Throwback Thursday: How to be a Doormat

Every Thursday, I dig out an old diary and share an entry sans editing (in hopes we’ll all see my grammar and apostrophe use improve) with a short commentary. If you like laughing with/at Young Ashley, feel free to use the handy search bar to the right and simply type “Throwback Thursday” and you’ll find the whole archive. Thanks for reading!

Monday May 29, 2000

Dear Libby, 

Sorry, but I was just thinking about what an idiot I am. Did I tell you the Jocelyn dumped Benjamin? Well, the other day, I wrote Benjamin an e-mail saying: 

    Ben, I’m sorry to hear about Jocelyn dumping you. But If you need to talk, I’m here for ya. Just tell tell me when to get on aol or just e-mail me. 

    luv ya, ashley. 

    P.S. :*(sealed with a kiss.)

I am such an idiot! ‘sealed with a kiss’?!? How stupidly insane can a person get? Probably no lower than me! But eww! Sealed with a kiss? Ugg! I can’t believe I put that. 

~*Ashley*~

I had yet to develop empathy – I just figured that since he wasn’t with Jocelyn, it was somebody else’s turn to be his girlfriend. I expected  he would be so taken with my willingness to tie up the phone line to IM him on AOL that he would drop a note, declaring his love into the slot of my locker. As you can probably guess, this isn’t how things went.

Before I roll my eyes so many times they get stuck like that, I’d like to offer Young Ashley some advice:

When pouncing on a dude who’s on the rebound, it’s best to not remind him that he was just unceremoniously dumped by a girl. I know you haven’t been romantically disappointed yet, so you don’t understand that the purpose of post-breakup flirtation is to swiftly bolster one’s ego. Also, from what I remember, he wasn’t flirting with you, so calm the hell down and put up your away message with the N’Sync lyrics.  Was ‘luv ya’ a casual way to sign emails or were you actually telling him you loved him? And was it necessary to note that you were signing it with a kiss? The emoticon wasn’t enough? Because seriously, you are the epitome of Crazy Girl right now. You’re the exact opposite of “suttle” (I’m assuming that’s how you’d spell it). The sneakier way of doing this would have just been to say, “BENJAMIN I LUV U. LETS DATE NOW THAT UR SINGLE!!!!!!!!!11 LUV U LOTZ, ASH” You don’t know what they are, but you are doing the exact opposite of what The Rules advise.

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I have a headache. I forgot that how often I roll my eyes when reading these old diaries.

Things I’d rather do than pack

I’m moving into my own flat on Monday. And you know how I haven’t been posting much? My internal excuse is that I’m preparing to move and I need to train for my next race (June 22). In reality, I’ve been playing bluegrass with my uncle once a week and not doing anything until the weekend rolls around and I go on a social binge; Last Saturday consisted of overtime, family time, then a movie date followed by a drink with another friend that lasted till 3am. Sunday was a day spent in the park reading & watching LARPers followed by dinner and music-making around a fire with Matt till 11:30. I don’t really know what I’ve done in the evenings for the last two weeks. I haven’t been running or working excessive overtime. I’ll just say that I’ve been resting in preparation for my move this weekend.

This is my progress. I'm so close to having started packing.

This is my progress. I’m so close to having started packing.

But now that it’s come down to the wire, I don’t really want to do anything. My mother had surgery yesterday (she’s doing really well – she had surgery on her neck for degenerative discs), so I was at the hospital till about nine last night. I came home ready to drink whiskey and listen to Justin Timberlake while I packed up everything. I packed three boxes (two shelves worth of books, a few blankets, toiletry items), then took a break to see if I really did know all the words to Kanye West’s Monster (spoiler alert: I don’t).  Then I got distracted by geeking out about Arrested Development with a friend.

By the way, it’s unacceptable that the new season of Arrested Development premieres at 2:01am for me. Fuck you, Pacific Standard Time. I need to see new Buster and Lucille antics immediately. That 90-second clip was not enough.

As you can tell, I’m not what you would call “motivated to pack my shit.” I’m really excited to be in my new place, but what makes it tough is that my big pieces of furniture won’t be moved until Monday when I have my truck. The whole idea behind renting a truck was to get everything – furniture, boxes, clothes, bike, EVERYTHING – in one trip. So I mean, why spend all day putting things in boxes if it’s just going to sit here another night?

I got the keys yesterday, then I promptly took 50 selfies in the gigantic mirror.

I got the keys yesterday. I then promptly took 50 selfies in the gigantic mirror.

I would rather:

  1. Spend the morning in bed drinking coffee and browsing Pinterest
  2. Spend the morning in bed drinking coffee and reading David Sedaris
  3. Rewatch Arrested Development for the 30th time before the premiere 
  4. Bake cornbread muffins
  5. Pick flowers
  6. Listen to the new Daft Punk because it doesn’t sound like my nightmares
  7. Write this blog post that is going absolutely nowhere 
  8. Drink three more cups of coffee so I get gut-ache
  9. Rewatch the season finale of New Girl because holy shit Nick and Jess rode off together
  10. Look at all my old instagrams and think “God I look like a douchebag.”
  11. Reread my old blog posts to find all my spelling, punctuation, and grammar mistakes
  12. Learn Devil Went Down to Georgia to make everyone lose their shit next time I take out my violin
  13. Watch Daily Grace videos all day
  14. Day drink till I get to the point Seagrams is an acceptable whiskey to sip on the rocks
  15. Reorganize my Pinterest boards
  16. Pamper myself with a facial and mani-pedi because seriously – how am I supposed to move into a new place with pores and cuticles like this?
  17. Learn the lyrics to all of Kanye’s songs
  18. Start reading War & Peace
  19. Get irrationally pissed when Facebook shows me an ad for trendy plus-sized clothes
  20. Wait for teletransportation to be a thing

Look at those lead glass windows! Won't that be beautiful to see everyday?

Look at those lead glass windows! Won’t that be beautiful to see everyday?

I started flipping through the pictures I took yesterday in hopes that would motivate me. It didn’t really. It just made me wish even more that all of  my belongings would just poof themselves 20 miles away, into my new perfectly decorated and organized flat. 

UGH. 

Fine. 

I’ll go pack my shit. 

Cicadapocalypse 2013: Reminiscences on Freaky Insects

I’ve been seeing a lot about the cicadas taking over the east coast right now. Apparently this seventeen year brood is causing a racket in the heavily populated areas with their mating calls. The Atlantic Wire says, “It will be loud. It will be gross. It will be pretty annoying.” After they’ve shed their exoskeleten on trees and lawns, they’ll irritate everyone, and get their freak on before dying. The new offspring will burrow into the ground, to live as xylem-sucking nymphs.

Holy mother of god. This is the stuff of my nightmares.

Until I was 23, I thought a cicada was a bird. I never paid attention in science classes, so I missed the bit about cicadas not being adorable songbirds. I must have seen the word in poem and used the whimsical context to determine it was a summer-singing bird. Because of its distinct sound, it’s supposed to be one of the most recognized insects in the world. At 23, I had been using the internet for about ten years, so you would have thought I would have asked all-knowing google about that summer buzz. I just never did.

When I was ten, an aunt told me it was a cicada. I noted that it had a unique call. Since I heard the sound so often, I thought it was a sadly common bird. I pictured a small grey thing with pink-flecked wings, anxiously flitting between tree branches.

Two summers ago, I traveled with my boyfriend at the time, Bill, and his father to Oklahoma to take Bill to grad school. They had loaded up the family SUV with Bill’s drums, leaving a pigeonhole in the back seat for me. I didn’t really know what to expect on the ride. His family was different than mine. Their conversations revolved around current events, politics, technology, and biology-heavy discussions about mysteries like why caffeine affects 40-somethings more than 20-somethings.

Somewhere in Illinois, I was awoken from a dramamine doze to a thunderous buzz that was different from the semi hums and vibration of tires beneath me. “What is that sound?” I asked.

“Cicadas,” Bill’s father said.

I pictured hundreds of grey birds. “I don’t think I’ve ever heard more than one at a time.”

“They’re probably in those clusters of trees along the highway,” He said. “Those are some weird bugs.”

I looked to the rearview mirror to see if Wyatt was joking. He was wearing sunglasses and not smiling. “When I was little, I thought they were birds,” I lied.

Bill laughed at the absurdity of it.

As I experienced that distinct sensation of inner humiliation, I realized this trip was going to be a lesson in my ignorance. I started to make a list of things to google when I got home.

“They make that buzzing sound with tymbals,” his father said, glancing over his right shoulder for a lane change, the sunset reflecting in his sunglasses. “They’re sort of like ribs that contract and buckle inwards. That’s what makes the click. It’s the males’ mating call.”

Cicada, tymbal.

The first time, I remember hearing the call of a cicada was while chalking the sidewalk. Kneeling on the pavement, I clutched a knobby piece of yellow chalk. My eyes squinted in the bright sun as I tried to detect the source. It was electric and jarring, beginning modestly, then roaring to fortissimo only to quickly diminuendo to silence.

I decided it was the telephone pole, where the wires met. I figured the words were compressed and encrypted in the lonesome dark yarns. By some strange set of mathematics, they eventually settled into syllables and pauses. Happy with my conclusion, I studied the imprints of the sidewalk on my knees. The flesh was pink and achy from the cement’s angry pressure. I began to draw a telephone, crawling to draw the curlicue cord, ignoring the pulsing pain on my kneecaps.

When we finally reached Oklahoma, the three of us walked around Bill’s new campus. We were standing outside the music building when Wyatt noticed a cicada shell on a sycamore tree. He plucked the shell off the melty-looking bark. “They shed their skins after they emerge from the ground. It ends up just clinging to the bark,” Wyatt said.

I remember shuddering and leaning into Bill. “That’s creepy,” I said. The papery silhouette rested massless between Wyatt’s fingers. I imagined the thing springing to life and buzzing maniacally into my hair. Bill watched his father study the shell and smiled when I caught his eye. I was embarrassed and wondered what he would say if he knew I was just then solidifying an image of the creature whose sound had so perplexed me as a child.

“They have some really weird life cycles,” Wyatt said. “Some are pretty short, just five years or so. But some have seventeen-year cycles.”

“Seventeen years?” I asked.

“Yeah. It was developed as a defense against predators.”

“Okay,” I said, waiting for more information. I figured if I agreed it would reassure him that yes, I was on the same intellectual place as he and that I was following the conversation completely. But of course, I was embarrassed. Why did this work? What difference did it make if the cicada was seventeen-year species or a two-year? Couldn’t they still be preyed upon? Wyatt talked about it in such a plain, matter of fact way –  like he was telling me something I probably already knew. I didn’t bother asking.

“They eat xylem from the roots of trees,” Wyatt went on. “They spent most of their time underground. I think as adults they drink sap.” He invited me to look closer at the skin. Setting aside my girlish fear of its attack, I leaned in. Thin and translucent, it was the hue of an old newspaper. It reminded me of a tiny, elaborately-designed balloon animal. I could crush it without effort. For a moment, I might be able to forget my embarrassment. Just maybe, if I could crush the molted skin, I could reverse the fact that I had never paid attention in science classes. If that wasn’t possible, then I could at least ignore my ignorance.

Cicada, tymbal, xylem. 

I think the trip took four or five days roundtrip. After leaving Bill in a sort of dumpy apartment in Edmond, Wyatt and I spent the fifteen hour ride listening to Merchant of Venice, talking about his first cooking experience (burnt tomato soup), and Bill’s need to substitute the cream and cheese in alfredo sauce for a béchamel. He was a walking encylcopedia. I was the foolish girl dating his son – pretending to be confident despite the fact I knew nothing.

It took me a while, but the shame of my ignorance faded. After googling my list (cicada, tymbal, xylem, brood, Phillip Pullman, the history of Route 66, 3D technology, Merchant of Venice, béchamel), I realized I didn’t have to live in a constant state of wonder. I walked around with the largest encyclopedia in my purse. The answer to any of my wildest queries was dependent only on the strength of my 3g connection.

So for those of my readers who are enduring the cicadapocalypse, don’t worry. A quick google search will reassure you that it’s not one of the seven plagues – just a bunch of hideous and super horny insects.

Stream of Consciousness: Saturday Run

8:24am Holy shit I overslept. Holy shit I am going to be two hours late if I leave in six minutes. Wait. It’s Saturday. I don’t have to be at work. And anyway, I work at 8, so I’d be an hour late. Still, an hour is an hour. Whatever. Okay. What do I want for breakfast?

PANCAKES.

Obviously I want pancakes. But damn. I just want them now. I don’t want to make them. I might as well get up and shower if I’m going to make pancakes. It’s a whole ordeal.

I should get a boyfriend for strictly pancake-making purposes. People do that, right? I can compartmentalize if I want. You’re the one who takes me out to dinners. You’re the one who spoons with me at night but doesn’t get offended when I push you away because holy shit you sweat a lot at night. You’re the one who takes me to exciting cultural things like art galleries and jazz performances. You’re the one who rubs my feet while I watch terrible television like RuPaul’s Drag Race and you don’t even complain or make weird comments because you’re confident in your sexuality. And you? You just make me pancakes in the morning. 

That’d be nice. But that means I have to like, go out and meet people. And people are exhausting. I’m just going to stretch and yawn for a while. Then I’ll get up and make pancakes.

8:36am Good god. I haven’t ran for the last two days. I should really do that. Pancakes are out. But wait. Maybe I could run and then have pancakes. I could burn like 500 calories so then when I eat pancakes, the two just cancel out and I’ll be all, “I didn’t even eat pancakes this weekend! I can still respect myself!”

But look at that. Look at the sun. And I just got these new microfiber sheets. They’re so soft and I should really just enjoy them for a while longer. Plus I got the new David Sedaris book. It’d be like a waste of money to not enjoy that.

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I’ll just grab my Kindle and read for a while.

9:23am I read David Sedaris so fast. It’s like I don’t even absorb what he’s saying. Which is a shame, because he’s really funny while also being poignant. I’ll have to reread this book when I’m done.

Oh my god. I need to go for a run.

I could maybe wait till later. But the afternoon sun will be out and it will be warm and I’ll sweat. And I’m supposed to meet up with my friends for dinner tonight, but I don’t know when that is. I should just get it over with now. Plus if I go in the morning, they say my metabolism will be higher for the rest of the day. I don’t know who they are, but whatever, that’s a really cliche thought. Maybe if I look on Pinterest I’ll get inspired to run.

9:30am Okay, I will only look at my 5k board because that’s where my inspiration will be. Otherwise I’ll spend the whole morning getting sucked into Pinterest’s black hole of negative productivity.

There’s that pin about things to eat before workouts. Maybe I should look at it. I never did when I pinned it.

Oh. Toast with peanut butter and bananas does look good. Better than pancakes, actually. I’ll make that.

9:36am omigosh this is so good. I need to get a boyfriend to just make me toast with peanut butter and banana.

Now I need to let this digest. I don’t want sideaches. But I’ll start getting dressed, because otherwise I’ll just be in bed all morning.

Let’s see what RunKeeper has me doing today.

A 50 minute run? WHAT THE HELL, RUNKEEPER? Fifty damn minutes? I was hoping for one of those awesome interval runs that’s only 26 minutes long. I actually like those. I get to walk half the time without feeling guilty.

Ugh. Fine, RunKeeper. I’ll do your damn run. But only because I get to wear neon socks. Also, I don’t want to be the last finisher at my race next weekend.

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Whoa. Next weekend? I should just accept it. I’ll probably be the last finisher. Maybe I’ll get a prize.

Okay, let’s drink some water. I’m dehydrated just thinking about this damn 50 minute run. UGH.

IdontwannadothisIdontwannadothisIdontwannadothisIdontwannadothis

9:50am Hey! I used to not wear these workout pants because whenever I’d run they’d slide down and accentuate my love handles. Daay-umm. Running looks good on me.

IMAG0842

My boobs are squished. I hate sports bras. They’re the worst. Seriously. I wouldn’t wear them if gravity didn’t suck so bad.

10:17am Running isn’t so bad. The sun is out. It’s only like 50 degrees so I’m not sweating like a pig. I could live with this. I’ll just keep a nice steady pace so I don’t die.

10:35am Okay. Twenty minutes in? I’m almost halfway done. This isn’t so bad. I’m not even fatigued yet. I can breathe! And I can actually articulate greetings when I pass other people. A few weeks ago I would have just been heaving and wishing I was dead or at least back on my couch.

10:45am This is a nice area to run. Nice city sidewalks with minimal cracks to twist my ankle. The police drive by pretty often so I probably won’t get murdered.

That’s good, because I don’t really think I can run much faster than this. I couldn’t outrun a murderer.

I’m going to take a quick break and walk for a couple minutes. I’m more than halfway done, so it’s cool.

Look at that dam. Holy shit look at those rapids.

IMAG0848

I should start carrying mace on my runs like my mom told me. 

11:07am OH MY GOD I DON’T WANT TO DO THIS ANYMORE. WHY DID I ADD THAT FIVE MINUTE WARMUP IN THE BEGINNING OF MY RUN? DAMMIT RUNKEEPER, I DON’T WANT TO RUN FOR FIVE MORE MINUTES.

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I’m so close to the end. I can do this. Run for 3 more minutes. Then I can walk. Walk? I should just walk now. Seriously, I’ve done enough.

NO. YOU WILL NOT STOP RUNNING. YOU WILL KEEP RUNNING. What was that thing I saw on Pinterest? Run like zombies are chasing you? No, I hate zombies. Fuck zombies. They’re not real. Run like Ryan Gosling is waiting at the end? No, run like Ryan Gosling is waiting with a puppy at the end.

Okay, Ryan. I’m coming! Keep scratching behind the puppy’s ears!

11:12am Holy shit these stretches feel so good. I want to stretch forever. Oh my god. Ohhhhhhhhhh. This water tastes so good. It’s been in this bottle for like a day but I don’t even care because it’s water. Oh my god. Ahhhhh. I need to do this more often.

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11:17am That was awesome. Seriously. 4.31miles in 55 minutes. It should always be like this when I run. Why is the weather not always conducive to running?

I stink. Oof.

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I’m going to do this again tomorrow. Maybe I’ll run more. Or maybe I’ll do those intervals. I want to get faster. Oh my gosh this running thing is awesome. Why did I not want to do it this morning?

Oof. I should really shower.