So I'm about 4 days away from being homeless. Not really. Well, technically, yes really. My lease is up, I put off my housing search for far too long, and I'm scrambling. To say that I've been freaking out is fair and true. It's not good for a person like me to freak out. I don't wear it well.
Luckily, I work with some of the most incredible people in the entire city of Boston, and almost everyone has offered me a place to stay. So freaking nice. But I don't actually like living out of a suitcase during vacations, so I can't imagine how that might play out for a month of couch surfing. It would make for good blog posts, to be sure. Staying with Harvey for a few nights might be interesting:)
Searching Craigslist in the middle of the night (it's amazing how not knowing where you're going to live will negatively affect an already existing sleeping problem. Hmm, who knew?) and sending out emails to potential roommates at 4:00 AM has not worked out. I'm tired, overwhelmed, and out of it. I called my girlfriend the other night, just as I was finally drifting to sleep, and left a short message saying I missed her and loved her. It turns out I dialed the wrong number and left that message with my old hair dresser.
I've been cringing about that during my breaks from looking for housing.
Anyway, Meredith calms me. I miss her in general, but really miss her when I start to freak out about packing and finding a place. Talking to her today, she said she would post something on Faceplace or whatever, and send out an email to everyone at Smith. Which she did. She's amazing, and I'm so ridiculously lucky. When I told her so, this is what she said:
Meredith:I'm a social worker. we use resources and connections to mobilize the communities around us in collective efforts towards the greater good. in this case, you.
Awhile ago, she asked why she wasn't mentioned more frequently in my blog. I tried to explain that it's dedicated to the absurdities in life and that including her in that wouldn't make sense. Her response, of course, was, "Well start another one!"
This is just to say that I'm grateful for her. Sans absurdity. [Cue the cheesy music.]
"i carry your heart with me (i carry it in my heart)"
I've been looking for a new place to live. It has NOT been fun. Any good leads have been ruined by smokers (didn't everyone get the memo about smoking?!!), ridiculously high rents (Um, thanks, but for $1500 a month, I don't want to live with a stranger and his band), or cats. Effing cats everywhere! How do people "forget to mention" that they have five cats?! YOU HAVE FIVE FREAKING CATS! MENTION THAT!!!!
That would be like me showing up to an apartment with five kids and being like, "Oh! Forgot to mention, but I have five kids. Are you cool with that? They climb on everything you own and poop in a box in the kitchen. Is that going to be a problem?"
I went to look at an apartment tonight, and because I've been warned about showing up 10 minutes early to these appointments, I walked around Inman Square for a minute to kill some time. Checking my teeth in my reflection of a glass window of Punjabi Dhaba, I made awkward eye contact with a guy passing by. I messed around with my hair, shaking my head, trying to play off the fact that I had just been exposing all of my teeth to a window, and continued to make awkward eye contact while doing this.
I strolled slowly to the apartment, wasting as much time as possible, and trying not to sweat through my shirt. I arrived at the place at exactly 5:30. Prompt, not pushy. Punctual, not weird. Sweaty, but not--what the what?! Why was I so sweaty?! Checking the door for a bell, a guy on a bike rode up behind me. We engaged in the squint/stare-down/you ask first, no you/light smile/shoulder shrug/apologetic introduction "Hi. Are you..."
We both arrived for our meeting at exactly the same time, which was perfect. He was very nice and the place was clean!!!! What a nice surprise! At one point a cat did jump out of a room and I nearly shit my pants, but he explained that it belonged to the person subletting and would be leaving with her. Phew.
I continued to sweat as we walked from room to room, focusing only on my sweat. I must have said, "Oh, exactly" 300 times in a row because it felt like something that would fit well with whatever he was saying while I could concentrate on cooling my body using only the power of my mind.
"Oh, exactly." [Wipe forehead. Deep breath.]
"Oh, exactly." [Pull shirt away from body. Think of winter.]
"Oh, exactly." [Scan room for cat...OK, seriously, where's the cat?]
After knocking on his roommate's door, and calling his name as we walked around the place, he explained that the other roommate wanted to meet me and was planning on being home. 15 minutes later, he finally walked in.
Of COURSE-- no surprise here-- it was the guy who had seen me giving a monster face tooth inspection to an Indian restaurant's window. And of COURSE I had to tell him about this, because my fatal flaw is that I have to call out embarrassing situations before anyone has had the chance to even recognize them.
-And this is...
-Oh, hi! I just saw you a few minutes ago! I was staring into a window.
-....Oh, yeah. Right. Right. I thought you looked familiar.
Truthfully, people, I debated doing my weird Indian restaurant window reflection face to really bring the point home, but I stopped just short of that.
Once we got inside the house, we were greeted by wine and appetizers. My mother doesn't consider a homecoming official without a cheese plate and some sort of layered dip waiting for you on the kitchen island.
This was my first trip home in a year, and I can't actually remember the last time I was there with both my sisters, so it was fun to sit around the kitchen and chill like old times. My father quickly made this nice moment awkward while sharing a story. In an effort to include Meredith, he lightly punched her arm and said, "It's a guy thing. Right, Mer?"
Because it made no sense, we all laughed-- but my dad only recognized that we thought it was funny and continued to use the same line throughout the weekend.
"It's a guy thing, right, Mer?"
"She gets it."
"No, Dad. No one gets it."
After dinner we were all hanging around the family room and when Sabrina put on some music, she and my father started dancing. Obviously. To give you an idea of what this looks like, this was a pic from his actual surprise party. (My dad and my cousin Chris.)
All of Meredith's nerves about spending the weekend with my family were quickly erased and replaced with sheer joy when she saw how embarrassed I was by this. Brina is a great dancer, and hilarious. And my dad is hilarious too. I would have just preferred that he waited 2 hours before dancing around the house in front of my girlfriend.
(Me looking away.)
Also, it's important to note that he still had no idea there was a party planned for him the next night. While he was trying to follow Bri's instructions, Meredith leaned over and said, "This could be his birthday party. He's so happy!"
I looked to my father's huge grin and high-kicking legs and shrugged. "Yup."
That night, while looking through a closet in the foyer, I found 20 boxes of crackers hiding under a blanket.
As previously mentioned, my girl came home with me a few weeks ago for my father's surprise party. We planned to get in Friday night, and the party was on Saturday. My sisters arrived on Thursday and Meredith wondered if having everyone there might ruin the surprise.
"Won't your dad suspect something is going on when all of his girls are home right around his birthday?"
I met up with her in Northampton and we made the road trip to the farm, which was full of good laughs, music on shuffle, and an ongoing discussion about whether or not it's OK to fall asleep in the passenger seat while someone else is driving.
Me: Loving someone means letting them fall asleep while you drive.
Meredith: No it doesn't.
Me: Yes! If you love someone, you let them fall asleep.
Meredith: If you love someone, you should want to stay awake!
We ended up agreeing that it depends on whether or not the driver is tired.
Anyway, in an incredibly rare (read: inconceivable) moment, Meredith grew completely silent when we got off at the exit for my parents' house. Stunned and concerned, (read: She's never silent. Ever.) I asked what was up and she admitted that she was a little nervous. While this was just about the most adorable thing ever, I quickly tried to assure her that there was literally no reason to be nervous. Not one single reason. Here's why:
-My family is crazy.
-My family is loud.
-My family is ridiculous when it comes to food. My mother prepares enough food for one gathering to feed about 600 people. And that is NOT an exaggeration.
-They will start an impromptu dance party at just about any time during the day if an appropriate song is played.
-They're pretty much the nicest people around.
Even after making all these points, she still wasn't buying it, and we drove past the farm in silence. Turning slowly into the driveway, I immediately saw my mother standing on the front porch flapping her arms in the air. I remember thinking, What the hell is she doing? I never told her when we were arriving, there's no way she would be outside waving. Maybe she's swatting at a fly or something.
(She later told me that she sensed our presence with a mother's instinct. Ummm, OK. )
While she stood there flailing, my father came running out into the front yard yelling, "Jessie! Hi girls!!!"
As both Deb and Steve ran to the car, I turned to Meredith and smiled, suddenly realizing that maybe I was the one who should be nervous.
Long time, no blog. Sorry about that. Here's what I've been up to, because oddly, you're interested.
1) Bought a tube of toothpaste and couldn't open it for 4 days. FOUR DAYS. I debated leaving a post-it on my bathroom mirror for my roommates that said, "Could you try to open my toothpaste?" but thought that would make me look like a bigger moron than usual. In my defense, the tube had a new specially designed seal that was ridiculous including grooves and a cap screw or something.
I ended up cutting the actual tube with scissors.
2) Traveled to Miami with my best people and almost punched through a ceiling while attempting to dance at a bar on South Beach. Again, in my defense, the ceilings were incredibly low.
3) Went home to my family's farm for my dad's surprise 60th birthday party and my girlfriend came along to meet the fam. Posts to follow on this, to be sure, but just so you know how the weekend went for me, someone found the cable to our VCR making it possible to watch old home movies. (Cue pained expression of embarrassment.) I'm quite sure I've never seen Meredith laugh so hard. And now whenever she gets a little grin from out of nowhere, I know she's picturing fat little kid me in my hiked-up Umbros and a Body Glove belly shirt.
4) I bought a pack of gum with the flavor "Nonstop Mint" and the smell is following me everywhere. It's seriously such a strong smell. Every time I open my bag I am assaulted by the fumes of manufactured mint. It's making me sick. I think I'm going to have to throw it away, but it offends me to throw gum away instead of giving it away. Do you want a piece?
5) Had this conversation with Jeffrey yesterday and was pretty unclear as to how I should respond to any of it:
Jeffrey: What's new, Jessie?
Me: Not much, Jeffrey. Going to New York this weekend.
Jeffrey: Oh! Do me a favor? If you go to the thing-- the thing is there, right? The thing?
Me: Which one, now?
Jeffrey: Rockefeller Center. If you go can you get me a Days of Our Lives hat? My sister-in-law threw away my Passions hat. She tossed anything that wasn't nailed down. My electric knife is missing!
The editor rejections I've been receiving have been pretty positive if you forget about the parts that say, "I don't want to work with you."
Luckily, I'm quite dense. So I read what they say and then nod with a smile, thinking, "Why, thank you!"
The main problem for most of the editors I've heard back from is that it will be hard to market my book because people don't know me. That no one knows who I am.
To which I say, OF COURSE no one knows who I am! My own parents have trouble remembering my name! I'm not famous! My book is not about being famous! It's about life after graduation and trying to find a job using a resume filled with random summer jobs, a degree in film, and my complete lack of experience. It's about living with my parents, in my childhood bedroom, and trying not to suffocate from my life's absurdity as my father suggests careers for me to consider in aeronautics and Riverdance. It's about uncertainty, and trying to start a life for yourself, and being afraid, and being so confused there's little else to do but laugh. It's part of a story we've all felt. And true, it would be easier to sell if it was written by Kim Kardashian. But maybe a recent grad living at home, struggling to find a job, or searching for their passion, doesn't want to read about Kim Kardashian's path to success. Maybe they want to read about something that reminds them of themselves.
Whoa, rant! Where did all that Kim Kardashian stuff come from? Sorry. Anyway, here's the latest rejection:
Thanks so much for sending this my way. Jessica has a likeable, witty voice and I found this to be incredibly readable. Not only that but the subject matter is timely and there will be a lot of people looking for someone like Jessica who has been through the same struggles as they have. Unfortunately, my colleagues who read this weren’t as enthusiastic about it. They agreed that Jessica is talented but worried that memoirs can be very hard to sell especially when the author doesn’t have a huge platform. So sadly, I’m going to pass.
I really appreciate the chance to consider this and hope we’ll connect on the next one!
So the point of this post, dear reader, is to ask for any suggestions you might have to increase one's platform. All ideas welcome!
Thanks in advance, Mom. (ps. this is your daughter...Jessica.)
Jessica Martin grew up on her family’s farm in Brockport, New York. She spent her formative years talking to herself in the mirror and memorizing lines from Full House episodes. She graduated from Syracuse University with a degree in Television, Radio and Film and that proved to be worthwhile in that she still enjoys all of those things. After living in San Francisco, New York, and Boston, Jessica has learned the importance of light layers, irony, and remembering how people take their coffee.
A fortune cookie once told her that she finds beauty in ordinary things, and she liked this. But then another fortune cookie told her that she liked horse racing and gambling, but not to excess, so she’s not entirely sure what to believe. She sort of thinks fortune cookies should stop pretending they know her so well.
Open-Eyed Sneeze is her first book.