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Archive for August, 2008

Splitsville

Is it just me, or is everybody you know traveling down heartbreak alley lately?

In the past couple of months, I’ve watched from the sidelines as couples of all walks of life call it quits. I’ve seen everything from the relatively benign “going our separate ways” scenario to the tumultuous “who gets the house/dog/car” scenario. Wow. Where is all the new love springing up? How can one find inspiration in the trials and tribulations of yet another sad story?

If you’re like my neighbor, whose boyfriend up and left last week giving her less notice than he provided to his job (as it turned out), you have a huge raging party. You invite all your friends and random boys you met on the internet since the tragic departure of the man in question. You start a huge bonfire and tell stories, you blame everything on that “fucking asshole”. You show all the people at the party a particularly pathetic polaroid shot of the fucking asshole in question, standing in the nude (unaroused, I might add). You provide partygoers with ample quantities of cheap whiskey to wash down their sorrows.

At some point during the evening, someone suggested that we share the story of the worst time we ever got dumped with the group. Fueled by the cheap whiskey, we went around the circle and revealed what used to be private moments of humiliation and heartbreak with strangers. As each person exposed thier story, it became abundantly clear that everyone is getting burned, all the time. Getting burned appears to be a fairly normal experience… for everyone. Not only is it normal to get burned, but it is normal to get burned badly. I thought I would share some of the getting dumped experiences so that the people of the world can feel better about that time they came home to find their significant other packing up their shit or screwing their friend.

-Someone actually got dumped via a letter, from prison. Then it turned out he had started a relationship with her friend, also via letters from prison.

-One guy was heading home with his girlfriend to visit his parents for a week. On the very first night they were there, she dumped him while watching The Breakfast Club in the basement of his parents house. He then had to spend 7 days with his family while they pretended to still be together.

-A girl met a super hot guy in Mexico and had a passionate whirlwind romance that lasted 2 months. Later, back in the states, he was coming up to see her the same night she was having a party. He rode up on his motorcycle, with a super hot chick in black leather on the back. The chick in black leather proceeded to dance to the band provocatively all evening while motorcycle man decided to tell the brokenhearted girl he had a new girlfriend.

-Someone got pregnant and her and her boyfriend decided to plan a shotgun wedding. Before the wedding took place, she lost the baby. In the throes of her depression, her boyfriend decided to tell her about his addiction to $400/hour hookers. Needless to say, they did not end up getting married.

-Someone else got dumped during the first hour of a 16 hour plane flight to Australia. Enough said.

-Any now for yours truly. In college, my boyfriend who was living with me at the time decided to go visit his mom for the weekend. Three weeks later when he hadn’t come home and I was worried sick, I received a 4 page long “we seem to be going in different directions” letter. Then at the very end of the 4th page, it said “And I got drunk and slept with somebody else“. It was crossed out a couple of times, but not enough so that it was illegible. After drinking an entire bottle of wine to my head and crying into most of it, I dragged all of his stupid crap out into my front yard and set it on fire.

I think the moral of the story here is that inspiration can be found in heartbreak. The stories, when shared all together, became hilarious. Hilariously awful, but still hilarious. So buck up little campers, there will be more good things to come.

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I have always been opposed to team sports. Throughout much of my childhood, I consistently chose individual sports to pursue when given the choice. My parents, having led somewhat melancholy and underprivledged childhoods, bombarded my schedule with activities that they wished they themselves had the chance to participate in. The end result was an extremely overstimulated child being rushed around in a frenzy to tennis, gymnastics, ice skating, soccer, softball, swim team, field hockey, horseback riding, violin lessons, tap dance, chess, nature camp, skiing. In the end, I only enjoyed the horseback riding, perhaps the most expensive of any of the pursuits I could have chosen. I was underwhelmed by the remainder of the activities, and regarded the team sports activities with emotions that ranged from extreme terror to complete apathy. My parents, enthusiastically hollering from the sidelines during softball and field hockey games, were disturbed my by utter noncompetitive nature. It didn’t help that my dad is the type to yell at referees and parents of kids on other teams.

I remember lying in bed during the summer, dreading tennis camp. Completely paralyzed by disgust for the sport, I would curl into the fetal position and pray for rain so that the courts were too slippery. I don’t remember why I hated it so much, but I hated it. The ball machine richocheting balls of neon green fuzz my way, the patronizing tennis pro commenting on my backhand, the smell of the courts baking in the August heat, it makes me queasy even now to recall. And the gymnastics. Probably the worst of the worst, I lasted only two years before my mother sympathesized with my protests. Perhaps she realized I was having a terrible time. Perhaps she realized I wasn’t going to be a gymnast like my dad always dreamed I would be, me leaping around in leotards, my hands covered with chalk. She was right, I ended up tall and top heavy, and my earlier dislike of gymnastics was probably connected in some way to a complete lack of predisposition for the sport.

The painful memories of failed after school activities are almost too many to list: playing the violin blinded with my eyes swollen shut from posion ivy, traipsing hopelessly around the field in a plaid field hockey skirt (our rather unfortunate school colors of orange and black not making this any easier), falling off the block at swim meets due to terror of the impending gun shot that started the race, a softball smashing my glasses at second base.

I escaped into my world of horses and didn’t come out. Actually, I’m still there. However, lately something interesting has been happening. I’ve discovered the world of adult sports.

Adult sports are trendy these days, particularly in the trend setting Portland community where people reproduce later and later in life. Faced with additional spare time from the absence of driving kids around to activities, people decided to drive themselves around to their own activities. What better way to provide a forum for bringing back everyone’s insecurities, playing out all those deep seated junior high anxieties, showcasing dormant athletic abilities, and addressing all those feelings of inadequecy that developed over the years?

 It began, innocently enough, with a desire to “hang out with my friends” and “get more exercise over the winter”.  I couldn’t do the whole “dodgeball” or “kickball” crap that composed the intial adult sports craze. It started for me with an indoor soccer team that someone talked me into joining. After the first game, I was horrified to discover some sort of animal inside of me. That asshole was NOT going to get the ball from ME if I could help it. Later I hovered around his ankles, threatening a swift kick when the referee wasn’t looking. I earned the name “Mad Dog” from my teammates. We celebrated every win by hitting the pub across the street, making the exercise obselete by washing down our fitness with copious amounts of beer. It took longer to relive every moment of every stupid game than it took the actually play the game. My mom came to visit and watched me play, openmouthed. “If only your father could see this.” she mused afterwards, still astonished.

By the second season, my first adult sports experience had deteriorated. The team began gossiping about each other. Some people were too controlling. Some people stayed on the field too long and didn’t sub out. Others subbed out too quickly. Some came to games intoxicated. And some people just plain old sucked at soccer. It was suddenly apparent to me that although we were in our 30’s, the team sports experience had not changed from junior high. And what’s worse, the men in the league were constantly trying to show everyone how fucking great they were at sports. It didn’t help that our team was composed of 5 couples, so not only did we have the junior high dynamic going on, we also had couples playing out their relationships on the pitch.

So I did what I do best when it comes to team sports, I quit. Ahhh, that felt good. Now, that felt more normal! Nothing comes to me more naturally than quitting a team sport. Over the years I have quit enough sports to know how to quit in style. I prefer to go out with a bang, too. You know, make sure everyone knows why I’m quitting. Miss the last game, make a statement. Nobody seemed to notice my absence and they continued the saga, and I experienced secret heartbreak over this matter.

Then it was softball. Whad’ya know, somebody got injured and they desperately needed a female replacement. So desperately, in fact, that they would consider me for that job, somebody with ZERO softball skills, bad eyesight, and who hadn’t physically thrown anything anywhere in 17 years. Softball sounded kind of good, however. The reason: this is bar league softball and it involves beer drinking in the park on Sunday afternoon. Can you beat that? So I joined. I tucked away the Mad Dog tendencies, and I had a great time. I smiled at everyone, I didn’t get worked up. I swung the bat, drank a beer. Tossed some softballs around, cranked up the 2 stroke blender my boyfriend fashioned from an old weed eater engine and made everyone margaritas. I had a fantastically amazing softball attitude.

Eventually though, adult sports got the best of me and the Mad Dog reared her ugly head. I suppose, retrospectively, that it was inevitable given my sordid team sports past. On Saturday, some fucker plowed me over at home plate. I had caught the ball and tagged him out, so he braced his elbows and launched into me in an attempt to get me to drop the ball. I fell backwards, my neck snapped back, I hit my head, the ball dribbled out of my glove, and the Dog was released.

“YOU FUCKING MOTHERFUCKER!!!!!!!!!!!!” I screamed at the top of my lungs, oblivious to the kids playing behind the field and my friend’s mom visiting from England nearby. “YOU’RE OUT YOU FUCKING ASSHOLE!!!!!!!!!!” I writhed on the ground in pain, shaking my head in some kind of whiplash induced daze. He was not out, because you’re apparently allowed to do that. Even though it’s a co-ed bar league with chicks as catchers that wear no body armor or any sort of protection, and his team was already up by ten runs. It certainly doesn’t make him any cooler that he was playing for the dorkiest team in the league, the Willamette Week, which is a substandard old people’s weekly. I’m not even sure how they got into the league anyway, since they are NOT a bar and don’t drink beer.

I subbed out and sat wiping tears of embaressment and pain on the sidelines, nursing my whiplash with an ice pack. I accepted the sympathy of my teammates, pulled myself together, and cranked up the 2 stroke blender. Sipping my icy margarita, Mad Dog left the building and regular Katie returned.

I’m still going to have another go at adult sports. I don’t have any kids to drive to any activities and I do like the exercise. I’ve signed up for another soccer team, this time one where I don’t know anyone so I will feel embaressed if I try to kick anyone’s ankles. And in the meantime, you’re not going to believe this, but I’ve played not one, but several rounds of tennis this summer. I even caught myself hoping it wouldn’t rain one night, because then the courts will get too slippery. What’s happening to me? Who am I?

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On Hangovers

I woke up this morning and I had that persistent dull thump on the side of my head that only says one thing- I Had Too Many Vodka Sodas Last Night. You know the feeling. I am rather unsure why I elected to replace the drink that I spilled on my lap last night at the Low Brow. And it was a bad spill too, THWACK, and the entire contents of the glass, ice and all, went directly onto my skirt. Not one of those spills that partly ends up on the floor, partly on someone else’s lap, and partly on the table. I smile extra sweetly at the bartender, hoping he is wowed by the dimples and does not cut me off, aka Katie’s old standby manuever. At the time, I recall being pleased that the entirity of the drink ended up on my lap as opposed to the lap of one of my companions. It was if I had won some sort of social prize. However, I am left this morning with an empty feeling. What did I win? Where is this prize? I have only bags under my eyes and a scratchy throat to remind me of my heroic efforts.

When the alarm went off, I was gripped by an unsurmountable feeling of doom and dread. From my vantage point of Face Down on the bed, I felt as if rising and getting dressed and making it to work on time was some sort of grand impossibility. That kind of thing was meant for people other than me. This feeling was seemingly confirmed by my comparatively chipper boyfriend who was bustling about and already dressed for work.

“I have a headache.” I moaned.

“Me too.” he agreed as he continued bustling.

“I can’t get up.” I complained.

“I’m only up because we’re out of coffee.” he admitted. For some reason this fails to make sense to me. Then I realize, he’s motivated to depart our marvelous home this morning because he must obtain some coffee at an outside locale. Then I realize, with the darkest and dreariest feeling of dread, that we are out of coffee.

Dun Dun Duuuuun.

Miraculously, this manages to get me moving, and I have a Starbucks gift card in my car. Although I am a certifiable Coffee Snob and only purchase my coffee from local roasters with crummy couches and excessively tattooed baristas, I am not above utilizing a gift card to obtain what I need. I spend the duration of my time in Starbucks with my sunglasses on, despite getting funny looks from three uniformed police officers who are sucking down fancy coffee drinks instead of fighting crime. I feel like yelling “Go Fight Some Crime, Assholes!”, but of course, I don’t.

Moving again. Here I go, driving out to the island where I work. Then I remember, in my hungover haze, why I had the gift card in the first place. It’s because I am taking care of ten horses this week. With that, I veer right and pull up to the barn.

In case you were wondering, taking care of ten horses is no small feat. They weigh 1200 pounds, they eat massive quantities of dried grass (AKA hay), they continuously release massive quantities of the digested hay out of their anus (AKA manure), and they drink massive quantities of water when it is 100 degrees out, which it is here lately. They need to go out into the pasture in the morning and come in at night. They try to kick and bite each other. They get fussy, and they get kind of snuggly, breathing on me with their big soft noses, flared nostrils assessing my motives. It’s all a giant power struggle and it plays out every day in the pastures of the world. And today, one pasture of the world is being tended to by one extremely hungover woman who was up too late drinking vodka sodas and talking shit. If you need me, you know where to find me.

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