Monthly Archives: March 2014

in which people dislike me

Once upon a time in high school, I was sitting in the study room during my lunch period when a classmate walked up to me, looked me straight in the eyes, and with no prelude or explanation simply said, “I don’t like you.”

And then he walked away.

I was stunned. I just sat there for a minute. By the time I thought up a witty retort, he was gone. It shouldn’t have bothered me, but it really did. It still bothers me to the point that I could tell you exactly what I was wearing and where I was sitting when it happened–it is that burned in my memory. I’ll never forget this boy looking me straight in the eyes and saying, “I don’t like you.”

Because as far as I knew, I had never done anything to merit his dislike. This classmate and I weren’t close–I hardly knew him aside from the comments he made in class and sometimes ending up in the same room due to shared social circles. I couldn’t think of a single interaction we’d had just the two of us or a thing I’d done that would make him feel both a strong dislike for me and the need to tell me so. That, I realize now, is what bothered me the most about it. That I hadn’t done anything to him, meaning there was something about me on a fundamental level, something about just the way I was, that he did not like, and that made me feel like there was something wrong with me.

Recently I’ve been dealing with someone who, similar to this young man from high school, does not like me for no apparent reason. On a rational level, I understand that this is not something I can control and it should not bother me and there’s no way everyone you  meet is going to like you. But lately it’s been eating me up to think that there’s someone who I have never in my knowledge wronged, but who dislikes the things about me that make me me, the sort of things I can’t change. Maybe it’s the sound of my voice. Maybe it’s how I use my hands when I talk. Maybe it’s the combination of my voice and my hand-talking or the way I sometimes zone out in the middle of a conversation. But whatever it is, it’s not something I can change, it’s just me. And that bothers me.

Since I am a product of academia, I usually like to have some sort of clear concise conclusion to end my blog posts on, where I wrap up everything I’ve said in one sometimes cliched but usually relevant statement. Today I don’t really have that.

All I know is that sometimes people just don’t like you, and that sucks.

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in which I hike Angel’s Landing

You may remember that a few months ago I came to the end of my 101 in 1001 list. The 101 in 1001 is a list I made about three years ago of 101 things I wanted to do or accomplish in the next 1001 days. It’s a bucket list for people who fear commitment and/or buckets.

Upon finishing my 101 in 1001 list, I sat down and made another one, because the only thing I like more than self-reflection is lists. On this list, I wrote “Hike Angel’s Landing.”

What is Angel’s Landing, you may ask? Angel’s Landing is a legen1dary trail in Zions National Park that offers a startling rise in elevation, a precariously narrow trail that involves scrambling on narrow red rock fins, and what I had been told was a very worthwhile view.

I completely forgot I put this hike on my 101 in 1001 list until my family arrived in Zions National Park last week and were discussing trails we could take. It was my dad who mentioned Angel’s Landing, and I said I had always wanted to and they should do it with me. Cajoled, may be the best word. I cajoled my family into hiking it with me.

And the fools followed me blindly.

We were not prepared for Angel’s Landing.

We moseyed over to the trail head about ten in the morning and were greeted by a sign warning that since 2004, six people have died on the trail. We shrugged that off. “They must have been stupid, or hiking in a blizzard, or died from a lightning strike or a random but vicious squirrel attack,” we thought. Surely no trail would claim the lives of innocent hikers who brought proper hydration and sturdy shoes. And so we began casually climbing with no notion of what waited for us on the last mile of the trail.

This. This is what waited for us:

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Yes, that is a trail. A trail they let any old moron hike on.

Friends, I consider myself a pretty good hiker, but this trail was hard. And steep. And involved rock scrambling and chain holding and clinging to slick rock canyon walls like a gecko. I also consider myself pretty fearless, and while I wouldn’t say I was afraid on this trail, I was, shall we say, very aware of my own mortality as I peered over the edge at the thousand-foot fall waiting for me if I miss stepped2.

But the view at the top…not to wax poetic, but this was a super ultra mega awesome view.

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However, much like the rest of the trail, the ledge on which you soak in said view is both narrow and thousands of feet off the ground, so my dad’s parent instincts came out in full force as we walked along it. He kept a tight hold on the MT and my collars, resulting in us ending up like those leashed children at Disney World that keep scrambling for a better look only to be jerked backwards by anxious parents. The anxiety was merited. It was a long way to fall.

By the time we reached the bottom and were again by the “six people have died” sign, we had an entirely different attitude. As we walked away, my dad murmured under his breath, “Only six3?”

But Angel’s Landing has been hiked. It has been conquered. It has been crossed off the 101 and 1001 list.

  1. Wait for it.
  2. Hiking is significantly less fun when you’re pondering your own mortality the whole time.
  3. It is a remarkable low figure when you consider how many college-aged boys riding a spring break high and trying to show off for their friends hike it. Also boy scouts.
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in which I take a trip

This past week was very likely the last spring break I am ever going to have. In a little over a month I will become a master and my seventeen years of school will end1. And in the real world, you don’t really get a spring break.

So the family decided to do something proper to mark this rite of passage, namely head down to southern Utah for as close as we ever come to doing a road trip2. It was really a thoroughly marvelous vacation. I turned my brain and my internet off for six days and basked in natural beauty and sunshine, both a far cry from the polar vortex of a city I’m currently living in.

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Southern Utah is very special to me. We used to go there a lot when I was a kid, and I never feel so connected to my heritage as when I’m down among the red rock canyons. I love it so much I even set my ill-fated Mormon hook-handed zombie hunter novel down there (you remember that monstrosity, don’t you?). It feels strangely spiritual to me, like a sacred and secret place, though it’s hardly either of those things. 

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I will perhaps have other stories from this trip to share later in the week, but right now I’m am trying to recover from turning my brain off for six days and get everything in order before it all starts back up again tomorrow. So while you’re waiting, enjoy the view.

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  1. NO! NO! NO! PANIC PANIC PANIC!
  2. None of us are particularly fond of cars, small spaces, or spending long periods of time in small spaces with each other.
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in which I have bookseller adventures

As you may or may not know, I am currently funding my extravagant Bostonian lifestyle by working as a bookseller in the children’s room of the Harvard Coop Bookstore. The Harvard Coop is, to use a technical industry term, a big-ass bookstore. It is four floors of books. Four grand, Harvardian floors of books, complete with a sweeping spiral staircase, shelf-lined galleries, and a well-read, articulate staff.

….so we’re basically just a glorified Barnes and Noble. But still. Harvard.

Now if you have never worked in a bookstore, particularly the children’s room of a bookstore, you may think that the job involves primarily handing out books to tiny people and their accompanying adults. You may think booksellers do little more than talk about the books they love to their similarly polite and well-read customers and then read covertly behind the counter while sipping tea and waiting for the next customer to chat them up about Tolstoy or the derivative nature of Kafka’s Metamorphosis.

Oh contraire, my friends. Oh contraire.

Being a bookseller is hard. There is a lot of carrying books up and down those four sweeping staircases. There is a lot of fielding ridiculous questions and impossible requests1. There is a lot of talking to people who don’t know a darn thing about books (or in my case books for children), which is why they’re talking to me. There is a lot of putting things back where they belong because most patrons seem incapable of it. In the children’s room there is, on top of all that, clean up of snacks, reading at storytime2 and making really excellent crafts3 that the kids can then duplicate.

Today, the job also involved some light spelunking.

When I returned to the floor after lunch, I found the children’s room empty and the Boss behind the counter, grinning her most maniacal grin at me.

Boss: Why hello there4.
Me: …Hello?
Boss: Did you have a good lunch?
Me: I am very suspicious of this conversation.
Boss: So something happened while you were gone.
Me: Did it?
Boss: And now we have to fix it.
Me: So long as it does not involve me carrying the 160 copies of Panic by Lauren Oliver back down the stairs after already carrying them upstairs this morning5 then I am okay with just about anything.
Boss: I’m glad you said that.

So here’s what happened: while I was at lunch, the Boss made a classic rookie mistake. She gave the bathroom key to a small child and her nanny and told them to bring it back instead of walking them to the bathroom and unlocking it for them herself as she has told the rest of us time and time again we are supposed to do. It was a rather lazy and pathetic move on her part6. A few minutes later, the nanny returned rather sheepish and informed the Boss that while they were in the bathroom, the laws of physics had stopped, resulting in the key becoming nonsensically and impossibly wedged inside of the fold-out diaper changing table.

“No trouble,” thought the boss. “I got this.”

But she did not “got this.” Not even close. We discovered rather quickly that the key had fallen at such an angle that our adult-sized hands could not reach it7. It took a good half hour, a pipe cleaner, two straws, a dowel, a beehive of packing tape, and some very creative maneuvering before she and I working as a single until managed to chopstick that son of a bitch out from the interior of the diaper changing table and into our waiting palm. We both touched a fair amount of unmentionable things in the process, dug out some crayons that had also fallen victim to this strange black hole, and dropped enough McGyver references to last a lifetime.

But at last, with a small plop, the tiny silver key, now a bit tarnished and smelly, fell into the Boss’s hand. We cheered in unison. There might also have been some high fiving and victory dancing.

And then the Boss, still riding the high of successfully conquering the bathroom changing table, threw all our now soiled tools in the trash can and reflexively threw the newly-rescued key in after them. I let her fish it out of there.

We then returned to the desk and disinfected ourselves.

Friends, today was One of those Days. The sort of day where you find yourself stretched like a gymnast across a unisex bathroom while trying to prop the door open with your foot and simultaneously root around shoulder-deep in a diaper changing station with straws clutched like chopsticks fishing helplessly to get a key out from between the hinges of a collapsible diaper changing station, all the while cursing loudly and with great relish. It was One of those Days.

Being a bookseller is not a very glamours life. We’re not all the bespectacled, cardigan wearing do gooders you see in films8. So do me a favor–go thank your bookseller today.

Or bring them chocolate. I have it on good authority that booksellers love chocolate.

  1. Example of a real question I had: “I’m looking for a book. I don’t know the title but the cover has writing on it.”
  2. And doing the librarian hold until your arm starts to cramp.
  3. An example of one of my best, but ultimately rejected, ideas:IMG_0997
  4. She may have actually swiveled around in her chair while stroking a white cat and wearing an eye patch. Details blur together.
  5. True story.
  6. I can say this, because I know she is reading and because at the end of our harrowing adventure she said, “You should put this on your blog! But I don’t want to be named.” Careful what you wish for, Boss.
  7. And we both ended up with gouged knuckles to prove it.
  8. Though it should be noted that at this moment I am both bespectacled and cardiganed
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