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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*

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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.

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.

I’ve been an atheist since age fourteen.  Actually, if I’m being completely honest, I’ve been an atheist since I started pondering religion (probably right around the time my mother told me to put away my coloring book and start paying attention), but I was fourteen when I first heard the word.  Prior to that, I would go to church with my parents, and sit there thinking things like I’m not sure about this, does no one else realize that a lot of this doesn’t make logical sense and I can’t wait until I’m a grown up and I don’t have to go to church anymore.

When I first heard the word atheist, it was possibly the only moment of clarity I’ve ever experienced.  It was a so that’s what’s up with methere’s a name for it, moment.  It was really great to have a handy label, but at no point did I ever want to seek out other atheists for existential chats, or find people like me, or organize in any way.

The way I see it is, religion is an organization of people who believe the same thing getting together to discuss and learn about their beliefs.  Since I do not believe in a god of any kind and am perfectly content with that, why would I need to get together and talk about it?  How do you talk about a non-belief?  I’m fine with groups like the American Atheists just as much as I am with any religious group until people start proselytizing at me, but religion is no part of my life the same way non-religion is.  It seems like organizing in this way is just the same except the conversation is different.

Recently The Pew Research Center did a study on religion & public life, which has been getting quite a bit of press for turning up some interesting facts namely that atheists and agnostics did better on a basic religion test than most Christians. That makes perfect sense to me because learning about what people believe and why from a purely clinical researchy standpoint is fascinating.  I’m intrigued by religion and ritual because it’s intriguing, not because I buy into it in any way.  Though if I was spending an hour a week doing an activity, I would probably try to learn a few of the basic facts.

This study then led to a group of atheists, agnostics and humanists to get together and discuss the future of their movement, which went badly because they couldn’t agree on anything (it’s a bit tricky when your movement is based on non-belief rather than a set of rules and ideas).  Of course, I don’t want the Religious Right to somehow get prayer into public schools, but I also don’t want to go to meetings and pay dues to yet another organization where we sit around talking for hours and accomplish (probably) very little.

Since Religion is a man-made idea, why can I not seem to opt out?  Why does everyone have to be something? I mean, yes, I’m an atheist, but I’m not an emphatic atheist, it’s just that I don’t believe in god and it’s a handy word to bandy about because people know what it means.  I could just as easily call myself a non-theist (which is closer to my non-beliefs, I guess) or a secular humanist, or an evolution fan–who cares?  Why talk about something you don’t believe in?  Do you really have that much to say about it?

Often when I tell people I’m an atheist, they say something like, “what were you, what are your parents?”  Then I say Lutheran, and whoever I’m talking to seems to unclench.  A friend who slipped more and more into crazy strident religious territory over the course of our friendship once told me that since I had once, when I was like six, parroted back the words “I accept Jesus Christ as my lord and savior” I was ok— not going to hell.  My protestations that I didn’t actually believe what I had said, and that I have since rescinded that statement, didn’t seem to register with her.  I’d said it once, was not going to hell, let’s have some onion rings.

I won’t be signing up with any organized atheist group anytime soon, and perhaps this is just a further manifestation of my non-joiner personality, but I don’t think so.  I do like those bus ads though.

…just wish it didn’t say probably.

I went out for drinks with some of my lady friends the other day to a place called a snuggery.  The word snuggery should conjure up images of a place with cozy close quarters, tiny tea plates, and overall adorableness.  Since the snuggery is such a cozy place, it’s also a place where you’re acutely aware of the people seated next to you.  I’ve been there a few times and not been bothered by anyone, but whenever I sit next to the table in the far left corner of the front room–things tend to get a bit annoying.

The first time I went there was with Jewish Friend.  She raved about the snuggery despite my protestations that snuggery seems like a made-up word, and certainly one I would require defined before I set foot in it.  Finally she said, “A snuggery is a place where you can get both beer and cupcakes.”  That’s putting it in terms I can understand.

She and I went, and sat in a tiny booth for two right next to the dangerous corner table.  Seated at the table on this particular evening were a couple who looked, as I described them later to another friend, like two people who had recently discovered fitness.  They were both rotund, but smug about it in a way that indicated they had previously been more rotund, and tucking into their food in a way that lets others know they’ve “earned” it.  They were also really, really into each other in the way that rotund people who have recently starting dating another person who shares a love of food and hiking/biking are.

They also treated the server terribly, had conversations where it looked like they wanted to crawl inside of each other, and practiced aggressive hand-holding.  At one point, long after Jewish Friend and I started actively ignoring their almost un-ignorable displays of affection, the man in the couple started crying.  Apparently, his date had said something to him that was “so beautiful” it moved him to tears.  Seriously, I’m not making that up.

Eventually, they paid their bill, produced bicycle helmets from somewhere (despite near-constant complaining that it was too warm in there and couldn’t the proprietor prop the window open with something?), and rode off into the dusk presumably to practice more aggressive hand-holding and have conversations like, “You like that?  I love that! Let’s talk about that thing we both love and eat sorbet!  I’ll feed you.”

This most recent time, we were seated next to the dangerous table full of picture-taking women.  Again, the snuggery is cozy–you’re practically seated on top of the people at the next table, so when a middle-aged pack of hens take pictures over and over with the brightest flash known to man, you notice.  What I failed to understand about this endeavor was:

  1. At least two of the three of them had cameras–couldn’t they just share the pictures?
  2. They weren’t doing anything other than taking pictures.  They’d pose, snap, then look at the pictures they had just taken.  That was their whole evening.  How can you look back fondly on a night where you just went somewhere to take pictures?
  3. They seemed to only be talking about the pictures they had just taken just after they had taken them and were looking at them.  I don’t think you can reminisce when you’re sitting in the same place wearing the same clothes.

Maybe I’m missing the point, but I’ve grown terribly weary of people who go to bars to take pictures to post on facebook that seem to say –“Look how much fun I have!”  How can you have fun when all you’re doing is taking pictures and posing for them?  That’s like a family holiday, not a night of revelry.

Of course, given the fact that I was so close to these groups of people when they each incurred my wrath, they probably heard me making fun and are writing blogs about that angry, frowny-faced librarian-type who ruined all their hand-holding and picture-taking fun.

I’ve had a lot of friends looking for jobs lately since we all graduated around the same time.  It’s funny, but this is actually the first time that I’ve been in this situation, since I’ve been hiding my head in the sand of grad school and cavorting almost exclusively with students for ten years.  Now I’ve run into something that I never anticipated, and find both odd and insulting in this whole interview process–when the interviewer has preconceptions about you and you can’t change his or her mind.

I first became aware of this when Wise Lawyer Friend was going on a lot of job interviews.  She graduated a semester before me, and I got to learn all about this hateful process from my safe nest of “one more semester.”  She was interviewing all over the country, jetting here and there, and even though the interviewers had thought her serious enough to fly out, feed and put in a hotel, some also seemed to not believe that she would actually relocate, and told her so (very carefully so as to not break any laws) in the interview.

A similar thing happened to me last summer, when I interviewed for a cafe job and the interviewer seemed convinced–through no action on my part, that I must just be biding my time and saving up enough cash for a U-Haul back to the Midwest.  I could do nothing to persuade her otherwise, and got a clipped email within a few hours of the end of the interview telling me that I wasn’t a good fit.  Jewish Friend actually landed a job a very commutable distance from her home, but now her co-workers are chastising her for not relocating.  One even went so far as to try to sell her a condo.

Penelope Trunk wrote a blog a while ago about long-distance job searching where she basically said that unless you tell an employer you’re already planning to move somewhere, as in “I’m packed and waiting for the movers to show up”, you will not beat a local candidate.  That’s disheartening to someone who likes to move around, but I guess it makes sense.  In the case of the cafe job–I’m already here, but I couldn’t beat a local candidate because everyone seems to think I should be planning to go back to where I’m from.

The problem, in my case, is that I’m not really from anywhere.  I grew up in two states, and moved among five different towns.  Since my first major move was at age one, I’ve spent my whole life being told, “you’re not from here.” When I lived in Hallock, Minnesota until age 12, I was from “somewhere else.”  After moving to Cavalier, North Dakota, I was “from Minnesota.”  Once I moved to Fargo, I was “from Cavalier,” and now that I live in Rhode Island, I pick and choose whether to tell people I’m from Minnesota, North Dakota, Fargo (always mention the movie to give people a frame of reference) or just generic Midwest.  If I want a bit more street cred, I mention things like “30 minutes from Canada” or “damn cold” but for the most part, I don’t go into detail unless requested.  My parents live in a town they moved to while I was in college and my small extended family (who I’m not close to) is scattered across Minnesota, Iowa and Wisconsin.  Where I’m from, doesn’t matter.  Short of telling someone that entire story, I don’t know how I’ll be able to convince anyone.

I thought we lived in an increasingly nomadic society where you have to widen the net when doing a job search, but it seems harder and harder to convince people you’re serious about relocating.  Now I’m hearing you have to pick a town, move there, and hope you’ll find a job.  There has to be a better way.

Rhode Island is a state that is very emphatic about getting Mondays off for Federal  and state holidays.  When I first moved here, I was shocked to get out of school for Columbus Day (which we never got in Minnesota or North Dakota), and even more flummoxed when I realized that this is the only state that still celebrates VJ Day–now called “Victory Day”.

When I asked a native Rhode Islander about this, she just looked at me blankly and said, “Why would we voluntarily give up a Monday off?  We get one Monday off per month for holidays like this, and I’m certainly not going to say we shouldn’t just because it’s a bit insensitive.  We don’t call it Victory over Japan Day anymore, so what’s the harm?”  I can get on board with that, I guess, I like days off.  Plus, when Jewish Friend was working for Brown University over the summer, she told me that their answering machine message for why they’re closed on that day is hilarious in its non-specificity.

Likewise, this year the 4th of July falls on a Sunday, so all 4th of July festivities are postponed until the 5th in order for all of us to get a day off work.  George M. Cohan plaza, just a few blocks from my house, has a banner proudly stating that there are 4th of July festivities July 3, & 5-6.  July 4th is now just a blank day in the middle of these other July 4th celebrations which are not taking place on the 4th.  America’s oldest 4th of July parade, in Bristol, RI, is also taking place on the 5th, which people have started calling the 4th, which is terribly confusing, as you can imagine.

I spoke to my brother on the phone last night, and asked what he was doing for the holiday.

“The parents are coming up for the 4th.” he said.

“Does your town do a big 4th of July celebration?” I asked.

“Well, they do, but it all happened today, so I have no idea what they’re expecting when they show up.  I read the list of all the stuff going on this morning, and it was impressive, but I had to work.  There’s nothing really happening on the actual 4th.”

Part of me assumed that the combination of a heavily Catholic state and a love of Mondays off is what brought the 4th of July to the 5th, but Minnesota, where little brother lives, is not a very Catholic state, and Lutherans are far less tenacious in their church-going.  So there’s that theory dashed against the rocks.  Though it looks like Minnesota may not be getting July 5th off…correct me if I’m wrong.

Rhode Island also recently revamped its laws concerning what kind of fireworks can be bought and used in the state, so things have been all the more boisterous and explodey because of that, making it feel like it’s been the 4th for about two days already.  Basically, it’s the 4th of July right now, and if it wasn’t for a friend’s wedding tonight, I would have nothing going on today.  The fireworks in the park by my house were last night, there may be more on the 5th, who knows?

Am I meant to treat today as a day of reprieve before the revelry re-starts tomorrow?  It’s baffling.

My little brother recently came East for a weeklong visit.  His only two requests before arriving were 1. Whales 2. Pub Quizzes.  The whales thing was all too easy to accommodate: New Bedford Whaling Museum, Mystic Aquarium, Boston Whale Watch.  The pub quiz was a bit trickier but we had the quarterly pub quiz at the Providence Athenaeum, The Wild Colonial Pub Quiz, and Stump Trivia at Union Station.  Unfortunately, the LOST finale kept us from Wild Colonial Pub Quiz, and my brother left town on Wednesday (night of Stump Trivia) to visit another friend, so that left us with the Athenaeum as the sole quiz.

I started going to the Athenaeum Pub Quiz a little over a year ago because I like to support libraries, sit in beautiful, historic buildings, and because it’s $10 for all you can drink.  In the 90 minutes a typical quiz lasts–I can drink a lot.  It’s good value.

The drawback is that it’s not a good quiz–ever.  There are no prizes (I don’t care too much about prizes, but it’s nice to have something) except for first place.  The prize for first is that you get to write the next quiz.  What this leads to is trivia that is not general knowledge, or things you could make an educated guess at, but rather ridiculous, high-brow questions that no one knows, and that make the whole endeavor very un-fun.

I tried to warn little brother about this before we went.  I told him that we would most likely come in last place, as we usually do, and that mostly we go for the hootch.  He didn’t get it, and has happened every time I’ve gone to this quiz, with a number of different friends, we start to get frustrated, a bit drunk, and heckle.

Last quiz, there was a category of questions all in French.  This wasn’t common, you might be able to figure it out based on a working knowledge of romance languages French, it was “write me a sentence in French.” Well, I cannot do that because any French I know is based solely on ordering in a restaurant, or not getting ripped off by a cabbie.

This time around, there was a question about the Icelandic volcano, the question was, “Can you correctly spell the name of that Icelandic volcano?”  We answered, “no, we cannot,” which answers the question perfectly as it was asked.  However, humorless WASPS do not care to be told they write quiz questions poorly, and we didn’t get that one right.

As we languished in last place, all the other players started treating our table like the adorable, scrappy orphan table.  We’d read our score out loud, and there would be a collective, “Aw.”  The guy one table over from us, started giving us an encouraging “You’ll do better this round, guys.”

It was all incredibly obnoxious because we aren’t twelve years old, but were made to feel that way pretty much the entire night.

It was such a strange situation because in my real life, I’m actually starting to embrace this being a grownup thing.  People come into the library and look at me as an ultimate authority.  Other staff defer to me when they have questions.  Gentleman Scholar has two masters degrees from Ive League schools, and little brother wears a suit every day to work.  We didn’t roll in there on razor scooters, wearing hoodies then sulk in the corner, yet, I felt like we were sitting at the kids’ table all night.

Reflecting back on previous quizzes, it’s always a bit like this.  This was certainly the worst in terms of pure, unfiltered condescension, but there’s always some.  When asked by a lady why we had done so poorly in the French round, I replied “Je suis fatigué.”

“If you can say that, why didn’t you answer any questions correctly?” she asked.

Gentleman Scholar and I were walking to a dance club in Providence’s Jewelry District one night (long story, completely about free food), and we passed a pizzeria near our house.  The pizzeria had sidewalk seating, like many restaurants in Providence do, and a festive awning with music playing.  The music as we walked by, was a Madonna song from the 80’s (I can’t remember which one) and in that moment I felt an intense longing to go back to the simpler days of the 1980’s working at a seaside pizza joint with my friends.

Of course, I never worked at a seaside pizza joint in the 80’s with my friends, I grew up in a land-locked state. That was the movie Mystic Pizza, which I actually only saw for the first time about a year ago, and wasn’t terribly impressed with.  In the 80’s, I topped out at age 10, but the feeling of nostalgia was so intense I was taken aback by it.

When I was a kid, I couldn’t wait to grow up.  As a grownup, I would be able to wear radical outfits, and drive a car like the one my Barbie had, and have tons of cool friends who also had cars and outfits.  We’d party, and have boyfriends, drive our cars and wear our outfits (really, that’s all I thought twentysomethings did, at least in the summer).  Of course, my life hasn’t quite worked out the way I envisioned when I was a pre-adolescent, but does that really mean I should be nostalgic for a life I never had?  It’s weird, right?

Maybe this is what happens when you have to admit you are officially a grownup, and things aren’t the way you once planned.  I don’t even covet any of the lives in Mystic Pizza, and my idea of what my life was going to be, wasn’t much of a full life, so I’m not sure what I’m clinging to.  The idea of things being simple and straightforward enough that you can act like a total moron about petty issues?  Teen sex and sports cars?  Being screwed over by an older man?  What else even happens in that movie?  None of that sounds particularly appealing.  Perhaps this is my latent crush on Vincent D’Onofrio waking up.

Rarely have I ever had such an intense reaction to a song/setting/smell.  I guess that in that moment I realized that the world I thought I would be a grown up in has changed, which I never thought about before.  It’s less about any choices I’ve made than it is about…progress, I guess.

I’m going to deal with this strange sensation by listening to old school Madonna and eating pizza outside.  I think that’s healthiest thing to do.