Wednesday, January 21, 2015

7 Days in the Life of 30-Year-Old-Nothing

"Today my greatest accomplishment was removing a splinter from Trevor's foot.  It felt pretty good... for the both of us."

"Today I almost ate chocolate out of the garbage can.  Keyword: almost."

"Today I mistook the blood blister on my hand for chocolate and tried to lick it off.  I was equally terrified by 1). the surprise of licking my hand and finding out my chocolate meal was an injured part of my body and 2). my lack of judgement to just go ahead and attempt to consume something brown on my skin assuming it was yummy chocolate left over when after taking an extra second to think about it after the fact, when was the last time I ate chocolate?!.   What if it was poop!?  I would have ate it, I guess."

"Today I was getting a pedicure for my sister's wedding.   I was waiting for my pedicurist to attend to my tootsies and after soaking them in scolding hot water she finally came around, grabbed my feet from the hot tub,  took one look at at my toes and exclaimed  "O-ma-ga, long feet!"

"Today the neighbors across the hall knocked on our apartment door when Trevor was not home and invited me to their party on Friday night.  I gave them a non-committal thanks-for-the-invite-I'm-not-sure-if-I-am-busy-or-not type of answer.   Then as we were parting ways they asked me if I was Jewish."

"Today I went to the grocery store and at the check out counter the cashier asked me if I go to Harvard.  I said "No, but my husband works there..." The clerk says they would need to see his ID in order to get a discount.  I asked how much the discount is and they replied 10%.  I respond with "Well I guess I better send him shopping next time!"(thinking I am super funny).  Nobody laughs.  I leave."

"Today Trevor figured out what smells like a dirty-rotten-butt-hole-of-a-month-old-decomposing- body in our communal apartment hallway.  I used to work in a morgue and I can 100% attest that this smell is very synonymous with rotten life.  I contemplated calling the police and checking up on all the neighbors to assure they were all still alive and not dead and rotting.  Then Trevor came home and said he was sniffing through the packages lined up at the entryway where the smell is the absolute worst.  There he found a packaged from (a company sends you every ingredient you need for a meal and delivers every so often).  Whoever is in apartment 36 is going to be thoroughly disgusted when they get home from vacation and find a box of rotting food on the doorstep."

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Haunted by Homeless

Cambridge, like many big cities, is full of people on the streets trying to sell you something or asking for money.  Let me first say, that I have no idea what is the ethically correct way to handle homeless people.  Should we give them money to buy food or whatever they need?  Or should we not give them money assuming the donation would just fund their meth habits?  I have no idea.  But if I did  hand out cash, I wouldn't be able to pick and choose who to give what and there are so many homeless people, I would go broke pretty quickly.   I also honestly never carry cash on me so I can legitimately say, "sorry, I got nothing."   I have become pretty good at avoiding eye contact with strangers and walking right on by (again, I am not sure if this is something to be proud of).  However, there is the occasional non-street person who says 'excuse me' or 'have a nice day' or needs directions, so I am not totally cold to everyone all the time.

One day a young, student-aged fellow comes up to me and says "Excuse me, miss!"  and I am thinking I dropped a glove or that he genuinely has a question he needs me to answer.  So I turn and give him my attention.  He follows up with:

 "Are you as awesome as you look?!"

Startled by his weird question, I look down and see he has a clipboard (red flag). The clipboard, the way he approached me, his weird question...... I come to the conclusion that he has an obvious alternative motive and I will not have any of it.  I will not give in to being bombarded by a sales pitch on the street and so in answer to his question I dishonestly respond:


He laughs

I walk on by.  Obviously, I do think I am as wonderful as I look and I appreciate him for recognizing my awesomeness (although I am sure he says that to EVERYONE).   I am however, willing to lie about self-esteem to avoid being guilted into signing up for monthly donations to Planned Parenthood.

Another day I walked passed a bum who was talking to a Harvard student saying " this guy walks into a bar..."  I look at the homeless man's sign.  It reads "Bad jokes!  4 for $1."   I wanted to wait and listen to the next three jokes, but I thought the bum might ask me for money...I did not have any cash on me and I did not want him to think I was enjoying his services for free.  So I kept walking...

Just recently, I was walking up the stairs out of the subway, or "the T" as the locals call it, and was moving pretty quickly when a grouchy bum yelled at me.  He sounded enraged.  His accent was similar to Chris Rock and his delivery was comparable to Christopher Walken.  He barked at me:  "Giddy up, ...jingle horse!!! ......Pick up, ...your FEET!!"  He was so loud and mad,  that my primary goal was to run away and then secondary to that I could figure out what he said.  As I double-jumped the steps to get some distance from the disgruntled character I sifted through what I thought I heard,  'Did he just call me a 'jingle horse?' ... What the heck is a jingle horse?' ... It took me a second.  Then I understood the reference.  He was just singing a Christmas song.

Yet, another day I walked past a garbage can with a young man sitting in it like a recliner chair with his legs hanging out.  Aside from the image of him sitting in a public garbage can, the man did not seem all that homeless.   He was holding a sign that said: "Extra Cash for Man in Trash?"

I drew you a picture:

Click Here and Listen to Faceman's song 'Fitting In' (its about garbage cans)

Clever....Funny.....I also did not give him any money.   But I did appreciate his humor.  At least for a minute or two.  After a few more blocks I started to get mad about this man in the trash, because "what if I had a piece of garbage I really needed to throw out?!"  Get out of the garbage can, come on, mister!

I have since expanded this man-in-the-trash image with my own creative take. Now every time I take out the trash to the communal apartment dumpster, which I imagine some bum has turned into his own private bedroom, I have an irrational vision that I am about to hit this fictional sleeping bum in the head with my dripping bag of garbage.  And that he is going to yell, jump up, and run after me.   It hasn't happened yet.  Let's hope it never does...

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Google Ga-Ga

I recently signed up for a google voice number so I can call people for free over the internet (you should do it too, and google should pay me for saying that).  Google voice has a great feature where if someone leaves you a voicemail, google will write down what it thinks the person is saying and send it you you in an e-mail.  This is about how well it works...

Trevor's voicemail:"If you own server. So if you can, in replying. From Paris blowing you. But we can gain You know what need to know is that checking bags in your Be Gone Wild with both checked bags. It's only 2003. Both of the bag. Maybe I'll just do it The this. Hey, gimme call back when you get this thing, but wanted to put it right."

At least they got the "gimme a call back" part right, although I would have needed to do that anyway.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Airport Amnesia

I did it again.  I arrive at the airport.  Print out my bag tag and bring my suitcase over to the bag drop area.  The lady behind the counter politely asks to see my ID and questions me "And what is your final destination today, Mrs. O'Grady?"  I freeze.  Where the hell am I going?!  What month is it?   If I could figure out the time of year, then I could remember who is getting married and could then remember where they lived.  Or I could determine if it is a holiday and then I could guess NJ.  But Trevor would definitely be with with me if it was a wedding or NJ.  Solo travel is usually reserved for work.   However I don't travel for work anymore... hmmmm

Right when I feel down right terrified that my brain is lost, the neurotransmitter reaches the synapse and the memory is released...  It is January.  The holidays are over.  Trevor has work to do.  I am not going to a wedding..."Uhhhhh, I am going to Wahsington DC"   to visit my niece for her baptism.  The lady stares at me as I obviously look and sound as crazy as I feel.

This same situation happened to me about a month before, again while I was flying alone.  I walked onto the airplane and took my middle seat in between a middle-aged woman at the window, and an older, balder construction-worker-looking man in the aisle seat.  As I sat down the man introduces himself by saying:

"Oh good, I was worried I was gonna have to sit next to a fatty!!"

I instantly know more than I want to about this jerk:  1. he's a talker, and 2. what he has to say is downright awful. ...  The passengers have not even finished boarding yet.  I pull out my book and put on my head phones.

A few rows ahead of us a guy is attempting to fit his suitcase into the overhead compartment.  It requires a bit of shifting around of the luggage that is already in there. It was not an especially large suitcase and it is not really holding up the line for any considerable length of time   It is not really anybody's place except the flight attendant or the guy behind him in line to say anything.  But Mr. Jerk next to me starts yelling "It's not gonna fit!!!  It's gotta be under 22 inches!!  You're gonna have to check that, buddy!! Come ON!!!!"  The passenger fits it, gives my friend a nasty look, and takes his seat.  Mr. Know-It-All-Rule-Enforcer starts going off to me about what an awful guy that passenger was... "some people...that guy's an asshole"

Moments later a young college girl in the aisle across from Mr. Know-It-All-Rule-Enforcer throws her coat and purse on her seat and starts putting the handle down on her rollarboard suitcase in preparation for heaving it overhead.  Mr. Know-It-All politely asks her if she needs help with that.  To which she genuinely replies "Aww, no, but thank you."  The girl was tall enough to reach the overhead herself. She was not handicapped.  She had help if she needed it, but she obviously didn't need it and respectably didn't want it.  But Mr. Forced-Chivalry can't help but pop out of his seat and release his seatbelt like his butt is on fire and in one swift move he has snatched the suitcase out of her hands while it was over her head and nearly knocks her to the ground in the process.   As he buckles back in after the assault, he leans over and says something to me like "always happy to help."

Deep in my book, I nod, avoid contact, and pray he shuts up.  Now that everyone is boarded, he has run out people to harass, and digs into me.

Mr. Forced Chivalry: You fly a lot?

Me: Sometimes.

Mr. Forced Chivalry: You from Boston?

Me: At the moment....

Mr. Forced Chivalry:  Where you flying to today?

Uhhhhhhhhhhhh ..... .............Go through the list:  Thanksgiving just happened, Christmas is coming up but not yet here.  It is not NJ.   Trevor is not here.  So it is not likely a wedding and I am not flying for work...  This flight is going to Chicago... But my finally destination is????.......

DENVER!  I am going to Denver!

Again, after an appropriately awkward amount of time passed with me staring up at the ceiling seemingly without a thought, I then excitingly scream where I am going as if I just proudly figured out the $1 million dollar double jeopardy question.

He seems to be taken aback by my strange response, which, if he were a normal person, I would be totally embarrassed, but I instantly realize the advantage of him thinking I am a crazy, weirdo.  Maybe he will leave me alone.  He gives up on questions about me, and turns to small talk....

"Did you see the pilot of this flight is a woman?  Can you believe that!?"

If I was not stuck to this guy for a considerable length of time, I might have tried a different approach.  I do still regret not ripping him a new one.  Instead I close my book. Close my eyes.  Turn the music up.  And pretend Mr. Sexist does not exist.

Mental Health Disclaimer:
Before you get too concerned about the status of my mental capabilities, let me assure you that this has only happened to me twice in my life and both times happened when I am flying alone at like 6am, which is technically 3am for normal people since I am usually on California time.  3am is dream time.  My brain is asleep and not used to questioning at this hour.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

The Harvard Women of Science Couch Club

1. Per the suggestion of a fellow Harvard affiliate's wife, I joined the Harvard Wives' Club.  It is actually a spouse club, but it is full of women.   The first meeting I attended was right before Easter.  It was a two hour meeting from 4-6pm.  Everyone, except me, was from another country.  We painted Easter eggs the whole time.  There was no alcohol, but it was pretty fun.  Although a little awkward at times (however, that could have easily been me, goofy and insecure in a room full of new people),  I still enjoyed myself.   I did not show up to the second meeting though, because I had work to do.  My French friend was a little worried as to why I really did not show up. She might have been a little unsure if I was actually working or if it was because we painted Easter eggs the whole time.  I really did have to work though.  And I really did enjoy painting Easter eggs.  But my friend has since moved back to Paris and I have yet to go to another meeting...

2. I also joined a 'Women in Science' club.  Because why not? (My friend convinced me to do it)... One night they hosted this event that can best be described as speed dating for science careers.  The event was geared toward networking opportunities.  There were about 15 or so professional women with different types of scientific careers and a crowd of about 100 young people.  Although the event was targeted for the ladies, they did not exclude the dudes, so there were a few guys in the audience as well.  Every 10-15 minutes everyone would switch tables and discuss a new career with the hosting professional.  The conference room was full of fresh, ambitiously youthful and earnest ladies who were passionately preparing to explore grad school programs, or students who were finishing up grad school programs and were just so full of excitement and anticipation of what their future life as a woman in the real-world scientific community would be like (seriously it was sickening).  And then there was me,  jaded old been-there-done-that-don't-care, Julie, looking for someone or something to spark a flame of interest.    I sat down at the first table, and since the speaker was late, the rest of us started small-talking...

     "Where ya from?"

     "What do you do?"

     "What do you want to do?" etc.

The only man in the crowd, who looks like he is in his 30's,  mentions that he currently works for Amgen.  Around the table the girls' eyes light up...

     "Oh WOW Amgen?!"

     "That must be a great pharmaceutical company to work for!"

     "You must love it there, huh?!"

 The guys looks around the circle in subtle disbelief, and  responds with a semi-sarcastic, slightly irritated, but 100% realistic tone...

"Well, I'm here, right?"  .....  Hello, my been-there-done-that-don't-care, new best friend!

3. From the recommendation of my Dad, I looked up Tom Lehrer.  He was a Harvard-educated math nerd from the 1950's who wrote hilariously appalling songs, like 'Poisoning Pigeons in the Park.'  Think of him like a vintage-version of Weird Al Yankovic.  The guy is funny and clever and a pretty talented musician to boot.  We watched just about every single video of his we could find on youtube and you should too.  Here are a couple of our favorites:

This is a quick and easy one:

Block off the next hour.  This is worth watching all the way through:

Bonus: It is in Copenhagen!

Now if only there was a Harvard women's youtube-watching club.... I could get into that!

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Plunger Planning 101: Do Some Push-Ups First

My husband (who I will from here on refer to as Mr. T for identity protection reasons) is trying to find a real grown up, professional job.

The other day he had his "job market talk" where he presented his favorite research paper in front of his whole department.   Mr. T has been up late all week in preparation for this presentation.  He has been staying at work past midnight, he has pulled a few all night-ers, he has not been living the most relaxed lifestyle.

As you may recall from a previous post, we live in a very old apartment with very old plumbing.  Just as a hair nest from an apartment above can block a drain in the tub below us and flood all the floors underneath, the same situation can occur with the toilet.   The morning of the presentation Mr. T uses the bathroom uneventfully.  He leaves the bathroom, continues to work on his presentation at his desk, then returns to the bathroom an hour or so later and well...  I realized something was up when I heard a sincere "oh sh*t!"

I, the good wife knowing he still needs to shave, finish up his work, and get himself to campus in the next 20 minutes, tell him not to worry about it, to sit back down, and to finish his presentation.  I then head to the bathroom to take control of the situation.   The water in the toilet is full to the brim (thankfully the water is clear).  There is a good amount of water on the floor already as well....

Hmmm where do I begin?  Should I start plunging the toilet?  Or begin with drying up the floor? I decide that if I start plunging the toilet, I will make more of a mess and the floor will get even wetter.   There is no point in drying the floor until the toilet has been cleared.   I mash the plunger into the toilet bowl and a niagra falls of water splashes out.  Soaked and startled, I pause my plunging attempt and reassess whether or not this was a good idea.  A good inch or two of water had overflowed out of the bowl.   I stand and ponder how to make my next move without making more of a mess.  I then watch in horror as the toilet refills and starts spilling over the edge once again.  The water will not stop running!

Not knowing how to shut the water off and not wanting to bother Mr. T, I quickly hit panic mode.  I scramble for the nearest bucket I can find and start scooping the toilet water out of the toilet an throw it in the sink.*  I work fast enough where I can get the level down far enough in time so I can repeat my plunging efforts without overflowing.  I grab the plunger again, but it is made out of such a thick and sturdy rubber that I cannot even get the darn thing to push down.  Am I too weak to plunge a toilet?!

The toilet water reaches the brim yet again.  It is at this point,  as the water begins to flow like niagra falls again, that I realize my approach of "oh-don't-worry-let-the-big-strong-wifey-take-care-of-the-toilet" has embarrassingly back-fired.  I return to my bucket approach as I curse myself for not being strong enough to plunge a toilet.  Maybe if I get mad enough about that fact, I could acquire some sort of enraged, feminist she-hulk strength...  Nope.... I pause to think of other options.  I could feasibly:

1 - scoop all the water out of the toilet then
2- put on my shoes, grab my keys and coat then
3 - scoop all the remaining water out of the toilet again and then
4 - quickly run to the convenient store next door and buy a new plunger and
5 - run back home and fix this thing...

But could I do that without Trevor knowing? .... And as I think of the logistics of this plan, the water overflows again and I snap...


*Side note: I read this blog post aloud to Trevor and when I got to this part about me scooping water out of the toilet and throwing it down the sink, he was thoroughly shocked and horrified.