A Change Will Do You Good.

September 29, 2007

Today my search engine terms contained this:

“Dogs with foamy mouths in the car.”

This I can deal with.

Oh, man.

September 28, 2007

It’s been a week. Yes, indeed. Quite a week.

Maybe You Need to Cry.

September 26, 2007

Yesterday contained another freak-out moment that lasted pretty much all day. Several factors contributed to this phenomenon: lack of sleep, lack of rational ability, lack of chocolate, lack of best friend (who lives in San Francisco), lack of parental supervision (they are in Minnesota), and lack of kissing my fella (who lives in Los Angeles, although I did borrow someone else’s boyfriend in D’s absence, but it just wasn’t the same).

The freak-out moment basically consisted of me staring at my computer screen at work all day as up-from-the-ground, self-doubts arose, with a triumph o’er Ann Clipperton. Again, pessimism has reared its ugly pancreas. Finally, I emailed the best friend, L, in San Francisco. She sent me a text message that said, “I love you. Breathe.” And then she sent me an email with all kinds of straight-forward rationality: I will find a job. I will find an apartment. I will be able to pay all my bills even while I’m moving. People will buy things on my garage sale. I will not lose my creative abilities. I will not lose my teeth from gum disease. I will not slip and fall in the shower from a drip of wayward body wash. I will not be thrown out in a deserted alley to be eaten by rabid vermin.

When I arrived home after work, I needed some time to de-tox from all the worries of the day. I lay down to take a nap, but then D called, and we talked for over 27 minutes. I know this not because I watch the clock while we are talking, but because he said, “We’ve been on the phone 27 minutes, and it’s day minutes, so I have to go,” to which I replied, “Okay,” but then we talked for another five minutes, which included two of those awkward “Hey wait!” moments after one has pulled the phone away from one’s ear and is ready to push the hang-up button. So, as I’m hanging up, D’s tiny little phone voice says, “Oh, Ann?” And then he told me to watch Saving Private Ryan, which I have never seen, but he claims is one of the pivotal films of our generation (in retrospect, I am inclined to agree).

“But D,” I says, “I don’t want to watch a movie that will make me cry.”
“Who says you’ll cry?” D asked.
Heh. Right. “You’re saying that to me?”
It was then that D administered his amazingly comforting boyfriendy-skillz: “Well, maybe you need to cry,” which sounds cruel but is really quite thoughtful on his part.

So, like a good girlfriend…I negotiated a bargain that would suit us both. “D,” I says, “I will watch Saving Private Ryan tonight if you will send me teen-heart-throb pictures of yourself this weekend.” And then it was a deal, and I was happy all the way down to my toesies. And in the next “Hey wait!” D said, “You will want to keep a box of tissues handy. And hold onto a pillow.” Now, tissues I could do. But a pillow?

“I thought you insinuated that I wouldn’t cry.”
“I never insinuated that. I said, ‘Maybe you need to cry.'”

After talking to L for quite a while on the phone — a fantastic conversation mostly centering around relationships and freaking out about the future — I settled down with a bowl of mac and cheese and a box of Milk Duds to watch the feature film. Francis kept trying to lick my mac and cheese, and she did crawl up on the end table and take a few swigs of my milk. I drank it anyway. (I know, I know. Gross.) I started crying in the first scene. And continued crying pretty much through the whole movie, except that part in the first battle scene where the guy is trying to stuff his intestines back into his stomach. At that point I got up to stuff the last of the mac and cheese down the garbage disposal.

Many thoughts occurred to me as I was watching, but I will not write about them on my blog. I will simply say, “See the movie. It will change your life.”

Afterward, I called D. I could barely talk about the scenes that impacted me the most because they got me all choked up again. So, I sat there, hugging my pillow, telling my fella all the thoughts that had spun through my head while I watched, and yes, he was right. I just needed to cry.

After a long day of working from 8 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. with three small breaks equaling 1.75 hours, I am wondering who invented crackers and why, why in the world my body is still wide awake. Oh, if I could only sleep. Sleeeeeeep.

I should not be blogging right now. I will say things I shouldn’t in my exhaustion and emotional instability, things like…

When I was eleven, I spent the entire year wearing the same pair of purple jogging pants and never combing my hair. My brother was embarrassed to be seen with me.

Or

My hair wouldn’t grow until I was three years old, and my mom was scared that I’d end up bald.

Or

When I was young, I was a 4-H clown and had to walk behind horses in parades with a shovel and a wheelbarrow, cleaning up horse feces.

In front of the whole town.

These are my late-night confessions, O Readers, over a plate of crackers and cream cheese, which I should really just apply directly to my hips. God, help me.

Coming to Terms with Pessimism

September 24, 2007

I once read that doing stuff on the computer too close to bedtime can often lead to restless sleep because of the computer’s bright screen and all the movement on the internet. I wasn’t on the internet late into the night, but I did half-heartedly write the first paragraph to a novel that I’ve been planning on writing, oh, for the past three years. I am not excited about this paragraph. In fact, it sucks. I forced myself to save it because, let’s face it, I’ve been hemming and hawwing about this too much. The only way to be a writer is to write.

So, anyway, last night I kept having dreams about the internet. Lately I’ve been doing a lot of research online for jobs and apartments in California, and that means I’ve been flipping back and forth between websites a lot — Craigslist for the jobs, then to Map Quest to see what area it’s in, then to Sperling’s Best Places to get an idea of the crime level in said area. Last night I kept dreaming that I had to look up all aspects of my life on the internet.

And now I am up at 6:45 a.m., 15 minutes before the assault of my alarm, because I can’t sleep due to racing thoughts. Most of those thoughts center around finding a job once I get to LA, because many have said that it is tough to find a good job in a big city. And then, by the way they look at me, it’s as if they’re saying with their narrowed eyes and pursed lips, Especially for you, Ann Clipperton!

Through this whole moving process, I am coming to embrace my pessimism and even make fun of it: I can’t possibly find an apartment in LA even though I have an awesome rental history and great credit because the landlords will take one look at me and say, “Her? Her? You want us to rent to HER?!?!? You can tell she’s a messy person just by looking at her! Our carpets were not made for piles of clothing and shoes!” I am convinced that when I get to LA, I will be living on the streets of Compton in a camping tent, dealing drugs.

I am afraid that even dentists will not want me as a client. When I was 15 and had braces, my dentist told me that my teeth are very small. Now I am paranoid that my teeth will not meet the required LA dentist standards — after all, movie stars have big teeth for their big smiles — and I will not be able to have cleanings or cavities filled, and all my teeth will fall out, and all those teeth-falling-out dreams were actually prophetic.

The other thing is that I’m going to move to LA, and D is going to break up with me and start dating Scarlet Johanssen, because his name is D and she is at least a D-cup, and really it would be fate for them to be together. I am not a D-cup.

And anyway, nobody is going to buy anything on the garage sale I’m having in a few weeks, and I’m going to get fired from my job even though I handed in my resignation over a month ago, and I’ll spend the rest of my life working at the GAP in Rogers, Arkansas, adopting every cat that comes my way until I’m actually old enough to be living in my apartment instead of being in that 20% of under-55s that they allow to live here.

Happy Monday.

*EDIT*
Over my lunch break, I stopped by the GAP to pick up my schedule for the week. It is with great pleasure that I inform you all that your dear Ann Clipperton will be working over 61 hours this week, 2 jobs combined, with nary a day off. Please forgive any erratic behavior in the next week. This, too, shall pass.

Weekend Meme

September 23, 2007

1. What is more difficult for you, looking into someones eyes when you are telling someone how you feel, or looking into someones eyes when they are telling you how they feel?
Hmm… probably telling them how I feel. I am often more accepting of others’ issues and problems than I am of my own.

2. Think of the last time you were REALLY angry. Why were you angry?
That was about two weeks ago, and I was angry because somebody pulled all the bananas off of my counter, ate them, and left the peels lying all over the apartment, so I slipped in every room. I was REALLY angry.

3. You are on a flight from Honolulu to Chicago non-stop. There is a fire in the back of the plane. You get enough time to make ONE phone call. Who would you call?
Why Honolulu and Chicago? Is there a significance to these destinations that I am not aware of? And secondly, why wouldn’t we all put on parachutes and jump? If I have enough time to make a phone call, I would have enough time to jump. (I would call my parents.)

4. You are at the doctor’s office and she has just informed you that you have approximately one month to live. (1) Do you tell anyone/everyone you are going to die? (2) What do you do with your remaining days? (3) Would you be afraid?
1.) I would tell people. They’d be angry if I didn’t, and it’s just not me to keep things from people.
2.) In my remaining days, I’d spend time with people
3.) I’d be sad, but I don’t think I’d be afraid. Unless I was dying of something painful.

5. You can have one of the following two things- trust/love. Which do you choose?
I don’t think you can separate trust and love. To a degree, they come together. You can’t REALLY love someone unless there is some degree of trust there, and you can’t REALLY trust someone unless there is some degree of love there. Not necessarily romantic love — friend-love too. I can’t answer this question. I think this meme was written by a teenager. Probably a girl.

6. You are walking down the street on your way to work. There is a dog drowning in the canal on the side of the street. Your boss has told you if you are late one more time you get fired. Do you save the dog?
I would call the police and let them know. I’m not about to jump into a canal with a strange dog, but I wouldn’t just let it drown.

7. You are unfaithful to your boyfriend/girlfriend. ..Do you tell him/her?
I wouldn’t do that because it would eat at me until I drove myself crazy. In the event that I did do that, I would have to tell my boyfriend because it would eat at me and drive me crazy so much that I wouldn’t be able to be myself. Then again, there was that time that I cheated on D with a traveling circus Gypsey, and I haven’t told D about that out of respect and protection for the Gypsey. I couldn’t help myself. He had a tambourine.

8. If you could go back and be with your first love, would you?
Nope. That was high school. Leah and I had a conversation yesterday about how we look back on the boys we thought we could love/were in love with when we were in high school or even college, and how now that we’re older, we doubt that it was really love. I mean, it might have been a taste of it, but as far as real love goes — like the deep, overwhelming need to be with someone — well, we’ve never felt that and it’s a little bit terrifying.

9. Think of the last person who you know that died. You have the chance to give them 1 hour of life back, but you have to give one year of your life. Do you do it?
I would give him that hour if he wanted it.

10. Are you the kind of friend that you would want to have as a friend?
Absolutely.

11. Does love = sex?
Nope (this was definitely written by a teenage girl).

12. Your boss tells your co-worker that they have to let them go because of work shortage, and they are the newest employee. You have been there much longer. Your co-worker has a family to support and no other means of income. Do you go to your boss and offer to leave the company?
Honestly, probably not.

13. When was the last time you told someone HONESTLY how you feel?
Yesterday. And today I told Francis that she’s crazy, and that was honest.

14. What would be harder for you, to tell someone you love them or tell them you hate them?
I assume that we’re talking about deep, deep love and deep, deep hate. I think the person would know either way, so I don’t find it necessary to answer this question. I wouldn’t feel the need to tell anyone that I hate them. And love… that would be hard.

15. What do you think would be/is the hardest thing for you to give
up?
My family, friends, dreams

16. Excluding family love, when was the last time you told someone you love them?
Yesterday

17. If you had to go back in time and change one thing, what would it be?
Sometimes I wish I had gotten a different major in college, but then I have to remind myself that I am who I am because of the people I met in college, and many of them I wouldn’t have met if I hadn’t been an English Major.

18. Imagine. It is a dark night, you are alone, it is raining outside. What are you doing?
Watching a movie or writing

19. Would you give a homeless person CPR if they were dying?
Yes. I’m CPR certified; therefore, I’m obligated to help in a crisis situation.

20. If you could do anything OR wish anything, what would it be?
I wish that Francis could come to California with me.

Far From Where I Started…

September 21, 2007

This was supposed to be self-centered. It was supposed to be about how my personality is left-handed in a world full of right-handers — how I am always going to be the one who has to overcome my personality in order to make in the American corporate world. I am an introvert. I am intuitive. I am a feeler. I am a procrastinator. But that is not what this is about.

This is about my cat and how she follows me. Before Francis wandered into my life as an eight-week-old fuzz-bucket who could fit inside a sock, I had no idea what cats were like. I mean, I’d held them, avoided their claws, watched them sleep, and heard them like screaming women outside my bedroom window. But, as in marriage I gather, you never really know about something until you live with it.

Now, dogs. Dogs I know. They are open and vulnerable and needy. My dog back home, Keai, can’t stand to be far away from people. When you are in the room with her, you are IN THE ROOM WITH HER. YOU MUST PET HER and PULL HER SLOBBERY BONE and TELL HER SHE’S THE BABY. I got used to the joyous adulation when I would return home, the tail-wagging, paw-tapping, body-wiggling happiness of I didn’t know you were coming back but then you came back so I didn’t eat for three days but now I can eat! FEED ME.

Cats are so not dogs. What really sold me on adopting Francis is that my co-worker Kathy gave her to me during lunch break at work, so I had the whole afternoon to love on her while trying to get my work done. Here is the day that I got Francis:

She fell asleep on my leg soon after this was taken, and even though I hadn’t admitted it to myself, she was mine. For the first week, she didn’t have a name. I called her Little One. And then suddenly, one day I was listening to Connie Francis, and the name Francis struck me. The perfect name for a cat. And for the first several months, I wondered if she even liked me. She enjoyed licking my eyelids and biting my toes, but did she really like me? Do cats like people?

It wasn’t until I moved into my own place that I realized how cats show their affection. Francis will never run up to me all gangly like a dog unless she wants to play. She won’t bark or lick. But when I come home from work, she is there, waiting at the door. And then she just looks at me. I go into the bathroom, and she hops up on the bathroom stool, ticking her tail, looking at me. In the kitchen, she lays down on the rug and looks at me. In my room, she lays on the end of the bed or in the doorway, and she looks at me. Cats have an uncanny way of moving their bodies without moving their eyes. She stands behind furniture to peek around and look at me. While I’m bathing, she sits by the tub so all I can see are her ears and eyes over the edge. When I am in the shower, she climbs onto the edge of the tub, between the shower curtain and the shower curtain liner, and she peeks around the edge. She will lay down, and she will sit up, but she will still look at me.

I’ve asked her before, aloud, “Why do you look at me like that?” Sometimes she just blinks. Sometimes she meows, which really sounds more like a squeak in a door: “Meep. Meep.”

And then there are the mornings. She knows that when the alarm goes off, my sleep is over, and as consistently as that alarm goes off every morning, she jumps up onto my bed and walks up to my face and watches me, waiting for me to touch her, and then it’s as if she’s says, “Oh, good. You’re alive.”

Brain Fry.

September 20, 2007

Once, in college, there was this guy with whom I went on a date. He was quite the intelligent type, somewhat masculine, with an academic side that made me imagine him perpetually in a sweater with leather elbow pads. We only went on one date, but that was fine because he was the type to take girls out just for the fun of it, just for an evening of discussing philosophy or religion or politics or literature…or all of them at the same time in one evening. Did I mention theology? Yeah, that too. And psychology? Yes, I think we covered that, particularly Piaget. And perhaps even some Freud, but you know that’s a little intense for a first date.

 

By the time I got home, I was exhausted. I mean, I really like a guy who can think, but seriously… is it even humanly possible to cover all of those topics in the course of one evening over coffee and doughnuts? Okay, so we didn’t have doughnuts and coffee; actually, I don’t even remember if there were any edibles involved, but it was a typical first date. Perhaps the date would have been more digestible with coffee and doughnuts.

Anyway, when I got home, my roommate at the time, a lovely woman named Ali who is currently getting her PhD in Southern Literature, said something that has followed me ever since. She said, “All that stuff can get overwhelming. Sometimes you just need to talk about cartoons.”

 

O Wise Ali, how you have influenced my life. Today at work we spent an intense seven hours as a staff going through the Myers/Briggs personality test results with a trained professional. I left feeling energized and affirmed in who I am – the man administering the results was kind and brilliant – but now I am oh, so exhausted. As an introvert, I have about a million questions going on in my head about today, and no time, no time at all to process them. So, here is what I want to talk about:

 

Copy Machine Repairmen. I don’t think I have ever met a lot of odder people. Perhaps it is because I am not used to their type – working my first desk/administrative/publishing job has widened my horizons to many types of people who were previously unknown to me – but really. I’d wager to say they’re just odd. From Jimmy, the middle-aged man who used to bring me flowers and gifts and then not look at my face when he was talking to me (my most frequent question? “So, Jimmy, how’s your WIFE?”); to the man who came over to my workplace this afternoon and looked at me like I was crazy when I tried to tell him what the problem is with our machine (TRUST ME, MAN, I KNOW WHAT THIS MACHINE IS DOING – I EXPERIENCE IT EVERY STINKING DAY!), and then he wouldn’t answer any of my questions when I asked him, he just looked at me, so I walked away and let him work; to the chatty little ladies who prance in to count the pages, “Hi, I’m Sharla, I’m here to count your pages, are you having a good day? Oh, my, my, who has been printing 40,000 copies a month?”

            “Um, that would be me.”

            “Killing many trees, now, aren’t we?”

            “Ma’am, killing trees is my job.”

 

Edit: The Copy Machine Repairman from this visit has been sitting out in his truck in the parking lot for the last ten minutes. I’m getting a little creeped out.

 

 

Moving is a Female Dog.

September 19, 2007

Survey the impeccable state of me:

moving1.jpg

Yes, friends. I’ve begun packing. And by packing, I mean pulling everything out of my closets, rooms, and cupboards to go through it, discard that which is unnecessary, and throw the rest into cardboard boxes, some marked “Minnesota,” and some marked, “California.” I ask you, WHEN WILL THIS STAGE OF MY LIFE BE OVER????

moving2.jpg

Even Francis can’t understand what happened around here. Today I was thinking about California, and I realized that it is very likely that when I get there, I’ll be moving around quite a bit. That was enough to make me decide not to go.

Just kidding. But I did briefly think of how nice my life was before I grew up, having the same room for more than a year. Right now my apartment is so messy that I don’t want to do anything but go to sleep. Thankfully, I have the whole weekend off… DID YOU HEAR ME??? THE WHOLE WEEKEND! That hasn’t happened since serpents had legs.

But I need to make a bridesmaid dress this weekend for my cousin’s wedding next month, so I may not get much packing done. It’s either make the dress or go naked, and I don’t think Grandma would appreciate the latter much. Then again… one of my favorite stories to tell about Grandma is the following:

Our story begins at the Clipperton and Dreke Family Christmas, where Ann, Cousin Daniel (who goes to art school) and Grandma Dee are sitting at the table. Family sit around in arm chairs, chatting about the year and the holidays and all those things that families chat about, like Uncle Irwin’s arthritis and that one dog they had that one time who died. Ann’s mom (also known as Aunt Celeste) stands nearby…

Grandma Dee: What is your favorite class at school, Daniel?
Daniel: Um, I really enjoy figure drawing.
Grandma Dee: Figure drawing? Like of people?
Daniel: Yes.
Grandma Dee: Do you have live models come in for figure drawing?
Daniel: Sometimes.
Grandma Dee: Do they take their clothes off?
Daniel: Sometimes.
Grandma Dee: Are they good-looking?
Aunt Celeste: Mom!
Grandma Dee: I just wanted to know if I could get a job.

My car is a 1983 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme. I like to inform people that it is as old as I am. Ever since I have owned the car, the fabric that is on the ceiling has been falling down. It never bothered me because I’m short enough so that the fabric fell just above my head, and by just above, I mean within a centimeter — close enough to stick to my static-y hair in the winter time, and far enough away that I never felt it.

All the hot, single men I welcomed into my car, however, had significant problems with my ceiling. They were large, attractive men with amazing pectoral muscles, and believe you me, there were a lot of them. But I never made it past first base with any of them because they were concerned that my ceiling would mess up their thick, glossy hair, and I’m not even kidding.

So, a few years ago, for the sake of the men, Dad brought out his staple gun and had a brilliant little shin-dig shooting about seven hundred staples into the ceiling of my car. The only problem? He didn’t shoot any into the ceiling near the windshield, right where the ceiling fabric ends and the windshield begins.

So, today I am driving home from work, and the sun is shining blindingly into the drivers’ side window. It is shining so brightly that the side of my face starts to sweat. Of course, I decide to move my visor to the side to block the sun. I reach up and push the visor over to the side. One would assume that instant relief would come, that the left side of my face would stop sweating, and that the air conditioning would begin to soothe my heated skin.

But no. All of that took second priority to the amazing cascade of decomposed foam that fell out from the crack between the ceiling and the top of the windshield when I moved the visor. It turns out that the visor was holding up the last bit of droopy ceiling.

And when I say cascade of foam, I don’t mean a little bit. Enough foam dust fell to cover every inch of bare skin (face, arms, neck, knees, hands) and the front part of my dress. Of course, my first reaction as I begin coughing because foam dust is falling all over me and in my mouth is to close my eyes so it doesn’t get in my eyes. After three seconds of eye-closing, I realize that I am still driving, and there are CARS, CARS OUT THERE! And then my eyes pop open, peering through the orange haze, just in time to begin slowing down for a stoplight.