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In 2007, I wrote this entry. If you will pay attention to item number 4...Well, I moved to Boston and my job is, you guessed it, QA Auditor. Only 10% travel, so not great odds of going to Germany, BUT I already did the shitty travel job thing so I think me and item 4 are square. Plus since I now live in Boston, I am so much closer to Germany (and Finland, whoo) and can use my FIVE WEEKS of vacation to visit frequently.

I also wrote this entry and this entry which talked about much I loved Charlestown and the Bunker Hill Monument and how badly I wanted to live there someday. And, well. I just bought the cutest little condo. IN CHARLESTOWN!! I'm not a bazillionaire, so I cannot see the Monument from my window, but I am only a brief 10 minute walk away. *love* I love Charlestown. All the smiles are on my face :)

So, I suppose I should be proud of myself. And I am. All I need to hit for the cycle: a dog, and -120lbs.
So I had a fight with my mom. About the same topic yet again. I'm fat, therefore I am going to die and she will be sad and it will be all my fault because I'm the one who got fat.

Afterwards, she told me You have a pattern. We talk about this and then you go on your blog or your twitter and post all about this. So go ahead. I give you permission. Go talk about this online because in the end, you know I'm not the only one who sees it. You look worse than you did when I saw you in November. I'm just the only one who cares about you enough to tell you to your face.

Well you know what. Ta-dah, now you can feel self righteous indignation because I'm (in your words) 'misrepresenting you as a bitch to the people who read my blog'. All one of them. You know what else? I *know* you aren't the only one who notices that I'm a fucking disgusting fat ass. You know why? Because I am the one who sees myself in the mirror. I am the one who feels disgusting all the fucking time because I am fat. I am the person who used to be a freaking college athlete and, you know what? I don't even recognize myself in the mirror! My friends don't recognize me. I am embarrassed to see people I knew in college, people I knew in high school, people I knew at past jobs. Because they couldn't pick me out of a group of two, I look so different. I didn't want to go to half of my interviews because it would force me to go 1) Shopping (scourge of all fat asses), 2) Show my (extremely fat) face in public. I don't even use recent photos when I join online groups because I can't stand the thought of people knowing me like that. It's also part of the reason why I deleted Facebook. I can't face myself in front of everyone I've ever known as a fattie. So I get it. I. GET. IT.

But you know what doesn't help me out? Pointing this out to me every time I see you. First of all, you spent my entire childhood whispering in my ear like a conspiracy buff every time a "fat person" walked by.

Omg, look how fat she is. Look at her knees, they are so gross. How does she stand her thighs rubbing together like that. Do you think it was hard getting into those pants this morning. Michelle Oh-BAM-UH has a big ass, I'm sick of looking at her jigglers. I didn't know you could get cellulite on your arms. Look at how nasty the lady looks in her swimsuit, blaugh! What a hog, look at that hog! Did you notice Mrs Benjamin has a big butt. Look at the thunder thighs on that girl (barf noise). There's this lady at work who wears stretch pants with flowers on them, they are and 1cm big but when she puts them on, they stretch to like 4cm, like totally gross.

My whole life you're comments pertaining to fat people have pretty much equated to fat people are gross because they are bad and lazy. It's like fat people are merely the sum of their morally objectionable shortcomings (Paraphrased from this amazing Jezebel article that couldn't have been published on a more appropriate day). When you constantly point out that I'm overweight (again, no fucking duh I'm overweight), those 30 years of constant judgement come ROARING back to me. What I hear is You are lazy. You have no willpower. You should be ashamed of yourself for being fat. There is something inherently wrong and bad about you because you are fat. Everything that is bad in your life is happening to you because you are fat. How, I ask you, does this help me to be thin? You know what? It doesn't. Instead it just throws one more wrecking ball at my already shattered self-esteem. Because that's what these past 5-6 years have been. Almost everything that has happened since college has done nothing but smash my self-confidence into the ground like used cigarette butt.

And every time you or Ryan talk to me about losing weight, it's like you are adding one more pound of damage. And you insult me when you tell me that you are only telling me this stuff for my own good. That you are only concerned about my health. That you can't go one conversation without mentioning somebody's (mine) blood pressure (which btw is a fucking perfect 118/72 EVERY. SINGLE. GOD. DAMNED. TIME). Your 'concern' is merely thinly veiled disgust. It's none of your fucking business. And you know what else isn't helpful? This weird emotional black mail bull shit you pull.

I come from your body. I am a part of you. You gave up coffee and medicine and alcohol so that you could have a healthy child, me. You put up with all the crap that comes along with raising a child, me. You taught me good eating habits and exercise habits. You taught me how to follow God (completely different rant here). How dare I be fat! So basically, I shouldn't be fat because my horribly disgusting, offensive, morally corrupt fatness reflects poorly on you. Well get the fuck over yourself. Oh, and to compare me to a drug addict and you to the parent of a drug addict is just fucking retarded.

And what the most frustrating part is? I don't want to be fat. But getting there is a rough road. It is an especially tough road if you travel all the time. If your diet is dictated by what you can find in a restaurant, or running between airport terminals, or at 1130 at night because that's when you finally got into town after traveling, literally, all day. And if you can barely find time for eating (which is a biological necessity), when do you find time to work out. Mix that together with a job that expects you to be working 60hrs per 40hr work week, all while traveling and taking care of above listed tasks. Heap in the loneliness and disconnectedness you feel all the time because you have no time to meet people or make friends or have hobbies (aside from work and airplanes which are now your only hobbies), and the emotional scars you have from a pretty fucked up couple of relationships. Got that? Think you can handle all of that and still be thin?

Well, okay. Now, oh, let's also add Rheumatoid Arthritis to the mix. From now on whenever you work out, your fingers and forearms will swell to the point where you can't make a fist. Why don't you go lift some weights now? You get up from a chair and are stiff for 20minutes, like a goddamn old fucking lady. That will do wonders to self image, too, btw. You go for a walk because, hey that's good for your health. But if you don't walk long enough, there is really no weight loss benefit, but if you walk too long, you feel destroyed. So you tell your doctor about your pain and he gives you...PREDNISONE! Cuz that doesn't contribute to weight gain, noooo *sarcasm*. But oh, that doesn't work so now you are given chemo drugs. Yay! Try getting up tomorrow morning. And, wait, didn't you used to be a college athlete? Let's take all your injuries and replay them for you like a bad acid flashback. And, you liked to swim? That would be a great arthritis exercise because it's so low impact, go do that! Except...now you are so fat, none of the athletic swim suit makers even go up to your size and the freaking tents they sell to fat people (since fat people are all ashamed of their hideous bodies and want to wear the equivalent of a swim suit mu-mu that has fucking flowers on it) would come off if you tried lap swimming while wearing one.

I won't even mention the horribly traumatic shopping experience I had buying new clothes for my new job. Which you are also taking credit for because "you've been telling me to get into quality for years, and look how happy I am now that I did it, and wasn't mama right, always listen to your mama".

Boiled down: Let's take everything you've ever loved about yourself and your life and destroy it. NOW GO LOSE WEIGHT!

And I think the biggest insult to injury situation of this past weekend was: I went on a walk with you. I knew it was going to be embarrassing. I knew it was going to be a monstrous emotional challenge because I used to be able to rock that. I used to be able to do three goddamn pull ups. I used to be able to bench more than all my guy friends. People envied me. And I knew I was going to be chugging along behind my 52 year old mom who has looked better in a bathing suit than me since I was 11 and started growing lopsided, downward pointing, beanbag tits. But I was fucking game! And I got up and walked the fuck out of that shit as best I could.

And then you point out that a 52 year old woman should not have to slow down for her 30 year old daughter. No, you shouldn't. But I did it! I walked all 2.7 miles of that. And by the way. I frequently walk 2.7mi (which weirdly seems to be the circumference of every lake I've ever walk in any city), but I do in in Minnesota. It is flat here. Springtime here is not 80+ degrees. Nor are the paths I walk in direct, mid afternoon sunshine. No, I usually chose to walk in the evening. So for your information, the walk we did was 2.7mi of constant elevation changes in the brutal midday 85' heat of LaFayette, CA. And I did it. I could have declined and sat on the couch diddling myself. But I didn't.

Yet all you can say is that I shouldn't be slower than a 52 year old. That I need to exercise (which, btw, is exactly what I did when walking around that fucking lake with you). Then in the same breath you use to tell me I need to exercise, you tell me that you are scared for me when I exercise because you fear for my heart (again, perfect BP AND appropriate cholesterol so argument voided) and fear strenuous exercise will make my heart explode. And dear god, what must your liver look like! And what must your heart look like! And how hardened must your arteries be! You are 30 with the body of a 70 year old.

HOW DOES ANY OF THIS HELP ME LOSE WEIGHT???

I think the biggest mistake I made this past weekend was trying to confide in you about shit I feel I'm finally moving past. I tried opening up about the stupid idiots who bullied me in school. You tell me you wish you would have known so that you could have helped. You tell me you would have moved mountains, got teachers involved, kicked other parents' asses, blah blah blah. So I tell you about my swim coach.

I put my heart and soul into Swim Team the summer between Fresh/Soph year in high school. I wanted so badly to make the Junior Varsity swim team, instead of being relegated to the Frosh/Soph (aka beginners) team again. And my times were finally equal to the (slower) JV swimmers. Several of my exFrosh/Soph team friends had been promoted to JV (none of whom did Swim Team over the summer) and they told me to come with them to the JV meeting. So the Frosh/Soph team met on one side of the pool, and JV met on the other side. Rob Emery, JV Coach Extraordinaire, waited until all of us JVers sat down. He gave his little yay-rah JV lecture. Then he looks at me, points at me, and with a sweeping motion with his entire body and arm, points me to the Fresh/Soph team gathered at the other end of the pool. I was humiliated. Crushed.

And you said That's not bullying, he was just an asshole. Since when does a grown man humiliating a kid in front of a huge group of her peers, NOT count as bullying?? Your entire "I WOULD HAVE MOVED MOUNTAINTS" speech negated with that one fucking comment. Your exact words were That's not bullying, he was just an asshole. Assholes like that just motivate me. I would have held my head in the air and made sure I kicked all their JV asses! I would have beaten their times! See, that's just being competetive.

Then you asked me what my therapist said about all of this. You asked what my therapist said about you. I told you my therapist said you lack boundries. You did not see the irony in this exchange.

I don't even know why I try. Today when you yelled at me, and rehashed all this "Hey you're fat!" bullshit, I just can't even...I ignore my dad because I can't stand his idiocy any more. You wear the "Erin Doesn't Talk to Her Dad Badge" like a point of pride because I talk to you. Well, you know what. I do not feel like talking to you anymore. This move to Boston that I'm making for my new job (for which I apparently have you and God to thank because you prayed I would get the job and I did, OMG PROOF HE EXISTS RIGHT THERE!), well I am so tempted NOT to tell you my new address. To change my number and not tell you the new one.

But of course then you'd think I was dead, and you'd fly to Boston to come find me, and you'd show up at new place of work, and you'd make a goddamn scene, and, of course, it would be all my fault because I'm the one who cut you off, because I couldn't handle my emotions and I couldn't deal with you pointing out that I'm a grody fat ass, and then I guess we'd just be back to fucking square one.

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LJ Idol: A Travel Travesty

I'm in Seattle. I'm home at last. I immediately run upstairs with my suitcase and shower off my week:

Monday, flight to Las Vegas. Tuesday, 8 hours of work, flight to Idaho Falls. Wednesday, another 8 hours of work and a flight to Denver. Thursday, 8 hours of work. Friday 8 hours of work, but Alaska Air has stopped running the 7:55pm flight to Seattle, so I stay in Denver until Saturday morning. My alarm doesn't wake me up at 5:00am, or at 6:00am. I sleep until 10am. Stupid alarm. I drive to the airport, desperately praying for an early-ish stand-by. Nothing available until 5:20pm. It's the last fight of the day. So I wait, and catch the last flight home. I scrub my hair hard with shampoo, hoping to mentally erase the past week. The dirt and grime and airplane stink circle down the drain.

As I'm drying off, my little brother bursts into the bathroom. He's four and I remind him he needs to knock before entering when a grown up is in the bathroom. "But it's dinner time. We are having pizza!!"

Ugh. Pizza. I am so sick of pizza. So sick of eating restaurant food, sick of eating fast food, of eating candy bars when I don't have time for lunch and Mountain Dew for breakfast cuz it's the only option; sick of not eating because if I eat, I miss a flight. And now that I'm home, we aren't even having a home cooked meal. Ugh.

I dress and open my suitcase, take out the dirty socks and undies and toss them in the hamper. Unfolding my pants, I evaluate them for dirt. Still passable. Next I pick up my shirts, smell the armpits, decide they are good for one more week. I mentally review my upcoming site visits, and try to remember which outfits I wore the last time. No duplicates--I think--one new sweater = wardrobe magic.

I refold, and with tetris-like precision, repack a week's worth of clothing and an extra pair of shoes and some gloves and a hat, just in case, into my tiny suitcase (actual carry-on size--not the expandable-to-three-times-its-volume-unzippered, three-inch-wheels-on-the-outside, stuff-into-the-overhead-and-pray-it-fits size that is so popular these days). Cramming clean socks and undies into the empty spaces, I zip it back up, bring it downstairs, and set it by the door.

**********
Sunday. 5:55am, I wake up. Carefully, I sneak down the stairs. My mom says I "elephant" when I leave, no matter how pad-footed I am.

Airport. I punch my frequent flier number into the ticket kiosk and grab the ticket. It's now 6:30am so I head to the D gate security line; it's usually the shortest morning line. Three quick movements and I'm de-laptopped, de-3oz-liquided, shoeless, and through security.

Where am I even going?

I glance at my ticket. Toronto (YYZ) via Minneapolis (MSP). 3 hour lay-over, flight connects at gate B14. Fantastic! There's a really great Chinese buffet over by C25, I'll swing by after we land, and have a nice lunch.

On the plane, I close my eyes. I'm so tired. "So, are you coming or going". My eyes snap open, laced with poison. The man who has sat down next to me leans too far over into my space as he asks this question. I live in Seattle, so I guess going, I say. "Ah, fun vacation planned?" No, work. "Do you travel a lot for work?" Annoyed. Yes, I do. "Oh, I'll be that's fun". No, it sucks; why do people always think it's so glamorous, I think as I say Well, I get to see a lot of places I might not otherwise see. "What do you do?" Nostrils flare. I hate answering this question that's what, I think vehemently and grit my teeth. I monitor clinical drug trials. "Oh, like one of those Drug Reps?" No.

I finish my much-practiced speech and swear next time I will just say I sell insurance.

*********
My burps smell like Chinese food, and my flight is delayed. I sigh and pull out my book. Positive, think positive! If you get upset, this will just suck harder. Positive thoughts!

A man, besuited even on a Sunday, is already yelling at the woman behind the counter. I silently fling hatefulness at his back. Maybe if this lady were an X-man she could control the weather in YYZ, but last I checked that was just a comic book. He sits next to me, pulls out his cell-phone and bitches at his wife for an hour and a half.

Later, I drop my suitcase off to be gate-checked, and squeeze into the tiny window seat on the tiny mud-skipper plane. I shove my laptop bag under the seat in front of me because there's no room in the overhead, and no way am I gate-checking $1000 worth of electronics. As I sit down, I feel like one of those contortionists who package themselves into a duffel bag. We taxi. And taxi. And taxi. And taxi. And stop.

Oh no.

Loud speaker crackles and tells us the storm over YYZ has worsened and the tower has told us to slow our roll for 45 minutes, after which conditions will be re-assessed. I pull out my book and read more, fidgeting. I'm so goddamn sick of sitting on planes. I'm so goddamn sick of sitting and touching other people. I shake off the claustrophobia by fidgeting more.  I'm so antsy.

More crackling and forty-five minutes morphs into an hour and a half. Then another half hour. Then another twenty minutes. At least the captain has the decency to enter the passenger cabin and give us these last two updates and an apology in person.

Three hours later and the plane re-enters the MSP gate. I glance at my watch and laugh in a not-funny way because it is now the time we should have landed in YYZ.

********
I wake up and head to the airport. Again. Last night, after waiting for my updated flight info (I'm now flying MSP to YYZ via Detroit), and waiting for an 'Essentials Kit' (cuz my gate-checked carry-on has been forwarded to DTW), I got a hotel room. But with all the delays and waiting, and after getting hijacked by a taxi driver who tooled around for a half hour before dropping me off at a hotel 5 miles away from the airport, I only slept 3 hours before heading back to MSP.

DTW, an hour and half layover, a flight to YYZ. Mandatory grilling at customs. My answers don't appease the guard and he sends me into the second room for more intensive screening.

No, I don't need a work permit because I'm paid by an American company. No, I'm not transporting drugs into or out of the country. No, I don't work for a Canadian company; my company is an American company that contracts with another American company that is contracting with the doctor's office in Canada. No, I don't know who pays him. No, I don't know if a Canadian could be doing my job. Yes, I was in Canada two weeks ago, and yes I was in Canada a week before that. No, I didn't need a work permit those times either because I'm paid by an American company and Legal told me I didn't need a permit.  No, it's an American company. No, I don't know why they picked this Canadian site. No, like I said, I'm paid by an American company in American money so I don't need a permit. No, I'm not planning on coming back to Canada for work after this trip. She smiles, tells me next time I should bring a letter from my company to explain my job, and stamps my passport.

Crap. I forgot to extend my car rental from last night. No cars are available. I take a town car to my hotel in Kitchner, another hour away. I try to sleep on the ride, but I'm too exhausted to hold my eyelids shut.

I shower, quickly change and take another taxi to my site. My two coworkers greet me frantically, did I bring the worksheets?? No, sorry, I forgot them at the hotel.

********
YYZ to Atlanta (ATL) to Birmingham (BHM). I finish with my visit in BHM. It's Friday, I'm sitting in the airport and headed home (BHM to ATL to SEA) but I won't arrive until 12am Saturday. Then I have a 45 minute drive home. Hopefully I don't fall asleep on the drive. I sigh and close my eyes, begging for sleep.

My cell phone rings. It's Clayton. The phone lights up his name. As I hold it in my hand, I can feel the weight of impending bad news. I grimace and answer it.

He voice is quiet and...tentative? slurred? Not boisterous and crabby, as usual. I'll bet he's drunk. In fact, I'm sure of it. I would bet a solid thou' that he nips from the bottle at work more often than not, plus he's always pounding 'em back after our quarterly, in-person team meetings. I wonder if he has a problem. Actually, I'm convinced he does. I ponder whether or not to mention anything to Josh as I try listening to this round of demands.

"Erin, you need to cover a visit in Virginia Beach on Monday. You are the only person not traveling then" I exhale and plead Clayton, I'm not traveling Monday because I've been out the last three weeks, Monday through Friday.  And I still need to do all my follow up work; I'm at least three weeks behind. I can feel the tension in my voice and shoulders. Brow furrowing, heartbeat ramping up. I lean forward, slightly nauseous, head-achy.

"Well, whatever. Everyone is behind on reports. Even me. And this visit is for the AMFM initiative so it takes precedence. Brian from the sponsor will be joining you, arrange your travel then let him know your flight and hotel info." Clayton..."The sponsor chose you for this initiative because they really think you do fantastic work." I snort my skepticism out my nose, So they beat me because they love me?

Non-drunk Clayton would have laughed at my joke. Or at least volleyed something back equally as bad. Or complimented me for my whipper-snapperness. Or called me a nerd in a way that convinces me he was probably a short bully with a Napolean complex in high school. But...nothing. Definitely drunk. "I'll email you Brian's contact info." He hangs up, and I dial the Travel Department.


I fucking hate my job.




Yikes, sorry this got so long ya'll. Thanks for reading, I was on a roll! And yes, I still have this fucking awful job. Just when I thought I was out...they pull me back in again.

LJ Idol: Bupkis

Had it all been worth it? Yes, she told herself forcefully. Yes, it had been worth it.

It had to be.

The car sped silently through the black night. Clouds as thick as cob webs blotted out the stars, and the back roads to the manor were bereft of street lamps. All the better, she thought as she pressed on the gas harder. No light to mark their passage. They were almost home free.

Jason groaned. Nervously Claire glanced over to where he sat, doubled over in the passenger seat. Wan and sweating, he clutched at his side. The blanket was now saturated with his blood. As he pressed harder, blood from the blanket oozed out between his fingers. "Just keep pressure on it!" Claire demanded, desperate.

"Claire, I think I'm going to die."

No. Please no. She pounded the gas pedal into the floor.

**********

It had been Max who had the idea. All the estate staff knew their employer was a paranoid old billionaire, but deeper rumors spoke of a safe hidden in the bowels of the mansion. Supposedly the old man hoarded a vast portion of his wealth in this safe. After seventeen years of perfect service, Max had ingratiated himself to Mr Pembroke. The Master of the Key was nearing retirement, and longed to find his replacement. So one night, Max had been selected for an errand.

Afterward, Max knew the location of the safe. And most importantly, the combination.

**********

The alarms sounded almost immediately. A terrifying scream of a siren wailed through the mansion, echoing off the walls. Thinking quickly, Claire snatched up one of the black bags from the safe's shelves, and dashed back up the stairs. Jason and Max each grabbed two, and followed her.

They could hear the dogs barking as they pounded up the stairs and through the halls of the mansion. Max began slamming doors behind them, hoping to thwart the pursuing hounds. Statues--art by day--twisted into strange creatures in the night shadows. Cherubic faces melted into eyeless, gape-mouthed monsters, their shadowy limbs stretched out to ensnare three culprits who raced through the mansion. Portraits of important manor associates eyed their passing with haughty sneers.

Careening out the side doors, they raced across the grounds. Just a few hundred yards or so to the car, Claire thought, and she grit her teeth and ran faster. She had to make it to the car.

Light beams streamed on to the right of the group. Flashlights!

Max's head snapped back in a spray of blood, as the first gun shot rang out. His arms splayed out with the impact of the shot, the black bags skidded across the grass. Max collapsed to the ground, half his head in pieces behind him. Claire quickly darted to the left, and Jason, ever the athlete changed direction mid-step, scooped up one of Max's bags, and dashed after Claire. The detour left put their assailants at their backs, and the car just yards in front of them.

Zig-zagging across the yard, Claire prayed the bullets now streaming after the pair of them would miss. She had heard, somewhere, that best way to avoid a bullet was to zig-zag. Jesus Christ she hoped it was true.

And suddenly, the car! Claire opened the car with her fab, tossed the black bag into the back as she jumped into the driver's seat, and leaned over to open the door for Jason. Jason dove in the car and Claire tore away from the Out Building, as Jason slammed the door shut.

"Shit Claire, I think I've been shot." Jason said shoulder the black bags onto the floor. He moved his hand away from his breast and Claire could see the blood spouting from a hole in his jacket. The blood frothed as it ran.

"I think they hit a lung, Jason" Claire blanched, and tossed Jason a blanket from her back seat. Press it on the bleeding and don't move it she had commanded.

**********

Jason had grown quiet.

Claire's breathing had finally slowed to normal; it had been nearly an hour and there was no sign of anyone chasing them. She eased off the gas to match the pace of the few other cars on the road. The clouds parted to reveal a full moon, casting incandescent light upon the remote highway, and the steady thrum of the car as it hummed over the road was a pleasant contrast to the chaos of just an hour before. A sigh of relief.

Claire looked over at Jason again. His head lolled against his chest, a bubble of blood popped on his lips. The hand that pressed the blanket to his wound dropped as he shuddered, exhaling a painful last rattle of air. Her vision blurred with tears.

**********

Some miles later, the road ribboned up into the mountains. Parking on the side of the road, Claire pulled Jason out of the car, and watched as his dark form disappeared over the side of highway. The deep ravine would hide his body forever.

**********

Claire wiped away the tears and whispered silent goodbyes to Max and Jason. As she turned over the ignition, the black bags on the floor caught her eye. She picked up one of the bags from the floor and unzipped it.

Stacks upon stacks of green, pocket-sized Bibles. No.

NO!

She rifled through the second bag. And the third. Old Testaments bound to New Testaments had mimicked stacks of money when they grabbed the black bags. Why?! Had they grabbed the wrong bags?! WHO KEEPS BIBLES IN A SAFE?!?!

Claire screamed her frustrations into the steering wheel. Pounded on the dashboard with both her fists. Max and Jason were gone. And for what? Three bags of bupkis. Nothing. Nada. Zippo. Zilch.

Sobs shook her body, wails of frustration and grief tore through her chest. Claire heaved the bags of Bibles into the ravine after Jason. Then she climbed into her car.

And drove.

LJ Idol: Food Memory (from Hell)

It should have been the best lunch any of us had ever had. After all, my brother's girlfriend's grandfather was one of the first investors in Disneyland and as such, her entire family had special member privileges at the park, including access to the elusive and mysterious Club 33. For my brother's college graduation, she made lunch reservations at Club 33 (group of eight please) and purchased significantly discounted tickets for my entire family, reimbursed by mother.

Now, my parents had a rather vitriolic divorce when I was 12 and my brother was 8 or 9. More often than not Ryan and I were in some way wedged between the turbulence of bickering parents. One argument over money, another living situations, another us children, and so forth. Post divorce life was sometimes no better; my dad was so bitter at my mom for divorcing him, when we moved to California four years later and she installed a pool (a gift from her new hubby, btw), my dad decided he wouldn't pay for a replacement set of glasses for me after I lost mine in the ocean (I have horrible vision btw). In his mind this decision was justified because clearly all of his child support (half the state minimum in Illinois because of a custody deal worked out with a judge...did I mention my father's a child psychiatrist?) was going to fund my mother's new frivolous lifestyle of excess.

Eventually the raging fires calmed and the emotional stab woulds wealed over and for several years my parents could get by without fighting, perhaps in part because my father was no longer on the hook for child support. And my brother, ever the pacifier, wanted his whole family together to celebrate his graduation. Did I smell a rat? Yes, a little. But bless my brother's tender heart, I couldn't ruin it for the poor sap. And everyone, outwardly at least, wanted to get along for his sake.

A spin through Fantasyland, a terrifying ride through the Haunted Masion, a trip down Splash Mountain  that scared my brother Jacob (4 years old, Mom's son) for life, and already I could tell my feel my mother tensing. Not once had my father gone with my brother and I on a ride. Instead my stepmom, Sharon, would park Jonah (1 year old, Dad's son) with my father at the ride entrance, and accompanied me, my brother, Chelsea, my mom, and stepdad on the ride. Sharon's hippie-dippie, airy-fairiness with my mother's strict no-nonsense temprament, not the best mix. My mom would spend the rides whispering in my ear about how inappropriate it is to breast-feed an almost 2-year-old, especially in public, especially in Disneyland, especially since my <i>father</i> should be riding with my brother and I, and doesn't<i> he get</i>, that this is Ryan's day and not Sharon's? And the look on my mother's face when Sharon asked if my mom would babysit Jonah so that she and my dad could go on a ride by themselves. A terse <i>No</i> and Sharon complained to me that my mother was mean, and my mom complained to me that Sharon was inappropriate and no she would never watch Jonah because if anyone should be going on a ride alone together it should be my Dad and Ryan or me and my Dad, and doesn't my dad understand that, and <I>THE ABSOLUTE NERVE OF THEM BOTH</i>.

Sharon, for her part, passive-aggressively snarked at my mother, going out of her way to be especially touchy-feely, exceptionally chatty, especially needy. So needy that she screamed in my mother's ear and clutched her thigh to the point of bruising when we bumped down the first little dip in Pirates of the Caribbean. Exiting the ride, my mother fumed, Sharon silently congratulated herself, my stepfather lassoed Jacob, Ryan and Chelsea disappeared into the gift shop, and my dad ambled over like a too-tall giraffe, self-conscious of his height, pushing a sleeping Jonah ahead of him in the stroller. I frumped after the pack. Already I could see the churning frustrations pouring from my family. But it was finally time for lunch!

Accessing a secret doorbell to the left of the Pirates' gift shop entrance, Chelsea alerted Club 33 to our arrival, and we were buzzed into the secret belly of Disneyland. Club 33. Up the stairs, down a hallway, and to a hidden restaurant the layperson wouldn't notice just above the streets of New Orleans Square. Oh. My. God. OH MY GOD! I WAS IN DISNEYLAND'S SECRET CLUB HOUSE!! There aren't enough squees in the world.

Problem. They us down for two reservations of four, not one group of eight. No group tables available. A scramble, a hushed discussion, my brother assuming control in a confident manner. They would move around the seating arrangements so our two tables of four would be right next to each other. My brother pointed my mom, step-dad, Jacob, and Steve to one table; he and Chelsea sat down at the other with Dad, Sharon, and a still-sleeping Jonah.

To me it was clear that Ryan wanted to spend time with his Dad. My Dad lives in Chicago, my brother lived in Irvine, CA at the time, so at best they would see each other twice a year. My brother went home to San Diego at least once a month to surf, do laundry, and hang out. He just wanted to spend some time with his Dad.

But to my mother, this was the ultimate offense. We were here celebrating Ryan's graduation from college. If anyone was given the guest of honor spot, it should be her and Steve. They had paid all of Ryan's tuition, all his room and board. My father occasionally splurged for books. She was there for him throughout his difficulties in high school, when he got so sick he didn't have the physical strength to get out of bed in the morning. She had been to all his swim meets, all his schools events, helped him with his homework, his 3rd place science fair project. She should have <I>THE</I> seat at the table of honor.

My step-dad dutifully sided with my mother. Ryan, Chelsea, and my dad remained hopelessly obvious. Sharon, for as one-with-the-universe and empathetic as she is, didn't notice or chose to ignore the rain of hate-arrows being twanged their direction. Jacob ate his mac and cheese. Jonah slept. I can't remember what I ate, but I remember I drank wine (because you CAN drink wine in secret Disneyland). Two glasses, part of my mother's. Finally, my mom snapped her credit card down on the table, commanding the bill, and went to the WC. My dad reached into his wallet and made a $60 offering for his family's portion of the meal. Steve, my step-dad, pointed to the table with his finger, directing my dad to leave that as tip. Chelsea thanked Steve and my Dad, like any good guest would do.

Outside Ryan and Chelsea, feeling the air, headed off by themselves. Sharon and my dad left with Jonah to the kiddie park. And I was the lobster in the boiling water headed to California Adventure. Raging, my mother complained about the lunch. Complained that Chelsea didn't thank <i>her personally</i> because it was <i>her money</i> that bought the meal and the tickets. I pointed out that Chelsea DID thank her, and also thanked Steve. My mother countered that Chelsea also thanked my Dad, who had only left the tip. She belly-ached over not being at the guest of honor seat, while I pointed out that she was acting like an entitled brat because it was Ryan's graduation, Ryan was the guest of honor, Ryan should chose the place settings, Ryan only wanted to hang out with his Dad.

I can't even describe to you how long the argument over this stupid little lunch in secret Disney lastest. Of course, my brother was reamed, my mother regurgitated all the inane arguments she used with me and Steve. Steve nodded his agreement. There was no respite from this stupid lunch from hell for YEARS. I was living with my parents at the time and for months, my mother would tell me how <i>over the whole thing</i> she was, only to rehash the entire situation detail by detail, and tell me how my brother still gets "butt-hurt" whenever she brings it up.

UGH! I would throw up my hands and say. You clearly, clearly are not over it. And the battle would engage again.


Then, a lull. Everything seemed to be okay. Three years passed and as my family sat down to Thanksgiving dinner, suddenly the topic of weddings came up. Jacob (now 8) wants to go to a wedding, but all my parents friends are well beyond marrying age. My mom said <i>Don't look at me, ask your brother or sister when they will get married. Hint hint</i>. A pause. And then she says <i>I just hope when Ryan DOES get married that he doesn't assign me to a table in the back of the room. Like at Disneyland.</I> And off we went again. And my 26 year old brother locked himself in his room and didn't emerge for the rest of the trip.

Club 33. I will never forgive you. But please, please take me back! I wonder what your food tastes like.
I am the one who remembers everything about everything--including what you were wearing the first time we met--but who is so absent-minded I misplace keys and cell phone on a daily basis.

I am the one with the pale blue eyes rimmed in a dark blue. They are the two who sparkle in the sun and illuminate my smile. They are the two who give away my secrets. When I'm sad, they cloud like the sky.

I am the one who opens impossible jars, unties the most impressive knots with strong, long-fingered surgeon's hands. I am the one who keeps their secrets. I tell no one, but will now tell you--they are the two who are slowly being destroyed by my own body. Rheumatoid Arthritis.

I am the one who has forgotten how to speak Spanish. I am the one who has almost forgotten how to speak German, and who loves hearing others speak Finnish. I am the one who loves Finland for its trees and its greenness and its cold, snowy, clouded skies.

I am the one whose rental car tire blew out on the freeway tonight. Blew out with such epic force that the rubber separated from the rim and marked the side of the car with black streaks from the flapping rubber. I am the one who sat on the side of the freeway (and later a gas station after Highway Patrol put on the spare) for almost three hours waiting for a replacement car so I could drive to Virginia.

I am the one who hates her job. Hates travelingtravelingtravelingtraveling. Hates flying to 6 different states in one week. Hates the withering disrespect from the doctors. Hates caring when no one else seems to feels the same. I am the one who loves sitting in the window seats. Loves watching the ground fall away. Loves the shrinking of the world. Loves watching the clouds get closer as we race up to meet the sky.

I am the one who was a college athlete---goalie, water polo. The one who blocked 27 penalty shots in 3 years. I am the one who was envied. For my arms, my legs, my back. For my strength. I am the one who always thought I was fat. The one who never saw my own beauty. I am the one who eats her feelings, eats her job, eats the planes, the flights, the long hours, the stress. The one who eats the doctors who yell at me. I am the one who gained 100 pounds. I am the one I disappoint.

I am the one who stands in fields and watches the world rewind itself. Watches power lines evaporate, buildings deconstruct in stop motion, roads fragment into dirt. Sees the blueness of the sky explode from behind the choking smog. Sees the prairie grass again grow so high I can barely see over it. Watches the world below the grassy canopy erupt with bugs and spiders, and grouse and mice, and tiny flowers and spindles of life. Feels the wild wind capture strands of my hair and fling them from my face. Feels the earth rumble as the bison gallop and stampede in ever swelling numbers, their massive heads and powerful necks surging forward on skinny legs, and their tiny hooves cleave the ground, and trample me to dust.

I am the one who floats in the wind, back to the sky.

Three Little Words

Follow your dreams we are told. But how do you follow your dreams when you don't know what your dreams are?

When I was a little kid, I was a dreamer. I imagined hundreds of stories, had sketch books full of drawings and future paintings. Ideas poured out of me like water through cloth and I itched to write, to tell my stories, to draw my pictures, to scratch my pencil across paper, to feel the friction of my thoughts on the page, the heat in my brain as it churned with imagination.

But there was always this push growing up. So what that I got As in Lit/Language and Art. So what that I wanted to write and draw. Those don't make you successful. So I was pushed. As in science, math. Yes, I achieved, but it takes longer to study math and science than it does to draft stories and this push from my family drowned my creative spirit. Pushed a square peg through a round hole, dampened the sounds of the stories in my head, watered down the paintings.

I remember having the highest grade in my Anatomy class (125% with the curve) and telling my friend (88% with the curve) I thought I wanted to be an art major once we got to college. She looked at me, horrified. How could I waste such brains on something like art? How could I not want to be a doctor? How could I want to be an artist with 125% in Anatomy when she, who did want to be a doctor, could only muddle through with an 88%? I remember another friend overhearing our conversation and she turned to me and said You are such a science person though. I can't image you doing art.

And I was crushed. How could they not see the churning creativity that boiled just below the surface of my skin. Could they not see the pulsating throb of ideas that turned my blood to ink and paint?

No. No one could. And suddenly it was like I couldn't either. But I tried. I tried to be an art major. But the voice of my mother pounded in my ears. How would I support myself after college? What would I do for a job? Didn't I realize I would be cut off financially? That I wouldn't have the luxury of being an artist? That I wasn't a rich kid with a trust fund who could while away my days pretending to be a photographer?

And then suddenly it was like that voice was my voice, and not my mother's. And I was scared. How would I support myself? I turned my tail and ran. Ran towards the comfort of my 125% biology background. The part of me that was creative and thoughtful and full of ideas cried out 'No, no, no' until her gaolers locked her in a silent cell where her protests couldn't be heard.

But without her, without that spark, it's like I've withered. This shell of me walks around, makes a ridiculous amount of money doing a job I hate. I feel trapped. But is my job the prison, or is my prison something I've created for myself. Why am I not more brave? Why can't I break free. That square peg still doesn't fit in the round hole, but the sides of the square are now so rounded that I'm not sure it fits in the square hole either.

It's clear to those around me that I'm struggling. They tell me to follow my dreams. Listen to my heart. Follow your dreams, they say, happiness follows. But I don't know what my dreams are anymore, I hardly know who I am anymore. I've tried finding my creative zest again, but it's like I forgot in which level of my inner hell she sits frozen.

I want to follow my dreams. I want to know what these dreams are. I want to know what it is a really want. I want to be brave, to quit my job. Burn the memories of the past 6 or 7 years, walk away from the conflagration victorious and free. Feel the yearning of my soul, acknowledge her worth. Set her free, lay pens and pencils and reams of paper at her feet. Throw myself upon her mercy and beg for forgiveness. I just don't know how.

Follow your dreams, and free yourself. Follow your dreams, if you can find them. Follow your dreams, if you are brave enough. Follow your dreams, and happiness follows.

I Don't Pray, I Move My Feet

I wish I could relax. I wish I knew how. People who have known me for years would call me laid back, cool-headed, accepting...but my mom is not wrong when she calls me tightly wound and high strung. I'm always going. Always looking for what is next, never satisfied with what I have now. I have a need, and emptiness that needs to be filled. A longing for something. But for what, I don't know. I don't know.

So I search and search. I try on different metaphoric hats--different places, different jobs, new people, no people, experiments in adulthood, things I can easily back down from, back out of if it becomes too frightening, or too restricting. I have claustrophobia of the spirit. I'm terrified of things that could trap me, stick me to one place or one person, make it impossible to run away or escape if need be.

I always wonder what my life would have been like had my family not moved around so much. Had we stayed in Ann Arbor. Had we stayed in Libertyville. Had I not moved after 5th grade, had I not moved after my sophomore year in high school. If I kept the same friends, or had at least known the same people in elementary school, and junior high, and high school, and maybe had some friends, or known some of the same people going into college. Would I know where I belong? Would I have a place I could call my home? Would I know how to keep the friends I make, instead of running away for no reason if they get too close, if they know me too well, if I'm too vulnerable around them? If I show them that tender spot I hid behind my ribs?

I have lived in 20 different houses or apartments, in 11 different cities over the past 29 years. I can renew drivers licenses in 4 states. Even my job is in constant motion. On Friday, I was in 5 different states. I wish I knew what it felt like to be somewhere. To stay somewhere. To know that elusive place called home.

But whenever something doesn't feel right, whenever I question what I'm doing, or who I am, or what my purpose might be, my first thought is where do I move next? Where on my list of places I might want to be will finally feel like where I'm supposed to be? How will I even know when I find it?

Maybe I've already been there, but haven't recognized it. Seattle. Or maybe it's the place whose memories I hold the closest to my heart. Ann Arbor. Or maybe it's the place I wish I was now. Helsinki. Or maybe it's somewhere I've never been. Maine. Or somewhere I go for work. Conneticut. Or the place I was the happiest. Santa Cruz. Or someplace I've always wanted to move. Boston.

I don't know. But the only way I can think to find whatever it is I seek to find, is to keep moving my feet.

Tags:

lj Idol?

skylanth, my bio-something-or-another lab partner from my first senior year (I've had really stellar luck with lab partners, ya'll. Every single one has been pretty great) has, for the past couple of years, been participating in LJ Idol. I think this year I will also participate. Whoo!

Why?

Well, she makes it seem so interesting and different. Plus, I need to exercise my writing muscle for NaNoWriMo, so I've decided to give it a whirl. Yay.

My Hands Hurt

I hate my job. I really really hate it.

I hate that if I do my job correctly, I get yelled at and treated incredibly disrespectfully. I hate that this entire industry feels exploitative and very against many of my personal beliefs. I hate that my job makes me scared to take any medication ever because I see what a shitty job most clinical research doctors do.

I hate that I'm supposed to be the manager of people who are not employed by my same company and who can just turn around and tell me to suck it and treat me like dog shit on a shoe if they don't feel like doing what I ask. I hate that these people are allowed to call me names and throw things in my general direction and have threatening body postures and I just have to grin and bear it.

I hate that someone can practically break the law or do such a shitty job that I have no faith in their data at all, but the sponsors won't close their site down because all that's important is getting patients to enroll in their study so that the FDA can approve their drug faster so that they can make more money quicker than their competitors. I hate that most of the doctors I work with couldn't give a rats ass about these studies and only want to rake in the $30k per patient they make over the course of a study. I hate capitalism. I hate that the doctors make anywhere from 10k to 50k per patient for evaluating couple of study related ECGs and lab results.

I hate that I have to be the representative of my company AND the sponsor company so I have to be pleasant all. the. fucking. time. I hate dressing in 'professional' clothing.

I hate sweating into my 'professional' clothing.

I hate traveling. I hate that all I do all day ever is sit on my ass and get fatter and fatter. I hate not having a life. I hate working from home. I hate that the only people I've met in this stupid state are either my brother's med school cronies or are my therapist. I hate that all the typing and internet using I have to do at work exacerbates my RA so my hands hurt all the goddamn time. I hate that I never get to sleep. I hate that I am never done. I hate that I'm set up to fail. I hate that my sites are set up to fail.

I hate that it's my fault if sites don't enroll or don't do their job correctly but that I have absolutely no power to make these people do their jobs. I hate that my only authority is based on my charm and pleading and begging and cajoling and masked, impotent threats of enrollment holds because sponsors don't back the CRAs up. I hate that I have no idea what I would rather do instead of this horrible, sickening job.

I hate my landlord.

I hate that I hate everything. I hate that I'm upset all the time. I hate that I have no joie de vivre. I hate that I have no hobbies. I hate that even if I did have hobbies, I'm gone so much of the fucking time that I would never get to explore said hobbies. I hate that I want to go back to school but need to fulfill 2-4 more pre-reqs, depending, but I can't fulfill them because I'm gone all the time. I hate that I can't take classes Tues and Thurs, or Mon/Wed/Fri. I hate that I can't take online classes because I have no time for them and because they would just hurt my fucking hands more. I hate that I'm terrified of quitting my job and accepting something at, say, PetSmart because everything seems so impossibly expensive and I need not horrible health insurance.

I hate that on any given week, I fly MSP-ORD-HPN-ATL-RIC-ATL-MSP or MSP-DTW-BDL-ATL-GSO-ATL-MSP. I hate that half the places I travel nowadays are an hour or two car ride away from the closest airport. I hate that I still don't have access to systems I should have had access to in April. I hate that I want to travel and explore the world, but would rather sit at home doing nothing during my vacations because all I do for work is travel. I hate that this job has taken away those parts of me that were adventuresome because it beats me into the ground.

I hate that I hate everything. I hate that I hate everything except my cats because my cats are the only things I have to talk to.

I hate that I'm not happy.

And I really fucking hate this fly that won't stop crawling across my computer screen.