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.