My NYE 2014 or The Importance of the Buddy System

It’s a new year, I guess. Not really sure what I’m supposed to do about that. This time last year I was full of optimism and bursting with these grand ideas. I kept thinking things like, “EVERYTHING IS BLOOMING! I can get tattoos and I’ll start dressing like everyday is a fantastic production and I’m the star. And I’m going to start telling myself that I am fantastic and that I am beautiful and I deserve nothing but the best and OH MY GOD I’M GOING TO START RUNNING and be the best person alive.”

My first post of 2013 was a lot more positive than this one is. It might not be fair to contrast the two, considering this time I’m doing my best to digest a pretty epic breakfast of eggs benedict florentine (all the cholesterol of eggs benedict with a few leaves of spinach thrown in to make me feel a little healthy) and three cups of coffee. I think when I wrote last year’s post, I was eating something like quinoa and cranberry with herbal tea. I was trying to be a lot healthier than I am today.

I know that the typical thing to do for a new year is to welcome the next 362 days with optimism and determination to make it the best yet. I also know the typical alternative is to resolve to not make any resolutions. (har har har) I’m feeling decidedly bleh about either option. So, instead I’ll just tell you about my New Year’s Eve.

It started out pretty magically. I took a half day off to kick off a 5-day weekend, and surprised myself by getting my hair cut at an Aveda salon downtown. The last time I got my haircut, it was done by a student who took an hour to just frame the edges. I stood for 30 minutes of the cut and paid $10, so I’m not sure I could have expected much more. He tried to give me whispy bangs, thinking that to do that, he should cut them on an angle. When he tried to correct it, I just told him that it looked fine – mainly because I was terrified he would give me bangs like this:

Not really my style

Not really my style

So I’ve made do over the last month or so, mostly just pinning them to the side while they grew out. But I decided that I was going to pay a professional to make me look beautiful. After sitting comfortably for 30 minutes, I left the salon in a cloud of that wonderful Aveda scent with hair that was somehow shorter yet thicker than it had been in years.

It's hard not to feel fabulous when you're wearing animal print

It’s hard not to feel fabulous when you’re wearing animal print

I ended up going to an acoustic living room show where a friend’s band played. It was a really beautiful way to begin the night, complete with a drumset made of pans, buckets, and crates, slide guitar, and an accordion. I sat sipping malbec by candlelit in a room of people whose names I thought I knew, but wasn’t 100%. Though I arrived alone, I felt included and happy to be with this group of people who were content listening to our friends make music.

After the music was done, I joined a group of people to The Reptile Palace to see a few other bands. The Reptile Palace is a place where I’ve always felt a bit alienated – it’s one of those punk bars with stickers and graffiti covering most surfaces, three vodka selections, and probably a basement full of PBR and only PBR. Whenever I go there, I’m certain that everyone is thinking, “What is that square doing here? She should go home and work on her taxes.” The things I occasionally take pride in (not smoking, enjoying beer that doesn’t taste like vaguely hops-flavored water, having health insurance and paid vacation) suddenly embarrass me and make me feel like I’m not living an authentic life. Intellectually, I know it’s idiotic to feel inferior for being a responsible adult, but that’s just how my brain works.

I was dropped off with the drummer with promises of more friends arriving, including my roommate. After what felt like an hour (in actuality, was probably about 10 minutes), a few things happened within three seconds: first, I spotted a guy I had gone out with a few weeks earlier. Things hadn’t ended disastrously, just on uneven terms. The point is that I was momentarily uncomfortable. Second, I realized the cranberry & Stoli I had just ordered was not necessary. I was sufficiently drunk from drinking the better part of the malbec I brought to the party. Third, I felt lonely for a split second.

What did I decide to do? Walk home. In subzero weather with $1 gloves and three-inch heels. “It’s only like 2 miles. It’ll be fine,” said my wine-clouded brain. “If I get tired along the way, I’ll just stop into one of these many bars to warm up. Or I could just take a brief nap in the doorway of some shop.”

I was about two blocks from The Reptile Palace when my pocket buzzed. I saw it was Jason, who had dropped me off earlier. I answered the call with a numb finger to hear, “You’re going the wrong way. Go back to the bar.”

“I’m going home,” I told him.

“Why are you going home? It’s 10:30.”

I didn’t have an answer. I realized my reasons for leaving would sound pathetic if I bothered to articulate them. “I don’t know.”

“Get in my car. Do you see me?” He said. Then to the passengers in his car: “…she’s drunk.”

Feeling foolish but realizing he was right, I climbed into his car, welcomed the warmth, thanked him for stopping, and told myself I wasn’t going to drink anymore that night.

As soon as I got back to the bar, I had a few glasses of water and started having a much better time. I greeted the man whose presence made me flee, apologized awkwardly, thanked Jason about 30 times for picking me up, and got disproportionately excited when my roommate showed up. I rang in the new year by toasting water, kissing the drummer, and hugging my best friend.

I woke up the next day and realized a few things: 1. I’m really glad Jason saw me and picked me up, because there’s a chance I would have stopped for a brief slumber that could have ended with me freezing to death. Yeah, that’s a thing you have to actually be concerned about when you live in Wisconsin: FREEZING TO DEATH. 2. Alcohol makes you do stupid things like try to walk home at 10:30 on New Year’s Eve. I’m happy to say that is the only time I’ve done something that idiotic while intoxicated. Just so my parents don’t freak out and start lecturing me on being responsible: 99% of the time I’m in bars, I operate on the buddy system, ensuring neither of us wanders off to take an outdoor nap when it’s -20. I promise you didn’t raise a complete moron. 3. Having paid vacation doesn’t make you a responsible adult, so I should really stop feeling superior just because I was being paid while I recovered from my hangover on Wednesday.

So what’s going to change for me in 2014? Probably not a whole lot. I’ll continue to document my complete lack of perfection. I might start flossing. Cheers!

April Snow Brings Carb Binges

I’ve been going through a mild depression. I’ve really only noticed it over the last week or so, while the weather has been exceedingly shitty, even for Wisconsin. You think that we’d have this figured out by now: spring doesn’t really happen till the first week in May. Yet as soon as April comes around, we all expect lush grass to replace the dingy snow. And then when it doesn’t, we complain. Each time snow is forecasted, our rants get louder and more dramatic.  “It’s snowing again? It’s halfway through April for crying out loud!” “It’s a beautiful winter we’re having this spring, isn’t it?”

Even though I know my spring will only last about two weeks before turning into a sticky summer, it’s still frustrating that I’m stuck inside watching the grass get coated in a wet snow again. It seems hopeless.

You are drunk, Spring. GO HOME.

You are drunk, Spring. GO HOME.

I’ve been working a lot lately. Between trying to get caught up at work and saving money for my new place in June, work has just about consumed my life. For the most part, I enjoy my job and my coworkers. But between working 10-hour days and working out nearly everyday, by the time I get home, I’m too exhausted to do much of anything. So I usually just shower and fall asleep reading, annoyed with anyone who has the balls to reach out to me and say hi. It’s not very conducive to forming friendships or relationships. My friendships have dwindled to the small handful who are tolerant of my absentminded selfishness. My love life has all but vanished. I spent Friday night on the couch with blankets and Hulu. Saturday was spent at the office, then stubbornly watching four hours of The Killing when I really should have just taken a nap. I reached out to a few friends from college, trying to fool myself into thinking I’d actually go out. I knew that I would just end up in bed by 9, asleep by 9:30. I was right.

I’m not sure why my depressed and antisocial behavior feeds itself. It’s turned into a beast I don’t really know how to tame. I’ve always required a certain amount of alone time, but I feel like that’s all my life has become. The transition of college to work is harder than I anticipated. In college, there are new people to talk with every hour and your schedule varies each day of the week. But working is the same all day everyday, and even if I do like my coworkers, I need to talk with other people.

I think really, I’m just feeling sorry for myself while the weather continues to suck. The forecast should just read SHITTY TILL IT’S NO LONGER SHITTY. But instead, they go through the trouble of describing the shittiness.

Completely unnecessary

Completely unnecessary, Accuweather.

I don’t really care that it’s supposed to be in the 50s. It’s still shitty and I’m going to blame my terrible mood and uncontrollable urge to shovel carbs into my mouth on it. Today I made two loaves of french bread, rice crispie treats, cake batter cookies, and I’m probably having spaghetti for dinner. An all-carb diet is good for the soul, right? I think what I need is a crazy night out with friends. I need to feel wild and free and like I’m stunning, beautiful, and constantly witty. The right amount of alcohol does that, and with any luck, I’ll find that next weekend. Until then, I’ll probably just keep reading and wasting time on Pinterest.

Throwback Thursday: Dear Genna

Over the last few months, I’ve been thinking of trying to find some way to make posts a little bit more regular. My style here has always just been “Hey! That’s clever idea! I bet I can write a few paragraphs about it. Let’s spend three hours writing a 1,000 word blog post!” I enjoy that because I’m not held accountable if a week goes by without posting anything because I’m not inspired. Nobody can tell me they were expecting anything from me. All they can do now is be delighted when they get a notification that I’ve written a new post.

I’ve had conversations with a few bloggers about this. Some say it’s best to stay to make a schedule to keep yourself in check. Readers appreciate consistency. Other bloggers say that it’s best to write only when it strikes. I just use this as an excuse not to write. If I get an idea, I think, “Yeah, I could do that…but, but…Pinterest!” I tell myself I’m not writing because my readers will know that I didn’t want to write it. But you know what? There’s some truth there. I think you guys would stop reading if I started writing solely about Zooey Deschanel bangs (just make sure the edges are rounded) and outfits to wear when you see your ex-boyfriend (in the summer: a white sundress. With spanx, you ho. In the winter: skinny jeans, heeled boots, and something comfortable. Wear a scarf. Don’t be a ho.) Just because I’ve written about those things (and those are the two highest search terms that lead new visitors here) before, it’s not what I write about.

At the most basic, I share my life. Some of my posts leave me feeling extremely vulnerable after they’re published. Others make me laugh and I’m excited to see how people react. What I seek most is to be honest with you. I want you to feel like we could be friends. Because we could be. And probably should be, so friend me on Facebook. Who doesn’t want more friends? Like everyone else, my life can be exciting, tedious, hilarious, heartbreaking, and melancholy. I just try to share those experiences with you.

So, I’m starting something new here on Everything is Blooming: Throwback Thursdays. I’ve been journaling since I was ten years old. I’d like to show you my beginnings. I’m doing this for a few reasons. First: it gives me an excuse to go through this box that I’ve been lugging from apartment to apartment. Second: I think it will be hilarious. When you’re going through childhood, adolescent, and teenage angst, you are certain that whatever you’re involved in has enough cosmic weight to deserve the universe’s undivided attention. Fifteen years later and this stuff is gold. Third: I think my memory is fading. I can’t remember details from high school more than I can remember those from fifth grade. Fourth: It will give me more writing material. Serious writing material.

table

I’ve spent the last decade trying to develop my writing voice. Blogging sort of interrupted that. Suddenly I was writing for an audience. It’s a bit of a performance, so some things don’t get to be in the show. I don’t allow you to know everything I laugh about (If you’re interested, my twitter gives you a pretty good idea). I don’t let you know about every friend, every date, every hangover (I didn’t mean anything by putting those two together. I promise), every creation, or every anything for that matter. Some parts of my life deserve to be kept sacred and others deserve to preserved in something that takes me more than three hours to write. These are the things I’m hoping to uncover while I searching through my journals.

If you haven’t figured it out already, I’m going to share a journal entry or two – sans editing, so you can hopefully see my grammar and apostrophe use improve – with a short commentary. This will be posted every Thursday morning, today’s inception being the only exception.

So, without further ado – Throwback Thursday:

August 13, 98

Dear Diary,

I think instead of calling you “Diary’ I’m going to of a name for you.

There’s only 1 thing I hate about my mom. When your in the middle of one thing she told you to, she tells you to…There she goes again.

August 19, 98

Dear…,

I haven’t thought of a name for you yet. Wait! Genna. I’m going to name  you Genna cause she just moved all the way to south Caralina. And I won’t see her that often. I have to go to bed now. Bye, Genna.

September 3, 98

Dear Genna,

Now schools seems even longer! I have to sit by Andy B and Josh D! I hate both of them. Like this afternoon they kept on singing “Saxamaphone.” Then I’m like, “Will you shut the heck up?!!” They stoped for about 2.5 sec., and started up again. The only good part is that Ashley M is in my group.

Tomorrow I start carpooling with Katy B. I have a violin lesson at 8:00. 8:00! The 8:00! But…Malee is in my class. I’m kinda tired. See ya!

It’s also worth nothing that I signed every entry. Like it was a letter or something. The signature usually varied, but I hope that when I write a book someday, I’m able to sign all of the first editions with this beauty:

Sign

I probably should have taught a calligraphy class for ten year olds. I could be rich right now.

The year before, I had borrowed The Diary of Anne Frank from the school’s library. I remember feeling superior as I walked to the left side of the library towards the chapter books while the other kids stayed to the right, which held most of the  picture books. At some point – I’m not sure when exactly – I began scoffing at books with illustrations. This remained until I took two semesters of comparative literature and read Persepolis and Watchmen.

When I checked out, I remember the librarian asking me if I was sure I wanted to read The Diary of Anne Frank. “Do you know what this is about?” I told her yes, though I had no idea. I just had no idea diaries could be published (Blogs would have BLOWN Young Ashley’s mind), so when I saw the word “diary,” I grabbed it. After checking out, I began reading immediately and decided I was going to publish a diary. And since Anne had a name for her diary, I needed one for mine. I thought that people would be interested in knowing that it was the name of my cousin. Wasn’t I clever?

Ever since reading Anne’s diary, I’ve deluded myself in thinking that other people would be interested in my thoughts. I like to think  that it’s an evolved flavor of egotism. I try not to just blurt out days’ agendas, though sometimes that’s all I feel I’m capable of: “I woke up and had like FOUR cups of coffee, you guys. And then, omg, the cute guy at work wore those pants and he like totally smiled at me and then I only worked a half day because I had an appointment in the afternoon. It was so weird and like, seriously – have you heard the Nicki Minaj album? It’s literally the worst thing I’ve ever heard.” (I was serious about that last part though. Have you heard it?It’s terrible.) I try to go a little further and touch on the emotions and illustrate the connections.

If I haven’t learned at least a little about myself at the end of it, I’m not really proud of the post. And to answer your question, there are only a few posts I’m truly proud of. I’m going to be brainstorming other regular post topics, and if you  have any suggestions, I’d love to hear them. Until then, I’ll keep flipping through my pages and laughing at myself, per usual.

To 21-year old Ashley, Love 24-year old Ashley

I started writing a post last night, but then I remembered the vice presidential debate was on, so I felt obligated to watch it. I watched for about ten minutes before I figured I had enough of Joe Biden’s goofy grin and Paul Ryan’s kindergarten hair. Then I decided to read my xanga. You know, like a sane, self-actualized person would do.

I would post a link to my old xanga, but I’d rather not invite further embarrassment.

I read a lot of posts from my 20-21ish years. My middle years of college, when I was dating Jon. Here I thought I had lost a big chunk of time because I couldn’t find (or remember) any journals from that time. But I did actually journal. On my xanga.

This is not shameless twitter self-promotion

That pretty much sums it up.

Since I can’t go back in time and slap myself across the face, I decided to write notes to myself. Because 21-year old me reading these notes is more plausible than 24-year old me slapping 21-year old me.

Also, I’m on nyquil. Well, not nyquil. Generic nyquil that I took from my dad. I’m not drinking it recreationally, you prudes. I’m sick. I’m on my couch in sweatpants with Netflix (Mike Birbiglia’s special) playing in the background.

Yeah, Ashley. I guess that’s one way to spend a Friday night.

I thought of a few of these things at work while I was impressing my new coworkers with the volume of my snot-expulsion, but most of them I’m coming up with off the top of my head. Yeah, I’m just riffing, people. I’m funny. Why don’t you follow me on twitter? Retweet me or something.

Anyway.

Taking out the nose ring you got the second week of college does not make you mature. It just makes you employable. 

You don’t have to put up with that asshole boyfriend. Seriously. Just dump his ass. What do you see in him? He constantly makes you feel inadequate and insecure. Don’t be a moron and mistake constant inner dissonance for passion. It’s not passion – it’s letting someone treat you like garbage. So stop that, seriously. And don’t tell me everything was sunshine and roses, because I have proof, in all of your PRIVATE and PROTECTED posts on xanga, that you were frequently miserable. Yeah. You documented that shit. And thanks for that, it’ll make writing about about that period a hell of a lot easier. 

You know how you really like Sutter Home’s white zin? You’ll get sick of it. Yeah. I know. It’s really unbelievable, but eventually you’ll get to a point where you walk past the $5 bottles and go to the (shock!) $8 and $9 bottles, and you’ll have much better evenings. 

Stop bingeing on Radiohead. “Why is Thom Yorke so good?!” you ask. Because he has unnecessary letters in both of his names, that’s why. And he’s not that great. He’s okay. You’re really moved by some of his songs (I know, I know, How to Disappear Completely brings you to a weird sort of teary nausea), but it will pass and you’ll find there is better music out there, so don’t go around preaching the Radiohead gospel. 

Save a pack of cherry cloves for me, will ya? Eventually Barack Obama will be president and you’ll blame him without knowing if he’s actually responsible for making the flavored ones illegal. You’ll still be able to buy the black ones, but you’ll never really like those, even if you try to tell yourself clove cigarettes are to cigarettes the way chai is to coffee. 

On that note, save your damn money. Seriously. Don’t spend all that extra loan money. You don’t need a Nintendo DS and you certainly don’t need to buy the 007 game just because the character sort of looks like Daniel Craig. You’ll never get past the second level, either. You’re just not a gamer. You know what you really need? A CAR. I cannot stress this enough. YOU NEED A DECENT CAR. 

Take advantage of those cute writers in  your English classes. I don’t mean like rape them, just get out of your shell and say hi. What is the guy gonna do? Seriously. He’ll probably talk and compliment your work, then you can have him over to drink some white zin because you’re a classy broad. 

Actually do your homework. Study. Learn things. Don’t just breeze through college. Really experience it and take advantage of EVERYTHING on campus, including the planetarium. 

Good job working out. Seriously. You were dedicated for a while there. You’ve inspired me to get back to the gym. 

Stop eating bagels.

In the near future, you’ll have a professor tell the class, “You will never be prettier or skinnier than you are right now.” I know, he stole it from Gossip Girl (which is an entirely different issue), but he’s right. At least as far as I can tell. You’ll gain a little of that weight back and your skin will start do weird things like be irritated for no apparent reason (the inside of your left elbow will itch, inexplicably, ALL THE TIME, and your eyelids are sometimes dry and red), and you’ll feel like your body is falling apart at 24. Hopefully 28-year old us will be able to shed some light on this. 

You should somehow display that one letter from your friend when he told you “Love hard. Dance with grace. And don’t forget about the little black dresses.” Interpret it however you wish, instead of being constantly aware of the fact that you’d feel more confident in an LBD than in your sloppy barista uniform (lol, I still can’t believe you worked at a coffee shop that had uniforms) the university makes you wear. 

I’m starting to lose concentration (because I had to be really focused to write this post) and I’ve spent the last two minutes yawning, so I’m going to call it a night.

Edit: After (very briefly) reviewing this before publishing, I just want to note that it took me several tries to spell “presidential” before the little red zigzag disappeared. Also, it’s kind of weird that there are two ps in disappeared. Not sure why I called you guys prudes in the nyquil paragraph. Am I calling you prudes for being shocked by the idea of drinking nyquil recreationally? Because that insinuates that I drink nyquil recreationally, and I don’t. I said “seriously” a lot. Don’t really care.

I love to eat dutch babies.

In sixth grade, my language arts teacher asked us to name a favorite dish our families made. Since my name lies in the middle of the alphabet, I’ve always been  able to listen to my peers and make a comfortably boring response. I must have been daydreaming about buying my first Abercrombie t-shirt, because as my classmates named things like roast beef and french bread pizza, there was a pause before I answered.

“Ashley?” Mrs. Hertz said.

“Dutch babies.”

Cue my classmates’ laughter. Cue my mortification. Cue my red face. Cue the urge to crawl into the hallway.

I remember thinking that I wanted to give a different response. I wanted mine to stick out of the crowd. This surprises me to this day. From what I recall, middle school was not a time when I wanted to be an individual. Like every awkward adolescent, I wanted to bring as little attention to myself as possible. So of course saying my favorite dish is dutch babies makes perfect sense.

My teacher was puzzled and probably stifled her own laughter. “Dutch babies?”

I began the furious scrambling of embarrassment. “It’s like a cross between pancakes and french toast.”

“How do you make them?”

I was eleven years old. How the hell was I suppose to know? “Umm. I don’t know. You bake them?”

“Okay, when do you eat dutch babies?”

Until that moment, it never occurred to me what it sounded like. It sounded like I enjoyed eating infants from The Netherlands.

“At breakfast. My mom makes them on the weekends sometimes.”

“Oh okay,” she said. Luckily, she moved onto the next person, because I was probably on the verge of tears or something.

Unwittingly, I had given a boy, Andy, more ammunition. A few weeks earlier, he had started to tease me for reading too much. I remember passing him on stairs towards lunch, and he would taunt me: “How many books did you read today, Ashley? Twenty?”

His point wasn’t that I always had my nose in a book, his point was that I read because I didn’t have friends. Or at least that’s how I interpreted it, and why it hurt. Looking back, that wasn’t true. I had friends. we might have been a little on the dorky side since we bonded over orchestra rehearsals, but we were still friends.

But now he got to make fun of me for being a cannibal.

It wasn’t that I was ruthlessly teased. It was just one of those stupid middle school things – he was cool, and I was somewhere lost in the middle of the crowd.  It felt like he said these things out of a compulsion to make noise. I think he held the responsibility of entertaining his friends, so every time a punchline presented itself, he was obligated to take advantage.

So now he asked, “Eaten any dutch babies lately, Ashley?”

He was so creative.

Anyway, I guess I haven’t changed much, because this morning I found myself being a bookworm cannibal while reading Infinite Jest and eating dutch babies.

And you know what, Andy? IT WAS AWESOME.

By the way, if you’d like to try my 11 year old self’s favorite dish, here’s the recipe:

4 eggs

1 cup milk

1 cup flour

5tbsp butter.

Preheat oven to 375. Blend eggs, milk, and flour. Melt butter separately and pour into a 9×13 pan. Pour egg mixture into pan. Bake for 30min. It will bubble up and be lightly crispy. Serve with warm syrup.

This morning, I put a little vanilla in the egg mixture, sprinkled some cinnamon before baking, and then served it with sliced bananas.

ATTENTION LITERARY JOURNALS: Best Luv Story EVAH.

While searching for my letters yesterday, I came across my box of journals and diaries. The earliest I could find was 1998. I spent the evening reading through them and laughing at myself and the things I felt I needed to document. When I was growing up , my mother used to ask why I wanted to keep a journal. “What will your kids think? Do you really want them to see everything you did and thought?”

I think I shrugged, not feeling strongly enough about it to articulate my thoughts. If I had been able to, I think I would have said something like, “Yes, I want them to see that I went through the same crappy feelings they go through.” Of course, at 13, I didn’t have that foresight. Or any foresight, for that fact.

Because I’m in the habit of publicly displaying my complete lack of perfection, I thought I’d share a diary entry from fifth grade, complete with commentary.

12-2-1998

Dear Genna: (I addressed this to my cousin when she moved to South Carolina. I’m not exactly sure if I had the intention of sending these to her.)

I hate this time of life. I’m so fat. I’m having hormones. (Hah, yes, just “having hormones:” that was how my mom explained my violent moodswings which went from weeping on my parents’ waterbed to smiling and watching tv in a half hour) Yesterday I was feeling great. Today I was fine until Mee (Malee’s cousin) gave Ashley A a note. <<<smear from a tear (yeah, I actually wrote that) A LOVE NOTE. Why couldn’t Nick K. do that to me? I feel so out of place. I a lot fatter than other girls. I hate myself! Even though I lost 3 pounds I feel fat. I have a headache. I’m crying this must be the worst day of my life. (It truly was the worst day of my life. Worse than the day than  the day my two-year relationship ended with an e-mail.) My mom says “it’s part of growing up” “Part of becoming a teen.” I don’t wanna be a teen, boys don’t want a fat stupid girl like me. (My 20-something version of this is something like “Men don’t want girl a who blogs and laughs at NPR podcasts.”)

An hour later…

I’m not so mad anymore. I took a shower, shaved my legs, and brushed my hair. I feel great! (Funny. This still works for me today. TRUST ME, LADIES. Shave your legs and you’ll feel like a new woman.)
 

In my best dream ever, this is what would happen: 

I would be the most popular girl and Nick K would kiss me and we would go to a movie. (The sequence of those events makes sense, right?)

I still wish Nick would write a love note to me. (What? Never mind, we’ve moved to a different story entirely.)

We would be partners in math we’d both look up in each other’s eyes. Our lips move closer here’s what it’d look like:

“Omigosh! that was wonderful!” I’d say. “Ashley, I’ve been meaning to say this to you; I love you.” (Yeah, bitch, I used semicolons in fifth grade. *does Z finger snaps*) “Oh Nick I do too.” “Do you wanna meet at little lake Butte des mor?” (that spelling isn’t remotely close) “What time? Tell me and I’ll go!” “Ten o’clock” (Excellent organization of dialog, Ten-year old Ashley.)

“Math is over” says Mrs. Holso.

“Good bye, Ashley!” 

“Bye Nick”

(Well at least we parted graciously at the end of math.)

I love you he’d mouth. I stare completely transfixed. (Yeah, I was a 10 year old who used the word “transfixed”.) What do I wear? I panic. I don’t have anything! (This still happens to  me when I go on dates.)

I’d go shopping getting tips from Leo. (Yeah, Leonardo Dicaprio was my stylist. Ain’t no thang)  I get a beautiful cool dress: 

We meet exactly at ten…

“Nick!”

“Ashley! It seemed like the longest day in my whole life without you”

“I know.” 

We’d kiss and do all that good stuff.

I’m tired. See yah!

Ashley Otto

P.S. It’s safe to say I love him now.

Clearly, even at 10, I had an excellent sense of verb tense, dramatic pacing, and narrative. Also, my dialog is superb. It’s evident that I’m committed to telling the complete story, beginning to ending, sparing no detail. I also truly knew the meaning of love.

You can expect to see this in the next New Yorker.

Note to self:

I just spent the better part of two hours going through my apartment and the last five or six boxes I had in storage to find a stack of letters. For the last twenty minutes or so, I was furious. So many f-bombs. It’s a good thing my mother wasn’t present.

I was mad not because I couldn’t find them, but because I thought I threw them away. I thought I threw them away because about ten months ago, I was scaling my belongings down in preparation to move. I specifically remember going back and forth as to whether I should throw these letters away. I wanted to keep them because they were from a very good friend of mine and I thought they might come in handy for fiction writing someday (that day was today, thus the frantic search). I thought it might be a good idea to toss them because they held ties with my past and my boyfriend at the time wasn’t very comfortable with me still talking to him. When I weed things out, I spend about five seconds deciding what to toss and what to keep. After a couple hours of searching, I was nearly positive that I had gone with the latter.

So then I spent the last twenty minutes of the search composing an angry rant I would deliver to my ex (one that documented all the reasons my ex was stupid and why he needed to just get over it and accept that this guy is my friend and that whatever fragments of attraction or romance that may have existed years earlier were in the past  and we were just friends now who communicated solely through text messages twice a month and he just needed to trust that I was capable of controlling myself and that I would never do anything to compromise a relationship anyway and fuck him, why was I such a good girlfriend  even when he didn’t know anything about these letters because it never occurred to me to tell him because it happened years earlier and it wasn’t like it was something I went through and read every week just to reminisce or laugh at all his witty jokes and hijinks and so what if I kept them for sentimental reasons – they were funny and reminded me of the years I spent in Milwaukee and they also represented a period of growth and also documented the beginnings of my first serious relationship with a man who has psychopathic tendencies that ended disastrously because how else could it end and I wanted to see how my friend had reacted to  my news when I told him I thought it was best to stop exchanging letters because I thought it was best for my relationship and what the hell, why did I throw those letters away?!), never mind I deleted his number and can’t remember it anyway.

Then I found the letters. 

And then I realized that if I had thrown them away back then, it would have been my own fault, not my ex’s.

So, what did I learn? Never throw out material that may provide inspiration just to coddle a significant other’s insecurities, because inevitably, things will change and you will be furious at yourself. Also, your apartment will be a mess.