Thursday, October 31, 2013

Drop It Like It's Dots.

There are so many great songs about candy that explicitly tell you what to do and how to dance. As someone who looks for instruction on the dance floor, I appreciate the direction.

-I think he wants to see your Tootsie Roll.
-Shake that Laffy Taffy you brought.
-Well, get another one and count how many licks this time.

It's all very helpful but sort of imperative that you show up to the club with a lot of different snacks.

Pretty much any candy can sound like a hit song or a dance move. These are a few I'm waiting for:

Chocolate Bitcoin
Little Dots on Paper (I'm just eatin' paper)
Rolo, Yolo
Smarties, Nerds, and Dum Dums.
Drop 100 Grand
Raisin' Roofs and Raisinets
Twizzler as a Straw
Pez Dispenser
Can I Eat The Bottle? (Wax Bottle Face)
You Say Reese's Pieces, I Say Reese's Peese's
Peanut Butter Cup, Butterfinger, Butterface

Also, semi-related, do you think by this time next year Candy e-cigarettes will be a thing?

Saturday, July 20, 2013

I Bet That's Justin Bieber!

The Biebs was staying where I work and I guess he tweeted something about where he was and last night 500 girls showed up to the hotel lobby. This afternoon when leaving work, there were close to 1,000 tweens outside the employee exit and across the street from the main entrance. The police, most of hotel security, and a lot of managers from different departments were standing guard so no one could try to sneak in.

When I was leaving work ready to head to the gym, I was wearing my standard cut-off shirt, flat brim, and gym shorts. There's a ramp in the garage down to the street level in the employee exit and I stood with a coworker laughing at the crowd of kids for a minute. Throwing on my sunglasses and starting to head down the ramp, two girls at the front of the line screamed, "Is that Justin Bieber?!"

I stopped walking for a second.

Besides my height, my most defining physical characteristic is that I look like a prepubescent boy. I smiled to myself wondering if they thought I was Bieb. And with the ramp, I don't think they realized that I'm actually nine feet taller than him. Turing my backwards SIN cap around to the front with the flat brim as low as it could go on a tilt, I started walking again. Slowly.

-Is that Justin?! (5 girls yelled)
-It's Justin!! (10 girls yelled)
-It's Justin Bieber!!!!! (50 girls yelled)

People, I'm not joking.

I debated stopping, popping, and locking, but I saw one of my managers at the end of the ramp and just kept walking down.

By the time I reached the street level, the screaming group of people stopped screaming and said to each other, "That's not Justin Biiber!!!!!!!!"

I grabbed the shoulders of the manager standing in his suit and said, "But this is his tour manager!" and they all started screaming again.

I don't think I've stopped smiling once since this happened. Whenever I need a pick me up I'm just going to replay, "That's not Justin Bieber!" in my head.

Sunday, July 07, 2013

Where Are My Keys?

When I saw my Grandma over Mother's Day Weekend I asked about how she and my Grandfather had met. My Grandpa passed away when my mom was just a teenager so he just exists in my mind from the million love stories my Gram tells and the small-moment stories my mom shares that seem so big. But I realized riding home with her one night that I had never actually heard how they met, so I asked.

My Grandma was so in love with my Grandpa. It's obvious in the smallest details she chose to include in her retelling of how they met. I'm such a sucker for the tiniest parts of a story and she filled me up by not forgetting a single one. When something feels important, I try to remember little details. What I had in my pockets, the feel of what I was wearing, what the people around me were reading or looking at, the smell of anything. My Gram didn't disappoint by sharing layered details of the party they had both attended at social club for the boys who served in the war-- a club that was looked over and maintained by their girlfriends while they were gone. My Great-Aunt Sophie (the biggest badass and greatest person I've ever known) was dating a guy from that club at the time and invited my Grandma to attend. Everyone was assigned a specific task at the beginning of the party and my Grandma, not knowing anyone, was told to hold all the car keys.

She said that at the end of the night, a tall good looking man started asking, "Who has the keys to my heart?" In her retelling of the story, she must have said the word jalopy 35 times. Apparently my grandpa drove quite the junker of a car that he absolutely loved and he called it his heart. So he went around after people started leaving asking, "Who has the keys to my heart?"

My Gram was holding them.
How perfect.

A night later, she and my great-grandmother grabbed throw pillows to sit by the window after dinner to people-watch.  This is what they did. It was pretty much like Facebook but with live status updates. They just watched their neighbors from their apartment in Brooklyn. At this point in the retelling of the story, I should say, I could not have been grinning any more widely. In terms of storytelling, my Gram was KILLING it. But I guess that's what happens when you retell a love story. Anyway, they were sitting at the window and my grandma saw the guy from the party walking down her sidewalk. She knew he didn't live in her neighborhood and that he could only be there for her so she ran to get changed and met him.

They went to the movies.

They ended up dating. After each date he took one of the fake flowers she wore in her hair (apparently a fashion of the time) and pinned it to the inside roof of his jalopy. When they broke up for a minute, she received a call at work one day. This was very rare. They didn't even have a phone in their house. How it worked in their neighborhood was if someone wanted to talk to you they would call the candy shop. Then one of the kids at the candy shop would run to get you and you'd give them a penny for delivering the message. Apparently there was a woman in their neighborhood who always gave a nickel and all the kids would race to get to her house first to deliver a message because they could actually get a lot of candy for a nickel.
But I digress.

She got a call at work from my grandpa and he must have been quite charming because they started dating again and got married. And something like 65 years later, we were siting in a parked car outside of her house and she was recounting the whole thing like it had literally just happened.

It made me so freaking happy.
Love you, Gram.

Friday, June 21, 2013

A Belated OES Review.

It'd be hard to beat the initial reviews, but I just received this message and laughed out loud.

Monday, June 17, 2013

My Engagement Story. (And So Lovingly Told.)

I'm not engaged. I should open with that. I thought that was clear, but apparently my mother called my sister and then Bri called me just to double check. Why my mother didn't call me directly is still a little strange. And if there was any doubt in her mind that I wasn't joking, I'm actually pretty offended that she didn't call to congratulate me. It's kind of big fake news.

Anyway, enjoying yet another incredible night out in LA thanks to these amazing  people, a generous friend bought roses for all of us at a gay club (as you do). I thought it was so charming but everyone else quickly asked me to hold theirs. My new favorite person immediately said upon being handed the rose, "Love it, not gonna hold it."

So as we left that club and walked to another, I commented on the fact that I now looked like the lady who sells roses at clubs. I can never have just one night of chill. It always has to be something. And that night it was moonlighting as a rose seller.

So as we walked around West Hollywood, all the roses in tow, my friend starting shouting, "She said yes! She said yes!"to which supportive gay strangers smiled and congratulated. It was a nice little moment. When we popped into Norm's for late night bites, the "She said yes!" line followed us to our table. Our waiter congratulated us. The man sleeping in the seat next to me stayed asleep. The older couple next to us mentioned that they were getting married too!  They were in their late 60's and happy as clams. "He gave me his mother's ring." she said, before looking down to her hand and smiling. Filled my whole freaking heart up. And because my fake fiancee is a self-proclaimed old man at heart--and let's be honest, I'm often confused for old men-- I felt so happy for all of us. Just a bunch of happily engaged old people out for sandwiches and pancakes at 3AM.

I should be so lucky for a story like that.

Anyway, the "She said yes!!" line made me smile for the whole next day and the getting engaged part of the weekend started to make its way into recaps of the trip because it was better than saying, "Trainer Megan smoked me in every competition." I posted this on FB:
Lots of important stuff happened this weekend, including being so happy, getting engaged, working out and working it out, laughing the best laughs, and loving LA-- but nothing is more memorable than meeting a little Australian kid and having her ask where in Australia I'm from. My accent is OFFICIALLY legit. #nailedit

I should say that roughly 9 people congratulated me (again, if this was real, I might be hurt) and NO ONE mentioned the accent. People, it's getting really good. I don't think you understand how big this is for me.

Anyway, this post was mostly for my mom. Call and ask about my accent, please.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013


When I went into a public ladies' room today, a little kid was standing by the hand dryer with a coat over his head. All the doors to the stalls were closed so I posted up next to him, smiling to myself in the mirror. After about 30 seconds, he pulled the coat down from his face, looked at me, and then put it back over his head.

A few seconds passed and I watched the coat mass of the young boy inflate and then deflate before hearing, "Mum! This is rubbish! Rubbish!"

Note: I LOVED that the coat-covered kid was British. It made it that much better.

From a stall the mother shot back, "Spencer!"

I hoped this was an alias. I mean, his identity was pretty much secret at this point. Why'd she have to go and call him out like that?

Anyway, I used the restroom and when I made my way back to the sink, Spencer was bobbing his coat head back and forth below the hand dryer to turn it on.

He was the best part of my day.

Saturday, June 01, 2013

Up up up.

In Light by Givers pretty much saved my heart last summer. Listening to it again in the heat this year feels like having a really great friend pick you up at the airport. If you're going through something right now, pick a good album and give it 365. 

The human heart is amazing in its capacity to fill back up.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The Ting Tings On Repeat.

People are always forgetting my name. It's fine, I'm used to it. I once had an entire conversation with someone from my hometown who thought I was Sabrina. He said, "Sabrina! How are you?!" when we saw each other at a restaurant and I didn't have the energy to correct him. If I had known that the conversation was going to last 20 minutes, of course I would have said something immediately. But I thought it was just a quick hello so I said, "Good thanks, you?"
And then he came over to my table.
Thus began the slippery slope of identity theft.

I answered the first few general questions honestly. My summer was going well. I was enjoying the food. I had indeed, eaten there before. And then he started talking about Ithaca. And I started lying. I know how crazy this seems. Trust me. But he had said "Sabrina" at least seven times by this point and I hadn't corrected him. After answering as Sabrina and repeatedly responding to Sabrina, how could I suddenly say, "Oh, I'm not her." I just kept hoping that every question he asked was going to be the last and he would walk away and there would be no harm done. When he started asking personal questions about Sabrina, I felt compelled to answer as her. It was sort of a no turning back now moment that kept getting worse. I started to get watery eyes and that tingle in my nose that tells me I'm about to burst out laughing when he kept asking about my singing. The only thing that was going through my head was, "Goooo away!!! Please just walk away now!!!" 

Eventually my dad arrived at the table saying hello and my heart sank, knowing that my attempts to save this man and myself from an incredibly awkward moment were in vain. Everything was about to come crumbling down. There was no look in the world that I could use to convey the situation to my dad. To tell him in a single glance, "Dad, don't say anything else. Just say 'Nice to see you.' He thinks I'm Sabrina. It's a long story, but I've been pretending that I am and I just talked about my singing voice for the last 5 minutes. Please, Dad."

No. There's nothing like that with my father. Of course he asked what he had missed and when the man pointed to me and said, "I was just talking about your daughter's beautiful singing voice!" I closed my eyes, knowing what was about to happen. My dad tilted his head and said, "Well, Jessie doesn't sing."
I breathed in deeply.
Man: Sabrina. I was complimenting Sabrina on her voice.
Dad: Well that's Jessica. Sabrina's not home right now.
And then I died a little.

Embarrassed, the man asked me why I hadn't corrected him and I couldn't give him the real answer (I was just hoping you would go away) so I played it off like I had misunderstood him. It was terrible. But honestly, I was trying the whole time to avoid embarrassing him. I know how backwards it seems but that was my reasoning.

Anyway, you'd think after this happened years ago I'd be better about correcting people when they get my name wrong, but I'm still just as bad. There's this tiny old Chinese woman who works in Laundry where I work and for the first 3 months she couldn't remember my name. She always asked. It was very cute. And then the next day she'd look at me meekly and ask, "Who are you, again?"

One day, about six months ago, she shouted from down the hall, "Hi, Jen!" It was the most confident she'd ever been with my name. It was wrong, obviously, but came from a good place. Something must have clicked in her that said, "That's Jen! You know her! Say hello!" And these are the exchanges I've had with her ever since.
-Good morning, Jen!
-Morning, Mee Sou.

-Going home, Jen?!
-Yes I am, Mee Sou.
-Good for you, Jen!

What am I going to say?

Again, this wouldn't present a problem at all except that she works in LAUNDRY-- where all my dry-cleaning is. So when I see her in the morning I wince a little knowing I won't be getting my pants.
-Hi, Jen! You need your dry-cleaning?
-Yes please, Mee Sou.

Then I watch as my shirts and pants fly by on rotation with the giant label I can see clearly from across the counter: JESSICA MARTIN.
This happens 3 times before she turns around with a little frown to say, "Sorry, Jen! Not here yet."

And then I just wait for her to walk away before going back there to pick it up myself.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Lightheaded Before The Blood Test.

I had to get some blood work done this morning and the whole experience felt like a giant joke was being played on me. When I went to the lab, I greeted the the woman at the counter with the traditional pleasantries (Morning, how are you, strange weather) while she asked for my name and information, had me sign in, before saying, "Thank you. Someone will be with you shortly."

I grabbed a magazine and sat down in the middle of an empty sea of about 25 chairs. Literally thirty seconds later, the same woman from the counter walked around from her seat to stand in the waiting room and asked, "Jessica Martin?" I smiled to myself, closed the magazine I had just barely opened, and looked behind me to the rows of empty seats. "Jessica Martin?" she called again. I looked to my left and then my right and then to her, waving a little before saying, "Yes, thank you, right here." We had literally just spoke. I was the only person there. Could she honestly have forgotten?

Walking back through the lab she asked me to verify my name and date of birth. We had covered all of this about a minute earlier. This was now kind of the third time. "How are you today, Ms. Martin?" I walked thinking. I'm fine. I just told you at the desk I was very well but now I'm just fine. "I'm fine, thanks." While following her I tried to get a better look at her face. Was it possible her twin sister worked here? One at the desk, one to draw blood? Was it possible this woman had short-term memory loss?

She had me sit down and looked at my arm before saying, "It looks small."
Slightly confused, I thought she was talking about my vein, which made me a little nervous, so I asked, "Sorry?"
"It looks smaller."
"The vein, or my arm? What looks smaller?"
As she tied my arm and asked me to make a fist, I quickly searched her lab coat for identification, any sign that this woman actually worked there. I do OK with blood tests as long as I don't actually see the blood. So I closed my eyes for what felt like forever. Replaying in my mind that this woman didn't seem to remember that I was the ONLY PATIENT in the waiting room, I panicked that she was just going to keep drawing blood until she remembered that it was time for lunch. So I made the terrible mistake of looking down and seeing four vials of blood before asking with a louder than indoor voice, "Is that enough?"
"Almost, sir. Dear."

Holding the cotton down while she unwrapped my band-aid, I sat there wondering what the hell just happened.

Then I went and bought myself a cookie.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

That Part Where The Soundtrack Starts.

A friend with a mind that impresses me once talked about montage moments and how she thinks about songs that would play when she's on the train, or moving from point A to B. I loved this immediately because it's how I've lived my life. If this is all The Truman Show and we're starring in our own stories (which we are), we know the important days. We know when things matter. We know when everything starts to click, when messes start to reveal themselves as things that had to be cleared so we could find something new and unexpected, we know when something feels right. It's that part where the soundtrack starts. When the perfect song for the moment plays and dialogue isn't really needed. It's the moment and the moment is a feeling and the feeling is good.
It's the montage.

You have dozens of these moments in your mind right now and if you think of one you'll smile immediately, maybe get a little teary-eyed, but always feel grateful. Grateful that life in that moment was so loud and so honest and so nice to you.

Had a strange day that started to unravel at an early hour, spun uncontrollably through the afternoon, started to slow like a spinning top by early evening, and then rolled slowly to my feet just now, moments before I started to write this, presented perfectly. You know the way a well-made bed looks when you're exhausted? That's how today ended up feeling for me.

In montage fashion:
A steamy morning bike ride, a job that confuses and amuses me, walking in and out of small scenes, meeting strangers, talking while I set up their meals and they get ready for the day, and then never seeing them again. Ideas, taking orders, taking notes, writing, writing, writing, in my head. A coworker calling me out and humbling me by saying, "Sometimes you're happy, sometimes you're mad, you want to work, you want to quit, which Jess is here today? Give me a hug!" breakfast with my girl Emma ("I have Ms. Granger on the line for you."), just seriously wanting an English accent. Meeting up with the girl I'm subletting from for the summer and her basically asking that I not pee on anything, and then when prompted to "Wait, wait, wait" by the talking crosswalk, starting to sing Yeah Yeah Yeahs' Maps in time and getting a smile and a nod from the guy on a bike next to me. I've been truly sick for over a week, not sleeping since forever, and so out of it that all I could do when I arrived home 15 hours after my day started, was stare at my favorite sweater hanging on my door, air drying, even though I shrunk it in the dryer over the winter. Comically small. It will never ever EVER fit me properly again. And yet, I've hung it on a hanger on the door. To air dry this time.

My playlists have been on point lately, I've had gum on me when people ask for gum, the interesting small funny beautiful things that the people in my life say have made their way into my notes, and everything feels right. Even the wrong things feel like they're there for a reason. It feels so good to have a crazy day seem important. To have confusing things make sense simply because I can't explain them. It feels so damn good to hear the thunder and think of bowling and to try to think of a great song to play in the moment.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Uphill Face.

There's a hill in my neighborhood about a mile long and I never feel cooler than when I'm riding down it on my bike.  I sing the chorus to Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.'s "If You Didn't See Me  (Then You Weren't On The Dancefloor)" at the top of my lungs because in my mind, I'm flying by people so fast that they can't hear me anyway. Bobbing my head with loud Youuuuuuuu should know by nows, zooming down like a cartoon, thinking to myself, "This what the X-Games must feel like!" Every time. It's a great hill. The speed is a total thrill and I end up smiling like an idiot for the rest of my ride.

Until, of course, I circle back and have to climb that same damn hill.

Then my face looks like I'm eating a super hot food that I'm trying to cool down while chewing just by breathing out of my mouth really fast. It's a combined look of pain and anger. I can actually feel what my face looks like when I'm climbing this hill. That's not good. If you're not smiling and can feel your facial expression, you should try to change it. But I can never sing the chorus on the climb and humming through gritted teeth is certifiable. So I just make that uphill face and try not to tip over because I'm riding so slowly.*

I've become so aware of what this face must look like that I can't help but make it every time I look in a mirror. I seriously can't stop making this face. It's my go-to mirror face. Totally hilarious when I'm by myself in my apartment, and less so when in a public restroom.*

*This has happened.

Blank Stare: Do I know you?

One time at the restaurant I used to work for a customer stopped me and said, "You look so familiar."
I replied, "Well, I'm your server. So it's probably me."

Today was a new twist on that exchange when a guest at the hotel was convinced he knew me.

Guest: I'm sorry, have you been on TV before?
Me: (Immediate thoughts to Shea's birthday and The Price is Right) Well, not really.
Guest: On a cooking show? Have you competed on a cooking show before?

Note: I've been extremely tired this month and had to actually think about this. I paused for a few beats wondering to myself, Have I competed on a cooking show before?

Me: Nope.
Guest: You've just got that weird look. I feel like I know you. You look like that weird Tilda Swinton. You must get that a lot.
Me: Not put so nicely.

When I told this to my coworker she just nodded and said, "Yeah. You look like an alien."

I feel like the only response I'm left with for about 98% of my interactions with people is just to nod and say thank you.

Saturday, April 20, 2013


A strange and unwelcome addition to my adult life has been April insomnia. It happens every year. Maybe it's my body waking up from the winter, like a little kid on Christmas Eve, afraid to miss a single thing. Maybe it's hope. Maybe it's just life tapping on the glass, asking me to roll down the window so we can talk directions. But it's every April. Little if no sleep, walking through waking life in a fuzzy daze, always thinking things are remarkable because I'm just so damn tired.

And then Monday. 

Spending an overnight shift working to set up for one of the happiest days in Boston. Working through the early morning hours I'm so used to in April with a girl who never let's me forget how uncool I am. 
-Jess, do you know how to twerk? 
-Yeah, I'm twerking the overnight shift with you.

She set the Songza playlist to Top 40 for hours because in her words,"it's neutral" until I couldn't handle another play of Suit and Tie and we DJ'd for each other.  I smiled when she knew random lyrics to random songs (one of my favorite qualities of any person). When asked about my favorite indie bands, I stopped halfway through my rant, knowing she was making fun of me. "Jess, do you put greek yogurt in your smoothies?!" is a question I get a lot from this girl. 
I fall for it every time. 

We had a nice night. Starting around 4 in the morning, guests staying for the marathon started to call down for coffee, oatmeal, toast. Lots of peanut butter. Everyone was in a good mood. I was excited for them and I couldn't hide it. I congratulated every person I served coffee to like they'd just had a baby. It was like having a conversation with someone you admire. Trying to tell them in a short window how much you respect what they do. When we traveled for rowing races in college, I remember that nervous happiness on race days. Bananas. Coffee. Stretch. Smile. It was all so fun. There was so much life happening within you. The anticipation, the nerves, the energy. All of that was tangible serving breakfasts in the hotel rooms of runners on Marathon Monday. 

My back tire was a little flat on my ride in that night and an engineer at the hotel helped me pump it up with an air tank in the middle of his shift. It was chilly. There were still a few cyclists out on Boylston. This was around 3:00 AM.  It was strange to stand on a nearly-empty street knowing how crowded and loud it would be in the afternoon. From where I work--yards from the finish line-- Boylston Street on Marathon Monday sounds like a Super Bowl stadium after a game-winning Hail Mary pass. The volume of the crowd on Marathon Monday could be a form of matter. It has weight. At three in the morning, I could hear every pump of air shot into my bike tire.  

Before more of the morning crew came in, I made a finish line tape with a sign and set it up by the elevators to our department so everyone who came in to serve or work in the kitchen would have to run through it. I slow-clapped and cheered, chanting names, encouraging people to run through. Almost no one did. A lot ducked under. But I haven't been sleeping for a month so I just kept cheering. There's a cook in the kitchen named Marco and any time someone calls him the rest of the entire kitchen (a pretty big staff) yells, "Polo!"  I've had to explain the roots of this to a co-worker from Peru.
-So it's mostly played in a pool?
-Yeah. It's pretty dangerous otherwise. You don't want to blindfold your friends near a busy street and have them yell 'Marco.'"
I yelled both Marco and Polo on repeat as he limboed under the tape and went straight to the kitchen.

The morning was great. People were happy, the city had a danceable beat that made you move, Boston was at its best. 

And then everything. 

Explosions that felt like someone was dropping furniture a floor above where we work, the horrific images my friends in the restaurant and bar saw from the all-glass walls that look out onto Boylston, hundreds of people rushing into the hotel from the street for safety, not knowing where to go, my co-workers confused, running out exits, ushering people when they could, just running. As far away and as fast as they could. Separated until seeing familiar uniforms, and then continuing to run. For miles. Their keys, wallets, coats, clothes, left in offices and locker rooms at the hotel. Just running away until cell service was available and rides could be arranged, until they could get home to figure out what the hell just happened. 

Boston has had a week of insomnia. It's painful, surreal, disorienting, and comes with moments of exhausted confusion where you just shake your head, trying to clear it like an Etch A Sketch. By Friday night, we had become an entire city of heroes, while at the same time trying to heal. Cheering in the streets, while victims of a completely senseless act remained in hospital. It's a haze. You feel proud and strong and brave and like your own hands will be forever attached to your face. You want to shoot your arm in the air so emphatically on the "Ba Ba Ba's" of Sweet Caroline, but you also just want to hug someone while you weep until they initiate those first three big breaths that steady you. You want it to be quiet like Boylston at three in the morning. You just keep thinking about the sound of air pumping into a bike tire. 

I sleep in bits in April. I "wake up" at 1:28, 1:44, 2:16, 2:50, 3:33, up for good at 4. I do some reading, write something down when I think of it, practice French. This morning I left super early for work so I could ride around in the rain. It was a little cold but I didn't care. The splash from the rear tire soaked my pants but I didn't care. I eventually walked through an empty Prudential Center, to our make-shift entrance, saying hello to a man pushing a floor-cleaning Zamboni. Checking in with our security, to walk through the empty ballroom, down the empty stairways, to the empty locker room, to change and head to the empty kitchen--we've been closed--where I grabbed a big bag of Stumptown beans and ground them to make the coffee for the morning. I was the first to arrive. 

A hotel is a very weird thing to see quiet. It's always open so to see it without activity is incredibly rare. It's like seeing that person you know with so much energy fall asleep. Peaceful, in a way, but mostly creepy.  I was alone in a huge empty kitchen. Waiting for my first cup of coffee, I threw on some music and The Ceremonies "Land of Gathering" came up in the shuffle. I turned it as loud as my ears could take and unwrapped a huge stack of linen napkins to fold, waiting for someone to show up so I could hug them.