Saturday, October 30, 2010

A Halloween $cript

I was going to write you a really creepy Halloween story. You know, something about how I went to work at my school on Sunday evening (which I will totally still be doing, thanks to the overwhelming amount of work I have to do) and I saw the ghost of the child who haunts the school. There totally is one. A boy died there many years ago. Okay, now that I'm starting to think about it, I'm getting the heebie jeebies in anticipation. I don't want to be at my school on Halloween. I'll have to wake up super early on Sunday so I can get there and be gone before dark, when all the vampires and ghosts are walking by. What was I thinking? I totally should have stayed late on Friday, instead of jetting at 3:45. Anyway. As I was saying, I was going to write you a creepy Halloween story, but instead all you get is this script of dialouge.

Setting: My car, driving down Lancaster at 4:30pm on October 30th.
Characters: Me, Officer Bingham

Me: (rolls down window, peers up at police officer who has just pulled me over) Hello?

Officer Bingham: Ma'am are you aware that you were going ten miles over the speed limit?

Me: No, I didn't realize. I'm sorry.

Officer Bingham: Can I see your license and registration, please.

Me: Yeah, sure. (leans over to open glove box)

Officer Bingham: Jo Lee? (As he tries to pronounce my name off of my license, his eyes shift to the floor of my back seat)

Me: Jo Elle.

Officer Bingham: Joelle, have you been drinking today?

Me: Not yet. I've only had water, I swear.

Officer Bingham: Why do I see an empty Jack Daniels bottle in the backseat of your car?

Me: Oh, that. That's been empty. It's for my Ke$ha costume.

Officer Bingham: (raises eyebrow skeptically--probably because I am not blonde and thus do not look much like Kesha).

Me: Or rather, it's for my best friend's Ke$ha costume. We're going to a Halloween party tonight, and it's for her outfit.

Officer Bingham: Who's Kesha?

Me: You know, the singer.

Officer Bingham: Never heard of her.

Me: You know....Wake up in the morning feeling like P Diddy?

Officer Bingham: (who has obviously never woken up feeling like P Diddy any morning his whole life) So how's a bottle of whiskey fit into this?

Me: (sings quietly) Before I leave, brush my teeth with a bottle of Jack
'Cause when I leave for the night, I ain't coming back...They're the lyrics!

should've had this pic to show the cop

Officer Bingham: So if your friend is dressing up as this Kesha person, who are you going to be?

Me: Snooki.

Officer Bingham: Who?

Me: Really, you should watch more MTV.

Officer Bingham: How about I just write you a ticket.

The End.

FYI This has been a fictional life story. I did not get pulled over by the cops. Or at least, I haven't yet. But the part about the ghost at my school is totally true.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


All of the things that were meant to happen will happen. This is what I must remember. If anything is going to happen, it will still happen, even though things have changed. Sometimes I just wish God would let me see the plan. For a nanosecond. Just a quick peek. I don't need to know all the details, I just want to know the basics, like what's going to be included.

He's the architect of my life, and I'm starting to get this feeling that he doesn't sketch the same way I do. I'm no draftsman, but I've got the sense this floor plan isn't logical. Like maybe it's got a three story staircase that leads no where. So when I get to the top all I'm looking down on is the edge of a cliff. But what I'm praying is this: God has designed some hidden rooms or tunnels. Some secret locations that no one can see, that will take me some place beautiful. Someplace safe.

I'm counting on you, God.

This is a snow fort I've built, and it's getting cold.
It's a sand castle on the beach, and it's starting to crumble. I'm being washed away.
I'm in a tree house, God, and the branches have split in the lightening storm.
I'm sitting in a mud hut, choking on the dust from the ground.
There's a teepee on my back, Lord, and I've set it up one too many times alone.

What are you building for me, God? Make it something good.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Left Behind

I don’t think anyone will argue with me that being the one who is leaving is always better than being the one who is left behind. This is a realization that rang true for me especially as a child hiding in the circular clothes rack of JC Penny’s. At first you think you’re just taking a nap among some polyester suits while your mother tries on nineteen different pairs of pants, but then you realize that you have been left behind.

You cry.

You don’t know if the person leaving will ever come back for you. Sometimes they don’t. Actually, a lot of times they don’t. Your mother is probably the one person who is most reliable in coming back for you, but there are many people who have had experiences where this is not the case. Sometimes, even mothers don’t come back.

You can’t count on anything.

It is always better to be the one leaving, because that means you are going somewhere. If you are the one being left, most of the time you are just looking around for people who have been left there with you. The unfortunate part of being left is this: if you later decide you also want to leave, you are not actually leaving. You are now chasing. And there’s nothing worse than chasing after something that doesn’t want you.

You know this. I know you already know this. Everybody knows this. It’s the reason females go to the bathroom in herds. No one wants to be left.

The thing is, when you are left behind you really have three choices: you can chase, you can sit right where you are, or you can change your direction and take a new path. Maybe you are concerned that if you start to go someplace else, the one you want to come back for you won’t be able to find you. Leave some bread crumbs. Or like, a missed connections ad on Craigslist.

This is your time.

You may be the one left behind, but you can also be the one who finds something beautiful. But you must start looking for it.

Maybe I should take my own advice.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Boy from SHS

When I was in high school, there was this guy who looked exactly like Josh Hartnett, only a bit nerdy, because he slicked his hair down and had a part. This is because his parents were missionaries coming back to America from Brazil. He spoke Portuguese and he played soccer. My junior year he cut his hair. Then he looked like this.

His name was Ben.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Middle School Misery

The year was 1999. The last of the millennia. That was when I entered the system known as public education. I was 13, turning 14. A hellish age, if you ask me. I had formerly been a home schooled child, and when I entered the 8th grade, I took my home sewn floral printed jumpers and head bands with me. Kidding. This was 1999. Wide legged jeans were all the rage, if you can recall. I took pride in my up to date fashion sense. After all, I did read Girl’s Life magazine and Seventeen when I was at the library, which was often.

I did not embrace all of the new procedures and polices at this public school with open arms. For example, their drug policy. All medication had to be turned in to the office in the original container with a parental note. You couldn’t so much as have a cough drop in your pocket. Now, there is a medication all girls require when they are near the age of 13, and have horrible, bloody periods that make you want to throw up. It’s called Aleve. Or maybe Midol.

You can imagine my shock when I learned that if I was cramping, I’d have to ask my male teacher to leave class, go to the office, and ask the receptionist if she could let me have some of my previously brought in drugs. It would have been mortification. Might as well announce the changes of my body in front of the whole class. My mom was all ready to send me with a bottle and a note, penned on the paper of the yellow steno-pad near our answering machine (this was before voicemail). I took the bottle, and I took the note, believe me. I needed drugs.

What I did was pop a few of the blue pills into a Tic Tac container, and I took the Tic Tacs to school with me. What I would do is smuggle them into my mouth during the bathroom break or at lunch. Heaven forbid I self-medicate. I did this for about half a year, until I made the decision to just go to public school half-time, so that I could pursue art lessons and read literature not packaged in some text published by Houghton-Mifflin. After that, I would just take my pain relief at home before I went to class in the afternoons. 
 A few other policies that baffled me were the strict prohibition of liquid white-out, and why did my teacher make such a big deal when I asked him if I could see the answer key for the math problems? In all my previous years of schooling, I had free access to the answer keys. I knew the rules. I had to work all of the problems before checking it. So why was my teacher giving me guff for wanting to check my work? How was I supposed to understand how to do a problem if I didn’t know what the correct answer was? It just didn’t make sense.

Yes, public education made me look like a cheating drug smuggler, when all I was trying to do was take care of myself. 

Saturday, October 23, 2010

The Cheese Touch

There is something going around my school kids call the cheese touch. I saw kids touching other kids and saying "now you have it." There were whispers during reading time, "who has the cheese touch right now?" There was chasing. There was complaining. "I'm not playing!" It was utter chaos.

I was like "If I hear anyone say 'cheese touch' again, you are owing me part of your recess." It was that annoying. Finally one day, I witnessed a boy poking a girl and saying "cheese touch!" So what I did was touch that same girl and say "Now I have it."

Then I took the cheese touch home with me.

I had no idea what it was, though I wasn't concerned. It couldn't be infectious. I mean, what was I going to do? Turn into a wheel of Swiss? Like jerking on the playground, or hot Cheetos at lunchtime, the cheese touch trend has come to stay at our school, much like how an annoying relative or freeloader friend comes to your house and never leaves. I decided to Google cheese touch. I didn't think it would get any results, but it was worth a shot.

What I got was a hit for Diary of a Wimpy Kid on Wikipedia. All of my boys love to read Diary of a Wimpy Kid, though I have only ever read a few pages myself. I knew the movie had come out this summer, but I hadn't seen it.

This is what Wikipedia told me about Diary of a Wimpy Kid:
It explains "The Cheese Touch" early on. It is very similar to the Cooties. In the book, a kid named Darren Walsh touches the Cheese with his finger. It is passed around the school, and later gets to a student named Abe Hall, who moved to California ends up taking the Cheese Touch with him.

I can only guess that the kid named the "Cheese" eats a lot of dairy products and maybe farts a lot. But the real question is, how can you start the cheese touch at a school where the Cheese is not a student? It's such an artificial game. But, for some reason, we have the cheese touch. Now I'm just waiting for someone to start the cracker tap.

Oh god look what I just found when I did a Google image search:

I hate whoever invented this.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Nobody does detective work like I do

If you read either my angry Twitter or Facebook update, then you know that some A-hole hit my car in the parking lot and drove off without owning up to it. I have no idea who it was. Or rather, I have some clues. Let me tell you the whole story. Because the deputy on the other end of the phone from the police department didn't want to hear it all...

At 4:50 on Thursday I go out to the school parking lot. My jaw drops as I see that the passenger side of my car has been dented in. I think, what the hell? The parking spot next to mine is empty. I think, really, did that person back out, hit me, and just drive off? A teacher from this school? But thieving type things have been known to happen at my place of work, such as people putting Chinook Winds casino chips into the vending machine, and people stealing the Bath and Body scented soap out of the women's bathroom, and people ripping the janitor's clock right out of the wall. So it was possible.

There was a black car next to the empty spot. I couldn't remember who I had parked next to that day, but I figured maybe whoever drove the black car might remember who they had parked next to. And then I'd nab the culprit. So what I did was ask around, and I found out the black car belonged to K. So I asked K who she had parked next to. She told me J. had been parked in the spot between us. So I planned on talking to J. in the morning (today) and we would have the awkward conversation of "Hey, what time did you leave yesterday? Do you think it's possible that you maybe backed into my car on accident?" So after questioning K, I leave the building, but I am sure to interrogate a skateboarder nearby, asking him if he saw anything. He didn't.

It's Thursday night, I'm at home feeling pissed. I write some angry status updates. I try not to use a lot of curse words. Then I think. I think, wait a minute, what if it didn't happen at work? Because it could have happened the last time I drove my car, and I just didn't notice it, because how often do I do a full 10 point inspection on my car? I didn't go anywhere on Wednesday, so it didn't happen then. So I think about Tuesday. I was at home sick in the morning, but I went to work after lunch. After leaving work at the grand hour of 7:30pm, I went to Walgreens to buy some Sudafed, because I was still sick and I fully planned on not going to work on Wednesday. So if the hit didn't happen while I was at work on Thursday, then it must have happened in the Walgreen's parking lot on Tuesday night.

I think, who did I park next to? I return to the scene of the maybe-crime, to see if Walgreens has cameras in their parking lot, because that would make things a whole lot easier. They don't. While I am in that parking lot again, I begin to remember. I parked next to a white pick up truck. It had orange on the side. And lights on the top of the cab.

I go to work today and have the awkward conversation with J. She didn't hit my car. Then I think about the truck from Walgreens some more. I remember River something. The truck looked like a service truck or something. Definitely a company truck. So what I do is I go to Dex Online, type in my city, and look for construction companies. Because it was probably a construction company truck. It just seemed like one. I know that if I see the name of the company, I'll remember what it was. I scan. I look. Nothing is familiar. And then I see it.

Knife River Construction. That's it. That was the truck I parked next to in the Walgreen's parking lot. I dial the number. I'm like "Hi, I have a weird question. How many company trucks do you have in the area? They are white with orange, right?" The man on the other end of the line confirms my description. I tell him how I parked next to one at Walgreens at 7:45 on Tuesday, and how I think maybe it hit me, but I'm not sure. I ask him if there is anyway he can track down who it was. The guy tries to be helpful. But what he does is transfer me. When I get transferred, I tell them my story. It's a lady this time, and she tells me that unless it was a delivery truck, there's really no way to find out who was driving it. Unless I have the truck's numbers, which I don't. Defeated, I hang up.

And then I think. I can track this guy down. What I'll do is call Walgreens, find out who the cashier was who was working the front register at 7:45 on Tuesday night, and ask her is she remembers seeing a construction worker type. And does she remember what he bought? And did he pay with a debit card or credit card? And can we track down his name? Because then I'll have him. And okay, maybe he didn't actually hit me, but at least I could ask.

So I call Walgreens. I talk to the manager. The cashier from Tuesday night isn't working, so I leave him my name and number, and the manager tells me he'll tell the employee when she works again. But probably by that time her memory will be pudding and she won't remember anyone she saw on Tuesday night. But I guess if I were a police officer and had some clout, I could get them to look up all the transactions that happened between 7:30 and 8:00 that night. Here is where the problem lies: nobody does detective work like I do. No officer is going to get on board with this just so I can save $300. Honestly though, $300 is a lot to fix something that you didn't break. Someone ruins my car, and now I have to pay. So not fair.

Since calling Walgreens, I had to file a police report so that I could get a case number for my insurance agency. I didn't tell them all my theories and ideas. They wouldn't want to hear it. But Deputy Wagner was nice enough on the phone.

What I'm wondering is this: when will the girl from Walgreens call me? I'm about to go dig through my trash and find my receipt so I can look up her name. And will Walgreens release any info about their customers and transactions to me? Probably not. And who the hell hit my car?

If you know anyone who is good at getting dents out for cheap, please let me know. I could do some detective work in exchange for them.

I'm such a victim.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Bread People

I have this student, let's call him Drew. Yes, the same Drew from Nerd Power. He has autism. And even though Drew exasperates me everyday with his lack of self direction and poor awareness that his teacher is mad and wants him to be quiet, Drew does things that brighten my life. As Drew would say "look at this, it's comedy gold!"

So during lunch last week Drew was like "Miss G, tell Caleb to stop coming over here. He's jealous of my bread people." I look at Drew's tray to see what he's talking about. There they are. The bread people. He mushed his sandwich bread into lumps, and then shaped them into different things, such as a squirrel, a person, a rhino, and a lizard. All out of bread, all very realistic. And all in twenty minutes. Then Drew set up a forest of broccoli on his tray. It's quite scenic.

I fully would have taken a picture of it with my cell phone, but food sculpture is not exactly a behavior I want to encourage. But still, it was funny.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

More Friends Than Me (feat. J.J.)

Sometimes it's fun to imitate people. Sometimes it's fun to pretend. Like, what if Mike Posner was instead a girl who wanted to date Mark Zuckerburg? Or you know, anyone else. I'm sure you can relate. 

More Friends Than Me
written by Joelle Jean

If I could write you a letter,
to make you fall in love,
I would already have you here next to me.
I used up all of my similes,
penned all of my rhymes,
but you still don’t like me.
Won’t give it more time.
And it’s probably ‘cause
You think you have more friends than me.

You got multiple texts
Blowin’ up your phone.
Friends at your side,
Girls sayin’ “Take me home.”
You never respond to my comments
Or read my blog,
And it’s probably ‘cause
You think you have more friends than me.

You’ve got your Facebook group
Posts on your wall
Friend requests from girls
You don’t know at all.
Your status updates
Show you haven’t a clue
How much

See I got you
all figured out.
You need photo comments just to feel liked.
Behind your Twitter account nobody knows the real you.
Who are you really? Do you even know?

If I could write you a letter,
to make you fall in love,
I would already have you here next to me.
I used up all of my similes,
penned all of my rhymes,
but you still don’t like me.
Won’t give it more time.
And it’s probably ‘cause
You think you have more friends than me.

You got multiple texts
Blowin’ up your phone.
Friends at your side,
Girls sayin’ “Take me home.”
You never respond to my comments
Or read my blog,
And it’s probably ‘cause
You think you have more friends than me.

You got your snobby little smirk when you talk.
And you don’t even nod when you saunter by.
It all shows you haven’t a clue
How much

See I got you
all figured out.
You need photo comments just to feel liked.
Behind your Twitter account nobody knows the real you.
Who are you really? Do you even know?

Cause it sure seems.
Cause it sure seems
You haven’t a clue.
That you haven’t a clue.
But we all see
we all see
how much we really despise you.

If I could write you a letter,
to make you fall in love,
I would already have you here next to me.
I used up all of my similes,
penned all of my rhymes,
but you still don’t like me.
Won’t give it more time.
And it’s probably ‘cause
You think you have more friends than me.

You got multiple texts
Blowin’ up your phone.
Friends at your side,
Girls sayin’ “Take me home.”
You never respond to my comments
Or read my blog,
And it’s probably ‘cause
You think you have more friends than me.

Monday, October 18, 2010


J'adore my type writer ring that I bought off of Etsy. It is my favorite number and is fully adjustable, so it fits my size four finger.

J'adore these photos from Smile and Wave. What a beautiful house!

J'adore the photos that Lauren Nicole took of her bedroom. It's not really my style, but I can imagine lounging around like a princess when I look at her beautiful space.
J'adore my readers. Especially the ones who leave anonymous comments and then I have to guess their identities.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

I Write Love Letters

Hannah Katy from As Simple As That is brilliant. I love this girl. She is a stranger to my face, but not to my heart. She seems to write everything that I am feeling.

On 10/10/10 she wrote a post called "Sara Bareilles would not write you a love song but I want to write you a love letter." She describes how she writes random “love notes” to strangers and leaves them in places all around New York City. On buses, in bathrooms, on park benches. She leaves encouraging little notes for strangers to find.

I love this idea. It sort of reminds me of my teenage self, when I used to sneak secret anonymous love messages into the lockers of the boys I liked, but of who didn’t know I was breathing the same air. And then I would get to watch their faces the next day. Then senior year the school installed cameras in every hallway, making it near impossible to sneak a letter through the vent cracks without having it being recorded on video tape. But don’t you worry, I pulled it off. I'm stealth.

Several times I left letters in the public library. There was this drawer underneath one of the tables near the magazine collection, and I fully wrote a note and stuck it in there. No reply, though.

My favorite thing ever is to write secret messages and leave them places. It’s excellent when they are love messages, and it is more excellent when you get to see the person’s reaction, but not all the time is it possible to see their response. My messages are always anonymous. They don’t need to know who I am. It’s better if they don’t.

Anyway, Hannah inspired me to revisit this old pastime, and I sent off my first stranger love letter this past weekend. I wrote down some encouraging words, sealed it in an envelope, and carried it around with me while I ran errands. I ended up leaving it in the library, because that’s my favorite place. Next time I’ll leave it elsewhere. I had the envelope in my hand in the parkade, ready to put it on someone’s windshield, but I didn’t. Something didn’t feel right. Once I got inside the library, I decided to leave it in a book. But not just any book, a book that I knew would be read soon. And no, it wasn’t a copy of Twilight or whatever. I went to the hold shelf and snuck it in someone’s book. So now they’ll get a little surprise when they sit down to read it next week.

Secret messages are the best.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Marital Conversations with My Sister

We’re sitting around my table, eating lunch today, when I start to complain about my property taxes to my sister.

Me: Look, I have to pay $501.51 to the school district. Basically, I am paying myself to do my job. And mass transit? I have to pay $84.41 so people who don’t have cars can ride the bus.

Jess: Wait, the people who ride buses don’t have to pay?

Me: No, they do, but not that much. Our taxes supplement it. What about this one? $5.55 for the County Soil and Water Department. Here. This is the only one worth paying for. $9.07 to the regional library. Heck, they’re only getting like four bucks more than the dirt department. That’s unfair. 

Then we start to talk about bills.

Me: I’ve got a zillion bills to pay every month. (I tick them off on my fingers) Water, sewer, garbage, internet, PGE, and gas. And I'll start being broke in July. You know, when I quit my job.

Jess: Our cable and internet got shut off yesterday because Travis forgot to pay the bill. 

(My sister is forever forgetting to check her mailbox. She lets it stock up and opens it like twice a month. I could send her an announcement to let her know I was pregnant, and she wouldn’t find out until the baby was born.)

Me: Like, you didn’t check the mailbox, or he flat out forgot to pay it? (in my head I think, why don't they just set up automatic payments on-line? Then they wouldn't forget).

Jess: He forgot to pay it. I’m kind of like, whatever. It’s his bill. I don’t need TV. 

Me: What do you mean it’s his bill? You separate who pays what bills? What’s your bill?

Jess: Um, hello, it’s called the mortgage.

Me: So you pay the mortgage every month. How do you guys decide who pays the other bills?

Jess: Well, it’s like this. He has to pay the Comcast bill because he wanted it. But everything else, I hold up the envelope and say “do you have money for this one? Yes, okay, it’s yours. What about this one?”

Me: So he just gets to choose? What if he can’t pay all of them?

Jess: Then I do it. 

Me: This is all very interesting to me. Your relationship intrigues me.  

I mull everything over in my mind. It’s not at all what I thought being married would be like. I figured if you got married, you’d have a married peoples account, and pay your bills out of that. 

Me: So, you’re like his sugar mama. Or he’s a free loader.

Jess: Yeah, basically. But I pay most of the bills because he still has his student loans and truck payments to make. So it’s not like he’s not paying for anything. He just doesn’t have money left over for all the bills. In about two years he’ll be done with everything, and then we’re going to buy a different house, and he’s going to pay the mortgage for that one. And then I’ll just have to work part time to pay for the other stuff.

Me: So before you got married, did he know he wouldn’t be able to pay the mortgage? Was he like, oh hey, buy this house, I’ll marry you, and then I’ll live here?

Jess: Um, well no. It was my idea to buy the house. 

Me: I’m sure it was. 

No, like really. You’ve got to know my family. It was totally her wanting to own her own house.

Jess: Basically, our conversation was like this: I buy the house, and then he buys me the ring. 

Me: So it was like quid pro quo. 

Because he did propose to her in the front doorway of her own house.

Jess: No. See, Jo, husbands are like expensive pets. You have to take care of them and pay for things, but in return they give you love and affection. I mean, if I were single, I’d be paying for all this stuff anyway. Now I just have someone to live with and love and cuddle with at night. Plus, I don’t have to mow the lawn or clean the gutters. And he feeds my dogs. They’re my dogs, but he takes care of them.

And okay, I can see her point.

Me: I have to do everything myself. I mow my own lawn, clean my gutters, pull the weeds, open all the jars—that’s why I don’t buy Adam’s peanut butter. I can never get the jars open.

Jess: That’s why you need a husband.

Me: Well, I’m wondering about this. Because it would go one of two ways. Either the guy I marry also has his own house, or he doesn’t. If he had his own house, we’d just move to whoever’s house was the nicest. But if he didn’t have a house, we’d have to live here, and I think that might be weird. Because like, it’s my house. And it’s not that I wouldn’t want him here or something, I think I’d just feel like he were another roommate and I’d still feel like I needed to do everything. Like, I’d still be out cutting the grass and pulling weeds by myself, because I wouldn't want to ask.

Jess: Well, how about when you’re married you just buy a new house together?

Me: That would make sense, because then it would be our house, you know? But I wouldn’t want to deal with trying to sell a house at the same time I’m getting married. So we’d have to live here for at least a little bit. Then back to the chores thing. When I see that the lawn is getting tall, am I like “hey honey, will you go mow the lawn?”

Jess: NO, Jo, No. You get him to do the stuff before you marry him.

Which is probably the best and most logical advice my sister has ever given me.

Jess: I got Travis to do all sorts of things when we were just dating. He even cleaned horse stalls for me.

Me: Wow, how’d you get him to do that?

Jess: You have to be like “oh, I really want to hang out with you, but I’ve got to do homework and clean horse stalls first. If you can clean some stalls while I do homework, then we can spend time together after.”

Me: Okay. So I’ll be all “I really want to see you today, but I’ve got to get this lawn mowed.” And then maybe he’ll offer to do it.

Jess: No. That won’t work. He’ll be like, “cool, see you when you’re done.” You always have to have at least two things you need to get done in order for him to help. So you say “I want to hang out with you, but I’ve got to do lesson plans and mow the lawn. If you can mow the lawn, then I can get my lesson plans done and then we can do whatever.” And obviously, he can’t do your lesson plans. So he’ll mow the lawn.

Me: Brilliant.

[Disclaimer: I hope by reading this conversation, you don't think Travis is a jerk. I really love my brother-in-law, and he is super awesome. He helps me do things like haul bookshelves in his pickup to my classroom. So I really appreciate him, even if he likes to pretend like I'm the annoying little sis.]

Friday, October 15, 2010

Nerd Power

Setting: 4th grade classroom, math time at the end of the day
Drew, a 9 year old boy who has attention issues
Me, a tired teacher in her early 20s
Caleb, a talented and gifted student who wears glasses and is quite small for his age.

Me: Drew, I need you to stop bothering Caleb and sit in your seat.
Drew: But I need him. I need nerd power. I can't do this!
Me: I'm here to help you.
Drew: But you don't understand, I need Caleb's nerd power.
Me: Well, I'm a nerd too, so I can help with your math page.
Drew: Really, Miss G, you're a nerd? You don't look like a nerd.
Me: Yeah, I'm a super nerd. This is my disguise.
Drew: You wear a disguise?
Me: Yep, I left my nerd pants at let's see. 2 X 50. What do you think that is?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

For You At Last, Sleeping Beauty

Of all the fairy tale princesses, I can relate to and appreciate Sleeping Beauty most of all. She couldn’t go to a ball and catch the attention of a man, like Cinderella did. She didn’t have any dwarfs to help her out, like Snow White. She could only wait.
The thing about Sleeping Beauty is, she had to wait 100 years for her prince to show up. And okay, while she was waiting all that time she was taking a snooze. But we have to consider, that maybe, just maybe, those 100 years of sleep were not full of pleasant dreams and complete REM cycles, but nightmares instead. Nightmares of being alone forever, nightmares of being forgotten, nightmares of never seeing the sun shine again. So maybe the 100 year old wait wasn’t all that plush.
In movies or books, we might think of Briar Rose’s castle as being draped with lovely flowers and spiraling tendrils of plants. Perhaps it had thick, ancient trees and was like some sort of secret garden, with overgrowth on its stone walls. My heavens, I bet it wasn’t! Do you know what it looks like when you haven’t weeded for five weeks? Do you know how quickly dandelions spread? Have you ever tried to eradicate thorn bushes from your backyard? I mean, while Sleeping Beauty was slumbering (along with all the court), everything was going to hell. The gophers were probably making tunnels everywhere under the perfect lawn, and Scotch Broom was growing in the driveway.
I am completely amazed that the prince even stopped by. I mean, have you ever seen an abandoned house or a foreclosed upon property? The overgrown yard is enough to frighten even a nature-loving hippie from Eugene, Oregon away. And here is a king’s son, poking his nose about, looking for a wife. I sort of wonder if maybe he owned a yard maintenance company and was looking for new clients.
Let’s just think about this, though. The prince went to the messiest, least cared for place, the place where trees had gnarled and thorns had overtaken. He went to that place, looking for something beautiful. He had heard of what was within, and he cut through all of the messy, prickly, tangled stuff to get there. I can only pray that I’ll have a prince like that—someone willing to cut through all of the thistles and the messy, pokey stuff to find me inside.
That briar patch was fierce
Maybe the biggest question about Sleeping Beauty’s story is this: where the hell was the prince all that time? What did he have to do that was so important it took him 100 years to get there? I don’t even know. I wish I did. I’m guessing that the timing wasn’t right. Like, maybe he wasn’t even born yet. Which raises a set of completely separate issues, like was Sleeping Beauty 115 and her husband was only 25 or something? Isn’t that robbing the cradle? And did she get botox or what?
Regardless of what the prince was doing in the meantime, what’s important is that he got there. What matters to me is that he gets here.
Briar Rose had waited since her 15th birthday, ever since that spindle pricked her finger. I totally feel for that girl. I know what waiting is like. She lay there, unable to do anything to help the situation; God knows having what sorts of nightmares in her sleep. She waited 100 years for true love’s first kiss. And then he came. I can envision the princess waking up. Her eyelids flutter open. I can hear the reassuring voice of the king’s son.
“I’m here for you at last, Sleeping Beauty.”

link to Sleeping Beauty, story by the Brothers Grimm

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Happily Ever Before

I was inspired to write this after reading Hannah Katy's "Dear Priscilla, you can have your story back", which she posted all the way back in May.

While waiting upon the happily ever after scenario, I've realized I can write another story. The prequel. The Happily Ever Before story. Hannah wrote about how you shouldn't want somebody else's life, because that would mean that someone would be living out yours, and there are things you wouldn't want to miss or give up.

And she's right. I think about the people I know, my family, my friends, the experiences that I have had, and I realize I am fiercely protective over many of them. Sure, there are a chunk of difficult moments I'd give away in a heartbeat, and there are others I would want to keep just for me--those memories I wouldn't want anybody else to have. 

Hannah writes that We grow to be pretty good at belittling our life experiences in order to shine a spotlight on the ones we deem to be more interesting. It takes a few seconds to swap out our own story for one that is more “Hollywood,” more “glamorous.” I know I do this a lot. I think about how my own story is mundane in comparison to other people I've met. I know I need to own my life and be proud of it, to cherish it, even when I feel like it's worthless. I know that.

Hannah continues I think it's time that instead of constantly glorifying the stories of others we begin to hold up our own stories. We waste time wrapped up in the way someone else lives their life, in picking apart our own lifestyles because they don’t unfold perfectly, because we haven’t fallen in love as quickly as we had hoped.

I mean, I want my happily ever after. But more fiercely, I want my happily ever before. Because sometimes, the before part lasts longer than the after. This. Is. It. Right now. Who knows when after is coming? This is my story, and I need to claim it. Waking up every morning is not easy. Knowing what I'm living for every day is still a mystery. But I have been blessed with life, and should at least make an attempt at valuing the moments in it.

This is happily ever before. And it starts now.

Monday, October 11, 2010

What's 85 years when we will have forever

Let's say I live to be 85 years old. Probably more because I have good oral hygiene and I'm a vegetarian. But maybe less because I don't own any pets. So 85ish years on Earth.

I've lived nearly 25 of them so far. So just 60 left. The first 25 have been really difficult. There were a few very blissful years off and on where I was really loving life. But most of it's been crap, let's be honest. I'm a cynic and I'm not good at looking on the bright side. I've frequently been in despair thinking "what if the rest of my life is just as bad? What if it never gets any better? What if I am never happy?" And let's be honest, I won't be. I can never be happy on Earth. No one truly can.

But what is 85 years when I have forever? Okay, so actually forever minus 85 years. What I mean is this. Right now I'm on Earth, where it sucks. I do not know if things will ever get better. There's nothing telling me it will be. But I absolutely believe in heaven, and I absolutely believe that I will be happy there, and life there will be totally awesome. In heaven, I will be beautiful and I will be loved and I won't cry alone in my bed at night. Instead, I will dine with the Lord at his banquet table. I will be surrounded by the glory of God for the rest of eternity.

So what's 85 years?

This is a new perspective for me, you know. It's not like I've been thinking this for a long time. I've been thinking ten years is too long. I've been asking God "What the hell?"

Just imagine the one person you love more than anybody. That person you want to spend the rest of your life with. Maybe you're married to them already, maybe you are going to marry them sometime, maybe you just love them dearly. Think of that person. I've never loved anybody, so it makes the imagining for me a lot easier.

Someone says to you, "For the next three years you are going to go through hell alone, but after that, the one you love will be with you until the day you die, and your life together will be happy."

I know what you're thinking. Is this "someone" wearing gypsy clothing and telling you this out of the back of her caravan? But let's just pretend that it's legit. You'd be willing to go three years, wouldn't you? For that? For happiness with the one you love until the day you die?

Put it into perspective. Forever in heaven with God is twice as long as 85 years. Wouldn't you give half your time in a terrible crap-hole of a life if it meant pure bliss and perfection for the other half? No? Well, actually, I did the math wrong. Forever in heaven surrounded by the glory of God is actually five times as long as 85 years. Wouldn't you give that? 1/5th of your time living in horrible, wretched circumstances, if for the other 4/5ths of it you got to live in a posh palace with a gorgeous new body, surrounded by love? Well, get this. Forever in heaven with God is actually infinitely longer than 85 years. I did the math wrong before. But now I've got it right.

So what is 85 years of hell on Earth, when you've got eternity with God in heaven? The circumstances of this world, I am not so sure about. It could get better, but it will probably get worse. But of heaven, I am certain. I am certain that it will be perfect and wonderful, and will last an infinitesimal amount of time.

I know what you're thinking. Joelle, did you get put on Prozac? No. I just got put into a different perspective.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Of All the Lies and Secrets

Of all the lies and secrets we love best, here is the one that takes them all: you are not wanted.

Like a teddy bear hugged dearly at night, I have held this lie next to me since I was small. I have the evidence of it, I've seen it written in my child scrawl. Nobody wants me. I've got record of this since 1995. I have gone through much of my life thinking that no one will ever want me, that I will die alone and unloved.

It is a lie. You haven't a clue how hard that was for me to write. It. Is. A. Lie. They are Satan's lies and I know that. For so long I've thought it truth. I have believed that not being wanted was the truest thing that's ever happened to me. But I know deep down in my heart that I have been wanted. I've been wanted desperately and dearly since the day I was born. Since before then, actually.

God wants me fiercely. He wants me to be only his. And how much have I pushed him away because he wasn't the one I wanted to want me? You don't count, I'd tell him. You're God. You have to want me. Of anybody, he should hate me the most, for I have wronged him the greatest.

God wants me, and he wants me more than anybody. More than a boy with a perfect smile, more than a friend with a rambunctious personality, God wants me to be his. I need to shake off these lies and start believing the truth. It's the truest truth that could ever be told. God loves me and wants me to be only his.

The thing about truths is, they apply to everybody. God loves you, and he wants you more than anything.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

He's Not Gay After All

         Let me tell you about the day I found out my friend, Chase, was not gay, just a fashionable dresser.
I met Chase freshman year in college, at a university sponsored speed dating session, actually. Then I found out he was in one of my classes. After two days, I was positive he was gay. I was super upset, because this always happens to me. I get a crush on a cute guy, but then he ends up being gay. Chase wore these really expensive, trendy jeans with leather shoes all the time, talked with a lisp, and would say, “Oh my god” with deep-seated emotion. Nevertheless, somehow over the four year span of college, we became friends.
Channing Tatum
It was a Saturday evening when Chase was at my apartment. We were planning to make dinner and then go see a movie at the nearby cinema. As we talked about celebrities we thought were really hot, I mentioned Channing Tatum.
            “I mean, don’t you just want to snuggle up in his manly arms and have him hold you and never let go?” I said, while chopping celery.
            Chase eyed me, a look of scorn on his face.
            “Um, no.”
            “No?” I said. “How can you say no? Channing Tatum is so hot. I thought manly and buff was your type.”
            And okay, maybe before I said this I should have asked Chase straight out if he was gay, because he never actually has admitted it to me, I had just assumed. I was 99 percent positive.
            “Dude. Joie, it’s not like I’m gay.”
            I stopped chopping the celery and looked at Chase square in the eyes.
“What do you mean you’re not gay?” I said in an accusing tone, like how a wife might accost her husband of cheating.
“Wait, did you really think I liked guys?” he asked.
Oh shit.
“But…but…” I thought of his entire wardrobe, which consisted of shirts from Abercrombie and jeans from Express. Those Italian leather shoes. His shopping addiction. “But you have a lisp.”
Because you know, all people who have lisps bat for the other team.
“I was in speech therapy when I was a kid. It’s the S’s and R’s that give me trouble.”
            I really started to panic. Chase is one of my best friends. How could I have thought all this time that he was gay when he really wasn’t?
            “But you’ve never been in a relationship.”
            This is totally true. All the time that I have known Chase, he’s never had a girlfriend. He’d been on two dates and when those happened, I was sure it was a ploy to throw his close friends’ suspicions of his sexual orientation. But seriously. He’d never been in a relationship.
“Either have you,” Chase said flatly.
Oh, god. He’s right. I’ve never dated anybody, and probably never will, because they all think I like women or something.
 “But my Facebook profile clearly states that I am interested in Men, while yours is left blank, which makes people wonder.”
“Joie, all of that top part of my Facebook profile is blank. It’s stupid stuff. People who know me already know the answers to that info.”
Or they don’t. Clearly!
            “Chase, you can be 100 percent honest with me. I won’t judge. Are you gay? Tell me the truth.”
            Chase pulled my hands into his and looked at me, straight in the eyes.
            “Joie. I would not lie to you. I am being completely honest. I like women. I am not gay.”
            It was just hard for me to accept. If this really was true, it was going to change our friendship completely. Like, I would have to stop answering my apartment door in just a towel.
            “But what about Shia LeBeouf?” I asked. Because Chase had fully dragged me to see Transformers 2 in theaters. “You’re telling me that all those times we watched Transformers—in theater and on DVD—you’re telling me that you didn’t have a crush on Shia LeBeouf?”
            “Are you kidding me? It’s Megan Fox I was watching.”
            Oh. My. God.
“Seriously, Chase? Seriously! Megan Fox is such a whore,” I started to scream. “She’s so artificial. You like Megan Fox? For reals?”
            This proved it. He really couldn’t be gay. Not if he thought Megan Fox wasn’t a whore.
            “I think you need to calm down, Joie. I mean, is it really that upsetting? Is that why you’re friends with me? Because you thought I was gay?”
            “NO, Chase, no,” I say in exasperation. But I mean, I wouldn’t have told you all those things about the guys that I like if I had known you were straight. And when we went to the bars, I wouldn’t have pointed out to you all those guys that I thought were hot. Because I wasn’t interested in them. They were for you. And I wouldn’t have told all of my friends that you were gay. And I sure as hell wouldn’t have gone swimming in the river last summer in my underwear if I knew you were straight!”
            I was going to throw up, I really was.
            “It’s fine now, okay? Now you know,” he told me.
            And alright, maybe he should have been the one who was pissed off, instead of me. I had assumed something about him that was kind of a big deal. He was taking this really well. I shouldn’t be upset.
            “Can we just finish making dinner?” Chase asked in a soothing voice. I could actually hear a hint of chuckle behind it.
            I took a deep breath.
            “Yeah, okay. I just need to do one thing first.” I took out my phone and texted Just found out Chase is NOT gay. Then I sent it to all my friends.

*Just so we’re clear, this is a fictional story.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

On Lyrics

The thing about having one of your main characters be in a band and perform at their high school talent show is that you feel obligated to write some lyrics for them to sing when said talent show appears later in the manuscript. Which means I have to bust out the rhyming dictionary and get extra clever.

And I know what you're thinking right now. The kid's in a band and wants to win a talent show? That's your plot? I assure you it's not. The talent show performance is a mere three pages of the whole novel.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Sometimes I am funny!

I was reading some old blog posts, and found this one of mine. It was from my first year as a teacher. Right now, I can totally relate to myself. I got near the end and read this:

Right now I need to make Valentines for my students. I got as much black construction paper as I could find, now I just need to cut out black hearts and use a white crayon to draw a skull on them. Kidding.

I laughed at myself. Because although Valentine's is far away, I sort of feel the sentiment toward my students might be the same.

This image is not so funny.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Brutally Honest Student

Here is some homework that a student turned in to me. I started to get really worried about what she was about to say after the whole "I-know-that-you're-a-great-teacher-but-I-don't-want-to-hurt-your-feelings-because-I'm-going-to-tell-you-something-but-don't-worry-I-won't-tell-anyone" part.
                                          Click on image to enlarge

If you can't read kid work (and this is actually a really good one), this is what it says:

Dear Ms. Grossen,
I know that you're a great teacher, but I don't want to hurt your feelings because I'm going to tell you something, but don't worry I won't tell anyone. I think you are a 5th grader because you look like one of them. I know it hurts your feelings, but don't [let] it in your heart.

I thought for a bit about what to say to that. You'll see my quick scrawling in blue.

I think this is the first year that I don't have any students who weigh more than I do. Which is not to say I'm skinny, more to say that the kids in my room this year have lots of energy and exercise. Or you know, jump up and down in their seats. But I do have two who will probably be taller than me by Christmas. I can't wear flats around them.

Happy Monday

Sunday, October 3, 2010


I'm excited about J.J. Abrams' new show, Undercovers. He has made two of my favorite shows: Alias and Lost. I am doubly excited because Michael Giacchino composes the musical scores for the show, as he did for Alias and Lost. Essentially, J.J. Abrams + Michael Giacchino = really good TV. There's only been two episodes so far, so if you haven't watched, you can get caught up on-line.

The show airs on NBC at 8pm on Wednesdays, and it follows the lives of a couple, Steven and Samantha Bloom. They used to work for the CIA, but then retired to start a catering business. However, the CIA wants them back in, much to the chagrin of Carlton Shaw (Gerald McRaney), who is like their handler.

I don't have the words to tell you how much I liked this show. It's funny and fast paced and fills that Alias sized hole in my heart that Agent Michael Vaughn and Sydney Bristow left. Another entertaining part of the show is Agent Leo Nash (Carter MacIntyre), who is really cute. He used to be partners with Samantha and then they started dating before she and her husband got together. In the second episode, Carlton Shaw tells Steven and Samantha that Leo will be joining them on most of their missions, which sort of makes for an awkward love triangle.

Really, you should just invest two hours of your life and watch it. This is better than Nikita and Covert AffairsGo here to look at the website and watch the first two episodes. But hurry up because you can only view the pilot until October 15th!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Exile Lifestyle

I often discover new websites and blogs that I really like, and it has become a problem because now my favorites side bar has 72 sites. And I look at them all frequently, of course.

Let me tell you about the new site that has interested me. The name of it is Exile Lifestyle and it's about the young word traveler, Colin Wright. He moves around a lot and barely owns anything, trying to live as a minimalist. The thing that I loved the most about Colin's website was his navigator bar. On it he has: Home, About, Archive, Goodies, Press, Contact, and Stalkers. I really like that he is reaching out to the stalker population, which has increased substantially since 2006. I would add a stalker button to my top navigator bar, but I don't think I have many.

But Colin also sort of looks like he might be an asshole, because usually young, attractive, successful males are. And he's really hot. So he's probably a really big ass hole. We're talking elephant-sized. One might think that people who travel a lot are very kind and humble because they've seen third world countries and hungry children and have had to crap in a hole dug out in the jungle or something, but I sort of think it's the opposite. I've found that a lot of people who travel frequently are ass holes, while the boy who never left his home town is very sweet. The world traveler just becomes smug about how he has seen so many life-changing things. Don't get me wrong, I would love to travel almost everywhere in the world, I'm just saying you're not improving your character by doing so. But maybe this isn't true. Maybe Colin is a very humble, gracious, kind, generous person.

So even though I am not sure about Colin, I urge you to check out his site, because it is interesting. Here is the post that shows everything he owns. And this part is for his stalkers

Friday, October 1, 2010

Why No One Will Even Ask Me Out

          I’m staring at his chestnut hair, silently willing him to turn around and look at me, but he won’t. Nobody ever does. I’m too quiet for anybody to notice, too short for a person ten feet away to see, and too dangerous for anybody with half a sense to get close to. I mean, I’ve been marked. Metaphorically, that is. It’s like I’ve got “vampire” written across my forehead, only not, because even though I wear 01 Pale foundation, I like the sunshine and don’t suck blood. Also, I’m the one who needs to be afraid. You see, I’m in protective services, as in, the Witness Protection Program.
The thing about being in witness protection is that people never want to get close to you, because they are pretty sure you will be shot or get kidnapped sometime in the near future. And nobody wants a dead girlfriend. Actually, scratch that—vampires do (you know, after they suck all your blood). But here’s the thing of it, despite the fact that my obituary has shown up in the papers and my social security number is now defunct, I’m very much alive. I just have a new identity, that’s all.
And okay, I get it, why would you want to be with someone whose life is a lie? I have a fake name, fake hair color, and when I first entered, a fake tan as well. But everything in my heart is very real. The good part about being too quiet for people to notice is that when I go out in public, I’m in less danger. The bad part about being too quiet for people to notice is that I find myself sitting behind guys like Jude, wishing they’d turn around and actually see me. Or you know, realize I could be their soul mate (or at least, the me that fake died three years ago could be).
But here’s what happens. Well, actually it goes one of two ways. If the guy ever talks to me, and even shows a hint of liking me, he’s all “hey, are you on Facebook?” And I tell him no. Because why would I plaster my face and info all over the web when there is a group of very mad criminals looking for me? Sure, hey guys, here’s some photos of what I did last weekend, this is where I work, and oh yeah, here are all of my friends so you can kill them too. I think not.
But then let’s say I actually sort of know the guy. Maybe we are budding friends, and I trust him to know this important aspect of my dangerous life. After I’m all “Well, I don’t have Facebook because I’m in the Witness Protection Program, and my name is not really Elle, but I can’t tell you who I really am either. Oh, and if some guys wearing ugly Italian business suits and carrying large briefcases ever show up on your doorstep, tell them you don’t know me,” then the guy is like “Actually, I’m busy next Friday, let’s not do dinner.”
Though it hardly ever gets that far. Like I said, most of the time I just spend staring at the back of their heads. Similar to right now. I’ve known Jude for about eight months, but he hardly ever talks to me, so I guess “know” is a very generous term. Maybe I should instead say I’ve been in close proximity to Jude repeatedly for about eight months, but he probably doesn’t even notice me when I walk right past him. Which you know, is sort of depressing. Especially when you can’t really talk to any of your real friends because they all think you died in a boating accident.
Jude is really beautiful, only I’m certain he would prefer it if I said handsome. Although since he never talks to me and will never read this, I can describe him any way I want. He has dark chestnut hair, and sometimes it sort of curls a bit around his ears. He has a very attractive manly jaw and chin, which is adorable when he occasionally has a bit of stubble on it. Jude’s eyes are like the fourth planet's twin moons, Phobos and Deimos. But the thing that I like most about Jude is that he enjoys traveling to foreign countries, which is comforting to me. Pretend that on an off chance he did talk to me, and he did fall in love with me, and I did get found out by a bunch of fake business men wearing ugly Italian suits, Jude would have no problem leaving this comfortable country behind and hiding with me in some remote village in Malaysia or whatever.
 So here I am, watching Jude from a distance, praying to the Lord in heaven that maybe today he will notice me, which is actually sort of the equivalent to praying that the Pacific Ocean will part when I step into it, or that the water pitcher sitting in my fridge at home will miraculously turn into wine or vodka or something. Because like I said, nobody ever notices me.
I observe as a small group of people crowd around Jude, asking him questions, conversing, and laughing. I watch with envy. Then I decide that I should probably just go home, because obviously today is not the day. Yesterday wasn’t either. I pop into the restroom real quick on my way out. As I’m washing my hands, I evaluate myself in the mirror. Is this really supposed to be my life? All of these charades? But I’ve been living this way for three years. I’ve gotten into the groove of things so much that sometimes I forget that this isn’t really me. That I’m not really some girl named Elle. It’s like maybe this is really a long dream I’m having and soon I will wake up in my own bed and see the people who know the true me. Though I think I’ve sort of forgotten who that is.
Sighing, I open the bathroom door and step out. My stomach jolts as I realize who’s standing two feet in front of me. Jude. Only, it’s his backside. It takes a second and then it is like the heavens breaking open and God himself shining a flashlight down onto Earth. Jude turns around and sees me. A smile spreads across his face as he recognizes me, or at least, I think he does.
“Hi,” he says. “I know I should know you, but I can’t remember your name. What is it again?”
My real name or the name I use now?
“Elle,” I say. “My name is Elle. You know, like the 12th letter of the alphabet.”
Jude’s eyes crinkle up a bit as he smiles. I try not to stare at his beautiful teeth. If Jude were a moron, I might be afraid that if he ever doodles my name on notebook paper, he’ll spell it El. Or worse yet, L, like that one time I ordered a pizza from Little Caesar’s.  But Jude is quite intelligent. I mean, I’ve had a few conversations with him before, (or at least overheard him talk to other people), and he always sounds quite smart, like maybe he scored pretty well on the verbal part of the SATs his senior year of high school.
“So, Elle. How have you been?”
This is typically the part in an opening conversation where you have to lie. If you don’t know someone well, you really can’t delve into the deeper and more dangerous aspects of your life.
“I’ve been pretty well. How are things going for you?” I reply.
You can obviously see why this conversation never goes anywhere. Neither of us ever reveals anything really worth talking about. And because I don’t know that much about Jude’s actual life, I can’t think to ask about anything he might like to talk about.
“Ah, good. Busy. I’m in the process of moving.”
Oh shit, I think. Because now he’s going to move away and I’ll never see him again and that will be the end to the story that never began.
“Really? Where are you moving to?”
I know a lot about relocation. I mean, I moved about a thousand miles away from where I used to live, didn’t I? If anybody knows about starting over, I do.
“Just to the other side of town,” Jude replies. “By 15th Street.”
I suck in some air. Apparently I had been holding my breath.
I play the biggest card I have, which is low, because it’s like I’m holding a deck of threes and fours.
“There’s a really good little restaurant near 15th Street. Off of Maple? It’s called Komi. You should definitely go there after you move.”
If this were my dream, or a fictional story that I was writing, then Jude would say “Oh yeah? Maybe we could go sometime.” But this isn’t my dream.
“Yeah? Do you live over there?”
I wish.
“No, but I like to eat there. I live on Clayton Road.”
“You’re an artist, right?” Jude asks, rather randomly. But who am I to judge how the synapses in his brain fire?
“Um, I guess you could say that. I do graphic design work for websites. It’s nice because I get to work from home.”
You know, where I’m safe from the mob.
“That’s cool. Have you ever done CD stuff?” Jude’s eyes brighten. “I have these friends who are trying to release a demo, but they need some cover art.”
An entire three month scenario reels in my head instantly. I could become friends with his friends, do some work for them, get chummy, and then Jude would realize that he should probably spend some one-on-one time with me. You know, in the form of a date.
“Well, I haven’t before, but if your friends are interested, I could meet with them to discuss what kind of aesthetic appeal they’re going for. Do you want to give them my card?”
“Oh sure, that’d be great.”
I root around in my purse as I realize this is the longest individual conversation I’ve ever had with Jude. I open up my wallet and pull one of my cards out of a pocket. I hand it over to him. It has my name and phone number and website printed in a smooth font.
“Thanks so much, Elle,” Jude says.
“No problem,” I smile.
“I’ll see ya,” he says as he turns to leave.
Will he? Will he actually see me? Because I’m here. I’ve been here all along, but whether or not he’s seen me is debatable.
“Bye.” And then I walk away. He still doesn’t know that I like him. Still doesn’t know that we’d probably get along really well, if I could just be straight with him. And I’m still going home without plans for the weekend. But I’m a step closer. I mean, he’s got my number now, hasn’t he? If God hit him over the head with a metaphorical baseball bat while he was sleeping one night, and he woke up thinking “I’ve got to talk to Elle,” he could call me, right?
Once I’m home, I start to replay everything in my mind. Could I have said anything different? Winked maybe? After a bit of thinking, I pull out an album that I keep stashed under my bed. It’s full of pictures of my old life, of the real me, of the people I used to love. Looking at it is quite painful, so I eventually slam it shut and immerse myself in complicated day dreams. What I have to do is envelope myself into fiction. This whole life I’m living isn’t real. I mean, I just made up this whole story, didn’t I?
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