February 2013


Does anyone else ever think about what it would be like if they were all in the same room? Or all found you at the same time? It’s a nightmare of mine. Boyfriends. Just-friends who wanted more. Certain crushes. That they all met, that they all started asking questions. You must be. She never told me about. Oh, I heard of you. That guy. And the memories are so close, too close, and you can imagine the conversation. Their voices, the way their body leans against the wall. I daydream. Can you daydream too much? And they find me. And it’s terrifying. Because you never wanted this. But look – there they all are. The has-beens, the what-ifs, the screw-yous. Acting like they know all about me, I can see it. I watch. But they don’t. They know pieces of me, pieces I gave to them.

Sometimes I have what I call day-mares. This isn’t quite one, though it comes close. It took me a long time to figure out what all the dark daymares meant – possibly a story for another time. I won’t figure these out, fully, for awhile.

swirlingThey find me. Because I was worried he would find me. So they all do. It’s why I changed my room code, senior year of college. Three years, nearly, of trusting him with it. It wasn’t the breakup that did it. It was the Tuesday at 8am, when he was outside my door. He didn’t go to my school. He had a lot of friends there. He should have been at his school. He should have been home. I only saw him because I jumped out that morning to sign up for studio space, before anyone else could. I threw on enough clothes to cover with a long winter jacket, and came back to the dorm to properly get ready before meeting a friend for breakfast. He never entered, nothing. But it was a Tuesday. At 8am. And I got scared. He was a nice guy, a good guy. But it was the line. A week or two later I asked my parents if it was okay to charge the extra $100 to have my room code changed. Very few people know that. Know why. He doesn’t even know the truth. When he did find out I’d changed it – that some part of me didn’t trust him – he was pretty angry.

I was glad I had it changed.

Maybe that’s why. Why they all wind up finding me, in these daydreams. Or maybe it’s normal. I don’t know. I’ve only ever been in two relationships. But after each one, after the initial fall-apart, there’s this amazing feeling of freedom. Gradually, I learn to smile with a new memory and not an old. I randomly fall for someone new, or many someones new. And I’m transported to high school, remembering how fun it can be. Eye-candy, crushes, all of it. More daydreams. There’s a certain power in that. All of it, mine. To do with as I please. People can surprise you. More fun is when you surprise yourself.

The strongest friendships prove themselves during this time, right now.

I tend to be the “group photographer.” If you’re one, you know. Always playing catch-up, pausing an extra few moments to get the shot just right. Running to meet them halfway up the block. Zipping into and out of conversations. Most of you is there, but a part of you isn’t. There’s this part of you that’s soaking all of this in, not involved in discussions, just being. Just all of you, being. And so you hang behind, because this is them. These people, they’re yours. So you wait for the right moment. Catch a city shot or a scenic shot while you wait, eyeing their backs, arms slung around each other. And when it’s right, you call out: Guys! Turn around! Aw, come on! And they do, and roll their eyes (you do this a lot, in addition to playing catch-up). And smile. And it’s beautiful. This, right here, is the happiest moment. Years later, it still will be. You don’t even need to be in the picture, because you already know. Those people, in the picture, they’re smiling at you. They are happy, you are happy. Together. Whether you’re physically shown with them or not, you’re there. And those are the best pictures. Those are beautiful.

Monday, Monday on the train
People tweeting, texting “hey”
Calls for pickups, lost the signal –
Concepts of underground and concrete
Go unnoticed; something’s wrong.

The rest of us, staring, staring
At the grey monotone passing by
The rest of us, trying, trying
Not to nap through our stop
With the swaying, swaying
Of the train.

A week or two ago, I was given the opportunity to take a “How Do You Fascinate?” test, as part of an upcoming conference I’m attending. The idea, through apparent years of scientific analysis, is not to identify how you see the world, but how the world sees you. I answered a series of questions, primarily relevant to my professional life, and waited as my results were tallied, analyzed, and presented.

The Victor

My archetype: the Victor. Hey, wow. Okay. Awesome. I’m victorious (and, fine, maybe I had Hunger Games running through my head at that exact moment). I am results-oriented, respected, and competitive. If only I can live up to them all throughout my career! The competitive threw me, however briefly. I’m aware I’m pretty results-oriented, and it’s nice to see/know I’m generally respected. But competitive? Ask me three years ago and I would have said you’re nuts. But, being in the professional world, and in the kind of industry I am (very, very competitive), I guess I’ve become that. I always used to associate competitive with vicious. And I don’t think of myself as a vicious person: I get things done, I strive to be better, but I don’t think I’m mean about it. Maybe they aren’t, in fact, the same thing. We live in a competitive world. Though my workplace is, I believe, very equal, in general I’m going to have to try harder as a woman to prove myself. Stereotypes and sexism, however subtle or overt, still exist. And this will be throughout my entire professional life.

So, now that I’m a Victor, what are my “triggers?”

Primarily, I am driven by prestige. After that, power drives me. Can I just tell you how odd that feels? That this is supposed to sum up…me? I want to be the best and be recognized for it, and I want to leverage power to get things done. This is not how I would typically describe myself.

TriggersIn fact I’d go so far as to say it’s never how I’d imagine describing myself. When I look at it more critically, though, I can see it. I’m 24 and I know I can go places. I’ve known that for a long time, and I believe I’m proving it, or at least trying. I’m always climbing, always learning more. I’m pretty young to be able to do all that I can – and I truly don’t mean this to brag, I’m just saying: I work my butt off and it shows. I’m now a Senior Writing Associate at my company, I’ve been working towards additional certifications and trainings, I am recognized for doing good work. Professionally speaking, I am like this (or will be. Hopefully). It just seems to counter what I feel I am “in real life.”

Dormant Trigger: Passion

Click the picture to see full size

What actually stunned me was that passion was my dormant trigger. I am (at least, I like to think so) a passionate person. However much that intersects with emotions, I’m very aware of my emotions. But…I guess I’ve learned to keep them in check when they aren’t functional. That sounds weird, but especially at work, I try to leave my emotions at the door. And I’ve been pretty successful at it. To be honest, I wouldn’t last long in my company, or in my industry, if I let emotions rule. But I’m still in both, over two years later. I wouldn’t have survived the internship that got me this job, not in the least. It was tough. We’d get in at 8am (count yourself gone if you dared come in 2 minutes late more than once), bend our minds together, work like crazy, and maybe leave by 9pm, more commonly 10pm. One night we were there until 11:30, because the Metro would stop running at midnight and we needed to get home. Admittedly, there are still days like this. But there wasn’t any time to get worked up about it. The standard was incredibly high, and we got slammed on reviews. If you think the red ink on your college paper was bad, imagine getting rainbow-colored documents back with comments so long Word couldn’t show all the contents of each. But I digress. Suffice to say, however shocking getting the dormant trigger of passion was at first, professionally, I get it. And I suppose that “dormant” means it’s lying in wait for when I need it. So I guess I’m capable of passion? According to their website, “People with primary PASSION trigger can rapidly make emotional connections with customers, co-workers, and managers.” They are expressive, intuitive, impulsive, social, and transparent. The thing is, I’m pretty transparent. I’m not sure if I ever was any good at it (read: high school) and got continuously worse, or if I was never very good at it to begin with. I’ve certainly learned to present myself better, and speak better. But man if my boss(es) can’t read me like an open book.

Next up, how these triggers make me great or not so great.

Great:Advantages

Cool…

Not so great:Weaknesses

Again with the lacking emotion and connection thing. I’m not sure, other than the above, what this is a product of. But I’ve got to keep it in check. What the heck happened? Am I like this outside of work, too? And how can I go back? It’s unnerving.

On the plus side, I’m not terribly extreme. This compares me to “total intensity possible” from the test.

Intensity and Percentages

But passion is still the lowest. I have/am more trust, mystique, rebellion, and alarm than I do passion. Actually, I have a good chunk of rebellion and alarm.

Rebellion: innovative, independent, entrepreneurial, edgy, unpredictable.

Alarm: perfectionistic, reliable, routine-oriented, careful, rational

Mystique: understated, complex, rational, reserved, deliberate

So, interesting. Me, professionally, in a nutshell is results-oriented, respected, and competitive, with an eye towards power and prestige. This is how I fascinate. Am I fascinating? 😉

Great inspiration. I’ve not been doing this, and really need to. Just do it! Write it right now! And maybe, maybe, I’ll finish my manuscript on time.

Live to Write - Write to Live

No one expected me to become a writer. I was supposed to become a pharmacist, then a microbiologist, and then a computer specialist. The career of “writer,” for whatever reason, was never mentioned.

later onOften I have wondered how things might have turned out differently had I been guided at an earlier age. I wish, when thinking about my days spent in youth, that someone had given me words of advice specific to a writer – a bit of inspiration, a smidgen of insight on going forward. How I would have held on to those words and cherished them. How I would have believed that they applied to me, to my life.

But no one did and as we all know, unless you want to mire yourself forever in the tangled webs of the past, you need to move on. You didn’t get what you thought you needed in the past…

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Say hi to my new addition to the little family of one: Nellie the bichon frise. Sounds fancy, right? Well, she certainly thinks so. She’s a little princess. We’re working on getting her to eat anything but her favorite cheese. Bacon mixed with her (oh-so-boring) dog food was mildly successful.

Nellie playing

Nellie is my parents’ dog – one of them. She arrived here care of my awesome neighbor Friday night. She was in cars, planes, trains, and automobiles before arriving at her new home. I’ve been thinking about getting a dog for awhile. Yeah, part of it was due to the breakup, but a lot of it wasn’t. I love dogs; I’ve always loved dogs; they brighten every day. But I wasn’t sure if I could really handle one right now. I have no one else to care for one, I’m at work most of the day. It’s a big change. I thought about it, talked with friends and family about it, and my parents came up with the brilliant idea of doing a trial run with Nellie. She is relatively trained, knows me, and is pretty adaptable, having come to my parents through adoption a couple years ago. And it would be nice to have a dog ready to greet me after work, take on walks, chill out with. Be goofy.

So I went out and assessed local areas, parks, dog licenses, the nearest animal hospital, potential dog-walkers. Bought a bed, crate, leash, the works. So here she is, curled up in my lap as I type this.

Friday night was a bit nuts. Exciting, but nuts. I left work and took the metro to the airport to meet my neighbor and Nellie. He had her all set up in a carrier and walked her through the madness of airport security, then kept her calm throughout the ride, under the seat in front of him. I’ve totally had a crush on Imeanwhat been fascinated by this neighbor since we met. So like…over five years. Maybe ten. He’s a cool dude. And awesome for dealing with her and basically flying down on a whim. We found a place for Nellie to get out and run around for a bit – and that freedom was all she needed to glare at me when I needed to put her back in her crate. Metro has rules, princess. So we get her/his stuff, get on the metro, transfer, get on another metro, and finally get a cab to my apartment and let her explore her new home. As thanks, I take neighbor out to dinner across the street and it is so crowded I never hear my phone. We got caught up talking until dog-mom kicked it into high gear and we went back. I checked my phone: 2 voicemails from the front desk, about complaints from my neighbors about her barking. So, we should have gotten take-out? Too late now. Cringing, I call back and explain, yes, I have a new dog, and yes, I’m home now, and yes, I’m fine and she’s fine. Apparently my neighbors were worried about me. Wow.My closet makes for a nice bed?

Friday night she slept with me, though whined through half the night for mom and dad. I think I picked this up from our other dog – any time Nellie felt like she was going to jump off the bed, or did jump, I was like a spring, jumping out and getting her back. Our other dog uses this as a good time to leave a mess on the carpet. So it’s practically become a reflex when in the vicinity of one of my dogs. Saturday we were up and at ’em by 8:30 (thanks, dear, for the sleep and sleeping in) and it was a dog day. My neighbor went out on what wound up being a quick touristy-turned-wild-goose-chase to meet with friends and a potential client. Employer? Client. I think. Nellie, at some point, decided that the bottom of my cluttered closet made for a nice place to nap.

I admit, I nearly gave up. I get really freaked out by people complaining, and  wasn’t sure this would work. It’s a lot less space than she’s used to, a lot more crate-time. I freaked. I called my parents. I was almost ready to get her ready to send back home with my neighbor when he left. But, this is new for both of us. People will complain. She will or will not bark. I decided to see how she did, do everything I could to pacify all.

Nellie exploring

I took her outside to learn the lay of her new kingdom, which we explored for over an hour and a half. She is well aware she is the princess. After that I did some bark collar testing, which consisted of trying various things (leave her in the crate, leave her outside the crate, turn the TV on) and waiting in the hallway for a few minutes. Whining was persistent but there was less barking. Still, not quite ready. So we settled down and watched TV together for awhile. I wrote 5 notes for my 5 nearest neighbors, thanking them for their patience as I got my new dog settled in. I placed these in ziplocs, with 2 pieces of chocolate in them. A little while later, I got a knock on my door. Bracing, I opened it, and one of my wall-neighbors said hi, met Nellie, introduced herself, and offered me some chocolate in return. I was a little taken aback – they weren’t meant to be reciprocative? And she said she hadn’t heard anything, and that she was usually home between 4pm and night and if I needed someone to take Nellie out….just wow. Success. Yes? Yes.

We made dinner that night, with some flourishes thrown in by my neighbor. I can bake. I am still learning cooking. It was delicious. Evenings were consumed by movies, talking, and carrying miss Nellie like a rag doll to my bed, where – ideally – she would stay while I brushed my teeth and got ready for bed. So, after I dragged her off neighbor’s bed, we had a much more pleasant night’s sleep. She slept next to me, let me snooze until 10:30 – awesome awesome. Sunday was more adventure-time for neighbor, more dog-time for me. I got some fabulous advice from a friend of mine in vet school who has several dogs, and after walking the neighbor to the metro (Nellie was pretty psyched), I dropped her at home – with the bark collar – and ran to find “rescue remedy” to help calm her down when I was away. She hates the bark collar – and the crate – with a passion. A very excellent guilt-tripping passion. With enough testing and some drops of rescue remedy, I thought I could go out to meet neighbor’s friend and catch the best part of the Superbowl – the halftime show and the ads. 😉 She actually stood up and put her paws on my chest when I leaned down to help her into her crate. Like, “stop, mom.” Killed me. I gave her extra kisses and went out – my phone on loud. This was the test. Because come Monday work calls. We found a quiet bar a few stops away, caught the game (which was only a game in the second half, c’mon guys) and Beyonce’s show. And the power outage. And the ads. And I was hyper-aware of anything happening with my phone. But nothing ever did. My neighbor and I got back and as soon as we got off the elevator, took our hats off and listened.

We listened.

And it was silent.

Success! Wait…what’s that on my door? A yellow post-it? Uh oh.

I sighed, and read the note. This is what it said, from the across-neighbors:

Thank you for the sweets. We are glad to know that everything is fine with you and the dog as we were worried for you. We hope the dog settles well in the new home. Good luck. <names, apt.>

And Nellie was thrilled to see us.

watching West Wing

So, this morning I went to work, leaving my neighbor to take care of her and catch his plane, came home early to work and take her out, and all, for the moment, seems to be well. Almost. She hasn’t been eating much at all. But we gather she’s being picky. I did manage to coax some into her. Hopefully in the next few days she’ll sigh and resign herself to eating actual dog food down here. And we will watch TV. And go for walks. And play. And for now, just be. Like, right now if she can’t be on my lap she’d rather sleep in the small space between my chair and my desk than behind me in her dog bed. D’awwww.