In yoga teacher training, we as a class made an altar for our meditation retreat. All 20 of us were asked to bring an item or two of significance. We could share the meaning or not. I brought a pair of dangly gold earrings, a gift from a client who hugged me and said, “para que me requerdes,” “for you to remember me by.” My yoga buddy Jenn brought a shell from a trip to the shore with her beloved. Another classmate contributed a candle a friend brought her from Hawaii, and one of our meditation leaders added an ultrasound picture of her son who is due in December. It was a lovely presentation of our heart objects.

I considered making an altar in my apartment until I realized that my apartment is all mine, filled with only the things that I deem nourishing. My apartment is my altar. On the bookshelf beneath the window, I have an antique milk glass dish of shells from various beach vacations with my family. Next to that, a Willow Tree figurine that my mom got for me when I moved out of my period of depression and into a new job, a new apartment, and a graduate school career. The apartment an the school didn’t last, but my happiness and contentment did. I also display a panic button, a hoops&yoyo [sic] electronic device that, when pressed, says, “Stay calm…stay calm…PANIC!” It was another gift form my mom and her Hallmark career, poking loving fun at my tendency to panic and hopefully, a distraction to me when worries start to get the better of me. I have a mug painted just for me by my dear, talented friend Charrow. She handed it to me just before I left her apartment after my first visit to her Brooklyn abode. I fought back tears because I didn’t want to leave and I gently tucked it into my carry on luggage and unzipped my bag periodically on the plane just to admire it. The mug sits next to an angel figurine with wings that cats love to try to eat and a base that says, “Someone to watch over you,” a Christmas present from one of my oldest friends who is superstitious and sincere. I have a little Japanese fan that my dad brought me back from a business trip to Japan.

On another shelf is a lopsided vase. My parents took my brother and me to a craft fair the day before I started 7th grade. That was the second year of my annual First Day of School Panic Fest, Panic Fest ’95. I was allowed to buy something at the fair, and I selected a little vase that must have been knocked over before it was fired in the kiln. The artist chuckled as he wrapped it up for me, and I remember thinking that the vase was like me–imperfect, but delightfully unique. I appreciated the vase and maybe this year in school, someone would appreciate me. And they did–that year, I made friends with four girls who were as dorky as I was, and who never left me out of plans to string beaded necklaces or to watch Now and Then. One of those girls is the one who gave me the angel I mentioned above. She’s getting married next year and she asked me to help her plan it. Another of the girls lives 15 minutes away from me. We’re not joined at the hip, but we’re still joined because we’ve been friends for 15 years. I fell out of touch with the other two from the group, but I still have a soft spot for them.

I also have a shelf that is devoted to, well, my dead cat. My family adopted Emma when I was 10, and she came to live with me in Atlanta when I was 23. And when I was 24, she developed kidney failure, and I cared for her and fought what I knew was happening to her. I had had pets die before, but I hadn’t had them die slowly, painfully. I didn’t have to decide to have them put to sleep and I didn’t watch them die. It was a terrible loss for me. I saved some of her fur and I put that little baggie on the shelf with her ashes-I didn’t scatter them because she spent her whole life inside, so it was where I knew she was happy. The display also has a photo of Emma and a figurine my aunt got for me the Christmas after Emma died–a figurine of a girl holding a black cat.

And because I am not completely morbid and macabre, I also have a shadow box that houses a Bratz doll painted pink with a white skeleton, gold glitter, and a little flashing light. I found the doll in the waiting room at work and made fun of it for a while, and them my dear friend Tommy turned it into an art project with a feminist bent for me.

My refrigerator door is full of cards from my family and friends and clients, and above my sink is a fruit bowl that my college roommate made when she took her first pottery class. I have a miniature bonsai pot that my parents brought for me after they visited a monastery that cultivated the tiny trees. And a tiny blown glass piece as a souvenir from their visit to the Atlanta Botanical Garden. And a stuffed Hershey Kiss dressed as the Statue of Liberty, wearing turquoise Chuck Taylors just like I used to have–a gift form my brother’s first trip to New York. I also have a little covered dish sharing space with my books. Several years ago, I envisioned a house that was near a secluded beach, decorated a little bit like a Garnet Hill catalog. I called it My August House because that’s what it seemed like to me. I shared the idea with my mom and then I pointed out the dish in a boutique: “That’s an August House dish.” It was easier to show the decor that matched instead of describing this mythical house. That Christmas, my mom gave me that dish. And when I moved into this apartment, she said, “It’s your August Apartment.” And it is, because it is my heart objects.

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Don’t get excited; I’m not dating. But my relationships with haircutters over the past few years have been a lot like dating: Searching for the right one, the one who understands me (and my hair), maintaining a relationship with him/her (I am bisexual in my hair relationships!), working through our issues, and sometimes, breaking up and starting over.

When I lived in LaGrange during college, I went to a storefront salon that was staffed by southern ladies with big hair and the clientele was mostly more of the same plus some grandmas who got their hair Done weekly. My haircutter, recommended by a friend, also had a big hair, but she had New Jersey big hair, and any N.J. connection is a good sign for me. (I was born there and yes, I say “coffee” funny, and no, I don’t identify with “The Jersey Shore” on MTV.) And she gave me the most amazing haircuts and charged all of $14 for them. During summer vacations, I would drive an hour to go and see Lynn because she was that great. But when I moved to Atlanta, our relationship just couldn’t survive the distance. And the first day I lived in Atlanta, I celebrated by independence from a haircutter by going to Great Clips for a trim. I needed a quarter inch cut off my one-length bob. And the haircutter made my hair noticeably uneven. It was like getting an STI from a one night stand with Great Clips. And in response, I decided to grow my hair out so that I just wouldn’t have to deal with finding a quality haircutter. I stuck with abstinence-only hair for the next year and a half, which was impressive since I hadn’t had hair longer than my chin in years.

It ended up around the proverbial “bra-strap length” and drove me properly crazy, so I asked message boards for haircutter recommendations for my hair type, whatever that is, and I found Allison* at a trendy salon that offered me a soda every time I arrived and was staffed by the hippest of the hip. And Allison cut off eight inches of my hair and helped me embrace my natural waves and I saw her on a regular basis (every six weeks) and she always remembered that I worked at an abortion clinic and would ask me appropriate, interested questions, and she got many points for being pro-choice, pro-gay, and having a good memory. So of course I trusted her when I decided to get my hair cut to its shortest ever length, just like I had always wanted, yet feared. And she did well. She even colored it (red), and my hair was fairly virginal to color at that point. But things started going sour after some time. She was good at remembering what I did for a living, but she was less good at knowing, for instance, how much a quarter inch is. To Allison, a quarter inch = three quarters of an inch, and when you’re dealing with already short hair, that difference matters. She also tended to kind of laugh at me. We all know I am no fan of small talk or social situations, especially haircutting situations, so every trim was a mini-anxiety attack already. But it got worse when Allison would say things like, “The expression on your face is so funny!” or “You always watch me cut your hair.” It wasn’t offensive, but oh, my goodness, it was uncomfortable. I quietly exited that relationship by never, ever going back to that salon. Yesterday, I almost did, actually–I was in search of a product that apparently doesn’t exist, and I pictured the huge wall of Bumble & Bumble products at that salon. But I envisioned Allison seeing me, asking how I’ve been, and me drowning in sweat as I attempted to casually avoid talking about why I haven’t been back. I went to a different salon.

After Allison, I went to a new salon that a short-haired friend recommended. The salon was half med spa (I once overheard the receptionist asking a male customer for a urine sample, and I still can’t figure that one out, but I imagine it had to do with something Botox-related.), which isn’t my bag (at all), but I got an excellent haircut from Jane*, and she and the hair washer were always telling me how cute and funny and attractive and stylish I was, and that is a sure way to gain a repeat customer and a good tip. But then, there were issues. Like the time, right after that Kanye West/Taylor Swift debacle last year, that Jane got so carried away talking about the two of them (and then Lady Gaga and her alleged penis) that she gave me a haircut that was much shorter than it had any business being. It was basically buzzed on the sides, which she somehow accomplished without a razor, and a buzz cut is not something I ever wanted, nor do I want to have it again. But I gave her another few chances. So, another time I was at the salon, the hair washer said to someone else, as she washed my hair, “That Obama is just a communist, I’m telling you. He is the pure definition of a communist. Of course, I need to be careful of what I say around here because you never know how people feel.” It’s not that I wear an “I ❤ Obama" poncho everywhere I go, so there's no way she could have known that I'm a fan of that commie, but she totally missed the fact that I was one of those who you have to be careful around. And I handled that by pretending to be asleep while she scrubbed my head with her Republican hands. The third strike at that salon was when Jane just missed the mark with my usual haircut, and I felt like I needed to bring photos with me every time just to remind her of what my cut should be. And I just feel that shouldn't be necessary. But I even went back for her to fix one of the cuts, and it still wasn't fixed, so I had to let that relationship go.

So that's how I met Andrew. Andrew cuts the hair of several of my co-workers, and he is proud of that fact, even saying that he should be the clinic's official haircutter. I went to him armed with a stack of complicated photos of what I did and didn't want in a haircut, and he spent a half hour conducting a risk/benefit analysis of them with me. As he snipped, we chatted about abortion procedures, gay rights, how great our parents are, and relationships. He felt more like a friend than a haircutter, which I didn't know was possible. And when he finished, I had the exact cut I wanted, and he gave me a hug. In the days that followed, I saw that my cut wasn't quite perfect, but I didn't blame him because he had made me such a part of the process, I recognized that the issue came from something I had told him to do, and I am no hair professional, so I take responsibility for that. When I went back for my second cut, Andrew was just as attentive and capable, and he even said that he sees me as someone who's very responsible and has it all together, which is something he aims for someday, and I am also all about that sort of flattery. He also picked my brain for relationship advice, in a totally professional manner. He is also incredibly adorable and I want to take him home with me to be my companion and on-call haircutter. I have met my match.

*Certain names have been changed to protect the innocent

If anyone in Atlanta wants Andrew’s contact info, you and I will both get discounts on our haircuts! Ask me for my real name so I can get referral credit. No pressure.

I know we’re boycotting Target, but tonight, I had to go (yeah, sure, had to) because I couldn’t figure out where else to purchase the Fur Fighter that I needed that instant because the white part of my comforter is now gray with Ramona fur and even though it’s been furry for a while, it was really getting to me. I walked in there on a mission, moving with purpose, until I got to the juniors’ section. I didn’t even make it to the slightly more respectable ladies’ department. I mean, I’m almost 28 years old–I can make the jump from Mossimo to Merona. But I completely slowed down and meandered through the racks of the ridiculous, cheap, totally appealing apparel, and then. Then, right in front of me were the best jeans ever.

I bought my first pair of Best Jeans Ever in February after I moved under not-so-favorable circumstances and all I had to cover my bottom half were a pair of sweat pants, a pair of baggy jeans, and scrubs that I borrowed while I was at work. I did try to wear a pair of corduroys that were second-hand and two sizes too big, but that was hardly an improvement in the pants situation. So because I was on my way to a baby shower and people have to be sort of properly-attired at those things, or at least wear pants that are not falling off one’s ass at those things, I stopped by Target on the way, was amazed to find cheap jeans that looked good and didn’t feel like jeans (I actually really hate jeans if they’re not full of Spandex and other soft things that don’t constrict). I bought the jeans and changed in broad daylight in my friend’s car. And I have loved them ever since, and not just because they were my first real pants in two weeks or so.

I planned on buying more pair in more colors because when you hit on something good, you get it in every possible permutation, am I right? But that was the last week that any Target anywhere was carrying vaguely winterish clothing, and after that, the jeans were gone and I had but one pair. I even tried Target online and eBay and all that.

I made do with my one pair, but, these jeans, they’re not really something I can be completely proud of because, well, they are actually branded as jeggings. That is an awful word. And the pair I got is kind of acid washed, which is an awful style, I understand. And I do remember when leggings and tapered jeans and acid washed denim were in style the first time, which I know means that I should not be wearing any of that the second time around. But here I am making my love public. It is this pair, OK? I wear them. In public. And tonight, I bought them in black and in indigo. (And then I bought toothpaste and eyeshadow and two halter tops, $3 each, one for yoga and one for non-yoga.) I was so excited and I was at the store alone and I don’t call people, so when I got to the checkout, I gushed to the cashier, “I’m so glad you guys have these pants again! I was hoping they’d be back.” “Pants?” she asked, bemused, looking through my pile on the conveyor belt. “Oh, you mean the jeggings.” “Yes. Those,” I sighed. The jeggings. I own jeggings.

But you guys, I found my beloved pants again! That’s what matters. Let’s focus on that.

I really should just make this post into my About Me section and be done with it. Or I could wear it on a T-shirt. Anyway, here I am at my favorite coffee shop, where I took Mimi Smartypants when she visited, where I write 90% of my posts. If I were an official BlogHer blogger, I bet I could get Dr. Bombay’s to sponsor me every time I mentioned them. (I say I would never be BlogHer blogger, but let’s be real: If they came courting, I’d be all about sponsored posts and reviews. Fortunately, we don’t have to worry about that because I think BlogHer is doing OK without me and vice versa.)

Every time I come here, I think about developing formal etiquette guidelines for coffee shops. It would definitely start with rules for children like Keep Your Hands to Yourself, Thank You, inspired by the toddler a couple of years ago here who was drawn to my fresh cup of coffee that still had bubbles on the top, and he stuck his dirty little finger in my coffee. I was duly horrified, and his mother was nowhere near as horrified as she should have been, just uttering a “Sorry,” and leading him away. (I think the appropriate response would have been to buy me a new, unsullied cup of coffee and maybe a pony.) I also want there to be rules about Taking Phone Conversations Outside, similar to Using Your Inside Voice Because You are an Adult. And table sharing, as mentioned in my famous post above, should be avoided, but if it can’t be, let it be clear that We Are Not Friends. However, if it has to happen, like it did on Sunday when I came in here to do yoga homework and the only option was sharing a table with Sullen MacBook Girl or sitting on the floor, the rule is basically, We Peacefully Coexist. I’m sure she was just as shy as I am, but when I asked her, “Do you mind if I sit here?” she wouldn’t make eye contact and seemed annoyed that I asked. She said yes, but I felt like I was an enormous inconvenience to her, even though I’m quiet and compact. I even silenced my phone out of consideration for her.

And the biggest rule should be about claiming tables. One Ought Not Claim a Table Until After She has Placed her Order. This is a small coffee shop, and electrical outlets are at a premium, so it’s really, really not cool when you walk in, see one free table, and put your messenger bag down, then get in line at the counter. I am referring directly to you, guy in the orange T-shirt, sitting by the door right now. I was the one ordering at the counter, making awkward, sweaty conversation with the owner. I turned around with my iced coffee, saw the bag on the table that I had my eye on and rightly deserved, and was so flustered (possibly also from the social interaction) that I accidentally poured a little bit of coffee into my pocketbook, and that’s not good for anyone.

I can’t come up with any more rules right now, but I welcome contributions, and maybe we can also commission illustrations. But another coffee shop-related tidbit is that FUN FACT, I am obsessed with the idea of previous incarnations of older buildings. I think it should be a requirement that every tenant or owner of a house, apartment, or place of business has to fill out a log about their life at that place, with photos. It annoys me to end that I have lived in a ca. 1915 and ca. 1945 apartment (currently) and there is no history available. But last night, I happened upon a site that catalogs old and new photos of Atlanta addresses, and it had a photo of Dr. Bombay’s, then and now-ish. This excites me to no end. I am sitting in a dry cleaner! That dude is standing right outside the window where Orange Shirt Seat Stealer is sitting! My dream of Histories of Everything ever is closer to a reality!

And thus concludes my post in which I abuse capital letters and justify it because I have an English degree.

I’ve been childfree since before there was a word, let alone a movement for it. As a kid, I did play with dolls and talk about my future kids’ name possibilities (I was obsessed with the names Andrew and Alyssa for a while), but when I was 13, I had an Ah Ha Moment about the whole thing. Unfortunately, that moment hit not during some wonderful self-awareness, but during my writing a really, really bad, and really, really embarrassing biography of my future. I think I got the concept from one of my all-time favorite books, Here’s to You, Rachel Robinson, but I was inclined to do it because it would allow me to write all about my potential great romance with my crush at the time.

I wrote all about the day that he would finally realize that he needed me in his life as more than just his stalker (You think I’m joking.) and our ensuing great romance, which definitely involved a night under the stars. And of course, we got married. The next logical step in my fantasy world was having kids, and that part stumped me. It was wholly unappealing, even with this 8th grade dreamboat. I could not get these children to fit into the damn story, and if my life was going to go according to this tale I was weaving, I had to get realistic. So, I came up with this family of dogs and cats and probably an iguana, or something, because I did always want a lizard. I remember I also enjoyed coming up with my careers, and if that part of the story came true, right now, I would own my own publishing house, be a successful writer, and design and make jewelry on the side, which doesn’t sound bad at all, exhaustion aside.

It’s not really relevant to the point of this post, but for what it’s worth, said crush object eventually deemed me insane and undesirable, so there was no romance under the stars, and Facebook now shows me that he is not unattractive, though his privacy settings don’t indicate anything about career, family, drug use. (He sure was a druggie back in the day. I knew how to pick ’em!) And I’m working in abortion and publishing on WordPress, which I’m really very happy about (and I don’t think I turned out to be entirely unattractive), but the really important thing is that I remain childfree.

When you tell people you don’t want to have kids, no, not ever, no, I never have wanted them, they loooooove to say, “Oh, you’ll change your mind. You’re still young.” In fact, I once had a 21-year-old tell me this when I was 25. It’s not that I ever believed them, but I was afraid they would be correct. I mean, I’ve heard of the biological clock, and I worried that I would edge toward 30 and my clock would betray me and I would start saying things like, “Ooooooh, she’s sooooo cuuuuute! I think I just spontaneously ovulated!”

Yesterday, I got together for iced tea with my dear friend Nicole and her 21-month-old daughter, Cici. I met Cici when she was about a week old, and she was the first baby I ever felt kick in utero. (Yes, I just called it a baby when, if it were inside a client at work, I’d call it a fetus. Get over it, world.) I’m pretty connected to this kid, and I haven’t been inclined to connect with many kids in my life. Yesterday, Cici dressed herself in baby Keens, gray leggings, a whale T-shirt, a lime green floppy hat, and her mom’s beaded necklace. And in her adorable outfit, she grins at me and empties the coffee shop’s complimentary toy box in my lap, toy by toy, just to hear me say, “Oh! Thank you!” When she’s sitting with her mom, she reaches out for me and toddles over to sit on my lap. When we finished our iced teas and Cici finished her cupcake, she asked for me to carry her to her car and she laughed all the way.

Cici is completely charming and I like her as a person and I’m really thankful that I get to be a part of her life. But I’m also really grateful that when she leans her little strawberry blond, curly haired head against my chest, I feel zero desire to have a Cici of my own. And what’s more, when I meet any cat or dog or rat or hamster or otter or penguin in the world, I certainly do have that intense urge to adopt it, so I know what that feeling COULD be. I think I might have a zoological clock.

And apropos of absolutely nothing:

1. I live across the street from not one, but TWO pizza places. For a variety of dietary and monetary reasons, it’s problematic.

2. I am growing out my hair, from roughly 2″ to around…I don’t know how to measure hypothetical hair without getting up to get a tape measure because I don’t feel like getting out of this chair, but I want it to be around mouth-length. And I am so fed up with it, I am liable to show up with either a buzz cut or a really bad weave.

It takes a village to mail some Crocs, apparently, but thanks to Roxanne, Geoffrey, Cheryl, and FedEx Ground, the Crocs have found their way to me. And props to me for thinking to order a size up because if they didn’t fit and I had to go through the trauma or a return, I might lose my mind.

Photobooth pic with a bonus view of my plastic-covered bed, Ramona, herself, and my bag in the middle of the floor where I dropped it in my excitement to open my long-awaited Crocs.

Next project: The book I ordered that was supposed to arrive by today. (It didn’t.)

I’ve never called my antidepressant tablets “my happy pills,” as some do. I do celebrate the anniversary of the day I started taking them because they changed my life and that day is like another, secret birthday for me because I was reborn as someone who was able to live life, but they don’t make me deliriously happy. Depression is absolutely a brain chemical issue for me and the magic medication balances those chemicals out to a normal level. It allows me to choose to be happy. Happy still isn’t and never has been my default mood. In the days before antidepressants, my default mood was Crushingly Sad About Nothing, and with the pills, it’s Doing OK. Happiness for me, I’ve realized recently, is a choice every moment of every day. It’s easy to be happy, elated, even, when you run into a puppy on a walk or when you see a lovely sunset. But that static level of contented delight takes effort, like noticing a new bud on your basil plant or appreciating your ugly carpet because it’s easier than hardwood for your disabled cat to walk across.

I read blogs like it’s my job, and there are some bloggers who seem to lead such charmed lives, I honestly begin to wonder if they really spend their days writing poetry in their breakfast nook in their historic townhouse, cook a picture-perfect organic vegan lunch, go to a private and intimate concert, and then bike to the park to catch fireflies, rinse, and repeat. No one can live like that, right? Maybe they write bad poetry and grab takeout vegan food that’s marked down because it’s about to expire and do data entry and watch Celebrity Rehab before bed because that’s more like real life, isn’t it? But what I slowly realized is, maybe they do have the ideal life, in which case, they are lucky. And maybe they have the more mundane life, but to them, it IS the ideal life because they find these pockets of goodness. Maybe fireflies in the park DO cancel out data entry.

I could tell you that today, I hit snooze for as long as possible, cleaned the litter box, went to work and cleaned autoclaves, did yoga teacher training homework, ate cold pizza, went to yoga, shopped at Publix, and ate too many flavor blasted Goldfish, because that’s what I did today. But I could also tell you that I had the luxury of being able to sleep late in my big bed with the high-thread count sheets, with the sunlight streaming in and Ramona curled up next to me. When I got up, I got things done before work, and took my time making delicious French pressed coffee. At work, I had a change of scenery and cleaned the autoclaves with Shasta and we laughed as we slipped on the water on the ground, and then I caught up on Make/Shift magazine while we waited for the machines to finish. Back at my apartment, I opened the blinds all the way even though the electric bill is lower is I keep them closed. I lied on the floor and immersed myself in my genuinely fascinating and mind-opening yoga homework because I’m blessed enough to study to be a yoga teacher. Meanwhile, I ate pizza left over from last night when I met with my yoga teacher training mentor group at Grant Central Pizza–a group of beautiful and inspiring people. I went to yoga in the most gorgeous studio I’ve ever seen. It has wood paneling all around, sheer blue curtains, shrines and candles, and some of my favorite people in the world. On the way home, I opened my car windows and listened to cicadas and admired the pink, cotton candy-ish sunset over the Atlanta skyline. I stopped at the grocery store where people know me because I walk there all the time, and then I ate as much as I wanted to because I don’t care about calories or fat grams. After that, I listened to my Indigo Girls channel on Pandora and blogged. Because that is also what I did today. And I prefer that version.

I also realized tonight that in high school, ten+ years ago, when people asked me what college I wanted to attend and what I wanted to major in and what I wanted to be when I grew up, I only answered the last question, and my answer was, “I want to be happy when I grow up.” I had forgotten about that ambition of mine because I was busy trying to find a REAL ambition. But it turns out, teenage me was onto something, because I have achieved my goal.
Photo copyright ME, 2010

There used to be a No Fear T-shirt that said, “[sport name] is life. The rest is just details.” Mine, if I wore a No Fear T-shirt in 2010, which I wouldn’t (and don’t), would probably say, “Abortion is life. The rest is just details.” And what I have learned is that is false. Life is details. Life is yoga, and friends at the clinic and not at the clinic, and writing, and jade plants, and mantras, and Trader Joe’s lentil dip, and family, and summer rain, and clean sheets, and pretty scarves, and books, and knitting, and icing, and treetops, and peaches, and old favorite stuffed animals, and magazines, and seashells, and NPR, and ’80s music, and letting go and reconnecting, and dangly earrings, and candlelight, and tea, and photography, and handmade soap, and porches, and handstands. I am not my job. My job is a detail of my life–a wonderful, meaningful, dynamic detail of a wonderful, meaningful, dynamic life.
Instant mood-booster and the first photo of myself I’ve posted here.

Tuesday was my day off this week, which worked out well because I had been trying to schedule Be on the Phone All Day Trying to Figure Things Out Fest 2010, so that day turned out to be Tuesday. I ordered a pair of Crocs from the internet about (OK, exactly) three weeks ago, and I would link you to them but ever since I browsed “Crocs,” every website in the history of time has these creepy pop up ads suggesting I order MORE CROCS, so I try to keep my Croc URLs to a minimum these days. Anyway, I ordered these Crocs exactly three weeks ago today and they were supposed to arrive at my door in no more than two weeks. I was really looking forward to receiving them, but I wasn’t looking forward to facing the possibility that they were MIA, so I was content with pretending that they were going to show up magically at my door any day now. My mom is good at disabusing me of notions like that, so I finally called the good people at Crocs customer service on Monday. Roxanne, my new Crocs customer service rep/friend, checked “the system,” and informed me that my shoes were delivered on July 7. I informed her they were not. “Did a family member or neighbor possibly bring the package in for you?” she asked, launching into her usual troubleshooting of delivery mishaps. “Not legitimately,” I told her, thinking of my suspicion that someone might occasionally tamper with my mail a little bit. I didn’t go into all of that, nor did I tell her that my only local family member has no thumbs, so Roxanne then suggested I check with my leasing office and the US Postal Service.

On Tuesday afternoon, I called my leasing office and gently suggested that they might be harboring a package belonging to me. The dude gently advised me that “We would always let you know if we were,” and I apologized and hung up, wondering if he recognized my voice. I think I’m still on his good side, but I have a bit of a recent history of doing things like bringing them a Ziploc Baggie full of (now) dead bugs I found in my apartment, thrusting it at the leasing agent, and saying, “This is what I have! Can you please get rid of them? They’re gross!” (To which she responded, “Um…yes. They are.”) and calling in a panic about mold on my air conditioner and insisting that they had to replace the entire unit NOW, which they did talk me down from and they did clean thoroughly.

So, that possibility eliminated, I tracked down the phone number of my local post office. I reached a human in a surprisingly short amount of time, considering the governmental structure of the phone system. Said human requested my tracking number, and I gave her what I thought was my tracking number, but ended up being my order number. I understand the difference now. And I answer a lot of phone calls at work and I need to obtain a lot of numbers, and sometimes it’s a little bit infuriating going through the rigmarole of, “What is your policy number? No, that’s your group number. The one I need should have an alpha prefix. No, that’s the verification number. I know it also has letters, but I need the number that doesn’t start with 1-800. No, your policy number should have more than two digits.” But I am patient. Post office maven was not patient and she started yelling at me that “Ma’am, that is your ORDER NUMBER. It has TOO FEW DIGITS. I need your TRACKING NUMBER. I can’t do anything for you without your TRACKING NUMBER. You need to have that READY.” She kept going, but I was already flustered at the prospect of my stolen and/or lost rubber shoes, and I was feeling particularly sensitive, so I interrupted her and talked over her and yelled. “WELL, YOU COULD BE NICER ABOUT IT,” and indignantly hit the little “hang up” button on my phone as she continued lecturing me about this number of hers.

Yes, I was indignant, but I soon realized the grave error of angering the one person I was able to reach in the entire maze of the USPS phone system. I called back no less than seven times attempting various combinations of extensions and options to reach a person, preferably a different person. (Between all this, I called Crocs and obtained the tracking number from Geoffrey because I misplaced Roxanne’s direct number. Geoffrey speaks ina very soothing, non-yelly voice.) I even tried to get the same person, prepared to disguise my voice using a southern accent, even though my southern accent is terrible and unconvincing. A couple of times, I thought I was getting someplace, because the hold music stopped and my phone indicated that I hadn’t gotten disconnected. But I got bored with that, so I dialed a few more numbers and then got disconnected. Finally, I decided to see where I could get with that weird silent waiting. At least I was in the comfort of my own apartment, so I entertained myself with reading the internet, and then I started sneezing because I need to vacuum but I can only remember to do so at 11:00 p.m., and because I’m hell-bent on being a good upstairs neighbor, I just don’t do it. I was sniffling and blowing my nose for a while, and then I remembered I had a box of Triscuits, so I munched on them, too. Finally, mid-crunch and sniffle, the automated phone voice said, “Recording. Has. Ended.” And that is how I left a five minute voice mail of myself blowing my nose and eating crackers on the message system of the Decatur, Georgia U.S. Postal Service.

And at that point, the only thing to do was make like a client (at work, I am one of only two Spanish-speaking staff members, and we have a proportionally larger number of Spanish-speaking clients, so if I’m unable to be two places at once, Spanish-speakers who call are instructed to leave a message and their call will be returned shortly. What they do instead, is leave a “message” similar to what I did, and then they drive to the clinic and sit there until I can help them, which is not my favorite thing in the world.) and drive over to the post office. I walked in and innocently got in line, pretending I had no sordid history of offending employees in any way. I didn’t even roll my eyes when I saw that the crew in front of me was there to ship fifteen boxes and five suitcases (which all had the word PLAYBOY wrapped around them) to Texas (I was bored so I looked at the address). I was only in line for a minute before my new best friend Cheryl walked over, doing that customer servicey thing of addressing people in line to see about helping them faster in an effort to get the customers not to freak out. I told Cheryl that she could, indeed help me, and I explained the Case of the MIssing Cros, only I didn’t tell her they were Crocs because people make fun of me for wearing Crocs, and for some reason, I didn’t want her to think less of me. I think she ended up thinking that I had ordered Jimmy Choos, or something, because of my concern over the rogue footwear. I did try to explain that the shoes were not exactly valuable, but I just wanted them. I also ended up having to give her background on my mail theft theory and admit that my entry way is not exactly secure and my mail person sometimes seems to be a little bit lazy. “[Street name]…” she mused, “Is that apartments? Condos?” “Apartments,” I clarified, and could see that she was trying to figure out if I lived in a high-crime area where criminals need the mail of strange, small women to survive. Then, after counseling me, she said, “Let me see that order number and my supervisor and I will look into it. You can just wait right here. I’ll take care of this.” And I had all the faith in the world that magical Cheryl would take care of it.

I read birthday cards for sale while Cheryl did her detective work. I had moved onto reading the Margaret Cho book I keep in my pocketbook when she returned with a thorough printout of the route of my shoes. The printout indicated that yes, they were ostensibly delivered to me on July 7, but then they turned right around that day and traveled all over the U.S. and were finally delivered, that very morning, to Montana. “Do you know anyone in Montana?” Cheryl asked, clearly as flummoxed as I was. “No,” I told her. “But I will certainly look into it.” I then got her last name so that I could commend her to her higher ups if I ever manage to navigate the phone system again. Before I left, she leaned in, looked me in the eye, and said, very seriously and very softly, “Nobody. Has the right to touch your mail.” It was like she was Officer Friendly in a kindergarten class, telling the kids, “Nobody. Has the right to touch your swimsuit area.” And if I had been even more delicate that day, I probably would have teared up at her concern and care about the wellbeing of my mail and me. Cheryl is someone you want on your side.

It would be a lot more satisfying to end this saying, “And then I got my shoes!” but that whole thing is still up in the air. But what I do have is an enemy and a friend at the post office and a friend at Crocs (who won’ return my call, but Roxanne needs days off, too.) and an amazing voice mail out there floating in the ether.

There are blogs out there that are all about yoga teacher training experiences, and I don’t need to be another one of those. And according to my teacher training mentor, the training brings up a lot of surprising issues and revelations that might be better suited to my paper journal. But I’m also super jazzed about starting to train to teach yoga and I want to talk about it until someone makes me shut up.

The official training begins this weekend and runs every other weekend until December–graduation weekend is also my birthday weekend–and we had orientation two weeks ago. I definitely planned my outfit for orientation (I just wore knee-length shorts and a T-shirt that has a neat design, and if complimented on it, I can say, “My friend bought it in Thailand and it ended up being too small for her, so she gave it to me!”, but it was painstakingly planned.) and started my required reading months beforehand. It was all very first day of school-esque, minus the usual anxiety attack I had without fail on every first day from 6th to 12th grades. I was nervous, but also excited and not vomiting, which made for a much more positive experience this time around.

The training is structured so that the students are broken up into groups led by mentors (veteran teachers), and further divided into buddies. The mentors are kept top-secret until the reveal at the orientation, and the buddies are matched up according to the application essays we all wrote, which included questions like “What is your yoga experience?” and “What are your favorite books?” I stayed pretty far from the Greek system at my small college, but it was omnipresent enough that I noticed that the mentors and the reveal were a little like the big sisters/brothers assigned to rushees (except that I’m not obligated to make posters that say “[Mentor name] is the cat’s meow!” and hang them on his apartment door). And the buddy match-up was just like roommate assignments, which really made me hope that I wouldn’t end up with someone like the girl who sketched fetuses in frying pans (Nine years later, I’m still a bit freaked out about that, even given my current line of work.) and who greeted me in the hall outside our dorm room saying, “OK, don’t freak out, they’re leaving your stuff alone, but the cops are searching our room.”

I went into the orientation nervous and sweating, as I am wont to do, sizing up the group for who might be my potential matches and trying to remember names and relevant factoids as we did introductions, and thankful that I recognized a friend from classes. (We both joked about the similarity to a high school cafeteria.) And I managed to relax a little bit as we broke into mentor groups–my mentor ended up being one of my favorite teachers and favorite people (He, too, was bursting with excitement) and my buddy was someone I’d seen in class who mentioned making a documentary about her grandparents’ happy marriage, and made no allusions to frying fetii. And after our brief meeting, she gave me a hug and said, “I’m so excited that we get to be buddies.”

And when the orientation was over, after our “grug” (It’s a group in a hug! It’s a grug!), I couldn’t stop hugging my mentor, and my buddy and I agreed to connect on Gmail as soon as possible. I bid my goodbyes to my new classmates and sought out other teachers I knew who were serving as mentors and they ran to me and hugged me, gushing about their excitement. I’m still far from a sorority girl, but I also feel a little bit further away from my anxious middle school self. After the orientation, I could genuinely say that I was excited (not just scared, as per usual) about something new and unknown. I’m looking forward to spending 18 hours of this weekend with these new people, and this time next year, maybe I’ll be the big sister/mentor.