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01/01 Direct Link
On the hallway leading to my office, someone has put up portraits of smiling, jumping, playing children. I hadn't dared to walk over and look at them because I was sure it was for something heartbreaking.

Last week I was overcome with curiosity and I read some of the information next to each portrait.

God damn it... the jumping one with glasses didn't want a video game for Christmas, he just wanted a loving family.

They're orphans. They want you to open your heart and your home. Won't you? They are making puppy eyes and promising to enrich your life.

01/02 Direct Link
That adoption display reminded me of another one I saw several years ago in the mall. Julia had dragged me there one afternoon to buy some "less drab" clothing. I said brown wasn't a drab color if you just wore it cheerfully, but she wouldn't hear it.

Ordinarily I might have resented a girl "getting her hooks in," but in place of hooks Julia had delicate and soft hands which improved everything she touched. Besides, shopping for clothes together felt like a cozy, "couple-ish" thing to do, even if it was going to cost me a lot of money.

01/03 Direct Link
Julia and I entered the mall near the food court. In the center there was a display with about a dozen large photographs of children. Nearby were examples of their artwork and things they'd written about themselves. Julia and I almost walked by without pausing, but she stopped and walked over when she saw the one with freckles. She looked at the photograph intently.

I waited for her to say something inappropriate but hilarious about orphans. That's what I had come to expect.

She didn't say anything. She gently brushed the dust off the photograph and looked at the child.

01/04 Direct Link
"You know," she said, "I'll probably never have a baby..."

I got the feeling she wasn't talking to me.

I wasn't sure what to say. Did she mean she didn't want to have a baby with me? Or... was she dropping a hint? Was I supposed to propose to her right there in the food court? (If we had had children, I still think they would have been exceptionally good-looking.)

In my head I formulated a half-joke that involved me impregnating her in a dressing room at The Gap, but I thought better of saying it out loud.

01/05 Direct Link
Even though we were two healthy young people perfectly capable of reproducing if we'd wanted to, I tried to be supportive. Julia was unusually quiet, and I was getting worried.

"Listen," I said, "if you like this one we could stop by and, you know... take a look at him." I instantly regretted saying this.

She punched me in the arm without looking away from the photo.

"They're not dogs," she said. "That's not how it works."

I was relived. While Julia looked at the freckled kid's artwork, I headed for the Mr. Slushee stand. It was my Plan B.

01/06 Direct Link
Moments later I came back with a gigantic raspberry Mr. Slushee with two straws in it. Raspberry Mr. Slushee is Julia's secret weakness. I poked her with it.

"Hey, hey," I said, trying to break her reverie.

She instantly latched onto the straw. It seemed to cheer her up.

"Want to help me pick out some eighty-dollar sweaters?"

She nodded, and we walked away from the food court.

What had Julia been thinking about? She never told me, and I never told her that if there was anyone I was willing to adopt an orphan with, it was her.

01/07 Direct Link
One of my friends has a lot of dogs, and when I go over to visit they all sit around in a semi-circle, staring at me.

For some reason (I know it's weird) this impels me to pretend I am their high school shop teacher.

"Awright you creeps, quit clowning around," I say.

"Hey! You!"

(Here I am pointing at Snowflake, the smallest dog.)

"Where are your safety glasses???"

Snowflake tilts her head and acts confused, but I know she's left them at home again and I give her detention.

Obviously, I do this when my friend isn't watching.

01/08 Direct Link
RECENT EMBARRASSING GOOGLE SEARCHES
(You can learn a lot about a person from a browser history.)

* "peanut powder"
(I'm checking to see if it exists. Please just take my credit card number.)

* "crispy hexagons" "taste like blood"
(I wanted to see if anyone else thought so. I may be the only one.)

* "dreams about biting"
(Sometimes I don't get along well with people in my dreams.)

* 4 8 15 16 23 42
(Typing this in can make me feel better.)

* why are sharks so scary
(I have no memory of searching for this, but I want to know the answer.)

01/09 Direct Link
Today at work someone was looking for Cindy. When she walked in two seconds later, I said "Speak of the devil!"

Our young intern gave me a really terrible look. I thought she was offended.

"I wasn't actually calling Cindy the devil..." I started to explain, but she stopped me. She laughed and said she understood the expression, but the only other person she's heard use it is her grandfather.

Then I recognized the look she had given me. It is the same one I give to my father when he calls jeans "dungarees." It was not a good feeling.

01/10 Direct Link
I occasionally have what I will call a "reverse spiritual experience," in which rather than feeling at one with everything I suddenly become intensely aware of being an isolated consciousness amidst other consciousnesses. Who are they? What are they thinking? It's not an unpleasant feeling, but the weirdness of existence hits particularly hard at these times.

Shall I blame the Internet? Instead of access to a multiplicity of voices and thoughts, while walking down the hallway I suddenly become aware that I only have access to my own.

It could also be a brain tumor. Could be anything, I guess.

01/11 Direct Link
Sometimes girls have a brother, and sometimes the brother is big.

Often the brothers experience protective feelings, and they swear to avenge any shabby treatment of their beloved sisters. This is all well and good.

However, sometimes a fella needs to break things off with a girl for legitimate reasons which the girl does not recognize, and she feels wronged, and the fella becomes nervous.

Big brothers of the world, look into your hearts... your sister is annoying and a little bit nuts once you get to know her.

You and I... are we not also bros in a way?

01/12 Direct Link
It's a fine line between 'romantic' and 'creepy', and now I am trying to decide on which side of the line to place "I still find your hair in my vacuum cleaner."

On one hand, after two people have broken off their association, one person finds something that reminds him of the other. He smiles. He remembers the good times. He misses her.

On the other hand, it's three-year-old hair, so... creepy.

(If it helps, I just throw it away after smiling and remembering, rather than adding it to the pile/ball/shrine. That is a crucial point.)

01/13 Direct Link
Sometimes when I'm reading a book, the author will launch an assault on my patience with a paragraph-length description of a building, or a sunset, or the color of a character's hair.

If this happens too often, I will throw the book across the room and get up to find a better one.

You shouldn't give me these details unless they're significant, and if they're that significant you should probably have included an illustration. I know you think you're "painting a picture with words," but what you're really doing is adding yourself to my list of "authors who suck."

01/14 Direct Link
Miss Elizabeth Frost writes in to say she is trapped in her apartment because God has moved in with her. She informs us he is invisible and extremely tiny, and she is convinced that should she accidentally step on him the world would end.

"It's an honor, you know, having the omnipotent creator of the universe living with you," she says in her letter. "However, I don't dare open the front door lest he escape into the hallway or an apartment of someone who keeps a pet cat. I don't mind staying in, as I am on a fixed income."

01/15 Direct Link
When she awakes in the morning, Miss Frost finds a sweet white substance on her bedside table, which she bakes into small cakes for sustenance.

"One time," she continues, "Alan, the maintenance man, wanted to install a carbon monoxide detector, but I wouldn't let him in because he clomps about so. He was very insulting and threatened to have me evicted, but he never came back and I assume he was stricken with a plague of boils. I assume The Lord of Hosts will find a way to alert me if the carbon monoxide levels in my apartment become dangerous."

01/16 Direct Link
"I cling tightly to the walls as I move about, reasoning that he will wish to stay in the center of whichever space he is inhabiting. I talk to him throughout the day, and like to imagine that I have as good a chance as anyone of getting his attention, since we spend so much of our time together in the same room."

Miss Frost closes her letter by telling us that God is a comforting but quiet companion, and she hopes the rest of us will enjoy the continued existence of our universe, made possible through her tireless vigilance.

01/17 Direct Link
When she sat down next to me and I turned red and got all sweaty. I'm sure it was strike one of eighteen against me. What are the other seventeen strikes? I won't dwell on them, because they are probably imaginary.

When she is under stress, she makes an adorable scrunched-up face and mutters to herself in Russian. Her accent is enchanting. She likes falafel, and her lip gloss tastes like tangerines. When I see her, I feel pretty happy for the rest of the day and I don't mope so much. That is all I know so far.

01/18 Direct Link
I don't know if you've noticed, but teenage girls like to post copyrighted song lyrics on this site. (...and on their blogs, their notebooks, and every other surface they can find.)

If SOPA or PIPA - two laws being pushed through the US Congress - actually passed, 100words could be in trouble. The owners of the site could be held liable for any copyright infringement, and the rights holders would have the ability to take the entire site down without notice or due process. It's a power grab by people who already have too much power, and we shouldn't let it happen.

01/19 Direct Link
I have a friend who complains a lot. Most of the time I'm able to listen patiently and offer sympathetic "mmm-hmm" noises every few minutes.

The overall theme to his complaints is that things in his life do not work out the way he would like them to.

On days when I'm feeling less charitable, I want to ask him whether he hasn't yet figured out that life sucks. His complaint applies to everyone, everywhere, all the time. Once he accepts this and stomps out the remaining embers of his youthful idealism, he may find some peace of mind.

01/20 Direct Link
She makes me feel like I'm back in school again, the way she runs off with her giggling friends and waves to me over her shoulder. That smell of snow, dead leaves, and tater tots is in the air... I just had an incredibly weird feeling that I'd gone back in time.

Back then I would have taken the bus home, played some video games, talked to my cat, and possibly cried a bit. Now I don't really like video games, my cat has died, and I've lost the ability to cry. I was told things were going to improve.

01/21 Direct Link
Last year I'd find a gray hair here and there, and I'd dismiss it as a freak and pluck it out.

"Ha, ha!" I said. "Silly old gray hair. What are you doing in there?"

Now my hair is seriously going gray. I don't even bother to pluck them out any more because there are so many.

Most people say it is just a normal part of the aging process, but I took the extra step of looking it up online. The Internet says one cause of gray hair is cellular damage. My cells are damaged. I am damaged goods.

01/22 Direct Link
Her eyes narrowed as she watched me take a cucumber from the refrigerator.

"Youuuu... will eat every kind of wegetable..."

The juxtaposition of her accusatory tone and adorable accent made me crack up and almost choke on my snack.

Little things like this seem to bother her intensely, and I can't figure out why.

I'm not prepared to give up eating for her, so I can tell this isn't going to work out much longer. For now she is making me laugh and I am collecting "Slightly Mean Russian Girlfriend" stories.

I desperately want to see life from her perspective.

01/23 Direct Link
If you sit next to me on the train, you have found a friend for the rest of your trip.

If you get up to go to the bathroom or to get a tasty snack, I will defend your seat, your possessions, and your honor with my life.

You think I am exaggerating, but I am not. It's a little bit creepy.

You can stay in the café car for as long as you like: I won't move from my post.

Far from being allergic to responsibility, I crave it. I don't have enough of it in my real life.

01/24 Direct Link
Average yearly exposure to Fleetwood Mac is around one millivie, the equivalent of listening to .315 seconds of "Rhiannon" each month over a twelve-month period. Normal exposure is passive, absorbed through contact with waiting rooms and car radios. (People who occasionally pop in a Fleetwood Mac cassette inadvertently dose themselves, and are playing with fire.)

It's only January, and I estimate I have already been exposed to 10-12 millivies. Now... according to her lyrics, Stevie Nicks has been hanging around with the wrong type of fella. She's an emotional lady. Someone please take me to the hospital immediately.

01/25 Direct Link
I don't really want to go to this play tonight. I confess, I have never seen a play and enjoyed it, probably because I have only seen school plays.

By the way, someone please hire me as a theater critic. I need the money, and those sixth graders need to be taken down a notch. Here is the kind of thing you can expect from me:

Billy T___ is the UPS man of the theater world in that his performance is reminiscent of battered cardboard, and he delivers his lines as if he is carelessly tossing them over a hedge.

01/26 Direct Link
I'm at my computer playing solitaire and writing this while she does her online banking. She peeks over her laptop every few minutes, and I think she is starting to realize that I don't know what to do with myself.

I tried talking to her, but she didn't reply. I moved to the couch and started to give her a foot massage, but she kicked me. Slightly Mean Russian Girlfriend has her good moments, but this is not one of them. She is probably thinking the same thing about me right now. I'm going to throw a pistachio at her.

01/27 Direct Link
I'm never sure what to do with my hands.

I'm standing at the cash register, the guy is counting my change, and my arms are just hanging there with my hands on the ends of them like two potted plants.

I can't stick them into my pockets because I'm three seconds away from getting my change. I don't want to put them on the counter because there's a sign that says "DO NOT LEAN ON COUNTER."

What I do, of course, is stand there like a self-conscious goon, looking around to see if anyone else has the same problem.

01/28 Direct Link
Our office holds an annual party around the end of January. It's good timing because "the holidays" are over and we're no longer seeing everything through a red and green mist.

I wasn't planning on inviting her because it's dreadful. We just sit around drinking and talking about work, but she seemed interested when I told her about it. She bit her lip and thought for a moment.

"It seems... you should take me with you," she said.

She has promised to wear something slinky and say something horrifically offensive to Gary in Russian. A fun office party? We'll see.

01/29 Direct Link
She seemed to really have fun at the party. People were curious about her, and she had lots of stories to tell about life in Russia and the experiences of her grandparents, who lived through the 1921 famine as children. (I overheard Tom's fiancée insist a famine in Russia sounded improbable, and she was making the whole thing up to get attention. "Wait... don't they eat potatoes in Russia? Potatoes are really fattening, Thomas.")

I noticed she had a long, animated conversation with Alicia, one of my best workplace friends, near the ladies' room. I was consumed with curiosity.

01/30 Direct Link
When Alicia was alone, I walked over and sat next to her. She knew what was on my mind.

"Believe it or not, we didn't talk about you."

"You two seemed to get along. Don't you think you could? A bit?"

"What... grade are you in?"

"It's just that... I don't know if we're dating, or "dating," or dating, or what."

"How can you not know that? Communication is the... basis..."

I cut her off.

"Listen," I said. "I'm not asking you for relationship advice. I'm asking you to talk to my girlfriend and find out if she likes me."

01/31 Direct Link
I feel some questions were raised this month. I always try to tie up loose ends and stay one step ahead.

1) Was that a patronizing and paternalistic way to invalidate Julia's feelings re: orphans?

-- Shush now, my dear.

2) What kind of vacuum cleaner do you have? It must be terrible.

-- It is. It's one of those cheap ones, and all kinds of things get wrapped around the nylon bristles.

3) Are you available for lessons in how to attract women armed only with awkward sweatiness?

-- It's not just awkward sweatiness. You also have to take them to lunch.