The things people say when they are trying to spark another’s romantic interest absolutely kill me. Just absolutely fucking kill me. And I’m guilty of these things too sometimes. I’ve dropped my fair share of “I’m addicted to possibility,” and “I grew up in a jar that went unopened until I came to college,” in my day. I’ve dropped these lines in the plural, because I am an asshole, just like we are all assholes. But right now, this business of line-dropping is bothering me because I am trying to enjoy this day in bed with my package of Milano cookies (fuck everyone, I will finish the entire pack) and my nice Starbucks frappuccino, and I’m trying to half listen to Birdy while half studying for my Spanish test on Thursday, but the guy who lives next door to me is dropping lines with some chick in his common room, and I can hear and cannot deal. DUDE DO NOT DROP LINES NOW….
Once, I sat in a coffee shop rushing a last minute job on an essay on James Baldwin’s Go Tell It On the Mountain while some guy and girl sitting near me laughed and spoke too long on what was clearly their first date. He said, ” I grew up in a house of Latin American artists.” She said, “That night was the first time I came alive.” They were both pleased. I considered staring at them to induce awkwardness and a pause in the conversation, but I didn’t, because listening was too fun. There was too much possibility in listening. (Watch me romanticize my own wussy tendencies right here.)
Last night, I sat on a futon with friends sipping unidentified alcohol mixed with vending machine lemonade in a mug, and we talked about what it would take to earn our undying love. For one friend, the answer was a parade with people on stilts, the ultimate show of affection, high on affectation too. For another friend, it was the idea of having a person who would always be there, and for me, it was the kind of person who would listen to me while drunk, like really listen and not judge, and not forget, and still, not hold it against me. Drunk not being necessary for falling in love, I hope, but just the only way I understand it right now. i think about this conversation now, and I can understand that it was supposed to be serious, and it doesn’t bother me.
So why do I cringe as I sit at my desk and overhear, “I spent the entire room in that corner hoping and studying” ?
Perhaps I’m just a monster, or more likely, just an alien still trying to get used to earth people talk.
I really don’t understand what college is. At all. Like not in the least.
Last night- my first night back- I went to a couple of failed parties with two of my closest friends. “A hipster foot trip” I told my mom when she asked, because my hair was getting frizzy and I was sweaty and we were all roaming about for the sake of being back at school, for the sake of going out I think.
I got a dinosaur mask from a boy I didn’t know. I offered to pay him with a five dollar bill and a doomsday card some street preacher gave me about 6 months ago. He didn’t want the payment (probably because it sucked.) He said I could have the mask “for freezies” so I wore it and walked around looking like a lunatic, but it was sooo much fun. It was the best thing ever, the highlight of the entire night.
And then some giant came out of nowhere and hugged me, and also the friend I was standing next to. We were standing with our backs against the wall in the corner of some basement, less pathetic maybe than the person eating his late night fast food alone with his back against the same wall. So then this giant says “hi” and asks us how our summers were, and then, “hey, that mask is my friend’s. she’s been looking for it everywhere.” So I gave it to him and said “she can have it back.” But really, what I was thinking was “THANKS FOR HUGGING ME TO STEAL MY DINOSAUR MASK. LIFE IS REALLY TERRIBLE.”
A bunch of other things happened that are not worth mentioning. Someone told me I have the best mouth structure? I said “No one has ever said that to me before,” because really, no one has, and also what the fuck? and also, my face -like my personality- is on the below-average end of the spectrum.
More things happen…. My friends and I are sitting on some grimy couches in the same basement, and all of a sudden, my roomie points out that the dinosaur mask is on the floor. I moan about it. My other friend retrieves the mask for me, the mask that now adorns the bookshelf in my bedroom, because it is the coolest thing I own at the moment.
And today, I saw a bunch of people I hadn’t seen in months… about a hundred of them, and I said hi to four, because I am a major stuck-up asshole without common courtesy. I’ll go to lunch in the dining hall with a few friends soon.
I’m trying to stop pulling out strands of my own hair. I’ve somehow convinced myself that if take the (extremely humiliating) step of publishing this on the Internet, I will somehow have a greater probability of success at my new goal. I write “pulling out strands of my own hair” to inaccurately describe a nervous habit that is more like the-sad-nervous-d(evolution)-of-something-formerly-done-to-reduce-split-ends. Now, I just rip apart strands of hair, one hair at a time, the same way a lot of other nervous people bite their nails or chew pens.
My mom also really thinks I need to stop ripping apart my own hair. And she’s probably (okay, definitely without a doubt) right. And I know I should stop…And today, I decided for the first time ever that I should actually try to stop. Is it strange that after six years, I haven’t made a single attempt to stop?
Mom is convinced that my strange tendency is the reason my hair is frizzy. I know the reason for that has a lot more to do with my aversion to brushes and my inability to properly blow dry my own hair, but whatevs. I’ll go with her on this one. I’ll tell myself that if I stop being a crazy person, I am magically going to find that my hair is frizz-free and perfect and shiny and thick and magnificent, and all that good stuff found in Pantene commercials.
On the topic of bad habits, there’s another one that I seriously need to break: non-communication. So this here is my official apology that will probably be read by none of the people who so desperately deserve to receive this apology (and better apologies) firsthand: I really suck at the receive a text message/ respond to a text message phenomenon that the kids and non-kids seem to be so fond of these days. I also really suck at the trend of get a facebook wallpost/respond to a facebook wallpost trend, the get a phone call/answer that phone call trend, the get an invitation/ respond to the invitation and actually show up to said event trend…. To all the people I blow off constantly, I really really suck, and I am so sorry. I should have some sort of decent explanation, but I don’t. I spend all of my time reading random articles and short stories and writing things that no one is ever going to read and watching TV and tutoring kids… I was interning for a while (which some of you don’t know because I never answer anything you send me ever.) Maybe that’s a somewhat legitimate excuse? If you want to ignore the fact that I clearly am unfit for friendship and want to keep being mes amis, I will be super grateful….and if you want/need/feel the timing is right to give up on me, that is also totally cool… I mean, it’s not like that requires any sort of change from the past few months, amirite?
Okay, I think this has been enough self-deprecating fun for my soul. The Internet is still not my diary. I am still stupid enough to act as if that is not true. (But then again, when have I ever gone out of my way to spare myself from embarrassment…. In fact, when have I ever not gone out of my way to ensure my own embarrassment?)
only asians and new york city brats
are skilled at handling chopsticks.
roll of eel and avocado held at my lips,
i turn red.
I’m in my grandmother’s house right now. I’m sitting upstairs on the not-very-comfy couch in the little living room. The air conditioner is on too high- or should that be too low? In any case, I am freezing. I am wearing a borrowed night gown and have my hair tied up in a borrowed scrunchy. For the past two hours, I’ve been feeling jumpy and kind of wishing I had something to throw at the wall (which is a very bad old habit of mine.) I’ve settled for aimlessly browsing the Internet while I wait for my mom to wake up from her nap or for one of my aunts to come over to talk to me. Somehow, I can’t imagine anyplace I’d rather be.
I guess now would be as good of a time as any to explain what’s going on here. We got a call at the house last night to say that my grandmother had been taken to the hospital in an ambulance and wanted to see my mom fast. It was just after 1am, and I had been in for a couple of hours, just turning from side to stomach to side because for whatever reason, I was feeling too anxious about the end of summer and how I have no idea what I want to do with my future to fall asleep. Anyway, I could hear my mom talking on the phone, and I knew from the way she way she was speaking that something wasn’t right, so when she said that she was going to Brooklyn immediately, I decided that I would leave with her too.
Mom was already dressed in sweats and sneakers by the time I got to her room, and because she wanted to leave quickly, I took out my retainers (two retainers, because I’m just sexy like that, you know?) and put on the first things I could find in my closet: gray sweatpants that must have recently been owned by an unidentified someone, a black and blue t-shirt I thought was cool in 11th grade, and pink and cream colored sneakers. I didn’t even bother to wipe the smudged mascara or to take a phone or ID or money with me. And just like that, we drove off into the night…
So at this point, we were on to the next stage in a family emergency, which is notifying other relatives. At my mom’s request, I called my cousin Samantha on her cell phone, tried again when she didn’t answer, and then again, and then tried her fiancé when all those attempts failed. I said, “Hi Ariel, it’s Serena. Is Samantha around?” because I hoped that sentence would clear up the confusion immediately, would help him to understand that something was wrong in the family… because, for what other reason would his fiancee’s cousin call him in the middle of the night from her mother’s phone? Anyway, Ariel was very cool about it, and when he put Samantha on the phone, I told her that our grandmother had been taken to the hospital, had thrown up what seemed to be blood, and that we were heading over right then and would send her updates throughout the night. My first official task as a responsible adult trying to make sense of a family emergency was complete…
(What I should probably add now is that I have no idea where I am going with any of this. There are too many details in here and the delivery is dreadful. I don’t actually expect anyone to read this entire thing; this is fucking tumblr after all, and it’s not like I use it regularly enough to have many followers. It’s also not a diary, which I know on some level, even though I’m acting as if I don’t right now. But whatever, I’ll go on…)
In the hospital, my grandmother was wrapped in several blankets and surrounded by my four aunts. When my mom and I got there, the doctor asked if we were all her daughters. One of my aunts said “yes,” and I said, “and a granddaughter,” because even for that moment, I could not let vanity go. I had to make it known that I was a member of a younger generation… but I digress. My aunts weren’t wearing make-up and had their hair up, which I realized then was startlingly different from the way they usually look. My grandmother’s lips were red and swollen. She took my mother by the hand and said something in Spanish about how we all need to stay together and take care of each other- something I did not understand until it was translated for me. I looked around the circle of slight women with the worried faces and dark brown eyes, and I thought then that that is what a family looks like. Families with shared features and shared sorrows, women leaving their homes in the middle of the night to make sure that their mother is not alone, a sick person pointing out that the rest of us are not invincible.
There were too many of us for everyone to be in the room at once. I stayed with my grandma for the first hour or so that I was there, and then I went to the waiting room to give one of my aunts the chance to sit with everyone. I watched a creepy episode of some mystery show about a murderous witch, and then later, the beginning of an episode about a murderous woman from the Upper East Side. I tried not to fall asleep. I tried not to be the weakest one there. I thought about how cold I felt, and how late it was, and when we would ever get to sleep, and whether it would be safe for my mom to drive back to Staten Island at all that night. Then my aunt came out and said she would drive me to grandma’s house so I could go to sleep. I went back to the room and kissed everyone before I left, and then it was just me and my aunt and the unforgiving Brooklyn night. By the time we got off the car, it was 4am, and for the first time in about a decade, I had come to my grandma’s house without a phone and with nothing to read- really, with no way to pass the time.
And with that, I guess we’re back to the beginning. I am sitting in the tiny living room in my grandmother’s house. I am wearing a borrowed nightgown and am typing on this borrowed laptop. My mom stayed with my grandma until 9am, so when she got here, she went to sleep, and when she wakes up or when one of my aunts gets here, I guess I’ll have someone to talk to about everything that’s happened. But for now, it’s just me and this cyber world. And there’s no place I’d rather be as I write this, no place for me that feels as isolated and familiar in this city, no place in the world probably.
When my grandma gets out later, I’ll hug her and wait for her to say something. I know she’ll say something, but unless it’s a question about food or how I am feeling, I am not going to understand it. Unless the question is about where I live or how old I am, I won’t be able to respond in Spanish. But it will still feel like everything is back to normal when that happens, and like this crazy night was just one isolated memory, a strange things that happen that brings families together when no one is really expecting.
This is an excerpt from a Facebook message thread with one of my best friends:
S.C. to V.A.
You were half-way across the world, living on your own in Latvia, basically acting like an adult… I was a sixteen-year-old girl wearing boxers, posing for pictures just like this:
I can’t believe I didn’t know you then!
V.A. to S.C.
You were on the other side of the Atlantic, wearing boxers, eating peanut butter, winning every single debate tournament and having no idea you were actually “la princesse de Lettonie”!!! And I was a sixteen-year old acting like that little boy in ‘Home Alone’ and dreaming of a cool friend like youuu :D :D :D
people use punctuation marks in groups of two, like elliptical constructions that end in .. instead of… and to a lesser extent, when people use two exclamation points instead of ! or !!!.
-people write “text me when you get this,” on other people’s Facebook walls. Are they trying to test the efficacy of Facebook? Do they doubt their posts will go through? Why not just text your friend yourself? The phone works both way, you know.
- people roll their eyes after someone else speaks. No need to be such a condescending little frick.
- the vending machine runs out of good chocolate.
-also, when the vending machine decides to be a total jerk and stop vending.
- I stop keeping in touch with people I really like, and when I realize I’ve lost the connection with someone I used to like.
- my shirt isn’t long enough to wear leggings instead of pants.
- the shower water is too cold.
- I’m in Paris with no access to re-runs of Sex & the City.
-also, when I’m anywhere with no access to re-runs of Sex & the City.
- my hair refuses to be straightened.
- I’m forced to realize how ridiculous I really am.
- I remember something awful that happened a long time ago, and can’t help but feel upset all over again.
- I’m upset and have no one to talk to.
- I want to be alone, but can’t.
- also, when I need to not be alone, but can’t.
It’s so easy to hate everything.
The end of things. The beginning of things.
I hope to make no profound statements. I simply hope all is fabulous.