I See Life Through Rosé-Colored Glasses, page 19
So you’re getting a fairly complete picture of what life is like as me, which I’m hoping is like life as you too.
Who here remembers actual records?
Who remembers little 45s?
Who remembers cassette tapes?
How about trying to rewind them and having them unspool out of the slot like brown tinsel?
I know. Me too.
So there you have it. Many of us live a life measured in obsolete technological stages.
It’s enough to make your hip hurt.
Yes, I have multiples.
Which honestly, is almost as much fun.
At least as far as I can remember.
Maybe having a bad memory is merciful.
I don’t really want to remember how great sex was, now that I’m not having any.
The same goes for banana splits, which I used to love.
Haven’t had one of those in ages.
They weren’t that good, were they?
Anyway, to stay on point, as I have mentioned, I have five dogs, but what always amazes me is how remarkably different their personalities are, each in its own way. If you have even a single pet, dog, cat, parrot, or even lizard, you know exactly what I’m talking about.
Okay, I’m tempted to say maybe not lizards, but isn’t that the whole point?
When you don’t really know about something, you do tend to dismiss its entire category. I think it happens with people, but it also happens with animals, too. For a long time we didn’t understand how intelligent and sentient animals like cows and pigs were, but now it’s well known that pigs are as smart as most dogs.
As soon as I learned that, I stopped eating pork.
And I took my dogs to obedience school.
Which didn’t take.
Only one of the dogs, namely Boone, was interested in pleasing me, but he got so excited during the class he couldn’t sit still. It turned out to be a problem, since he was trying to learn the command, “Go to your place.” It meant that he had to go sit on a platform, but he got so excited every time he sat on the platform that he fell off twice.
You’re probably wondering what kind of wacky obedience class this was, and I will tell you, it was my mistake.
I knew that the dogs had been behaving badly, but I didn’t do anything about it until one day I just got fed up and I decided that they were going to school. The only problem was that all the basic obedience classes were full, and the only class that had any openings was Circus Tricks.
Did that stop me?
Of course not.
I was desperate for them to learn something, and they’re five years old, so it’s not as if they can get into a puppy class. And I refused to believe that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, because God knows I’ve learned a few.
So I took the two worst-behaved dogs, brothers Boone and Kit, to the Circus Tricks class on separate nights, and you can imagine how that went.
A three-ring circus.
Kit is timid, so I thought the socialization would help him, but the tricks gave him pause.
For example, one of the tricks was to jump in a suitcase and close the lid.
It sounds dumb when you say it, but it really is a supercute trick, and his brother Boone loved doing it. Even today, if I’m packing to go on book tour and I leave my suitcase on the floor, he’ll jump right in and pull the lid over his head with his mouth.
You haven’t lived until you’ve seen a dog pack himself.
But Kit had the opposite reaction. He was completely intimidated by the suitcase trick, and I get that.
Who wants to entomb themselves for fun?
So I couldn’t get Kit to go anywhere near the suitcase in class, and now whenever I pack for book tour, he runs under the bed in fear.
So you see, the class really helped.
I stuck it out until the bitter end, but all three of us flunked.
And the dogs remain disobedient, if adorable.
The most adorably disobedient is Peach, who is Boone and Kit’s mother.
She’s my favorite, but I feel guilty even saying that. Still, she’s my cuddle monster and we love each other, a fact she completely forgets every night when I let the dogs in the backyard to go to the bathroom and have to get them back in. Every dog except Peach comes in right away, not because I call them, but because they’re tired.
My dogs can’t wait to go to bed.
If I’m working late in my office downstairs, Boone and Little Tony will go to the landing on the stairs and fall asleep there to give me guilt.
Kit will head upstairs to bed and start watching Kimmel.
Cavaliers: You can’t have just one!
Only Peach will stay in the backyard, barking and barking at God knows what. I can call her for half an hour but she won’t come. Invariably, I have to get the flashlight, go out, and find her.
You would think she’d be the best behaved because she’s the mother.
But now that I think about it, maybe that’s why she’s the least well behaved.
It’s tiring to keep those kids in line all day.
She just wants to have a little fun and bark at the moon.
Inside every mother is a party animal.
Ladies and gentlemen, we are gathered here today to mourn the passing of an old friend, AOL Instant Messenger.
This December, after twenty years of service, the away message will be up for good.
AIM is being laid to rest.
AIM was the first love that paved the way for today’s texting obsession. It was the originator of text-shortening slang, lol, jk, omg. It saved us from the creepy free-for-alls that were AOL chat rooms. For me, it was the site of all my adolescent dramas, great and small.
Do you remember your screen name?
Mine was Geoslab.
I got the name from a random font I liked. I chose it because it was gender-neutral (I had learned my lesson of the dangers of being openly female in AOL chat rooms), and because I thought it sounded like something from The Matrix.
When any friend asked what the name meant, I refused to tell them—a very cool move at the time.
It was my first and last time being mysterious.
It was not my first or last time being a little bit dumb.
AIM is where I learned to touch type. We had typing class in middle school, but I didn’t appreciate the power of asdfjkl; until I needed to reply to my crush ASAP.
Mavis Beacon couldn’t motivate me like Andrew from Social Studies.
AIM is where I learned to flirt. The chime of a new IM, instant message, could probably still make my heart skip a beat.
In person, I was a studious, thirteen-year-old girl who acted superior to the boys because I was pretty much terrified of them. The boys at that age rarely looked up through their bangs.
But it’s easier to be brave behind a screen. On AIM, nerds could have Nora Ephron-worthy banter.
And if I couldn’t think of something witty to say, I could always just say, brb, g2g, my mom needed the phone line.
My best guy friend and I talked endlessly on AIM. At school, we were completely platonic, but online, we were Harry and Sally.
It let us toe the romantic waters with each other—and with anyone!—for the first time. It took months of circling the idea on our online chats before we went on an actual date. The date was horribly awkward, as any outing that begins with being dropped off by your parents is doomed to be. But we recovered and tried again; our suave, AIM alter egos were able to smooth things out in the following days.
Most importantly, our conversations over AIM made me feel like he was attracted to my mind, not just my new bra size.
I feel terrible for the youn
So much so, that when I had my heart broken over AIM, I was able to stand up for myself.
Like the time I was chatting with my senior, bad-boy crush. He was a moody wrestler that I tutored in French. I had loved him from afar for years. Right before he graduated, just in time for our love to feel impossible, we struck up an unlikely friendship. I didn’t want to get ahead of myself, but it almost seemed like he liked me.
So when his screen name popped up in an AIM chat window, I knocked over the dog to get to the computer chair.
(A nostalgic pause for the days of one family desktop computer and designated “computer chair.”)
So we got to IM’ing, and he asked me why I don’t have a boyfriend.
Hoping it would prompt him to ask me out, I coyly answered, “I dunno, you tell me.”
His reply was swift: “It’s your nose. It’s too big, and it doesn’t have an angle at the end.”
I felt the blood drain out of me. My number one insecurity, albeit one I rarely gave voice to, was my Italian schnoz. It was the physical flaw I zeroed in on in every photo but always hoped no one else noticed as much as I did. And here he said it, right to my face.
Well, to my computer screen.
And that was my saving grace—that AIM allowed me to have that moment of stunning, painful humiliation in the privacy of my own home. I paused, collected myself, and reclaimed my power.
“I’m well aware I don’t have a little Britney Spears ski-jump nose. The boys in our school should be so lucky.”
He tried to save it. “That’s what I meant. You know, and you don’t care, and that’s what makes you sexy.”
Nice try, pal. It was probably the first time anyone had explicitly called me sexy, much less someone I had crushed on forever, but the harsh light of the AOL window showed me the truth: he was just another fumbling teenage boy, and I didn’t need to settle for a backhanded compliment.
He even went on to ask me out again and again (always online) and I told him no, he had hurt my feelings, and I wasn’t interested.
In person, I could barely summon the confidence to correct his pronunciation of quelle heure, but on AIM I knew my worth.
There’s a lot of talk about how technology has made teenage angst harder, and today that’s undoubtedly true. I’m very grateful I didn’t have to have my falling-out with the popular girls in fifth grade play out on Facebook or my pimples displayed on Instagram.
But millennials my age were in the sweet spot of tech-assisted growing pains. We weren’t humiliated at the school dance like Molly Ringwald, nor were we smeared in the virtual public square of social media.
Instead of being like a scary online girls’ bathroom, AIM was like a good friend. It could get you out of a tough conversation with a simple signoff, and it had your back with a passive-aggressive away message.
Alanis Morissette lyrics, anyone?
In an ironic twist, good old AIM, my main tool of procrastination during high school, was instrumental in getting me accepted to college.
One of the essays I submitted was a real AIM dialogue between a boy and me, complete with our screen names in red and blue, and edited with my commentary.
In retrospect, it was the first time I spun a story of heartbreak for laughs, long before I ever imagined I could make a living doing so.
My one-act AIM play centered around the comical demise of my barely there relationship with that guy friend I mentioned before, my Harry. We had just started dating when he messaged me that he had a dilemma weighing on him that he wanted to discuss with me, because I’m “so easy to talk to.”
He went on to explain that he liked me a lot, but he had just kissed an older girl and he thought he might like her too, and he just didn’t know how to choose between us.
I replied, “The way I see it, you have two choices. You can date her, or you can be single.”
That’s AIM confidence for you.
Because perhaps AIM’s greatest lesson was that words have power.
Even if the words you use are stronger than you may feel in the moment, writing them out can bolster your spirit.
Words can give you power.
So thank you, AOL Instant Messenger, for your innocence and your excitement, your gentleness and your strength.
Until we meet again, ily, ttyl.
Lately, everyone’s talking about adulting.
No, not adultery.
Nobody even knows that word anymore.
Adulting is a made-up word that means trying to be an adult and doing the daily things that adults have to do, like paying bills, putting out the recycling, and establishing a savings account.
Everyone online is talking and blogging about adulting, so much so that there’s even a backlash against it, with people claiming it’s sexist, boring, or overplayed.
That’s where I come in.
At the end.
I always get wind of something when everyone else is sick of it.
Just like I always hit the store and find out the sale was last week.
But as for adulting, I’m a fan.
I’m even a fan of the word.
Usually I don’t like trendy, made-up words, but this one makes sense, and honestly, I’ve thought for a long time that adulthood should come with a basic book of instructions, so you know the myriad of things that are expected of you, from the macro level like Be Kind To People And Animals, down to the micro level like You Can Wash Your Hair With Dishwashing Liquid if You Run Out of Shampoo, and Vice Versa.
See, did you know that?
Well, it’s true.
Take it from me.
Don’t ask how I know.
To stay on point, maybe that’s what happens as we get older. We accumulate all kinds of little tips for living, which not only help you do the right thing but also make your life easier.
For example, Tell The Truth is always the right thing.
But you know what will make your life easier?
You Can Pick Your Teeth With An Envelope If You Don’t Have A Toothpick.
That’s a quality life tip, right there.
Let’s call it adulting, so we feel trendy.
I read online that there was a library giving classes in adulting, and I applaud that. It’s just another thing to love about libraries, though between us, I feel like I could teach an adulting class, with tips like:
Clean The Lint Trap On The Dryer Or Something Bad Will Happen.
Change The Oil Filter On Your Car Or Something Bad Will Happen.
Don’t Be Weird About Going To The Doctor Or Something Bad Will Happen.
We can all agree on those adulting tips. And then there are ones that only I know:
Drink Half & Half When You Run Out Of Milk Because It Tastes Like Milk, Only Better.
Don’t Buy Foundation Because It Wears Off After Two Hours And If It Doesn’t, It Was Too Thick In The First Place.
Don’t Cut Your Hair When You Think You Need To Because That’s When It’s Starting To Look Good.
Buy Cheap Bras Because They’re Always More Comfy Than Expensive Ones.
And, Buy Backups Of Everything, Especially Toilet Paper.
Agree or disagree?
But even though I have learned a few things, it doesn’t necessarily mean that I’m supersuccessful as an adult.
In fact, I screwed up as an adult just today.
What happened was that yesterday afternoon, I was standing outside with the dogs and I felt a gnat around my face. I tried to wave it away, but by mistake, I batted it into my eye.
So right there, not quality adulting.
In fact, that’s an epic fail, as the kids would say.
Of course, they said epic fail th
I just now got wind of it.
Which would probably be the definition of an epic fail.
But anyway, the gnat was in my eye, so I washed my eye and thought I’d gotten it out. It bothered me the rest of the day, but I figured it was irritated and forgot about it. I went to sleep, woke up the next morning, and looked in the mirror.
And what did I see?
Well, nothing, out of one eye.
It was all black.
Because there was a dead gnat on my cornea.
Yes, I slept all night with a bug in my eye.
It must have drowned in my eye juice.
But I slept great.
Maybe it was a sleeping bug?
Anyway, I’m not proud of this.
No matter how you slice it, it’s not quality adulting.
I’m pretty sure that if I taught a course in adulting, the first lesson would have to be:
Don’t Sleep With Bugs In Your Eyes.
So I’m not always perfect.
But above all, It’s Okay Not To Be Perfect.
I just finished a draft of my next novel, and I typed The End.
As in the end of the book.
And of eating.
It’s always the same.
It takes me six months to write a novel, and during that time, I sit on my butt 24/7 and eat carbohydrates, in the belief that they will help fuel my creativity.
Well, anything is possible.
And they could have a placebo effect.
Because I write better under the influence of carbs.
Leave the booze to Hemingway.
He famously said, “Write drunk, edit sober.”
But I say, “Do both, with pretzels.”
And while I work and eat, I imagine that I’m stoking some literary furnace, shoveling carbs into my mouth in the way they shoveled coal into locomotives or machinery or whatever they shoveled coal into, way back when.
It’s not a pretty visual, but it gets the job done.
Carbs fuel my Industrial Revolution.
I get very industrious.
Also, carbs taste good.
And something about the crunching enhances productivity, as if your teeth are the gears in your own personal machine.
My go-to carb is popcorn, which I microwave myself on those rare occasions I feel like cooking.
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