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A little less than a year ago, I visited The Melting Pot restaurant in Framingham, MA for the first time, with Friend from Cowboy/Ski-Pole Country.  For our meal, we were seated at a lovely booth for two, in a section of the restaurant I later found out is called “Lovers Lane”, and the server thought we were lesbians.  Full story is here.

Now a Melting Pot has opened in Providence much to the delight of Jewish Friend.  The first week it opened, we stopped there before their opening time and were offered a tour by a very eager girl.  Because I had already eaten a handful of mints by this point, put another handful in my purse, and didn’t want to be rude, I acquiesced and dragged Jewish Friend along.  Later that afternoon we came back and had our first vat of cheese at that place.

Next week we went back again, and last night Jewish Friend said “I’ll buy you Melting Pot as a way of saying thank-you for watching my cat while I’m gone.”  Jewish Friend’s rewards are actually usually just things that she wants to do, rather than something I might choose, but she does this in a charming way, and I don’t dislike Melting Pot, I’m just a little bored by it.

It seems too, that for people to go to Melting Pot as often as we is not quite standard.  Every time we go, they ask if we’ve been before.  We say “yes” and assure them that there is no need to give us the entire pre-order speech, we don’t want the “Big Night Out” and we know better than to touch the burner.

They usually give us a slightly stripped-down, but still annoying version of the speech anyway.

Last night, Jewish Friend insisted that I call Melting Pot as we drove there and make a reservation.  When I did, the girl told me that it would be a 45-minute wait, so I hung up on her.

“They’re liars.” I told Jewish Friend, “we’ll just go there, and sit in the bar, it’ll be fine.”  Since we’re there so often, I’ve noticed that Melting Pot is very self-important when it comes to available seating, and they mostly just don’t like drop-ins.  Jewish Friend and I are two very small girls, they can fit us just about anywhere.

Once we got there, we were told we could wait for a booth or sit at the bar, just like I predicted.  We sat in the bar, ate our vat of cheese followed by a vat of chocolate, and everything was just fine.

After the meal Jewish Friend excused herself to go to the bathroom, and the manager came up to me.

“Have you guys ever been here before?” he asked, like they always do.

“This is our third time.” I told him.

“At this location?”

I just shrugged and indicated Jewish Friend’s empty chair, “She really, really likes fondue.  We come here pretty often.”

We chatted a bit more until Jewish Friend came back from the bathroom, and then he excused himself with a “Hope to see you ladies again soon.”

Perhaps I’m being hyper-sensitive about this, but I think the fact that Melting Pot is so completely designed for couples makes the staff think that anyone who eats there is one.  This is compounded by the fact that Jewish Friend and I eat there all the time, and I refer to us as a “we” when asked.  There is no good way to sort of fold in: “by we, I mean we straight/ successful gal-pals who eat too much cheese, but are not a couple.”

At least Jewish Friend is hot.

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My office is a corner cubicle located within the Writing Center.  It was just an available space to put me in, and has nothing to do with my job which is for Distance Learning.  When a person comes in for tutoring, they sit at a large table in the middle of the room, directly in front of the door.  My cubicle is hidden behind bookshelves, and should, I think, be completely unassuming to anyone who comes in.

Not so.

People keep coming over and asking me for help wriitng their papers, which I could do quite easily, but that’s not my job.  Then I’m in the situation where I have to try to explain that though it appears that I work in the writing center, cause technically I am IN the writing center, I do not work FOR the writing center.  I don’t know if anyone will be here to help you around 3pm; please don’t hand me your paper.

Also, since I work in a cubicle, I have no door.  Whenever someone comes to visit me, I have no idea how long they’ve been standing there staring at me before finally making a sound to indicate their presence.  This is problematic enough with the IT guy who just keeps stopping by to ask if my computer is still working, or if I need printer ink, or if I have a boyfriend; but with sheepish students, I’m fairly certain that they stand there for quite a bit watching me edit HTML and gchat.  Then when they do get up the courage to ask me a question, I tell them that I can’t help them.

When there are tutors working with students, I can’t help but listen to everything that they say, which is a problem, and very distracting. Because I have a masters degree in writing and the people who do tutoring are undergrads, they give some rather bad advice that I would love to correct.  Again– not my job.

Then there’s the problem of the tutors themselves.  When they’re not working with students, they talk, or rather, one of them does.  I know everything about him, his wife, his brother, his children– I have no idea what his name is.

Also, he brings up jesus every chance he gets, which seems very inappropriate in an academic setting.  I was listening to him help an older-than-average student work on his paper about Sidney Poitier (seriously, like ten people this semester are writing papers about Sidney Poitier– anything you want to know about him, just ask me).  The tutor gave a few tips on paper-writing, and then out of nowhere asked the guy “so are you a christian?”

The guy said yes, and they proceeded to have a conversation about how right they are for about 30 minutes.  It was just bizarre.

I’ve mentioned to my boss that this may not be an ideal place for me to work, and I’ve looked into buying noise-canceling headphones. Aside from that, there’s not too much that I can do about it, though my boss has assured me that the GA who has my position next year will have a much quieter office.

When I was in Jr. High, I found myself in the rather ridiculous predicament of always being home sick when the Jehovah’s Witnesses showed up.  The doorbell would ring, and though I tried to be sneaky, they always caught a glimpse of me, so I had to open the door.  The second time they showed up, they actually remembered me, and asked “did you have a chance to read the literature we left you last month?”

When I mentioned this to my mother later on, she advised me, “just tell them that you’re perfectly happy with your own religion, and tell them to have a good day.”

This didn’t sound like anything I would ever say, so I decided then and there that I would just stop answering the door.

A few years later, I was living in Fargo, and I came home to find The Book of Mormon and an assortment of pictures of Jesus spread out on the coffee table.  They were spread out in such a way that it made me feel like someone had broken into my house to arrange them nicely, and was interrupted. When then-boyfriend came home and I asked him what the hell Jesus was doing all over the coffee table, he informed me, “Some Mormons stopped by, so I argued with them for a while, and they asked if I wanted a free copy of The Book of Mormon.  It was free, so I said ‘of course’.” He then shelved it in the office in between The King James Version and Ken’s Guide to the Bible and exclaimed how well-rounded we were. “Now we can make fun of almost everything.”

Later, my brother told me that if Mormons come knocking on your door, you can ask them to do chores for you.  I’ve never tested this theory, but it is interesting– seems like kind of a dick move though, and I’d probably feel guilty.

Lately, I’ve noticed that at my house in Providence, people have been ringing my doorbell a lot.  At first I thought maybe I’ve been home more often, and this is what goes on while I’m at work or school, but I’m really not sure.

About a month ago, at 1am, there was a cop ringing my doorbell.  When I asked him what he wanted, he asked me if I’d called him, and said he’d received a call about loud music from an address that was not mine.  I told him that that wasn’t my address, but he said he couldn’t find the one that the dispatcher gave him.  It was very strange, but I told him that I hadn’t been bothered by any music, and thanked him for his vigilance.

A little later, it was two guys who wanted to sell me on upgrading to FiOS.  When I told them that I have neither a landline telephone nor cable and quoted them how much I pay monthly for internet, they glanced down at the sign-up sheet and said “ok.”

Then another FiOS guy showed up, and when I told him that I’d already spoken to some people about the service, he still tried to sell me on it.  Then when I told him that I’m poor, he offered me a job selling FiOS door-to-door.

Yesterday, it was a guy asking if my apartment is for rent, and today some chick for whom I did not answer the door, but I think she rings my doorbell every day cause I know I’ve seen her before.

The problem is, that I always think it just may be important, and it never is.  Maybe is the back of my mind, I’m expecting a stranger to show up and give me a box of money, but that’s very unlikely.  I think I’ve finally perfected the art of peeking without being seen, and I’m not answering anymore unless it looks like a delivery person.

I recently finished reading The Fattening of America: How the Economy Makes us Fat, if it Matters, and What To Do About it. It was interesting enough, and I’m not really sure why I enjoy reading books like this, but I just can’t get enough.

It was interesting until the author got to the “What To Do About It” part.  Most of the responsibility was put on the shoulders of employers to have a gym on site or to give discounts for off-site gyms, to have healthy snacks in the vending machines etc.  Then the author admitted that if there was an on-site gym, it would most likely attract people who were already going to a gym on their own, and really be no more help to the people who actually need it.

Then he got into the system of rewards.  Being an economist, he was trying to create an incentive for people who hadn’t previously been exercising and eating right to want to make the change.  That’s all well and good, but I can’t help but notice that the people who elect to keep themselves healthy and at a moderate weight always get completely screwed in this.

There are no cash prizes for doing what you’ve always done, and if you don’t need to lose any weight, you can’t collect the $7 per pound of loss that he proposes.  Perhaps we’re winners already because losing weight is a trying and difficult process, but if everyone else is getting paid, I want to too.

Same thing goes with The Biggest Loser.  The winner gets $250,000 for losing the highest percentage of body weight on national tv.  Perhaps watching me eat a sensible dinner and go running isn’t as exciting as watching someone slim down from 500 pounds to 180, swearing, crying, and throwing up along the way, but still,  that’s more money than I will ever see in my lifetime.

Over the years I’ve paid thousands of dollars for gym memberships, “activewear”, shoes, and for the privilege of running long distances in front of people.  This is insane.  My father ran six marathons last year, driving all over the Midwest, paying for hotels and taking off work.  A few years ago, he ran out of marathons to run and almost flew to Norway for one– mostly for a change of scenery, instead he went to Iowa.

You could say, “oh Andria, you don’t understand, you’re just lucky, you have good genes.”  To that I say: my brother is morbidly obese, and all the people on The Bigggest Loser seem to lose weight with diet and exercise, so really, it’s not like I’m magic.

This is a complaint I’ve had for a long time, and it’s only exacerbated by the fact that I need to buy new running shoes right now, and can’t really afford them– oh bittersweet irony.  So I will continue to read books like this, shake my fist and complain to anyone who will listen.

I do not care for snow.  It is heavy, and inconvenient, and makes the cuffs of my pants soggy since my short little legs are never long enough to use up all the inches in my inseam. Even my near constant wearing of heels because I cannot walk well in flat shoes (yes, it’s weird) doesn’t stop my pants getting sodden and heavy and blechy.  I do not like shoveling or scraping off my car, but there is nothing better than spending an evening sitting on the couch, reading while it quietly snows all around you and the cold feels less intense and the nightime isn’t as dark and depressing.

Rain is nice too, but snow is quieter.

Last year there was a “blizzard” in Rhode Island.  I drove all the way to Newport, not knowing that this was coming, and then 1 hour into our work Don the appraiser informed me, “I got gas, I got my hair cut, I got bread and milk– I’m set.” This was the first I’d heard of the Rhode Island need to buy bread and milk before any kind of serious weather activity, but I still think it’s weird.  The blizzard, which in North Dakota would have been called “a dusting” or “Tuesday” dumped 6 inches and created such a panic that it took me 8 hours to get from Newport to Providence, a trip which usually takes me 45 minutes.  Thankfully, I had a full tank of gas and a sandwich, or I would have been much more uncomfortable.  As it was, I kept listening to disc after disc of a crappy audiobook, and wondering why I wasn’t home yet.

When I did finally achieve my street, it was pristine– a perfect, untouched blanket of snow with the streetlights reflecting peacefully off of it.  It was bizarre, and apocalyptic.  Eventually, I passed two people dressed in full winter-weather gear trudging down the middle of the street.  They stopped and gawped at me like they’d never seen a car before.  It was The Road Warrior, but with snow.

I got stuck in my own driveway, and went inside to reflect on the day with a frozen pizza and a bottle of wine.  In that moment, I was very apprehensive about my adopted home of Rhode Island.  The weather phenomenon I had been most worried about was hurricanes– blizzards are no big deal to me, but I supposed if everyone else goes into a panic, it doesn’t do me much good to stay calm.

The following week at work, all anyone could talk about was the blizzard, and I really don’t feel I got as much sympathy as I should have.  I kept explaining over and over that this amount of snow was not a big deal, I’ve seen way worse, and then older co-workers would describe “the big one” back in the day, and look at me like you poor kid, you have no idea.

“But, once we were without power for 36 hours,” I protested, “In -20 temperatures.  I watched my brother slowly go insane.  We did shadow puppets for five hours– maybe longer– time had no meaning!”

Nothing.

I have learned, you cannot tell old people about weather, because they’ve always seen more than you, and simply do not care to hear you prattling on.

So a while ago, I was at the gym, and CNN was telling me all about how the Midwest was buried under feet of snow.  Instead of feeling smug that I wasn’t in that situation, I felt a bit jealous.  Of course, when I talked to my parents and brother they informed me that “yeah, it was about a foot or so, no big deal.”

I just really want to sit in my reading chair, wrapped in my Slanket, and watch the snow fall. I don’t want to do anything else with it– make a fort, shovel it etc. I just want to watch it for an evening, and then I’ll be good.  I wonder if that will happen, or if I’ll end up having to drive in it again.

I’ve been dyeing my hair since I was ten-years-old.  That was when I stopped perming my hair, and needed a new variety of chemicals on my head, apparently.  I got my first set of highlights, and after that, I was hooked.  Initially, I went to the salon, but after a while, I became completely devoted to the box dye-job.

When people would ask what my natural hair color was, I’d have to say that I wasn’t really sure, that it had been brown, but I hadn’t seen it in years.  For most of Jr. High, I was a redhead, then went dark brown for part of High School, then back to red, then a rather long stint in college where I was blonde, then I dyed in blue-black for over a year (until people kept calling me goth), then red, then plum– you get the picture.

Recently, I’ve been sticking with medium brown because I just don’t have the energy or inclination to dye it a different color every two months.  Also, there’s that whole “I’m a bit of a grown up now, so I should try not to look like too much of an asshole.”

This summer, I went out and bought my usual medium brown Feria, smeared it onto my head, and let it do its thing.  Except it’s thing came out not how I expected it to, and for some reason come out rather blonde.  I showed up at work a few days later and a co-worker remarked indignantly “You can’t have those blue eyes and blonde hair– that’s just not fair!”  I assured her that my hair was supposed to be brown, and that I wasn’t sure why it came out looking so suspiciously blonde, then I wondered if I was actually blonde and blue-eyed, if we would have to be enemies.  I dyed it again a while later, and the same thing happened.

Ok, blame that on the brand because I got a two-for-one deal, but it’s still weird.

After that I decided to quit dyeing my hair altogether and figure out what color it actually is.  I greedily rubbed my hands together when I thought about all the money I’d save (this is actually true, I do behave like a cartoon villain), and waited for my natural color to grow back in.  When it did, it was brown, just like I suspected, but started to look a bit ridiculous with dark roots and blondish ends, so I decided to buy one more box of hair-dye, do some low-lighting and make it all blend a little bit better.

Now, every day I look at my hair, it looks lighter and lighter.  It’s like it’s rejecting the color.  The strangest thing is that my hair is growing in very light in some places, like I do have actual patches of blonde, not in a sexy “natural highlights” kind of way, but more in a freakshow “what the hell is up with my head?” way.  I’m tired of poring over my roots in the mirror cause it makes me feel incredibly vain, but it is a bit fascinating.  This whole adventure reminds me of a quote from Gloria Steinham about plastic surgery where she said that she’d never have plastic surgery because she’s too curious to see what she’ll end up looking like naturally.

I am a scalp anthropologist, and I’m trying not to interfere…

Mondays: work/ class every other week

Tuesdays: work/class

Wednesdays: Used to go to work, now I just go to the dentist, which means my Fridays that used to read: sleep in, half-heartedly do homework, feel proud of doing homework and celebrate by going running, then come home and collapse until time to go out, are now: work/ come home and eat Cheez-its then watch What Not to Wear

This is officially out of hand, and I now live in fear of becoming the girl who talks about nothing but oral hygiene.  I think I’m becoming boring.

Today was root canal day, and I have to admit, it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be.  Certainly, it’s uncomfortable to sit for that long with your mouth open and two people passing horrifying-looking instruments over your face, but it could have been much, much worse.  Even the hygienists overly-perky demeanor and stunted vocabulary (though she knew all the dental terms), wasn’t as annoying as I thought it might be.

That said, I don’t want to do it again.

But, because I am me, and I have the worst teeth in the world, I have another appointment next Wednesday where I will be having fillings– eight of them.  When the dentist told me the number, I gawped at him and said, “Is that basically all of my teeth?”

“Well, you’ve had your wisdom teeth out, so you have 28 teeth, and you’ll have fillings in 10 of them… for now…”  he just kind of shrugged.

My inner brat wants to develop some kind of candy and soda habit in a way to legitimize the fact that most of my teeth will not, in fact, be teeth but some kind of scary-ass, space-age bonding agent– but I do not much care for candy and soda, so I will place the blame squarely on my mother.  My brother, who subsists on skittles, pizza, and chips while drinking his body weight in Mountain Dew daily, has never had a cavity; and my father, who cannot say no to a piece of pie and eats an obscene amount of cookies, has a great dental check-up every six months.

They both have thinning hair though, and that it what I will comfort myself with.

Is that children simply love to climb things, like fences, and garbage cans placed against fences to stop them from climbing the fence.  I’ve been sitting in my reading chair trying to work on a paper (yes, playing word games on the interweb), and the little bastards are tearing through my yard like they’re being chased by wolves.  To stop this, I:

  • turned on the outside light to stop the appeal of sneaking

Well, these children aren’t very stealthy, which is why I’ve already caught them listening to phone conversations, and why I can hear them running around the yard and jumping over my fence, so why would a little excess light be any kind of deterrant– silly me.

  • I started peeking out the window and looking directly at them mouthing words like “go away” and waving my hands

They don’t care.

  • Finally when they were clustered around my car for reasons I’d rather not know, I hit the panic button on my remote car opener, which turned on the lights and the horn and made them scatter like ants.

Naturally, they were back in two minutes.  This is really making me hate holidays and mild weather, which are two things I’d rather like a lot.  Maybe if they’re in the driveway when I try to leave, I can charge them and make them think I’m crazy– or I can call the police.

I woke up in a very good, albeit slightly hungover mood still reeling from last night’s events.  Today was part IV of Andria’s Dental Saga– which is the part of the story where I actually meet my dentist for the first time instead of spending more time with Erin the anxious hygienist-in-training, or the rather hilarious girl who took my x-rays last week.

My plan was, to go get the tooth re-filled, beg off of work for the afternoon citing numb face to watch Jurassic Park II and read this fascinating book The Fattening of America (about the economics of obesity– yes, I should do homework instead, yes, it’s a lot like Fast Food Nation), then shift my focus to eye doctors instead of dentists since I have a hard time reading the power-point in class. Instead I got a different tooth filled and now have yet another appointment for next Wednesday when I will be having a root canal.

Root Canal.

The two scariest words in all of dentistry are happening to me in one week.  Also, it turns out that root canals cost as much as some cars, so there goes my dinner plans for tomorrow night (sorry Joe), my tickets to The Nutcracker (sorry Culture Friend), and my plans to turn on the heat (sorry Watson and any potential visitors I may have had).

I’m feeling very “woe is me” right now, and very much like one of those hard-working folks Obama talks about just struggling to break even.  I brush my teeth at least three times a day, I chew sugar-free gum exclusively, I take a calcium supplement daily, and I’ve started flossing, I actually do everything you’re supposed to do to keep your teeth healthy and intact except visiting the dentist regularly.

I could just let it go, but then my tooth would break and eventually fall out.  I’d be the girl with two masters degrees and a missing tooth.  I have very few vanities, but I’m not going to have a gaping hole in my mouth– that’s non-negotiable.

Go to the dentist, all of you.

is something that I knew had to be, but I couldn’t quite believe could be.  I’ve been terrified that somehow, the fear would get to people and they would go with the familiar.  This morning, I got to my polling place (opened at 7am) at 6:30am– 10 minutes before anyone else with nothing to do but wonder if I was at the wrong door.  Once the signs were out, I spent 15 minutes with a factory worker, a gay man, and a black man who was voting for the first time.  I got AMERICA without even trying, and we all seemed to be of like minds, and we were all ready to wait in line for however long it took to make our feelings known.

I remember, growing up, knowing my parents voted straight party (Republican). I knew the candidate that they really wanted to win had been knocked out early, and they were just voting for the lesser of two evils.  They did it again this election, I’m sure.  I remember four years ago, doing the same thing.  It doesn’t seem to matter to them that both of their children have been on public assistance that their party opposes, or that a college education doesn’t guarantee a good job the way it did when they were starting out.

Even when my father was in the North Dakota State Legislature–the only state that still has a law banning co-habitation between males and females on the books–he couldn’t remember how he personally voted on that piece of legislation, even though one of his two children (me) lived with her boyfriend at the time.  Holding elected public office had been a dream of my father’s for most of his and my life, by this point, but once he got what he wanted, he seemed to lose interest.

I went to school in England immediately after Bush was elected, and never brought up politics with the locals.  As a result of my accent, I only talked politics with the locals, and they had very little to say that was kind.  My protests that I hadn’t actually voted for Bush or that most Americans hadn’t voted for Bush, carried no weight.  The Brits drank Budweiser and smoked Marlboros and told me that America was doomed– before 9-11.

This time, the election really means something.

I’m both ecstatic and terrified by this victory because it’s what I really want. There’s nowhere else to assign blame.  I feel like if Obama fails, or disappoints me, he’ll really be disappointing ME.  I feel like if this administration doesn’t work, things will become worse than we can imagine.

I’ve had one boss in my long working career who I felt was really a good boss.  I respected him, I wanted to please him, and I felt like he really had my best interests at heart.  I can’t fix America, and I don’t want to, but the man who has been chosen is someone I actually believe in. I want him to continue to make me believe.

I don’t want to let him down.

I don’t want him to let me down.