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Friday, October 30, 2015

in a horror flick, i'd last about 2 minutes

A few weeks ago, J's friend Kelly called and asked if we wanted to go to this book release party in Milwaukee. Kelly works in publishing and consulting, and we figured it probably wouldn't be a bad idea to meet some local-ish people doing the same thing. I got a rental car from Enterprise, and we did some research on restaurants and bars. I figured that we could head up there for a couple of hours and then come home, nbd.

One of the weirdest things (sorry) about the Midwest to me is that it's so spread out. Like, it takes hours by car to get virtually anywhere else you'd actually want to visit. The East Coast isn't really like that; I actually used to say this was one of the reasons why I'd never want to move to Chicago. But look where I am now. Anyway, after my proofreading shift on Wednesday, I went to go pick up the rental car. The guy working at Enterprise was super weird, and he was a dead ringer for Simon Pegg (the redheaded guy in Shaun of the Dead.) He told me that I wouldn't be able to leave the car after-hours at that location, which I thought was weird because I had it reserved until 11pm at that address, but he found another place much closer to where we actually live. At the time, I thought that was a great idea.

When we got out to the car, I got in and he kept reaching inside and doing things like turning the windshield wipers on.

"This is the lever to turn on the windshield wipers. You move it down to get them to go faster," he'd say, demonstrating for me. It was so fucking awkward and took like 20 minutes. Eventually, I pushed him away.

"I've driven a car before, yeah. Thanks though. Bye!"

That whole process took about 45 minutes, and I was feeling so embarrassed because there had been a ton of other people and he was the only guy working. Then, there was traffic all the way home. It took me an hour to go 8 miles, and by the time I got to Lakeview, I knew J was getting antsy. The release thing started at 7, and we were hoping to grab some food beforehand but it was already looking like we wouldn't have time.

Getting out of the city was a monstrous pain in the ass, it took another 45 minutes to go 1 mile on N Halsted. We were already talking about turning around. I was starting to feel really guilty, because I felt like if I'd been more on top of planning, this wouldn't have happened. J had worked until 4 as usual because he said he didn't think the traffic would be that bad, and naively I only assumed it would suck on the highway.

"We should still be able to make it," I craned my neck and tried to see if the traffic ended anywhere ahead. Spoiler alert; it didn't.

"It's okay, honey. If you want to go home we can go home," J said, patting the back of my neck. The traffic and the rain were giving me a headache, and I didn't feel like being touched but I didn't want to shrug him off either. I think I grunted in response. "Babe?"

"Yeah, sorry, it's fine. I dunno, let's give it like.. 45 minutes. And then turn around if we're still sitting here."

"That's being generous," he snorted. "Are you sure you want to wait that long?"

"I don't mind. It's probably worse for you as a passenger." I looked over at J, who was leaned over in his seat, rubbing his temples. He nodded without saying anything, and we kept crawling up I-94 at a glacial pace of 2mph.

Around 7, I sighed and looked over. "I'm about ready to say fuck it. Do you mind?"

"No, baby. Let's just take a whole weekend and do this for real. I'm not sure it would have worked out this way,"

"I know, I just feel bad. I feel like I could have done this better. This has been kind of a disaster," I whined, taking an exit so we could turn around. We were both doing that passive aggressive thing where we both kept trying to take the blame, but the conversation petered out and we settled into silence on the drive back. The rain was starting to let up, but the traffic getting back into the city was almost as bad as it had been leaving. I was starting to feel much better about the whole ordeal, we decided to order Chinese when we got home and find a movie (typical), but I was dying to get rid of the car. I usually don't pay for rental car insurance because I feel like it's a scam, but then again, I've never wrecked a rental car. But the traffic and the rain and the dark were making me incredibly nervous, and I couldn't wait to get rid of the damn thing.

It had taken another half hour to get back into the city, and I was almost crying with relief when I pulled up to the place where I was supposed to drop it off after-hours. Except the gate was closed and there weren't any instructions for how to leave the car. I started rifling through the paperwork I'd gotten when I picked it up, and nada. Fucking nothing. I called the customer service number, and there was no option for talking to a person, even when I hit 0. The panic was starting to build in my stomach and I felt my throat tightening up. J sat patiently, and I tried not to have a meltdown. Eventually, I found a line that put me on hold for customer service, but then I got a message saying my call would be disconnected, and they hung up. I couldn't help it, my eyes started burning and I tilted my head back so I wouldn't cry. A tear fell down my cheek, and I sniffled.

"Lauren, do you want me to call them?" J asked, patiently. He didn't try to touch me again, which I appreciated.

"No," I sniffled again. "I'm fine,"

"You're very obviously not fine, honey," he laughed humorlessly. "You need to calm down, okay?" I started nodding furiously, but I couldn't stop crying.

"I know," I said quietly. "I just want to go home."

"I know, baby. Just try to take deep breaths, okay. Can you do that for me?" At least he was being soothing. I took a couple of deep breaths, and stopped crying although I still felt like shit. I wanted to go back in time and strangle that creepy Simon Pegg asshole.

Eventually I called roadside assistance, waited 10 minutes for a person to pick up, and then they had to transfer me to the Enterprise at ORD. It was a fucking nightmare. The woman who answered there told me that I wouldn't be able to leave the car at that location, so I'd have to go across the city to drop it off, and I had to make it there in 15 minutes before it closed. I told J to walk home without me, since I'd be going far enough away to cab home. He hopped out of the car, and I sped across the city, getting 3 (!) red light camera flashes to go off. Whoops.

When I finally got home, I felt drained and it wasn't even 9. J was sitting on the couch and looking at me patiently as I shrugged off my combat boots and black suede hacking jacket.

"Did you order dinner?" I called out, going into the bedroom and yanking down my high-waisted black skinny jeans.

"Not yet, but I got you a surprise. It's in the fridge," he called back, and I perked up a little bit. Settling on a teeshirt dress and American Apparel legwarmers, I padded into the kitchen, expecting a bottle of wine in the fridge. Instead, there was a Taco Bell bag with 2 steak quesadillas and a giant handful of verde sauce packets (my absolute fave.) If I had been in a better mood, I probably would have squealed. Instead, I walked over and leaned down to hug him.

"Thank you, honey." I buried my face in his neck. "I love you."

"I love you, too. I just wanted to make you smile."

"Stop it, or you're gonna make me cry again," I teased, still not really feeling better. I still did want to cry, but tried to just focus on letting it go. I still felt guilty, too, but he had really acted like a champ about the whole thing so I didn't want to beat a dead horse. The rest of the evening was pretty chill. There was a GOP debate on TV but instead of electing to drink and go nuts watching it, we put on a movie. I could tell J was kind of shocked, I always want to watch political stuff on TV.

The next day, I was feeling better for the most part. I got up around 9 and made tea before starting my proofreading shift. During the week, I spend 4 hours a day proofreading guestbook entries on funeral and obituary sites. It's pretty interesting at times, and I think some people would probably find it morbid but shocker, it's right up my alley. Anyway, I was going through the usual sentiments and I read an entry that mentioned a 'horrific tragedy' and 'senseless act.' I can't post anything that would upset the family of the deceased, so obviously that went into the trash bin. But I couldn't stop thinking about it. Later on, I googled the name and found out that the person was killed in a triple homicide last week. It was so creepy, I had to tell J.

"And now you're probing about it online? Don't horror movies start out like that?" He joked, making a face.

"Yeah, bad ones," I rolled my eyes. "It's weird, though, I don't see stuff like that very often."

"That's probably for the better. You probably shouldn't spend all of your time thinking about that stuff," J said lightly, but I caught the underlying meaning.

"I don't," I protested gently. "It's just morbidly intriguing."

"You could use that as a plot basis for your next short story," he said, with raised eyebrows.

"I'm pretty sure that's been done before, like, a lot,"

"Yeah, but you could get some mileage out of it. Ghostwriting, right?" J smirked, and I groaned.

"You are so lame," I shot back, but I grinned. "And I'm going to heat up my leftover Taco Bell. Do you want anything?"

The rest of the day was pretty chill, and I made these delicious egg white omelettes (well, mine was egg whites) for dinner with sharp white cheddar and scallions and jalapeno. When I went to bed, I fell asleep almost right away, which is kind of unusual.

At 1:33, I woke up and got up to pee. For some reason, the fan in our bedroom had shut off and everything was super quiet. I could actually hear the cats snoring in the next room. The floor was creaking and it was really cold, we haven't turned on the heat yet. When I got back to bed, it somehow felt impossible to go back to sleep. I kept tossing and turning and rolling over; it was amazing that I didn't wake up the husband. I couldn't stop thinking about all of the news articles I'd read earlier about the triple homicide, and how it was over a week ago and they still hadn't caught who had done it. They didn't even have suspects; there was tip line information and a reward posted on all the news sites I'd read.

Just as I was falling back asleep, I heard this scratching and metallic picking sound. It sounded like someone was trying to cram the wrong key into our front door, and I jerked back awake. The sound got louder and louder, but I didn't hear any voices, and I could hear someone turning the doorknob. I was terrified out of my wits; I know that sometimes we forget to lock our front door since we're usually not sober at bedtime. In college, someone broke into my room by mistake (they were drunk) when I was asleep, and it traumatized me. I'm not sure I've gotten over that, and since our building is having construction done, I was especially worried about the downstairs door being propped open by the construction workers.

The sound stopped for a moment, and I was lying there, sweating and shaking and panicked. It felt like someone was pouring ice water all over my body, and my heart was slamming against the inside of my chest. I didn't want to wake J up; he snored on quietly next to me, but I started calculating how long it would take me to run over to the other side of the room, where we keep a baseball bat propped against the wall (#guncontrol.)

The metal scratching started again, and I froze. I counted backwards from 10, and slowly got out of bed. The floor creaked and all of a sudden, the sounds stopped, and I heard footsteps slowly back down the hallway outside. I didn't move, and waited to see if I heard anything else, like the doors at either end of the hallway opening. Nothing.

After what felt like hours but was probably only a few minutes, I cautiously lay back down in bed. And then proceeded to stay awake, sleepless, for the next 5 hours. I did everything, I took melatonin and NyQuil and had some milk and got up to read a book for a while, and nothing helped. Nothing was able to clear my mind, and I worried that if I fell asleep, someone would break in.

This morning, I didn't tell J. Honestly, I'm embarrassed that he would laugh at me because we watch too many horror movies. So sleep deprivation is a pretty awesome way to start off the weekend, yeah?



Tuesday, October 20, 2015

do the hustle

Last Thursday was probably one of the busiest days I've had in recent memory. The night before, I told the client who I'm writing the novel for that I'd be away Friday-Sunday, and that I could send him a draft before I left, with plans to finish up for good on Monday. He flipped out, and we had this terse conversation where he told me he "expected me to be around" during the week. This was coming on the heels of him emailing me at 3am, and then Gchatting me frantically because I wasn't answering. I sent an email that read like: Hi, I normally am asleep at that time. I do not wake up to check my email in the middle of the night. Thanks! Then, he told me he'd be needing regular blog posts from me as well. I was pissed, but since I was already halfway through writing the novel, I didn't want to lose the client. So I offered to write two for him on Thursday, and he came back and asked me to do three, plus another draft of the story.

I felt like this was overly demanding at the last minute, but whatever. I wrote basically all day, and by 6pm, I hadn't even taken a break to shower or get dressed. I sent him the blog posts and the drafts, and then decided that I was going to start drinking and worry about packing for the weekend later.

"You're not upset I'm waiting to do this, right?" I asked, idly flipping through movies on Vudu. J snorted.

"No, honey. I trust you." He laughed. "Besides, I'm not your parent." I rolled my eyes and turned back to the TV. "Will you paint my nails later?" He dangled his right hand in front of my face, showing me the chipped nails. J started painting his nails a couple of weeks ago, but he did a really bad job so I immediately swatted his hand away and took over. And now we have a little ritual every few days where I fix it for him.

"Sure, if we can get Taco Bell for dinner."

I know I drive a hard bargain.

We spent the night relaxing, and never got around to packing. We keep the suitcases (and stuff like out of season clothes) in storage above our walk-in closet, and I need to use a stepladder to get up there. But after 5 or 6 shots I was a little worried about falling, so I just decided to wait until the next morning.

Friday morning, I had to wake up early to blowout my hair and pack for us. Being a girl though, I already knew what I was wearing to the wedding on Saturday (all three outfit possibilities, plus an extra.) By the time I finished packing, I had to sit on my rollerboard to close it.

"Um, honeybunny, did you pack for me?" J asked, coming up and nuzzling the back of my neck. I tensed.

"Of course!" I said with a grin, lying through my teeth. "What were you bringing besides pants?"

Rolling his eyes, J unzipped the suitcase and gaped at me. "Are you serious, Lauren? You don't need four pairs of shoes. We're going to be there for 48 hours, max."

I pouted. "Fine."

After narrowing down my haul to three dresses, one pair of jeans, three tops, leggings, and only two pairs of shoes (!), we left for ORD.

At the airport, I decided that since we were going on vacation, I could break my diet. And the best way to break a diet is with carbs, which meant finding a pretzel place. We were early, and I found one in the next terminal, so we walked over and got pretzels and then sat at a neighboring gate to eat them. It was still pretty early in the morning, and I sat sideways in my seat and threw my legs over J's lap as we ate. We were laughing about something and being kind of loud, and I noticed these people glaring at us from a few rows over. For a moment, I saw us the way that everyone else probably sees us: this smug eurotrash couple with black nails, all in ripped up black and doc martens, cackling and feeding each other and showing way too much PDA.

It wasn't exactly flattering.

After our snack, we found our gate and had one of the most turbulent flights I've ever had. Seriously glad I don't get airsick on a regular basis (just when I'm hungover) because I would have died on that plane. Even J looked a little green, and he loves to fly. Afterwards, when we were walking off the plane, the pilot was standing there shaking hands with everyone, and he looked like a twelve year old. Suddenly I was glad that we'd made it at all.

"Is that Vincent Adultman from Bojack?" I whispered to J, digging my elbow into his ribs. He threw his head back and laughed, and people stared. I felt like that obnoxious couple again.

That night, we stayed in Bethesda, which is this really wealthy suburb of DC. I used to live there for a couple of years, so I was pretty familiar with the area. We went and picked crabs for dinner (I completely ruined my manicure and cut my hands up on the crabs and bled everywhere) and then went to a bar where they have like, $20 cocktails and you have to make reservations. They only seat 10 people at a time and they have a couch that looks like a cactus. It's kind of a weird place; it always makes me think of the scene in the white room from A Clockwork Orange, where Alex chases the old lady around with the phallic statue. Anyway, I was chattering on a blue streak about DC and I noticed J looked sort of exhausted. We were supposed to meet my friends Matt and Barry at this other bar, but I remembered how tired J had been the last time we were in DC, and I didn't want to make him miserable. So we went back to the hotel and rolled around on the giant kingsize bed and had vacation sex and watched these cheesy paranormal shows.

The next day was Anna and Matt's wedding, in Frederick. It was cold. Like, 43 degrees cold. As soon as we left the hotel and walked to where I'd parked the rental car, I had goosebumps. All of the clothes I'd brought with me were not exactly winter attire, and I settled on a Rebecca Minkoff minidress with long sleeves, black tights, and platform ankle boots. I was still freezing. J looked at me and kind of groaned, and then passed over his sports coat without saying anything. I felt guilty, but I took it anyway. In a weird vintage way, it kind of went with my outfit.

I'm not sure what I was expecting, but the wedding was a little weird. Anna and Matt waited a really long time to get married (they were engaged for almost 4 years) because there was a lot of family and money drama when it came to planning their wedding. I know they almost called it quits a couple of times, and Anna was kind of snarky to me when she found out I got married to J after only 9 months. She kind of sniffed, and made a comment about how it must not have been as important to me. Ugh. I don't know why people are so catty sometimes, but I understand that she must have been feeling frustrated.

The officiant was Anna's cousin Emily, and for some reason, I bawled through almost the entire ceremony even though she was incredibly dry-sounding and stilted. She sounded like Ben Stein from the Clear Eyes commercials. It was seriously awful, and I still cried!! The language of the ceremony was also kind of weird, they did like 100% gender neutral, so Emily said things like:

"We are here today to join these two human beings in marriage,"

and

"You may now kiss your spouse."

and

"I now pronounce you partners for life!"

and then, announcing them afterwards:

"I now present to you, for the first time, the Hyphenated-Hyphenateds!"

Of course they're both hyphenating their last names. Of course.

The reception was also kind of weird; it was in a giant banquet hall but there only 45 or 50 people there. J leaned over and whispered that it looked like a high school dance where no one had shown up, and I had to bite him to get him to shut up. They had one sixtel keg of cider for the entire reception, and there was a huge crowd around it. I left J by himself and went to get a drink, which I immediately downed and then refilled my glass. I was looking for old friends, but didn't recognize a lot of people, so I think most of their guests were family.

J looked kind of awkward and out of place the whole time, and he kept checking his phone. It really annoyed me and at one point, during the toasts, I leaned over and whispered: "get off your phone!"

Anna's best friend Troy was her "person of honor" and the toast he gave was seriously awful. He's one of those gay guys who seemingly hates all women (except Anna), and the speech he gave was littered with these little gems like, "congratulations, y'all, Anna finally found a man I think is good enough for her!" and "I had to give up an afternoon of play rehearsal to be here, but I know y'all worship me so I'll survive!" Afterwards, Anna's mom came up and hugged him and he made this big show of putting on anti-bacterial handgel on after she'd walked away. What a cunt.

I don't know, maybe I'm just a grump when it comes to weddings.

After all of the dances (to obscure indie covers of slightly less obscure indie songs), they opened up the dance floor. They were playing oldies & motown, so J and I got up and danced.

Not sure I've ever mentioned this before, but I'm a pretty solid dancer. I did ballroom and latin for a few years in college, and I know all of the weird old stuff, like the jitterbug, and some West Coast swing. J is good too, but he hates prolonged cardio so I knew we only had a short time to be fabulous. We danced for a few songs, and then sat down. I was getting kind of antsy; all the cider and food was gone, and according to the little schedule, we still had 3 hours of dancing before they served cupcakes.

"Let's go talk to people and then make our exit," I leaned over, whispering in J's ear. He was on his phone again. "What is it with your phone today?" I hissed. He made a face at me.

"Meh, it's nothing, my friend is ripping my new script apart." Feeling myself soften a little bit, I reached down to squeeze his hand. J finished a new TV pilot last week and sent it around to his friends who work in the film industry in LA, and apparently they were sending him predictably-LA responses. But he put his phone away after that, and kept it out of sight for the rest of the day.

We walked around and talked to the 3 or 4 people I knew there, most of whom I hadn't seen in at least three years, and then walked downtown and made our way through a few bars. It was nice to be in Frederick again, I really loved living there and sometimes I really miss it. J told me all about his script when we were drinking after the wedding, and I was glad he was finally opening up to me about what his friend was saying. Sometimes I feel like he doesn't take criticism particularly well, but I know I have the same issue at times. Either way, it's nice to feel included. The last thing I want is him keeping secrets from me.

I checked my email in the bathroom of one of the bars and found one from, of all people, Patrick. He had written: "How was the wedding? You and your new husband popped up on facebook. Doing the hustle."

Ugh. I was drunk, but not that drunk. I deleted it. And then went out and ordered shots of fernet for us and everyone else at the bar. A little while later, J said he was starting to get tired, so I sent for an uber and we went back to the hotel (taking a detour first to buy more vodka, obvi.) There was nothing on television, because we had all of 8 channels, so we took the blankets off the bed and bundled up and took our vodka outside to sit by the empty pool. There were some other people staying in the hotel and they came out and started drinking with us, and it was all fun and games until I noticed massive track marks on one of the guy's arms.

"We're going to bed!" I announced, probably not very subtly. J looked at me, confused. "Because we're really tired." I smiled at our new friends with heroin problems. "Have a good night!!"

"But it's only like, 9pm," one of them said to me. I shrugged, and faked a massive yawn. And then, one of the girls took out a pill bottle, crushed something up under the table, and brought her hands back up to her nose and snorted.

We stayed up the rest of the night, semi-paranoid that our new friends would mug us for meth money. And then when we got home Sunday, I was exhausted, but I had to write so I actually made myself work for 3 or 4 hours. I literally cannot remember the last time I worked on a weekend. Maybe it was never!

So that was my weekend! I finished the ghostwritten novel yesterday, and I'm waiting for feedback right now. This week should be a little less deadline heavy, so maybe I can even squeeze another post in.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

I know I suck!!!

I'm so sorry, guys, I've really wanted to post for you lately. I've even had a draft going for a few days, but it's been a weird week!

I'm working from home full time now, and I have a remote proofreading job that gives me about 20 hours a week. I went looking for other work, and amazingly managed to pick up some assignments. Most of those have been articles (like, the kind of stuff you see on about.com... ) but earlier this week, I actually got a contract to ghostwrite a romance novella. I'm so excited, this will be the first time I've ever been paid to write fiction. The client is already talking about other genres (I'd love to write fantasy/sci-fi, but who knows what will happen), and it's a tremendously exciting but also stressful time. Secretly, I've always wanted to be a ghostwriter for a series, like a YA series, so this is one of the best things that could have happened.

Anyway, I've been writing my fingers off, and desperately hoping for a lull so I can blog.  I think I should be able to start posting again by the beginning of next week, fingers crossed.

I'm sorry, cause I know so many blogs have been disappearing lately. I promise I'm not going anywhere, and I will keep posting, but I can't exactly say when. I know that sucks, and I apologize, but I think blogging is going to help me with writing so I'm really motivated to keep doing it. I even used a couple of entries as samples when I was applying for those freelance gigs. But I probably wouldn't have even kept writing in the first place if y'all hadn't been so supportive. So I really owe you guys a lot. Thank you so much!

xoxo & be back soon,
L