Friday, January 25, 2013

This Wasn't Supposed to be my Headboard...

So one afternoon, I found (another) Entertainment Center on the side of the road.

        We already had one in the living room, but this was a perfectly good Entertainment Center and it was black, which was quickly becoming a fan-favorite accent color in my room (and by “fan-favorite” I mean it was “voted on” by the streets of Studio City - the desk that I’d already picked up off the street was black, as was the super-discounted bookshelf I’d purchased at the Studio City Goodwill) How could I turn this sucker down? Carolyn was not happy about it. And I had to convince her that it at least wasn't a bad idea, because we had to use her car to pick it up. The conversation went something like this:

Grace: You don’t even have to come with me. I’ll get it myself. Can I just use your car?
Caro: I mean… you can’t… lift it by yourself.
Grace: Ok maybe you do have to come with me.
Caro: Grace, where would you even put it? It’s not going to fit anywhere in your room…

        Now I don’t want to toot my own horn or anything, but I was a little bit in love with the idea of an Entertainment Center as a headboard.

…Well, in love with the theory, anyway.

Because in theory, it would look something like this:

(This is a headboard that Ikea makes, where you can slide the shelves in and out of the headboard. Palace of Efficiency, my friends. 

Do you know what kind of bedside accessories and general kitsch you can store in there?)

In actuality, my room now looked like this:

(Yes that is a wealth of extension cords, tumbling out of the bottom cabinet, because I have the cords rigged to go all the way around the room to the big lamp, because there’s only ONE outlet (out of twelve) that connects to the light switch. And if I want the lights to be operated by the light switch in my Easy Living Palace… You get the idea.)

        This grand idea lasted about three weeks before I finally gave up. This is my teenie-bopper bedroom, not a marriage! I can do what I want! I DO NOT HAVE TO COMPROMISE! (and by “compromise,” I mean: heave myself up against the wall, in order to pry open those Covenant-garage-sale/made-it-all-the-way-across-the-country-housing-my-crayons Drawers, if I wanted to put chapstick on, before going to bed… You can’t even really see them: they’re practically hidden by the pillows in that picture, anyway.)

        I asked Sam if she had a problem with an Entertainment Center on her side of the room, serving as a shelf/catch-all. She graciously acquiesced, probably because that was less exhausting than having to put up with the repercussions of saying no, which would undoubtedly involve me spending way longer than necessary telling her all the reasons why it was an excellent piece of furniture…

        Oh – those awkward photos on the wall above it? They’re hanging on pieces of an under-bed drawer that I… yes, you guessed it! DISCOVERED ON THE SIDE OF THE ROAD! There’s Mod-Podge involved. Stay tuned…

Monday, January 21, 2013

This Wasn't Supposed to Be My Bookshelf

        I used to think I wanted to marry wealthy.

        I mean… right?!

        Then I could fulfill my true Cinderella, rags-to-riches, orphan-to-princess calling.
        I haven’t completely nailed down all the details just yet, but there’s obviously a prince involved, as well as something about me winning him over with my sharp wit and bravery (there’s probably a broadsword involved, ‘cause I’m certified to fight with one of those) and definitely a song about How the Other Half Lives, where I drag him around town and show him how you can haul bookshelves into your apartment, right off the side of the road…

        Oh and there’d absolutely be some riding off into the sunset on horseback.

        No but really: I’d drag him outside Every. Day. to ride off into the sunset, while the six designated palace staffers looked on, as our obligatory audience.

        (Dear Mom and Dad: you’re both gems. You gave me the world. I wasn’t raised as an orphan or a peasant, but sometimes (ESPECIALLY OUT HERE IN INIQUITOUS HOLLYWOOD) I have to take on a persona and embellish details, in order to entertain the people. Just think of it like that joke of a clay Nativity set that I made in third grade that looked more like a clay zoo, but you had to pretend it was good, in order to “encourage me” to “pursue my art.” I’M PURSUING MY ART, HERE.)

But, alas… I don’t know that an avaricious marriage would be the wisest move.

“Wisest move” for me, or for the lucky guy.

        Because, you see: even if I married a rock star who got paid to destroy bookshelves, I just don’t think that I could ever fully embrace the kind of lifestyle begat by such a salary.

        Wait, back up for a minute. Let’s be real: If I married any kind of vocalist, he’d have to be in the leagues of a composer, or something of the like – a realm of music about which I knew very little, otherwise… Well, I’d spend most of my time trying to prove that I was better than he was.

        If he were the love child of Jean-Yves Thibaudet and Jan Kaczmarek, I could just sit back and marvel at his genius. But if he were a pop star, I’d probably develop a reality TV show about our lives, that was secretly a competition to let the American public decide who had a better voice.


(But no, Joey Barriero, I won’t marry you. I just won’t do it.)

Even though, let’s be real: our marriage would probably look something more like this…

(Helloooooo I’m referencing the fact that Catherine Zeta- Jones’ character does an epic sword-fight scene – don’t get mad that I compared you to Antonio Bandaras.)

        THE BOOKSHELF. I was talking about getting paid for bookshelf destruction.
        So here’s the problem: upon marriage (don’t make me talk about Josef Stalin again; don’t) I’d probably have to give up my street shopping ways, for a more “civilized” pursuit of furniture.

        I can just see it now, Grace and the (incredibly good looking, incredibly straight) spawn of John Williams and Hans Zimmer, in the car on their way to the umpteenth awards ceremony of the season, when Grace calls out, “Jeeves, STOP THIS CAR!” (The driver’s name is Jeeves, don’t ask questions.)

Spawn: What is it this time? A dead goat or a mangled bathtub? Because we already have three of each, due to your little roadside stops. I was so displeased to see that People Magazine moved forward with their publication of that picture of you at the Globes last week, in that gorgeous Ethan Samuel number, that was steeped in mud because you insisted on hauling that unfortunate looking Lazy Susan out of a ditch on our way. Jeeves, drive on.
Grace: THAT WAS A GREAT LAZY SUSAN AND NOW I CAN ROTATE MY BAGELS, COOKIES AND POPTARTS AROUND IN THE MORNING, AT ONE FELL SWOOP. Jeeves, please stop the car. Don’t you like that dining room buffet I found for you last month?
Jeeves: Yes, madam, but I do in fact have six of them now, thanks to you. And seeing that your husband is footing my paycheck, I am legally obligated to keep driving.
Grace: But what about that carpeted cat furniture set that I found for Mr. Whiskers, that was just the right size for your living room? ? Pull over!!
Jeeves: Unfortunately Madam, Mr. Whiskers was one of your street discoveries, as well… I never asked for a cat in the first place.
Grace: Street discovery or street RECOVERY?! I rehabilitated that thing. And it was such a comfort to you, when you were so melancholy…
Jeeves: But if you remember, Madam, what were initially observed as symptoms of depression and melancholy turned out to be sluggishness and forgetfulness from the asbestos in the dresser that you forced upon me.
Spawn: You know Jeeves, I’m no fortune teller, but I foresee someone getting a Christmas bonus very early this year…

…Is it bad that I referred to him as “Spawn”? Only time will tell.
(See that reference to Ethan Samuel? See what I did there?)

In case you were worried about this story having a moral:
I hauled a bookshelf into our apartment from the streets the other day.

        And yes, I say “the streets” like I'm Channing Tatum in Step Up, and I don’t see it as misleading, because said bookshelf was literally in the back of an alley.

        Looking back, I’m not even entirely sure how I got it into (Carolyn’s) car by myself, but I just couldn’t bring myself to talk her into schlepping along on another one of my (questionable) furniture junkets.

        I’m mostly glad that no one saw me. Not because I was doing anything shady, but because it always makes for such an unfortunate social situation. Obviously one does not merely saunter around, seeking situations in which they might lend a hand (Well, maybe the Spawn does… Then again: he probably pays people to do that…) so if they offer to help you out, it’s because they’ve stopped whatever they’re doing. Which is great. But I don’t wanna make anyone stop what they’re doing to help me lift a bookshelf (that may or may not have been sitting in dog crap) into the car.
Because even though this place is filled with Yankees and Hippies, it’s not like one can casually pass me by and nod politely before continuing on: there is nothing about Grace getting a bookshelf into a car that is “easy.” And it certainly doesn't look that way, so if someone passed me by, they’d probably feel compelled to offer help.
        Even if I turn said down said offer of help, in these situations, I apparently look so pathetic that the poor bystander is beyond obligated to essay their assistance. (Alright, ok fine, I admit: maybe this wasn't my first time lugging something off of the street by myself.)
        And then, this means that while we’re both grunting in an effort to shove the thing in the car, I’ll feel pressured to offer some kind- any kind of disclaimer, to insist that I’m not a Street Rat.
        And for those of you who have yet to get a bookshelf in a car, there’s not a big window of time to successfully spit out the entirety of that disclaimer, even when you’re as brief as a one Grace Douglas.

        (I’m lying about that last line. I’m not at all brief, which makes the whole Street Rat Disclaimer IMPOSSIBLE to deliver)

        Fortunately, none of that happened, (but it could have, ok?) and I got the sucker home without incident. And while our nation did avoid a recent fiscal cliff, and while I’m sure Spawn has a vast collection of cleaning solutions underneath his sink, the best thing I could find to disinfect the Dog Crap Bookshelf was... Lysol 360 Degree Toilet cleaner. So yeah, you could say I worked at dousing all 360 degrees of the bookshelf with germicides:

Whatever. Germs are germs. Disinfectants are disinfectants. (All 360 degrees of them).

        After scraping off the dog crap and hauling it inside, (trust me: it was clean and sanitary) I was then faced with the task of painting the DCB (Dog Crap Bookshelf). After all, it probably felt pretty shabby next to our snazzy entertainment center, especially when it had streaked paint, like so:

        Somehow - SOMEHOW, I had (a tiny bit of) black acrylic craft paint. I have absolutely no idea where this came from. Seriously, the possibilities are endless. Yet from the dark recesses of a forgotten corner in a long-deserted closet, I had paint.

But not that much of it.


        I do not pretend to possess an ounce of knowledge of anything that would have actually backed up this theory, but what’s the worst that could happen, trying to extend the life of some old paint, with a formula that is also used for sealing/top coat?

What’s the worst that could happen? Um, this:

I’m just kidding.

Kind of.

        Fortunately it turned out to be clear when it dried, which I actually found kind of shocking and almost disappointing: that my craft-genius turned out to be accurate and made for a very… average-looking bookshelf.  

And to that, ladies and gentlemen, I say:

Dearest Spawn,
        You can take my fecal encrusted furniture, and you can take my ill-perceived (although well-intentioned) back alley misadventures, BUT YOU CANNOT TAKE MY MOD-PODGE.

Friday, January 11, 2013

This Wasn't Supposed to be my Entertainment Center

I think Carolyn and I were both trying to decide whether or not we were really about to follow through with the idea that struck us the night before, as we chomped on our breakfast cookies, one September morning. Somehow, we’d concluded that it would be a good idea to just get in the car and drive until we found furniture. I think we were both trying to conjure up at least an attempt at a sensible excuse to stop us from doing so. You know the “don’t-swim-right-after-you-eat-or-you’ll-get-cramps” line your parents fed you? I was flipping through the rolodex that was stuffed in the far reaches of my brain, making sure there wasn't a “if-you-go-looking-for-furniture-you’ll-find-trouble” line, in there somewhere.

…There was not.

Reiterating our juvenile idea out loud once more, as if that would produce a reason why the whole thing was a bad idea, Carolyn said, “So we should just get in the car…”

“…And drive until we find something,” I finished. “We will let the Furniture Fairies speak to us and lead the way…”

Not kidding. I actually said that.

Furniture Fairies aside, we decided to head back to where we found my desk the first time around, hoping there’d be more furniture on the street in that neighborhood.

The Furn Fairies were undoubtedly doing double back flips as we stumbled upon an entertainment center that seemed too good to be true.

<-- (Shhhh it’s fine. I totally look like this in my mind…)

I say “Too good to be true,” because it was made out of really nice wood (I don’t even know what constitutes a fine wood grain, but this one has it, no doubt) and was in really great shape. AND was sitting in a Furn Fairy crop circle (someone’s driveway) WITH A TV.

Now it would seem that there was a runt in the Furn Fairy Fold, who was probably responsible for the TV that was there, because I’m not talking sleek and slim flat screen TV, I’m talking the kind of TV that is probably still sitting in your attic, that was replaced by a flat screen 10 years ago (five years ago, if you’re the Douglas Family). Nothing against this little runt of a Furn Fairy – she did her part: we now have a TV. Do the other Furn Fairies make fun of her, cause it was a TV from 1997? Maybe.  I’m sure Oprah has an anti-bullying campaign that’s facing this Furn Fairy social cruelty battle head on, but at the time, Carolyn and I didn’t care. A TV is a TV.

It took two trips in her car and one trip in mine to haul it all back to the apartment.

All I can really say is that the only reason this wasn't entirely hazardous is because if the pieces flew out of the car, they would be hitting MY car, not anyone else’s. DON’T WORRY, DAD, THERE WOULDN'T BE A LAWSUIT.

One day when we have luxurious things in our apartment like a sectional couch, an ice maker and I dunno – chairs in the living room, maybe? (No but really. We have chairs for the breakfast table and couches… but no actual living room chairs). We will have a flat screen TV. It will go above the mantle. (I don’t know why we have a fire place…) But in the meantime, in order to accommodate the Furn Fairy Runt TV, we have to place the TV opposite the fireplace. 

Which is no big deal, until you realize that the couches have to go in FRONT of the fire place. (Yes, I HAVE started decorating for Valentine's Day. It is my second favorite holiday and I'm NOT SORRY about it)

One time our Landlord tried to comment on the impracticality of the couch in front of the fire place it and I looked at him and said, “Do you have a better idea, Steve? Cause Carolyn and I hauled those pieces in here by ourselves, we’d be happy to lift the TV up and place it on the mantle, if you think you can make it stay…”

So now we had an entertainment center - that makes for GREAT holiday decorating, by the way. And by “great holiday decorating,” I mean my Dad asked me if we got a Christmas tree for our apartment and I said, “No, but we decorated for Christmas.” This is to what I was referring:

And we had a TV, but no DVD player. (Which means season 2 of West Wing was still being watched on the computer.) So one afternoon I went for a run, and stumbled upon a bit of a gold mine, about a half a mile away from our apartment. The dresser that I picked up is a whole different story, but as I was inspecting said dresser, this Jeep pulled up and rolled down the window. Inside was Bruce Willis.

And now we’re dating. (Shhhh just let the two-color hair happen. I’m an actress. I do craaaazy trendy things with my hair.)

I’m lying.

It wasn't Bruce Willis and we’re definitely not dating.

Although it if were Bruce Willis, I would congratulate him on his work in Easy A, especially the touching scene where he does a “Run, Forrest!” and breaks out of his back brace.

And then I would realize that I was talking about his daughter, Rumer. And so I’d make up for my faux pas by commenting on his work in Unbreakable and inform him it was the first movie I’d ever seen on DVD.

Anyway, this guy that looks nearly identical to Mr. Willis rolls down the window and asks if I’m looking for anything else. 

Ok, Mr. Willis Twin, I think to myself, Liv Tyler played your daughter in Armageddon and I really like her perfume, Very Irresistible Givenchy, so I guess you’re trustworthy…

“Well… A DVD player, if you really wanna know,” I replied.

He nodded then motioned me to follow his car through the gates to his apartment.

This sounds a whole lot sketchier than it really was. Well, it was sketchy, sure, but it wasn't unsafe. There were plenty of people around. And I had my pepper spray, HELLO.
He walks me to his apartment (Dad, calm down, we've been over this: there were people sitting on their porch right across from his apartment that were watching us the whole time. No lawsuit, no use of pepper spray.)

Willis Twin proceeds to tell me that his uncle just died and he’s getting rid of his stuff and he does, in fact, have a DVD player. It was one of three things that were in this little apartment. The other two were a mattress and a pit-bull named Fluffy. No joke.
But he gave me a DVD player for ten bucks, so who am I to judge?

It DID take some maneuvering:(No, that's not the Nearly Headless Horseman; it's Grace, blindly tossing cords around until they all got plugged in... While Carolyn just looked on, giggling and taking pictures)

I had to "maneuver" both the cords and the guy at Best Buy who sold us the cords who tried to sell us some strain of DirecTV. “Sir,” I started, “I’m buying cables to plug an old school TV into a DVD player. Do I look like I can handle DirecTV right now?” I asked for his card and told him he’d be the first to hear from me when I was ready for DirecTV in 2016…

But alas, now Carolyn and I can watch The Bartlet Administration on a real TV…

Monday, January 7, 2013

This Wasn't Supposed to be My Socialist Regime

For starters: my room looks like this right now:

        I think I’m supposed to be embarrassed about it. I don’t even know why I feel it necessary/relevant to include a picture of my messy room; there’s nothing new about it. Oh, and yes – that IS a bag of cookies on top of a pile of laundry –
        I picked up a box of fresh sugar cookies at Ralph’s last night - the dude by the cash register at the Self Checkout looked at me at one point and said, “ Weren't you in here last night? You was whinin’ about somethin’ with the cookies last night. What’s a pretty lady like you doin’ in unstable relationships?”
…..You know that moment when you realize that one of your jokes hasn't been landing and you have to backtrack, and explain, step by step, what you’d been talking about?

This was one of those moments.

        And it’s so very unfortunate, the bad-joke-explanation/backtrack, because not only do you feel like an idiot, for having to explain something that you thought was funny at one point, but you also understand that you’re making the other person feel like a moron, for not getting the joke.
        I had to explain to my main man Ron that I was referring to the Ralph’s bakery as the abusive boyfriend: never knowing what the score was, always having to walk on eggshells… etc. Because the bakery seems to function on whim: there’s no set cookie schedule (ie: sugar cookies will be fresh on this day of the week; we make chocolate chip cookies on this day) IT’S ALL A GIANT GUESSING GAME, and I feel like the fragile girlfriend, who’s forced to tread lightly (or forced to go to Ralph’s almost DAILY, to rummage through the cookie collection, trying to find fresh ones.)
        Eventually Ron got my joke, chortled, and proceeded to give me waaaay more hippie points (points toward cheaper gas) than necessary, but who’s counting?

So my room looks like a war zone – what else is new?

        Maybe I feel inclined to point this out to comically reiterate my relationship status (or lack thereof). Because I’m pretty sure that some days, I’m convinced that I’m going to be married to the Josef Stalin of neatness and cookie cravings, who will pluck the cookies right out of my hand like Stalin plucked the feathers off that chicken…

        I… I’m sorry. I don’t know where that came from. But now that I've written it, there seems to be too much comedic potential to back away from it. Grace, WHO SAID A STALIN REFERENCE WAS OK?! (If you don’t know the chicken story, don’t look it up. It’s terrible. I don’t know WHY that seems to be a primary piece I retained from Dr. Echerd’s European History class…

        Wait I promise this is the last Stalin reference, but I just googled him to make sure I was correct on the Russian spelling of his first name, and THIS picture came up:
I will not comment on what appear to be luscious locks of Socialist hair… For fear of anyone thinking I’m promoting anything Socialist – I’M NOT. But dude. That picture. I’m just saying.

The point I was getting at, seven socialist rabbit trails ago, is that until I marry Napoleon the pig, THE ROOM STAYS AS MESSY AS I WANT IT TO.

Just… please, please tell me someone got that George Orwell reference.


        I must now invoke the slowclap, for a one Josh and Amanda Miller, Moorpark’s very own Renaissance couple, as it were. More specifically: Josh, who came over with the patience of Job last night, to… fix things I’d nearly destroyed.

Exhibit A:

I texted him this picture yesterday and said something to the effect of: “So the charger still works, I’m just trying to avoid the whole thing bursting into flame – am I wrong to assume that I should just bind it with electrical tape?”

Clearly I don’t have any electrical tape in my possession, so Josh came over with the electrical tape, as well as a lesson in Physics, explaining the polarity of the charge and what kind of damage could be done, and how the electrical tape was fixing it.

        At one point I was scratching my head while he was talking about negative and positive charges and his expression told me he’d seen my eyes glazing over and I suddenly felt the need to assure us both that I wasn't a complete idiot: “Oh I've taken Physics. Well… I took a physics class. Once. In high school.”

        Ladies and gentlemen, I'm about to give you: Grace, at the peak of her career in Physics.

        I was a junior in high school and this demo was to prove that if an object is traveling  in a circle and the centripetal force is abruptly removed, the object will go tangent to the circle. (I didn't look this up just now: clearly the law stuck with me, after this demo) For some unknown reason, I volunteered to be the object that flies tangential to the circle when the force is removed. Mr. Myrick had one end of the rope, the other was tied to the scooter on which I was sitting. Lacy Magee (who I'm pretty sure was one of the fastest sprinters in our age group in the state at the time) had the end of another rope that was also tied to the fateful scooter. She ran around in a circle, and when she let go, I was supposed to go tangent and hit a set of bowling pins.

........But Lacy accidentally stepped on the rope, after she dropped it, causing the scooter to stop where it was, and for Grace to fly off the scooter...

        (The sound is really grainy, for whatever reason – just do yourself a favor and turn the volume off, otherwise your eardrums WILL bleed. What you will miss is Carolyn hollering, “She has a show tonight!” Sure, I’ll go ahead and take a moment to promote myself as a Jack of All Trades: I demonstrated centripetal force (or lack thereof) during the day and played Mrs. Malaprop at night, it’s casual. You’ll also miss me barking, “I’M GONNA DIE. I’M GONNA DIEEEEE.” But you’ll definitely see that the space for physical activity was so vacant in my life, that I had ZERO flexibility and my body stays as straight as a plank the whole time… )

So Josh used tape to bind up not only the charger to my computer, but also my phone charger. And when I showed him that the computer charger still worked, I had to acknowledge the fact that the ground plug (it was one of those three-pronged plugs) had come out some time over Christmas, but hey, the thing still worked like a charm! (This was after I admitted that this was the second charger for this computer: the first had become frayed to the point of no longer working…)

Josh finally asked the question that we’d both been wondering, “What do you do to these things?”


(…And in case you're wondering: that myspace reference is a joke. I don’t remember the last time I was on that site. But don’t tell me I’m the only one who tried to smash that darn watermelon once or twice…)

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

This Wasn't Supposed to Be My Travel Angst

First of all: I don’t like to fly.

        When I express this sentiment, I’m often met with sympathetic looks and either, “Oh I’m a terribly flyer too,” or “Yeah my sister’s really bad. She FREAKS out if there’s ANY turbulence…”


        I don’t have plane-o-phobia. I have germ-o-phobia. And while we’re at it: People-o-phobia. I would like to remark that my people-o-phobia is NOT synonymous with agoraphobia: I’m not afraid to be exposed to people, I’m afraid for people to be exposed to ME.
        Because when you’re crammed into close quarters on these tiny Southwest planes, there’s nowhere for me to hide my neuroses. These people are going to witness and up-close and personal dramedy of what it takes to maintain *gestures to face* THIS.
        Sidenote: “tiny Southwest planes” is an understatement for these new planes that Southwest SOMEHOW engineered to fit about 30 more people – and due to the obvious signs of budget cuts (they only offer vanilla Oreos – you know that means they've gotta be cheaper than chocolate Oreos) it would appear that Southwest spent all their money on top-of-the-line engineers to figure out the exact distance that the average American could recline their seat without ACTUALLY moving it, while still be deluded into thinking they were in a La Z Boy recliner. For the moment, my blame and resentment reside on: John-Michael Galbraith, Sam Moss, Will Nelson and Hunter Kopald.

…I’m just kidding. You guys are all great. I just know that you four have uttered the word “engineer” to me at least ONCE in my life…

        And I’m not REALLY even a germ-a-phobe when I’m outside a five mile radius of a plane or an airport: I’ll share straws, I’ll even use my clean hand to open the door to the women’s’ restroom, if there are no paper towels.
        …But once I set foot inside an airport, I set foot into a snugly incubated petri dish, and am suddenly in the fight of my life, to survive being eaten alive by the malicious contagion that is being bred in this petri dish we call an airport.
        I’m saying that if I were a robot (hey, I saw Bicentennial Man, it could happen) I’d be sure to bolt in my Wet Wipe arms, before getting out of the car at the Southwest terminal. You know, the robot hands that are just a continuous supply of Wet Wipes?
   …No? That Robot Thing is only in my mind?

        Before I discuss my obsessive traveling tendencies, allow me to offer a disclaimer: I’m not talking about Pretty Girl tendencies.
        Yes, you read that correctly: Pretty Girls. You know, the ones that “got the memo.” And when they return to their seat that just so happened to be assigned next to a gorgeous eligible bachelor, (oh yes – “assigned” – Pretty Girls don’t fly Southwest) they giggle as they take out their hand sanitizer and toss their hair and “whine” about “germ habits," before offering some to Mr. Eligible and then getting engaged. 

Just so we’re clear: my “habits” eat the “habits” of Pretty girls for Second Breakfast.

        Fortunately, I've never (to my knowledge) had to sit next to anyone on a flight that’s seen me go through security. Because that’s where people have to witness me throwing on a ratty (but recently laundered) pair of socks (Nashville is the only airport to offer the mesh foot covers, but even they cannot always be relied upon: IF the little old lady is even sitting at her perch dispensing them, you have to basically offer her biscuits and chat her up – I’M ON THE EDGE AND MY SANITY IS AT A GERM SECURITY LEVEL 9, CODE RED: I DON’T HAVE TIME FOR SMALL TALK, LADY, AND NO, I DON’T KNOW WHY A “CUTE YOUNG THING” LIKE ME DOESN'T HAVE A BOYFRIEND – LEAVE ME ALONE!”

Whew. That’s a lot to yell. But they always play the “cute young thing” card.)

        So I cut my losses with Aunt Bee and draw from the Desolate Sock Bin, to make it through security without touching the ground.
        (Ok I don’t actually have a bin with that label, but I have a bag of socks that are so run down that the only option is to pitch ‘em, and I wear a pair over my normal socks and throw them away after I've put my laptop back in my bag and convinced the TSA officer that traveling with my frozen biscuit dough is totally allowed.)

        So I see a coveted window seat next to a couple in row 14 (which is gold, because I boarded at B 30) and the wife is in the aisle seat, feigning sleep. I almost felt sympathetic: she doesn't look like a particularly warm or inviting individual, so obviously I feel an immediate kinship. Her fake sleep was calculated – they obviously had a system to keep the third seat vacant – oh, Grace has mad respect for you two.
        That being said, I now have two options:
              1)   “Hey, I totally get it, that you want the row to yourselves – the fake sleep is a tactical move. The good news is: I know the Chatty Kathy type you’re trying to avoid and I’m not her. I don’t want to know where you’re from and I’ll limit myself to asking only four times to make friendship bracelets with you, but I’m legally allowed to sit there; please don’t hate me?”
              2)      Or I can just play dumb to the fact that she’s giving the HEAVY social cue for “don’t bother me” and they've clearly positioned themselves so someone WILL feel bad when they ask to sit there. (To interrupt her “sleep” AND ask them to file out of the row: double insurance they’ll be left alone.)
        To no one’s surprise, I went for option #2, because I couldn't turn down an opportunity to beat them at their own game, cause who DIDN'T feel bad, asking them to move? THIS GIRL.
        Thank goodness I’d had a chance to rearrange my backpack and carry on suitcase, cause when I don’t get a chance to do that, there’s a whole lotta Grace contorting her body to access the depths of her backpack to fish out the headphones, worried that the person next to me is going to think I’m resting my head on their thigh, when I’m really just trying to maneuver about in this TINY PLANE. Fortunately it took very little maneuvering to get my Wet Wipes and wipe my hands after I fastened my seat belt  And wiped the seat belt  And the tray table… IT’S NOT MY FAULT: SARS AND ANTHRAX ARE REAL AND COULD STRIKE ANY TIME, OK?!

So then I got my pillow out, which is a tiny little neck pillow, while what I really need is one of these:
        Oh that is directly from the SkyMall magazine, and if you’re as indignant as I, to see that it is in fact a “Top Seller,” rest assured that its mass selling doesn't mean this country is raging with losers – it’s actually inflatable (or deflatable, rather -  meaning: you don’t have to haul it around in its full-sized glory)

        And for the flurry of complicated activity that goes on, in a tiny plane row FIT FOR ANTS, in order to get my pillow situated, I should probably invest in one of those inflatable Loser Pillows, because making someone endure me taking it out of my backpack and blowing it up would be better than the five act play that was about to start: Grace Gets a Pillow.

        So the neck pillow was packed in my backpack, as were two pillow cases. One pillow case was inside the other, so it wouldn't touch all the gritty surfaces of my backpack, along the way. (And while this move is slightly nuts, I have had this backpack since SEVENTH GRADE. It’s been everywhere and carried everything at some point: what’s a precautionary pillow case gonna hurt?)

        I just mourn for the people next to me, that they had to watch me take out the pillow, then the pillow case, then another pillow case, because at the second pillow case, they’re probably wondering if they’re sitting next to Weird Girl. (Spoiler Alert: Weird Girl does not get to be friends with Pretty Girl.) And if the second pillow case didn’t tip them off, the shifting of the pillow cases and obsessive adjustment with the overhead lamp certainly did. This is the single, glaring reason why the window seat is a bad choice: the overhead lamp is over the RIGHT shoulder… You know this is a problem for me. So to avoid the carsickness-inducing shadow being cast over my hand, I have to:
           a)      Adjust the overhead lamp CONSTANTLY while I
           b)      Perch the paper on which I’m writing on top of the neck pillow, that’s on top of the FIRST pillow case (because HELLO: I’m not going to let the CLEAN pillow case touch the forever-contaminated tray table)
           c)       I don’t even know if they've noticed that the paper I’m writing on is the only blank paper I could find in my backpack (while worrying that the husband of the duo would suspect that I was using his thigh as a headrest when I was rifling through my backpack) and it’s the back of pages that I took out of a Nutrifit notebook. Yes, Nutrifit: the program of my nutritionist, from when I was in seventh grade. (Props to Lou on this one: educating Grace on how to eat well. And clearly she wasn't one of those psycho Moms who wanted her daughter to be skinny, because the whole experience was a) great enough that I saved the notebook and b) am now referring to what kind of (gross) food I was taught to eat, to promote health and wellness…)
              And the problem with sitting next to Weird Girl on a five hour flight is the tension that one feels about her lack of awareness of her social awkwardness. Weird Girl doesn't know she’s weird. And if there is anything resembling a cardiovascular organ within your rib cage, it can be painful to witness a pathetic, packs-two-pillow-cases-in-her-carryon Weird Girl, who thinks it’s ok to rest her head on your thigh while she’s rummaging through her backpack for the second Pop Tart that she didn't eat earlier, because she was anything but subtle when she turned her nose up at the Vanilla Oreos. 

Guess it’s a good thing I know I’m weird and can permanently take myself out of the running for Weird Girl.

That wasn't supposed to be my life, anyway.