Why Do I Do This To Myself?: Volume 10

The other day I took a jump rope class at Equinox. If you are reading that and just feeling like “WHY THO?” I understand. That had been my same response every other time I have seen “THE CUT: Jump Rope” (as it is aptly/vaguely/intensely named) in the Wednesday morning class lineup. Why would I ever want to do that? I didn’t. Until on a Tuesday night when I suddenly was like “yeah 30 minutes of intense cardio, in, out, on my way. Just hopping around. That sounds like what I’m looking for at 8:05am tomorrow morning” WRONG DELANEY, WRONG. There is a reason you normally go to barre or yoga and that is because you are not a high impact person! You are not a scary, heavy breathing, ponytail-whipping-your-own-eyes type of girl! You know this! You knoooooow it. 

But on Tuesday night, I forgot. I just forgot who I was. And I woke up the next day and went to jump rope class.

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Let's acknowledge right now that there is a universal, low-level of anxiety that comes with going to a workout class you've never gone to before. Let me project this onto you because if I assume everyone else is feeling the same thing, then it makes mine slightly less. I don't care if you don't actually experience that anxiety. According to me, you do. WE ALL DO. So here I am experiencing my low-level pre-class anxiety and sizing up the other people coming to this class. It's always a great feeling when I walk into class and it's a bunch of over-40 ladies. Those are my ideal peers. Because that is the level of effort I like to exert—like I've already raised two kids and am coasting through pre-menopause and I can just thank MYSELF for even showing up to a class today. Showing up IS the class. I love working out with ladies like that. 

"THE CUT: Jump Rope" is not for 40 year old ladies. It is for 28-35 year old men who probably were dramatically breathing during their bicep curls just before this class and are going to go do power cleans after it. Guys who listen to their own pump up music before a class starts. Like, I KNOW you can hear the Nicki Minaj the instructor is playing over the speakers through the scary rap in your earbuds right now—is that enjoyable for you?

This is NOT my ideal exercise peer set. 

So you get to class and you need to get your jump rope and it needs to be the right size. Who remembers that jump ropes came in different lengths? Not me. I am given a medium by the instructor because isn't medium just the catch all for everything? Yes. Some people are assessing the size of their jump rope by stepping on it and examining how far up the sides of their body the handles are when pulled taut. Some people (me) are doing this to look like they know what they are doing. 

Everyone gets two ropes. One is your standard, plastic jump rope. The other is bright yellow and somewhere between the thickness of an extension cord and a garden hose. And, the instructor informs us, it is weighted throughout the length of the rope, not just the handles (apparently something I should be impressed by in the world of jump rope innovation). This way, when it inevitably comes whapping down upon me, I can feel the surge of a two pound whip against my shins. Amazing. (Also know that upon re-reading the class description while writing this, I learned its called a FURY rope. That's not even my capitalization. They do that. All-caps FURY rope).

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Anyways class is this: three 7-minute intervals separated by multiple rounds of "active recovery" which is basically just more exercise, but without a jump rope. Throughout these rounds you are encouraged to work on "tricks" aka criss-crossing your legs back and forth as you jump, or alternating kicking your heels out in front of you, or doing high knees (which by my assessment are already hell when you're NOT spinning a rope around your body). So 7 minutes of the regular jump rope. 7 minutes of weighted garden hose (jk just the thick terrible jump rope). 7 minutes do whatever you want with whichever jump rope and "tricks" you want, which basically says to me that Equinox was not creative enough to think of more wacky things to instruct you to do with a jump rope so they ensconced it in a choose-your-own-adventure type package. I SEE YOU EQUINOX. I come to class to be told to work out! I don't need to be told "do whatever you want". I tell myself that every day. And you know what I do then? Choose not to workout. 

But we should revisit these "tricks" because, beyond being a hilarious misnomer, they are also IMPOSSIBLE FOR ME TO COMPLETE. I quickly learn that I am borderline incapable of jumping rope. Here's the instructor coaching everyone through kicking out their heels left, right, left, right, to the beats of Justin Timberlake's newest single and I'm in the back row (strategic newcomer placement) internally talking myself through flicking my wrists quick enough to have one jump per rope rotation instead of two jumps. I am also inevitably tripping over the rope every sixth rotation. At the end of my 7 minutes I am rewarded with 30 seconds of burpees and a 1 minute break.

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So yeah, things are going rough straight from the jump (wow no pun intended there but it was good). By the time we get into our second 7-minute set of weighted jump rope, I am fully aware it will be hell. It was everything my first round was (tripping, hitting myself, taking breaks, zero tricks) but with 2 pounds of weight involved. I realize this doesn't sound like a lot, but there is FORCE being generated. The force of my arms creating MOMENTUM. And CENTRIPETAL MOTION. And, you know, PHYSICS. At the end of the second 7 minutes, my pony tail is all over the place. Sticking to my sweaty face. Whipping my unprepared eyeballs. Getting stuck flipped over my head like a bad toupee. 

As promised, last 7 minutes of class I could do whatever I wanted (lay down?) with whichever rope I preferred (neither rope, thank you). The instructor said we should spend time "working on our tricks" because class is an opportunity to "practice and perfect". I took the lighter jump rope and proceeded to just pray for the end of class so hard that I don't really remember what I did for those 420 seconds. I tripped over my own rope multiple times. I wondered if you could go blind from being repeatedly struck in the eyes by the frayed split ends of a ponytail (honestly I know I keep bringing this up, but if you've never been whipped by a ponytail in the bare eyeball, its a very specific and memorable type of pain). 

Class ended eventually. I emerged 30 minutes later with that really sexy, tomato-red, can’t-stop-sweating glow that we all love. The kind that lets everyone know you worked out—but just a bit too hard. On the walk to work, I mentally added jumping roping to list of things I did as a child with ease, but are now scary and difficult as an adult.

The list:

  • cartwheeling (tbh I could never do this, but in theory I think it belongs here)
  • somersaults
  • monkey bars
  • JUMP ROPE

Submissions to the list are welcome, but I don’t promise to try them out to verify. 

My Time Being Kind of Actually Maybe Cursed

I've recently come into a batch of bad flying luck. And I'm saying it that way because "batch" sounds light and not permanent (like a batch of cookies!) and I'm hoping that by saying it that way I can will its impermanence into reality. I also hope that by writing about it on this blog after my multi-month negligence, I can right whatever wrong I have done by the universe and stop having the worst motherfucking time trying to ever leave or return to this godforsaken city by commercial air travel. (The "commercial" designation is not necessary since when have I ever flown private but, boy oh boy, is it a dream I have).

I am going to skip telling you about the time I tried to go home to Portland for a long weekend on a 9pm flight, was delayed an hour, then sat on the plane without moving for two, finally left the gate, waited on the tarmac for another hour, then returned to the gate because of FDA regulations about how long you can sit on a plane for, deplaned, waited an hour, and then re-boarded only to then have the flight canceled. I took a $75 cab home from the airport at 2am and then cried profusely to a JetBlue representative over the phone the next morning. I got $175 in flight credit. Cool. Thank you so much. I can't wait to get on a plane again.

I am also going to skip telling you about the time I tried to fly back to New York from Idaho, boarded my connecting flight in Chicago, left the gate, sat on the tarmac for an hour, and then returned to the gate for more fuel, and then was told our flight was canceled. I got rebooked on another connecting flight through Nashville three hours later, sat around in that airport for an hour listening to a man cover Tim McGraw songs, one of which was "Live Like You Were Dying" which a) was an ironic foil to how I was wasting away in Nashville, and b) obviously made me cry because that song is sad and I was in a heightened emotional state. I returned to NYC a mere 7 hours late after traipsing through 4 of our great nation's airports. 

Instead what I am going to tell you about is how I tried to go to North Carolina. And really, since I want you to rest easy throughout the telling of this story, please know that I did ultimately make it to North Carolina. The point of this rehashing of these fraught moments is for you to just understand how unbelievably bad my luck is (and to right my karmic wrong-doings, don't forget). It's downright comical. Except that I am never laughing, I just always end up crying. I hope I don't cry while writing this. I might. I hate this story.

Okay, so here I am going to North Carolina. I am going to visit my now-boyfriend (~ooh la la~) who at that point was just my maybe-boyfriend. I have requested my time off. I have booked my flight. My flight leaves at 6:30am on a Thursday out of Newark. I have booked this SPECIFIC flight for three SPECIFIC reasons. 

  1. If I leave at the crack of dawn, there is less opportunity for other flights before mine to be delayed and subsequently delay my flight.
  2. If I leave out of Newark, I'm slightly more removed from the clusterfuck of congested airspace that is LGA and JFK.
  3. I just kind of think that weather is better in the mornings? I use a question mark here because I know that isn't a fact but did actually factor into my reasoning. 

Here we are at 5pm the evening before my flight. I get a terrible text. It looks like this:

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I immediately guffaw, because is has to be a joke. But then actually get a follow up email and confirm that the flight is actually fucking canceled. I text Alex (the maybe-boyfriend who would soon become the now-boyfriend) a screenshot. I call American Airlines, the dastardly aviation overlords ruining my life, and an automated voice tells me there is a FORTY-FIVE MINUTE TO SIXTY-MINUTE HOLD TIME. COOL, I CAN'T WAIT TO GET REBOOKED SUPER PROMPTLY THANKS A MILLION! I opt-in to be called back when I am next in the virtual queue to speak with a representative because my only other option is to sit in the tiny, totally transparent phone room at work, which I have now made into my personal glass box of emotion, for an hour and have my ears assaulted by hold music while I sink deeper into my overdramatic despair. 

So instead I go into a meeting because I am still at work. I do not do very well in the meeting. I am basically just internally freaking out and trying to surreptitiously look for new flights. It was not surreptitious. I am certain of that. There are no good options because why would there be when my original flight was supposed to leave in 12 hours. 

I finally get on the phone with Micah, my last and tenuous hope for salvaging my trip, and also an American Airlines representative. What transpires next is just the two of us trying to book literally any flight to Charlotte while it seems that every other person is also trying to book any flight to Charlotte. Micah will read me a potential itinerary, and then before he can even tell me how many bizarre, nonsensical connections I am going to make, someone has booked that seat. Do I want to fly to Atlanta at 8am and then layover for 4 hours and then...? Oh wait someone booked it. Okay, wait, one just popped up—1pm to DC and then you get on a....hold on, just kidding, it went away.

I was on a roller coaster of emotion with Micah and honestly going on actual roller coasters with strangers isn't even that fun so why would I want to be on emotional one? I didn't. It sucked. I was very close to crying to yet another airline rep on the phone.

Finally, after probably 25 minutes of sweating (just me, probably not Micah) and high-pitched, I'm-about-to-cry voice (again, just me) I get booked on an 8am flight from LGA through Roanoke with a 2 hour layover. Plan B has been made. 

The next morning I arrive at LGA on time. This is not when things go wrong for me. I am very prompt for arriving at the airport. I board the plane out of a gate that is split into 2A and 2B because the gate is not even legit enough to just be the number 2. 2A and 2B are just doors that lead onto the tarmac. Because the plane I'm getting on to go to Roanoke is so small that they don't even give it a jet bridge. We board late, which just kicks my anxiety into gear. I literally trust nothing when it comes to flights now. Someone announces a 15 minute delay? What's to say it won't turn into a two-hour one! We can't board yet? Is it because of a mechanical failure? Or are we missing our flight crew? There are endless possible ways for a flight to go wrong, and endless possible ways for you to get your hopes up and then have them dashed. Is this depressing? Sorry. 

Okay. I get onto the plane, again I cannot emphasize how small this plane is. It is a joke plane. I am sitting in a row that consists of one seat. There are 3 seats across the entire width of the plane. Not like 3 seats on either side of the aisle. Like me in a single seat on one side and two seats on the other side. 3 seats total. A plane for ants. 

So the flight attendant starts reading the safety rules, a good sign. The door to the plane is closed. She is taking one last walk down the aisle. I am watching her, waiting for any sign of this being about to go wrong. I see her peer at a man's lap, and then look up and walk briskly to the front of the plane. Lucky me, something has gone wrong. After 15 minutes of walking back and forth from the front of the plane to the man in question, we get an announcement. The man's seatbelt is broken, and because there are weight distribution requirements for this plane he cannot be moved to the empty seat at the front of the plane. It would compromise take-off. 

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At this moment, what I am saying to myself in my head is along the lines of: THIS FEELS SAFE. I FEEL SAFE AND I FEEL CALM. Neither are true. I have started trying to accept that I might not go to North Carolina at all at this point. And even if I do take off, the weight of humans and luggage is just going to shift around and we will nose dive straight back to earth. Two good feelings. 

We wait for a mechanic to come and assess the seat belt situation. The mechanic comes, he inspects, he leaves again. He returns with an auxiliary seat belt. He fixes the seat belt. An hour and a half has passed. At this point, I'm going through my internal list of things that would indicate we are maybe actually going to be taking off (which I know because at this point I'm half way to being a pilot just from the amount of hours I've logged in proximity to airplanes):
The seatbelt is fixed. Check.
Mechanic updates the pilot and leaves the plane. Check. 
Flight attendant closes the plane door. Check.
The engine turns on. Check.
We leave the gate. Check.

I'm checking my watch, are we going to hit the 3 hour limit for sitting on a plane and have to go back to the gate? Are we going to run out of fuel? Are we going to get bumped for take-off priority because there are more important flights than one with 50 people on a toy plane going to Roanoke? 

Despite my totally unproductive internal monologue, we take off. We make it to Roanoke. Trip is 50% complete. 

Okay so here we are in Roanoke. I now feel pretty mollified because if worse comes to worst, Alex will drive here and pick me up. He's three hours away. This doesn't feel like an awesome alternative but at least I am not in fucking New York City any more.

The airport in Roanoke is basically 5 gates. I walk 3 yards from where I just got off a plane to my new gate and see that there is a flight for Charlotte leaving at 11am before the one I'm booked on at 12:40pm. Is this an opportunity?! I go to the check-in desk at the gate and ask to get on standby for the 11am flight. There are two women working here, and I quickly learn (because she told me) that the one helping me is here on her first day of work. The more senior woman is half supervising first-day-of-work girl over her shoulder and half taking care of a slew of other people's problems on the phone from what was, I gather, an earlier flight delay. 

First-day-of-work girl gets me on standby. I wait 20 minutes. The 11am flight's boarding time is approaching. I get off of standby! It seems like we should be boarding but we aren't. The boarding time has come and gone but no one seems concerned? Finally first-day-of-work desk girl comes over to me while I'm looking around in bewilderment at the gate and whispers that the plane for the 11am flight has a mechanical error, so she's put me back on the 12:40 flight. Wow, amazing. Thank you. I am genuinely relieved. Crisis averted...dramatic pause...OR SO I THOUGHT. 

Okay so fine, now I am waiting another hour and a half for my flight to board. I spend 20 minutes trying to get on the wifi. I check my Facebook and watch no fewer than 3 make-up contouring videos that I find absolutely unable to stop watching and are constantly in my newsfeed. I look around and realize that the only people in this airport are at the gate to go to Charlotte. Roanoke is a purgatory for the North Carolina-bound.

Finally, 10 minutes before my flight is supposed to board, first-day-of-work girl waves me over to the check-in desk. I am filled with dread.

"So..." she starts off. It already feels bad. "I'm really sorry...but...you've been bumped from the 12:40 flight." 

W. H. A. T. Actually WHAT are you telling me. (I ask this, but without spelling out the word "what" because it doesn't have the same effect verbally).

What she tries to explain to me is that because I was taken off the 12:40 flight and booked on the 11am when I got off standby, I was the last person to check in for the 12:40 flight when she put me back on that one. And now because the crew for the 11am flight (which had just gotten progressively more delayed) needs to get to another airport, I've been bumped to accommodate them. If I could have melted into the floor as a steaming pile of disbelief, I would have.

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At first I just squint at first-day-of-work girl. Because what possible words are there that would convey to her my last three months of horrendous flight experiences that were all culminating in this moment? There weren't any.

I ask her why if, I had checked in, there were people cleared for the flight who had been on standby, as the reader board indicated there were? She looks around. She tries to get the attention of the more senior woman who is still on the phone and typing furiously into her computer and huffing into the phone. What transpires next was honestly the biggest failure of human communication that I have ever witnessed and while I will try to explain it to you, even I don't really know what happened. And I was there. Watching it. Firsthand.

First-day-of-work girl kind of gets senior woman's attention, she asks senior woman my question about the standby passengers. Senior woman looks at me and says "this is passenger Leonard?" and I say "no, I'm Lundquist". Senior woman tells first-day-of-work girl to hold on and starts ignoring us again. Then she turns back and says "what are you guys trying to figure out?" First-day-of-work girl tries to ask again why I've been bumped and senior woman just says "check and see if she's on the list". First-day-of-work girl gets on the phone to call someone about "the list" because apparently the computer in front of her can't tell her that information. The person on the phone seems to think I'm on "the list", so first-day-of-work girl turns to senior woman and says "John says shes on the list, so why would it say that she's not?" while pointing at the computer. Senior woman waves her hand and says "I don't know, I don't think she's on the list, we will just have to find out!"

ARE WE NOT TRYING TO "FIND OUT" RIGHT NOW? JOHN SAYS I'M ON THE LIST. AND YOU JUST "THINK" THAT I'M NOT? 

I ask senior woman "how is there no way to know if I am on the plane? I have a boarding pass and I have a seat number. But you are telling me that's not true?". To which senior woman simply says "we will just have to see when we scan your boarding pass!"

OH I'M SORRY, DID I ACCIDENTALLY BUY A LOTTERY TICKET INSTEAD OF A FLIGHT? IS THAT HOW FLYING WORKS? EVERYONE JUST WILLY-NILLY GETS A BOARDING PASS AND THEN WE JUST "SEE" WHO GETS TO BE ON THE PLANE WHEN WE SCAN THEIR BOARDING PASS?! 

Again, the puddle of steaming disbelief. But it's too late because she has already started announcing boarding the plane and scanning boarding passes and pointedly ignoring me and first-day-of-work girl is clearly at a loss and has just been shrugging sympathetically at me for the last 5 minutes and senior woman is DONE. TALKING. TO. ME. 

So instead I stand in the boarding area, waiting as she calls for pre-board, and premium first class whatever, and then groups 1 and 2, and then active-duty military members, and then groups 1 through 4, and then groups 1 though 5. And then finally she calls group 6. Because heaven forbid I just scan my pass at the beginning of this whole process and see whether I'm on the god forsaken plane or not and cut all the suspense. 

I walk up to her and give her a look thats like "uhhh, yeah I'm still here, and remember when you told me that you couldn't tell me if I was on a flight without scanning my boarding pass?" (it was a complicated facial expression). To which she says "okay let's see if this works." OKAY YEAH LET'S DO THAT. 

You guys, the boarding pass scans. The boarding pass motherfucking scans. Because I am a passenger on the plane. But apparently that was absolutely impossible to discern prior to this very tense moment. So I get on the plane. And I fly to Charlotte. And I arrive as planned according to plan B, despite all of the hundred words of things I've written about what happened between departure and arrival. It was a lot. I feel tired even writing it. If you've made it here, you deserve an award and I deserve an award and I hope that award is painless air travel for the rest of my life. I hope the universe feels like I've paid my dues. 

Me vs. Moving, Featuring USPS

Ever since I moved to New York I have been a) telling people that everything is going great because nothing terrible had happened yet and b) waiting for something terrible to happen that would make me feel like I had made a huge mistake in moving here and then once I got over it I could continue my life knowing that I saw the worst of it and now my life in New York would be worry-free. 

What actually happened was kind of different since the thing that finally got me to break down was not actually at all that terrible but boy did I really lose my shit about it. It wouldn't be true to form if I got all worked up about something of consequence. I much prefer to go berserk over things that matter very little and to which my mom tells me to "take a deep breath and remember that this is not a life or death matter, Kinsey". And she's always right. 

When I first arrived, I spent a decent amount of time waiting for my 11 boxes of belongings to make their way across these great 50 states from Portland to my apartment in the east village. It took so long and the tracking information was so wildly vague and untimely that you would think I had sent them via the pony express. I dreamt about my packages arriving, or them not arriving and me freaking out almost every night since my mom shipped them and, for a while, the latter seemed much closer to reality.

The first mistake I made in shipping these was thinking I would do it through USPS because then they could just get into my building and there would be no dreaded slips from UPS or Fedex telling me redelivery would be attempted or that I had to pick up my boxes at a distribution center in the far reaches of Brooklyn (this is something I saw happen in an episode of Broad City, thus I am certain it's factual). This was a misled assumption. The first few boxes arrived on time and in my building's entry way without issue, lulling me into a false sense of security about USPS's delivery capabilities. In fact my only complaint was that the things that arrived first were a box of my old journals and a bunch of sandals. Which was my own goddamn fault for packing a box of journals and sandals. How bold of me to have hoped for some cooking utensils or, I don't know, SOME PILLOWCASES. But no, all I can do is continue to eat with the variety of plastic silverware I've been hoarding from takeout orders and sit on my air mattress and read my own mindless drivel circa 2010-2012. Joy. 

After the first couple of boxes arrived, things really took a turn for the worse. For five days I obsessively checked USPS tracking to see that the only information available on my remaining packages was that they had arrived at a shipment facility in Federal Way, Washington. Which really wasn't at all reassuring because have you even heard of Federal Way, Washington? Me neither. That sounds like a city that was founded for the sole purpose of housing packages. Were they just going to sit there indefinitely? Were they going to become those boxes that get shipped to a lost mail warehouse in Atlanta and auctioned off to someone willing to bid on a mystery box of items? (This is something I heard a podcast about so I'm even more certain it's factual.) The only thing providing me any solace was the many Reddit and Amazon.com forums that exist solely to discuss how inaccurate USPS tracking is. I read a lot of these to reassure myself that my packages were in fact in transit and they just hadn't been scanned because USPS is one big hot mess who can't be held accountable for people's belongings. This seemed to be the internet's consensus. 

On day six I opened my eyes from sleep and immediately checked my tracking information (as usual, because I'm nothing if not diligent/psychotic). MY PACKAGES HAD ARRIVED TO A SHIPPING FACILITY IN NEW JERSEY. They were set to be delivered at my apartment the next day, a Saturday, AND NOW THE MOST IMPORTANT DAY OF MY LIFE. 

I went about my Saturday as usual because obviously I was not going to get any more tracking information than that. I had done all I could, signed up for text alerts, refreshed the tracking information page five times, and lit my Drake votive candle in prayer (one of the most VIP items that had arrived in my box of out-of-season footwear and journals). And after all of this, while out running errands I got a text message at 3:45pm "USPS notice left—insecure area". 

Now, initially I interpreted this as my packages had been left on my stoop. So I sprinted home in a panic. Heaven forbid someone snatch my bed sheets and pots and pans. And upon arriving home and reading my tracking notice online more carefully, I learned this meant my packages had NOT been left because there was supposedly no secure area to leave them. 

It was at this point that I threw myself onto my sofa and had the aforementioned meltdown. I cried like a pathetic idiot. What do you MEAN there was no secure area, USPS?! YOU HAVE A KEY TO MY BUILDING! You drop shit off all the time! IN FACT, I SEE HERE IN MY LOBBY THE OTHER PACKAGES YOU DELIVERED TODAY.

I sent a very dramatic text to my mom and sister telling them I needed to move back home because I had given up on life and could not possibly wait any longer to get my belongings and live in a real functioning apartment. My mom reminded me it wasn't life or death. I knew she was right but I really didn't want to give her the satisfaction of agreeing with her because that's what you do when you're a young adult who's acting like a petulant teenager so I just sent back the waterfall of tears emoji. I'm glad I can act my age.

Sunday, the day following the most important day of my life, passed without event because, as Vernon Dursley ever so memorably said in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, there's "no post on Sundays". I write an email to my team at work explaining that I will be working from home on Monday so I can be present for the mail person's arrival and the redelivery attempt of my packages.

At 11am on Monday, I start laying in wait for my mailman in my entryway stairwell because I might have become certifiably insane. I also am not convinced that they will read the note that I left on my mailbox that says "USPS—please buzz for package delivery. I will come down to get them! :)" I'm sure anyone reading this would definitely want the type A, control freak author to come down and meet them face to face. Definitely.

The great news is that I can get one bar of my wifi on the first floor of my building, so while it might be taking five seconds to load a page, I am technically still getting the internet. At 3 o'clock, in a move of desperation and paranoia, I take my vigil to the stoop outside because why not just go whole hog with the USPS-stalker act. At 4 o'clock, I come to my senses (but also am just cold) and return to my apartment. In my six-and-a-half hour stakeout, nothing more happened than me receiving an absolutely withering glare and deep sigh from a disgruntled neighbor who seemed to say with his eyes "you are singlehandedly tarnishing this entire neighborhood with your stair-sitting". Honestly, where the hell was the mail person?

At 4:30, someone buzzes my apartment. THIS IS IT. THE MAIL PERSON IS HERE! There is a chance I have never moved with more urgency in my life, and I find the mail person (a mail lady, I discover) in our vestibule and I pant to her "hi, I'm the person in 3B!!!"

She barely glances at me when saying simply, "your packages are at the post office". Now at this point, my heart plummets for like the third time in 24 hours (not dramatic at all) and without losing my entire cool (did I have one to begin with?) I learn through a line of questioning that my boxes are being held at a post office three blocks away AND that I will have to retrieve them on my own since they are too large to be wielded/delivered. OKAY, RIDDLE ME THIS: WHAT IS THE POINT OF MAIL "DELIVERY" THEN? But whatever.

I look at my watch and it's 4:33, the post office closes at 5:00. Now I am actually moving with the most urgency I have ever in my life. When I get to the post office I stand in the package pick-up line behind four other disgruntled patrons of the USPS waiting for the help of one USPS employee. It is clear that this employee has nothing but contempt for all of us standing in her line and perhaps the postal service as a whole (this I can relate to). 

A series of things happens while I am waiting in line and watching the clock very closely:

  1. I realize I may not be able to carry these boxes home.
  2. Actually, I realize that I certainly will not be able to carry these boxes home and will have to take a car. An Uber? Maybe an Uber XL?
  3. My phone dies. I cannot take an Uber.
  4. I determine I will have to take the boxes individually to the curb and then get them in a cab. 

When I finally get to the front of the line, I show her piece of paper will all my tracking numbers and my address and she looks at me and says, "oh, I know you. Come with me." Nothing could feel more foreboding. I am taken behind the desk to a cavernous mail dungeon where there is an entire crate dedicated to my boxes. Like, a giant, wheeled metal crate. A crate large enough for me to sleep in. Are you getting a sense of scale here? A crate with so many boxes that I will not be able to fit into a cab. 

The woman who has led me here and made it clear I am the bane of her existence asks me, "how are you going to get these home?" Which is a really great question. But I did remember seeing a hand truck on our way back to this package prison, so I asked if I could borrow it, explaining that I only live three blocks away. Our conversation quickly spirals:

Keeper of the packages: "We don't have one of those here." 
Me: "I just saw on over there. A dolly."
Keeper of the packages: "No we don't have those."
Me: "You don't have a hand truck? I really just saw one over there." (Here I am thinking perhaps terminology is preventing clear communication, maybe they don't use the word dolly here?)
Keeper of the packages: "No." (Terminology is not the issue.)
Me: "Can I show you?"

I take her to the hand truck in question, which is clearly a hand truck. I offer to pay her, or to leave my entire wallet with her (unwise, but I am rarely wise and especially not in moments of desperation). She accepts my license as collateral and I load half of the boxes onto the hand truck and wheel them out of a strange back entrance, but not before the keeper of the packages condemns me with, "I am leaving at five, you need to be back here by then," with an absolutely withering glare.

It is 4:45 at this point. I am now my own mail carrrier. I am careening through the streets of the east village with 100 pounds of precariously stacked belongings. Im sweating a lot in my down coat. I look insane, which I know because when I walk past a set crew of grizzled older men smoking outside a concert venue I get an array of furrowed brows and wide eyes, while one of them even takes a step back. I am visibly a hazard. 

At my apartment I unload the boxes into my entry way with basically the same amount of care as your average delivery person (so essentially zero care). And sprint back to the post office, down jacket flapping open wildly and the now-unburdened hand truck clanging and bouncing over every single dip and crack in the sidewalk (there are many). 

I arrive again at the package pick up window looking a lot worse for the wear, its 4:55. The keeper of the packages glowers at my arrival and wordlessly escorts me back for my second round of packages. I load them up. I hustle home. I throw them into the entryway. I make my third and final trip to the damned post office at 5:05 to return the hand truck/dolly that supposedly the post office had none of. The keeper of the packages has nothing but contempt for me as I have clearly held her up for five crucial minutes. I wouldn't be surprised if they scanned my license and hung up a zoomed-in print out in the package prison with like, "BEWARE OF THIS MAIL PATRON" scrawled above it. But, I have my packages and thus my whole being is complete.

After having some time removed from the tizzy I swept myself into, I will now list the things that I packed that I thought were worth two weeks of anxiety, obsessive shipment tracking, and shin splints from speed walking the three blocks between me and the post office five times:

  • Three extension cords 
  • Two power strips
  • a Ziploc bag of foreign coins
  • all the christmas cards I've received over the past three years
  • book ends
  • Two pairs of unwashed socks

If you are ever looking for some hot tips about moving cross-country absolutely do not ask me. I'm a fucking rookie. 

The Night My Neighbor Almost Lost Her Virginity

In true form, please enjoy this post I started months ago and only just finished last week. Suspend reality and pretend I still live in San Francisco for the following 15 minutes:

How much do you know about your neighbors? How did you come to know this information? If you happen to live in baby-sized room with paper thin walls like I do, the answers to these questions are first: too much, and second: reluctantly and unintentionally.

I might as well share a room with my neighbor because that is how much I hear of her comings and goings. I know that she and her boyfriend like to get brunch together and spend unending minutes on speakerphone discussing potential brunch locations and who of their friends they have texted or need to text about said brunch. I know that he puts his dirty clothes in her hamper and that sometimes SHE IRONS THEM FOR HIM. I know that her hook up playlist includes Ed Sheeran, Marvin Gaye, and Sam Smith (could you be any more predictable?). And I know, most TMI of all, that they don't have sex. How do I know this? Because I can hear them talk, sing along to top 40 music, AND EVEN KISS, so if they were having sex, I would definitely fucking know. I would probably be the third person to know, right after she and him. 

How do I feel about having this information? Terribly. Mainly because it keeps me awake at night listening to what I can only describe as sitting in on a conversation between Sims. It's loud enough to know that they are talking, but not always loud enough to hear the details.

Because of my unique (read: abysmal insulation) situation, I've been privy to the complete, and tragically basic story arc of their relationship. There was a time, months ago, before I entered my white noise machine era, during which we both inhabited our rooms singly and silently. What an incredible time this was! Sure, we would make awkward eye contact through our kitchen windows and occasionally I would hear her yell to her roommate about what bar they were going to later, but that all paled in comparison to when the boyfriend started coming over.

The first boyfriend signs were the terrible white rose bouquets that would mysteriously arrive and sit on her kitchen counter (and also the first sign that he was a complete chump. Everyone knows white roses are tacky and if you don't, you do now and never forget it). Then sometimes, I would look through my kitchen window and see a shirtless boy. Like...why? Can you not just put on a shirt when you wash your dishes? It's not hard. In fact, I know it's not hard because I always wear a shirt when washing my dishes, dude.

Shortly after the shirtless boyfriend sightings became a norm, they were spending hours in bed talking late into the night. Every night. And thus a great and terrible fury started brewing within me. I am demon serpent queen when I am not getting the hours of sleep that I like to get (shoutout to roommate Nicole who can corroborate that I have put the fear of god into her when disturbed from sleep) and nothing nurtured my sleepless demon serpent queen like the newly-coupled roommate sleeping (or more likely chatting) on the other side of my bedroom wall. 

There was a fateful day when I thought perhaps she was finally going to do the deed with the shirtless dishwasher aka her boyfriend. Since our apartments are mirror layouts of each other, our kitchen looks into their kitchen, same with the living room and the frosted bathroom window in the shower. A 6-foot-wide glorified air shaft is the only thing that really separates our living areas. I came home to see that she was fervently cooking, which I knew because the windows were especially steamy and I heard the fire alarm go off twice (telltale signs of a basic bitch who doesn't know to properly ventilate the kitchen). There were also like a dozen white pillar candles lit all around. Which seems a) like a cliche and b) a fire hazard, but whatever. THEN the boyfriend arrived with another goddamn bouquet of white roses! And I was like, man tonight is THE NIGHT. Finally she's gonna use this Marvin Gaye playlist to do what it was intended to do. And my next thought was to immediately be concerned for myself. Because listening to people talk through a wall all the time is one thing, but listening to them having sex would be another. I was already imagining a darker, more sleepless future ahead and appropriately planning some drastic actions. 

BUT, no drastic action was taken, because according to my ears no funny business took place that night. And maybe I should have predicted that this night wasn't so different than any other because I later googled it and white roses are a sign of purity and innocence (very telling). Red roses would have meant something serious. But white roses, those mean status quo for roommate #1. I did still have to listen to them talk for two hours laying in bed, though. No rest for the wicked (me, the serpent sleep demon)

As if the fiery resentment that was building within me for roommate #1 was not adequate, during this time she acquired a new, nameless basic roommate #2 who was essentially a sex maniac (the irony does not escape me). I only say this because I heard her having sex no fewer than three times, which probably does not qualify as mania, but this is my story so I'm allowed to exaggerate. The defining moment of my nonexistent neighbor relationship with roommate #2 was when I saw her having sex in the shower.

I only realized there was something wild happening once I had already committed to what I thought would be a peaceful, solitary pee in my own bathroom. And then I heard a lot of very indicative sounds, and turning to my right, through the two-inch gap of open window in our bathroom, I saw roommate #2 in a way I wish I could unsee. Having a fight or flight response while being in the bathroom is not my most treasured memory. First, I ducked, while sitting on the toilet, lest they see that I was seeing them. And then I was like, why am I the one trying to hide?! Can you not leave your bathroom window WIDE OPEN? Jesus H. Christ! You guys and your reverse voyeurism! 

I will spare you further details because I don't really have them seeing as I left the bathroom in a hurry and tried (unsuccessfully) to find the most soundproof part of our apartment, but please know that immediately after they were done having sex, she began singing to Rihanna to him while they continued to be in the shower. And that is undeniably weird. 

I wish I could say that this all came to a dramatic culmination of me calling both of them out and telling them to shut the hell up. Believe me, I spent a lot of time laying awake in the dark around midnight imagining all sorts of dramatic scenarios in which I confront the non-sex-having roommate #1 or the singing, shower-sex-having roommate #2 about how annoying and terrible I thought they were. But I didn't. Instead, I moved to New York. Which was possibly the most high-key way to leave the situation. To just move 3,000 miles away. While I don't want to admit that they won, they definitely did. And I bet they don't even know it. I've yet to hear anyone having sex or keep me up past my bedtime because they can't make a fucking decision about what restaurant to brunch at tomorrow, so maybe I've also won.

Since I don't have a wild conclusion to this story, I will leave you with the running list I kept of ways to reveal to my neighbors that I heard every little thing they were doing to make up for it. I titled it simply "Things I Could Do" because all lists I keep in my phone have to be appropriately vague in case it falls into the wrong hands and the first thing the person who recovers it does is read my notes. Please use your imagination to play out these possible scenarios:

  • Tap on roomate #1's window by reaching out of my own because that's how fucking close we are
  • Become increasingly interested in death metal and play that at an unbearable volume
  • Leave them a passive aggressive note
  • Leave them a passive aggressive STICKY note with a link to this blog
  • Start chiming into their conversations while we all lay in bed on opposite sides of the wall
  • Double homicide (jk jk jk jk)
  • Start repeating what I hear them saying
  • Hate them silently for maybe forever
  • Take my shirt off while I wash the dishes (how does this start the conversation? stare at the boyfriend?)
  • Eat a ton of broccoli and then just stand against our shared wall and fart loudly for an hour while they talk

I think the last option really exhibits my level of desperation and how out-of-the-box I was willing to go with my solution. 

Part II: Will It Even End

As if Part 1 wasn't enough of a debacle, here is Part 2. If you have not read Part 1, obviously go do that because this is Part 2 and one comes before two in the order of things. 

The next day, I am zen for like the first hour of being awake. A girl with a working toilet! What possible care in the world could she have?! None. I had no cares until after swiftly getting ready for work, flouncing out of the apartment on the kind of buoyant cloud one walks upon when they have functioning indoor plumbing, pulling my front door closed with a satisfying click that says "no one will be be robbing me today!" I realized I had just locked myself out of my own apartment. So fuck. The zen is gone. I can picture my keys, resting on my desk where I left them, taunting me like "HA HA HA have a great day without us! We will be here at home! You'll never see the inside of this apartment again! Should have made a copy of us shouldn't you?" I know. I KNOW.

First order of business was texting my roommate (obviously). Her response was something along the lines of "ohhhh nooooooo :( not going to be home until thursday." I look at my personal agenda and see it's Tuesday (just kidding, I don't have one of those and I knew it was Monday) so waiting for her return seemed highly unlikely. Second order of business was going to work because there was nothing I was going to be able to do until the dreaded property management company opened its dismal office doors for another day of business as usual aka ruining my life. 

At the office, I truly watch the minutes count down until 8am at which point I pick up the phone and speak with the very same receptionist who tried to tell me the day prior that the maintenance man may or may not come promptly to my apartment to fix the toilet. This time I was going to take matters into my own hands. I explain that I've locked myself out and do they happen to have a spare set that I can possibly come by and pick up and then promptly return? She does. They have a set of keys. I can come and retrieve them in Noe Valley (which might as well be the South Pole) at 3:30 pm and then return them before their office closes at 5pm. Lucky me.

At 3pm I leave the office and take my swift Uber chariot to their offices. After a bit of reminding the receptionist who I am and why I am here, she hands over the goods (the keys), and thinking that I am making SUCH good time I will take the bus back to my sweet, sweet little apartment and be there in a jiff.

WRONG. I have taken public transit so many times in my life and I don't think I have ever gotten anywhere in a "jiff". In fact, the moment you think you are going to use the bus and get to your destination at any pace above glacial, you are gravely deluded. On this pleasant ride we stopped at every single stop, and waited for 5 minutes in the middle of the road when the driver abruptly got up and shouted a rider off the bus for smoking a cigarette. So yes, it took longer than expected to arrive at my apartment with the second set of keys in my hot little hand.

Once at the front grate to my apartment, I realize I have an issue. The key does not fit into the lock. Curious, I think. But then I realize that the front latch is actually ajar so maybe this security concern is just a tiny blessing and I walk up the two flights to my front door with each step convincing myself further that the front grate key was just a mistake and this one will work out no problem. I am wrong. No key opens my apartment and I continue to be locked out of my apartment. I am certain I am about to lose complete control of my body and mind to a total fit of hysteria. It's 4:30. I call the property management company and re-explain to my favorite receptionist who I am and what the situation is (yes, I tell her, I agree it is quite confusing, how could the keys have not worked?! no one knows). So I ask if the maintenance man will be sent. Yes, it is confirmed he will be sent. ETA of the maintenance man is 25 minutes. Okay.

I resign myself to sitting directly outside my front door, dejectedly, and open my laptop and discover that I can in fact access my own apartment's wifi from our stairwell. This is the one and only small, bobbing beacon of light in the interminable mist of fuck-ups of my life. Obviously I am only using my laptop at this point to text anyone and everyone this tale. My sister informs me that all bad things happen in threes. I receive a number of sympathetic crying cat emojis. Someone tells me to start live tweeting. This is 2016. 

In my tunnel-visioned need to overshare via text, I see that the time has simply FLOWN by. It's 5:02 and THE MAINTENANCE MAN HAS NOT ARRIVED AND NOW THE MANAGEMENT OFFICE IS CLOSED. I cannot even call them to tell them the maintenance man is not here! What if he is just never coming! What if I never get into my house again? I succumb to a tizzy of terrible hypothetical scenarios, all of which end with me sleeping in my stairwell. Until Thursday. At this point I do what I do whenever I feel totally calm and in control of my fate (jk): I start crying. This obviously helps everything a lot (not).

Sometime shortly after I cannot even keep my body upright and slowly slump to an entirely horizontal position outside my own door (about 12 minutes later), I hear a rumbling and a truck door slam. I get up. I walk to the window in the stairway and stick my entire upper body out of said window. I see the poor, poor maintenance man walking towards my front grate and shout down to him, "Oh my god are you the person here to help me?!" Understandably, he is confused and I am crying all over again from relief. Truly I cannot win against the tears. Half of my body is hanging out a window and I am shouting/crying at a man on the street. It was not a high point in my life, I feel comfortable admitting that.

The maintenance man, by the goodness of all things holy, has been outfitted with a set of working keys. And upon him unlocking the apartment, I rush in and fling my body onto my bed in the way you might imagine someone who has just spent the last three days lost in the woods would—with a great amount of drama and not a lot of grace. 

And that was it. That was the whole deal. And since I have told you this winding and infinitely frustrating story, I'm going to promptly remove it from the back of my mind and leave it here on the internet for me to revisit only when I want to be reminded that few things could be as bad as when I didn't have a working toilet and then once I did have a working toilet, I immediately locked myself out of using it. Whatever. 

Part I: Plumbing School

A couple months-ish ago, a series of unfortunate events took place. And not in the Lemony Snicket kind of way. I'm only telling it to you now because I found it so deeply frustrating, I've had to take an extended calming-down period. Let's just get into it.

On a Sunday morning, our toilet got clogged. This had been happening with increasing frequency which later in this retelling I will realize was a red flag. However, at the moment of the clog, I just pulled out the plunger, which I am now more skilled in using than I would like to be, and plunged. But on this day, despite my best efforts, there was no change in the status of the clog. And then I noticed something terrible was happening. 

The toilet was backing up into the bathtub. 

This is as horrifying and shocking as it sounds. Especially at 11am on a Sunday when I thought I was going to lay around doing nothing. At that point I was like "yep, this is bad" so I got right on the internet about it. The internet confirmed that toilets backing up into bathtubs is indeed very bad and could indicate a clog much further down the main plumbing line which, if not addressed, could cause serious damage to the plumbing. So obviously I call my mom, and because she doesn't answer I call my sister who suggests: 

  1. using a snake and
  2. shares a very funny/gross anecdote about when she had to snake a toilet college to empathize and
  3. says maybe I should call dad.

I call my dad who has truly an untapped wealth of knowledge about plumbing and says yes I could try a snake, but if the clog is too far down the plumbing then I'm going to have to call in a real plumber (not just the fake plumber I've basically been turning into). 

So I walk to the hardware store to get a snake. It's now 11:45am on a Sunday and I'm doing the opposite of what I thought I was going to be doing (which was nothing). I get into the hardware store and discover they have a snake, but its for HAIR. In your SINK. So like yeah, thanks but no thanks that's not going to cut it also IS EVERYONE IN THIS CITY JUST CLOGGING TOILETS LEFT AND RIGHT?! HOW IS THIS PRODUCT OUT OF STOCK? I'm walking back home (snakeless, mind you) when my mom returns my missed call, and starts off like she always does "Did I just miss a call from you?" Yes mom you did, that's how you know to call me back. Because your phone is saying "1 missed call from your angelic daughter who desperately needs your help." 

I tell her the saga of the clogging, the plunging, the calls to all immediate family members in the efforts to form a plumbing brain trust, and how I just spent 30 minutes walking to and from the hardware store without A GODDAMN SNAKE. And then my mom asks a question you all might be wondering right now: why haven't I called my landlord? 

I had not called my landlord because technically I don't really have one. I have a property management company. And a property management company is a business. And a business operates during, you know, business hours aka Monday through Friday, 8 to 5. In fact, I did visit their website to see if their was an emergency number. It told me that "if there is a maintenance emergency, please call our offices from Monday-Friday, 8am to 5pm". UHHHHH, OBVIOUSLY I'M NOT GOING TO HAVE AN EMERGENCY FROM 8 TO 5PM BECAUSE I'M AT MY PLACE OF WORK. So that is why I could not call my landlord and that is why I had taken matters into my own hands. Because our toilet was unusable and I obviously was going to need to make use of it before 8am the next morning when I returned to work. It's now 12:15pm.

So my mom says to just call a plumber because I don't want to waste the whole day running around looking for a pipe snake and then what if that doesn't work and then what if I can't find any plumber to come help me at some ungodly hour on a Sunday. She's right. I call a plumber. I am told from the operator that he will arrive in 1.5 hours. I stop drinking any liquids. I have never been more acutely aware of how often I pee in a single day and let me tell you it is normally A LOT more than what I peed that day. 

The plumber comes. He charges me $90 to tell me that it's going to cost $375 for him to TAKE OFF my toilet in order to solve what he has deemed to be a serious problem (yes, thank you I'm aware). I send him away without solving the problem because I have a hunch that my property management company would not reimburse me for such an expense since they have their own maintenance staff. At this point, I update my family plumbing consortium about the state of my bathroom, and then I pack an overnight bag to go stay at my pal/coworker Alexandra's house. I set my alarm for 7:30am so I can call my property management company straight away at 8am on the way to work. They obviously do not answer the phone at 8am because I'm sure they are all just getting back into the office from the holiday break and do not realize I HAVE AN URGENT PLUMBING MATTER AT HAND.

Serendipitously, Alexandra and I drive past the property management company on our way to office. I say in passing, "oh look there's their office" and Alexandra pulls over and says "uh...hello you should go in" and I look at her like that is the most absurd thing in the world. Because sometimes I am a bozo. So I walk into the office and explain the situation and am immediately assured that someone would be at my apartment "right away". I am only partially reassured since the entire place is full of the schmooziest schmooze-bags who will say anything to seem like they're on your side and then actually do the exact opposite thing.

At 4pm that afternoon, I call my roommate who has been working from home to see if anyone has come by. She reports that zero maintenance people have been to our apartment. ALL DAY. So obviously I call the property management office again and the receptionist tells me that the maintenance man said he'll either be there tonight or perhaps tomorrow morning. And while I politely insist he come tonight, in my head I'm saying something along the lines of "NO WAY GIRLFRIEND, DO YOU NOT UNDERSTAND WHAT I'M TELLING YOU?! The toilet is BROKEN. I cannot STAY AT MY OWN HOME." She puts me on hold, calls the maintenance man, and says he will be there within the hour. 

Concerned that they are still lying to me, I leave work early to meet this maintenance man at my apartment and make sure that he actually fixes it and doesn't just leave a post-it note saying "Be back tomorrow :)" on my toilet and call it a night. Because at this point, I wouldn't put it past them. 

I arrive home to find a man in a construction vest in my tub, snaking the bath drain. He doesn't have a lot to say about the matter but it's clear things are not going well. I tell him to let me know if he needs help (?) or a beverage (?!) or a snack (?!?!) and retreat to my bedroom to pretend to do work on my computer while actually just straining my ears to try and decipher what action is going to be taken. Then, three more handy men come into the apartment lugging some piece of heavy equipment that looks somewhat like a cross between a tiny cement mixer and those floor buffing machines. Also I only caught a glimpse of it as they lugged it past my open bedroom door so honestly I could be lying a lot. Now I understand that they have brought the big guns. I hear grumbling and some clanging and then shortly thereafter I hear a totally normal not at all gurgle-y toilet flush. The toilet has been fixed. They didn't even need to use the mini cement mixer they tell me (as they lug it back past my bedroom and down the two flights of stairs). All four handy men leave the apartment. I am at peace. Me and my functioning bathroom. This is what I thought was the end of the saga. It was not. 

And now you've already spent like 20 minutes reading this so you deserve a break. Part 2 is forthcoming in a matter of days.

Me vs. Clothes, Featuring American Eagle

I've got a big secret today and I'm ready to share it publicly after approximately five years of shame: I do a lot of shopping at American Eagle. Like A LOT.

There have been days when I am dressed head to toe in American Eagle. There have also been days where people compliment my outfit when I'm dressed entirely in American Eagle and then I have a smug, smuuuuuug little smile to myself about it. 

And before you say "oh my god Delaney...what? I can't look at you the same" I want you to a) ask yourself whether you would have known that from looking at me without me letting you in on this v juicy secret and b) look at my butt in these jeans and tell me it's not worthy of at least one teensy line in the bridge of a rap song. Because that is the magic that American Eagle and I make together. 

I bought my first pair of real jeans from American Eagle in 8th grade. It was also my first pair of jeans at all. Until age thirteen, I had subsisted entirely on a wardrobe of dresses, skirts, and a strange menagerie of definitely ugly but insanely comfortable knit pants. This is because I genetically hate clothes. From ages four through fourteen, I insisted on wearing my socks inside out so that the seams didn't rub on my toes (the only reason I stopped was because at age fourteen we had to change in the locker room for PE and I didn't want people to see my inside-out socks and think I was crazy—which I clearly was. And at fourteen I was also delusional enough to think that someone would notice my socks in the locker room). Clothes just touch my body so much. And denim touches the most.

So in 8th grade the silent peer pressure to dress like everyone else finally outweighed my inordinate discomfort in conventional clothing. I went to American Eagle (because it wasn't as cologne-drenched as Abercrombie and not as poorly lit as Hollister) and bought a pair of jeans. The ones I settled on I remember liking especially because the style was called "The Artist" (yes L O L, I know). They were flared and medium wash. I continued to be a devotee to The Artist until the end of my junior year. (A fun side note is that I did not retire my original pair of American Eagle jeans until the end of sophomore year, at which point they were so unbelievably worn they ripped right open on the butt while at my friend's house. I spent the following two hours sitting down and not moving until I was driven home. Maybe that is really what is deserving of a line in a rap song).

I can distinctly recall at least eleven pairs of American Eagle jeans I've purchased since that fateful first encounter with the medium wash flares in 8th grade. This number does not include multiple pairs of shorts, a denim mini skirt, and more graphic tees than I would like to admit. How many pairs do I still own? Obviously I'm not going to tell you that. 

At this junction I would like to, in my own defense, say that I know it's reaaaaaally time I stop going into American Eagle. Like, I KNOW. Because I used to be in American Eagle at the appropriate age meticulously clicking through hangers and bump into other (older) shoppers and give them the side-eye like, "aren't you well into your prime J.Crew and Gap years? You should leave." I am now the person my younger self would side-eye. 

I did manage to take a one-year hiatus from American Eagle. Between my high school graduation and the spring of my freshman year of college, I didn't step foot into one. This was part of a self-initiated cold turkey campaign because I really was going to quit American Eagle for good. I was TOO OLD. I told myself that no cool college girl shopped at American Eagle and thus neither would I (as if this was the only thing stopping me from being a cool college girl). 

During those arduous twelve months, I averted my eyes at every mall, lest I be beckoned in by an incredible BOGO denim sale. I unsubscribed from marketing emails because I sure as hell wasn't going to succumb to the online shopping vortex. My conviction was unerring. Until one fateful day when a friend and I went to the mall after class and we walked past the American Eagle and she said to me conspiratorially, "you know, I actually kind of like American Eagle. They have a lot of underrated stuff." And then it was over. It was aaaaaaaall over. One year of resistance was entirely obliterated by the smallest hint of validation about my American Eagle habit. Obviously we went in. I purchased an olive green cargo vest that makes me look like I could be heading to an archeological dig at any second. There are a lot of handy pockets. I still wear it. 

And since then, there have been no more American Eagle hiatuses. I still kind of get furtive when I go into one, as if the greeter at the door who tells you about the sales and the new arrivals is going to squint at me skeptically and be like, "I think you're in the wrong store...Madewell is next door" and I will have to laugh lightly and toss my hand up in a dismissive, carefree gesture and say "oh, I'm just picking up a gift for my cousin!" Because those are the kind of incredibly unlikely scenarios I like to be mentally prepared for. 

Now I realize this story is slightly disheartening because I'm 23 and the main themes here are the pains of fitting in and being "cool" (themes that are befitting of someone who is the proper age to be wearing American Eagle aka a 16-year-old). But these are still sometimes things I care a load about and sometimes things I couldn't care less about. And that actually sums up my entire experience being 23. Things either feel like the end of the world or I couldn't give a flying fuck and I make sure everyone knows. American Eagle has been transitioned to the latter category.

The DMV: A Guide to Waiting in Line

Disclosure: I have been holding onto this saga for a long time. Mainly because I was hoping letting it sit would allow me to cut down on some words. But then I came back to it today after months and realized it's not going to happen because this is the story about me getting a new license. And that process was just as lengthy as this post. Believe it or not, I even spared you some details. 

The other day, I went to the DMV. I had to get a California driver's license because

    1. it's the law

    2. my mom was really, really set on me doing it (because it's the law).

Mainly I did it for reason number two because even though I'm 23 and like to make a big stink about me being a totally capable and self-reliant adult, there are times when I will go out of my way to do exactly what my mom tells me. (Note to Glenna: great job on raising me to be a compulsively obedient child). 

For example, the time I had $300 left in a 401k account from a previous employer that I had no idea existed my mom insisted I call up the 401k people and ask them to roll it over to the new 401k I had set up at my current job so that I didn't pay a tax penalty. Do you know how much the tax penalty was on withdrawing (albeit, unknowingly) $300 before retirement age from a 401k? Not enough to cover the amount of time I spent calling and holding and explaining my situation to approximately 5 different 401k people who were all befuddled about why I cared about 300 forgotten dollars in a retirement account. I also didn't know why I cared. It took a lot of mental will for me to not bring my mom into it when I was explaining my predicament over the phone. As in:

Helpful 401k person: "Hi, how can I help you?"

Me, witless 23-year-old: "Hi, uh I think I have money in a 401k that I didn't know I had and my mom wants me to roll it over to my new 401k?"

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Once you are old enough to have a retirement account, you shouldn't use your mom as your excuse for financial decisions while on the phone with the 401k people. They don't care about your mom or what she says you should do with your money.

So anyways, I tried making excuses like "Mom, I don't even drive here" and "Mom, literally who is going to know I am technically supposed to have a California license?" But she was not having it. Glenna did not care. She said "I don't care. You just have to do it." So I went to the DMV because I am a mom-abiding robot. Unfortunately, California is nothing like Oregon or Idaho (both places in which I was once a proud driver's license holder) and you cannot just walk into the DMV like you own the place and get a motherfucking driver's license. In California, you visit a government website and make an appointment to get your license. We aren't savages here! There is order! There are lines! But because apparently everyone else on the face of the planet wants to get a license from the San Francisco DMV you have to wait a month to get said appointment time.

I would like to note here that according to the ~law~ you have to get a new license within 10 days of moving to the state of California if you plan on claiming residency or "taking advantage of any of the benefits afforded to California residents," whatever that means. However, WHAT IF YOU CAN'T GET A APPOINTMENT FOR YOUR LICENSE FOR WITHIN THE 10-DAY WINDOW? WHAT THEN, HUH? I had a small moment of self-righteousness about discovering this legal catch-22 and then waited patiently for my appointment.

On the day of my long-awaited DMV time slot, I arrive 20 minutes early because I have no idea what is going to happen. First, I wait in a line that is wrapping around the exterior of the building because that is what everyone else is doing. Then I realize this is not the line for people with appointments. Those people are all milling outside of a lobby around the building from the non-appointment holders. Inside is a grouchy security lady glowering at all of us appointment people who are here before the DMV has even opened. We have displeased her with our promptness. When she finally unlocks the door, we surge into the building with the kind of speed walking that suggests you desperately want to be the first person in the building, but don't want to look so competitive and cutthroat as breaking into a jog would. 

Once inside, I am immediately confused. There is the long counter with DMV employees settling into their desks with large screens overhead displaying the number of the next person being served, but it is not apparent how I get a number. I slow my speed walk so that I can observe what everyone else is doing. Everyone else is also confused. I move towards the people that have started to clump at a back corner where two lines are forming around a woman barricaded behind a desk. She is handing out forms and loudly admonishing people for a) not standing behind the black line taped on the floor, b) not filling out forms properly, c) asking questions she thinks she has already answered, and d) shouting out questions to her from the back of the line. She announces many times that this is "her line" and she will not be having any "interruptions".

Everyone is shouting at the DMV. It adds to my internal hysteria. A security guard asks me what time my appointment is while I am standing in line to be helped (or possibly yelled at) by the lady behind the desk. I tell him 9:15. It is currently 9:05. He tells me to sit down. It is a brief and wide-eyed (on my part, his eyes were totally normal) exchange.

While I am sitting, worrying, texting, and being afraid I look around at all the other people at the DMV on a Wednesday. Let me tell you, avoid it if you can. The DMV takes everyone and makes them the worst version of themselves, angrily saying things under their breath or brandishing documents wildly in the air at employees who truly do not give a flying fart about your personal problems and your inability to follow government regulations. At the DMV, rules are fucking rules. I start to wonder, is 9:15 the time I'm allowed to get back in line? Or is 9:15 the time when I'm supposed to be talking to the lady behind the desk so really I should be in line at like 9:10? Shouldn't I be filling something out? But the DMV is not a place for asking questions. It is a place for doing what you're told. 

At 9:15, the security guard who told me to sit down yells out "9:15 appointments! 9:15 appointments!" which is apparently my cue to get up and stand in line. The lady behind the desk gives me a form and tells me to fill it out and when I'm done to get back in line. I fill in the form. I get back in line. I get a number for another line.

At this point, I realize that scheduling an "appointment" is just scheduling a time for you to wait in line. Which is absurd. So then I sit some more. Which is basically just a line where you get to be in a chair. So we will call it my third line of the day. Then I go see another lady behind a desk where I give her some information and watch her photocopy some things. And then she asks for my Oregon license. 

I had thought a lot about this moment. Because I knew what was coming. They were going to punch a hole in it. My sweet Oregon residency, defiled. I had thought about lying and saying "oh, you know what? I actually lost it, that’s why I am getting a new one" or "oh shit! you know what? I totally left it at home!" But what if that lil baby lie prevented me from getting my new license? Was I going to have to schedule another DMV appointment? Was I just going to sheepishly say "what do you know, here it is in my wallet after all!" and possibly be damned to DMV hell for being a liar liar pants on fire and maybe never be allowed to get another license ever or even be arrested and put in jail for life for trying to defy the federal government? Not even my prized proof of Oregon residency was enough to make me risk that. So I handed it over. If I'm being honest, my eyes might have been glassy about it. But the DMV is not a place for crying (or questions, or happiness). There is now a hole in my Oregon license. 

The rest of my journey to every desk in the DMV went relatively smoothly. I waited in a total of 6 lines. I chatted with high school girl also waiting in line to get her license photo taken who clearly thought we were the same age (she was waiting to get her very first license). I missed one question on the written test (apparently you can turn left over a double yellow on a residential street to get into a private driveway, lucky Californians!). I took a terrible license photo. I left the DMV. 

A week-ish later I received my real-fucking-deal Cali girl license. And I knew what that photo was going to look like before I even got it. I was going to have the football neck. "Football neck" is an affliction that my mother and my sister and I all suffer from. When photographed straight-on, all of us look like we have the meatiest fucking necks you've ever seen. Like these photos would not look out of place on a team roster on ESPN.com, next to which it would read "Linebacker, 6' 3", 283 lbs". Secretly (except not really because this is the internet) this was probably a serious reason why I didn't want a new license. Because 18-year-old Delaney, despite her blunt bangs and cheesed-out smile, had 10 pounds less in the neck. I blame Glenna. 

Cry-face McGillicuddy

I have a fear of crying at work. I think this fear is well-founded because I come from a long line of cry babies. Sure, I cry when I'm sad but I also cry when I laugh really hard (pretty often), when I feel embarrassed (unsurprisingly, tears do not make me feel less embarrassed), or when I'm hungry or when I'm frustrated or when I'm tired. So really I could cry at any time. It's like a shark attack, you never know when it's coming and suddenly there is just water all over and you have to fight to stay in control (of the shark attack aka the tears). And I blame this all on genetics. I have brown hair and am a terrible runner and cry easily: it's all in my genes, I'm telling you! Anyways, the other day, I came real close to realizing my fear of crying at work. 

I was walking into the office whilst checking my texts when I read one that had just come in from a group chat with my mom and sister. I skimmed the long paragraph, saw the words "dad" and "car accident" and just immediately started crying. Was this logical? Not really. 

Now before you get to thinking that this is about to be a sad and dramatic story, let me just tell you now, it's not. Well, okay, I was being dramatic. It gets kind of dramatic. But not because lives are threatened. 

The bad thing about tears is that they make it hard to read. So what I thought was a text from my sister telling me that our dad had been in a car accident, was actually a text from my mom telling us that her dad had been in a car accident. Unfortunately my eyes were already so full of tears, I could not clearly reread and familiarize myself with these pertinent details. I know, this still isn't funny but bear with me.

So instead of trying to go over the paragraph of information that my mother had sent to us, I start calling my sister repeatedly as I walk back out of my office, crying at I would say around 70% capacity. For me, that is like serious cry-face but no audible sobbing. Lots of tears though. Pleeeeeenty of tears to go around. She is not answering. I text the group "call me!" (because apparently typing is not hindered by tears). Once outside, I station myself on the sidewalk and fling my backpack to the ground because one cannot be bothered to hold ones belongs when a perceived crisis is at hand. My sister then calls me back. My memory from my cry-haze is like this:

Morgan: "Hey, what's up?"
Me: [basically indistinguishable through my trademarked, high-pitched I'm-crying-but-trying-to-enunciate-voice] "That text about dad! Car accident!"
Morgan: "...what?!"
Me: "That text you just sent!"
Morgan: "About the podcast you recommended???"*
*30 minutes prior to my breakdown, I had texted the group to tell them about a great new podcast I've been listening to. It's of the utmost importance that I keep my family up to date on my auditory entertainment intake. It's called Limetown. It's INCREDIBLE.

At this point it is clear from the fact that Morgan is not crying that I do not need to be crying either. I can always count on Morgan to also be crying when it's even vaguely appropriate (a long line of criers we are, like I said). Also it is clear she did not send the text message. Also I've misread the text.

Me: "You just sent a text! About dad! Or grandpa! Someone sent a text about someone being in a car accident!"*
Morgan: "No, I just called you because you told me to call you."
Me: "BECAUSE YOU SAID SOMETHING ABOUT AN ACCIDENT!"

I am now crying at 50% capacity. It's still hard to hear what I'm saying, but my voice is not as squeaky. It's definitely clear to me that I have entirely misunderstood the situation and am now just throwing around the two key words I picked up from the message that launched this whole 8:30am cryfest: "dad" and "car accident". Morgan then tells me to wait, presumably to check the text to which I am referring, and I tell her to wait because now my mom is calling. Glenna will help me get to the bottom of this.

Me: "Mom!"
Glenna: [because she can tell that I am crying] "What? What's wrong?" 
Me: "The accident!"
Glenna: "Huh? Oh, Grandpa! Everything's fine."

Glenna is not from a long line of criers (I blame my dad, and not the dad I misread about in the text message, my real, honest-to-god dad, for this trait) and is clearly nonplussed about my tears. However, I have been alive for 23 years so she is used to it. She proceeds to use her my-daugher-is-crying-so-I-am-being-a-patient-and-calm-mother voice. It's half soothing and half kind of terse. Like, hey can you stop crying please? It's also clear that there are ZERO things to worry about from the "everything's fine" breeziness with which my mother has dismissed the situation.

So this is around when my crying just segues straight into hysterical laughing (still with tears, though). Because I realize I am so cuckoo for jumping to so many conclusions that I swing wildly to the other end of the emotional spectrum. I have, at this point, flung my body to the sidewalk next to my backpack. Outside of my office. Where plenty of other people are walking around trying to start their days and not have a run in with a crying girl on a sidewalk. (At the time I thought I was miles away. When not in a cry-haze, I realized I was like 20 yards from the office doors. Things I cannot do while crying: read or judge distance). I explain to my mom the huge leaps of logic that I have just taken, and she tells me all about my grandpa's not really all that serious car accident (there is a staple in his head, however considering that I was already envisioning someone unconscious in a hospital bed, this seems much less grave and a lot more badass). 

Glenna and I have a good ol' laugh about how 4 minutes ago I was on a sobbing tirade. We proceed to talk about totally normal topics. I tell her I am from a long line of criers (as if she doesn't know this). I'm now crying only at 4% capacity which is where there are a few straggler tears you are getting out and you just have a tight throat from the potential threat of tears. My body and belongings are still draped across the sidewalk and I have salt crusting on my cheeks and am sweating a lot because I've worked myself into a tizzy and because I took a too-warm shower at the gym and because the sun is beaming down upon me. And because walking back into my office with cry-face isn't enough, so obviously I also have to be very sweaty too.

Eventually, I peel my self from the sidewalk and walk back into work, past the front desk lady who saw me charging out only moments ago at 70% crying capacity. I hope she notices I'm at a mere 4% now. It's only 8:47am. And technically, I still haven't cried at work. 

I try to walk away and I stumble...

The other day, I slipped on the sidewalk. I was the person you see fall from a distance and your eyes get real wide for a second and you audibly gasp because you are like, "holy crap that person just fell. so. hard." And if you are in a close enough radius to the person who fell, you are socially required to jog a couple of steps towards them because you probably should at least look like you have the intent of trying to help them and/or pick up all of their strewn belongings. 

I REALLY fell. My body was upright at one second and entirely on the sidewalk in another. And I know that the blame for this extravagant fall lies with a pair of sandals that I love to wear that are just exceptionally smooth on the bottom. It's like the Steve Madden employee packing my order gave them a light spray of WD-40 before they sent them on their way to my doorstep. The sandals and I have had some close calls together, but they are so good looking that I keep wearing them. I've just learned to take corners nice and slow because there's a good chance my feet could slide right out from under me while wearing them. Like the time I slipped on the tiled floor of my office bathroom. Or when I rounded the corner to my bedroom too quickly and slid into the door jam with my head. I consider them a dastardly friend. Like the one that has a sense of sarcasm so dry and cutting that when it's directed at you it kind of hurts your feelings but the rest of the time they are so hilarious you overlook it? I've been overlooking the fact that these shoes might be a safety hazard. Because they are REALLY the perfect looking shoe. It's hard to be a slave to fashion. (That's my dry and cutting sarcasm).

So let me tell you about the fall. The circumstances preceding the fall were none too rare: the bus I was riding home from work was stalled for one mysterious MUNI reason or another. I would rather walk a mile than have to fidget around on public transit craning my neck to see what's causing the hold up (there is never anything to see) and continually refreshing my Instagram feed (where there is also never anything to see) while waiting for an undetermined amount of time. So I got off the god forsaken bus in a huff because that's what you do when you are a jaded San Franciscan whose MUNI bus has just stopped in the middle of the road for no readily apparent reason. You huff and you shake your figurative fist and make some sort of snide comment about how the entire mass transit system here "is so messed up" and you just fucking walk. 

I was huffing away from the bus and about to step right into the crosswalk when I biffed it. I think the combination of my quick clip and the every so slight downhill decline of the sidewalk did me in. I should have known! I'm no Steve Madden WD-40 sandals rookie! But I did fall. My right foot went skittering forward and I went down very ungracefully on my left side. I'm sure it was exceedingly clear to all passersby that I had never taken one of those martial arts classes where they teach you how to fall "properly" (which is probably to prepare you for a physical altercation but might be handy for taking a tumble on the sidewalk). The large bruise on my thigh is proof. And while I remember very few things about the moments before the fall (because I was not expecting to be recounting my walk home from the bus in excruciating detail and thus was not taking notes for my keen journalistic monologue), I do remember all of the very lame things that happened afterward.

1. I fell into the gutter. The gutter is gross! It's full of dried leaves and gum and what I imagine to be matted rat fur and it's all caked together into a mash of yuck probably because its been peed upon 8 trillion times (which is the only logical conclusion because everything in SF smells vaguely of urine). So I took a nice dip into that. 

2. Strangers came to help me. Three suited, middle-aged men who all had their ties tucked into their shirts (because that is something men do when it's windy out? I'm not positive about this but I do think it's silly looking so I definitely remembered it) came jogging from the crosswalk to make a series of polite remarks like "Are you okay?" and "Wow, really took a tumble there, huh?" I blacked out my responses to these questions because so much blood was rushing to my blushing face that none was actually circulating to my brain. I could have said a lot of things, I could have said nothing, I truly don't remember. Make up whatever you want here.  

3. A strange array of items propelled themselves from the various impractical pockets of my backpack because of the force of my fall. The three helpful strangers picked them up for me while I sat on the curb collecting myself and hoping my ability to speak would soon return. The objects were as follows: three separate USB drives, one of which was shaped like a tiny rubber dog bone. A padlock. An ergonomically-shaped pink and purple wireless computer mouse with a pattern of carefree butterflies swirling around some flowers. The objects I am glad did not come springing off of my person into the dirty gutter for everyone to see: the 8 rotting bananas or the Old Spice men's deodorant I also was carrying in my backpack.

The whole thing was kind of like one of those "what's in your bag?" features they do of celebrities in People magazine or that bloggers post on Instagram. Except those are always by choice and are usually supposed to give you some sort of insight into a person. Like how much they loves their Burt's Bees chapstick or how they never leave home without their Moleskine notebook and the fancy fountain pen that their grandfather gave them for college graduation because you never know when inspiration may strike blah blah blah. My "what's in your bag?" moment was more ambush style because I was not really planning on having all of my belongs put on display in the gutter and obviously would have curated a much more intriguing and Instagram-able array of ephemera had I known I would be dumping them all out. 

So I've thought about how these things would look to a stranger and how if I had been one of the suited men helping me collect my belongings I definitely would have thought I was a sweaty (Old Spice) computer hacker (why else would I have so many presumably data-filled USBs?) with carpal tunnel (hello, ergonomic mouse) who was off to do some nefarious work (walking very fast, has a padlock to lock up secrets) and has a strange penchant for only eating near-rotten bananas (because everyone knows computer hackers are quirky). It's the most obvious explanation, really.

However, I doubt any of the helpful suited strangers even let their imaginations get this far away from them because they didn't have to spend the next 17 minutes sweating and tiptoeing their way home in treacherous sandals. In fact, I know they didn't because you definitely don't wear suits and sandals if you're classy enough to tuck your tie into your shirt when there's a breeze.

4. The lamest thing of all? The bus that I disembarked from in a huff, and soon thereafter fell to the ground, passed me down the road approximately 10 minutes later. I shook my literal fist this time.