Filed under: Life

Will Think For Food

Thursday, January 15th, 2004 • 4 Comments on Will Think For Food

I feel like something is gnawing at my stomach with dull incisors.  This is not, to say the least, a pleasant feeling.  In fact, it’s put me in an even worse mood than I’ve been in.  Not a good day.

There is a job.  This job pays two and a half times more per hour than what I make now.  This job is part-time and not one of those soul-sapping full time gigs that are so detrimental to lazy writers (lazy being the operative word here) such as myself.  This job is close by, this job probably wouldn’t involve working weekends and nights (though this job would involve working the dreaded mornings… boo… hiss…).  This job is a “real” job, even if it’s only part-time.  This job involves writing.  It also involves a bunch of other crap and probably a fair amount of sucking up, too.  This job is not my dream job, not even close, but it’s different and it’s new and it would be challenging.  And did I mention the money?  Big piles of cash to work part-time.

I’d be crazy not to apply for this job, right?  I mean, I’m not tied to my current part-time job by anything other than a fondness for the people and a resistance to change that is an inherent flaw in my personality.  The money sucks, I’m educationally over qualified and intellectually under stimulated.  The challenge, what challenge there was, evaporated after about six months.  So, this job is looking kind of enticing.

For the record, I will not get this job.  I’m under qualified, though I have no doubt I could learn the job quickly.  I could surely fake my way through it until then.  Likely, there are others who have all the qualifications and not just most of the qualifications.  Still, to not apply for this job would be silly.  Did I mention the money?

On the other hand, I’m getting farther and farther away from my goal of going back to writing full-time (and hopefully writing more lucratively).  I’m not looking for a career, as stated in the appeal of the part-time job, because I’m still hoping that the writing will eventually pay well enough to put food on the table and a roof over my head (though probably a lot smaller roof than war mongering currently provides).  It’s good to dream, right?

In the meantime, what do I do about this job?  What do I do about grad school?  What do I do about my life?  Advice welcome.  Just don’t expect me to heed it.

Posted by Kristina in Life, Musings

Life Lessons Learned the Hard Way

Tuesday, January 13th, 2004 • No Comments on Life Lessons Learned the Hard Way

Things I Wish I’d Known in Seventh Grade:

1.  There is no such thing as a “permanent record.”
2.  Algebra will never, ever be useful.
3.  Sometimes the popular boys are also the scary boys.

When I was in middle school there was a program that allowed honor students to spend one class period as an office assistant or teacher’s assistant.  In sixth and eighth grade, I was a teacher’s assistant to my two favorite teachers.  In seventh grade, I was an office assistant.  Basically what that meant was I (along with two other girls) answered phones and took messages while the office staff was at lunch.  We also made photocopies and typed letters.  Mostly we just goofed off and gossiped about who liked who.  It seems odd to me now that they let three seventh grade girls run the office for an hour.  I guess the benefits of having free labor outweighed the possibility that we would burn the place down.

One afternoon, a boy I knew was in the office.  I don’t remember why he was there, but he was popular and I remember being excited when he said he was going to hang out with us.  Even then, I knew he didn’t have the best reputation.  There were rumors about him, nothing specific, but always the suggestion that he was trouble.  A little wild.  To three seventh grade girls, that was exciting.

I had to make a bunch of photocopies and the photocopier was out of paper, so I went into the supply room off the main office to get more paper.  I was fumbling around, trying to find the right sized paper when I realized I wasn’t alone.  He’d followed me into the supply room and was standing very close to me.  I wasn’t excited, I was uncomfortable.

He told me he liked me, but there was something about the way he said it, the blank look on his face, that made my stomach flip-flop.  I remember trying to laugh and feeling like my throat was closing up.  I tried to get past him, but he pressed me up against the metal shelf and kissed me.  I remember the corner of the shelf digging into my back as I tried to put some distance between us.  The way he pressed against me was something I wouldn’t understand until I was in high school.  I was scared, but to this day I don’t know why I didn’t yell for help.  I turned my head away, but there was nowhere for me to go.  This boy was big for his age and would go on to be a wrestler in high school.  Even in seventh grade he had to be close to two hundred pounds and was several inches taller than me.

There was no where to go.

Thankfully, one of the other girls came looking for us and he let me go.  I never told her, nor anyone else, about what had happened.  Partly because I didn’t entirely understand what had happened and partly because I felt somehow responsible.  Guilty. He’d told me he liked me—that was my fault, right?

I was always very careful after that to keep my distance.  Whenever he was nearby, I’d make sure there were other people around, and I always kept my eye on the door.  He quickly lost interest in me and moved on to other girls who seemed to like the attention and didn’t notice the strange look in his eyes, a look I now know as predatory.  By tenth grade the rumors about him had become more specific—he would get girls drunk and make them do things.  The term “date rape” didn’t exist in the mid-80s, but they didn’t call it rape, either.  The attitude was that if you were dumb enough to go off alone with him, you got what you deserved.

He wasn’t the only boy with a rep.  There were others.  Boys who were cute and charming and popular with parents.  Boys who were predators.  I don’t remember anyone ever being arrested for sexual assault or rape, but it was happening.  Once in awhile, a girl would talk about a boy who hadn’t stopped when she said stop, who hadn’t let her go, who had convinced her to do things just so she could get it over with.  These boys used coercion (“If you love me, you’ll let me” or simply, “Don’t be a tease”), they used threats (“I’ll break up with you”) or, like the boy I knew in seventh grade, they used strength and size.  Whatever the case, the girl would rehash her story as if it had happened to someone else, questioning her own role in the event, mulling over how long to be mad at him, whether to break up with him.

The thing is, this kind of behavior—this cycle of assault without accountability—began long before I was in high school or even middle school.  When I was in elementary school I used to wear shorts under my skirts.  All the girls did.  This was because there were boys who would lift our skirts to see our underwear.  It was a joke, it was harmless.  They were just being boys. That’s how it started for me, the wariness around boys. In elementary school with little boys who teased and touched and laughed when I cried.

There was a long hallway (but perhaps not so long as my memory—and childhood fear—make it) that lead to the cafeteria.  Each day when the lunch bell rang, we’d make our way down that hall. The hall would often be lined with with boys, mostly fourth and fifth graders, who would .  We had to walk that gauntlet every day to go to and from the cafeteria, knowing our skirts would get flipped.  It became such a routine thing, you’d think it wouldn’t phase us, but I don’t know a single girl who didn’t dread that walk.  So why didn’t we just wear pants?  Well, most of us did.  But pants- wearing girls got their hair pulled and butts smacked.  None of us walked that hall alone to go to the bathroom outside the cafeteria.

The teachers and administration knew what was going on. One teacher told a new student about the shorts-under-skirts practice after the girl came back from lunch crying.  Yet, it happened day after day for the two years I attended that school and the boys were never stopped or held accountable. I don’t even know how they were allowed to stand in the hall at lunch time like that, waiting for girls to walk by. It was just something that happened, something that we knew to expect and knew was on us to watch out for.

There were different versions of the skirt-flipping in higher grades—the up the back of shirt grope to snap bra straps in middle school; the free-for-all grabbing of body parts in crowded high school hallways.  We learned who to watch out for, which hallways to avoid, where the exits and girls’ bathrooms were (because, despite their bravado in groping our bodies, the boys would never dare step foot in the girls’ restroom).  We watched and we learned and we got an education the school system never bragged about providing.

I’d like to think times have changed and girls aren’t going through the same stupid, frightening, harassing rites-of-passage my friends and I went through.  I want reassurance that boys who commit assault and rape are held accountable.  I need to believe things are different and better than when I went to school, but somehow I don’t think they are.  I think girls still have to be careful and watch out for certain boys.  And I think some boys, even the nice, cute, charming boys, are predators.

Posted by Kristina in Essays, Life

Alone With Myself

Sunday, January 11th, 2004 • 4 Comments on Alone With Myself

Saturday couldn’t have been a better day (despite the Grand Tour of Granby Street and the momentary panic when I thought that I had left my wallet in Kelly’s) and today has been one of those perfect lazy Sundays with little to do but watch old episodes of Buffy and a new episode of Sex and the City.  Fun.  Oh, and I found out there is a Lush in Bahrain, so hopefully my sweetie will send me a package when he’s not busy keeping the world safe for democracy and George W.

Actually, it hasn’t been a perfect Sunday because despite a bunch of phone calls and invites to do things, I’ve been feeling this odd sense of loneliness.  I’ve been trying to stay so busy the past couple of weeks, I really haven’t let myself feel lonely.  But it’s there.  I have spent the better part of my life thinking I’m an introvert, when my introvertedness has more to do with circumstances and the nature of being a writer and less to do with my actual personality.  I like to be around people, whether it’s one or ten, whether I’m the center of attention or not.  I like to talk (probably too much), but that’s not even necessary.  Sometimes, just having someone sitting next to me on the couch watching the same movie I am is enough to make me feel content.  So, I’m battling the urge to get dressed and go out somewhere, anywhere, just to be around people.

The thing is, I could have gone out today but decided not to.  I wanted a little down time to catch up on stuff around here and I didn’t want to leave the house.  I probably could have invited friends over to keep me company, at least for a little while, but I didn’t do that either.  I guess I needed to be by myself in some weird way.  Sometimes it’s harder to be around people for a little while and then be alone than it is to just be alone for the whole day.  And sometimes there is only one person who can make the loneliness go away and there is no substitute.

I’m not so melancholy as this sounds, truly.  I just wish I wasn’t alone tonight.

Posted by Kristina in Life

I'm a writer, editor, blogger, mama, wife and coffee lover.