get on with
Band Geeks Rule, Y'all
Back in high school I had been small-town famous for some academic awards & test scores, and although my family had few friends, most people knew my name and asked after me often. I ended up getting a near-full ride to a minor name-brand school in Ohio, and I haven't really talked to anyone except my parents and a few high school friends since. Because my friends and I are mostly on the mobile home/meth rehab/excessive baby-making end of the gossip spectrum, I am paranoid that everyone else in my town assumes that I am having some sort of crazy success story that will fulminate with a double book deal/law degree by age 23.
Anyway, a few days ago I waited on the kind of table that I had been dreading. After my "My name's Isabelle if y'all need anything" spiel, one of the two girls I was waiting on squealed. "I thought you were Isablle! I'm Whitney! And this is Sandy! Remember us?" Unfortunately, I did. We had been in high school marching band together when I was a senior and they were in eighth grade. Those girls hadn't been the least bothered by my nerdy and otherwise poor reputation among students my own age, and had in fact looked up to me quite a bit. As a youngest child and an outcast/recluse throughout high school, I basked in their attention, the first of its kind I had ever received. I remember making T-shirts ("Band Geeks Rule!") for the four or five girls in their year and imparting the kind of life lessons that subversive former camp-counselors will be familiar with ("Make-up is for losers." "All the cool kids are reading Camus." "You know, parents can be full of crap.").
That day at the restaurant, our catching-up conversation started out awkward and grew worse from there. Because of my paranoia about the gossip mill, I over-explained why I was working a crappy job waiting tables back home when I should have graduated college two months ago. I babbled about going back to school for sure
in the fall, about siblings born twenty years younger than you that are so damn cute and you need time with, about home feeling so strange. Then I left abruptly, feeling uncomfortable and not in the least bit as cool or impressive as I had felt in high school. And I realized that I had forgotten to ask about Whitney and Sandy's lives, which, you know, might have also changed dramatically in the past four years.
--So, you've both graduated? Going to college? Where?-
--I'm going to OU in the fall.
--I'm going to TU this fall.
--Uh, cool. Do you know what you're going to school for? Nonono wait, I shouldn't have asked--nobody knows right away--
--I'm going pre-med.
--So, like an RN?
--No, I want to work with injured people makes massage-y gesture.
--Like a masseuse. A physical therapist?
--Nooo! A doctor.
--Oh! Okay, of course.
--I'm going to be a lawyer!
The official worst part: after ordering only baked potatoes and salads, they left me about five dollars in quarters. They must have dug in their change purses pretty deep for my charity tip.
Rust and fur and reception sticks
Am still in Oklahoma. Don't know if I mentioned this before, but I grew up in one of those forgotten rural corners of a forgotten state. A fucking hour's drive to get a decent cup of coffee. My transportation right now is my father's old pick-up truck, which gets something like 12 miles a gallon. I haven't had a good mocha all summer.
After a fruitless month-long job search I finally tossed my pride like the fast-food detritus gathering on the pick-up passenger seat and asked for a job at the restaurant that first hired me in high school. I was reluctant to work there for several reasons, not limited to low pay and the kind of management style that has employees clocking out to go pee. But at least they hired me, despite knowing I would be gone by the end of the summer, so I'm thankful to be able to work hard and save a little money for next year.
Drive-through cancer for $1.15 a pack
I'm in Oklahoma with my family for a few months, so Sugoku Chugoku is muddling along the best they can without me. It's a shame and a disgrace, but I can't find a job -- nobody will hire me for only two months. I trolled Craigslist today and found no possibilities except a teaching gig at Kaplan
test prep. Might work out, as I've always thought of standardized-test-taking as my only significant talent. (Maybe that and crossword puzzles.) Something's gotta happen soon, because babysitting is the only thing in my life resembling a job right now. Since those kids are relatives, I'm not even doing that for pay.
The upside of Oklahoma? Drive-through Native American smoke shops. $11.50 a carton and you don't even have to get out of your car.
Horror in re: panic attacks
Horror is about pushing yourself (being pushed by your mind?) to the edge, the furthest point you can take fear. To me, horror feels like a panic attack with ghosts. You are alone and under the covers and you know you know you know that sound is something Wrong and that breeze touching your toes is Wrong -- you cannot move you cannot sleep, you can hide your feet under blankets but you can not stop imagining the touch of it, of Something Else. And thinking thinking if it does happen, if the bony hand whisper-flits upon your bare ankle, or if that terror-filled walk to the light switch you pass by a mirror and you do not see your own reflection. If that happens you will surely go insane.
Inevitably, however, you make it to the light safe and sound, nothing otherworldly comes out of the closet, and although you squint your eyes when you walk past the mirror, you can't help peeking and seeing that there is nothing amiss with your reflection. And you feel a little stupid the next day for ever being so scared in the first place.
(You know you know you know, something is wrong with your body. Your heart is beating too fast, your hands and feet are numb, maybe you have chest pains? You are so tense you are not even sure if the pain is there. But your heart your heart is racing and you don't know why except something is very Wrong. Something is very Wrong with your body and you know nothing else in the world except this. If this is the Big One and not just anxiety like it has always been in the past -- You are going to die. You feel like you are going to die, and you are going to die. But, inevitably, you calm down, after twenty minutes or an hour of deep breathing. You feel absolutely fine and it was just a panic attack after all, and you feel a little stupid for ever being so scared in the first place.)
This is a very cool page to waste time on: baby name wizard
. Try typing in your friends' names and see whether their parents were going with or against the trend when they were born. You can see how many babies a year were named a certain name during the last 120 years.
Most of the less-popular names follow either a positive or negative parabolic curve: that is, names either peaked in the 1910-1920s and are re-gaining popularity today, or peaked in the 1960-70s and are rarely, if ever used today.
(Over fifty baby boys in 1990 were named "Bo.")
driving drunk in dreams
Twice I have dreamed about driving drunk. In the first dream, I was taking my blind boyfriend back to his mother's house from a party. When we arrived, I could not remember how: the entire period in transit, during which I had presumably delivered us both safely ten miles, had not just been erased from memory but had never even entered it. Upon waking up, I realized that this "drunken blackout" was just a device my mind had used to explain away an incongruous jump from one location to the next. While still dreaming, however, I was horrified that I had been so careless, that I could do something so dangerous without even realizing it.
I've always been fascinated by descriptions of forgotten crimes; of murders and fights and deadly accidents happening in the world outside, but not in the seemingly more definite realm of memory. Imagine waking up one morning with a hangover, a warm gun, and a dead lover. Would you feel responsible? Would you feel remorse? Could
you feel remorse? I remember wrestling with these emotions while asleep -- first horror, then disbelief... then denial. I could deduce what had happened: I had barely escaped killing myself and the person I loved -- it was only through some shitluck miracle that we had made it home safely. Yet, because I could not remember, then I could pretend it hadn't happened. It was surprisingly easy to pretend something terrible hadn't happened. It is just a little bit easier than when you are awake.
May 1 at Sugoku Chuugoku
My boss, a very tall Chinese man, originally told the Mexican workers at Sugoku Chuugoku
that they could walk out on May first
, then changed his mind. Because he is the only contact they have in the states besides ESL classes, of course they didn't walk out, for fear of pissing him off & getting sent back home.
(I strongly suspect that he helps them come over here and pays the rent on their house. At least, I hope so, because I don't see how they could otherwise live on $3.50 an hour.)
As for me, I am not much into political activism. I admit, I'm better at talking political issues than making meaningless gestures, or meaningful gestures that would risk my badly-needed job. I wanted to support im/migrant rights, but if I walked out the only person who would have been able to cover for me would have been my manager, an immigrant herself. Making her work during her day off would have been ironic, and I took a stand against the hegemony of American Irony and didn't walk.
However, I secretly hated every customer who came in that day at least fifty percent more than I usually do.
I did not speak to Rhea Perlman
It was a slow night at Sugoku Chuugoku
when I walked by a woman and a young man of about college-age at a table in the other waitress's section. "That woman looks remarkably like Rhea Perlman
," I thought to myself.
I was attending to my own table a few minutes later, when the male customer asked if Rhea Perlman was sitting a couple of tables away.
I said, --It sure looks like her, doesn't it?
-- You know she's married to Danny DeVito, the man said.
-- I did not know that.
His wife said, -- I don't think that's Rhea Perlman.
"Rhea Perlman" walked by right then on her way to the restroom, and I cringed. Did Rhea Perlman (if indeed that is who she was) notice we were talking about her? Did she expect to be anonymous or to be recognized here? She was in rural Ohio, after all, where reruns of Cheers
might be one of the hipper shows these people can handle.
It would be rude to try for an autograph or even an identity confimation while she was eating, right? But would my table leave me a better tip if I got them an introduction?
I decided to ignore "Rhea Perlman" until she left, then snapped up her credit card slip to confirm her identity. The busboy, Antonio, looked over my shoulder as I found her signature. La mujer estaba aqui, una mujer... famous-o.
I've never studied Spanish seriously, so half of my daily communication is in this ridiculously awful pidgin. However, I can usually get my point across, as I did this time. Antonio looked impressed.
-- Si, mamacita.
All waitresses are mamacita
to Antonio. -- This lady in Cheers? Porque no me diges?
-- Isabelle, why you don't tell me she is famous? My manager Katriya, a Thai immigrant and recent waitress to Rhea Perlman, joined our huddle.
-- She's not that famous, I said. -- Solo un poquito, uhh, famous-o. She was in Cheers. She played the sassy barmaid.
-- Oooohh.... Yeah, I see that show one or two time. I don't remember this person, though.
-- She left you a good tip, I said.
-- Yeah, Katriya said.
"Super China!" Chinese bistro
I wait tables at a small, sort-of upscale Chinese restaurant in a college town. The name of the restaurant is in French, which can be confusing to first-time diners as nothing on our menu is remotely influenced by French cuisine.
To keep the identity of the restaurant secret, and to keep my job safe from a Google search, I am henceforth going to refer to the restaurant by a pseudonym. This fake name has about the same connection to the restaurant and its food as its real name does.
So I now wait tables at Sugoku Chuugoku
. (A rough translation from the Japanese: "Super China!")
Pete Garrison is/is not Travis Bickle
Last night was The Sentinel
, a West Wing/24
mash-up action movie that began with the shooting of Reagan and ended with a joke about adult diapers. The Sentinels (Kiefer Sutherland and Michael Douglas; the movie left me undecided on whose character was sentinelier) protected the president from Russian-lunactic assasination plot (also perhaps Australian, judging by one former KGB member's accent). Moreover, the first lady was having an affair with a secret-service man, which was not as hot as you might think.
When the image of the crazy president-assassinating guy needed to be invoked, a flash-montage of crazy-guy writing flashed on the screen, the washed-out film quality taken straight from Taxi Driver
. Michael Douglas, whom the viewers are supposed to expect at one point is the potential assassin, was also in a shot aping Travis Bickle's thinking position -- lying back in bed, one hand on stomach and one behind the head. Unfortunately, the Sentinel did not end with head-shaving, pimp-slaying, and prostitute-saving, but rather with the first lady looking sadly out the window of the White House, one hand on the glass, as her secret-service-love walked away from her life to the jangly beat of an indie-pop song.
I think Vella laughed til he hurt himself.
This blog is an experiment I'm beginning as I consider a career in writing. I hope to find out if I can write things that are interesting and worth reading before I try to write things that are interesting and worth money.
The name of the blog is (for now) called Charlotte Simmons is Dead, although I've only skimmed Tom Wolfe's novel. It's called this because I several years ago I was a somewhat naive, somewhat promising frosh from a somewhat hardscrabble background at a somewhat elite college, and also because I could kick Charlotte's ass easy.
My real name is not Isabelle Kellor.