How to not be anxious at your boyfriend’s birthday dinner at which you are meeting his mom and brothers for the first time and his sister, who you did meet once before, but weren’t sober, so does that count?:
1) Breathe, consciously. But do not under any circumstance sigh a lot in the process.
2) Be nice. Do not make fun of him, or them. No jokes at anyone’s expense even if out of nervousness.
3) Think of a charming anecdote about him to tell to illustrate that you have gotten to know him pretty well. Common denominator in your and their shared experiences: him. Easy subject material. Do you know him pretty well? How well can you know a person? Count on your fingers the people you know well. That is not many fingers. Would you count on anyone else’s fingers?
4) Be enthusiastic without looking like you took something in order to appear enthusiastic.
5) Actually, just keep your mouth shut more than it is open, unless you are chewing. I mean, putting in food to chew.
6) On that note, do not chow down. How do ladies chew? Find out.
7) The anecdote(s) cannot under any circumstance be about sexual dysfunction or inability to love or lack of consideration.
8) Please don’t say you quit your job for fear of punching the next person who was rude square in the face and getting fired and officially labeled: ANGRY. You do something like punch a stranger when you are supposed to be providing excellent customer service and ANGRY, UNSTABLE becomes a permanent necklace.
9) Probably don’t bring up the fact that you don’t have a job at all anymore, and few leads.
10) Do you know any vanilla jokes? Maybe it is time to learn a few.
11) Don’t drink too much or mention any times in which you have done so. Hopefully his sister forgot that?
12) Be cool. How do people be cool? Find out.
13) Picture them in their undergarments. Wait, fuck. No. Don’t do that at all.
14) Do not remark upon similarities in appearance, especially not to say one is an improvement upon the other.
15) Do not bring up the time he told you he went on a date with a girl who claimed to tend bar but then admitted she was an exotic dancer and came to have the same alter ego stripper name as his sister’s actual name. You are probably the only one in this group who finds this really, really amusing.
16) Oh god absolutely do not bring up that.
17) Be cool. Did you find out how to do that yet? Are you going to poll people or just ask the Internet?
18) Don’t think about any of the times when you could’ve easily been invited along somewhere to meet his mother but was not extended such invitation.
19) Don’t think about any of the times when you could’ve easily been invited along somewhere to meet anyone but he said being with his family is enough without having to deal with phone calls the next day with opinions of you.
20) Shit, that felt so awkward.
21) Don’t be jaded.
22) Don’t even think about being jaded! Not one bit! Don’t!
23) Maybe you should just take something to appear enthusiastic? You are enthusiastic, though, yeah? Yes. So very, so don’t take anything then. Just, just be cool. It’s been 2 weeks since you’ve even seen him! It’ll be so good to see him! You did it though— you got away for a little while, you went home, got your head on straight. You quit that job and went home so you didn’t feel so crazy anymore, at all. You have a better idea of what you want from life (to be loved and appreciated, and to take care of people and make life better for people, to write at least one thing worth reading and maybe have that be your legacy plus, like community gardens throughout the city, and to work with your hands often and to never stop learning, to travel as much as possible but always have a home to which return, maybe even have kids although you’ve been pretty fiercely against being a procreator, personally, but since meeting your cousin Chris’ happy baby your ovaries [or the spot where they could be, maybe they dissolved with so much Planned Parenthood volunteering?] ache a little and you are wondering what it could be like to be someone’s mom and to have someone to teach about flowers and herbs and the world and to play checkers with and have little park picnics and identify trees and read sweet dream goodnight bedtime stories to because maybe that could be really nice, frustrating a lot, but ultimately worth it and ultimately nice). You feel ok about your hometown, ok enough to say it’s your hometown even, which is a really big admission for you. You really do feel better. You’re remembering the bupropion 2x a day, consistently, and yes, it’ll be really fucking good to see him (those eyes! that smile!), even though he’s already trying to limit you (“I want to be alone on Saturday”). Is that a jaded thought? What did you decide about those? For crying out loud, none of those.
24) Be cool. Did I already tell you that? Well, I’m telling you again. Take note.
25) Don’t talk shit.
26) Don’t talk about your brother being homeless, even though you think it’s rad and when people ask about your brothers it’s so easy to say: They’re great, and the oldest lives out of his station wagon in LA and showers at the gym and is finally getting better audio engineering gigs and you’re so proud of him for sticking it to the man.
27) Don’t talk about your mom’s best friend dying of a couple of cancers recently, and how proud you are of her for maintaining herself at work and still being able to the laundry and the dishes, and sometimes remembering to wipe the kitchen table. How it was so nice to be home and to be cared for and to do some caring in return and how you realized that so many things in your life are too much give or too much take but being around for your mom was perfectly symbiotic because she needed you, too. And you really do like making meals and your mom does not at all so that is perfect, too.
28) Don’t talk about death of any kind, or hospitals.
29) Especially not the hospital where your aunt’s been for the last few weeks, receiving chemotherapy steadily through a tube (which one? there are so many tubes) in her arm, staying hopeful but knowing full well that her blast counts rose from 4% to 30% in the last month and they’ve gotta get back down to 4 so she can get the bone marrow transplant from her sister who is not my mom, and without that transplant, shit’s bleak.
30) Are these really all the things on your mind? Can’t you think about how cool narwhals are, like dolphin unicorns, or summer camping plans (please remember matches and bug spray), or going out dancing to motown and getting so sweaty that your eyeliner streams off? What about what a nuts coincidence those obituaries in your hometown newspaper were— Norman Proctor (97) and Nancy Proctor (80), brother and sister who died within 15 minutes of each other! A town apart!
Shit, I guess that’s morbid. Other things, hmm. Other things: Vonnegut’s Breakfast of Champions and how Kilgore Trout’s terrible ex-girlfriend greyhound puppy shit and the guy Kilgore Trout hitchhiked a ride off had some of that very shit on his jacket somehow, or was it Kilgore with the shit smeared a little on his jacket? Either way, damn! How many nuts coincidences are overlooked everyday? People related in small ways just missing one another on the street or at the grocery store, or any of that, and you never even know about. But what a small miracle when the people do collide and interact and whoa, people. People are a such a miracle.
What about going fishing with your dad as a kid? Grimy fingers hooking the worms, red and white bobbers attached to the line, that joyous pull when a hungry sunfish found that worm. How your dad’d pray sometimes if nothing was biting, and it would work!
As much as wishing aloud ‘works’. Thank you, Jesus, for the sunfish to trick and stab and suffocate and then hurtle back in to lake which You have created. Boy did those worms reek. You collected worms with Mary from across the street as a kid, remember? Asked your mom for 2 spoons and dug up whole worms in the backyard but sometimes halves only and threw them all in a bucket of dirt and called those guys your pets. Shared custody. Once, when it was Mary’s turn to host your pets for the night, she put them in a closet and they all dried up.
You and Mary lost the same teeth at the same time, do you remember that too? And when you were delighted by something, a whole worm or a can of forbidden soda, or a kickball score, you’d both smile hard, with your whole mouths, displaying as many teeth and spaces where teeth once were as possible.
This word has a tune as it rattles around in your head: nostal——gi—a.
Pining for an era that never existed. Well, maybe just pining for an age when things were easy. When your parents absorbed the woes of the world for you. If you were nervous about meeting someone, you could just hide behind someone’s legs. People went away instead of died. The biggest hurt was a bath after 2 skinned knees (no training wheels!) and so many mosquito bites. Your lop-eared bunny died and it was ok to cry for days, openly, while eating P B & J’s for lunch or writing your initials on the driveway with chalk next to Mary. Hearts and flowers in pastel greens and pinks, and dark blue. Mary probably silent because she hated that bunny because it bit her once, hard, but hey, you hold a finger in front of a mouth, that’s on you.
I bet she thought it was a French fry!
you told your mom as she pulled the antiseptic and bandages from the top cabinet. Later realizing your rabbits only know about clover and alfalfa pellets. You do pine for the days when animals had the same thought as you. Why not? Hey, what if instead of ‘beliefs’, people referred to those things as ‘thoughts’?
31) What were you talking about? Er, convincing yourself to think about?
32) Oh. Being cool. Yeah. Turning off your thoughts but still looking thoughtful while thinking nothing. Nothing dark. Nothing heavy or inflammatory. Ok, cool. You got this. Good luck out there!
58) Yoga. How the fuck did you forget about yoga classes? Sure you can do it on your own. You can do everything on your own. But do you? Nope. So pay a little $ and let someone else keep you accountable. Oh my word does that shit feel good.
57) Lizzy Caplan singing You Don’t Know Me.
I Raff I Ruse Top Post Countdown #7
56) : ( : ) : D
Artist Vanessa German performs a spoken word poem at Mayor Bill Peduto’s inauguration ceremony. (Video by Andrew Rush; 1/6/14)
54) Beam over others’ success- especially when it’s your baby brother filming his girlfriend dancing.
53) Go out for dinner. Keep up your Clean Plate Club membership.
52) Have something the same thing to look forward to every day.
Yesterday, the Library of Congress digitized a treasure trove of materials from Carl Sagan’s life—including early Cosmos drafts, NASA proposals, correspondences with Neil deGrasse Tyson, audio recordings, and over 30 minutes of home movie footage.
In lieu of this momentous occasion, they’ve also created a showcase of over 300 historic items exploring connections between the legacies of Carl, Galileo, H.G. Wells, and many others.
Discover “Our Place in the Cosmos”
Amazing! Everyone keen on Carl, take a look at my project to remember him.
This can be 51)
50) I read something smart in Vanity Fair tonight while waiting in a waiting room. John Cheever’s daughter wrote about stories her dad would tell her about e e cummings. How one cold night he and his lady dressed up to the nines and spent the last of their money on cabfare to get to a New Years’ party and how they danced and danced and drank champagne and gave few damns none of which included how to get back home. When morning came they were descending in an elevator when a dapper gentleman complimented his hat and he said to the dapper gentleman, “How much would you pay for the pleasure of stepping on this hat?” And the man said, “$10.”
They got home.
I forgot about mr. cummings, to be honest, but then millie and may and up so floating many bells down and if everything happens that can’t be done and singing of Olaf came into my head like it’d all never left and man.
Man, man, man. I am headed to New York tomorrow and the only e e cummings I have I got at Strand and like so many of the things I own, I barely see it, or know where it is and in fact to find it I had to move a floor-length mirror and lift a whole bunch of other books full of other poems and voices and 50 Simple Things Kids Can Do to Save the Earth. So, I’m just gonna put this here:
in time of daffodils(who know
the goal of living is to grow)
forgetting why,remember how
in time of lilacs who proclaim
the aim of waking is to dream
remember so(forgetting seem)
in time of roses(who amaze
our now and here with paradise)
forgetting if,remember yes
in time of all sweet things beyond
whatever mind may comprehend,
remember seek(forgetting find)
and in a mystery to be
(when time from time shall set us free)
forgetting me,remember me
48) Under no circumstance should you think it a good idea (money-saving or otherwise) to drive home to Pittsburgh from Florida with your mom, dad, dad’s work partner, good-looking but smelly younger brother, and grandmother all while towing a travel trailer. Wheel bearings break. Camper repair places are not open on Sunday mornings. You may have to spend 7 hours in South Carolina, chain smoking in an auto body shop parking lot, eating sandwiches before the turkey breast goes bad since the ice is melting. Listening to your mama tell you sad things you’d rather not know but wouldn’t ever want her to feel alone with.
47) Make someone’s day.
46) Drive through Georgia in the rain. Stop for gas + snacks and emerge from the station to marvel at a double rainbow. Thank your baby brother for the photo.