‘Five Photos, Five Stories’ Challenge Day 5: While I was volunteering…

For my last day of the ‘Five Photos, Five Stories’ Challenge (for more info on what that is, click here), I wanted to write about one of my recent experiences volunteering.

This past Saturday, I volunteered to read to/with kids. I ended up pairing with two 2nd grade girls. One (we’ll call her Bad Egg) was kind of a bitch to start–she didn’t seem very into sharing, and was sort of rude when I tried to involve her. I tried not to take it personally, even though I was kind of feeling like a beginning-stages Lindsay Lohan in Mean Girls. But, I gave her her space, and focused on the other girl (we’ll call her Good Egg), who was just FA-BU-LOUS. She was so happy and nice and just, like, had her shit together.

Good Egg left the room to get water from a drinking fountain, and when she came back, she said, “There was an adult down there.” She started talking about this adult stranger as if his mere presence was a threat. I was really worried the conversation was going in the direction of, “and then he invited me to his van,” because I am NOT qualified to deal with that. But, luckily, she didn’t go there. Although, she did say, “if strangers try to take you, you scream!” I joined in and said, “YES. You scream, kick, fight them, do whatever you have to do,” and then tried to bring the conversation back down from the level of alarmist paranoia to Saturday morning chill–I was, after all, sleep deprived and hungover, so I could only handle so much intensity.

As Good Egg was reading out loud to me, she would occasionally come across a word she didn’t know, so I would try to help her by explaining how to pronounce it and what it means. One such word was “roadkill.” Not knowing how else to explain it, I said, “you know when you drive by a dead, squashed animal on the road? That’s roadkill.” I know it’s harsh, but does a way to sugarcoat roadkill even exist?

Bad Egg started to turn around when I told her I liked her shirt. “It’s a leotard,” she said–it was, in fact, a full body, hot pink leotard dress-thing with a sequins collar. I mean, l would like one of my own please. We started doing a craft project–making paper bag puppets of characters from a book we’ve read–and Bad Egg also, surprisingly, demonstrated polite sharing skills. See, it’s NEVER too late to change. Good Egg wanted to make a puppet of Elsa, of course (because APPARENTLY there’s a Frozen book in addition to the overrated movie?). She was so insecure about her ability to make the puppet, it was kind of sad and endearing. I helped her by drawing the outline of the dress–(although I tried to throw in a quick gender equality plug by saying, “But she doesn’t have to wear a dress. Let’s not box ourselves into gender norms.”)–but tried to encourage her to believe in herself. I just wanted to cry, “It’s not too late for you! I may be too far gone, but you can still love yourself! Don’t let the patriarchy bring you down!” Also, as you can see from the photo, her puppet is BOMB and totally fucking awesome and I could never make anything so perfect, so her insecurity is completely unjustified.

IMG_5287

Bad Egg decided to make a puppet that was a hedgehog or something, from the book she was reading. She said she doesn’t like Elsa because “she makes a huge deal out of things that are just, like, WHATEVER.” Ok, this girl was starting to grow on me. Her mother arrived early to take her home, and she was having none of that–she was adamant about finishing her puppet. I quickly realized that it is, of course, her mother’s fault she has issues socializing. This woman seemed fine or whatever, but too stressed and unhappy. She told Bad Egg that “Ella is in the car” as she insisted repeatedly they had to go. I said, “Ella is your…” thinking surely Ella must be the dog. But, nope, Ella was the YOUNGER sibling. So, this mom had left her younger-than-2nd-grade (no idea how old that is) daughter in the car alone on a hot SoCal day (can anyone say pedophile bait?) while she went to pry her older daughter, who she must know by now is stubborn, away early from an activity she enjoys. I fully expect to see this family on Dr. Phil in approximately 12 years.

But Bad Egg made me proud, as she refused to leave until she got to finish her puppet [I mean, too bad for Ella, and maybe Bad Egg should demonstrate a little more compassion towards her, but I’m Team Bad Egg all the way–that’s where my loyalty lies in this scenario, and rightly so, I feel]. As her mom got progressively more aggravated, Bad Egg said, “Mom, stop! You’re giving me TENSION!” I thought, “Wow, you. get. it. You already understand the issues your mother is imparting on you which will haunt you your entire life.” So, I left feeling confident that these two second grade girls are far more emotionally and mentally well-adjusted than I am. And, as sad as that is for me, it gives me hope that there are some good eggs in the upcoming selfie-/tablet-/Kardashian-obsessed, social media-sedated generation that doesn’t even understand why they should cringe when they hear “Bill Clinton” and “cigar” in the same or adjacent sentences.

The next blogger I’d like to nominate for the ‘Five Photos, Five Stories’ Challenge is You Look Like a Nice Oriental Lady. Totally up to you whether you participate! You can find the rules here.

Advertisements

‘Five Photos, Five Stories’ Challenge Day 4: When THAT Guy Sits Next to You

[For more info on what the ‘Five Photos, Five Stories’ Challenge is, click here].

Yesterday, THAT guy sat next to me in the staff meeting. He’s the guy who will walk into your office without knocking, and won’t stop at the threshold, but will come in several feet deep, uninvited, unwanted, and talk to you (because as far as he’s concerned why wouldn’t you want to talk to him? Umm ONLY FOR LITERALLY EVERY REASON EVER). He’s new in the office and you don’t care to get to know him, because you find him creepy, you don’t understand his weird name that isn’t a real name, you don’t like the way he slicks back his hair and wears those terrible black Sauconys like it’s 1988, that he tried to ask you to lunch, and that he asks you things like it’s your responsibility to acquaint him to the office–THAT IS WHAT HR AND THE GENERALLY TERRIBLE PEOPLE WHO CHOOSE TO GO INTO THAT FIELD IS FOR.

When I sat down for the meeting, he pointed to the chair next to mine and said, “can I sit here?” I said, “yeah, or one of the other chairs.” Of course he sat down right next to me. I stood back up and walked out since the meeting hadn’t officially started, just to get as much time away from his as possible before I was forced to spend an hour-and-a-half breathing him in. A few minutes later, I walked back into the meeting alongside my boss, and did that awkward whispering-through-my-gritted-teeth thing as I said, “Idon’tlikethisguyhesatnexttomehe’screepyandIdon’twanttositnexttohimhelpmeeeeee.” My boss, the rational human that he is, simply said, “sit somewhere else.” I panicked as he abandoned me to take his usual seat–I was so angry that I now was forced to sit next to this guy, because I couldn’t move without it looking weird/rude, and, as we learned from yesterday’s disaster at Starbucks, I’m not good at simply saying “no”/telling someone I am not interested in interacting with him, even when he is a creepy guy. So, I just scooted really far away from him and turned my chair in the opposite direction from him, so my back was facing him. I felt kind of bad and worried I was being mean, since this guy is likely harmless and I’m overreacting, but then I remembered that I don’t care.

One of my favorite people in the world asked me to draw him a stick figure diagram of what this situation looked like, so, I present to you, ‘Alex Enacts Her Social Retardation & Intolerance of Other People’ (charcoal & printer paper, 2015):

FullSizeRender

The next blogger I’d like to nominate for the ‘Five Photos, Five Stories’ Challenge is Jillian (How to be Myself). Totally up to you whether you participate! You can find the rules here.

‘Five Photos, Five Stories’ Challenge Day 3: THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU DON’T FOLLOW MY ADVICE

FROM TODAY’S EARLIER POST AND GIVE OUT YOUR NUMBER OUT OF PITY AND BECAUSE YOU’RE AFRAID TO SAY NO AND BE MEAN. [And for more info on what the ‘Five Photos, Five Stories’ Challenge is, click here].

Let me paint you a picture: It’s 10:55 AM today, and I am going to Starbucks after a doctor’s appointment, before I head back to the office. The line is almost out the door, which never happens, but nothing shall stand in the way of me and my coffee. So I get in line, and the man ahead of me starts talking to me. He has a thick accent, but I can understand his words perfectly. What I can’t understand are the sentences the words make up–they were basically gibberish. From what I could understand, today was the first time he had been late to his class and his teacher was upset at him? [And WHY do I care?] It was like he started speaking to me mid-story, as if we were friends picking back up a conversation and I knew what the fuck he was talking about.

Then he went on to ask me where I’m from (I told him Colorado, which he later referred to as a “country”), and I tried to converse pleasantly as the line proceeded, thinking an end was in sight and I could be friendly until then. He said he was from Dubai, and came here three months ago to study English. I THOUGHT he was maybe in my tribe when I asked him if he liked LA and he shook his head, and then just repeated “I can’t” a few times–because that is me in a nutshell. But when he explained WHY he doesn’t like it here–because “everyone here is from Iran”–I thought, mmmmm that’s a little bit prejudiced, if not also completely untrue. So I just tried to smile and nod–my go-to with people who I don’t like [everyone] and crazy people. But apparently he took that as genuine interest in him, because he continued the conversation after we had both put in our orders, and after I heard my drink called at the bar but was too worried about rudely interrupting him to get it and leave.

He asked [stated], “what is your number” as he handed me his phone to enter it. I froze–I didn’t know how to get out of giving it to him (despite having JUST posted AN ENTIRE ARTICLE with A BILLION OPTIONS for what to do in EXACTLY THIS SITUATION a FEW HOURS prior)–so I just put it in his phone, thinking, “I’ll just ignore him if he ever tries to contact me.” But then he called me right then and there (TOLD YOU) so I could have his number, too. He said to contact him if I ever wanted to try an Arabic restaurant, go for coffee, or “just talk.” He also said, “please don’t forget me.” At this cringe-worthy point, I just wanted to leave. But then, he asked me if I have a drivers license.

“…Yes…” I said, hesitant about where this was going.

“I need your help,” he said.

FUCK.

“I need you to go to the DMV with me, because I don’t have a license and I need someone with a California ID with me in order to get one,” he went on.

STILL nodding and smiling, and now laughing nervously, I said, “That doesn’t sound right…”

“Trust me,” he said.

At this point, with the paranoia of an immigration attorney’s daughter, I thought “IS HE TRYING TO GET ME TO MARRY HIM SO HE CAN GET A LICENSE WHAT IS HAPPENING I DON’T EVEN BELIEVE IN MARRIAGE I AM SO CONFUSED GET ME OUT OF HERE.” So, like a rambling crazy person, I continued in the most upbeat of tones, with a psycho smile plastered on my face, and said about 40 variations of, “That can’t be!/Are you sure!?/I would ask them again/That’s so weird!” and ended with, “It was nice to meet you!” [read, “I’m trying to be nice so you won’t find me and try to murder and/or marry me!”]

And then, a couple hours later, I got the texts we all knew were coming:

FullSizeRender

And while that is the first rose I’ve gotten in a while, and he is correct, I do have the face of a perfect angel, I would have much rather never given him my number than now be in this position, because this is my neighborhood Starbucks, so like I HAVE to be able to go there, and the baristas knew his name, so he’s apparently a regular, and now if I see him there again I am going to have to pretend to be my own twin, or have amnesia, or be engaged (LOL), or wear a disguise. So let this be a lesson to you–JUST SAY NO BECAUSE OTHERWISE YOU WILL HAVE A VERY FRENZIED AND CONFUSING TEXT CONVERSATION WITH YOUR MOTHER AFTER SENDING THIS SCREENSHOT TO HER AND SEND HER INTO AN OVERREACTIVE FREAKOUT AND HAVE TO ASSURE HER THAT HE WAS LIKE 90 LBS SO YOU COULD TAKE HIM IF IT CAME TO THAT.

For my third ‘Five Photos, Five Stories’ Challenge nomination, I choose OMGSHEREALLYSAIDTHAT! It’s completely up to you whether you participate–for the rules, click here.

‘Five Photos, Five Stories’ Challenge Day 2: When your co-worker asks you to write a note to his other child as the Tooth Fairy

For the skinny (love to drop that word in wherever I can, since I never get to use it because it doesn’t apply to me) on what the ‘Five Photos, Five Stories’ Challenge is, click here. Here goes my Day 2 (again, included more than 1 photo, hopethatsoksorryifitsnot)… A while ago, my co-worker asked me to write a note to his 5-year old son as the Tooth Fairy (you can check out my post on that here). Just recently, he asked me to do the same thing for his 8-year old daughter, in response to her below note to the Tooth Fairy: FullSizeRender The note I wanted to write was: Well, fuck, Stella. According to your dad, you read the note I wrote to your younger brother Beck to him, so why the hell are you asking me the questions I already answered in that note? Now I have to make sure I answer the same or else your childhood illusions will be SHATTERED and it will be my fault (which if we’re being real I really DGAF about). Stop wasting my time. That said, you’re right–I am very nice. I’m the best thing that will ever happen to you. I love me too. Also, quit being so shallow–it doesn’t matter what I look like. That said, I look like perfection embodied. Like, YOU. WISH. And stop bragging about your dental hygiene, not all of us have the luxury of being able to stay on top of that–flossing consistently is HARD thestruggleisrealokay? Now, regarding your plea for $50–you sound like a greedy little shit to me. Maybe you should turn on the news so you can see all the starving, emaciated, dying children in the world and get a reality check. What the fuck do you need $50 for anyway? That said, $50 really isn’t that much money–you clearly don’t know the value of a dollar. Your dad said he explained to you that Tooth Fairies are regional–you had one in New York and now you have me in LA. I interpreted that to mean you’re overly-fucking-privileged. Your parents need to get their shit together. While we’re on the subject, why does your dad keep asking me to do this? I’ve come to the conclusion that I love you more than he and your mom do. That sounds like a personal problem of yours to me. Good luck with that, Lila the Tooth Fairy The note I actually wrote was: FullSizeRenderFullSizeRender*Upon seeing this, your dad will point out to me that I didn’t encourage you to floss every day and also I revealed it was HIM that gave you the $3, not me (I thought he had already clarified with you that the money was actually coming from him, but per my instructions), and ask me to re-write the note. I will respond by telling him: (And then I’ll re-write the note.) I next nominate Stella’s Mommy (different Stella :-)) at http://shelbycowell.com/ for the ‘Five Photos, Five Stories’ Challenge! It’s completely up to you whether you participate–for the rules, click here.

‘Five Photos, Five Stories’ Challenge Day 1: Our Long-Awaited Trip to Olive Garden

Yesterday, Ali (http://thelonepanda.com/) nominated me to participate in the ‘Five Photos, Five Stories’ Challenge. Thank you for motivating me with this fun task, and I’m so glad to join the process with all of these wonderful bloggers, their wonderful photos and wonderful stories!

For the challenge, I have to post a different photo for five consecutive days, and include an accompanying story (fiction or non-fiction) along with each. I also have to nominate a new blogger each day to keep the challenge going! If I nominate you, it’s completely up to you whether you participate. The only other rules are to mention the person who nominated you in your first post, and keep nominating others. So, here goes Day 1 (I included multiple photos to better tell the story, which may be against the rules, in which case please forgive me!)…

IMG_5217

A few months ago, some friends and I planned a trip to Olive Garden. It started out as a joke, and then turned into a mission–we had to reschedule it so many times, which only made us that much more determined to make it there. It’s like we were Reese Witherspoon and Olive Garden was our Bridge of the Gods–it took forever to get there, we lost a few toenails along the way, but when we finally made it, oh boy was it worth it.

Of course we had to drive an hour to find the nearest Olive Garden, and by the time we got there, (about 8:15 PM on a Saturday), the wait was AN HOUR AND A HALF. I’ve never been so humbled as I was when I was told it was an hour and a half wait at the Olive Garden. “We will have NONE of that!” we said (actually just I said it because I was starving and would absolutely not accept that we could not get into Olive Garden, especially having come from LA, where long waits at hip restaurants are par for the course, and you think that any Olive Garden, let alone one in the boonies (or actually they are all probably in a boonie), is beneath you). THIS COULD NOT BE HAPPENING. WE WORKED SO HARD TO GET HERE. WE WOULD LIKE TO SPEAK WITH GENERAL MANAGER CHRISTINE CHO PLEASE (*see below).

IMG_5216*My beautiful friends Kendrick and Tony and the marble plaque that apparently you get engraved with your name and cemented in the stone column outside the entrance if you’re a manager at Olive Garden?!? Clearly I’m doing something wrong with my life. Also what happens if she quits or fucks up and gets fired (acknowledging it is probably very hard to fuck up at Olive Garden)? It’s a little presumptuous don’t you think.

So, I walked (stormed) into the restaurant, with a burning hunger for terrible food driving my every step, went straight for the bar (yes, there is a bar at Olive Garden), and asked the first person who looked like they worked there (which was also everyone who was there, so just the first person I saw) if the bar was first come, first served. Before they could finish their sentence (“yes”), I spotted what looked like a recently deserted booth, and plopped right down in it. I was pleased to find that the booth actually bounced when I sat in it, so I spent a good 10 seconds just bouncing up and down in my seat and telling everyone around me that the booth bounced and how much fun it was, until it was time for my friend Kendrick to sit next to me. I was disappointed to discover that when he sat down, I did not in fact bounce back up as expected (hoped for). But no need to worry, I was about to cope with my poor body image and disappointment that I’m not light as a feather (light at all) by stuffing my face with endless carbs (and a few pieces of iceberg lettuce MAYBE), as any rational human would. My other friend Tony sat across from me and Kendrick, but his side of the booth didn’t bounce at all–rather, it had two large indents, which we could only assume were from the two cheeks of a person you’d expect to eat regularly at Olive Garden. Tony could fit comfortably into one cheek. But, I digress.

We got on to reading the giant menu and trying to figure out the difference between the three different menus our surprisingly pleasant (drugged?) waitress had given us. I immediately became overwhelmed and said (yelled), “I don’t care what we order, I just want the unlimited breadsticks!” We decided to split one appetizer (calamari), and two entrees (a beef/gorgonzola pasta dish and a shrimp/chicken carbonara dish), which came with the unlimited salad and breadsticks. The cream that the entrees were drenched in had already coagulated between the time the dishes left the kitchen and the moment they hit our table–it was marvelous. Between the three of us, we ate about a quarter of each entrée and were all stuffed. We left happy, ashamed, full, feeling accomplished, and with plenty of leftovers for our poor friend Nic who was supposed to join but had a bad case of food poisoning (hangover)–(nothing like Olive Garden leftovers to cure food poisoning (hangover)).

IMG_5215*Is that not the most beautiful sight you’ve ever seen? I’d rather look at those oiled breadsticks over the perfectly sculpted, lathered-in-suntan-lotion body of a male lifeguard any day. Nic’s leftovers are in the paper bag.

We did it! It was everything we dreamed it wouldn’t be and more. Also, I noticed that a lot of the people eating there seemed to be on dates. If a guy EVER tries to take me on a non-ironic date to Olive Garden, I will kill him.

For my first pay-it-forward nomination, I choose Sam (http://www.todowhatwelove.com/)!