Monday, May 31, 2010


I realize this is a bit of a departure from my usual writing, but I want to tell you about a man who didn't let me down.

Some months ago, I sat on an airplane next to a young man fresh from Army basic training. He didn't speak until takeoff, when he awkwardly blurted out, "This is going to be really weird." I decided to go with it and asked what he meant by that. (All the while hoping he didn't mean any kind of weird that would involve me.) It was strange, he said, because the last half-dozen times he'd been in an airplane, he'd jumped out. It was a great opening line.

For the next two hours, I learned that he'd gone through basic training and jump school. (He's now a paratrooper; clearly the most badass thing one can choose to do in the military.) We talked about a lot of things, including why he'd enlisted and his feelings about going home again. He was raised in a military family.
I have a military family too, and was raised with a respect for it. Without going into the politics of it, I don't always agree with the actions of the US military. But soldiers? That's a different story. In my family, that's something you honor and respect.
I asked how he felt about his upcoming deployment, thinking that it's a pretty scary time in the world to be facing deployment to the Middle East. He shrugged his shoulders. I got the impression that it was still quite new to him, that it hadn't fully hit him. He enlisted because he felt like it was something he should do. He said he didn't like sitting back knowing there was more he could be doing. I commented that he was doing something selfless--I'm certain I don't possess that kind of bravery. I actually felt ridiculous as the words came out of my mouth. I was sure this kid would look at me and think, "Lady, there is no need to get sentimental about this, ok? You're not going to cry, are you? It's just something I do, whatever." It didn't go that way at all, though. (Fortunately.) His attitude was really surprising, particularly for a man in his early 20s. (We all know that demographic typically sucks at life.) "Oh," he said softly. He struggled for words. "I don't...thank you. That means a lot." He spoke like I was doing him a favor.
"It's the truth," I said.

So to that kid, who never told me his name but told me plenty of funny and interesting stories, thanks for making my flight anything but boring. I sometimes think about him when there are troops on the news being deployed to Afghanistan...and I hope he's ok.

And while you're home from work today enjoying your day off, take a minute to think about why we observe Memorial Day.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

It's like a fairy tale.

I think the practice of going through one's phone numbers occasionally is a fine one. Useful, even. Today I got a text from someone doing just that, asking if the number was still Amanda. When he asked how we knew each other, I was not offended. When he apologized after learning the answer, I was still not offended. However. When he asked me out, I was Officially Offended.
From my perspective, the whole thing reads a little bit like, "How do I know you? Oh, right. I forgot that I sort of wanted to bang you. What do you say?" AND YOU CAN IMAGINE HOW I SWOONED.

Guys, we need a little more tact and a little less douchebaggery.

Oh, and if that isn't romantic enough for you, boy in question has a girlfriend. Major points deducted from considerable deficit.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Watch out kittens; you'll be next.

Lately I've been on the warpath about organizations and non-profits sending me letters seeking a donation...along with address labels, calendars, greeting cards, and window clings. They stuff those envelopes full of crap and mail it off like money grows on trees!
Hey guys? You're a
non-profit. You'd probably have more money if you stopped making presents for all your potential donors!
Don't get me wrong, I think saving animals and wetlands and American veterans and children and whatever else are all great causes. Good for you.
But oh, how I hate paperwork. Just today I spoke to my students about being ecologically responsible. Not to mention that it just clutters up my life and usually those address labels are ugly. (Seriously. I'm 45 years and 6 cats away from appreciating some of that clip art.)
I've been emailing every group to request that they remove me from their mailing list. It's liberating. I'm not sure how helpful it'll be in the long run, but it's liberating, dammit.
However, I decided to donate to the Arbor Day Foundation because hey, I love trees! We stand for the same principles! I'm
all about saving the trees. And so I wrote my check.

THEY SEND ME SO MUCH PAPER. Articles and letters and catalogs and SO MUCH PAPER. It's hardly the point of the organization, don't you think? Hey Arbor Day, shoot me an email. I'll have a look.

This week was the last straw. Mere months after my membership check, I received a stuffed envelope seeking a renewal of my membership. And address labels. And greeting cards. With envelopes, of course. And a letter. And a return envelope. All made of trees, Arbor Day Foundation. You MUST have spent my $10 by now. What about the trees we were going to preserve together?? How much money did they get?
I went to their website, intent on sending a scathing email, like the evil harpy that I am. "Dear Nature Hippies, Please cease and desist." I mean, really? Who feels good writing that kind of email? (Me.) But it was time. I filled out the website's form, edited my carefully crafted note. I asked how many trees we were possibly saving, what with all the paper stuffed in my mailbox. I pointed out my appreciation for trees and my enthusiasm for their preservation. Then I said to remove my name from their mailing list. Send.

THE WEBSITE DIDN'T WORK. There was some sort of "error." I tried again today, to no avail. Arbor Day Foundation, you left me no choice.

Fishing through my bag of paper to be recycled, I pulled out one of my brand new ADF greeting cards and envelopes. I affixed my favorite leafy address label, along with a snappy little tree sticker for good measure. I hand-wrote my email on that card, and am sending it along in the morning. We'll do this your way, Arbor Day Foundation. That's just fine by me.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

It's like Sex Panther but for math.

(Warning: prepare yourselves for my mad skills with Paint.)

Sitting with the brilliant and fabulous women from my college days this weekend, I stumbled onto the notion that my love life (and by that I clearly mean lack thereof) could be summed up through the use of a Venn Diagram.

It happened quite by accident. But once I drew it in the air to demonstrate, it sounded accurate. We tried to poke holes in my reasoning--and failed. However, I'm sure it's just a matter of time--so I'll say that 60% of the time, it works every time. Until further notice.

And so I present to you, a real-world application of my middle school math classes:

Factors Contributing To My Single Status
Go on, admit that you're impressed with the high-quality graphics going on here.

Saturday, May 08, 2010


Gentlemen of the world:

It is in no way appropriate or sexy for you to gesture for me to join you from across the room. When I shake my head no, it's even less appropriate for you to continue and then shout about it. "I'm sitting between two friends in this booth, and also we're having a conversation, thanks," will be my next line/gesture. At that point, despite what you may think, there's no need to suggest that I get out of the booth and walk to you. If you are really so interested in talking to me, you can walk 8 damn feet to me.
Should you persist in interrupting me when I'm so clearly not interested and find yourself face to face with me, I'm ready with my "Thanks but no thanks now please stop being a creeper." Maybe you didn't get the hint, but my friends are super ready to go back to enjoying our evening.
This is not an invitation to wrap your arms around me and suggest that I might be your girlfriend. No, I'm not. I'm positive I'm not. I will squirm my way out and make up a boyfriend. I will thank you for the compliments, but turn down your offer to take me out. I will confirm that no, you cannot take me anywhere. (Do these lines actually work??)

Should you be the friend of a gentleman exhibiting this behavior, it is NOT PERMISSIBLE to then attempt to put your arms around me. I will, in fact, run to my watchful friends and we will anxiously wait for your departure.

Thank you.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

I didn't actually ask, thanks.

Today was a new one for me: was rejected by a married man I'm not interested in. Fantastic.

Walked into work and was searching the mailbox, standing on my toes. I said hi to A as he walked by. He stopped and said he didn't know I was taller than him. I lowered myself to normal height and reassured him that no, I am not. I'm tall, but not taller than him.
I promise you I'm not withholding any part of our mundane conversation. Why does it matter, you ask? Just wait.
Then, A said, out of nowhere, "I still wouldn't date you, even if I was single."
I stared.
Had I blacked out and not realized I asked him out?
Not likely.
Did I post a poll somewhere? "On a scale of 1-10, how dateable would you say I am?"
Nope. Didn't do that either.
I stared.
"What a great start to my morning." Gathered my papers and headed out.
A called after me. "I'm just kidding, you know you're a beautiful girl!"

But it's cool because B said she'd kick him in the shin tomorrow. I'm actually coming out on top here.