breakfast“Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.”  I can’t even imagine how many times I’ve heard that phrase, and I’ve spent most of my life waking up with that thought in my mind as I try to psyche myself up to eat something at that hour of the day.  The problem for me, and probably many other people, is that I want to live forever.  In aid of that goal, I devour articles about the latest trends in the business of health.  I follow fitness bloggers, and I learn about all the new diets–even though I never really try any of them.  The point is, I do my best to keep myself healthy, and for many years that meant forcing myself to eat breakfast.

But here’s the thing.

I hate eating breakfast.

I don’t really like breakfast foods, but that’s a small problem, the bigger problem is that I am not hungry in the morning.  After doing nothing but sleeping for 7-8 hours, I have no appetite, because I haven’t been moving at all.  When I get out of bed, all I want is a cup of coffee, and the last thing I want is solid food in my stomach.

According to Johns Hopkins’ Bloomberg School of Public Health, these are the reasons why a person should eat breakfast:

  • Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.  Breakfast provides you with the energy and nutrients that lead to increased concentration in the classroom.
  • Studies show that breakfast can be important in maintaining a healthy body weight.
  • Hunger sets in long before it’s time for lunch, but because it’s not convenient to eat properly, many people who have not eaten breakfast snack on foods that are high in fat and sugar.
  • People who skip breakfast are unlikely to make up their daily requirement for some vitamins and minerals that a simple breakfast would have provided.
  • Breakfast provides energy for the activities during the morning and helps to prevent that mid-morning slump.

Point one: Breakfast is supposed to provide you with energy to start the day, but when I eat breakfast it makes me sluggish and distracted.

Point two: Since I started forcing myself to eat breakfast, I’ve gained about ten pounds.

Point three: I don’t get genuinely hungry until at least noon, unless I’ve gone for a run before work.

Point four: I take a multivitamin.

Point five: Breakfast makes me sluggish and creates a mid-morning slump–actually a whole morning slump.

Other reasons I hate breakfast:

  1. When I eat breakfast, it just makes me hungrier.  I’m often not hungry until noon, but if I have breakfast I’m hungry an hour later, and then just feel like I’m starving all day.
  2. When I eat breakfast, that means I consume an extra 200-300 calories per day that I don’t need, hence the weight gain.
  3. I don’t like eating when I’m not hungry, and that’s not something you’re supposed to do, but no one ever acknowledges that for breakfast since it’s “so important.”
  4. When I eat breakfast, my stomach is literally growling an hour later and it hurts.  It feels like my stomach is digesting itself, and is far more uncomfortable than being just a little bit hungry like I am when I don’t eat breakfast.

I went to the doctor yesterday and she praised me effusively for losing about seven pounds and then asked how I did it.  I told her that I stopped forcing myself to eat breakfast, and her face just fell.  Then she went into lecture mode, and told me that maybe I’m just meant to weigh what I weigh.  Is the entire medical profession in bed with General Mills?  What the hell?

So I’m done.  I’ve tried eating breakfast, and it does not work for me.  It makes me unhappy, it makes me fatter and people are not one size fits all.  In my mind, the most important meal of the day is one you want to eat.  If I’m hungry in the morning, I’ll eat, but I’m not going to guilt myself into forcing some food down my throat at 7am just because people like to say its important.

I haven’t been able to run for the last two months.  Anyone who has had any amount of contact with me (in person or on the internets) will no doubt have heard about this before.  I don’t respond well to having one of my favorite things taken away.  It affects my sleep, my energy level and my overall attitude and though I tried to sub in other types of cardio, I haven’t really had a good adrenaline rush in a very long time.

I’ve been to the doctor, got a proper diagnosis (grownup alert!), got some pills, took them, did the recommended PT exercises, and actually went running pain-free on Friday.  Now I have to conquer The Fear.

When I was working at the library one night, a student came up to the reference desk and spent a tremendous amount of time with my co-worker.  I was busy myself, so I wasn’t really paying attention, but after the student left, my co-worker turned to me and asked, “Do you have any ideas on this one?”

It seems the student has a friend who was always athletic.  A while ago, she got inured, something like an ACL tear, and ever since then has been terrified of hurting herself.  I blinked at my co-worker, “Is that really something you can write a psych paper about, or is that just learning and conditioning?” If the stove is hot, you learn not to touch it; in figure skating, the first thing they teach you is how to fall safely.  Likewise, and I don’t really know anything about ACL injuries, but most sports injuries come from overuse, or from doing something wrong–so you try not to do something wrong.

Torn adductor, I blame yoga

In my case, I can’t quite pinpoint what I did wrong. I’ve had torn muscles in the past, and usually you can actually feel the muscle tear.  You take a step, and there’s a popping feeling followed by a tremendous amount of pain.  I never felt a pop for this one, which was why is was so hard to diagnose and treat properly.  I’d rest for a week, my leg would feel ok, and then I would try to go for a run often barely making it across the street.  When I was able to go for a longer run/walk, I ran about 1.5 miles and walked 4.5.  When I felt a slight twinge, I backed off and walked, which is something that this particular injury had left me unable to do as well.

The next morning after that test run, I woke up feeling fine.  I rested a few days, and went out for a four mile run/run (with a minimal amount of walking).  It felt great, I was maintaining a great pace (for an injured girl), and the act of running actually made my back pain go away.

The next day was race day.

If this had just been a normal race, I probably would have skipped it.  If this had been a 1/2 marathon, I would have known I wasn’t ready, but this was the Jamestown Bridge 10k, which is not only a really, really awesome race, but a distance I could actually handle.  So I had to do it.  Also, I was such a geek about this race that I was actually the first person to register for it–yeah.  Numbers 1 and 2 are reserved for last year’s winners, but I was number 3.

I ran over that–over and back.

Of course, running up and down that steep of an incline is a bit taxing, but I was prepared to take it slow and steady.  I met up with a friend and her mother before the race, and we made the plan to stick together and plod our way through the course.  She was also recovering from an injury, so at the start line, her 60-year-old mother took off like a shot, and we starting plugging our way down the on-ramp.

What ended up being strange and interesting about this experience was the fact that I was struggling.  My back had a ridiculous twinge, my leg felt stiff, and the previous day’s four miles just seemed like a beautiful dream as I hobbled along and eventually walked sending my friend ahead of me.  Near the end of the race, I saw the 6 mile marker meaning that there were only .2 miles ahead.  So I started running, tentatively at first, and then settled into my natural (if a bit slower than usual pace).  It felt perfect.  It felt like the previous day’s run instead of the plodding and drudgery of the first four miles of this race.

What I realized is in my terror of re-injuring myself and pushing too hard, I really hadn’t pushed hard enough at all.  It is harder on my body to run at an unnaturally slow pace than it is to run faster.  I used so much effort to slow down, that I wore myself out.  If I had attempted this race at a 10 minute mile pace, not only would I have finished with a much more respectable time, but I might not be so sore today.

Therein lies my conundrum: How can I know how much I can handle, unless I try and risk re-injury?  This conundrum sucks.

My next race is May 6th and it’s a 1/2 marathon that  I’ve run twice before.  My plan is to just not overthink it.

Longtime blog readers will no doubt recall that year Jewish Friend and I went on the quest to find the best macaroni and cheese in Providence.  Even if you’re reading this right now thinking I’m not a long time reader, will I understand this quest?  Trust me, you get it, unless maybe you’re lactose intolerant, or for some reason, hate mac and cheese, and if that’s the case, I don’t think we have anything in common anyway.

I, like most Americans, have had a long time love affair with macaroni and cheese.  It began with Kraft’s blue box, and has gotten decidedly more gourmet and fatty over the years.  Since Jewish Friend and I both agree that La Laterie has the best macaroni and cheese in Providence (with Red Fez a close second), it was time to expand the pool of cheese.

Jewish Friend recently moved to Albany, which is something I disagree with whole-heartedly, but she did it for love, so I won’t be too mean about it.  Since moving, she has been peppering conversations with fun facts about all the literary adventures to be had in Albany, how nearby it is to cool things that I and other people she likes would enjoy visiting, and basically racking her brains with ways to entice her friends to make the three hour (partial toll) drive north.

I was already planning to visit, when she told me about the mac and cheese bowl.

Every year, in order to raise money for the food bank, the regional newspaper and their famous food critic gather together restaurants from around the region and give them the challenge to come up with the best mac and cheese.  People pay $15 to get in, and then it’s all you can eat plus the privilege of voting on the top three.  It’s pretty much my idea of heaven, if heaven is a Marriott ballroom.

It was amazing to sample that many varieties of the same food in a single day.  It’s amazing how different one mac and cheese recipe can be from another, even though it’s basically the same thing, and it’s amazing how many of those mac and cheese recipes were essentially casserole and not mac and cheese at all.

Of the 32 restaurants participating, about 15 had put meat of one kind or another in their mac and cheese.  People added beef, bison, pepperoni, other sausage varieties, lobster, crab, and one restaurant had created some kind of Mexican fiesta dish with two kinds of meat, jalepenos, tortilla chips, sour cream, guacamole, and a bunch of other stuff.  The list of ingredients took up a full page (in about 28 point font).  Sure, if they hadn’t added the meat, I would have gone to town on that particular dish, but I would also never have called it macaroni and cheese, and I don’t think they should have gotten away with it.  I mean, the instructions are right there in the name: Macaroni and Cheese, not macaroni and cheese and anything else you  can think of.

My thoughts are, in order to make it a fair competition, you get one add-in ingredient, otherwise, it’s not mac and cheese.  In enjoyed the crab macaroni and cheese because I felt like the crab added a delightful texture without overpowering the dish.  Then someone else pointed out that it tasted a bit like tuna casserole, which may be why I enjoyed it so much (tuna casserole rules).  Obviously, people are going to vote for the meatier dishes, because people like meat, but there was also a lot of attention paid to a booth that served simple rotini pasta in a delightful creamy sauce–they didn’t need all of those extras.

Mac and cheese is a simple dish, and even Jewish Friend who loves bacon, said after a while that the bacon and other meat flavor jsust distracted you from what was supposed to be the star.  So my challenge to the restaurants that participated is to cut out all the meat–or at least cut down on it.  If you can compete without leaning on people’s love of beef, then you just can’t compete.

*Note: the title is horrifying, but I just couldn’t resist

When I get asked out by a creepy library patron, my default response is to say that I have a boyfriend.  Even if I didn’t have a boyfriend, I would probably say that because it seems to be the only way to tell an inappropriate and usually far too old man that not only are you not interested, but you have something else going on in that area of your life already.  The problem is, every time I say it, I feel frustrated with myself and think that there must be an equally good way to tell a gross old man to fuck off, without feeling anti-feminist.

In the case of the gentleman (16 years older than me, looks homeless but may not be) who presented me with a single pink rose on Valentine’s Day that he obviously bought at CVS and asked, “Would you like to go for a coffee sometime?” I wanted to say “No, I would not.”  I mentally wrestled with myself before I answered him and sighed heavily before finally saying, “I have a boyfriend.”

Somehow, it seems more rude to reject them outright without having a valid (in their eyes) reason.  Just saying, “No I don’t want to have coffee with you” is like me rejecting them as a person even though in actuality I can think of about a million things I would rather do than even be next to these men in the line at Dunkin Donuts.  I do reject them as people because I know that we would have nothing in common, I’m not interested in the slightest, and I’m not accepting new friends at this point in my life.

Unfortunately, playing the boyfriend card on my previous library stalker didn’t deter him from spending far too much time trapping me in conversation, giving me his phone number and writing a letter to my boss about my exceptional customer service that prompted her to ask me ‘Who is this guy?”  So even my go-to doesn’t even work as well as it should.

Perhaps what I need is to just stop thinking of these guys as people and just be rude to them.  How do other ladies deal with unwanted advances?  Is there a magic phrase, or is it case-by-case?  My stunt ring may have worked at my other job, but I haven’t worn it yet at my new places, and really am sick of having to take that tactic.

I haven’t had health insurance in three years, which is a fact that netted me extensive media coverage.  What better way to prove to the Republicans that we need national health care than to trot out my over-educated, do-gooder self.  The problem with that is, and always has been, that even when I have access to western medicine, I rarely seek it out.  I don’t like the doctor, I don’t like explaining myself and I never really feel like I’m sick enough to need to bother a clearly busy person with my tales of (minor) woe.

But I’m determined to turn that around.  I am determined to be proactive with my new health care and get regular check ups.  I am going to develop a rapport with a doctor who will establish a file on me with a detailed medical history.  Together, we will document my health adventures so that when I eventually get cancer, we will have seen it coming.

My insurance officially kicked in February 1st, and I’ve been shockingly organized about the whole thing.

  1. I went to a meeting with the lady from the health insurance company and learned all kinds of things
  2. I asked around for personal recommendations for primary care doctors
  3. I filled out the paperwork and gave it to the HR lady in a timely manner
  4. I got an health insurance card

Except, apparently the soonest available appointment my doctor has, is not until April.  This leads me to wonder: why the hell is she accepting new patients if she can’t see those patients for four months?  I was prepared to get everything arranged, and then make an appointment for early February.  I called in early January, so I thought that would be plenty of time, but apparently that’s not the case at all.

Now I’m resentful of the fact that I’m paying for insurance I’m not using, which is why I never elected to pay for insurance when I was underemployed (also, I couldn’t afford it).  I could try to get in with another doctor, but then I’d have to change my primary care physician with my insurance company in order for them to cover it, which would take a while, and it seems like more trouble than its worth.  Also, what if this is how it is with all doctors?  A friend who has lived in several different states told me that Rhode Island is the only place she’s ever sought medical care where it takes forever to see a doctor.  She said if you need to see a doctor right away, her physician always just says “go to an urgent care center.”

I also had to frantically try to find a solution to the issue of needing to have birth control, which my doctor’s receptionist was not helpful about at all.  “The doctor won’t give you a prescription if you haven’t met with her.” she told me, and the doctor has not a moment of spare time until April, so I had to figure something else out.

People talk about health insurance like it’s the greatest thing in the world, and I’m sure, if you’re really sick, it is, but I am decidedly underwhelmed right now.  I’m trying not to let me it get me down, but I’m sure by the time my appointment rolls around my stress level will be markedly higher than before I had insurance.

I’ve also been having some back trouble recently, for which I think I might like to see a chiropractor (maybe), but despite the facts that my insurance covers 20 visits, I cannot go to a chiropractor without a referral from my super-busy doctor.  Considering the fact that I’ve been gimping around like an old lady, and have only run nine miles in the month of February (because of the pain), I’d like to get this looked at/adjusted as soon as I can.

In order to see a new doctor, I have to change my primary health physician.  I have to find a doctor that accepts my HMO, notify my HMO of the change, make an appointment and then wait for a card to arrive in the mail.  The whole situation seems remarkably ham-fisted.

Also, I got my dental insurance card in the mail yesterday, and they spelled my last name wrong. *sigh*

I joined a gym the other day.  Now that I’m employed full-time and have health insurance, it seemed like the next logical step in this whole journey toward adulthood.  Also, if I’m being completely honest, it’s been too cold to go running outside and the lack of running in my life has started to affect my ability to sleep.  Normally, this time of year, I just blame the people who don’t shovel their sidewalks for why I can’t run outside.  This makes me feel persecuted and gives me the healthy glow of righteous rage.  This year, I have no one to blame but myself and my sensitive, wimpy lungs.

The last gym I joined was the Jewish Community Center, which I picked because I had a coupon.  I signed up, got a tour, got my photo taken and that was it.  This time around, I signed up for Bally Total Fitness and the experience was much more involved.  I was in the office, giving my details to a very chipper lady, when this hulked-out Intense Trainer came in and crushed my hand with an overly-firm handshake.

He then proceeded to stand in that wide-legged arms crossed way that very fit people tend to do (because their muscles are so bulky, I assume), and he demanded “where were you working out before this?”

“Nowhere for the last three years.” I told him, “Just running outside.”

“With that body?” He said skeptically.

“Yes.”  I wasn’t really sure what to say to that, and I felt a bit like this was some sort of trainer mind trick designed to make me feel like I belong at the gym or something.  Also, running is supposed to be a great workout, why would I not be fit if that’s what I do?

“Well, you must have been an athlete in High School.” He insisted.

“No, I mean I’ve always been active, but I didn’t play any sports.”

“How many meals do you eat in a day?”

I’ve been asked a lot of questions in my life, but this was one of the strangest and hardest to answer.  Also, I felt like so far in our exchange, I had disappointed this guy many times, and I wanted to please him.  So I said “Three?  Sometimes three and a snack?”  The problem is, I’m still getting used to my new work schedule.  I used to have an early very small breakfast, go running and then have a late breakfast around 11am.  Then I’d have lunch around 3pm, dinner at 6pm and a late night snack (that was usually bigger than it should have been) at 10:30pm.  But that’s all changed now and not only am I barely working out, but I’m also eating meals at normal times, and I’m really not used to any of it.

Finally, Intense Trainer left the room, and I had a chat with More Normal Trainer Who Also Has Huge Arms.  MNTWAHHA asked more reasonable questions like “what are your fitness goals?” and “what do hope to get out of a gym membership?”

Unfortunately, my answers to these questions were no more intelligent than the answers I had given to Intense Trainer.  What I hope to get out of a gym membership, is access to a gym for those days when I don’t want to run outside, and possibly some classes.  I don’t have a real plan, or a real goal other than wanting to run faster and drop a few pounds.  “What do you want to learn?”  MNTWAHHA asked me, and I really had nothing to say to him.

Is this a sign that I’ve joined a super-serious gym, or should I maybe not have strolled in there in my super-wicking workout gear feeling a bit smug about my personal level of fitness?  Most of the other people I saw working out there were pretty old and did not look Olympics-bound, but it was also about 9:30am, so I assume all the super-fit assholes were already at work for the day.

I have an appointment with MNTWAHHA Monday morning and my homework is to “think of something you want me to teach you.”  Doesn’t that seem like something the trainer should just do?  I mean, how do I know what I need to know?  We’re in a post Biggest Loser world where I just expect every trainer to yell at me until I confess some dark secret that makes me overeat, but that doesn’t really apply in my case.

Any suggestions for what I should learn?  If anyone has particular questions they’d like answered by a certified personal trainer, I can pretend they’re my own and get some info.

Seventy percent of adventure is just showing up, or, in this case, having an obsessive friend who lives in the middle of nowhere and can’t quite live out his dreams the way he wants.

Backstory: The new The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo movie is coming out soon.  This is the one in English, but still takes place in Sweden (which is pretty annoying), and I was a bit indifferent toward until I actually saw the trailer.  Then I realized that I was actually going to, potentially, live a different kind of dream.

Backstory to the different type of dream that I’m living:  I can’t be the only person this has happened to.  Remember when you were younger, and you’d get an album that was like the soundtrack to your life?  You loved it, every song; it fit together seamlessly like a puzzle that’s worth framing and you eagerly anticipated the new album from that same band.  The new album comes out, and the band has started “growing” and “experimenting” and while it may sound ok, it’s just not the same.  That’s when you realize that what you actually wanted was not for this band to evolve, but to write a second album that sounds essentially the same, but one that has different lyrics to sing along to and different hooks to marvel at. But that never happens.

Except when there’s an English version of an already solid movie trilogy that not only stars talented folk, but is directed by someone who has made me happy in the past… this could be my second Silverchair/Bush/insert another band from 1994-1999 that had a shitty second album-album that doesn’t suck.

Where the obsessive friend comes in has to do with a contest that this film has been running that I was unaware of until around 12:20pm November 21st when Joe frantically emailed me a google map and said “There’s a “The Girl with the Dragon Tatoo” scavenger hunt taking place across the world. Today it’s in your town. GO!”  He told me to go to the location on the map, which is about a block from my house, find the instructions, follow them and I would be rewarded with a kick ass prize.

So I wandered down to this old call box across the street from the video store not really expecting to find anything.  There was a tiny envelope duct taped to the side of the box, and inside was this note:

Something about the use of the word package immediately made me feel like I was in a spy movie.  Everyone out and about in the neighborhood was immediately suspect, and I imagined that all of my running and purchasing sensible shoes would finally come in handy.  In reality, I walked quickly and without incident to The Curatorium and told the proprietor that I was there for the package.

He looked stunned and laughed, “I was really wondering if someone would actually come for this!”  We chatted briefly and a red-headed man came into the store.  “You’re just in time” the proprietor told him, “she just showed up.”

“I know,”the red-headed man said, “I was watching.”  Then he looked at me, “You were a woman on a mission.”

Clearly my paranoia was justified as I was, in fact, being followed.

The package, was actually a piece of art used in the movie:

Made to look like it had been sent to the person it was sent to in the movie–duh.

And this was inside:

I think it’s a juniper?  I have no clue, but it’s cool, came with David Fincher’s autograph, and a certificate saying that this is #20 out of 40 total–the only one in existence. Here’s everything else that has and will be found–mine’s in the upper left.

This whole experience was made all the more surreal by the fact that I wasn’t feeling well, hadn’t eaten, and had a fever.

I am the official owner of movie nerd gold.  Please don’t rob my house.

There’s an older deaf man who has been coming into my library for quite a while to use the computer.  At first, he always seemed annoyed with me and other staff because he had a hard time signing on.  When you sign on to our login system, you have to key in your 16 digit card number and last name exactly as we have it in our computer system.  Since his last name is St. ____, he has to put in both the period and the space, which kept tripping him up.

He spends his time online watching videos of car races.  Since he’s deaf, he frequently wouldn’t realize that the sound was on, and the normally quiet(ish) reference area would fill with the sounds of vrooming and squealing tires.  Then one of us would have to go over, tap him on the shoulder, and indicate that he needs to turn it down.  Since he can’t speak at all, when he needs help, he makes honking sounds and waves you over in an impatient way.

It didn’t take long before a lot of us got annoyed with the waving over, because we dislike being summoned like servants, but then something changed.  I was showing him how to sign in one day, and through a series of exaggerated movements, shrugs and occasional scribblings on a piece of paper, we were actually communicating.  He got over his annoyance and impatience, and I showed him how to do things for himself.  After that, we were totally bff.  When he came in, he’d wave hello, we’d communicate through a series of shrugs and thumbs up and seemed to always be on the same page.  I felt like I’d turned this once taciturn man into a happier human being through the power of teaching.

Then I got this email from a co-worker:

Turns out our deaf friend is also a paranoid schizophrenic. He threatened to kill his brother and burn down his house. There were 2 police, 3 EMTs, and a translator. He was very agitated and I felt really bad for him, even if I don’t care for his habit of barking at you when he needs assistance. I guess they took him in for observation

So there you go, it’s always the ones that I seem to connect with who end up being actually crazy.  I’m worried about him though, and he certainly never acted as crazy as most of our patrons who are not diagnosed schizophrenics.

My deaf friend, this is for you:

One of my biggest complaints now that I’m a grownup is that grownups don’t act as grown up as I was led to believe they are.  This may be because I’m in a female-dominated profession and women can bring the crazy like no other, but I think I just may have been duped or deluded for most of my youth.  I thought that there was a certain point where you just grow up.  You start wearing a suit to work, disciplining children (not even just your own), buying property, and the wisdom acquired from doing those things made you a thoughtful and reasonable person.

I’m finding that that is not the case at all, and now I’m mad at grownups in general.

Of course, this blog is not entitled I’m mad at grownups, it’s entitled Why I’m a hypocrite (see above).  I’m a hypocrite because for all of my bitching to any poor sucker who happens to be within earshot about how lame and immature adults are (and how that’s the opposite of adult); I’m currently embroiled in a cold war with the woman who lives one floor above me about our shared laundry space.

The scenario:

Mr. and Mrs. Upstairs are subletting the apartment on the 3rd floor while my landlord is off on sabbatical.  Mr. and Mrs. Upstairs are from London and are unfailingly polite/ slightly condescending in that way that only English people can be.  Initially, Gentleman Scholar and I wanted to please them desperately and show them, somehow, that we too drink copious amounts of tea and have opinions about biscuits, but we haven’t managed to succeed at this, and it’s time we call it a wash.

When Gentleman Scholar and I moved into our apartment two years ago, the only other person living in the building was Elderly Neighbor.  Elderly Neighbor sends his laundry out, so we had the washer and dryer in the basement to ourselves.  We were told by our former landlady, that the dryer runs off of the  2nd floor’s (our) electricity.  To make it fair for everyone to use the laundry, the other tenants would leave $1 for each tumble for the 2nd floor people to take.  Works for me.

When landlord (new landlord) sent us an email detailing his exotic sabbatical trip and giving us some info on our new subletting neighbors, he included the line “I told them about the washing machine.” This made no sense to me, so I ignored it, and continued to ignore it until Mrs. Upstairs came knocking on my door one afternoon asking why I plugged the washing machine into 3rd floor’s outlet.

I blinked at her like a moron until she explained that we were supposed to plug the washer into our outlet (neatly labeled) when we were using it, and she would plug the washer into her outlet when she was using it.  So that’s what the line in the email meant.  Then I explained to her about the issue with the dryer, and I thought we were fast friends.

Then her husband started leaving the back door to the building unlocked and sometimes wide open, on more occasions than I can count.  I never see him, so I mentioned to Mrs. Upstairs that while we live in a safe-ish neighborhood, we also live in a neighborhood with a lot of burglary, and I’ve already been robbed–didn’t like it.  She was contrite, I felt like a total Hall Monitor, but her husband continued to not lock the door.  I then emailed landlord who was in a Chinese hospital with dengue fever, and he said he’d email then with a gentle reminder.

After that, it was just one tiny thing after another.  These are mostly petty grievances that I feel like a crazy person bringing up, but that really irk me nonetheless.

  1. Mrs. Upstairs does a ton of laundry, and only puts a dollar in for the dryer for about every four tumbles.
  2. They only dig out their own car in the winter and didn’t help with any of the common areas or the sidewalk.  There was actually an exact line where they dug their car out just enough so they could leave.  We dug out my car and that of Elderly Neighbor, and shoveled the sidewalks.
  3. They keep shutting off the lightswitch to the outside motion sensor light, so when I come home from work at 10:30, I have to fumble for my keys in the dark.
  4. They piled a bunch of baby accessories up against our storage space door, then when we moved it out of the way, they put it back.
  5. They left a length of hose lying in the middle of the basement floor for a week, and then set it on my treadmill (that’s just baffling–we have no yard).

I’m sure they have plenty of stuff to be irked with us about too, but now my big grievance is that Mrs. Upstairs has started, inexplicably, using my laundry soap.

I noticed this the other day because the cap on mine was missing.  For some reason, she apparently fills the cap with soap and throws that in the wash with the clothes.  I took her clothes out of the washer to put in mine, and replaced the cap.  Later on that day, cap was off again and this time is lying on the dirty floor.  Afer consulting with Jewish Friend, I decided not to knock on Mrs. Upstair’s door and ask why she’s using my soap, but instead secreted it away in our storage space.

I’m contemplating leaving a passive-aggressive post-it on the outside light that they keep turning off, but I’m not sure how far I want to take this.  With each further action, I hate myself a little more.  When I was hiding the laundry soap away in the storage space, all I could think was “Why am I doing this? Who does this!?!?”  But it’s my soap!  If she needed to use some, she should have asked!

Maybe I’m spending too much time at home?  Maybe the rules of libraryland have started to affect my downtime, or maybe you just shouldn’t help yourself to other peoples’ laundry soap and then leave the cap on the ground.

Addendum: Turns out satire once again nails it.

1.

There is a woman who comes into my place of work who has been calling me Jen for about four months now.  The first time she said it, she was walking quickly past my desk and threw out a pert “Hi Jen!”

I responded to the “Hi” part before I realized that she had called me Jen.  From then on, every time she came into the library, I would get either a “Hi Jen!” or a “Bye Jen!” I kept waiting for situations to present themselves that would straighten this out without me having to do anything about it.  I thought the time that she saw both Jen and I sitting at the desk together would clue her in, but she actually acted as if she had never seen me before, let me answer her question, and then an hour later said “Bye Jen!” as she was leaving.

I’m just leaving this alone.  The funny thing is, I don’t think she ever even talks to Jen, but I might be wrong.

2.

There is a woman who lives along the route that I run every day.  No matter how early or late it is when I run by, she will be on her porch, sitting in a plastic chair, wearing what looks like a nightgown, smoking.  Occasionally, she has with her an oxygen tank, but she’s still smoking.  I run outdoors year round unless the sidewalks are so clogged with snow that they’re unpassable, but she’s always out there, smoking.  I wonder now if we’re friends just because we’ve seen each other so many times.  I imagine that she either admires me or loathes me.  Maybe she’s lonely and wishes I would stop and chat; maybe if I tried to stop and chat, she’d throw her lit cigarette at me.

I think I’m going to phase in a friendly smile and possibly a head nod, just to see what kind of a reaction I get.

3.

There is a man who comes into my library and thinks that the two of us are best pals.  I don’t know his name, but he knows mine and has asked me out.  When I turned him down, he elected to keep me in “the friend zone” much to my dismay instead doing the thing where he awkwardly avoids eye contact or (even better) goes to a different library.  He keeps me up-to-date with what’s going on with him, even as I try to appear incredibly busy; and often pauses for long stretches which I assume are times for me to ask questions about whatever he’s prattling on about at the moment.

I refuse to ask questions.

Unfortunately, he is not dissuaded by my lack of question asking, and carries the conversation all on his own.

I’ve now taken the approach where I am trying to convince him that I’m a terrible human being.  This seemed like a logical next step after refusing to ask questions about his health or diabetes even when he would say things like “I’ve been having some health issues lately… was in Boston for a few days, that’s why you haven’t seen me.”  I put this new plan into effect when he recently asked if I had big plans for the weekend.

“I’m running a 1/2 marathon on Saturday.”

He then launched into a description of physical feats that he’s engaged in–mostly 5ks, it’s important to stay fit (he’s at least 40 pounds overweight).  Then he asked if I was doing it for some kind of charity.

“You mean, like am I raising money for cancer or something?” I asked.

He nodded.

“Oh absolutely not.  No way.  I just like running and getting medals.”

Then I waited, hoping that he would be incredibly disappointed in my lack of human decency, but he thought it was hilarious.

I need a new approach.

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