Waiting for My Real Life to Begin

The life and times of a girl named Swishy.

Monday, June 30, 2008

(Wo)man vs. beast

I'm sitting on my bathroom counter putting on mascara when a teeny, tiny fly lands on my nose. I swat it away and finish getting ready. The next morning, I walk into the bathroom and there are like four teeny, tiny little flies sitting on the mirror. I'm like, whatever, they're annoying, but they'll be gone when I get home. WRONG. I get home, and there are like SIX of them. Six teeny, tiny, gnat-like little flies, hanging out, drinking pina coladas and gossiping about the neighbors. They are in NO hurry to leave.

I smack the mirror. I clap my hands together in the air. I can't get a single one of them. Not ONE! I grab my hairspray and start spraying it at them, all over the bathroom. Final score: Six very much alive little flies, one toothbrush that now tastes like Pantene.

I get on my computer and Google the little suckers. I find out that they show up when it's a particularly rainy spring, they come up through the drain and they like to hang out in the bathroom. They don't like ammonia. They do like making people absolutely, positively, 1,000 percent crazy.

I go back in the bathroom and dump some Drano down the sink. Then I get out the ammonia-infused Windex and start spraying it everywhere. Fly on the mirror? SPRITZ. On the toilet, on the towel rack, on the contact case? Spritz, spritz, spritz. And ... YES! FINALLY! WE HAVE A CASUALTY!

(Look! A glow-in-the-dark dead bug!)

Most people would be bored with this exercise after about 30 seconds. Not me. Ohhhh, no. I was a woman on a mission. A bugicide mission. An hour and an ENTIRE DAMN BOTTLE OF WINDEX later, I stand and survey the carnage around me. Streaks of Windex everywhere, but the bugs? Dead. I go into the kitchen to get paper towels, walk back through the bathroom door and ...


(Insert favorite expletive here.)

A little part of me is like, look, you tried. CALL MAINTENANCE. Enjoy your sparkling clean Windexed mirror, go eat some chocolate and let this be their problem. But no. No, no, I am an independent woman living in 2008 who will not let her quality of life be influenced by a couple of pinhead-sized flies! So I dump the rest of the Drano down the sink and go to Walmart for bug spray. I get the cheapest kind, the kind that also promises no humans or even pets will die if it's used inside, as well as some chocolate-covered pretzels to calm my nerves. I come home and start projectile-spraying all over the bathroom, everywhere I see the slightest hint of a tiny little fly. And then I take paper towels and SMASH their little fly bodies to death to make sure they won't come back to life.

A day later, I am very pleased to report that there are NO little flies in my bathroom. Thanks to the Windex and bug spray, my lungs may never be the same. But there are no little flies. I AM A ROCK STAR.

Thursday, June 26, 2008


You guys! You guys are seriously the awesomest of the awesome. Thank you so much for the positive and encouraging comments. I'm sure I will blog tons about everything as I go, but for now, let me just say how happy and grateful I am that you'll all be along the ride. It means so, so much ... thank you.

(OK, but really ... CRAZY! Crazy, crazy. I think I am still walking around in some sort of suspended reality. I am not even close to wrapping my head around the whole thing. Anyway ...)

Enough of that for now. Let's talk about something REALLY important: People magazine's Most Eligible Bachelors issue. I realize I am way late on this, but ... Mario Lopez is the most eligible bachelor? Really? MARIO LOPEZ??? I know it can't be George Clooney every single year (although, let's be honest, would anyone really complain it if was? Anyone? Anyone? Yeah ... that's what I thought. That man is fine with a capital FUH.) But really, how is there not more outrage about this? There was a naked picture of Mr. A.C. Slater on the opening spread--a NAKED PICTURE!--and I STILL was like, yawwwwwn.

You're on notice, People. The Sexiest Man Alive issue is rapidly approaching. DO NOT SCREW IT UP!

One more thing. Please, please, PLEASE tell me someone else saw The Bachelorette this week. I haven't really been watching it, but I saw that episode, and wow ... that really WAS the most dramatic rose ceremony ever! Holy freaking awkward. I mean, SO awkward.

Other than that, I have no idea what to watch on TV. I just have Bravo on an endless loop. If addictive TV is my drug, then Bravo is my supplier, I swear. I would seriously watch someone cut their toenails as long as they put it on Bravo.

What about you? What are you watching these days?

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The story of my life

(for the past few days/weeks/months, anyway. Buckle up, kiddies, it's gonna be a long one!)

"So," he asks, "if you were creating a reality show starring any celebrity, who would you pick?"
"Brad and Angelina," I say. "Or ... wait. Actually, Jennifer Aniston. A dating show starring Jennifer Aniston! Can you imagine?"
"I'd pick Michael Jackson," he says.
"Ooh, yeah," I say. "Good call. He's a freak."
"What?" he says. "He's the king of pop!"
"He IS the king of pop," I acknowledge. "But he also calls his kid Blanket."
"True," he concedes.

I'm on a phone interview with an entertainment website. In 16 hours, I will quit my job.

* * *

Four months (almost) earlier

I'm at work, and an email pops in. There will be a meeting at 10 a.m., it says. I look at the clock. It's 10 a.m. We all get up and walk to the conference room, whispering and shooting looks at each other.

Our owners are in the room. They cut right to the chase: They're moving our office to Charlotte in July. Some people will be asked to go, some people won't, some people will be asked to live in other cities so our resources will be better spread across the country. All costs, including a moving bonus, will be paid by the company. No one is surprised, necessarily, but at the same time, everyone is shocked.

I'm the only person who asks a question. "When do we have to decide?"

The answer: end of April.

* * *

I visit Charlotte at the end of March. One of my college roommates lives there, along with two other friends from college, plus a whole bunch of coworkers who moved there the year before. It's lovely and fun and it makes me feel ... nothing. Nothing great, nothing terrible. I feel like if I moved there, I would be fine. The only problem is, I don't know if fine is enough.

Two weeks later, I go to New York. It makes me feel a lot of things: stressed, excited, motivated, overwhelmed.

I don't know what to do.

* * *

I'm having a hard time breathing. I walk around like normal, I talk like normal, I act like normal, but all the time, I feel like there's a rubber band wrapped tight around my lungs. When I go home at night, it gets worse, because then I HAVE to think about things. I don't know what I'm supposed to be doing with the time that's not locked in stone: Should I should be cleaning out my closet, looking for a new job, finding a place to live, calling the movers ...? I don't know, and it's paralyzing.

One night, I stay late at work because I'm not ready to go home yet. I'm listening to my iTunes, and different lyrics keep jumping out at me:

"Are these times contagious? I've never been this bored before ... is this the prize I waited for?"

"And if I die before I learn to speak, can money pay for all the days I lived awake but half asleep?"

I start reading my blog, going back a month at a time. I don't know why. Maybe I was subconsciously looking for a clue, maybe I was just trying to kill some time. But as I read, a definite theme emerges (aside from, you know, the fact that I get pulled over a lot and stalk innocent bystanders):

From this one: "I kind of feel like I'm waiting for ... something. I don't want to be one of those people who always talks about doing things and never does them. So I guess in 2008, I want to be more of a doer. More proactive instead of reactive. Blah blah blah."

And this one: "I thought, well, why don't we all live like that? Why don't we all just go for it more often? And I think it's because you have to be incredibly brave. You have to put yourself out there, you have to take risks, you have to be the one taking accountability for your own happiness, and it's scary. If you're told your time is limited, well, then you have nothing else to lose. But otherwise, you can tell yourself you have forever. Or at least 30 more years. Or 20. Or 10."

A few days later, I write this post.

* * *

Making the decision a little bit (or a lot) more difficult is that everyone's jobs are going to change, but we're not being told HOW they'll change until after we commit (because, they say, they need to know what staff they're going to have before they make those decisions). I am adamant that if I am going to move for ANY job--whether it's my current job or a new job--it needs to be a better situation for me. Am I going to get to do more, am I going to be able to grow, so on and so forth.

My current job includes writing and editing. I can do both, and I like to do both. I'm told, though, that the way things are being restructured won't allow much room for someone to do both--it's pretty much one or the other. Writing is more in line with what I want to do long-term, and (after a very good pep talk or 10 from my Semmy) I call our CEO to tell him so. He says he had no idea I felt that way, he's so glad--make that thrilled--to hear it, and we'll work out the details the next time he is in town or I am in Charlotte.

I feel like it's the best of both worlds--I stay with my job, I get some flexibility and I get to do something a little bit different, something that is a natural next step in my career. I sign the paper.

* * *

I trade emails with the CEO a few times, but we can't lock down a date for me to go to Charlotte. In the meantime, another guy is hired by the owner and CEO to oversee our particular area of the company. (My new boss. N.B.) I send N.B. an email filling him in on what I do and include some links to stories I've written. A week or so later, N.B. starts calling people to tell them what their jobs will be. He sends me an email: "I'll call you tomorrow." Tomorrow comes and goes. Another email: "Let me know how late I can call tonight." No call. Another email: "Sorry, ran out of time ... I'll call tomorrow." No call. Five more days pass, and I start to wonder if maybe they're changing their minds on what they want to do with me. Finally, he calls.

It's a long, sometimes tense, conversation. N.B. says my job will be senior editor, based in Charlotte. It's completely different from what I had talked about with the CEO. I ask why it changed. He says because he doesn't have anyone else to fill that role, and I'm versatile. I tell him I understand, but I need to look at what is best for me and for my career. He says, career? How old are you? He says he doesn't know very many people my age who care about their careers. I ask him if that means I should just call him back in 10 years. He says, well, no, but his point is that there is plenty of time for me to do what I want, and basically, I can take one for the team for a while.

I tell him I have to think about it. He's surprised to hear that. It's a great job, he says. I agree that it's a great job for someone, but maybe not me.

It's four weeks before the move. I go home and I cry.

* * *

I start having panic attacks. One night, I literally cannot breathe for four hours. I leave the house because I feel claustrophobic, and I still can't breathe. I drive to the grocery store and sit in the parking lot, and I can't stop crying long enough to get out of the car.

* * *

N.B. comes to town to meet with everyone individually. Before my meeting, I go into our local bigwig's office, shut the door and ask if I can still get severance if I decide not to go. He's very surprised, but says probably. I tell him I will let him know after my meeting.

My meeting lasts twice as long as it's scheduled to. Some of it's good, some of it's not so good, some of it's somewhere in between. I start to realize that it's less about the specifics of the job and more about how I feel ... and something about it doesn't feel right. I feel like going would be the easy thing to do, but that it also might be taking a detour I'm not sure I want to take. All of those things I talk about, those big idealistic things? I want to BE those things, not just talk about being those things. And if there's any time in my life I'm going to take a risk, any time in my life I'm going to take a chance, it's now.

* * *

Friday morning, I walk into local bigwig's office and tell him I've decided not to go. We talk for a few minutes, and then I walk out. My friend is standing there, wide-eyed. I pull him into the hallway.

"You really did it?" he asks.
"I really did it." I pause. "Oh, my gosh, I really did it."
"How do you feel?"
"I don't know," I say. "I think I'm in shock. I don't do things like this. It's the kind of thing that's good in theory, or for other people to do, or ..."

And then I take a big gulp of air, look right into his eyes and start to cry.

My last day is July 6, and then I will write and look for a job I'll love. It's the scariest-as-shit decision I've ever made, the hardest decision I've ever made, but also the first decision I've ever made that has been completely for myself.

So ... here we go.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Ohhhh, life

Life, life, life. This has been my worst blogging stretch ever, but thank you for being so patient with me. You guys are awesome. There's a whole lot of stuff going on ... I honestly just don't even know where to start. I'm OK, though. I hope you're all OK, too. More in a day or two, I promise.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Scenes from Printers Row

I am a little bit late on this because I am in the throes of a complete existential crisis (dramatic much? no, not me), but I went to Printers Row (a massive book fair in Chicago) AND to my talented friend Jess Riley's book release party last weekend. Manic, Jess and Trish Ryan already have written funny, detailed accounts of various parts of the weekend, which leaves me with ... a bucket full of random.

* I'm driving to Manic's in the middle of a tornado warning. This is merely the FIRST tornado warning I will be driving through during the weekend. I get past the rain and decide I need to chill out, so I put in a CD, lean back and prop my left leg up on the dashboard next to the steering wheel (which, trust me, is much more comfortable than it sounds). I'm driving along, and all of a sudden a trucker honks at me. I look in my mirror, and he's waving. I wave back because ... I don't know. Isn't that what you do when someone's waving at you?

I go another 10 or 15 minutes, and a DIFFERENT trucker honks at me. I look up and he waves, then blows me a kiss. I'm like, what's THAT about? Manic calls to see where I'm at, and I'm like, "Is this some trucker thing? Are they just saying hi? Did someone stick a 'Honk if you love bloggers!' bumper sticker on my car? WHAT IS GOING ON???"

I'm wearing shorts, and finally it hits me: They see my bare leg on the dashboard, and they don't think I'm wearing pants! They think I'm one of those girls who drives around topless or bottomless or whatever and flashes the truckers ... YOU KNOW the girls I'm talking about. They think I'm one of those girls! And they're telling each other on the radio! Ten minutes later, yet ANOTHER trucker honks, and I nearly steer myself right into the guardrail as I turn around and wave my arms at him, in a "WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?! I'M TOTALLY WEARING PANTS!" kind of way. It is the first of many near-death experiences on the trip.

* Manic's husband thinks our plan to attend Printers Row on Saturday and then drive to Wisconsin and back on Saturday night is a bit "aggressive," and he tries to talk us out of it. There's a blues fest downtown, he says. You can go out for a nice dinner instead, he says. And besides, he adds, there are only three things in Wisconsin anyway: porn, cheese (what about cheesy porn?) and fireworks. And then he pauses. "Although," he says, "The women wear flannel year-round there. I guarantee as soon as you cross the border, they're going to think Pamela Anderson and Carmen Electra just arrived."

I would just like to say, in defense of Wisconsin, that I did not see one woman in flannel the entire time. In fact, they were all very cute and nicely dressed. There WAS a lot of porn and cheese and fireworks, though. A LOT.

* Approximately 13 seconds after parking, we make our first bathroom pit stop ... IN THE PARKING GARAGE. I wait outside. This is a trend that will repeat itself, oh, 493 times over the course of the weekend.

* One of the very first things we see at Printers Row is a table marked "Real Men Read." Zero books. Zero men. It is the only completely deserted booth in the entire multiple-block fair. We decide the real men are all home reading.

* We meet up with Trish and head straight to Epic Burger where, yes, the burgers (and the wait time) are epic. We make friends with the hungover guys next to us while we wait. They were so hung over, they are probably STILL hungover, poor boys.

* An elderly gentleman stumbles into Stephanie Klein and Jen Lancaster's panel just in time to hear the words "I stuck my finger up a guy's ass." His poor, creaky jaw drops to the floor. A few minutes later, when a reference is made to fellatio, he starts applauding. It is quite possibly the funniest thing we see all weekend.

* First traffic. Then another tornado. Swishy is not a happy driver. I think we will leave it there.

Except this. This was the view out the window:

In related news, I will be giving someone my blog password so that next time I travel, there will be a way for you to all find out when I die.

* Jess's party: Awesome. So fun to see her, so fun to meet her friends and family, totally worth the hellacious drive.

* Trish's panel at Printers Row: She was so poised and a fantastic speaker. I felt SO honored to be one of her "Author Relations" (yes, I got a name tag) people!

* Manic: As always, the best BBFF a girl could have, our tornado-induced tiff (ha) notwithstanding. She even had chicken tacos and Diet Coke ready for me when I got there! (And! We saw the lovely Kristabella, too!)

Author highlights (besides Trish and Jess, of course): Meeting my favorite ever, Marisa de los Santos, and the VERY funny, very likeable Sloane Crosley.

I am exhausted. That is what a crazy weekend and an existential crisis will do to you. More on THAT later, you lucky kids, you.

Thursday, June 05, 2008


Of all the days to have forgotten my camera! I had to use my camera phone instead which, believe me, is NOT the same when it comes to taking sneaky surveillance photos.

OK, what you are looking at is a red Hummer. It's big and shiny with huge tires and silver rims. The driver gets out. He's wearing a tight-tight tank top tucked into spandex pants, and his platinum blond hair is slicked back with what must be a full bottle of Dep gel.

He walks inside the store, and I finally notice it--the license plate on his man mobile. It says, in big, bold capital letters: BICEPS.

I mean ... that pretty much says it all, doesn't it?

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Bitch and moan

When I was in college, there was this radio show on Friday nights called Bitch and Moan. It wasn't the college station or anything, just a random FM station, and for two hours they'd take calls from people who wanted advice about stuff. I LOVED that show. It was on early enough (8-10) that you could listen to it and then go out and do whatever else, so my friend Jill and I would go get crappy, yummy food and then drive around and listen and eat and talk back to the radio. (You know, like how Meg Ryan does in Sleepless in Seattle? When she's driving around listening to Dr. Marcia Fieldstone and she's like, "Ugh! That's terrible advice! DON'T LISTEN TO HER, JONAH!" Like that.)

Anyway, that's pretty much why I haven't blogged in like forever. Not because I'm driving around listening to talk radio (I wish) but because every time I go to post I want to bitch and moan, and it's annoying to me, so I'm sure it's annoying to everyone else, too. It's all work drama and, I mean, it is all fine, I am just cranky about it.

These are some of the things I've done instead:

* Eaten dinner in my bed. I've done it like three times, which is crazy because I never, ever eat in bed. It feels sort of indulgent, I think that's why.
* Started watching Season 2 of The Hills here.
* Gone to Target like three times to buy totally random things, like a blue glittery ball that lights up when you bounce it and a package of 100 water balloons.
* Went to the Sex and the City movie, obsessed about the woman who brought her poor, sweet 13-year-old son (TO THE LATE SHOWING, no less) and then read all the comments about it on Television Without Pity.
* Took my friend's daughter out for ice cream, which led to the following exchange on the way home:

Her: I have to go to the bathroom.
Me: OK, we are, like, two minutes away. Can you hold it?
Her: No. I don't know.
Me: We're almost there. Listen to me. I am so dead serious. DO NOT pee in my car. OK?
Her (giggles, and then mimics me in a sing-song voice): I am so dead serious.
Me: I AM so dead serious. NO PEEING IN THE CAR.
Her: Too late, I already did.
Me: That's not funny.
Her: Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha.
Me: If you pee in my car, I will make you go home with that guy in the black car over there. Do you see him? He's picking his nose right now.
Her: Ewww.
Me: Yeah. He's a grown-up. PICKING HIS NOSE. And I will make you go with him instead if you pee in my car.
Her: No, you won't. (Pause.) Ha ha, I peed again.
Me: Oh, you're soooo funny. Soooo hilarious.
Her: Ha ha ha ha ha. (Makes a whoosh sound.) I just peed AGAIN! Ha ha ha ha ha.

Thankfully, no actual peeing occurred in the backseat of my car. I don't think.