Just Keep Paddling Even if It Kills You and You Get a UTI

Hello Readers.  Before we get started, let me flatter you so that you don’t notice the timestamp (I know how important my tardiness is to you).  Have I told you lately that I appreciate you for being here?  Because I appreciate you for being here.  I’ve been having so much fun with this blog and having y’all be a part of it is pretty cool.  We’re like a family.  I don’t know you, but we probably have something in common.  Or you know me too well and want to abandon ship, but can’t because we’re already bound together.  The point is, regardless of our interpersonal bond, you’re here, and I appreciate that.  It keeps me committed, and that’s why I’ve never been late to a posting.  Now, one of you may be thinking, “umm, what about today?”  But, well, the truth is that I’m in Texas, and the time zone is 25 hours behind.

Now, up until this point, everything I’ve written about has been a throwback to a few months ago, a year ago, or something of the like–set substantially in the past.  Today, however, in lieu of recent events, I’d like to talk about recent events.  And, for the first time ever, I’ll also be including some diagrams I put together over the past few weeks in Photoshop to aid in the telling of this story.

This past Saturday, my friend Elizabeth and I decided to go rafting on the lake.  If you’ve been reading for awhile (aka are one of my relatives), this wasn’t the first time we’d done this.  We went for my 20th birthday as well.  That was a fiasco of its own, but I won’t go into the details.  Anyway, the point is, we had learned from the last time that our inflatable raft was just two small for both of us to use at once, and that pool noodles and a broken boogie board don’t cut it in terms of extra flotation.  So we decided to be smarter this time around, and to learn from our mistakes, and got an inner tube from Wally World to attach to the back and expand the size of our fleet.  It was going to be something of a cheap plastic floating paradise.  I’m the smaller of the two of us and super generous and giving, so I agreed to go ahead and take the inner tube once we got there.

We reasoned that inflating the inner tube and the raft would be exceedingly difficult to do upon arrival, so, the responsible adults that we are, we got my mom to blow everything up before we left with a vacuum.  In addition to our flotation devices, we also brought a number of supplies and rations to aid us in our venture–water, sunblock, hats.  Few bodies we’d been needing to dump.  The usual.  Being prepared and staying safe on every leg of this journey was of the utmost importance.  Once we had gathered up our things, we loaded the car.  It’s not hard to describe how we packed it, but I don’t want to.  So guess what readers.  It’s time for our first diagram.  The car load looked something like this:

raft6

Safety is everything.  (Shoutout to Elizabeth for volunteering herself to be squashed by the luggage.)

Anyhow, when we got to the lake, the parking lot was swarming with vehicles, all with empty boat racks attached to the behind.  The last time we had gone there had been like two.  This was like a naval fleet.  How do you have confidence in your 5 foot inflatable raft idea–scratch that–your $4 Wal-Mart inner tube idea–when you are going up against a redneck boat army?  Well I guess I thought dividing your own forces was the answer, because that’s what I did.  Elizabeth was putting her on spray-on sunscreen right in front of my trunk unaware that the wind was blowing it into my car, so I was all, “Ayyooo dumbass get out the way dumb turd.”  For some reason people don’t like you calling them dumb or something so she got irritated.  I however, stayed focused, and busied myself putting together the paddle.  I discovered that no matter what pieces I used, the ends of it were crooked.  It was a nuisance, but not as bad as something really terrible like getting sunblock in your car.  (I kid, I kid.)  Besides, I had other things to take it off my mind, like our supplies and rations, of which the following came aboard: four water bottles, two juice boxes, a bag of pretzels, two apples, more sunblock, and a bag of Twizzlers.  We doubled-bagged them and carted everything to the waters edge.

As we waded in, I knew we had to be careful about where we were to launch so as to best avoid boats, rocks, and breaking the “no swimming by the docks” rule.  I picked out a few different spots, but we couldn’t agree on any of them, so I ended up hijacking the raft and paddling away, avoiding boats and rocks, while she unethically broke the rules by angrily swimming after me.  She kept squacking, “you said you were going to take the tube! You are really f***ing pissing me off, Melanie Lech!”  This was true, and I probably shouldn’t have stolen the raft, but it was also true that Elizabeth couldn’t paddle, so I squacked back explaining that all she had to do was use the tube until we got away from the docks, and then we’d switch.  I knew she saw my reason after I explained it, but it didn’t stop her from coming after me like some sort of vengeaful sea kracken and fighting to climb aboard (who can blame her?).  After clawing at the sides and struggling to get in for a while she stopped and said, “oh,” then stood up in what turned out to be waist-deep water.  It was classic.

raft16

(It may be worth mentioning that we have the sort of relationship where these levels of immaturity, from both of us, are commonplace–we’ve known each other for a looong time.)  The comedic relief allowed us to reason with one another.  In the names of speed and safety, I would be able to take the raft out to deeper waters quickly and without resistance, as desired, so long as I honored Elizabeths requests by also taking the tube with me (that really was one of her requests) and guarding all of the flip flops.  I was headed for a particular spot in the water–the ultimate safezone in my expert opinion, but Elizabeth was still mad at me as we went along for making her swim after me (reasonable) without some kind of a flotation device to help her out like, oh, I don’t know, say, an inner tube (smh-able). Even amidst accusations, however, I couldn’t help but laugh because it was pretty funny.

Once we made it to the destination point on open waters, as promised, I forfeited my hold of the raft.  In doing so, I also relinquished my duty to guard the food and the flip-flops.  Thus, my last mission before I could relax was simply to secure the tube to the raft.  We didn’t have any rope so I used a plastic bag and made a big fuss until I had secured it.  After that, we were in the clear to just relax and enjoy the water.  In traditional 20-something fashion, Elizabeth wanted to enjoy the lake by laying down and listening to some music,  so she pulled her phone out of a waterproof pouch that she had stuffed into her cleavage and, in accordance with the bright sunshine and vivacity of the lake, we listened to some depressing Lana del Rey.  Then we busted out the Twizzlers, which ended up being pretty much the only culinary option since the pretzels had become dead weight.  Opening the bag would risk inundating it with lake water, which ensured the death and eternal ruin of the whole thing.  The apple juices too, were of concern, because they absorbed everything around them.  We really had no use for most everything in that raft, actually.  But the Twizzlers, we’d eat.

Even though we were in the clear to relax, it was quite windy, so I knew that I still had to watch out for drifting.  But every time I looked back at the ever-distancing dock, instead of acting upon the part of me that thought, “well, we’re getting pretty far away; we should probably start heading back now,” I just thought “eh,” and flopped back down to play in my tube.  And, as a result, I was unaware of the fact that we were drifting like the bag of winds from The Spongebob SquarePants Movie (the first one, not the second insult to the great Sponge himself) was guiding us.  To give you an idea of how far out we got, I’ve attached the following record of our trajectory.

raft12

(Dock not to scale.)

(Nothing to scale, really.)

I will liken this moment to the arrival of 11:03 pm when a 3 page paper you haven’t started is due at midnight.  Or the last scroll through FaceBook at 6am when your eyes feel like they’re about to bleed or up and disintegrate out of your face from exhaustion.  Just like when you finally buckle down to write or curb your addiction to the internet to get some sleep, we recognized that avoiding responsibility was no longer an option, and that it was time for us to turn around.  So I gave Elizabeth a heads-up and told her what we had to do.  She agreed it was the right choice.  To make it easier on both of us, we decided to stay in our respective devices.

The tube had deflated a lot while we were out there, so it wilted perfectly for me to sit in it like an armchair, which, as it turns out, is a great shape for booking it backwards wherever you want to go.  I was really enjoying not feeling like a lard, so I got to business.  I probably should have waited for Elizabeth, but I didn’t.  I wasn’t too worried about her keeping up.  After all, when I had first set off, she appeared to be in good shape.  But the things that I saw every other time I looked back were…not so good.  She took the oar apart and was using the rectangular paddle pieces from each end as flippers while laying down.  I think that maybe it was because she was laying down that she didn’t realize she was going in circles.  It was really hilarious.  By the time she gave up, I was already about halfway back to the initial spot.  She started waving me back, but I was in no mood to expel energy retracing my steps because she had given up.  So we argued across the lake.  “Just keep going!” I’d say.  “I can’t! UuuGH, the Twizzlers got wet!”  We went back and forth at random increments, getting increasingly more irritated with one another, when she yelled that she was going to ask for a tow.  I cursed under my breath.  There was no way that we were admitting defeat to do that.  If it came to that, I would be going back to the raft after all, to kill her.  However, there weren’t any boats around at the time, so there wasn’t any rush.  I stubbornly bobbed waiting for Elizabeth, and she stubbornly bobbed waiting for me, and we both drifted back in the direction from whence we’d come.

As we waited in this stalemate, I began to liken our circumstances to a real survival situation, as anyone who has ever watched National Geographic or really any dramatic TV program does.  I thought about the classic storyline where working toward a common goal in crises helps people to overcome their problems.  Looking back at that raft, and recognizing that all of my efforts had gone to waste, I vowed that this would never happen.  Survive or die, my newfound grudge would stand.

A few minutes had passed when a boat and a jet-ski came into view.  They were headed back to the dock, like we should have been.  The boat took a farther route but the jet-ski was headed towards me.  I thought it was like, you know, a joke between friends where you go towards them then veer off just to be funny.  After all, there was a whole lake to choose from in terms of direction.  Why else would you head directly toward the only person bobbing there?  So I readied myself to play along and laugh when it veered.  Except it didn’t veer.  It just kept getting closer and closer until finally I was like “…there’s a person here!” and the jet-ski dramatically swerved to the side and skimmed past me.  I laid on my tube, blinked a few times and thought flatly, “I almost got run over by a jet-ski.”

I don’t even think I had one endorphin.  I was so weary of going back to the raft that my body didn’t even produce any adrenaline.  I was actually more open to physically dying than enacting the rescue mission.  Anyway, so the jet-skier came back around and was like, “holy crap, you scared the shit out of me!  This is kinda dangerous, you being out here, huh?”  I narrowed my eyes.  Or maybe you weren’t looking hard enough.  To see my black inner tube.  Or…black swimsuit.  Or…dark…hair…  Alone in the open water…  …I had unintentionally camouflaged with the lake.  I thought back to the hat that I had left behind with the pretzels and juice boxes as dead weight in the raft.  It was white.  That’s not a lake color.  That’s safe.  I should have been wearing that dang hat.  Just left it in the raft, well why did I even bring it?  I looked back toward the raft and saw that Elizabeth was waving her arms and flagging down a boat, and my pride-blood boiled.

I yelled out to the boaters that I was coming for her and it was fine.  It was my turn to be the kracken.  Getting help from these people would mean that all of my friends were right about how this raft was a bad idea.  And it was not a bad idea.  I WOULD NOT LET IT BE A BAD IDEA.  The people in the boat seemed to be good with what I had said, but Elizabeth was closer and kept feeding them different information–propaganda and lies, so they started trying to help her.  I booked it over there like an Olympic backwards inner tube lake swimmer to stop the madness.  “It’s fine!” I said.  “Thanks, but we’re good!”  Elizabeth turned to me.  “There’s nothing wrong with asking for help,” she said.  “Get out of the raft,” I growled.  I held down the side as she got out then climbed in myself.  It had taken on so much water that it was like a bathtub.  And the water was pink, almost opaque, with darker little chunks every here and there and red, slimy wormy things in it.  “The Twizzlers melted,” she said.  Yes, the raft was full of Twizzler water, and I had just submerged my nether regions in it.  Do you know what happens when you put sugary things up your business?  Yeah, ME NEITHER, AND I DIDN’T WANT TO FIND OUT.  (Update: UTI.  Lots of burning.)  I fished out my white hat, which had been only slightly pinked, and put it on my head like Captain Jack Sparrow, then braved into the tub water to access the remaining plastic bag to try and bail the ship.  There were holes in the bottom though, so it wasn’t very effective, but oh, how I tried.

I knew I needed to curb my anger, but the worry of tiring out when I could not afford to do so had manifested itself in that form and was in no hurry to leave, so I tried to channel the frustration into paddling.  I explained my Olympic method to Elizabeth so that she could use the tube the way I had and follow, but she couldn’t figure it out, and was pissed at me for being pissy.  So then I told her to just grab onto the raft and I’d pull.  Turns out telling someone to do that is like dropping an anchor.  But after a few minutes of moving absolutely nowhere, I was like, that’s it, and I told her to get in the raft.  “Okay…hold all the stuff so I can get in,” she said.  I reluctantly obliged, piling every dang thing from the raft into my lap.  I situated myself Indian-style so I had somewhere to put my legs, and described my plan.  “Okay, so I’ll paddle, and what you need to do is lay down and stick your feet over the back and kick them like a motor,” I said.  She too obliged, and then, crammed together like a pathetic human speedboat, we set off.

raft9

The return journey was a true testament to our abilities.  Every time I put the paddle to one side, I had to put all of my muscles into multiple strokes at a time.  1…2…3…4…5–too much!  Four wasn’t enough to straighten out, but five sent us diving into the opposite direction.  Plus we had to keep readjusting because Elizabeth’s neck would slide down to an almost 90 degree angle with her body, bless her heart.  Getting re-situated was a lot like those team building exercises where you have to link arms and stand up together back-to-back.  When passing boats came into view, it was all the more important that we worked efficiently so that we wouldn’t look like we were in need of help, and they wouldn’t try to help.  But, I mean, you’ve seen the drawing.  At that point, we were poster children for needing help.  My legs were squashed and really uncomfortable, so we stopped for a moment to tend to this new readjustment.  “This freaking Twizzler water is getting all up in my business,” I said.  In an effort to get more comfortable, I popped my legs out and straddled them out either side of the front of the raft.  “Yeah, mine too. I think that’s the kind of thing that causes yeast infections,” Elizabeth said.  I looked down at my legs and realized how stupid my physical actions had been even while consciously discussing this very issue.  I hadn’t improved my seating position, I had given the Twizzler water easier access.  I think it was somewhere around here that we just up and stopped being mad at each other and became friends again.  The survival bonding premise is true.  With clean slates, we got back to paddling and kicking.

Our technique was much more effective than the previous ones but still quite slow.  I kept paddling and paddling and paddling but it felt like we were moving 3 feet a minute.  My arms were getting really, really tired.  So tired, in fact, that I found myself reconsidering my stance on assistance.  So when a boater came by and called out, “Need a tow?!”  I gave Elizabeth the go-ahead.  “Yes!” she said.  Then he looked to me, and I swallowed my pride and called back, “Haha…maybe!”  “Well, okay then!  Good luck!” the boater replied.  “Wait…what?!” I said.  And then he started to sail away  “Yes!” Elizabeth called out.  “We said yes!  Help!!”  But it was too late.  The boater was out of earshot, and we were out of a free ride.

However, it was not all for naught, for the energy and laughter brought to us by this encounter renewed our spirits, and we pressed on.  Finally, we got back to the docking area.  We were both proud, and a little amazed, and, arms and legs aside, not even worn out.  We had completed the toughest part of our journey.  When one of the lanes was finally safe for our use, we paddled towards complete victory.  A boat had recently come in and been tied while the person went to get their car, so we had a set window to maneuver around them.  Elizabeth got out so I could get the raft really close and empty it before getting out.  I was almost where I wanted to be when the truck arrived to back in its boat rack.  But he was not to be an enemy.  “You’re fine!” the driver said.  “Oh, good, thanks!” we said.  I was almost to shore.  It was almost over.  I put on my flip flops so I wouldn’t get cut on the rocks, then climbed out of the raft.  It was within my first three steps that one of my sandals got sucked into a puddle of mud never to be seen again.  Something always happens at the end, doesn’t it?  Flipping the Twizzler water out was immensely satisfying, albeit a little concerning to the nearby boaters.  Nevertheless, after that, we finally climbed to the shore.  The green color of the raft melted onto Elizabeth’s shoulders and stained them green, and then that got onto my car seat, but other than that, we left our rafting venture not only in good health, but also well-exercised, tanned, and not pissed off at each other.  We were victorious.

        1279         1268         1267         074

(Elizabeth didn’t want to be in the pictures this year so here is me twice, then a picture of our gear at the end, then a picture from last year for better conceptualization.)

The moral of the story: don’t fight against each other when you’re slowly dying in a children’s pool toy.  Fight with each other, as a team.  And stop going to McDonald’s so you can buy better water sports equipment.  And don’t be afraid to ask your doctor how to deal with a UTI.

And that is the end.  Look out for one of my friend Amy’s stories next week (it’s her birthday today, happy birthday Aimington!), it’s sure to delight.  And thanks for reading, skillets!

Melanie

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ISO: Filter

Hey all!  Welcome to post seven.  This entry is probably going to be a little more sporadic than usual because I had other intentions for what I wanted to share today that didn’t play out, so I scraped this one together last-minute.  (The other thing will have to wait until next week…stay tuned.)

Tonights episode is more a scene than an actual episode in its entirety.  However, it plays an important role in a much larger story regarding the horrors of the pursuit of Collegiate Romantic Interest #2, so I have decided to give it its very own hayday.

(Oh, P.S., to ensure title comprehension, “ISO” in this context means “in search of.”  Excellent.  Let’s move on.)

I have always been a victim of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.  Or rather, not being aware of my surroundings and doing something stupid in the wrong place at the wrong time.  Or really, just generally, regardless of place and time, being stupid and wrong.  Todays story revolves around one of these incidents, in the context of what will soon be a recurring theme in these stories: failed courtship.

Now, it was a common thing during the course of my infatuation with Collegiate Romantic Interest #2 that I would be somewhere on campus, talking about him with one of my friends, and he would walk in the door or pop around the corner or vaporize through a wall and suddenly be there.  I took this at the time to be a message from the gods, the divine–an act of fate (and also hypothesized that maybe he was a supernatural being of some sorts, which ensured that I really needed to capitalize on this crush because even if he was one of the lame kind of supernatural beings like a True Blood vampire or something, it would still be really awesome) (unless he turned on me or was actually just hunting from the get-go) (although really, even if it worked out I would either have to get super old while he stayed young or turn into a vampire and just be alive for sooo long, like never get to die or take a nap again, talk about exhausting); but now I realize that it was a warning.  And even though I knew, even then, that it was risky to conduct private conversations about him in public, for whatever reasons–ignorance, earnestness, the thrill, a chance TO FEEL ALIVE–I continued my behavior.

So I was with my friend in our school’s Student Union, which basically is the hub of student activity on campus.  I’m pretty sure these two events occurred on the same day, so let me paraphrase, very briefly, the conversation that had ensued earlier that day.  It was something to the effect of this:

       (In class)

       CRI2: Look at this lol!

       Me: Omg lol how funnie is that!

       Evil Spawn of Satan:  Ummm look, I’m a terrible human being so I’m going to be super blunt and embarrass you in front of everyone. Do you, like, like each other?

       (at the same time)

       Me:  Yes   CRI2:  No

       Me:  

       Me:  I have to go to the bathroom.

(End scene)

Yes, friends, the dialogue has been altered for safety reasons, but the message is the same.  It. was. terrible.

And the solution?  To talk to said friend about it in the Student Union.  Outside of a popular eatery.  I mean, by Harry Potter logic, it makes sense.  Hide something in plain sight, right?  If you need to discuss the coordinates of a horcrux, do it in the Butterbeer place in Hogsmead or whatever.  Because it’s busy, it will drown out the conversation.  By all strains of logic, it should have worked, except that it wasn’t busy in the student union that day, and that the logic was stupid for me anyway, because I wasn’t a witch going against a super-wizard apocalyptic villain, so no one was going to be spying on me if I tried to discuss my crippled love life in private in the first place.  The point is: it was a terrible decision, and a terrible location.  And though moderately populated, it was only populated with patrons who were respectful and never rose above using their indoor voices.  Nerds.

So we sat, and I mourned.  I don’t remember what I said to my friend exactly; I just remember that it was bad.  I may have even uttered such sickeningly vulnerable things as “I thought he was the one,” or “I’m heartbroken,” or “I’m going to find that girls family and brutally murder them all.”  The details are hazy, but clear enough for me to remember that it was a horrendously dramatic and thorough outpouring of emotions.

So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that when I saw my friend’s eyes widen and drift to the upper right, then turned around to see Collegiate Romantic Interest #2 standing in the doorway, I almost went into cardiac arrest.

I didn’t know how much he had heard, nor what its implications might be; I only knew that I wanted to kill myself.  So, I turned around and ran down the hallway screaming, “NO! I’M GONNA KILL MYSELF!!”

Turned down a hallway littered with Suicide Prevention Awareness posters screaming “I’M GONNA KILL MYSELF.”

Yes, friends, not only had I reacted like a 12-year-old cartoon character, but I also had screamed a phrase deemed offensive by an entire organization that seeks to help people, in the organizations homeland.  The guilt was palpable.

In the end, I learned that College Romantic Interest #2 had only been passing through to the staircase, and likely had not heard much, if anything (though I still don’t know if he heard the screaming), so my outburst was for naught.  I also learned what it’s like to get dirty/appalled looks from innocent bystanders (f ’em all, YOU DON’T KNOW ME).  In that part of the student union, anyway.  Everything passed, and the extent of my feelings was kept a secret, and I was able to walk away from that particular part of the student union pretty much unscathed, and totally relieved.

The moral of the story: remember where you are before you run screaming down a hallway.  Also, not everyone makes jokes about death with such ease and disregard for human decency, so maybe start working on establishing a filter.

Anyway, brother has been waiting on me to take him to Wal-Mart, so I must take my leave.  Let me just go over my conclusion…  Alright, no attempt to apologize for belittling real problems, loose tie-back to filters, and no closing joke.  Seems about right.

As always, thanks a ton for reading, and I’ll see you next Thursday, amigos!!

Your amigo, I hope,

Melanie

~Peace out~

Dancing with Destiny

Greetings, readers!  Glad to have you back.  Today’s story is about my first experience with one of humankind’s primary rituals of romance–the slow dance.

I always imagined that my first slow dance would be with the love of my life of high school.  At one of the Blackout Dances or Winter Formals, I’d be in a cute little dress, nothing like the Operation Christmas Child or Dunder Mifflin T-Shirts I wore alternately 3 days a week freshman year that appeared to be my usual garb.  High School Love would see me in a new light, and take a sharp breath, and hold it in.  And for a moment, it would be just us.  I’d meet his gaze as the DJ called out, “alright all you little shawties and hawties–we’re gonna take it reeeal slowww now, so grab that special someone, and let’s boogie.”  I would be his special someone.  He would be my special someone.  We’d walk towards each other, then one of us would trip, and it would be hilarious, and would make us remember why we were right for each other.  As he took my hand, I’d apologize for profusely sweating, and he’d say, “it’s okay baby, I like your sweat.”  And I’d say, “Oh, that makes me a little uncomfortable.”  And then we’d dance.

He would shake his hair to the left like Justin Bieber, but it wouldn’t move because it was a matted helmet of chestnut.  That was the trend at the time–winds up to 95 mph couldn’t so much as move a hair–but it never looked better on anyone else.  Except that guy from World History.  But High School Love had my heart.  I would lift my arm and twirl him around–reversing gender stereotypes with a mate was always something I fancied–and he’d laugh and play along.  My friends would sneak photos that I would fawn over for the next few weeks and always think about uploading to Facebook, but wouldn’t because that would be weird and yucky.  As he drew me near to him, I’d rest my head on his chest, thankful to avoid the awkward eye contact that precedes falling for someone and freaks me the piss out, and I’d finally be able to let the ginormous, goofy smile I’d been suppressing all night loose, all the while praying that the acoustic version of Let’s Get it Started by The Black Eyed Peas would never end, and it would be magic.

Of course, reality was never good at keeping up with our demands, so this fantasy never came to fruition.  Slow dances in high school were the same for me as they were for many of us–often only turning up one half of a couple who was so into grinding on each other that they accidentally brushed against one of my unsuspecting buttcheeks, or simply functioning as an alert to make a beeline for the bathroom.

No, this fantasy with High School Love never did make itself manifest, but my first slow dance did give me a special someone.  It just happened in a way I would have never expected.

This is our story.

My friend Sarah and I were members of my high school’s Key Club–an organization centralized around community service.  Most of the kids just did it because they wanted something on their college applications, but we did it with something bigger in mind–the free stuff.  The only membership requirements were a good GPA and 50 hours of service.  So we were always on the lookout for little things we could do together to get our hours.  She told me about a volunteer opportunity at a church pretty close to our school, acting as something of chaperons for an adult special needs Halloween dance.  I didn’t have any conflicts, and it sounded good to me, so we signed up.

We had seen emails for the event about going in costume, and we loved an opportunity to dress up, and, I mean, Halloween rocks, so we decided to go as cats.  Our outfits were pretty minimal and really were a bit sad, but we had fun drawing noses and whiskers on ourselves.

first slow dance

It was an October evening during our sophomore years of high school.  Sarah’s dad dropped us off at the church sometime after dark and we headed inside, ready for a night of service and in high hopes for free refreshments.  We signed a few forms, got our Key Club paperwork taken care of, and then were on our merry way.  They told us to just go around and make sure everyone was having a good time, and to generally help out wherever it looked like we might be needed.  So we headed straight to the refreshments and started eating crackers.  A blonde woman approached us.  “I like your cos-tumes!” she cooed, enunciating her words almost like she thought we were little kids.  And that’s when we realized…she thought we were special needs.  No mal-intent here, but it was pretty funny.  Anyway, we thanked her, and then, feeling that we should actually probably do some volunteer work, decided to back off of the refreshments.

“We’re the only ones dressed up,” Sarah whispered.  “What? Everybody’s dressed up,” I replied, looking out upon the sea of princesses, animals, and other creatures.  “No,” she said, “we’re the only volunteers dressed up.”  I scanned the room again and realized she was right.  The other volunteers were mostly adults, but there were a few others kids our age–one of whom was a very cute boy, maybe a year younger than me.  None of them even had a pair of fuzzy ears.  We understood what had happened by the refreshments table.

Sarah and I were clueless and awkward, so we decided to consult another volunteer as to what we should be doing.  She introduced us to a girl dressed as a princess (I think), and told us to just hang out with her and help her mingle.  So, we did.  We took to the floor like a storm, the three of us, and started dancing with some of the other costumed folks there.  Sarah and I took the lead making up dance moves for everyone to imitate.  Our moves were like our costumes–very sad, really–but they didn’t seem to mind, so we danced the night away.

I still had my eye on the cute volunteer boy whenever he was nearby, but he mostly hung out by the refreshments and was difficult to get the attention of.  I was pretty sure he had smiled at me earlier though, so I was willing to take my chances.  I knew that the first thing I said to him had to be witty enough to compensate for my slowly deteriorating pipe cleaner cat ears and likely smeared nose makeup.  But even as I plotted for our meeting, I found my mind always drifting back to High School Love.  Oh, but if he could just walk in that door…it would buckle my knees if he walked in that door…

And then…he did.

My heart stopped.  Sarah gasped and looked my way.  “He must be here for Key Club too!” she exclaimed.  I couldn’t believe it.  I didn’t even want to pinch myself as he drew nearer, slightly slouched, just the right amount of unconfident, hazel eyes so irresistible.  The lights steadied and the music slowed.  He jogged toward me to close the rest of the distance, drinking in my expression, and chuckled, “I always wished I’d asked before, but you were always in the bathroom…so, do you wanna–?”

Jk.  It’s called “Accidentally Tragic,” remember?  (Did I trick (-or-treat) (hah!) (Halloween theme) (someone stop me) anyone?)

But anyway, poorly executed siblings of red herrings/boldface lies aside: High School Love was never to show, and Cute Volunteer Boy remained by the refreshments.  But I was not to dance alone that night.  A slow song came on, and various costumed folk paired off to dance with one another in whatever way they saw fit.  I got a tap on the shoulder and turned around to see who it was.  It was an older man, probably in his twenties, with his hair slicked back, dressed like Dracula.  And he was wearing a cape.  And there was a giant booger in his nose.  And folks, please don’t take it for more than face value, but I was scared.  I remember, though, he looked so shy, holding his hand out to me, so as I looked back, I knew what I had to do.

And thus, I had my first slow dance with a special needs man dressed as a vampire.

He didn’t make eye contact, so I mostly found myself looking at the booger.  Although looking might not be the best word, it was more…monitoring.  I know this is going to sound horrible, and it has nothing to do with him being special needs, but I just remember being so scared that it was going to fly out and land on me.  However, that Dracula (cause Dracula is sometimes a bat) stayed in the cave.  We swayed side to side very quickly, rotating almost just as fast.  Keeping tempo with the music wasn’t important, nor was execution.  That was something I’ll always appreciate.  He and most everyone there were similar in the fact that they were fearless of their peers’ judgement.  And regardless of how you speculate that may have come to be, I thought it very admirable.  When the song came to a close, we parted, and I waited to see that big smile on his face that I knew would make me feel just as good and…oh…well, yep.  He wasn’t smiling.  One of the happiest dudes in the world and I managed to make him miserable in 2 minutes.  I still don’t know if it was my dance moves or the fact that I probably smelled like sweaty ham and cheese crackers from the refreshment table.  Jokes aside though, I think that he had a good time.

While for a long time I had a tendency to compare this reality to my original fantasy and feel sorry for myself (it just wasn’t what I had in mind), I really think that my first slow dance was a lot closer to what everyone wants than most people ever get.  I was with someone who (I think) thought I was pretty, and nice, and fun, and wanted to dance with just me; and who totally didn’t judge me even one bit (to my knowledge).  And hey, that’s pretty awesome.

Dancing with Dracula taught me an important life lesson about not always trying to make everything in my life pop out of the movie I’d scripted for it in my head.  Not everybody lives a Disney storyline.  Not everybody gets High School Love, or even Cute Volunteer Boy.  Maybe you were just made for a different movie.  And that movie may be weird, and unconventional, and even a little politically incorrect, but it might be just the one for you.  It also reminded me that people who get looked down on a lot or underestimated often have the biggest, purest, most worthwhile hearts.  And though having disabilities can suck, they produce better souls.  (Ass sufficiently covered?  Hope so.)  (I really do mean it, though.)

I never did talk to Cute Volunteer Boy, nor did I ever get the dance I always dreamed of having with High School Love.  But I did have a good night.  And the whole “let’s boogie” part of my fantasy was fulfilled after all, albeit in a different way than I imagined.  So, today’s moral: Don’t fight the weird things.  They’re just a part of your destiny.

Thanks Dracula, for helping to shape mine.

See you all next Thursday for a less morally-fulfilling post,

Melanie

Editorial: “An Adventure Fit for Hobbits: A Trip to Boone with Melanie Lech”

An Editorial by Amber Mangione


Being friends with Melanie Lech is interesting to say the least. Don’t get me wrong- she’s a great friend and a joy to spend time with (when she’s actually on time for something). She can make you laugh just by her mere attitude, has jokes for days, and is an amazing singer. She is also the biggest procrastinator that I know (but is getting better), difficult to make plans with at times (by now I’m used to it), and after three years, still has a meltdown before moving back to Boone for the school year. Yes, life being friends with Melanie is interesting, but also an adventure. Like Bilbo’s journey to wherever they were going I can’t remember; unexpected and life-changing.

This adventure begins at ASU where my sister, Nicole, and I went to visit Melanie in October of 2013 for homecoming weekend. We arrived at her residence hall with pillows and blankets in tow, looking like two new students moving in because of all the stuff we had for the weekend. Melanie had planned to show us around campus and go to the homecoming game later while we were there. After taking a tour of her room and piling our belongings onto the futon, we began the usual “So what should we do?” escapade before finally settling on getting food. We headed to the beloved Cookout down the street and got the usual tray with a milkshake. We commemorated this moment of glorious food with a classy picture outside the Cookout and devoured our delicious trays.

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Then, Melanie and Nicole said, “Let’s go on a hike,” to which I looked down at my outfit and cringed. I’m all for a good hike in the mountains, but not when my attire consists of a sweatshirt, jeans, and Keds. Sure, I would have worn something different if someone had told me that we were going on a hike, but as usual, both Nicole and Melanie failed to tell me. Despite my slight panic and protest because it was wet outside and Keds have zero traction, we headed to the parkway. After finding a trail and a spot to park, Melanie wanted to get pictures of all of us at an overlook. Well, not exactly an overlook; more like the side of the road. After getting a good handful of pictures, we set off for the trail. All was well in the beginning until we began the uphill battle with giant, slippery rocks. After asking “How long is this trail, exactly?” and getting the hesitant response of “Not that long… I think,” I knew it was going to be an interesting walk. On our way up, we found a large rock and got a group of people to take a picture of the three of us. This was one of many pictures taken over the course of our hike; it’s always a photoshoot when Melanie has her camera. We continued farther up the trail and repeatedly heard, “We’re almost to the top!” and I almost slipped multiple times climbing on the rocks.

When we finally made it to the view, I will say that it was worth it. Melanie did pick a good trail after all, I thought to myself while snapping pictures on my phone. We headed up a bit farther to the rocks jutting out from the trail and ran into the group of people that took our picture earlier. They were an elderly bunch of people, probably in their 60s or 70s, who were alumni at ASU. They had hiked all the way up with picnic baskets full of glasses and wine and had started reminiscing about their time in college. They asked Melanie about her experience at ASU so far and proceeded to take a picture of the three of us on the rock. When we looked at them later, we realized that they looked like the stereotypical awkward family photos that you dread taking every year.

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To this day, my dad still thinks the photos are photoshopped because we are up so high on the rock. See, my dad has some experience with Photoshop like this. When Nicole and I were little, he would insert our faces into things like the moon and sun. He even went so far as to take a picture of me standing with my blanket and put me on a rock on the Niagra Falls (a picture to which my great-grandmother thought was real and yelled at my parents for not dressing me up in warmer clothing).

The homecoming game had already started, but we decided to head back down to try and catch some of it. After once again almost falling and Nicole constantly commenting on how she wanted to be like those people drinking on the mountain when she gets older, we finally made it back down and headed for the game. We made it back to Melanie’s residence hall, dressed in some ASU gear, and walked to the stadium, which again, was farther away than Melanie led on. As we got closer to the stadium, we noticed that herds of people were coming back from that direction. “It looks like everyone is leaving, they must be losing. Should we just head back?” Nicole and I asked in fear of this being a huge waste of time. “Let’s keep going! I want you guys to go to a game and the food is really good inside,” she said. We were all hungry again at this point, so we all wanted some sort of nourishment, and for Melanie that was pizza from the stadium. When we finally got to the stadium and saw the scoreboard, ASU was at a huge defeat and there was barely any time left. So like we predicted, this was a huge waste of time. But Melanie wanted to go inside for the food, so Nicole and I stood outside for about 15 minutes waiting for her until she came back empty-handed because they did not accept money from her meal plan.

By this point, we were all pretty hungry and just had food on our mind. Melanie suggested going to a hibachi restaurant and said that we could just take one of the buses down there. We headed down to the station and waited in line for our bus, double checking with Melanie that we were getting on the right one. After assuring us multiple times that we were getting on the right one, we headed to the back and made conversation with the people near us. As the number of people on the bus started dwindling down and we started getting farther away from our desired destination, I noticed that Melanie looked a little worried. There’s no way she had put us on the wrong bus, I thought; she seemed so certain that we got on the right one. We headed up a winding hill up to some apartments that the last group of people got off at. As we headed back down, Melanie got up to ask the driver if he was going near the stop at the restaurant. She headed back to us with an apologetic look on her face. “Guys, we’re on the wrong bus.”

“The driver is going to drop us off as close as he can and we’ll walk to the restaurant,” she said. This is when the panic started to set in; walking on the sidewalks on a busy road at night did not seem like the safest thing to do. The bus stopped and we got off, heading towards the dimly lit sidewalk. “Melanie, please, PLEASE tell me that this place is not that far away,” I asked multiple times, being very cautious about our current endeavors. “I don’t think it’s that far, really” she tried assuring us. After walking about a mile, Nicole and I were pretty done with this whole situation. Melanie apologized time and time again, saying that we were fine, nothing was going to happen to us, and that we were almost there. At this point I wanted to kill her (not really) for making us do another hike, but I had to keep reminding myself that we really had no other choice.

Finally, we made it to the plaza that the restaurant was in. Nestled in the strip of stores and bars was the illuminated sign for Hokkaido’s. After walking for a couple of miles in the dark with nothing but the sounds of passing cars and our rumbling stomachs, we were finally there. After half an hour waiting for our table, we got to sit down and devour our delicious food. I had to hand it to Melanie once again, she picked a good place. Would a restaurant by her dorm have been just as fine? Probably. But once Melanie had it in her head that we had to go to Hokkaido’s, there was no changing her mind. For instance, on Melanie’s 21st birthday, she had the idea of doing a bonfire on the parkway. Once we got to the spot she thought had pits to do so, it came to our attention that they were not bonfire pits, but charcoal grills instead. It was very damp outside so nothing would catch on fire, so intoxicated Melanie rode with her roommate all the way to Wal-Mart for lighter fluid while Nicole and I waited in a car with her friends (whom we had just met half an hour earlier at dinner) for over an hour on the parkway at 12:30 at night. The lighter fluid still failed to make the logs catch on fire, so Melanie left defeated and upset because she had the plan in her mind to do a bonfire Kumbaya style.

When we finished eating, our next plan of attack was figuring out how to get back to her dorm. The buses were still running and she was certain that we could get on a bus that could drop us off there. We waited at the bus stop situated between the Wal-Mart and Golden Corral for about 45 minutes before the bus arrived. Waiting here was probably sketchier than the walk over, but we couldn’t bring ourselves to hike again. We asked the driver more than once if we were heading back in the right direction and he confirmed that we were. It seemed as though every activity we tried had some sort of obstacle (except for Cookout. No problems there). But finally, something was going right on this trip.

By the time we got back, we were all ridiculously exhausted. It had been a long day, to say the least. Now we had to figure out where we were all going to sleep. We decided to push the futon down and move it up against her bed and have the three of us sleep side-by-side. I thought this was a genius idea until I got stuck in the middle with Nicole snoring in my ear and Melanie’s face next to mine on the other side.

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Even though I felt like I was about to drop dead from this tumultuous day, I barely slept. The next morning, Nicole and I got up and prepared to go back home to Charlotte.

Needless to say, this trip was not what I expected it to be; this was definitely one of the most interesting, mishap-filled experiences with Melanie and Nicole that I have ever had. Despite some of our setbacks, I still had an awesome time in Boone and I would do it all over again with the two of them. Although everything didn’t go according to plan, we still had a memorable trip and did things that we can laugh about now. Like I said, being friends with Melanie Lech can be interesting, but I know she means well and cares deeply about all of her friends. We can always count on her to make a boring day more exciting.

My name is Amber Mangione and this is the first editorial I have done for Melanie’s blog. Thanks for reading!


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Hey ya’ll, so it’s Melanie again!  I hope you enjoyed Ambear’s editorial.  Know that even if you are judging me, I am judging myself more.  (A moment of thanks to Amber for including such touching, heartfelt, completely unprompted kinds words at the end so you all know (think) I’m not actually the worst.)  So as you’ve seen, I decided to do something a little bit different this week by having one of my friends submit an editorial.  This is something I’d like to do more of!  On the third or fourth week every month, I’m going to post someone else’s disastrous life story or embarrassing tale, because I want this blog to be about more than just me; I want it to be about stupidity in general, and how it brings us all together.  And while today’s editorial was about a trip I was involved with, in the future, the stories featured might have nothing to do with me.  I’ve got a few people in mind I’d like to ask to write something, but the door’s really wide open.  So, readers, if you’ve got a good tale and want to share it with an audience of 100 that dwindles lower and lower each week, email me!  Let’s build a community.

See you next Thursday (God willing),

Melanie

lechmc@appstate.edu

The First Party

Greetings once again my sweet readers!  Wow, can you believe we are already on the fourth entry?  Some of you have come to your senses and realized that I’m a moron and left, but others have stuck along for the ride, or maybe even are getting on this super lame train of pathetic life stories late, and either way: I welcome you.

For those of you who were around for last week’s post, you know that I just turned 21.  Yeah!  Alcohol!  Drugs!  Anal sex!  Are those things 21 year olds do?  I wouldn’t know!  Inside of this fine-ass cellulite-laden body I am still a toddler.  But anyway, I tried alcohol for the first time, and before I continue, I just want to know who exactly got this whole thing started.  Okay, so I get that eventually you get a buzz (personally I just got the symptoms of a pancreas attack) (am I an 80 year old woman? maybe), but who in the hell tried this crap, thought “ah yes, my intestines are burning and my throat feels like I just poured motor oil down it,” and thought it was a good idea to keep going?  I would like to experience being drunk, but not at this cost.  The shots I had were one of the worst things I have ever tasted in my life, and I once accidentally brushed my teeth with diaper rash ointment.  It’s not even like candy where it’s bad for you but it tastes delicious.  Tequila tastes like poison.  I can’t go through that again.  I just wish I could bypass my taste buds and inject it directly into my bloodstream.  That’s one thing heroin addicts got right.  ANYWAY, all of that being said, I will probably do it again.

My experiences with finally drinking alcohol made me reflect back on a past of making up lame excuses not to, sipping on Hi-C while my close friends became alcoholics, and resisting peer pressure from my parents.  (Because I know the question will inevitably come up, I waited to drink until I was 21, most basically, because I wanted to prove to myself that I could.  Blah blah it’s very important to me that wherever I go, I don’t compromise who I am just because other people want me to blah blah.  Pretty much just a self-control exercise for 21 years, it’s ok not to understand, my friends didn’t get it either.)  So, one of the first things that came to mind as I took that first drink, after “EWW,” was, “wow, parties will be easier now.”  I would be able to blend in better, and to appear to like the same things as my peers; I wouldn’t walk into the room with a social handicap.  I wouldn’t panic or rely on old tactics.  I had set myself free.  I’d only ever re-live incidents like those at my first party one more time–in this blog post.

And so it begins: the story of my first party.

Now, I’m not really a partier, but I never thought of myself as completely socially inept.  Until my first party.  You know those moments in your life where everything is going good, and you just feel on-top-of-the-world and confident?  Where you feel like you’re finally becoming the person you always wanted to be?  That’s how I was feeling.  Until my first party.

Set the scene: ambiguous break, sophomore year of college.  My friend was going to the beach to visit some of her friends, most of whom I’d never met and those of whom I had, didn’t know well.  She invited me to go too, and, under normal circumstances, having already been all over the tri-state area in the past week, and not knowing her friends, and not liking parties, I would have said no.  But, as legend has it, a cute boy I had recently met was in the cards, and so, even though I wouldn’t even admit it to myself at the time, even though he could not have given two dead rat feet about me, even though I “was not crazy,” I went for him.

I don’t remember the order of the events leading up to the party very well, so we’ll just cut right to it.  Evening.  We were in a 4/5/6/7/8 (details, again, hazy) person apartment of all boys.  The alcohol had been supplied and the attendees were on their way.  This wasn’t a really big party.  It was probably less than 20 people, but there was music, and there was alcohol, and it was ratchet.  I remember that a number of the individuals there had begun to pre-game.  Dreading the inevitable pressuring and guilt tripping that had always accompanied my aversion to alcohol, I knew that I would have to act fast.  Over the years, I had developed a number of avoidance tactics.  Except, they weren’t really tactics.  It was more of one single tactic, and that tactic was to do the first thing that came into my head instinctively and without question.  (Advice: this has a 10% success rate.  Avoid at all costs.)

So, back to the story.  I fared well through the pre-gaming, asking questions and maybe making one half of a person’s arm laugh, but I couldn’t stop myself from wanting to escape.  Almost all of the guests were there, and as the pressure gradually rose, I gradually shifted down on the couch.  If I had known more people, or if Cute Boy was more attainable, maybe it would have been different, but at that point in time, all I could think about was how I was like one of those Animorphs shifting back into cripplingly shy and scaredy-cat me from childhood.  But I wanted to fight it.  So, I thought, I’ll just act drunk.  I’ll pretend I’ve been drinking.  I’m a bit off my rocker (or should I say, off my…walker) (ha-ha I’m 80) anyway, so I wouldn’t even have to try that hard.  My sober could pass for intoxicated.  Just be cool, Melanie!  Just relax!  But my body betrayed me.  I continued to scoot down on that sofa until I was almost perfectly horizontal.  I could have gotten up and gone to the bathroom.  I could have pretended that I was getting a very important phone call and gone into the hallway.  I could have, I don’t know, tried to talk to another human being.  But no.  Instead of doing any of those things, I laid down on a couch in the living room, the center of the party, and feigned sleep.

After I had closed my eyes and established myself, I thought that maybe I could actually fall asleep.  I was really tired, and that might be a little bit less pathetic.  But my ears were alert, and my body drenched in self-loathing, and everyone knows that it’s hard to sleep when your mind is full and your stomach is empty and with alert ears and being drenched self-loathing.  (There is a reference to some childhood story in there that probably no one will understand but I’m leaving it.)  I waited for the standard “is she sleeping?” you always listen for when you’re pretending to be asleep that makes you tense up and put on your best fake sleep-breathing for a few seconds until you can determine whether the questioner believes you or not.  It came.  They believed.  The party carried on.

Anyway, so I’m lying there, motionless, running through all of the things I could have done other than faking sleep, thinking about all the things I could be saying in the conversation next to me had I not trapped myself in this lie, and really questioning why I couldn’t have just been awkward sitting upright, when I start hearing these noises around me–a little pop, some tiny whooshes, more pops, some shuffling.  A small hollow ball hitting the ground.  A small hollow ball hitting the ground?  And that’s when I realized, they were playing ping-pong over me.  I wasn’t just the kid who had pretended to be asleep to get out of socializing at a party, I was the one who pretended to fall asleep and then got used as a ping-pong ball net.  I had never felt like more of a loser in my life (that’s definitely not true, as future tales will reveal…but this was about a 6.7 on the Richter-Lameass scale).  It was at that point that I realized that this was much less of an alcohol issue, and much more of an I’m-an-idiot issue.

After that, in one of the first not-ridiculous moves of the evening, I used the noises from the ping-pong antics as an excuse to wake up.  I decided to have a better attitude.  So, I talked to some people.  I was feeling a little better.  There was one girl who was quite friendly, so I just tried to focus on socializing with her and this one other dude.  Then she tried to make out with him, so I tried not to focus on them at all.  My friend was dancing with another girl in the corner, and they called me over, so I took the escape.  I am an awful dancer, but I do love to try.  We all tried to shake our hips properly and it was a disaster.  The girl from earlier had joined us, whose pants were now so low in the front that her downstairs lady hair was showing.  I remember seeing it and thinking, “oh no,” and then trying to decide if one of us should tell her or not.  We didn’t.

I think at this point I returned to my sofa.  The tides were turning–apparently a different cute guy had noticed me.  My friend said that he had been asking about me.  “She’s pretty cute, but…is she okay?”  Yes, that is me.  The equivalent of the person you see with a great profile in the cafeteria then they turn head-on and there is a third eyeball in their face and like four teeth coming out of it and a prematurely receding hairline.  I guess my attempts to blend were not as successful as I thought.  After that, we had our first pass-outer.  I was feeling a lot less scared now, just focused on understanding the conventions of the American youth, plus I was friends with pass-outer, so I volunteered to help.  I walked into the bathroom and saw what looked like a giant inebriated fetus/chipmunk hybrid lying on the floor.  He was mumbling and looked about as pathetic as I did on the couch.  We had to take him to the other room for some reason, so we tried to lift him, but he was starting to throw up, so he leapt from our hands and waddled away and his pants fell around his ankles and he just waddled right out of them the rest of the way down the hallway and threw up.

So by then, the party was almost over, but also not over at all.  I kept trying to remind myself that this is what fun is supposed to be.  The penguin waddle, the body hair, the random people trying to kiss each other left and right.  I finally understood that people inebriate themselves at these things not for recreation or sport, but out of necessity.  After a series of text messages, I finally convinced original Cute Boy #1 to pick me up and save me.  I thought of it as an escape, but it ended up really just being a new way for me to end the evening making myself look like a complete imbecile.  Out of the frying pan and into the ice-cold ocean, naked.  As in, I met new people I knew even less, and he wanted to skinny-dip.  Oh, and even so, he was definitely not on the same page as me in terms of I-like-you-ness.  That is another story though, so I will leave it for another day.  All I will say is that after the embarrassment of that, the return to the party was almost a relief.

My experience at my first party taught me that parties are weird, that I don’t know how to be a youth, and really made me question why I have not yet been medicated.  I’d currently still rather go swimming (not naked) or roller skating than to a party, but maybe my journey into alcoholism will give me a new perspective.  Who knows?  The future awaits.

Anyhow, I am amazed if you’ve made it this far, and want to say thank you, thank you, thank you again for reading.  I hope you’ve enjoyed tonight’s posting enough to stop by next Thursday for another tale of embarrassment, pity, or just plain tragedy.  You are all awesome for being here.  Stay beautiful, friends.

Melanie

yo

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20th Birthday Flashback

In lieu of last week’s novel, I’ll keep this short.  I’m turning 21 tomorrow (woohoo!), so I thought before I did I’d reflect on last year’s 20th.

It was a pretty good birthday!  I went rafting on the lake with some friends.  The raft was too small so it kept sinking and flooding and only one other friend would fit, so the other two left and went to Salsarita’s, but it was still fun.  I love a good adventure.  After that my family took me to O’Charley’s for Free Pie Wednesday, and they kept joking that the pie was my birthday cake because they forgot to get me one and it was really funny.  Then we got home and I was like, awww yeah, where is it?  Family knows I love surprises so they hid my cake.  And then my parents told me it was never a joke and that they really did forget, so I was all “WHY DON’T YOU LOVE ME” in hopes that maybe they would feel bad and fill the hole in my heart by making me one, but they thought I was being overdramatic and went upstairs to watch a movie.

So then, even though it was petty and stupid (they did lots of other nice things for me earlier), I went into a miniature no cake-induced existential crisis over no one in the world caring about me and full-fledged moped.  And this went on for about two hours, as I watched…The King of Queens, I think it was, imaging my future birthdays with my UPS husband forgetting my birthday then taking me to Free Pie Wednesday instead, or maybe even getting me a McDonald’s apple turnover for our anniversary, and poor me whittling away to dust because even though the worst problem in my life was not having a cake, it was enough to kill me.  Pity party was in full-swing.  I had almost accepted that my 20th birthday would end in some kind of an important life lesson about appreciating what you have and not what you don’t–ie. a cake–but then, at like 11 at night, I had this big emotional moment where I bolted up and was like “you know what? Even if they don’t love me, I love me,” and resolved to make my own.

Tried to make my own.

After it finally made it out of the oven, this is what it looked like:

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Tasted as bad as it looks, still don’t know what went wrong, 2 follow-up cakes yielded additional unsuccessful results.

And thus, I learned that there are some things worse than Free Pie Wednesday.

Happy birthdays whenever they may be, skillets,

Melanie

How I Lost Credibility as a Dogsitter

My beloved readers,

I know that it is only post two, but it has always been my habit to either sprint as fast as a cheetah (a disabled cheetah) (with its legs tied up) (…and dead) (edit: as fast as a cheetah in theory) away from my feelings or dive headfirst into them so much so that the other person turns into a cheetah.  So while you may be taken aback by my already addressing you as beloved, know that I could not help it.  Because last week, something startling and altogether wonderful happened: people read this.  Like…more than three of you!  Both unruly youths and, thanks to my pop, the middle-aged–a demographic I was born to grow into.  It was truly delightful.  And it touched me, in a very overdramatic way, so I had no choice but to whip out the ultimate endearing adjective as early as post two.  But let us begin.

We are gathered here today to reflect upon an incident whose one year anniversary passed just a few days ago.  It was summer.  I was 19 years old, brimming with youth and naivety, and on the lookout for any way to get out of getting a real job.  So when a family friend offered me the opportunity to watch her dog for two weeks, I pounced on it.  The duties were simple enough: walk him, feed him, take him outside to crap.  Why was this job taken by me and not a 10 year old?  That’s not important.  I loved the lady, I’d watched her dog before, and I was thrilled to be doing it again.

The family had just moved into a new house, so before they set off for Mexico, the mom showed me around the new place.  She loved her dog, Boston, with all of her heart, so her priorities went beyond the basics of dogsitting and housecare.  She just wanted me to spend as much time with him as possible.  So she gave me all the deats.  She showed me how to work the cable, said I could record shows, and even told me I could bring a friend over and spend the night.  She was like a second mother to me, except we weren’t as close and she was less perverse than my real mom.  Anyhow, there was a hammock in the back and Reese’s Cups in a bowl on the counter, and it was something of a paradise.

I settled into my new role quickly.  Almost alarmingly quickly.  I would be a good identity theft.  I went there multiple times a day to take care of Boston, taking him on long walks, bagging his crap, and scratching his neck until my arm was tired.  I pampered that dog.  But I also pampered myself.  I watched the Food Network many a times in that home on a couch that had instantly become my favorite.  Boston was the best to talk to during my watching sprees.  I’d ask him what he thought about Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives, and when I looked into his eyes, I swear I saw nothing, but sometimes that is the best thing you can ask for in a companion.  I sang a lot too, practicing horrendous renditions of songs from Grease, but Boston never told me to shut up.  Partially because he wasn’t actually physically capable of doing so, but more so because we were homies.  Every now and then my friend Nicole came over too, and we’d hang out with Boston outside; her standing in the yard, me hogging the hammock, and Boston neglected in the corner.  We deemed it our vacation home, and between that hammock and those Reese’s Cups, I was living the dream.

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Now, there was also a neighbor who’d drop by named Jean or something.  I can’t remember if that was her name.  Also if it was, I should probably protect it, so we’ll call her Bean.  Anyway, Bean was going through a hard time, so seeing Boston cheered her up and kept her busy.  She fed him in the morning and sometimes at night even though I was supposed to, but she always left a note, so it wasn’t a big deal.  I think we were both giving him treats too but I’m not sure how many.  Needless to say, Boston was eating good!  Ha-ha-ha!  He threw up once or twice by the fireplace but I cleaned it up no harm no foul.  Or so.  I thought.

Anyway, things with dogsitting Boston were going splendidly.  I was getting a lot of exercise from walking him, all the extra vitamin D had improved my disposition, and the house was in tip-top shape.  I’d been keeping up with watering the plants, bringing in the mail, and locking up.  The only questionable thing that I’d done was some damage to the Reese’s supply.  But other than that, I was really proud of myself.  Two weeks had passed right on by, and I had only a morning and an afternoon left.  What could possibly fall apart in an afternoon?  The answer is everything, my friends.  Everything.

I remember that day like you remember accidentally finding a bee in your soda (also happened to me, age 12).  I walked into the house and let Boston out.  This was my last visit before the family came home.  I straightened up the things on the table, watered the plants one last time, and then did my usual daily house check to make sure that Boston hadn’t pooped or peed anywhere.

And that is when I found it.

I went upstairs and looked into the bonus room.  Remember how cute it was that Boston was eating well?  Well, as it turns out, he was not eating well.  He was eating something very unwell.  Because there were orange stains everywhere.  Like, Six.  Orange.  Stains.  Vomit stains.  Oh no…  And why were they stains?  Oh no!!  Because he ate it again.  How did he even eat this much?!  I kept thinking to myself.  And that’s when I realized.  The bastard hadn’t eaten that much.  He just threw what he did eat up, and then he ate it back up, and then the fricking meatloaf moved to a new spot where he threw that up again.  SIX TIMES.  But ohh, no no no, that’s not all.  I guess being sick enough to puke everywhere was not enough to curb Boston’s appetite.  Because he did not just eat the vomit.  No, my friends, that just wouldn’t do.  He ate the carpet.  HE ATE AN ACTUAL HOLE, IN THE ACTUAL CARPET.  You can clean vomit with, I don’t know, Windex or some crap.  YOU CANNOT WINDEX AN ACTUAL HOLE IN AN ACTUAL CARPET.

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So I did what any responsible dogsitter would do.  I freaked the piss-shit out.  I ran downstairs, and looked under the sink frantically for some kind of a stain remover, and I grabbed the best looking thing and a bunch of paper towels and started scrubbing at those vomit stains with a purpose.  Bean, I thought.  This was all at the hands of Bean.  I didn’t want to hate her but I needed somewhere to direct my panic and rage.  How am I going to tell them?!  The paper towels were no match for the caliber of puke stain and kept flaking off into little bits of balled up damp paper, now too stained orange, with flecks of dog treat in them.  A metaphor for my life.  “Why now…why today?  IT WAS THE LAST DAY!”  I shuttled between the paper towels and the vomit stains, not knowing exactly when they’d be home.  Time was of the essence.  I made my way over to the gaping hole in the carpet, and like a jackass started putting the pieces of carpet shrapnel back into the hole like it would fill it up.  “WHY, BOSTON, WHY???”  The panic crept back into me as I realized I still had to alert the family.  Just pretend…  “No, Melanie, you have too much integrity for that.”  The panic rose as I thought about monetary compensation.  Would I have to pay for this?  Why didn’t I get a real job?!  I’ll tell the son…I’ll text the son…  I often turn to comedy in times of turmoil, half on purpose, half on accident, without much discretion.  So, what I sent was a panicked description of a scene of war and pleads for mercy, in all caps.  After I sent it, I thought, I’m a moron, and continued to panic.  “Why did I eat all the Reese’s Cups…Is this because of the Reese’s Cups?!” I called to the sky, remorseful, but not that remorseful.

Once I finally realized that there was nothing else that could be done about the hole, I inspected every corner of every single other room like no dogsitter has ever inspected before, to my knowledge.  The verdict: everywhere else was clear.  At least the damage was limited to one room, I thought.  I then went downstairs and looked to the back door.  Claw marks.  Boston had been scratching the whole time.  I looked into his eyes and knew it wasn’t his fault–he had tried to escape with dignity.  IT WAS BEAN’S FAULT!  “It wasn’t Bean’s fault.”  It was no one’s fault.  And yet, I knew this was the end of my vacation home dream world.  Defeated, I straightened up the downstairs as best as I could to distract from the fact that a vomit bomb had exploded in the bonus room just upstairs, and then I said my farewells to Boston for the last time.  “It’s been real, buddy.  I hope you feel better.”  He died from fiber poisoning later that night.  (Jk.  He was fine.)

Denoument:  In the end of it all, my non-consensual second mother was very understanding, and repeatedly stressed the fact that it wasn’t my fault, but I never dogsat for the family again.  I wasn’t paid as much as usual that summer, but since I didn’t have to pay for the carpet, I felt it a blessing.  Plus the son said he laughed at the text.  So, even though in one short incident, my credibility not only as a dogsitter, but also as a housesitter, was catapulted into the fiery pits of hell, that was a win.

But anyway, it’s late and I’m tired, so let’s wrap this up.  Morals and lessons.  What did I learn?  Panic, Windex, and laughter are life’s cure-all’s.  And never trust a Bean.

I know it’s been a long one, so thanks for sticking around.

Yours in tragedy,

Melanie

P.S. I didn’t forget about the gnat.

The Beginning of an Era

Hello dear reader, whomever you may be–whether you got here by accident, on purpose, or through some terrible fate like being a member of my family and having a sense of personal obligation to click on this: welcome.

It is 10:52 pm on a Thursday night and I sit on my living room sofa with a hair clip jabbing into the back of my skull and a gnat flying around my head.  The hair clip is small, centered against a part of the cranium closer to the neck that juts in, not too forceful–a mere nuisance.  The gnat, however, is much more than that.  It is a violent creature that will no doubt push me to the extant of my humanity as the night progresses on.  I do not know why she is here.  I only know that she is.  (I use the pronoun “she” because I sexed the gnat before beginning this blog post.  Determining the sex of small insects is one of my many rare talents.)  Perhaps we will forge a friendship.

Is this how I thought we would get here?  No.  I always imagined some sort of jazzy, pivotal event kickstarting the beginning of my blog.  Some current romantic encounter gone astray.  Or at least something with a household appliance catching on fire.  But instead, I have dedicated the first paragraph of my entrance into the blogosphere with a soliloquy to a gnat, and a misuse of the word soliloquy.  (The gnat has by now abandoned me.  Three hours of unwanted company and now that I need her she’s gone.  Typical gnat antics.  The truth is that she probably died.  They have a short life span which, as I grow older, I find myself envying.  No college…no post collegiate career…no IMPENDINGLY DOOMED MARRIAGE!  The gnat is back.)  Not the entrance I’d hoped, but an entrance nonetheless.

Accidentally Tragic has been on my to-do list for a number of years now.  I have a lot of stories that I’ve wanted to do something with, but hadn’t quite determined what yet.  But as I sat here to-night I decided it was time to determine.  So here we are.

I’d like to preface my tales with a few things.  First, I promise that the stories you find here will be true.  Any and all embellishment, I will own up to.  (In the earlier introduction, all is true except that I sexed the gnat.  Sadly, I do not know how to determine the sex of small insects.  I hope that we can move on now that this is out in the air.)  I know JK Rowling said that just because it’s in your head doesn’t mean it isn’t real or something, but I think that’s bullcrap.  I want my real stories to be real, so you’ll get real.

Next: I am a freak of nature, and a disaster.  But I also think I’m really awesome.  I’m writing a whole blog about myself, duh.  So the inevitably, horrendously, self-deprecating humor and odes to death: don’t mind those.  I am about to turn 21 and have big plans of turning to alcohol to deal with my crippling insecurity and emotional instability.  Ask anyone who isn’t close to me; I emulate responsibility.

And finally, I’ll get down to the realy-reals and give you my reason for doing this.  Other than wanting to capture and share some stuff that I think is pretty hilarious with people who hopefully will think it is kind of funny too, it’s because I think that embarrassment is exactly that thing which makes us human.  Yeah, yeah, there’s love and all that crap, but embarrassment is the key to it all.  Think about it–people who truly love you, it’s hard to get embarrassed around.  Unless they’re trying to embarrass you, which in itself is the ultimate sign of love.  Embarrassment keeps us humble and questioning.  There’s nothing good about being 100% certain 100% of the time.  And embarrassment–it happens to everyone.  Whether they disclose their experiences when it’s time to share or not: every single person in the free world has at some point or another been embarrassed.  It’s just genuinely a part of who we are.

And finally finally, I’m posting and sharing and celebrating these embarrassments because I’m a firm believer that being able to laugh at your failures makes you invincible.  Embarrassment teaches us to laugh at ourselves, and at each other, and to not take everything so seriously.  And in a world of so many messes, it’s just great not to take things seriously sometimes.

So, join me on what promises to be a probably too personal, somewhat interesting, and at least good-distraction-from-what-you’re-supposed-to-be-doing-y journey.  It’ll be sort of like reading into someone’s diary without them ever knowing that you did.  Disturbing, but twistedly satisfying.  Let me satisfy you.

Yours truly,

Melanie