05/22/13

training for a big fight.

The other night at dinner I tried to take a lady’s order. I said, “Would you like to order dinner?” and she said, “I would, but no one has asked me yet.” I said, “The special tonight is dill encrusted halibut with wild rice and broccoli and cauliflower.” She stared at me and I said, “Would you like the special?” She said, “I don’t know what the special is!” I told her what the special was again. I told her about the other menu items but she was equally astonished by everything. I eventually talked her into ordering the special.

Later I asked her if she wanted more coffee. “What did I order?” she grabbed my arm and begged me to tell her, and the circumstances forced me to answer back “the special,” all cryptically like some horror film villain.

I brought out the special and set it in front of her sharp yet uncomprehending eyes.

“What is this?” she said. And I explained to her that it was dill encrusted halibut with wild rice and vegetables. I pointed to each food item, apologetically. She looked at the food like it was a pile of calculators.

“Does it not look good?” her dinner companion said.

“Would you like something else?” I asked. We all just wanted to be helpful.

“I don’t know what it is!” the woman said, and kind of snotty this time, like it was my fault. Like she was mad at me for bringing her a plate of calculators for dinner.

I told her all about halibut, that it’s a kind of fish. Again I asked her if she wanted something else.

“I just don’t know what this food is,” She said again. “I’ve just never seen anything like it before.”

And this is what it is to be old, everyone. The world stops making sense. You’re lonely and scared and no one can help you. Dementia isn’t a river in Egypt. It’s a thing, and it’s waiting for you.

Lately, every morning when I open my eyes I think, “I hate my life.” I know, that’s not ideal, and I’m not trying to upset everybody, but there it is. Every day I try to get fired, but I make every light. There’s always a parking spot. It’s like God wants it this way for me. The residents are always ordering dessert at lunchtime, and I think that’s wrong. But Tony Robbins says it’s fine to hate your life as long as you’re working toward something better, so let’s say I’m doing that and nobody worry about me.

I joined a mixed martial arts gym and I spend a lot of time pretending that I’m Hilary Swank from Million Dollar Baby, training for a big fight. In class we pummel bags with our fists. I try to get angry and imagine the bag is the face of my enemy, but there’s nobody I’m mad at. I’m not mad at my ex boyfriend. I just want to rewire his brain or bring his mother back to life. It sucks that my job sucks, but that’s a thing, not a person, and whose fault is a shitty job, the sun? Fuck the sun, I fucking hate it too, long live the fucking beast.

Remember when I sent some of you postcards? That was fun. I made it a permanent thing. Check out the free letter  section.

I’m going to Detroit this weekend, hide the fine china! JK I know you don’t have any, you’re Detroit.

05/1/13

congratulations on my new job.

I got a job as a server in the dining room of a retirement home. They make me wear black pants and shoes. I bought the whole outfit in the men’s section at Target, because who gives a fuck what I look like? The shoes are excellent except there’s something about the shape of them that makes me trip over my right big toe often and without warning, and every time is a little more perilous than the last. I feel like the shoes are cursed and something really bad is going to happen, but it’s probably just that I’m humiliated about my job and my pathetic station in life.

The old ladies think I’m some kind of big blonde giant lumbering toward them, and they’re all spellbound by my name, which I guess is more modern than I thought. You would think that old people would be more aware of things in life instead of less, but that’s not the case. Like, you’d think that they might have met at the very least a little dog named Molly in their 70+ years on this planet, but no. I tell them that I’m named after my great Aunt Mary, that historically Molly is a nickname for Mary, and it’s as if I told them we’re all going to start tasting with our feet from now on like butterflies.

The thing about being old is that you can’t remember anything. The old ladies hang out together and help remember each other’s orders. (“What is that thing I like?” “You like honey mustard. You like honey mustard so much.”) Here’s an example of a hilarious conversation I overheard in the dining room.

Joan: I’ll go grab your walker.
Ester: I don’t have a walker.
Joan: I’m pretty sure you have a walker.
Ester: I really don’t think I have one.
Joan: This is your walker.
Ester: Are you sure?
Joan: I’m pretty sure.
Ester: I really don’t think I have a walker.

They went back and forth like this for a pretty long time. The exchange felt comfortable and laid back, like the ladies were old friends.  The story ends with Ester wheeling herself out of the dining room, all the while convinced that the walker in her hands didn’t belong to her.

If I’m making it sound like I hate these people, that’s not the case. A few of them are assholes, but most of them are kind, beautiful snowflakes and it gives me genuine pleasure to bring them extra napkins when they ask for them. I have a particular fondness for old people because they’re such misfits. They’re complete fucking messes and everybody can tell. If I have any regrets about the job, it’s that I’m bummed out that I’m a terrific writer with a master’s degree, 60+ publications, 2+ years of teaching experience, I’m 31 years old, and the only job I could find in Seattle after months of tireless searching is working in an old folk’s home for $9.50 an hour. It’s embarrassing because I’m sure the world expected more out of me, but then again, does it really matter? You get up, you go to work, you come home, you go to bed. There’s more to life than a little bit of money, you know. Whatever, I’m sorry. I’ll keep trying.

I have a story at Spork Press called “Black Dog, White Rhino.” If you read that and you’re champing at the bit for more, the protagonist continues her sad life in another story on Monkeybicycle from last year called “What People Without Jesus Do.”

Thanks for reading! Also, am I boring you? What do you think I should write about? Any suggestions would be appreciated. I don’t really get this website or what it’s supposed to be about or why I’m writing it.