'Tis but a scratch

Last night as we waited to convene a group meeting, I sat at the end of a conference table munching on a Subway veggie delite. One of my students, J, plopped down in a chair next to me. "Did you know that some people are allergic to bandaids?" she asked me.

I raised an eyebrow in response. "Doesn't that suck?" she continued. "Something that's supposed to help them ends up hurting them."

I cocked my head. "J, are we really talking about bandaids?" I asked, thoughts of therapists, drugs, lovers, friends, parents, teachers, police, politicians, nutrasweet whirling through my mind. I couldn't tell if she was being metaphorical or simply presenting a bizarre, unsolicited piece of information.

"Yeah," she responded. "I just think that sucks."

I chewed thoughtfully. "Yeah, I guess it does."



Given my current state, I'm feeling a little melodramatic today. But why does biscotti have to crumble all over the place when you try to eat it? Why? I love biscotti, but it's impossible to have a crumb-free experience. Does everything in life have to have a catch?


Is it cold in here, or is it just me?

Okay, this is beyond embarrassing. But today I left for work without any underwear on. You're probably wondering how you could leave the house forgetting something as simple as undergarments, but it's easier than you might think. And as awkward and uncomfortable as you might imagine.

When I get dressed in the morning, I oftentimes try on a few variations per outfit, so I don't put on underwear at the outset. Because I never know what type/color of underwear/bra I'm going to need, since I'm not yet sure which outfit permutation will prevail. Today, I chose the first outfit I tried on. It didn't require a bra because it incorporated a camisole/sweater combination. So that just left remembering to put on some skivvies. Which you'd think wouldn't be so hard to do.

At one point, as I mulled over accessories, I thought to myself, "Better put on underpants before I forget..." but I quickly followed that thought with, "What's the rush? It's not like I'd ever leave the house without them."

Cut to 8:15am on the t, when I suddenly got that unsettling feeling that I'd forgotten something. At first I couldn't quite figure out what, and then I felt a breeze blow up my skirt in a way that you shouldn't feel a breeze blow up your skirt. And it hit me. The breeze, and the very very unhappy realization that I was unintentionally going commando. Because there is soooooo nothing hot about going to work commando. That's just unnecessarily skanky. And kind of chilly.

Don't worry - as I write this I'm not sitting here sans panties. As soon as I got off the t I pitstopped at Boyfriend's place on the way to my office and grabbed a spare pair. Thank god for emergency supplies. But I just can't believe it's possible to do what I did this morning - I feel so vulnerable. It leaves the door wide open for all those things I've dreaded, things that make my blood run cold but that I thought could never actually happen. Suddenly that nightmare where everyone is staring at you and you look down and realize that you've gone to class completely naked has been given new credence.


The pointiest little elbow ever

"Oh, god, are you okay?" I asked, watching as Boyfriend cupped his head in his hands, doubled over in pain. "Was that your eye? Are you okay? Do you still have two eyes? What part of you did I hit? Please tell me not your eye!"

For a minute Boyfriend couldn't answer, but slowly he removed his hands from his head to reveal a bright red swelling bump above his right temple. "Owwwwww," was all he said as he headed toward the freezer to get the vegetable medley. Never a good sign. I hate the vegetable medley. Instead of dinner, I now only associate the vegetable medley with runner's knee and sprained ankles - the most typical reasons I get handed the frozen bag of brocolli, cauliflower, and carrots.

Last night after dinner downtown I begged Boyfriend to make a quick swing by the apartment - I wanted to change out of my work clothes before we headed to see The Exorcism of Emily Rose. We only had a few minutes, so we scurried up the stairs and I quickly undressed and redressed. I was in the living room where my overnight bag was thrown into the corner as Boyfriend came up quietly behind me to give me a hug.

I have a very sensitive startle reflex. I get scared when there's nothing to be scared of. I can go from zero to full panic in seconds - I'm definitely what you'd call jumpy. And since at that moment I was gearing up to go see a movie about an exorcism, I was in full-on heebie-jeebie mode.

When Boyfriend grabbed me, I let out a blood-curdling scream and kicked backward. My knee bashed into something, we still can't figure out what. And with a sickening crack, my elbow connected with his face with surprising force.

Have you ever hurt someone you love? It's a terrible feeling. Last night, after Boyfriend went to bed, I stayed up reading. I turned my book light toward him periodically, monitoring the egg on his forehead. I worried that he had a concussion, or that the bruise would continue to worsen throughout the night. I wondered if he had a headache, or if the bump had anything to do with how sleepy he seemed all of the sudden when we got back home. I checked to make sure his breathing sounded normal. Emotional pain is inevitable in intimate relationships. But to elbow your partner in the head just seems like adding insult to injury, no pun intended.


OMG, is she wearing a headband???

Today has been a bad day. Let me tell you about it.

I woke up this morning and stood in front of my closet, wondering what to wear. Finally I decided on a knee-length black skirt, a white peasant shirt, and a thick black headband. But I didn't look great. I futzed around a bit, trying different shoes, different jewelry... but something was just off. At this point I was running late, so I threw in the towel and headed out the front door shouting goodbye to J and thinking to myself, 'One bad outfit - no big deal. It's just for a day of meetings.' And that, right there, was my first mistake.

Well, in truth, the headband was my first, and without a doubt my biggest, mistake. The last time I wore a headband was on Easter. Boyfriend and I went to church at Copley Square and at some point that day, while still in our Sunday best, took some pictures. When we got them developed, I made Boyfriend solemnly swear that under no circumstances was he ever, ever to let me wear a headband out of the house again. He said I looked cute, but I held him to the oath which he reluctantly took. Sadly Boyfriend, and those photographs, were not at my apartment this morning to jog my apparently deeply repressed memory.

My second mistake I realized as soon as I pulled up my schedule at the office this morning: I had a presentation to give that I had forgotten about. Oops. Bad day for a bad outfit. But, it's orientation week for our incoming freshman class, so I put my pride aside and went down to the room where I was scheduled to speak. I walked in, and had started chit-chatting with some orientation leaders in the doorway when out of the corner of my eye I watched three students approaching in matching t-shirts and laden with audio and video equipment: the student news crew. "Oh dear God," I whispered to my boss as the color drained from my face, "They're going to film us and I look like Pollyanna."

Not only did they film us, but they interviewed me afterward. I've been on camera for the college station before, and I invariably either look awful or sound like a complete idiot. Today I sounded quite eloquent and well-informed. Hence... something had to give. I have no doubt that I looked ridiculous in my shiny black headband. Normally I struggle to look like I'm a college graduate; today, I struggled to look like I hadn't skipped out on recess in order to make my television appearance. I have no doubt that it's the most unflattering fashion choice I could have made. I called my sister after the filming and whined. "Why are you wearing a headband?" she asked, genuinely confused as a mother of two small children and someone who barely has time to shower, let alone keep up with trends, "Are they making a comeback?" "No," I sighed miserbly. "They're not. I don't know why I'm wearing it."

The show they were filming for is called "Fast Forward/Rewind." Oh, the irony. If only I could rewind back to this morning, and shoot myself.


Have a talk with God

As I was walking to the pool during my lunchbreak today, two young men were skittering across Stuart Street as the light turned green. They were blocking traffic and looked embarrassed, offering the affected cars waves and sloppy smiles of apology as they trotted and scurried out of the path of oncoming vehicles. Clearly, they were new college freshmen, recently imported for orientation week - probably EC kids (because they were dressed like burgeoning artists and appeared to be gay, both of which make it likely that they're my students). When they managed to reach the sidewalk, a car sped by impatiently, and as the two young men again waved an apology, the driver held up his middle finger. Caught off guard, the kids looked at one another, surprised - and laughed.

By now the lights had turned red and the signal told us more experienced, law-abiding citizens who were congregated at the curb that it was safe to walk. A small, bland-looking woman next to me sighed as we started to cross. "People are mean," she said. "I pray for them."

I looked over at her. Talk about hitting the nail on the head. "Yup," I said, even though I don't pray for them. I give them the finger right back. But thank goodness at least someone is addressing the issue of human kindness, or lack thereof, with the big guy.


Color me happy

Today I'm wearing a pink shirt. As I got dressed this morning, Boyfriend argued that it's really maroon, but I think it's burgendy. Regardless of what color the shirt actually is, it's got a bright powdery pink ribbon that ties around it, and so the overall effect is pink pink pink. I love pink. It makes me smile just thinking about it. I love wearing pink. My favorite pajamas are pink. The light, girly shade of pink.

Pink makes me feel like I'm wrapped up in love. Like passion and innocence collided and merged to form a color. Pink is so pretty!

That being said, it's easy to for pink to go from cutie cute cute to a fashion don't, so clothing choices need to be made with caution. But when you find something that's trendy and pink, it's heaven.

So if you see me today and I seem a little more happy than usual, it's the pink. If I could build a pink world I would. Nothing bad ever happens in pink. Bad things happen in black and white, red, or gray. But pink... pink is only sweetness.



This morning, as I was crossing the street to go to Starbucks, I ended up standing next to a homeless man while we waited for the light to change - him, with quiet resignation, me with foot-tapping irritation and impatience. He looked over at me. "Do you have any change?" I smiled, shook my head, and replied that I didn't. This was true, technically - I didn't have any cash on me. But it's hard to look someone in the eye and say that you have no money to spare when you're en route to buy a $4 cup of coffee. "Sorry," I said, managing to feel ashamed. "That's okay." he replied. Then, after a beat, "How are you doing?"

I wasn't feeling very comfortable at this point - being face to face with destitution will do that a middle class overindulged white woman - and I was staring intently at my left sandle. When he asked me that question, though, I looked him in the eye. "I'm doing well." I said.

"Oh, good," he said, smiling at me with a mouthful of unbrushed teeth. "Good, darlin'. You should be happy. That's important. It must be easy for a girl like you. Is it easy to be happy?"

Is it easy to be happy? In front of me stood a man whose very circumstance added unimaginable misery to his daily life. Did he wake up in the morning and watch all of us as we crossed the street to our favorite cafes? With our designer clothes and expensive shoes and highlighted hair, our college degrees tucked neatly under our belts as we headed for a job which doubtless paid enough to keep us safely above the poverty line. Did he see us as we kissed our doting loved ones goodbye, smiled our blindingly white smiles over our shoulders as we parted ways with our friends, chatted on our cell phones to our adoring families? Did he imagine that if only he had money, an education, a family, he would also be happy?

He didn't see the inferiority, the infidelities, the guilt, the pressure. The shoulds and the if onlys that a life of "having it all" leaves us with. The prozac bottles nestled in our purses. To him, just getting by would be enough. To us, there is never enough. We are a new generation and we were groomed to be insatiable.

But today, I felt like I couldn't let him know that the pain doesn't stop regardless of situation. Life might be easier, less dreary, but happiness is still always a lofty goal, just barely out of reach for most people. It's something to chase, and sometimes catch, but to hold onto it is tricky - we're often left grasping at air.

The lights turned red all around us, and the 'walk' signal flashed. "Yes," I said, with what I knew was an open and honest expression on my face even though I was very ambivalent about what I was about to say next. "It's easy for me to be happy. I'm lucky."

He nodded. "I thought so. You look real happy. Good darlin'. It's so important."

With that, he crossed the street diagonally and I crossed straight ahead, and went on with my day. I felt haunted by the white lie, and thrown by the exchange - nothing like a simple question asked by an intoxicated, mentally questionable stranger to knock your whole world off kilter a bit. I took a deep breath and did what years of therapy taught me to do - I pushed the awkward memory from my mind. I wish I'd had a goddamn dollar.