Thursday, February 9, 2012

With all these years...

A few nights ago, I attended a dinner for women professionals in the area. It was a mixed bag crowd, to say the least. I thought I had dressed appropriately for the occasion, my geometric knit dress from a local consignment shop, knee high black boots, a scarf, you know, young but not too young. But when I walked into the room I found that I might have over done the brightness factor. Two steps into the room, I thought to myself, "I need to buy a suit." Three steps into the room, "and a wide belt, and black heels."

It went on from there. The awkward factor was pretty high, I didn't know anyone, or hardly anyone, having been holed up in my writer's cave these last few years, and before that the teacher's chasm. My social graces were, ahem, rough. A few women had the courtesy to laugh at my off-color remarks about kids and sneaking cigarettes at night while they slept. I tried, just not in the right way. Maybe if I had a blazer on things would've been easier???

The dinner was an awards ceremony for two young women who were making a difference in the community. Beginning heavy-hitters so-to-speak. When I told my mother about the event, she asked "why don't you apply for next year's award?" I looked up the application process and called her.

"I don't think I will make the cut next year. It says 21 to 35."

"What, well, maybe if they have it before your 36th birthday?"

Maybe, but that seemed like cheating.

As the young women were giving their speeches, I was suddenly snapped back to a moment in time, a few years ago, when I was sitting in a very posh office in the middle of summer, sweating profusely while two men grilled me in an interview. It was light, at first, I tried to put my best foot forward, rattling off my credentials and smiling a big smile despite the fact that I had just busted my nose two days prior and was praying to God that the make-up wouldn't run down my neck onto my shirt. Or worse yet, the expensive couch.

That's when the BIG question came. The one that knocked the wind out of me (the angry wind).

"So, you're what, 30? Can you tell me what you've been doing with your time. I mean, this is your first editorial job right? Why so late?"

I wish he hadn't asked me that.

My first inclination was to stand up, give him the finger (him whose wife was probably at home taking care of baby while he sat in the grand tower of his office wallowing in his presumed success). I did not leave, just sat there stunned for a moment, then out with the terse reply.

"Eating bonbons, mostly. Oh, and raising two kids, that takes up quite a bit of time, you know (wink, wink). Teaching teenagers how to be human beings, putting myself through graduate school, writing, editing, oh and occasionally watching a movie and going for hikes. Managing a household, you know, that sort of thing."

More laughing. Then I was outta there. I think I hadn't even left the building before I lit a cigarette and stormed my way to the car.

What have I been doing?! With all my time?! Dude, I haven't taken an uninterrupted crap in like 6 years. I've had bouts of insomnia and poverty you can't even think of in your worst nightmare. Two heart attacks, three tumors, at least 15 short stories and 900 poems about death and love, burlesque classes, soccer practice, all-nighters grading papers, making three meals a day, praying my car doesn't die, therapy, chaotic family feuds, helping people time and again with resumes, applications and debt, cleaning up puke, administering advice, discipline and love, trying to prepare my delicate children for a tough world, organizing anniversary parties, chasing fire calls in the middle of the night, investigating the possible meth trade in Berkshire County...

What've I been doing?

The real question is, what've you been doing, Scooter? What've you been doing up in that tower of yours? Rolling in at 10 a.m., leaving at 2 p.m. for a lunch with wifey (or sneaking out in a pair of ridiculous sunglasseses, like I didn't notice where you were off to, Jesus, man!)?

Moral of the story, who knows. Maybe it's a "put yourself in someone else's shoes thing." Or, it could just be as simple as keep your damn mouth shut if you don't relish the idea of getting blasted with a verbal firehose 'cause you're too stupid to know what's what in this world.

On a funnier note, the State of Massachusetts just sent me a "Notice of Intent to Assess" because they are suspicious of my $400 refund. How much did Mitt Romney make last year? And he paid in 15%. And you have time, my beloved state, to wonder if my $400 refund (out of the gross 20k I made last year, swear to God) is valid? I may laugh myself into another heart attack...


  1. Hi Nichole,

    Loved your blog post! Sounds like the dinner that you went to was amazing. I myself went to a party this weekend where I wore a crazy St. Patrick's Day style hat and got tons of complements. On a side note, I feel older than I am (I'm only 32) so I know the feeling. Speaking of which, have a happy birthday and have a happy Valentine's Day tomorrow (I am going to a local party to celebrate the occasion). Hope all is well.

    Jon Swartz

  2. Nichole, The outfit sounded perfect for the crowd. If I ever see you in a suit jacket, unless there is a Salvation Army tag on it, really- never change. Or change only in the ways that bring you unspeakable happiness. Or more bon bons.
    I love your writing. And your humor. And the texture of reality that creates such a landscape of beauty here. Thank you.
    Can’t wait to meet you in person.
    With love, S

  3. Thank you Jon and Suzi! Sometimes reality can be a bit hard, but there are ways to make it poetic (or just funny). And no, you will never see me in a suit jacket unless I find my father's Marine jacket from '68. Maybe I will wear to the writer's festival all month...