Thursday, May 28, 2009

Neuroses installment #155: Earplugs

Since moving to Florida, I have not been able to find my favorite brand of earplugs. When I mentioned this to my office mate, she said in disbelief, “You have a favorite brand of earplugs?” I mean, she’s kinda used to the weird stuff like this that comes out of my mouth, so I don’t think she was that shocked, just mentally adding another tick mark on the list of “Christine’s insane” tally. Usual stuff.

So the problem is that my globally favorite brand of earplugs is Leight Sleepers. I highly recommend them if you can find them at your drug store. Their purpose: live music. They are absolutely the right sound dampening to let the music in adequately and still hear people who talk into your ear without the live music making your ears ring the next day. Instead, you come home refreshed, having had a fun time and not sacrificing ear health.

I’ve been getting by with these purple things that I found at a drug store, but they are too dense, the music is garbled, and I can hear nothing of my friends’ voices. Suck. Must have Leight Sleepers back. Google search!

Google turned up several results, the first of which was a 200 pack for $20. Seemed excessive since I really don’t see live music that often. OK, next two offerings are Leight Sleepers brand but not the style I like. Ah, here’s one, a ten pack for $3. Perfect. Click on the store, enter information, go to check out, shipping price $15! You’re kidding me, right? A ten pack of foam nuggets? Not cool dude, not cool.

I searched through the Google results again, but nothing was right. I took the plunge. I bought a case of 200 earplugs. And, the sale was through Amazon, so why not buy two books I’ve been wanting? Things I Learned about my Dad (in Therapy) and It Sucked and then I Cried. Now I qualified for super saver shipping! Rock.

Anyone need earplugs? I have about 160 I can spare.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Losing Me

I was a substitute teacher in Chicago public schools. Believe it or not, the students and in-class work really weren’t that bad. You hear “Chicago public school,” and I know you are thinking terrible scenarios, but it wasn’t the kids who gave me trouble—it was my fellow substitutes.

When there were more teachers out than there were subs to cover, one of the schools I worked at would put all the subs they had in the auditorium and turn all the students loose to sit in sections by class. As for my co-workers, there was this ancient guy who came off like a weather-beaten Chicago mafia grandfather and three young women about my age. I naively bounced into the auditorium thinking “Oh yay! Three new friends!” I sat down, smiled, did the “Hi I’m Christine,” and they all kind of scowled at me. The old guy scowled because that’s just what he did, but I had no idea my cohorts would be Negative Nelly’s too. They wouldn’t look at me, talk to me, or sit near me, and I couldn’t understand why they wouldn’t let me fit in. I couldn’t see that we were so different.

I overheard them complaining about no money, shitty jobs, too many student loan bills, and credit cards, and I thought, “I have those problems too… why aren’t they talking to me?” For whatever reason, I was just not invited to the in-club, but I so desperately wanted to join. I came up with a strategy, next opening I got, I’d pretend like the world was crushing me with debt and joblessness too. I mean, it was, but if I dwelt on it I’d be too depressed to move. Moment came, I laid it on.

“Yeah, I don’t make hardly any money here, especially since they don’t call me every day.” They rolled their eyes and groaned, sympathizing.

“I mean, I have crazy student loan debt that I have no idea what to do about. And my credit card? I used that just to survive college, now I have to seriously pay it off? With what?”

“Oh yeah, me too,” one of them said. “I mean, you pay so much for school, then, this is what you get?” We nodded and mm-hmmed.

And then, I felt horrible. They were finally talking to me, but as we continued commiserating, I felt the pull of the credit card and the crappy unreliable job and my rusted-out car.

I was miserable. I went from na├»ve, cutesy little, “Hi! I’m a teacher!” to an amazingly unhappy depressed person. I would get the morning phone call, “Can you teach today?” and my heart would sink. “Oh great, another day of misery to trudge through.”

Those young women didn’t become my friends. We may have reached a sympathetic level of communication, but they did nothing but bring me down. When I was around them, my world-weary miserable-with-life self would come out. Around them, I became less myself because I had traded in my happiness for acceptance into a tribe of petulant twenty-somethings.

It’s hard to look back at the simpler Christine and not regret the way life’s grind wears out a person’s childhood presumptions about the future, but I can’t forget the learning opportunities I’ve had along the way. The public school triumvirate taught me that sinking to the lowest common denominator just to ease loneliness really isolates you from yourself. I don’t think I’ve lost my naivety completely, but I know I’ve gained maturity from all those hard lessons earned at my innocence’s expense.

Random internet word-spew:

"I guess you can be a bitch like that when you are queen of the internet?"

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Global finance and baby asparagus

The greatest economic indicator is going to be my stomach. If you see me eating organic ground turkey, baby asparagus, and pre-cut watermelon, then the world is fine. If, however, you peek in my shopping cart and see ground chuck, French style green beans, and canned peaches, then you know we are in trouble.