Tuesday, August 14, 2012 | By: Brianna

Waiting by the Phone

"I'll call you on Monday," he said, shoving his hands in his pockets along with the little slip of paper that held her phone number.  With that, he walked away in his stolen bowling shoes.

That was 48 hours ago.

On Monday, Jenny woke up at dawn because of the nerves.  The sun slanted through her bedroom window, hitting her strategically in the eye as if it had planned its intrusion into her sleep.  Of course, the sun didn't really much care whether Jenny was awake or sleeping in someone else's bed, it was going to shine wherever it damn well pleased.  Anyway, when Jenny woke up, her tummy was doing somersaults up and down her middle so she held it steady as she brushed her teeth and took a shower.

Jenny wasn't much of a breakfast eater, but when her mother slid a plate of bacon and eggs onto the table in front of her, she couldn't very well say no.

"So what are you going to do today, Jenny?" her mother asked, cocking a hip as she fried up some eggs for Jenny's father who liked his eggs runny, a preference that his wife never fully understood.

"Oh, this and that.  I think I'm just going to hang out here for a while, I need some time to recharge," Jenny said, waving her fork around vaguely as if indicating some abstract plans she may have in the near future.  And that was the end of her mother's questioning.  One simple question, and Jenny was left to shovel scrambled eggs and bacon into her minty toothbrushed mouth.  Oh well.

Once Jenny's mother was safely off to work and Jenny's father was locked up in his office where he was working on his novel, Jenny dragged a dining room chair to the wall next to the phone.  The family phone was practically a museum piece, one of those plastic wall hanging ones.  Luckily they had upgraded from the rotary number dial, but it still hung on the wall, the listening and talking piece chained to the wall piece by a stretchy curly cord.

This was the phone number that Jenny had given the boy.  Something had lapsed in her brain, and she had forgotten that she owned a cell phone, so texting and calling on that was out.  Oops.  If she had told her mother this predicament, her mother would have been astounded that Jenny could be so stupid considering her phone was practically surgically attached to her hand at all times while she texted the day away.  Basically her mother would have marveled at Jenny's idiocy, and it would have been completely warranted.

Jenny could feel the chairs's cushion warming underneath her butt.  She crossed her arms and stared at the phone, pausing to check the time on the microwave clock.  8:00 AM.  Well, it was summer, so he was probably only getting up just now.  That gave him to climb out of bed...brush his teeth...maybe run damp hands through his bed head, and call...NOW!

The phone remained still, hanging from the cradle on the wall.

8:02 AM.

Maybe he showered instead of damp hand combing.  So he'd have to take off his pajamas and run the water so it got warm, then climb into the shower...wash his hair and all the clever little places that contained odors...then he had to get out of the shower...dry off...go back to his room and get dressed.  Then maybe he combed his hair.

8:22 AM.  The phone didn't ring.

Maybe he ate breakfast first.  And when he ate breakfast, he made himself a really elaborate breakfast with freshly squeezed orange juice, French toast, eggs, bacon AND sausage.  He was a teenage boy, it was morning, and he was hungry.  So he needed to make this breakfast himself after feeding the dog.  Then he'd set up a table setting with a fresh flower that he had to go out into the backyard to retrieve.  And because he was a good son and didn't want to put his mother out, he would clean his own dishes.  By hand.  And after all that he would have to dry all his dishes and put them away too.

9:14 AM.  Nothing.

Jenny rocked back on the dining room chair's back legs, thinking.  What else would he have to do outside of call her?  Wasn't he wondering what she was thinking just as much as she was wondering what he was thinking?  I mean, was he upset that his school's football team had lost and her's had won?  Wasn't he thinking that he wanted another custom made hot dog from her school's free hot dog stand?  Jenny had been absolutely certain that they had connected.  They shared the same disdain for ketchup on hot dogs and had given his best friend a hard time about including ketchup in the "everything" on his dog.  They had all laughed and he had looked at her and smiled.  She could remember just about everything that he had said that night, and she sat next to the phone while she analyzed every pause, glance, and word.

9:52 AM.  Nada.

Jenny let out a sigh.  Maybe he was cleaning his room?  He was a boy.  Unlikely.  Maybe she needed to clean her room?  No.  She couldn't allow the chance of him having to leave a message on the family answering machine.  She would never hear the end of it if that happened.  Jenny bit her lip thoughtfully, staring even more intently at the piece of plastic that was quickly becoming more of an enemy than she ever could have previously imagined.  If he didn't call in the next ten minutes, she would go to the mall with Stacy. Ten minutes.  He had ten minutes to call.

10:02 AM.  Nope.

Jenny took a breath, steeling herself.  She pulled herself up off the dining room chair, peeling her pajama pants off the chair's cushion and shuffling back to her room to get dressed and brush her teeth again.  She fluffed her hair, grabbed her purse and her cell phone.  As she headed out the front door, Jenny dialed Stacy.

10:41 AM.  The phone rang.

"I'm tired of waiting by the phone, and second-guessing what a guy says and trusting someone not to hurt me.  Again.  I've been storming the relationship castle for fifteen years, and I still don't have my prince.  I've got a bunch of battle scars from the field and I want to go home and nurse my wounds.  I don't want to fight anymore."
- Kim Gruenenfelder
Sunday, August 5, 2012 | By: Brianna

Things I've Learned at Home

As a recent college graduate, I figured that my learning would end once I left the beautiful campus of the place I'd called home for the past four years.  How very, very wrong I was.

  1. The day you really want to go to the library, it'll be closed for a library institute day.  You'll try going at 9 the next day, only to realize it doesn't open until noon.
  2. Old people will glare at you if you drive across parking spaces in the parking lot.  They will also glare at you when you start driving across the intersection when they're crossing the street NOT at the corner!
  3. Small children will attack when you're innocently trying to recycle paper.
  4. Your 5 books are only worth $2.  All together.
  5. The local Barnes and Noble doesn't have a poetry section, though it does have an entire set of shelves devoted to "teen paranormal romance."
  6. It has to get worse before it'll start looking better.
  7. No, I don't need a copy of the script from a show I wasn't actually in, I just stage managed...because I'm never going to need to call those light cues again.
  8. Don't worry if it looks like you've made zero progress with cleaning your room...that's just a sign that you have a lot of stuff to sift through.
  9. If you ask your dad really nicely, he'll fill up the bike's tires with air before you even get home.
  10. The alternative music radio station will resurrect itself just in time for you to listen to it on a bike ride.
  11. The radio in your car will never work again.  Ever.  Because you're home and you want to listen to it.
  12. That car sitting next to the school bus that almost hit you?  She wasn't watching the school bus.  She will also almost hit you.
  13. If you're helping your dad with the balcony, make sure those unsecure boards you sit on are out of his reach, or he'll try messing with you.
  14. Spiders can drown in the washer.
  15. Cookie sheets can burn you.
  16. You might be judged based on the titles of the books you take out from the library.
  17. If you start one romance novel in a series, you will have to read the rest of the series just to find out what happens to the rest of the characters.
  18. Most Parisians are kind and helpful and genuinely don't want to see you wandering around sad and lost in their city.
  19. Your boyfriend will remember this:  http://xkcd.com/201/ and it'll be awesome.
  20. If you're standing next to someone nice in the line for the Amtrak, they'll give you the window seat because you talked about it.  On your return trip, you will meet Ben, and he will be awkward.
  21. People are stupid.  Sometimes they're related to you.
  22. You will see Fifty Shades of Gray everywhere.  Yes.  Even Kroger.  Though not at Menard's.
  23. You will get a "nod" at Menard's.  Possibly because you're wearing a zombie bandana.
  24. Time moves really oddly over the summer.
  25. You will be in every picture/video of the front row at a concert for a band you only know 3 songs for (though you will be surrounded by people who have attended (collectively) over 200 of their concerts).
  26. Ekphrasis is haaaaard....  And you will be thankful when the Pinterest poems are over.
  27. You are a reading machine.
  28. It doesn't matter when you go to the library, even if you vary the days and time of day, you will never bump into the librarian you want to bump into.
  29. "That's a lot of watermelons."
  30. The dog you're sitting doesn't know how to play fetch, but he's exceptionally good at playing "keep away."
  31. Everyone will have a job, or something to do during the summer.  Everyone but you.  So pick up a book.  Or three.
  32. "Where do you wait for the buses?"  "Over where it's labelled 'buses.'"  Thanks, I can read, I was testing you under these unusual circumstances.
  33. Coffee Hound espresso is infinitely better than any other espresso and you will be reminded every time you buy a coffee drink from anywhere else.
  34. After a couple ciders, always be careful when you choose to turn your head to kiss your boyfriend.  That head in the way does not belong to him.
  35. Yes, you can quote "The Doctor's Wife," but that doesn't mean you should.
  36. Be careful how enthusiastically you twist your neck.
  37. Never make promises you don't intend to keep.
  38. New things come out on Tuesdays.
  39. You will visit Barnes and Noble WAY too many times during the summer, but you will buy too few books (a.k.a. none).
  40. A complete stranger will hear your conversation and assure you and your friends that he "can do the tongue thing."


Any time you leave home, you're reminded: Goodbyes were always difficult.  It came with the territory, all wrapped up in the "seeing off" presents, but hidden in a corner away from the Hallmark cards with the checks from family members who couldn't remember what they needed when they first moved elsewhere or who had never been to college.  And it was a big box that was actually more of a glorified "nesting doll" with box within box within box, each holding a different category of farewell.

There were the family goodbyes which were the lowest difficulty.  Relatively easy when compared with others because your plans were always the talk of family dinners and gatherings, even if you weren't actually present to confirm facts or quash rumors.  Yes, you would be moving into an apartment and yes, you would have to feed yourself.  No, the pets would have to stay home, and no, you wouldn't be home for the holidays.  The "missing" of family members was a given.  They sent you with cookbooks that they probably didn't have in their own cabinets because they were thinking about your budget (or lack thereof) and how you would in reality live off of Ramen despite the fancy recipes in the cookbook.  At least one family member will send you with salt and pepper.
Your immediate family will drive you to the airport, probably even make sure that you remember to tip the skycap for taking care of your magenta rolly bag.  They'll follow you as far as they can, and hopefully you'll remember to hug them all before you put your shoes on the conveyor belt to be scanned because ballet flats are dangerous shoes.  Especially when they have cut out stars.

There were the general goodbyes, to familiar places and the librarians you probably won't miss anyway.  You'll have to bid farewell to the Walgreens within walking distance, various libraries in town, the train station, the bank where you don't have much money anyway, all the streets you're familiar with because you've lived there all your life...

Less general but still impersonal-ish goodbyes went to things like your house.  Your bedroom.  Your car which wasn't really "your" car anyway because you shared it with your brother.  The backyard.  The dog.

There are various specifications of friend goodbyes, but the most common are the last minute goodbyes that actually happen via text or Facebook post because everyone forgot that life happens.  One of you has a job and the other one of you has a plane to catch.  Some of these goodbyes could be frustrating, and that's okay.  It's one of those things that you shouldn't let fester.  Let it go.  It's really not the end of the world if you don't see every single one of your friends exactly a week before you take off.  Really.  It's okay.

And then there are the goodbyes to that special someone.  That one person who tolerates all of your cliches and all of your cheesiness and loves you anyway.  And I'm not talking about your mom.  I'm talking about your special lady friend or your gentleman...friend?  Yeah, that person.  You'll spend just about every waking moment cuddling and doing everything you can to stay as close as humanly possible and socially acceptable. You'll do all the cute little couple things and pretend that it's just another weekend, that one of you isn't leaving the state for five months.  You'll pretend that you live together and eat off the same plate because you don't want to do the dishes...some chores are just always intolerable, it doesn't matter who you're doing them with.  One of you will tell the other not to cry when they leave and the other one will promise, but they'll cry anyway when the other has their back turned.

You'll miss everyone and everything, partially because of your change of locale, the increased distance between people, and the unfamiliarity of where you'll be.  And you'll probably feel homesick.  And that's okay.  It's really just a temporary goodbye anyway.

"Why does it take a minute to say hello and forever to say goodbye?" - Unknown