TO NOT do in an Interview – Part 1

I almost murdered someone today.

I mean, I didn’t really, since he lives in Louisiana and I’m on the West Coast, but in my head, his skin was lampshade material and his teeth were halfway to a charmingly macabre necklace.

I work for a tutoring company.

I hire tutors.

I talk to a lot of people each day. Phone interviews are scheduled 4 to an hour and the idea is that 1 in 4 will miss their appointment, giving me time to complete three 15 minute screens with time left over to complete my notes and either schedule their second interview or justify and classify their rejection. I do about 3 face-to-face interviews a day (online of course, I work from home) and these should be about 40 minutes of screening, 15 minutes of walking them through next steps, and 5 minutes wrapping up notes, or preparing for my next appointment.

Now, I’m a pretty nice person. If I have time I will answer as many questions as possible. I will level with you on realistic expectations. I will allow moments for you to be human. I’ll encourage you and remind you that you can always add subjects you need to review back into your list at a later date. I genuinely enjoy most of the people that I interview on some level.

I used to be a tutor. They want to help kids learn which takes WAY more effort than flipping chemically separated patties. It awesome.

BUT some people just bend my last nerve, and once they hit that point, they are not going to be put through.

I may not turn them into lampshades, but I will denote every tiny grammar error in their application. I will give them no leeway on silly mistakes in their math problems. If they forget that a ball falling back to earth with have an acceleration of NEGATIVE 9.81m/s squared, I will list it as incorrect without hesitation or benefit of the doubt.

Now having conducted THOUSANDS (literally) of interviews and compared notes with my fellow recruiters, I consider myself something of an expert on the subject of interviews. To help anyone out there looking for work, I present the following list of things to never EVER, goddamn EVER (see where it says ever? EVER!) do in an interview:

Not showing up/showing up late with no excuse: This should go without saying and yet my company’s schedules are set up based on the fact that a solid 30% of people miss their interviews. We have 4 calls to make in an hour based on the idea that usually one of them doesn’t show. For phone interviews we call twice and leave a voicemail both times. For in person interviews we call twice, leave a voicemail, and resend your confirmation email.

My first reaction when someone misses an interview is always “In THIS economy??” My second is that it’s rude. We give people every opportunity to cancel or reschedule their appointments before the fact. They don’t even have to talk to us to do it. There are links built into your scheduling confirmations to do it over the internet. Its rude to us, and it takes up scheduling slots that could have gone to people who were serious about working with us. No shows get rejected, but we do consider rescheduling them if they call in. The bigger pet peeve here is people who show up late, or miss their first or even second call and call back in late and then DON’T EXPLAIN OR APOLOGIZE.

If you call in late and tell me you overslept, or your phone was on silent, or you forgot, okay, fine I will make a note and move on. It happens, you’re human, you may not be as reliable as I’d like, but we can move on. No explanation, to me, says you are unpunctual AND unrepentant about it. It says my time is not important. It says you’re unreliable and you’re not trying to do anything different. If you are not ON POINT in every other area of your interview, you’re not getting put through.

Clothing: I know, I know. I’m the last person who should be bashing people on what they wear given the towel with a cardigan episode. BUT. If I can manage to be professional from the waist up for ten hours a day, you can manage for 45 minutes for our interview. Speaking from experience, it does not take very much time or effort.

Being casual is one thing. If you’re overly casual it’s fine. Most people will be working with kids. You don’t need business casual to teach fractions at the local library. But if I see 50% or more of your boobs and you’re in spaghetti straps you had better be Florence freaking Nightingalesque with your science know-how. That goes for men, too. If you’re missing your sleeves or the ‘V’ in your tee shirt is so low I’m seeing nipple you are not getting put through. Gender equality, bitch!

If you are wear a hoodie and that hoodie is up, you are not getting through. This is not Freedom Writers, you are not Hilary Swank. I am not some hoodrat youth you are trying to convince of your street cred so they’ll learn from you. Get your act together.

And if you have something printed on your tee shirt that is not absolutely 100% G-rated I will not put you through. You would think this goes without saying but I have seen so many curse words and scantily clad (/not clad) women in interviews it is not even a joke anymore.

Involving your pets or children: It’s shocking how many times I have been made to greet small animals and children during my interview. Cats, chihuahuas, bunnies. One guy ran across his room to scoop up his cat before holding her up to the screen and demanding that I say hello and tell her she’s a pretty girl.

Similarly, I have had multiple applicants bring their children onscreen and have little Timmy or Susan beg me to give mommy or daddy the job. At which point I usually get to lie to small children and feel like an a$$hole for the rest of the day.

DONT DO IT. If you wouldn’t bring your pet into an office for an interview, don’t bring them onscreen. Same with children.

Cursing: I have a potty mouth. If you’ve read anything here, you know I curse like a landbound sailor and don’t feel too bad about it. But I worked with children for years as a nanny and as a tutor and I always managed to keep my swearing under wraps. I CERTAINLY never cursed in an interview. Yet, for some reason, people seem to think it’s acceptable to say everything from “oh sh-t” over not knowing an answer to “I’m pretty damn good at-” whatever subject we’re talking about.

In my line of work, the more casually the swear words slide off your tongue in front of me, the more horrified I become at the prospect of setting you up with a client. I used to do tutor matching. I have talked to irate customers whose tutor did or said something inappropriate. If you curse in front of me, I am going to assume you’ll slip up in front of them and that won’t be the MAIN reason I don’t put you through but the professionalism concern is going to lose you enough points that nothing else is going to save you.

Eating: Have you ever listened to someone eating something moist and chewy through iPhone earbuds while taking smacking pauses and then attempting to talk through and around whatever’s in their mouth? No? Lucky you. It’s part of my job on a daily basis.

And no matter how many times I find myself in a phone interview with an eater, I’ve never found myself not contemplating a murder.

It’s not even just the phone interviews, either. I’ve had people wrestle open a bag of Cheetos on screen and dig in. I see people drinking everything from water, to soda, to coffee, to beer and wine in the face to face interview. On what planet is that okay??

As a child I was taught not to eat in front of people. I was also taught to chew with my mouth closed and not talk with my mouth full. Most of the people who eat on their interviews with me do ALL THREE AT ONCE. Part of it peeves me because it’s annoying, another because it’s rude, and third because I cannot eat during interviews.

I will get in trouble if I’m caught eating or if my coffee cup is in frame on an interview. If a phone interview is recorded and I’m eating I would get written up so fast my head would spin. I’m literally trapped at my desk for most of the day unable to eat or drink outside of assigned break periods and these people can’t even suck it up for 15 minutes per phone screen or 50 minutes for an online interview. It bothers me to my core.

If you’re eating when you speak to me, unless you are God’s gift to tutoring from an Ivy League university with test prep experience and a teaching certificate your application is getting flagged as unprofessional and I will not put you through.

DON’T DO IT.

And we’re going to nip this one here and call it Part 1 because there are more things to not do in and interview, but we’re not even halfway through and I’m all agitated! So enjoy, don’t do this to your interviewers, and I’ll see you next time.

Begging for Thread

Stooped down and out  you’ve got me begging for thread to sew this hole up that you ripped in my head. -Banks

I’m in one of those rare low places where I can recognize that something is wrong, but I also have no way of getting myself out. I feel like I’m between several rocks and a hard place. I did not put myself here. I don’t like it. I’m about to lose my ish and all I’ve got is the reverberating refrain of “why?”

I realized this weekend that I haven’t been in a relationship in 3 years. The last official boyfriend I had was the abusive one and while I’ve dated and even got to the point where I seemed to be in a relationship it occurred to me that it never really got to that point and I’ve been single for over 3 years, now.

Which didn’t weird me out until I started talking to this guy who is crazy serious about being interested in me. He’s great. We like the same things, are from the same place, our families know each other… because his dad taught my history class in high school and I was on the swim team with his sister. We also were on opposite ends of a double date once in college. Suddenly he’s all over me and we have a date on Saturday because I like him and we’d work well together except for the whole thing is really weird and outside of rationally knowing we’d make a good couple, I feel nothing for him. So I’m worrying about being a terrible person for not outright shutting him down, but also worrying he might be the one for me, but also worrying that that’s settling because there’s a lot of things about him that make me say “nooooooo.” I’m also worrying because one of those things is that he looks like his dad and sister which is weird for me but feeling that way makes me feel shallow.

I am mentally climbing the walls with anxiety over all that already.

On the other hand I have this stupid crush on a man who  I see on a regular basis, who hugs me and tells me I look lovely and trips over his words as he flirts with me while turning the loveliest shade of pink in the cheeks. He also exasperates the crap out of me because one day his arm feels so right around my shoulders, and he makes me shiver singing in my ear and telling me I’m “trouble” in the dark of the Blues room and the next he’s using Kay as a barrier between us and won’t meet my eyes or even say hello to me.

Now besides that, he may have a long distance girlfriend which is game over as far as I’m concerned. I’ve been cheated on myself and had enough men swept out from under me that I would never do that to another woman. And of course there’s the everpresent ex girlfriend who attends all the same blues events as the Viking and me and follows him around like a lost puppy but doesn’t approach him.

That ex girlfriend has become the biggest rock about to crush me, anxiety wise, for several reasons.

First off, I knew it was going to be a problem because she runs in the same circles as the Viking. She’s everywhere. If anything happened with the Viking and myself it would be under her scrutiny as well as the scrutiny of the rest of the blues/swing scene. And for some reason being an inexperienced dancer makes me feel like I wouldn’t measure up to anyone’s expectations because they’re all great. And his ex was a good dancer, and his current-maybe-long-distance-gf teaches at a swing school, so she’s a good dancer too.  So there’s that.

Then there’s the fact that I thought the ex was walking around with a lost puppy look this whole time, and it’s been confirmed. A friend went on a blues-themed cruise and made her acquaintance and is just SO goddamned enthusiastic about her as a person that when she spilled the circumstances of her breakup with the Viking, I was told I should get out while I can.It was a normal breakup by all accounts. Not great, but definitely nothing that makes him a bad person.He said he wanted to work on himself and didn’t need to be in a relationship right now. Broke it off. Then started dating someone in Canada. She’s upset that he didn’t come right back to her (and on Friday I witnessed her flip off his car as it pulled away and say she was going to go off and stew) and is clearly not over the whole thing though it’s been over a year.

NOW. Here are the points that are eating me alive:

I have it confirmed. The ex is not over it and what’s worse, after this weekend it’s been demonstrated that she’s okay being really immature about not being over it in public. That spells out drama if anything went anywhere with the Viking.

In getting the story out of Brunhilda (what, it sounds like something you’d call a Viking ex, WHAT?) my friend spilled the beans that the Viking was flirting with one of HER friends and revealed that I have a crush on him as well. A SELECT amount of friends fall in the category of my friend’s friends and people the Viking spends excessive time with. If we were to draw a Venn Diagram it would something like this: Me, Kay, and a couple men who wouldn’t count because it was revealed that the crushing party was a “she” so THAT’S F___ING IT!!! Now Brunhilda doesn’t strike me as the sharpest tool in the shed, but she’s not completely daft and the MINUTE she puts things together it’s going to be ugly. This is now a ticking time bomb.

My friend likes Brunhilda. She cannot say enough good things about her. It’s making it really awkward to talk about him, now. So in my overly worried brain I feel replaced. I feel like MY friend has taken this partial stranger’s side over mine because they have a similar romantic history. That’s not how things are supposed to go. You’re supposed to be objective but supportive of your friend’s paramours. I feel like I can’t say anything about Brunhilda now, because she’s my friend’s friend. I can’t talk about the Viking because he dumped my friend’s friend.

To make matters worse, this weekend my friend pulled Brunhilda over to introduce her to each. Person. In. Our. Group. So now the clock on my time bomb has sped up AND I have to be cordial to someone I’ve been actively avoiding and could have continued avoiding had not formal introductions been made. NOW she comes over to our group to talk and each time she does my heart jumps out of its chest and I panic over whether I’m acting natural or not. I also feel really fake and terrible as a person when I’m trying to act normal around her. The thing I liked about the blues scene was that I didn’t have to fake my personality. Now I have to put on a face to deal with people. I have to be looking over my shoulder at all times making sure I’m not being too obvious with the Viking, or too talkative around the ex.  Worse, when Brunhilda’s around, the Viking avoids me/our group and outside of the fact that I have a crush on him, he’s funny and a good dancer and I enjoy talking and dancing with him. I wouldn’t have been friends with this girl otherwise, I was already his friend. Being friends with her is interfering with the friendship I was building. I feel like I had an absolute TON of choices made FOR me by other people and I don’t like it.

 

Outside of everything else my abusive ex is trying his hardest to get in contact with me and I want no part of it.

I also haven’t been seeing my family enough and feel like an awful daughter/sister.

I also haven’t been eating or sleeping well so my mood, skin, and weight are out of control.

 

All in all I feel like I’m losing what was left of my mind. I am completely out of control and I don’t know what to do. I wish the answer would just fall into my lap but that’s not how life works. So I’m writing, and playing music, and hoping I can muddle through all of this and come out okay.

THIS is how I’ve been single for 3 years.

No one stays for this.

Affect(at)ion

All of my chill is gone and we’re officially in trouble.

I THOUGHT I was in trouble but now I’m REALLY in trouble.

I almost kissed the Viking.

Unconsciously.

Without thinking about it.

I freaked out when I realized I trusted him without thinking about it.

Now I am absolutely climbing the walls from how uncomfortable I am with myself and my feelings and instincts and the whole weird situation.

It happened on Saturday.

He showed up at an event he’d previously said he wasn’t going to. It was Fusion, and so far as everyone knew, he didn’t really do the whole Fusion thing. Then as I’m working the door he came up the stairs. I put a wristband on him and when I managed to get the sticky bit stuck perfectly straight on the band (which is a FEAT let me tell you), grinned “Perfect!”

He sort of murmured “Wouldn’t expect anything less” with this tiny smile on his lips and glowing in those baby blues. He walked away and I hid under the desk (literally) while Kay fetched my (vodka-laced) Powerade from my bag so I could knock enough back to hopefully stop my hands from shaking with anxiety.

I am such a classy broad.

So I work at the front desk for my hour shift and then Kay and I go looking for him. But subtly because we’re adults (I think). We find him in the Blues room and he’s dancing with someone. I go back to the Fusion room because I actually very much enjoy Fusion. I dance and can’t manage to get away for a while but I see the Viking poke his head in now and again, always retreating to the Blues room.

Evan comes in eventually and snags me for a dance but drags me into the Blues room to do it where the Viking is dancing with someone else. Evan and I dance and he nods in the Viking’s direction before saying in a tone usually reserved for oh la la “You should ask him to dance, I think he’s been following you.” He then wiggles his eyebrows at me.

Now I told Evan a secret on Thursday. Long story short he knows about my crush.

[Long story, medium Evan was playing “pick a boyfriend for Kay from the dance floor” on Thursday. She rejected all of his picks and then later, dancing with me he asked if she’d be into the Viking at which point I jumped at the chance to confirm whether a rumor from the previous Thursday that the Viking has a long-distance relationship with some swing dancer from Canada was true or not. Evan seems to think they broke up but either way “they’re not married.” He pressed on with setting up the pair and I was then stuck making lame excuses as to why Kay wouldn’t be into Mr. Viking until I finally just told him she wouldn’t touch him because she knew I liked him. Evan then pronounced himself Switzerland in the whole thing and nothing more was said.]

So then the whole night was spent thinking maybe Evan had mentioned something to the Viking (they ARE friends) and that THAT was the reason for the unexpected appearance. But after dancing with him that once I never got the change to actually ask him what he’d done.

I slipped into the Fusion room to calm down leaning against wall of the dance studio like a coward and not ten seconds later the Viking appeared in the doorway and casually leaned against the pile of dance barres next to me. We chatted, he said he’d seen me flitting in and out of the Blues room but never really staying. I said something about looking for songs I like and then mentioned I did go in a few times hoping to snag him for a dance.

I asked him to dance, we danced. He thanked me and disappeared for another hour until he pulled something similar and I found him back against the dance barres watching the Fusion dancers.

The wall was more crowded than it had been when he’d joined ME there so there wasn’t a ton of room. I grinned cheekily at him and told him to “budge up” so I could fit between him and the stack of barres. There was just enough room for me, he didn’t need to move, but it would be close quarters. He grinned at me and said “no.”

I wedged in next to him. resting my elbows on the higher barre build into the wall where his were. The line of our sides touched. Just enough to feel the warmth, but not the weight behind him. We talked. I cannot recall what about.

He had to lean down a bit to talk to me because he’s tall and it was loud. It meant his face hovered over mine. I was practically tucked under his arm. He could have shifted away a bit but he didn’t.

At some point in the conversation I found myself turning from the dance floor, smiling, and looking up at him and he was smiling and looking down at me and I just felt this tug I haven’t felt in a long time. Like a knee jerk reaction I wanted to lean up those last couple inches and press a quick kiss to his face.

I didn’t want to make out with him. I didn’t even necessarily want to kiss his mouth. But in that moment I instinctively, unconsciously, FELT that I should kiss him.

My mind or body or some combination of the two feels affectionate towards this man I’m just barely getting to know. Just like my mind/body/hybrid knows he won’t drop me when he sweeps me into a fast dip.

It makes sense. I was naturally at one point a very affectionate person. Leaning over to kiss someone, or slipping my hand into someone else’s was easy as breathing.  Hugs. Shoulder bumps. Brushing an arm.

Then I dated someone abusive who didn’t allow me to touch him without permission and certainly never in public and a couple emotionally distant people who wouldn’t hold my hand or otherwise touch me around other people. I now have a learned habit of deliberately, physically distancing myself from people.

It helped me recognize the sensation and squash it before I did something awkward like lean in.

But a small (very small, miniscule, really) part of me wonders if it would that have been the worse thing I’ve ever done. It may have solved all our problems.

I know he felt some sort of pause and the pink that found its way into his cheeks when we broke the silence and looked back at the dance floor before I asked if he wanted to dance some blues with me says its something along the lines of my complimenting him, saying he’s handsome or talented or witty.

So I almost kissed him.

My unconscious tried to kiss him.

Which means the crush and our growing friendship has turned to some rosy shade of affection, for me at least.

I am horrified and more anxious than ever before. But it’s also exciting, and I still don’t understand anything on his side.

 

The Golden Afternoon

I garden.

Not particularly well. But I plant, cultivate, and if I’m lucky things grow.

My parents had an enormous yard when I was growing up so in the Spring they would always clear out the flower beds and put in new plants where they were needed. For a while we had a fenced vegetable garden in the front yard.

I am one of the rare Millennials that knows the taste of a fresh sweet pea snapped straight from the vine. I always say I hate tomatoes, but that’s not quite true because if I can pull a wobbly, not quite spherical, fruit from the vine and eat it warm there is nothing better. Store and restaurant tomatoes are disgusting and NOTHING is worse than ketchup or tinned tomato sauce.

I don’t have a big house. I live in a teeny apartment with an even teenier triangular patio, but I garden.We got a lot more rain than expected this year, so a lot of my plants drowned but in general I grow flowers in little (and bigger) pots. I had a corn plant that I grew from a 6 inch tall sprout into  a stalk taller than me in pots of varying size until the wind took it and snapped it in two.

Since Spring is upon us, I thought I’d better start sprucing things up. So this weekend I went out and did some thinning and repotting, and pruning. In doing so, I realized I’ve learned a lot of things about life in general from my dabbling with my tiny urban garden.

I thought I’d share some of them.

Pruning: Pruning used to seem awful to me as a kid. You spend all this time putting so much effort into growing things. You tend plants through all sorts of weather and then with the change of season, or when they grow past a certain point, you hack giant pieces off of them. Sap flows out and it just seems like it should hurt or even kill the plant. Particularly the more severe pruning of trees or rose bushes. But it’s for the plants good. In life sometimes you can put a lot of effort into things and there comes a time when you need to strip what is dead or dying away from you. There are times when you need to cut out pieces that appear completely normal but if allowed to continue growing unchecked could become detrimental to your overall health, happiness, or well-being.

I have done a lot of pruning in my life. In college, I left my sorority for a while to focus on getting help for my numerous mental health issues. I lost a lot of “friends” that way. At this point I’ve paired down to a handful of women. Kay and Jo are two of them. I could have kept the lot, but I would not have been able to continue thriving.

More recently I cut a man out of my life who treated me well, was handsome, and talented, and passionate. He thought I was lovely no matter my mood, or weight, hair color or style. But ultimately the relationship was going nowhere. He wasn’t my boyfriend. He wasn’t going to marry me. We were great together but he wasn’t serious about us and as long as I was seeing him, I was going to keep shooting my every opportunity for a happy committed relationship in the foot. A snip with the shears and I’m free. It hurt for a bit, but I’m better for it.

You don’t even just cut away people. You can cut out Netflix before bed and start reading again. You can cut out Facebook status rants and start blogging or journalling instead. You can cut out meat. You can cut out refined sugar. You can cut out gluten if you want, but I think THAT just makes you an asshole unless you have an actual condition. The point is, sometimes people, just like plants, could use a trim.

Pesticides: I don’t use them. I feel like this says a lot about me as a person,  but I don’t believe in chasing away creatures who appreciate my plants. This doesn’t just go for bugs. Birds like seeds. Cats like wheat grass. Caterpillars REALLY like my Basil. I don’t believe in poisoning or shooing things away. I plant two patches of cat grass: one down (by the cat-castle I use as a garden shelf because it wouldn’t fit in our living room corner) where stray cats can easily get it. One out of the way, harder to reach, for trimming and giving to my cats or juicing into wheat grass shots (which I have only ever done once because they taste like a fart of themselves). I let my basil grow tall and then strip away a bald patch on the stalks midway up. Caterpillars munch the lower leaves and when they hit bare stalk, usually don’t venture farther up. I keep my birdfeeder stocked and no one digs up my planters.

In life I think this roughly translates to realizing that not everyone is out to get you. Not everyone is deliberately trying to ruin your day or be mean to you. They’re just trying to find their own way through life. So be kind where you are fortunate enough to be able to. Don’t take the easy way out and assume someone is just angry, or just naturally has some vendetta against you. And be creative with your solutions.

Patience: Kind of goes without saying. Things take a long time to grow. Waiting pays off. Waiting for home grown basil instead of using the weird flaky dried stuff from the supermarket is infinitely better. But harder. Just like waiting for the right person to come along instead of settling for serial dating, or someone okay, but not quite right. Or waiting to get to know someone before jumping head first into a relationship.

Endurance:  I have a tomato plant that I ‘d thought was dead until a single, tiny, red fruit budded and ripened from one withered vine last week. The thing was brown and barely anchored in a broken pot. A sudden storm that caused flash flooding and power outages got it. I let it go. I figured it would wither and then compost into the soil and be good nutrients for the next thing I planted. Then it flowered. One tiny white blossom and one green leaf dangled from a vine snapped almost completely in two, brown and twisted, and dry on a big brown plant so dry it rattles in the breeze.

Living things endure. The places you think are broken beyond repair can knit themselves together again. I’m a good example. I am made up, essentially, of scar tissue and fears. I went from not being able to walk with a back injury to dancing every weekend. I suffer from mental disorders that should be (and honestly still, sometimes are) crippling but I have a pretty busy social life and spend most of my time being happy.

BUT Some things are beyond help: Plants are really great at looking dead and then suddenly springing back to life with a little TLC – but some things are just dead and need to be left that way. Roots can rot. Fruit can mold. You don’t want anything that springs up tainted. People try to come back into your life and the interim has lessoned the pain they caused you and because you remember the work you put into the relationship you’re tempted to keep trying. Or something be it a person, a job, a hobby, a habit is dead and dying and clearly poisonous to you but again, because of the effort you’ve put into it and the positive memories you have like the first flowering buds have you hesitant to make a clean break. Trash is trash, rot is rot, and just because something once was strong, healthy, even beautiful, if it has molded and decayed, there is nothing to do but throw it out. Let the past be the compost for new experiences.

Being dirty feels good: Wait, no, hear me out! That is not what it sounds like!

Oh wait, yes it is.

Dirt feels good under my nails. Walking barefoot outside recharges me. Splashing in puddles or leaving footprints in the mud is fun.  Stiletto heels and a short skirt feel good. Unabridged fantasies of a saucy nature are delicious and make the workday go faster. Scandalizing your friends with an explicit joke is wonderful. Deliberately pressing your chest into your crush’s when they hug you goodbye creates a lovely little electric zing that lasts for days. Living a little and not always doing what everyone else things is right is a great way to make yourself happy.

Dirt washes off: Even the most rank fertilizer, darkest soil, and most pungent mulch comes off with water. It may take a little effort, a little scrubbing under your nails, or behind your eats (I don’t know how other people garden) but you will get clean again and be better for the experience.

Similarly even the darkest experiences in life are not permanent. You can come clean again. I have had awful experiences. I have done awful things and had awful things done to me. But I am whole.

It takes some effort sometimes to convince myself that I am whole. I will always remember that I once was broken. I still remember the stains from the rotten vegetables, insect stings, and black reeking compost that I’ve come into contact with, but I am not made of those things. I am something completely different. I am me. I am whole and separate and clean. It may have taken some effort, some heavy duty detergent, a scrub brush, but I am more than the dirt I have touched.

Dirt don’t hurt, possibly, the most valuable lesson I’ve taken from gardening.

(Though the caterpillar trick is a close second, tbh)

Oh, look, I’ve been Impaled

Is it too much to ask, that I be warned when someone’s planning on sticking something in my vagina??

Sorry, too much, too fast (that’s what he said…. I’ll let myself out… Sorry again) but REALLY. I feel like every time I go to the doctor for something innocuous I somehow wind up in one of those awkward gowns that don’t cover anything, with my feet in the stirrups, and someone prodding my organs around from the inside!

I had an ultrasound scheduled this morning and before you ask, no, not pregnant, but my lady garden may be killing me slowly, or trying to fuse itself to other organs. Given the choice, I’d almost rather be pregnant.

Now they gave me all my appointment info, the nurse explained I’d need to come with an empty bladder, it wasn’t like we didn’t have some conversation beforehand and this appointment was scheduled 2 weeks in advance. There was time!

I get there for my ultrasound, still nothing is said until I get into the room and then this very nice lady I’ve never met before hands me a robe and tells me my ultrasound will be of the internal variety, so to get naked and hop into the stirrups.

WHAT?

I don’t think this is okay. When I was told ultrasound, I figured goo on the belly, sticky for the next few hours, wear a cotton tea shirt, good to go. I was already anxious about having the test done anyway, since, y’know, I MIGHT HAVE AN ACTUAL MEDICAL PROBLEM. Then they wait until I’m in the room and have no mental prep time before they tell me I’m going to have a piece of machinery shoved up inside me.

I feel that as women, having been told since we were little that no one should see you naked and no one should touch your ‘private parts’ that laying back with your legs wide open and someone probing around inside you with a lubed-up speaker on a stick is uncomfortable at the very least.

Then add in all the sh!t we develop growing up into women, in my case general anxiety over anything outside my door and medical settings in particular as well as a history of moderate sexual trauma, surprise penetration is not welcome!

But where is the line? Who do I complain to? It’s not the doctor’s fault, it’s not really anyone’s fault. Anyone in that office is going to tell me that the ultrasound was standard for the sort of problems I’m having. If my lady garden is the problem, I should expect to have it prodded at from all angles. My anxiety and my mental health are a good half of the reason that such an apparently routine medical procedure has me fighting off tears and a full blown anxiety attack.  Any doctor is going to tell me that my physical health needs supersede mental health.

I don’t know what the big picture is here, but small picture, as far as I’m concerned, I need advanced notice if you expect me to take off my panties.

Come to think of it, that’s probably a good policy for most real-life settings.

Zero to Awkward REAL Quick

There’s a guy I see at all the different Blues (and now Fusion) events and he’s super nice, a little quiet, and one of my favorite leads. He’s actually the first person who ever asked me to dance the first night I tried Blues.

He always asks me to dance at least once, and usually towards the end of the night when people thin out and the music gets slow, we wind up dancing 2 or 3 songs in a row to a nice Slow Drag (I would link to the wikipedia page, but their definition just makes Slow Drag sound kind of sleazy, so if you’re really interested, maybe try youtube?).

Either way, he’s just nice and not intimidating at all and it’s very comforting to dance with him at the end of the night.

I went to a Fusion event a couple weekends ago and he was there it was VERY lead heavy so I didn’t sit practically the whole night and towards the end of the night he snagged me and we wound up dancing a slow song together. He pulled me into a closed embrace and leaned our heads together, tucked my hand into his and let them fall to our sides. We kind of just swayed there talking. It was relaxing and a nice break from the high energy of the night.

The song ended and since we were still talking I asked if he wanted to go another round. He did and we picked up where we left off.

I mentioned he did a lot of different dance events.

Then he mentioned he didn’t really come for the dancing. He spun me and then back with his head next to mine said he came to “see what his options are.”

INSERT THE SOUNDS OF SCREECHING TIRES HERE.

Now, in my mind, I’m like “IS THAT WHAT THIS IS??? AM I AN OPTION???? ABORTABORTABORT!!!” The cozy snuggle took on a new meaning.

Outwardly, we continue our endless bluesy circles on the floor and I pipe up:

“I come to events because I’m using it as therapy for my crippling Agoraphobia!”

There was a long pause before he asked if that was like Claustrophobia.

At which point I began with “That IS a common misconception but-” and followed with the DSM definition in a rambling deluge.

Needless to say, that was the last time we danced that night and he got REALLY quiet after that.

The good news is, I now have a tried and true method for shutting down a potentially awkward romantic approach.

 

I may think you’re hot. 

I may be ABSOLUTELY BATSH!T!!!

 

Can’t go wrong.

crushcrushcrush…

 

Do you know how long it’s been since I had an honest to god CRUSH on someone?

This whole thing started as a joke.

He’s tall. He’s handsome.

He’s in a red vest and a grey cardigan with his hair tied back in a low horsetail like some Dickens’ gentleman and actually looks me in the eyes when we’re being introduced.

Oh look, he’s a good dancer and he’s in a purple collared shirt and I would really like to dance with him.

Notice me, Senpai!

Haha ha. Everyone laughs, but I’ve got this weird fluttering in my chest.

He dances with me and he’s funny and the first time he smiles at me our faces are inches away and his eyes are so… blue. The whole blonde hair blue eyes thing was never my thing but he’s different. Its not his face its the expression on his face that I can’t quite put my finger on. Some simple open expression.

He dips me and he’s the only person I’ve ever danced with where I don’t have the roller-coaster-bottom-dropping-out-of-my-stomach moment of fear thinking I might hit the floor. I’ve said it before, as a simple unspoken truth, he will not let me fall. My trust in him is involuntary; it’s a reflex.

One that, between my general anxiety and my history with men, should not be functioning.

The next time I see him at a dance I walk in as he’s signing in. He has neat handwriting for a man. His name has an old world ring to it. He may very well be a viking.

I sit down next to him for a bit and talk and that flutter is still in my chest; it wasn’t a fluke. He’s forgotten my name and looks genuinely upset about it.

I watch him all night and because I’m watching him, I catch him watching me more than once. The nervous flutter in my chest multiplies, one moth to full blown butterflies. Anxious, I walk to my car and hide in the bathroom more than usual. Every time I return he’s where I was. With my friends, chatting or dancing, like he was looking for me.

We finally dance and it’s electric.

Now this time he walks up the stairs to peek into the pre-dance blues lesson. He’s looking at his feet as he climbs the stairs so from my place by the door I see him before he sees me, and then the man I’m partnered with turns me away.

I’m smiling and that flutter is back. It multiplies when I feel his eyes on me. He leans in the doorway for a little while, watching the class, then he’s gone.

Later, Kay and I talk to one of the Viking’s friends, we’ll call him Evin. The Viking joins us. The two are nearly a perfect foil. Tall and blonde, short and brunette. Both have hair past their shoulders and a sharp wit.

They lean against each other and jokingly mimic a Russian accent. They bond over their hair in jest. He compliments the shoulder length bob I’m still not sure about. His blue eyes sparkle. He shifts and leans against the open door of the dance studio beside me.

He asks me to dance and we do. It’s terrible. We wind up talking more than anything. My feet can’t discern the difference between my heartbeat and the music playing in the room. I laugh when he starts in, excellent as always, and compliment his fancy footwork.

A glow appears in his cheeks. The flush over his cheekbones is not pronounced but his face is so close to mine. He cannot take a compliment. At least not from me. He stumbles over his words saying “that’s it, keep her focused on your feet. she won’t notice that you can’t hold a conversation.” He looks down. I stumble and laugh.

I want to kiss that blushing cheek. I want to compliment everything I know about him until it’s easy for him to take the praise. The flutter in my chest becomes an ache, like stretching a sore muscle. A delicious sort of pang.

We laugh and bond over an ineptitude in small talk.

Kay is sitting with Evin and they’re laughing. The Viking and I stand. Evin tells an inappropriate story. The Viking says something incredibly witty and then he’s gone.

I file the comment away for later and when I sit down across from him the next time he’s alone and I’m not being twirled around the floor like a cyclone I bring it up.

He shares the story and it involves Richard Nixon and “tasteful Dick” and a girl who didn’t quite appreciate the joke.

I appreciate it and tell him so.

The flush is back in his cheeks and we’re laughing together and that stupid flutter in my chest is making me feel like I might float off the floor and he asks me to dance again.

He just comes alive on the floor. He’s so soft spoken and sweet standing still, but he’s so powerful and confident in motion. I can’t match him. I want to so badly.

I laugh at myself disparagingly. I don’t know what I’m doing with my feet. I can’t keep up with his footwork.

He leans away a bit so he can look down at my feet and I feel the nerves. Its the strangest sensation: wanting his attention, but not his scrutiny.

He only says gently “no, see, you’re doing little..” and he names some step I don’t catch because I’m lost in my own pulse again.

I would have kept him for the last dance but I was interrupted by a friend instead.

Before we separate, I tip my head up to meet those blue eyes and say with a grin that he has to say goodbye to me. I’m not sure if it counts as flirting, but it felt right. Teasing, light, and it means I’ll get to see him one more time before going home.

When he does find me after the dance he hugs me goodbye. My arms loop around him and he gives my waist a squeeze and it’s the first time he’s touched me in non-dance context.

His cheeks are pink again. His eyes are deep and blue pulling away.

I have a stupid crush on him and even reading over the most prominent moments in my minds eye, I cannot for the life of me tell where it happened.

It’s just consuming me, slowly.

 

BUT

And this is a big but (ha) given that I don’t understand men, BUT:

I think he may like me back.