep in a Doritos bag he’s the one who reminds you “At least you didn’t want a thigh gap” . Thanks so very much. I had no idea that one handful was 9,000 calories. Buzz. Kill.

Portion Control and I go way, way back. I’m pretty sure we’ve been locked in a struggle that predates the Jurassic Era. I’m sure there is some far removed Nancy ancestor whose one job in the community was to count the berries that the women and children had to fight off a saber tooth for. And while she was counting berries she was murmuring some early human version of “one for me, one for you”. Nancy ancestor passed on two genetic traits, I’m sure, one of them being a complicated relationship with food and the other being a hot head. These two traits have only become more concentrated through the generations. I can dominate both a bag of Doritos and my enemies in the Thunderdome.

Oh, yeah.Here’s an example: we went to a grill out at the beginning of summer. At one point during dinner I realized I was standing in front of the Doritos, preventing even the children from eating them. Is that not a thing? Does no other adult do this? No?

One of the kids said, “You’re eating a lot of Doritos.”

To which I said, “Yes.”

He said, “You must be stressed.”

I said, “What are you a therapist?” No, I didn’t, but I did think: “Listen kid, when you grow up, someday you too can shamelessly emotionally eat in front of an 8-year-old.”

Not a few weeks later, we went out to dinner with several couples and I noticed all the gals had only eaten half of their burgers. I asked my friend, “Why aren’t you finishing your burger? It’s delicious.”

She said, “I’m full.”

To which I replied, “Well, I am too but that’s not stopping me from achieving my dreams!”

While eating what the experts say is “the right amount of food” (pshhhhh!) has become less of a struggle the older I’ve become, it’s not easy! Sometimes during periods of stress or hormones it’s like a horror movie. I feel like there’s another presence here. It’s in my house. I notice that the bread has mysteriously moved closer to the front of the fridge. The buttery popcorn that I forgot about falls out of the pantry. A small secret candy bar appears from behind a bag of rice. I hear whispers. Maybe from the attic? Nope. Definitely in the kitchen. The disembodied voice is saying, “eat the pie”. It whispers to me for 30 minutes, a roundelay of “if we don’t have pie just eat some bread or that can of icing you forgot about”. It leaves a trail of cinnamon crumbs to the refrigerator. Am I insane? Do I need a doctor? A priest to rid me of these demons? Now I’m stressed. I’ll have this piece of pie to manage my anxieties.

And then as soon as the fork is down Portion Control starts tsk-ing and saying “You know that’s going directly to your thighs right?”

Dammit.

Eating and food really shouldn’t be this complicated. But sometimes it is. See, right here would be a good place for me to put a positive affirmation quote and say something about how all this has taught me a valuable lesson and now I have it all figured out. Oh, no. Not true. I just personified Portion Control as a sassy half-friend. I have nothing figured out. What I do know though is that most of my friends have this same complicated relationship with food and portion control and I’d rather be eating than afraid to eat. You know, we are all (probably) just doing the best we can to be healthy and not give ourselves stomach cancer from eating too much Red Dye #88. That’s not too, shabby really.

I also figure, if you can find the humor in something difficult it makes it a more manageable load to bear. It’s easy to get pissed ahang-in-theret yourself when you fall off the wagon, don’t see the results you want, eat a bag of Cheetos, etc. Hey, it’s life. These things happen. I say this because as a near professional level negative self talker, it’s just the truth. It’s ok. Portion Control might be laughing at how clumsily you slipped off the wagon and brained yourself on the way down, but, it’s going to be fine if you decide to let it be. Laugh at it, dust yourself off, and climb back up. And give Portion Control a good swift kick in the shins once you’re up there. It will feel really great to watch that guy suffer a little bit.

Damn. That did pretty much end as a motivational poster, didn’t it?

Exercise? I Thought You Said Extra Fries

Uhg. I saw a picture on pinterest the other day that said “Exercise? I thought you said extra fries.” If that ain’t the truth I don’t know what is. If I wasn’t meant to eat salt and potatoes then why the hell are they so delicious? The greatest invention of the modern age was Red Robin’s bottomless fries. Now, I’ve only ever been there once because if I went back that would be my grave. I would eat those fries until I died. I just love food. And by food I do mean all food. I know the popular and right thing is to say I love whole organic farm to table foods blessed by the pope and Dali Lama. Well, I do love those foods. I also love and can annihilate a bag of Doritos before you can say “But think of your heart!”

The other day my friend texted me the picture below and said “I finally understand why you work out so much”. Uh, yeah. Because one fry becomes the whole bottomless bowl. One Dorito becomes the whole bag. Hey, kids, here’s a math problem for you: How many bowls of bottomless fries can Ms. Nancy eat? The answer is obesity because America.

everything is on fire

Diets are the worst. But when your pants don’t fit– that’s also kind of the worst. Last year I lost upwards of 25 lbs and felt awesome. And then I went back to work. Have you ever heard  that roughly 25% of being a teacher is resisting the horrible food that shows up out of nowhere multiple times a week? Yeah, I hadn’t either. But there it is, the teacher’s lounge inexplicably packed with doughnuts and muffins. Randomly. On a Tuesday. When you least expect it. Had I known there would be treats I would have picked up my cheeto chain mail or my +1 muffin defense shield. Or you know, avoided the teacher’s lounge. If that’s not bad enough, then let’s not forget when kids bring you whole homemade apple pies. Yes. I received a whole pie in May.

The question for a teacher who receives a whole home made apple pie then becomes: Do I eat this pie because it’s f*cking May and I need something, some sort of metaphorical arm floatie to get me through the deep end that is the last three weeks of school? Or do I munch on an apple and get a cramp and drown in this train wreck pool metaphor because obviously PIE ALWAYS WINS.

Fun fact: I ate most of a whole pie in May!

You’d think pies and doughnuts and my love of the sweet, sweet nectar of life, potatoes, would surely have unraveled my weight loss from last year. Despite how much this post makes it seem like I have zero self control (False. I have at least 10% self control) I didn’t gain much weight back. Which, you know what? I’ll count that as a win because I had to go to work everyday where doughnuts were just handed out for free all willy nilly! I mean, who just brings free food to people who work with kids all day? Are you insane? Are you trying to kill me? Have you no respect for emotional eaters? We teach 12-year-olds. It’s lucky that we don’t all walk around with a flask and a side satchel full of cheetos and those mini chocolate covered doughnuts.

Luckily, though, I didn’t descend into flask/ doughnut satchel and since getting back on the logging food wagon (Blech. Nobody wants to know how many calories are in a vegan cookie. It’s vegan. Obviously it’s made from plants, the sweat of protesting feminists, and free range macrobiotic chocolate. See nutritional information: zero calories, your daily intake of the strength of a thousand men) three weeks ago my skinny shorts are not only fitting comfortably but loose. The download said

Take that, pie, you sucker!

I’m sorry I said that. Never leave me.

Anyway, my healthy eating/body transformation (oh my god sorry. Body and transformation should never be used together in a sentence.) isn’t over. I’ve wrangled myself some new goals that started on Friday. Let’s rehash it together, shall we?

Dumb bells, check. Yoga mat, check. Dog who thinks  jumping around and swinging shit means play time, check. Begin lifting, not so ba- Oh, Christ I should have started with 5 lb weights. Have I torn my arm off? No. Arm is still attached. Am I sure? Yes, ok, arm is still there. Move on to core work. Small tiny crunch and then yelling to husband in the next room, “If this is what it takes to stay in shape then I DON’T WANT IT.” Continue to exercise/weep intermittently. Try some squat roll back jump up thing, discover that even though I’ve been standing since I was wee I can’t seem to get off the floor. Anger. Punch the floor. How many reps of angry Nancy am I supposed to do? None? Damn it. Husband tries to calm me down, succeeds in demonstrating squat roll back jump up thing which of course only makes me more angry because I AM NOT A TURTLE SO WHY CAN’T I GET OFF MY BACK.

True Life: Fries. All of them. … I never did get off my back with that exercise but the others were marginally more successful. I think I already see a difference. Or, the overworked muscles have been spasming so much that I’ve given myself muscle definition by way of pure undiluted pain. Either way, I’m sure I’ll have a six pack soon (snort) like all those gals on youtube and pinterest who do one thousand squats while smiling and not sweating. If I smile during a work out look again because it’s probably a grimace used to swallow a sob because no matter how much I work out it is never a breeze. But I guess pushing yourself is how you get all those nicely defined muscles. Maybe after that you get the smiling and not sweating? I don’t know how MollyFitness (TM) and Holly Squatsalot are so ripped, and keep a clean house, and even have children, but damn do they seem able to easily crush a can with their abs while applying makeup, smiling, and not sweating. I try really hard not to compare myself to people who have already achieved maximum sweatless fitness. Hell, I try not to compare myself to anybody because I do actually like who I am and what I look like. So I’m not going to. Instead, this will be my mentality: You can always set new goals, which is where I’m at this summer.

Last year I proved to myself that I could change the way I ate. This past school year, despite eating one too many pies, I proved to myself that I can keep the weight off. I also showed myself that if the weight comes back on, even just a bit, all I have to do is realign and get back to what works. It took me until this month to fully realize that, but sometimes you’ve got to live it, you know? Jesus. Sorry. The pinterest quote is really strong with me today.

Last summer I posted a list of things I wanted to achieve before I went back to work. I checked many of those things off so I’m going to do the same again this year. Here goes:

  • Lose those last lbs
  • Tone up with weights, hiit workouts
  • Continue healthy eating
  • blog more about life, food, workouts
  • read at least 12 more books
  • work on the house
  • take time to express gratitude
  • proofread more because half of this list is not properly capitalized

So, before I put up a motivational quote, I’m going to go work out.

Whim Whams

Having a conversation about something that creeped me out.
Nancy: That gives me the whim whams.
Chris: Are the whim whams a real thing or is that another Nancy-ism?
Nancy: Yes, they are real! They’re just like the jilly jallies. Or the burr bum tickles. Or the Icky icky stickies.
Chris: I’ve never heard of any of those!
Nancy: Of course you haven’t. I just made them up.

Laugh When Your Celling Rains, Your New House Smells Like Cat Urine, and During Other Bad and/or Stressful Situations

It’s been a stressful few months. Today and tomorrow are snow days and it’s been nice to just sit and put off work. Yes, I could be hanging pictures or organizing paperwork, or (shudder) going through the giant stack of mail that has accumulated in the last 3 weeks, but I’m not going to so there.

Phew. I can’t believe it’s February. I feel like I’ve been in a fog since October. First there was Chris’s long and arduous job interview process. There were so many emotional ups and downs that I thought therapy was going to be needed. For me, that is. But, he got the job and is doing awesome work for a school district and is finally, finally, enjoying his employment with a big boy salary too boot.

Because we’re smart people at this time, we decided to start looking for a dog to adopt and when we found a corgi mix named Benny who looked like this: ImageI know, right? We said yes, thank you, we’ll take him please to the adoption program volunteers and two days before Chris started his new job we hopped in the car and drove two hours to get him. I can now say with certainty the following two things :

1. I will never adopt a dog that is 6 months old ever again. I didn’t kill him because his cuteness is overwhelming.

2. I really love my dog now.

Adopting a puppy two days before my husband started his brand new job was really stupid. That said, sleepless nights, stressful puppy behaviors, completely altering our schedules and plans, stressing myself out about being a good dog parent- are quickly fading. I still freak out about being a good dog parent. See “The Scarf Incident”. Dog chews up clothes, I think he eats a whole shirt, crying emergency speeding to the vet. Turns out he just ate pieces of my favorite scarf, threw them up in the middle of the night and is fine. There was still a lot of panicking on my part. This was last week. Aaaaaanyway.

So Chris got a new job and we got a puppy we were not quite equipped to handle. And about two weeks into Benny owning there was “The Time it Rained from the Ceiling”. That, dear reader, is when the tenant three floors above you decides to vacuum their utility closet and break their water heater thus, flooding you.I was sick, tired, stressed about my dog, and suddenly there was water pouring into our cluttered one bedroom apartment. I don’t think I’ve ever sobbed that hard in my life. Chris came home to me, I believe, sitting on a dry patch on the floor weeping into my dog’s neck.

This moment became the moment of “I can’t loud, tiny apartment any more especially not if it will be raining”. So we decided to break our lease and move. And move we did the first week of January. That debacle will have to wait for later story-telling. Let’s just say it was also the most effed up move/event thus far. Good news: my house no longer smells like cat urine and I actually like where I live.

But yes, it’s been a busy few months. Work for me has been stressful. Home has been stressful. And through all this my husband has been steady, wonderful Chris. I can’t say the same for me. I haven’t been the best spouse. I haven’t lost my sense of humor, so I still have a ways to fall, I think, but it hasn’t been my best 4 months.The other day I realized we haven’t even been married a year yet. Shock. Not because we’re unhappy, but just because circumstances have been ridiculous and it feels like I’ve lived 3 years fast forward.

There was a time, about a year before I met my husband, that all the stressful life stuff I detailed above would have sent me over the edge. I sat once in a psychologists office, weepy and depressed and so upset by my absolute lack of control in my circumstances that I just wanted to quit school and sleep in my room forever. I think I felt ebbs and flows of this the last few months, but when you have someone to ground you, to make you laugh, and to let you cry hysterically about the water pouring into your apartment– it helps. A lot. Knowing you have someone in your corner, that if all your stuff is wet and damaged and the house you are going to rent is a hazmat situation and you may just have to sleep on the curb but god damn you sure aren’t going to be sopping wet or curb sleeping on your own- well, that makes you, or me, see it all for what it is. Stupid. Circumstantial. Stress.

Not exactly what you want for your first year of marriage, but then again, that isn’t really our first year of marriage. It’s just stuff that happened. Nobody died. Nobody was hurt. It’s all ok. Took me a awhile to loosen the bone and back away from the metaphorical cliff, but I realize now, it’s ok.

If someone were to ask me my advice on marriage, (Ha! No one ever has. So, I’m just going to tell you because I can.) I would say be sure to find someone who will make you laugh, laugh, laugh no matter what. That, I think, can get you through anything.

Oh, and it helps if he/she is a looker, too. But that’s just me being shallow.

Image

Dammit. We’re cute.

I’m Glad I Hitched My Apple Wagon to Your Star

Married, married, married!Last weekend, Chris and I got married. It was lovely. We went to the courthouse. He wore a vest and a new pair of chucks. I wore polka dots and a vintage veil. Our close and local friends and family met us outside the courtroom. It rained, and we finally had to buy an umbrella. Our judge was wonderful, he kept making us laugh, and as our friends and family trickled in, I could feel that high sting in my nose, you know the one, the tell tale sign of happy tears.

The judge jested: would he have to stop the ceremony for tears? Chris said, will he? To me, of course, the one who sobs all the way through Pixar movies and youtube videos about dogs. No! I said, petulant, but then I wasn’t expecting more than signing on a line and an official declaration of “You’re married! Now get out of my courtroom!”.

But instead, “remember, love in its purest form is not a feeling, but a self-less giving for the good of the other…it may not always be easy. Most of us will surely face times of testing and trial…if you remember these vows which you make here today and how you felt toward each other as you made them… if you nourish the love you now have for each other, your marriage will endure all time and you and your home will have the peace and joy that will sustain you through all seasons of life.”

And, yes, I may have wept, not a little, but a lot, because the words were genuine and what I know we both felt. I also may have said “dammit”, whispered to Chris (twice), as I dissolved into tears. He just grinned and held my hands tighter, because he already knew I was going to be a big sappy mess. And then suddenly there were rings and kissing  and we were married and happy, happy, happy.

Nothing has changed because of a piece of paper and silver around fingers. We made commitments long ago. But we are happy, and lucky, to have found one another and to be able to celebrate thus far and all the future years with our friends and family. This happiness is a kind that words don’t quite do justice. So there you have it. Everything and nothing is different, and we are happy, married, and oh, so lucky.

Part 3: My Brain is a Sniper Rifle

Image

Half of my other half.

When I first met him, I knew in a moment I would have to spend the next few days re-arranging my mind so there’d be room for him to stay. – Brian Andreas

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When I was thirteen I suddenly realized that there were no absolutes in life. I remember the distinct feeling of, wow, I’ve had some sort of real, live adult revelation here and okay, this could potentially suck. At 13, I already knew that the majority of people expected to get married and have families someday. But what happens, I wondered, if you never meet anyone? Or you meet people, but they aren’t at all what you want? What happens then?

I don’t know what happened to other people, but what happened to me was this: I decided that I would find ways to be happy and content without the expectation that someone else could and would make me happy. Because, realistically,  I might never meet that smart musician who could make me laugh like nobody else and understood that I personified my own personality in my head. Maybe it was because I decided this that I was never really interested in anyone who came my way. I might as well, I thought, fully buy into that revelation I’d had at 13. But life is funny and has a way of working out not at all like you plan. In fact, I’ve found, that if you make a desk declaration that you will remain single and devote your life to other things that make you happy like friends and family and teaching, or maybe creating a corgi farm where all the great fatties can frolick (it’s a lifelong dream, ok?), life will, in 7 seconds flat, render that declaration null and void. Just because it can.

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Which brings me back to Other Guitarist and an innocuous October evening. There was never anyone, until right then, that exact moment when Other Guitarist walked in and brain said ‘yep‘. That loud and suddenly distinct part of my brain, sitting in a wingback chair, already had it all figured out.

IF my brain were an inanimate object it would be a sniper rifle with who else but Smoking Jacket Nancy at the trigger. The best way I can describe the sudden shift in my life was this way: Smoking Jacket Nancy (who is an incredibly good shot due to the years she spent in Africa hunting Poachers. That sounds like a C list movie. I should immediately abandon all plans of doing laundry and write that script.) trained her sights on Other Guitarist and those crosshairs were never going to come untrained from that mark.

I’m going to date him, I thought, in very assured way, as if it had a sneak peek into the future and already knew what were to happen. Damn, Smoking Jacket Nancy is good. I’m going to flirt with him all night and I’m going to date him. 

But first, I had to ask him his name again, because it was definitely not Matt, but that’s what my brain heard in the smash up of a moment of our first (real) meet. His name was actually Chris (Chris, Matt. Preeeetty close, brain) and about three seconds after he tried my infamous guacamole and gave me the Fonzi thumbs for a job well done,  Bushwhacking, gun toting, Smoking Jacket Nancy raised her glass in triumph. 

Part 4: Jazz and Broken Glasses

Part 2

Part 1

Mysteries of the Pantsless

Don't judge the wrinkles.

Don’t judge the wrinkles.

The plains and the people in them were finally taught a lesson after two years of sticking our thumbs in our ears and going “pbbbbfffft” at the weather. Or maybe it’s just me that does that. Around February 15th every year I dare Mother Nature to get colder, because, please, I can practically see March and Spring Break, you wouldn’t dare, Nature.

She dared. There is a snow drift practically up to my big picture window and I’ve been inside for two going on three days. I am anxious to go outside but also, no thank you, because it is cold, I am short, and I might get lost in the hip deep depths a few paces from our front door.

So, excuses to stay inside: I haven’t written anything in a while and I am trying to do that more. Excellent. A reason to stay in my jim jams for another half hour and entertain no one but myself with another teaching story.

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It is a well-known fact that Miss G. does not wear pants. The 6th grade children, who somehow cannot remember homework or that they should, yes, please, write their names on all their papers, run into one another because they have no spacial awareness, have sharp eyes for inside out sweaters (I wish this had only happened once. I did it again this year, too. ) and fashion.

 The weekend after I bought a very trendy cape coat one 6th grade boy says, “Miss G.,” as he runs past and into the room just as the bell rings, “that is a very fashionable coat.”

See?

So they have noticed that I do not wear pants. Ever. Coldest day of the year? Who cares. That’s what tights and boots are for. It becomes a point of curiosity. And concern.

After a fun day of writing six word stories, they turn in their assignment: Write 6 different 6 word stories. One reads, “Please wear pants. It’s winter time.” Five words technically, but clever. Another, not about pants, but so sweet and endearing it has to be shared: “I still wish I could fly.” And you wonder why I love to teach middle school.

Another time a little girl turns to me with a serious question. “Miss G., would you rather wear pants or be chased by a bear?” Naturally, it depends on what kind of bear I am being chased by.

And just after the year turns over into 2012 and it is cold, cold, cold I finally do wear pants and they ask what I have done with Miss G. and it becomes a story that spreads to the whole of sixth grade. “Have you heard? Miss G. is wearing pants.” And they all come to look and tell me I don’t look like myself at all. It was a big mystery why I didn’t wear pants. I became much like the bearded lady at a carnival when both my legs were jammed into uncomfortable sausage casings. I mean, pants.

I wear them now. My current 6th graders have no idea what I put my kids through last year. If they saw me now, they might keel over in surprise.

And why didn’t you wear them, Miss G? They would ask.

Because it’s funny. Also, they pinch. Now let’s talk about grammar.

Love and the Nosy 12-year-old

TeachingMy job requires that I exist somewhere between constant bemusement, amusement, and disbelief. I teach 6th graders. I know, you’re thinking I’m crazy. You’re right. But my students are some of the loveliest humans I’ve ever met. They are equal parts endearing and infuriating and I have stories that splash across that spectrum.

This one is perhaps my favorite of the sweet stories.

There is a passel of girls who are nosy and want to know things. For months they have mounted a campaign to weasel out whether or not I am married, or engaged, because it is a new thing for them to have a teacher who they must constantly remember to refer to as “miss”. They ask as often as they can without getting themselves in trouble, because they know it’s none of their business and they are toeing some kind of line that is out of bounds.

There is one little girl who loudly asks once a week with all the casual air she can muster, which is about as much as a brick flying through a window, “Do you have a boyfriend?”

And my standard answer is, “I can’t remember things that aren’t your business” (which always puts a kibosh on the incessant interest. At least for a few days.).

Loud One asks again during passing period, where she always stands as a double sentry with me, pointing out all of the kids who won’t have enough time to make it into the door before the bell. She asks again another week and then again the week after that.

One day, I finally ask, “Why are you all always asking, nosy?” because I think I already know the answer, and it’s that she is 12 and there is intrigue and mystery about young teachers who refuse to directly answer questions.

But I am wrong about why she asks. I’m wrong often when it comes to teaching but that’s always when I learn the most.

She shrugs and looks down the hallway at the kids scrambling to close lockers and avoid detentions.

“We want to know because we love you and we want to know that someone loves you when you go home, too.”

Yeah, that one sucker punched me in the heart.

About a Smoking Jacket. And love.

Part 1: Desk Declarations

Smoking Jacket Nancy’s Perch

 It happened like this:

I had seen him once three months earlier. Best Dude Friend was playing a set at Small Coffee Shop and he was there with a guitar and backup vocals. I remember thinking, Other Guitarist is cute, and because of happenstance and maybe, because the cosmos thinks it makes a better story, I left early after the Best Dude Friend’s concert, which I never had in the history of any of his shows. I left and went to a bar and Best Dude Friend and Other Guitarist went to another bar equal distance from Small Coffee Shop. I thought nothing more of that night until 3 months later on an  unobtrusive Saturday evening in October when Other Guitarist walked through the door again.

I don’t remember his walk down the hallway or even Best Dude Friend introducing us. But I do remember the handshake, accidentally calling him ‘Matt’, and one elevator look (in which brain was giddily checking off the following things: brown hair! hipster glasses! handsome! your pants fit! and converse! I always say, Bless a man in good footwear, fall for one in converse. No, I never say that, but converse!).

And suddenly, loud and distinct, over all the other rapid fire senses invading my head, brain said, Yep.

You see, I have this sliding scale of neurosis and calm in my head. Calm, together Nancy, or Smoking Jacket Nancy, as I like to call her, is a BAMF. She drinks brandy out of a heavy crystal glass, sits in a fancy red leather wingtip chair in silk, striped pajamas and a majestic purple and gold embroidered smoking jacket and she knows everything before it happens. She gives good advice and I’ve never seen anyone rock fancy house shoes like she does. She’s the part of me that always keeps her calm and shakes her head slowly and knowingly when the other side of me takes over.

That other part of me, Neurosis Nancy, doesn’t come out often. She freaks out about money unnecessarily and scares me into not buying paper towels because what if my heating bill is 8,000 dollars  this month and if only I hadn’t bought paper products I wouldn’t have overdrawn the checking account! And she yells things in my head while I’m driving like, “OH GOD! Remember when you were in that accident! That car over there is is going to smash into- Oh, no false alarm. You’re fine. Drive already.” I would like to clarify that Neurosis Nancy never rules my head, but sometimes she grabs the microphone  and yells incoherently for 30 second to 5 minutes before Smoking Jacket Nancy can sick her highly trained pack of dobermans on her. Typically, I exist much more toward Smoking Jacket Nancy on the spectrum.

So, in my head on that day, Smoking Jacket Nancy was raising her brandy glass and wiggling her eyebrows knowingly as I accidentally called Other Guitarist the wrong name and I could hear her voice saying, Yep, this is something. And it was, because nothing like that had ever happened, ever, in 24 years.

Part 3: My Brain is a Sniper Rifle

Part 1: Desk Declarations

Part 1: Desk Declarations

It happened like this:

Sitting at my desk on a plan period, grading papers and looking around the room thinking, how could anyone possible have the time or energy for another person? How could anyone have enough leftover to give to someone else?

For the first time in my life when I thought, I want to be alone, I don’t want to date or think about dating or worry about meeting someone, I meant it. Before, there had always been a 1% part that cared about being single or alone or insert some societal expectation about dating. Not this time though. I really and truly didn’t care and couldn’t fathom actually dating or caring about dating. I was busy being a first year teacher. I’d lucked into a full year of subbing after my dream job at my dream school fell through. I was crawling out of a year of depression and worry and I was feeling pretty good about the future. ‘Tie a cape around your neck and stand in super-hero pose’ good. I was content, even edging toward happy.

My best dude friend and I were on parallel paths in the 2010-2011 year. We had become friends, oddly, on our last day as college students. We were in caps and gowns making jokes about middle names and somewhere between dubbing one another ‘cash money’ and ‘bling bling’we became friends. We became close through the stresses of our first year of graduate school, student teaching, and life in general.

Once, we spent a forty-five minute car ride listing nothing but the things that made us happy.

Once, when winter still clung to spring and the trees had yet to bud, we cataloged his comic books under an open window and didn’t speak a word for an hour.

Once, a waiter spilled beer on him the night before his big interview for his first teaching job and I laughed so hard I almost thought I was a bad friend, but no, I’m not, he’d have done the same and after he came back from mopping himself up with cheap brown paper towels we talked about loneliness and dissatisfaction and he said one of the kindest things anyone has ever said to me.

He said, you deserve to be doted on, and I almost cried into my unspilled beer because I didn’t always believe those words even though I had said them in one hundred other ways to the young woman who starred back at me in mirrors and glass.

Well, it happened that two days after my ‘I can’t believe busy people my age date and I don’t ever want to date anyone ever’ desk declaration that this friend, more like a brother now after the year and a half we had, called and said, get-together and grilling and beer and conversation and today and I said, ok.

There are evenings that live in infamy in your memory because they are proof of a life well lived. I remember evenings with summer still clinging to the setting sun, long shadows, and open windows, conversation, and laughter in this way. Those moments are the makings of happiness. Those are the moments that if you were the director of your own movie life, you would record and edit into the perfect indie film about 20-somethings, honesty, and truth, and the magical capabilities of being young, and free, and hopeful. Those are the nights you can’t manufacture. They’re just good. It was one of those nights. The backdoor was open and the sun still refused to set too early. I was still in a summer dress and sandals despite the creep of a colder October.

Best Dude Friend and I hung out in the early afternoon before the rest of the mutual friends arrived. We grocery and liquor shopped and I made my infamous guacamole. And some ten minutes before the real shindig was supposed to begin, there was a knock at the door and an early arriver walked in and shifted everything in my brain and life around so easily it was as if it were always meant to happen.

Part 2

(I wrote this last year, March 2012, but read it today and liked it a lot and decided to tell this story over the next bit.)