Get In the Car, Loser
I'm Katie with a K. Catherine with a C.
I'm a writer and personal trainer and I live in New York City.

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March 6th
10:00 AM EST

Oatmeal for breakfast is awesome, but if you can’t have cinnamon in it, then what’s the point?

Two mornings ago, I woke up, drank two cups of coffee, read a few chapters of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, and decided to make a bowl of oatmeal when I felt my stomach starting to growl. I poured the oats into a bowl. I mashed up a banana and mixed it in. I poured in a cup of almond milk. I went to grab the cinnamon so I could sprinkling a bit of it into the mix and complete the oatmeal-making process. Where was the cinnamon?

I scanned the counter. I put cinnamon in my oatmeal every morning. I always placed it back in the same spot on the counter, where could it have gone? I opened both doors to the spice cabinet and searched around. I moved the other spices- cumin, paprika, nutmeg- around like chess pieces, all the while keeping my eyes peeled for the cinnamon. It wasn’t in there. With my left hand still on the cabinet door’s handle, I spun around and looked toward the kitchen table and then did a once over of the entire room. Nothing. No cinnamon anywhere. I turned back to the cabinet, moved each and every spice all around for a second time, and when I could officially confirm it was not on the lowest shelf, grabbed a chair from the kitchen table for assistance in searching the two upper spice shelves. It wasn’t up there either. 

For a minute I thought about popping the bowl of oatmeal into the microwave and eating it without any cinnamon, but that notion didn’t last long at all because I remembered that oatmeal without cinnamon tastes like plain, boring oatmeal. Unacceptable. So, I had to call my mom, because it’s a rule of life that even when they don’t know where things are, moms always know where things are.

"Hi Mom, do you know where the cinnamon went?" I asked.

"Uhh, no. I haven’t used any cinnamon recently." She said.

"But I always put it back in the same spot and it’s not there anymore so you must have moved it," I complained.

"Kate, I didn’t move the cinnamon. I know it for a fact. Just look around, it has to be there somewhere," she tells me.

She’s a neat freak, so deep down I knew that if she said she didn’t move it, she definitely didn’t move it. She would remember if she had put it away somewhere. But since I still can’t find the cinnamon and she doesn’t know where it is, I hang onto the notion that she must have moved it and just didn’t remember.

"Ugh, ok… whatever. Never mind. I’ll talk to you later," I sigh.

"Bye," she says.

At this point, like twenty minutes later, I was too hungry to care about the very specific tastes of my breakfast. My stomach was growing impatient and I was just going to have to settle for a less than satisfactory morning meal. I threw the bowl into the microwave and when it was ready, I leaned back against the counter, bowl and spoon in hand, and began to eat. Two-and-half bites into my delayed breakfast, for no reason at all (I swear I wasn’t still looking for it; I had fully accepted the absence of the cinnamon at that point) I nonchalantly turned my head to the right, and out of the corner of my eye saw none other than the stupid, little brown bottle that I had been searching for peaking out from behind the standing paper towel rack.

Thank god for my wandering eye, because I got to have cinnamon in my oatmeal that morning after all, which proves two of life’s undoubtable truths; the moment you stop looking for something, it will almost immediately reveal itself to you, and, your mom is always right. Always right.

December 13th
2:56 PM EST

Every damn day.

(via sevendeadlyequations-deactivate)

December 7th
6:40 PM EST
A few months after I graduated from college, I applied for an internship at Tumblr. As someone who spent 95% of my day on the site, it really didn’t seem like there could be anywhere else better in the whole entire world to work. I wanted that internship more than anything. I also just wanted to find some freaking thing to do besides send out 40 cover letters a day so that people would stop asking me how my job search was going, you know? But that’s a different story. 
After I sent my resume and a truly heartfelt (but still fun) cover letter, I waited anxiously for three very long days before Meghan got in touch with me to ask if I’d like to meet her for coffee and talk about the position. I responded in about 3.6 nanoseconds. “Absolutely! I’m really looking forward to meeting you and finding out more about the position,” I wrote back to her, making sure to include just the right amount of exclamation points to convey my sincere enthusiasm without being Internet obnoxious. We made plans to meet and a few days later I found myself in a small coffee shop, sitting across the table from one of my favorite Tumblr bloggers, as we sipped on iced coffees and chatted about life as a Tumblr employee. Jack’s (pictured above) is not that coffee shop. But little did I know my meeting with Meghan that day would lead me to end up spending much of my free time in this quaint and cozy coffee shop on West 10th Street in Greenwich Village.
On the day of my interview, I met Meghan at the Tumblr headquarters. I rode the elevator up to the third floor of the Park Avenue building and knocked on the big double doors. A friendly young woman opened the doors and welcomed me in. “Hi, I’m Katie,” I said shaking her hand. “I’m here to meet Megan,” I smiled. “Oh, she’s right over there,” she said pointing me in Meghan’s direction. The office was a big, wide open room decorated mostly in red with lots of modern-looking furniture and desks. Even though I was mostly just really excited to be there, I was also super nervous that I would run into David Karp and say something embarrassing that would make him not want me to be one of his interns. So, I put on my side blinders and double timed it over to greet Megan who was finishing up a few emails at her desk.
"Hi! I’m Katie. It’s so nice to finally meet you," I said as we shook hands. "Meghan. Nice to meet you too," she smiled. "I just have to send out this last email really quickly and then we can go grab some coffee," she said. "Sure, no problem," I said. As I waited for her to finish up, I nonchalantly looked around the room. It was mostly empty, give or take a few computer entranced employees here and there. Mr. Karp was nowhere in sight. "Darn," I thought to myself. A small part of me had at least wanted to catch a glimpse of the CEO in action, but I had no such luck. I didn’t sweat it, though. After all, hopefully I was going to be a new employee of his soon. I also looked for the famously known  Topherchris but he and David must have been out on Official Tumblr Business together because I didn’t see him either. 
Meghan sent her last email and we eventually made our way out of the office. I was wearing a floral print dress and I remember she told me that she liked it as we rode the elevator down to the lobby. I smiled and said thanks. I didn’t even really care that she liked my dress, the fact that she was willing to talk to me about something other than the internship eased my nerves and made me feel more like I was about to catch up with an old friend rather than attempt to desperately sell myself by reciting the whole of my past professional experience. 
We ended up going to a coffee shop that was just a few doors down. It was sort of the exact kind of coffee shop you might expect to find on Park Avenue. The entire inside was white. The walls, the floor, the furniture; it was kind of intimidating. We ordered our coffee and then sat down at a nearby table. It’s funny now to think about how badly I wanted the position because I honestly don’t remember one thing she or I said about it. What I do remember, though was Megan telling me the story of how she moved to New York City and worked at tons of odd jobs to make it by until she finally landed a spot working for David at his new startup called Tumblr. I wished all interviews would work that way because it felt so much more professional for us to sit down and get to know each other as peers, as opposed to Meghan just asking me a million unanswerable questions like what my greatest weakness is or which superpower I would choose if I could pick just one to harness.
As we finished up with our coffee, we finished our conversation and I told Meghan that it was so nice to meet her and that I really appreciated her taking the time to talk with me. She said that it was great to meet me too and that she would be in touch soon. A pretty typical ending to a not so typical interview. We left the coffee shop, waved goodbye one last time, and she made her way back up to the Tumblr offices while I walked back to Penn Station and boarded my train back to Long Island feeling confident about my chances of landing the gig. 
About four days later I heard from Meghan. I hadn’t been chosen for the internship. She wrote to explain they had picked another girl who was still in college. They felt a student was a more appropriate fit for the position since it was only part time. Obviously I was pretty upset. Plus, it sucked even more because I had a college degree and someone who hadn’t even finished theirs yet beat me for the position I had wanted more than anything. As much as I was disappointed, I wrote back to Meghan to say that I understood their decision and I thanked her again for her time. I told her I’d hoped we could keep in touch in case she knew of any other positions that I might be good for. She said that she would keep her eye out for me and keep in touch if she came across anything.
Just a few weeks later, I spotted Meghan’s name in my inbox again. She had forwarded me an email from her friends Zoe and Krista who were looking for a part time intern at their PR firm. I got in touch with them right away, met them for an interview, and long story short, I ended up working in the West Village with them. That’s where Jack’s comes into the story. I remember my first time there. It was a bitterly cold, rainy December morning. Zoe was running late with the keys to the office and Krista told me to meet her there so we could wait for her together. We sat down at a table and talked over coffee and tea until Zoe showed up with the keys. After that day, I visited Jack’s all of the time. On my lunch breaks I would go just so that I could sit on the bench outside and play with the dogs that random customers had tied up outside while they purchased their coffees. On days when my train would arrive early, I’d stop by, order a coffee, and sit down to read until it was time to go to work. Zoe and Krista loved Jack’s chocolate chip cookies and they would often send me out to pick up one for each of us when we needed a late afternoon snack. 
I specifically remember one December morning there. I was sitting at a table up against the wall, sipping on a cup of green tea while I read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. With my head buried in my book, I overheard another customer say, “I always start reading the Harry Potter series at the beginning of the Holiday season because a lot of the first book takes place around Christmas and it feels so festive!” She was talking to her friend. He agreed with her and said that that was a really great idea. I smiled to myself at the thought. 
Isn’t it weird, the stupid little things that stick out in our memories? And the way we can be reminded of them instantly without any warning, as if someone had just flicked a tiny little switch you’d forgotten was in the back of your mind. This one silly little picture (taken and posted on Tumblr by David Karp) of a dog standing outside of a coffee shop takes me back through an entire series of events that would have never even happened to me if David Karp hadn’t one day decided he wanted to create Tumblr. It’s just a bunch of random coincidences, but even still, it’s pretty crazy.

A few months after I graduated from college, I applied for an internship at Tumblr. As someone who spent 95% of my day on the site, it really didn’t seem like there could be anywhere else better in the whole entire world to work. I wanted that internship more than anything. I also just wanted to find some freaking thing to do besides send out 40 cover letters a day so that people would stop asking me how my job search was going, you know? But that’s a different story. 

After I sent my resume and a truly heartfelt (but still fun) cover letter, I waited anxiously for three very long days before Meghan got in touch with me to ask if I’d like to meet her for coffee and talk about the position. I responded in about 3.6 nanoseconds. “Absolutely! I’m really looking forward to meeting you and finding out more about the position,” I wrote back to her, making sure to include just the right amount of exclamation points to convey my sincere enthusiasm without being Internet obnoxious. We made plans to meet and a few days later I found myself in a small coffee shop, sitting across the table from one of my favorite Tumblr bloggers, as we sipped on iced coffees and chatted about life as a Tumblr employee. Jack’s (pictured above) is not that coffee shop. But little did I know my meeting with Meghan that day would lead me to end up spending much of my free time in this quaint and cozy coffee shop on West 10th Street in Greenwich Village.

On the day of my interview, I met Meghan at the Tumblr headquarters. I rode the elevator up to the third floor of the Park Avenue building and knocked on the big double doors. A friendly young woman opened the doors and welcomed me in. “Hi, I’m Katie,” I said shaking her hand. “I’m here to meet Megan,” I smiled. “Oh, she’s right over there,” she said pointing me in Meghan’s direction. The office was a big, wide open room decorated mostly in red with lots of modern-looking furniture and desks. Even though I was mostly just really excited to be there, I was also super nervous that I would run into David Karp and say something embarrassing that would make him not want me to be one of his interns. So, I put on my side blinders and double timed it over to greet Megan who was finishing up a few emails at her desk.

"Hi! I’m Katie. It’s so nice to finally meet you," I said as we shook hands. "Meghan. Nice to meet you too," she smiled. "I just have to send out this last email really quickly and then we can go grab some coffee," she said. "Sure, no problem," I said. As I waited for her to finish up, I nonchalantly looked around the room. It was mostly empty, give or take a few computer entranced employees here and there. Mr. Karp was nowhere in sight. "Darn," I thought to myself. A small part of me had at least wanted to catch a glimpse of the CEO in action, but I had no such luck. I didn’t sweat it, though. After all, hopefully I was going to be a new employee of his soon. I also looked for the famously known  Topherchris but he and David must have been out on Official Tumblr Business together because I didn’t see him either. 

Meghan sent her last email and we eventually made our way out of the office. I was wearing a floral print dress and I remember she told me that she liked it as we rode the elevator down to the lobby. I smiled and said thanks. I didn’t even really care that she liked my dress, the fact that she was willing to talk to me about something other than the internship eased my nerves and made me feel more like I was about to catch up with an old friend rather than attempt to desperately sell myself by reciting the whole of my past professional experience. 

We ended up going to a coffee shop that was just a few doors down. It was sort of the exact kind of coffee shop you might expect to find on Park Avenue. The entire inside was white. The walls, the floor, the furniture; it was kind of intimidating. We ordered our coffee and then sat down at a nearby table. It’s funny now to think about how badly I wanted the position because I honestly don’t remember one thing she or I said about it. What I do remember, though was Megan telling me the story of how she moved to New York City and worked at tons of odd jobs to make it by until she finally landed a spot working for David at his new startup called Tumblr. I wished all interviews would work that way because it felt so much more professional for us to sit down and get to know each other as peers, as opposed to Meghan just asking me a million unanswerable questions like what my greatest weakness is or which superpower I would choose if I could pick just one to harness.

As we finished up with our coffee, we finished our conversation and I told Meghan that it was so nice to meet her and that I really appreciated her taking the time to talk with me. She said that it was great to meet me too and that she would be in touch soon. A pretty typical ending to a not so typical interview. We left the coffee shop, waved goodbye one last time, and she made her way back up to the Tumblr offices while I walked back to Penn Station and boarded my train back to Long Island feeling confident about my chances of landing the gig. 

About four days later I heard from Meghan. I hadn’t been chosen for the internship. She wrote to explain they had picked another girl who was still in college. They felt a student was a more appropriate fit for the position since it was only part time. Obviously I was pretty upset. Plus, it sucked even more because I had a college degree and someone who hadn’t even finished theirs yet beat me for the position I had wanted more than anything. As much as I was disappointed, I wrote back to Meghan to say that I understood their decision and I thanked her again for her time. I told her I’d hoped we could keep in touch in case she knew of any other positions that I might be good for. She said that she would keep her eye out for me and keep in touch if she came across anything.

Just a few weeks later, I spotted Meghan’s name in my inbox again. She had forwarded me an email from her friends Zoe and Krista who were looking for a part time intern at their PR firm. I got in touch with them right away, met them for an interview, and long story short, I ended up working in the West Village with them. That’s where Jack’s comes into the story. I remember my first time there. It was a bitterly cold, rainy December morning. Zoe was running late with the keys to the office and Krista told me to meet her there so we could wait for her together. We sat down at a table and talked over coffee and tea until Zoe showed up with the keys. After that day, I visited Jack’s all of the time. On my lunch breaks I would go just so that I could sit on the bench outside and play with the dogs that random customers had tied up outside while they purchased their coffees. On days when my train would arrive early, I’d stop by, order a coffee, and sit down to read until it was time to go to work. Zoe and Krista loved Jack’s chocolate chip cookies and they would often send me out to pick up one for each of us when we needed a late afternoon snack. 

I specifically remember one December morning there. I was sitting at a table up against the wall, sipping on a cup of green tea while I read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. With my head buried in my book, I overheard another customer say, “I always start reading the Harry Potter series at the beginning of the Holiday season because a lot of the first book takes place around Christmas and it feels so festive!” She was talking to her friend. He agreed with her and said that that was a really great idea. I smiled to myself at the thought. 

Isn’t it weird, the stupid little things that stick out in our memories? And the way we can be reminded of them instantly without any warning, as if someone had just flicked a tiny little switch you’d forgotten was in the back of your mind. This one silly little picture (taken and posted on Tumblr by David Karp) of a dog standing outside of a coffee shop takes me back through an entire series of events that would have never even happened to me if David Karp hadn’t one day decided he wanted to create Tumblr. It’s just a bunch of random coincidences, but even still, it’s pretty crazy.

October 16th
12:04 PM EST

Every morning when I wake up there is a hot pot of coffee waiting for me in the kitchen. No, I don’t have a butler who makes my coffee and slides my slippers onto my feet as I slide out of bed. In fact, I don’t even have slippers. Just a coffee pot with a delay timer; the greatest invention of the twentieth century and best contribution to modern society ever. It doesn’t matter that I have to set the coffee pot up the night before, set the timer, and press the ‘delay’ button. The only thing I care about is that my coffee  will be ready and waiting for me when I wake up and that’s almost enough to make me look forward to getting out of bed when my alarm goes off. If only the responsibility of going to work didn’t follow the  enjoyment of my aromatic, roasted beverage. I guess I can’t have everything.

That being said, you might be able to imagine my state of devastation a few nights ago when my pre-made morning coffee routine was crushed and ground into absolute non-existence. As I was about to begin my nightly coffeepot preparing, I opened the pantry to find that my can of coffee grounds had disappeared. It was nowhere to be found. Before fully pondering where it could have gone or who could have taken it (roommates, I suspected), I silently stared into the cupboard as I felt a large wave of anxiety begin to percolate through my entire being. I wondered just exactly how my morning the next day wouldn’t be a complete and total disaster without not only ready-made coffee waiting for me, but absolutely no coffee at all.

I tried to calm myself. “Let’s think logically here,” my voice of reason said. Still standing in front of the open pantry, I started to rack my brain. I looked at the shelf where the can once sat. “Maybe someone moved the can,” I thought as I started to explore every crack and crevice of each and every shelf. I started to become somewhat frantic when the can of grounds didn’t reveal itself. I did a full pantry search a second time. I prayed and prayed that somehow the can was just hiding behind some other food item, but it was nowhere to be found. After two more thorough searches, I was officially able to confirm that my can of roasted goodness had vanished. But to where?

I took one final sullen glance at the shelf where the can once was and began to close the pantry door when I finally noticed an even more peculiar detail. “How did I not notice this before?!” I asked myself condescendingly. I realized that the shelf that was once home to my can of coffee had previously been occupied by other items (several of which were mine), yet now it was completely bare. The pieces of the puzzle started to connect when I also remembered that Victoria had moved out the day before. Feeling annoyed at my coffee-less-ness and with no other reasonable explanation within reach, I automatically assumed that in the process of her moving out, Victoria had decided to take all of the items on the bottom pantry shelf with her, regardless of weather they had belonged to her or not.

“But she had seemed like such a nice person!” I thought. “Definitely not like someone who would steal my groceries.” There was no other explanation, though. I started to become bitter. What a sucky place the world seems like when you realize that even people who are seemingly “nice” will just go and take your coffee and whatever else you leave sitting on the bottom shelf of the pantry when you’re not looking. We forget that the world is unfair. And it always seems to present its ugly face of injustice right when we least expect it. One minute you can call something you’re own, and then the next minute any Joe Schmoe can just come right up and snatch it when you’re not paying attention, and a lot of times, there’s not much you can do about it. Obviously, there are things much more unfair than stolen coffee, but I guess our silly little luxuries, like automatic coffee pots can completely cloud our perspective sometimes. The good thing is, though no matter how unfair it may be, life does always go on.

So, I bought a new can of coffee on my way home from work the next day, feeling particularly grateful that I was able to do so. My recently deflated faith in people as decent human beings began to restore itself as I passed by a father playing hockey in the street with his son, a group of young kids playing tag around their neighborhood at dusk, and the lifeguard sitting quietly in the stand at the community pool, which reminded me of my own adolescent years spent guarding the water. “OK, people really aren’t so bad,” I thought. “So what if one person who I thought was nice ended up being a thief. That doesn’t mean the entire world is terrible,” I thought.

When I arrived home, my new can of coffee in hand, I found my roommate Jamie in the kitchen. I wondered if she had any inkling as to where the missing pantry items had vanished to and decided to inquire. “Hey, do you know if Victoria took all of the food on the bottom shelf of the pantry with her when she left?” I asked. “Oh actually, I don’t know what she took with her but I had to throw out some stuff that was in there yesterday,” she told me. “I started to clean after Victoria cleared her stuff out and I found a bug infested bag of rotten potatoes.” I looked at her with raised eyebrows. I searched for a more eloquent response but there was really nothing else to say besides, “Oh my god, ew!”

“Yeah, it was so disgusting. There were bugs everywhere. Anything that was sealed was fine and I put in a bag downstairs, but there was a bunch of stuff that the bugs got to and I had to throw away. That’s why the shelf is empty,” she said. We both went on to discuss how horrifyingly disgusting bug infested sacks of rotten potatoes are. Both of us also noted that it was neither of us whose potatoes they were. “They must’ve been Donna’s,” we both agreed, placing the blame on our fourth roommate. After the conclusion of our riveting conversation, I found the bag of salvaged food downstairs and sure enough, inside of it was my long lost can of coffee. I hadn’t needed to buy a new can after all. “Oh well, the more coffee in stock, the better,” I thought.

Later on, I couldn’t help but laugh as I recapped The Case of the Missing Coffee. The rotten, bug infested ending was hilarious. But when I was done laughing, I realized I was angry with myself for so hastily judging someone who had been nothing but nice to me. I also figured that I probably needed to lighten up a little bit, because I got just a little bit too annoyed at the entire human race over a tiny can of coffee. It was just a freakin’ can of coffee. Because I thought that one person stole from me, I automatically felt that every single person is horrible. Exaggerate much?

Now that my morning coffee routine is back in action and uninterrupted by rotten, bug infested potatoes, I’m not mad at the world and I know that even though life can be unfair and unpredictable, the best thing to do is laugh and remember that even if there are a few “rotten potatoes” (heh) out there, most people will prove they are good and kind and lovely. Also, never jump to conclusions.  Do not rule out rotten, bug infested potatoes (or any other similarly ridiculous thing) as an explanation for things you can’t explain. Anything is possible.

August 29th
4:06 PM EST

blogfrombookstores:

Blogging From: Reston’s Used Bookstore

It’s the weekend of Hurricane Irene and today I went out and braved the storm in search of Reston’s Used Book Shop. Just kidding, it was only raining a tiny bit when I made the trip, but the store is located along the lovely Lake Anne and it definitely felt like a storm was brewing as I walked along the waterside.

Enough about the weather, though. What we’re here to talk about is the bookstore, and the bookstore we shall talk about! Reston’s Used Book shop is everything that the quintessential, cozy, cute book store should be and then some. Upon walking inside, I was immediately greeted by an antique-like china closet turned bookcase, filled with rare collectible books. The store has a classic, vintage-y vibe that triggered my old soul senses right away.  It’s a cute little maze of tall, towering bookcases, all filled to the brink, with books of course. (Read more)

August 25th
2:25 PM EST

blogfrombookstores:

Jack Kerouac display at The New York Public Library

This whole exhibit was like a writer’s wonderland. 

August 19th
12:29 PM EST
"I suppose it made sense, when blogging was new, that there was some confusion about voice. Was a blog more like writing or more like speech? Soon it became a contrived and shambling hybrid of the two. The “sort ofs” and “reallys” and “ums” and “you knows” that we use in conversation were codified as the central connectors in the blogger lexicon. We weren’t just mad, we were sort of enraged; no one was merely confused, but kind of totally mystified. That music blog we liked was really pretty much the only one that, um, you know, got it. Never before had “folks” been used so relentlessly and enthusiastically as a term of general address outside church suppers, chain restaurants and family reunions. It’s fascinating and dreadful in hindsight to realize how quickly these conventions took hold and how widely they spread. And! They have sort of mutated since to liberal and often sarcastic use of question marks? And exclamation points! “Oh, hi,” people say at the start of sentences on blogs, Twitter and Tumblr these days, both acknowledging and jokily feigning surprise at the presence of the readers who have turned up there."
August 7th
10:41 AM EST

Blogging from: The Handley Regional Library

This library is perfect.

I browsed and walked around the circular halls of each floor, feeling like I was in some sort of magical play land. There were big wooden doors that I’m assuming led to Hogwarts and Narnia and in the Young Adult section there were even more spiral staircases that served as the most precious bookshelves known to man kind. (Read more)

(via blogfrombookstores)

July 27th
8:49 PM EST

Don't Write What You Know

"Why fiction’s narrative and emotional integrity will always transcend the literal truth"

(via rachelfershleiser)

June 22nd
10:00 AM EST

Box of Complaints

"Excuse me, do you have a complaint box?" I heard a woman’s voice say.

I lifted my head up from my book to find a middle-aged woman standing in front of the desk. She was tall and thin. Her face was slightly aged and her hair was short and frizzy. She had small eyes, that seemed to be just a little too close together and she wore a pair of thin framed glasses. She had some sort of annoying look about her. “Yes, there is a box with complaint forms right over there,” I answered her, pointing to the black tin box at the other end of the desk. She strolled over to it, picked up the attached pen, and began to fill out a form. Normally I would get excited when people asked for the complaint box, because after they had filled out their form, submitted it, and left, I would read it and laugh. This time I didn’t have to wait.

"Did you know that one of the paper towel dispensers in the women’s locker room isn’t working?" she asked me as she continued filling in the blanks on the paper.

"No," I told her. "But I’ll mention it to a janitor or manager so that someone will fix it."

"Well, I’ve complained about this three times before and it still hasn’t been fixed. It’s ridiculous! I pay money to work out here, everything should be in working condition." she said.

"I’m sorry that it’s been an inconvenience," I replied. Internally, I was rolling my eyes. There were so many alternative responses I had wanted to give to her, however I was more concerned with keeping my job than provoking her and her obnoxious face, so I zipped it.

"I can’t believe how many times I’ve complained this week and it’s still broken. I think you should fix it, because clearly no one else is going to," she started to ramble, still filling out he form. She was writing a novel. "It probably just needs new batteries. You should go to Costco and get some new batteries for it. Their batteries are on sale right now," she said to me.

I didn’t know what to say and I can’t recall exactly how I responded because she had sent me into a state of temporary shock. “Did she actually just tell me to go to Costco?” was all I could think to myself. What nerve!

Eventually she finished filling out the form, gathered her things and made her way towards the door to leave. “Have a nice day!” I said to her halfheartedly, and only because it was my job.

A few moments later, another gym member, George, walked up to the desk slowly. “Hiya, Kate! How are ya doin’? Was that lady a wackjob or what?” He must have been listening in on her rant. George was a short, dainty older man. His head was dusted with a thin layer of white hair, and his skin sagged under the weight of all his lived years. “Yeah, she was kind of crazy. She wouldn’t stop complaining,” I said to him. “How are you? Is your wife doing any better?” I asked him. “She’s recovering. She’s doing well. I’m actually on my way to see her right now.” A phone began to ring. “Oh, this is her right now,” George said as he flipped his cell phone open to answer it.

"Hi, honey," he answered. "Oh, just checking in? Everything’s good? Ok, great. I’ll see you in a little bit. I love you." He hung up the phone. I smiled at him.

"Ok, Kate, my wife’s waiting for me. I gotta go," George said. "But let me just tell you something before I go. People are gonna be angry and complain, but just remember this: let it go in one ear and out the other." I smiled at him again.

He dropped his cell phone back into his pocket, turned towards the door, and started to slowly make his way through the exit. “Have a nice day, George,” I said, and that time I meant it.

June 15th
12:50 PM EST

I noticed the sign while we were waiting for the bus. It said “Tell Us Your Story.” It said something about a website where you could share stories of funny situations you had encountered while riding the city’s public transportation. I thought that was clever. A little cliche, but still sort of clever. Public transportation usually makes for interesting situations. I thought about all of the times I had taken the trains and subways in New York. More often than not I had some kind of silly story to tell at the end of each ride. I wondered if Baltimore would offer me the same.

Not long after I read the sign, I turned my head and happened to notice a peculiar man standing at the other end of the bus stop. To be fair, it was hard not to notice to him. He had brightly colored, turquoise hair. It was short, but it was tied up into several small sections that sat on the top of his head, sticking up like miniature horns. He had a short scruffy beard and his face was painted with smudged blue and white paint. His clothing was equally as loud. He wore a red t-shirt under a black pin striped blazer, a red and black, plaid kilt, and Sperry boat shoes with ankle high, patterned socks. To top off his ensemble, he slung a tapestry like blanket across his shoulders. I overheard him saying something about wanting to dance. It was the middle of the day on a Sunday and he wanted to go someplace where he could dance. Like I said, it was hard not to notice him. I thought he could be a character in a book. I could make up a million stories just based on his appearance.

The air was extremely humid that day. The sun was beating down hard. When the bus finally arrived, the embrace of the cool air from the AC was a much welcomed relief from the sticky heat. Kevin and I sat in a block of four seats towards the back of the bus. They were arranged into two rows that faced each other. Not long after we sat down, the turquoise-haired man walked onto the bus accompanied by two friends and enthusiastically flung his body into one of seats directly across from us. He acted as though he had known us all his life.

One of his friends was a short, plump blonde girl. She was wearing a breezy, white dress and a long white overcoat. It looked like she had been flustered and sweating because her hair was frizzy and her makeup was messy and smudged. His other friend was a skinny, curly-haired guy. He wore baggy jeans, an over-sized t-shirt, and dark, athletic-looking sunglasses. The girl sat down in the row of seats across the aisle. “Dude! Sit down! Right here next to me” the turquoise-haired man said to the curly-haired friend while he patted the seat next to him. “Nah, I’m good standing,” he replied. He nonchalantly grabbed onto the bus pole and stood next to the girl.

"And how are you guys doing today?" he exclaimed as he turned towards us. He had an overwhelming energy about him. "Pretty good!" I smiled at him. "Not bad, not bad." Kevin said. "Where are you guys headed to?" Kevin asked the three strangers. "Oh, We’re going to Gay Street. You know Gay Street, right?" he asked. "Yep, of course," Kevin replied, half laughing. "Gay Street. That’s the road you told me about that has all of the crazy bars and strip clubs, right?" I turned my head to direct my question towards Kevin. "Yeah," he nodded. "Cool," I said to the turquoise-haired man. "Mhm, Gay Street. Have you ever been there before?" he asked me. "Nope. I’m not from around here," I told him. "Just visiting. But I heard about it last night."

"Woah! This bus’s hydraulics are off the hook. I love hydraulics," the blonde girl blurted out suddenly when the bus stopped at a red light. Then the turquoise-haired main said, "I know! Oh my gosh! My bus is going to have the most insane hydraulics. That is, when I get a bus." He turned to the curly-haired friend. "Right, dude? When we get our bus we’re just going to tour around the country and do awesome things." He nodded. "Yeah man, totally."

"Dude, it costs $2,342 a day to run a tour bus. I know because one time I rented one for a party. It was sick," the blond girl said. I thought that seemed like a lot of money to run a bus for just one day. I didn’t believe her. I thought she was probably just saying things to say things. When she was done rambling, Kevin and the turquoise-haired man got to talking about some bar. I listened. It was called The Red Maple. The turquoise-haired man said that every Monday night he hosted an event for artists and musicians there. They kept talking and talking. I didn’t have much to say, but I was sort of glad that I could just sit and listen, because I wanted to remember the story. Not because I was going to write it on that website I had seen on the sign. I had actually forgotten about that. It was mostly just because one of my favorite things in the whole entire world is unexpected encounters with interesting people.

The turquoise-haired man told us more about his life. He said he went to college for a year or two but then dropped out. “It was so constricting! I hated it,” he exclaimed, shaking his hands in the air. He said that after he dropped out he just started moving around from city to city. “So do you just couch surf around?” Kevin asked him. “Nah dude. I’m never like calling up a friend to be like, ‘Hey could I come sleep on your couch?’ I call up my friends and ask them to hang out. And yeah, afterwards I usually end up sleeping on their couch, or like, even the floor. I don’t need a couch. I’ll sleep anywhere.” he said. “But no, when I’m calling up my friends, I’m like ‘Let’s hang out!’” He was really into music and art. He said that he was working on creating different ways to help struggling artists. That’s what his event on Monday nights was about.

Eventually he said, “Well hey, listen, were about to get off at the next stop but do you have a pen and paper? I’ll write down my name and you can look me up on Facebook.” I couldn’t believe he used Facebook. There is a very small population of people left in the world who don’t use Facebook, for some reason, I was expecting him to be one of them. “I’d love to see you at our show tomorrow night. Bring whoever you want. Anyone can perform. It’s always a good time.”

"I don’t have anything to write with, but I’ll probably end up heading down there tomorrow night. I have a bunch of friends who will probably want to come," Kevin said. "Dude, awesome! I still want to write down my name though, so you can look me up." He turned to his blond-haired friend, "Do you have a pen and paper?"

"I totally do. I’m always prepared," she said. She reached into her bag and pulled out a notebook and a red sharpie. She handed it to the turquoise-haired man. "Aww, sweet." He wrote down his name and handed the paper to Kevin. "Look me up on Facebook. This is our stop. It was awesome talking to you. Have a good one, you guys," he said as he and his friends stood up and walked off the bus. After they left, I looked over to Kevin and asked, "What was his name?" I was dying to know what his name was. Kevin turned the paper towards me so that I could read it. It said Topher. I wondered if that was his real name. Topher is an interesting name. I thought maybe his real name had been boring, something less fitting. Maybe he decided to change it to Topher after he dropped out of college. Who knows.

After a few minutes had passed, I glanced at the seat where he had been sitting and noticed that he left behind the red sharpie that his friend had given to him. I grabbed it. “Look, he left the sharpie,” I said. “Ooo, his friend’s gonna be mad at him,” Kevin said jokingly. “Yeah she probably will be,” I laughed. “Doesn’t matter though. It’s mine now.”

June 8th
3:13 PM EST

Photographs and Fish

"Come on Grandpa! Come on!" Teddy yelled as he pulled on the car’s locked door handle over and over. "I’m comin’ Teddy! Willya wait a minute!" his Grandpa responded as he slowly made his way down the driveway and unlocked the car doors. Teddy’s grandpa was taking him fishing for the first time and he could hardly wait. His grandpa had been fishing since he was a little boy. In fact, it was his own grandfather who had taught him how to fish. A skill passed down through generations. Teddy had just turend seven years old and his grandpa was excited and proud to finally teach him how to fish.

They arrived at the pond and claimed a shady spot under a tree.”Okay, first we have to bait the hooks. Get some bait from the bucket and I’ll show you how,” his grandpa began. Teddy watched intently as his grandpa carefully placed the bait onto the hook. When it was his turn, he repeated the process. “Good job. You’re a natural,” his grandpa said. “Now we can cast our lines. Watch me do mine, and then you try.” His grandpa tossed the dangling line back over his shoulder carefully and then flicked his arm to launch the line out into the pond. “Just like that,” he told Teddy. “Make sure you use some muscle. Get it out there as far as you can.” Teddy took his stance and did just as his grandpa had shown him, launching his line into the middle of the pond without hesitation.

"That was great, Teddy!" his grandpa exclaimed with encouragement. "Now I’m going to catch a fish," Teddy said determinedly. He stuck his tongue out of the side of his mouth to lick his lips as he smiled. Teddy was serious. Only a few short minutes had passed by when he had his first bite. "Grandpa!" he exclaimed. "I think I feel something!" His grandpa rested his own fishing pole against the tree and grabbed onto Teddy’s to determine whether or not his line had in fact attracted a fish. "You’re right! You did! You got a bite!" his grandpa said excitedly. "Now reel it in like this," he said as he started to spin the handle for Teddy. He handed the pole back to his grandson who reeled the fish in the rest of the way.

"Your first fish! That didn’t take long at all!" his grandpa said, smiling. "It’s so cool!" Teddy said, his mouth gaping wide in amazement. "Okay, give me the line. Let me hold that and you get out your camera. I want to take a picture of you with it," his grandpa said. Teddy handed the fish and his pole to his grandpa and fumbled through his pocket for the camera. He pulled it out and started to hand it to his grandpa, eagerly summoning for him to hand his fish back. "Well wait. First you have to show me how to use the darn thing" his grandpa said. "It’s on. All you have to do is push this button," Teddy said pointing to the largest button on the top of the camera. "Just push this button at the top?" his grandpa asked, seeking further confirmation. "Yeah Grandpa. It’s so easy! Just push it!" Teddy said. He was still staring at the fish. He was dying for his grandpa to hand it back to him. "Here, you hold it up like this," his grandpa said, finally handing the line with the fish back to Teddy as he took the camera from his small hands. "Your first fish!" he said as he stepped back holding the camera up and preparing to take the picture. He was smiling proudly. "Okay, ready? 1, 2, 3. Smile."

"Did you get it?" Teddy questioned. "I’m not sure. How do I tell?" his grandpa asked. "Here. Lemme see," Teddy said asking to see the camera. His grandpa handed it back to him. Teddy reviewed the picture and showed it to his grandpa, confirming that he had taken it. "Oh, it came out great!" his grandpa said. "Now put that away." Teddy turned off the camera and put it back in his pocket. His grandpa helped him remove the fish from the hook and release it back into the pond. "You caught the darn fish and you still have the bait! That’s pretty hard to do!" his grandpa remarked. "I didn’t even catch one. They took my bait and I didn’t even catch one." he laughed.

"Let’s do it again!" Teddy said. "Now I’m ready to catch all the fish in the word and you can take pictures of me with every single one!" His grandpa laughed. "Oh, I don’t know about that. Not unless they make those darn cameras easier to use. Until then I’ll stick to fishing. Who knows, maybe one day I’ll be as good as you!"

May 8th
11:31 AM EST
I love these swings. And not just because they’re fun to ride. Sure, I love theme parks and roller coasters and things of that sort, but I love this ride in particular most, not for it’s thrills, but for it’s ability to instantly bring to life the memory of my grandpa and his smiling face that brightened my childhood more than anything I can remember.
When I was younger, and not yet quite tall enough to snag a seat on the “big kid” version of this ride, once a month, my grandparents would take me and my sister to the amusement park near their house. They would buy us each a roll of tickets long enough to admit us onto every ride that would twirl us around and around in circles until our tiny bodies were spun into exhaustion.
My favorite ride was the miniature swing-carousel. But why? What was so exciting about getting strapped into the seat of a wicker swing for the purpose of being slowly propelled around in a platonic circle for two minutes? Nothing. But when you’re five years old, and your grandpa leans over the metal barricade with his hand outstretched so you can high-five him each time you come full circle, what started off as a boring ripoff of a merry-go-round, just turned into the best damn ride ever. Who cares if the “big kid” version of the ride would lift me twenty feet into the air and I’d get to find out what flying felt like? If I was that high off of the ground, I wouldn’t be able to reach for my grandpa’s hand.
I wonder if back then he knew what he was doing. I wonder if he knew, that for me, he was the most exciting part of that ride. I hope it showed through the smile on my face every time I came around and I hope it still shows now through the way he lives on in my memory.

I love these swings. And not just because they’re fun to ride. Sure, I love theme parks and roller coasters and things of that sort, but I love this ride in particular most, not for it’s thrills, but for it’s ability to instantly bring to life the memory of my grandpa and his smiling face that brightened my childhood more than anything I can remember.

When I was younger, and not yet quite tall enough to snag a seat on the “big kid” version of this ride, once a month, my grandparents would take me and my sister to the amusement park near their house. They would buy us each a roll of tickets long enough to admit us onto every ride that would twirl us around and around in circles until our tiny bodies were spun into exhaustion.

My favorite ride was the miniature swing-carousel. But why? What was so exciting about getting strapped into the seat of a wicker swing for the purpose of being slowly propelled around in a platonic circle for two minutes? Nothing. But when you’re five years old, and your grandpa leans over the metal barricade with his hand outstretched so you can high-five him each time you come full circle, what started off as a boring ripoff of a merry-go-round, just turned into the best damn ride ever. Who cares if the “big kid” version of the ride would lift me twenty feet into the air and I’d get to find out what flying felt like? If I was that high off of the ground, I wouldn’t be able to reach for my grandpa’s hand.

I wonder if back then he knew what he was doing. I wonder if he knew, that for me, he was the most exciting part of that ride. I hope it showed through the smile on my face every time I came around and I hope it still shows now through the way he lives on in my memory.

(via chaotique)