So, this chick, she's cooler than chipped ice. Sexy, intelligent, sweet, beautiful, warm, friendly, considerate, unsuperficial, funny, motivated... and way, way, way too young for me. I met her two years ago, here at the cafe, and at the time she was dating a chap from Peru. She broke up with him about a year ago, but she hasn't done much dating since then- too strange a thing for her, I guess- some people take longer to rebound and regroup. Anyway, I've had a crush on this young lady ever since I met her. Not the kind of crush where it's all-consuming and I get weird- not the high-school kinda thing. Just a crush, as in: "Man. What an incredible girl. sigh It's nice to dream."

So we met and it wasn't like fireworks and crap, but very antiseptic, congenial and friendly. We were acquaintences, friends of friends. Common places to hang out and think about, but never really talking to one another. Definitely two ships passing in the night. But I always enjoyed seeing her come into the cafe, to visit with her friends and watch her be her. She was easily a fun person to watch when she was around. Not someone I would approach, and perish the thought of asking her out! Admiration from afar. That kind of thing.

So word has it here, at the cafe, that I'm a bit of an intellectual-type, a thinker. And it's no secret that I'm a writer and logophile. There has been many-an-evening where I could be spied pouring myself over a crossword puzzle or a Cryptoquote. I absolutely dig word games. They're like crack for me. I can't begin to count how many times someone would walk up to my table and ask for the definition of a word, the etymology of an idiom or help with their own crossword.

And that's how this young lady and I became friends. She had acquired a crossword puzzle book, something to help her bide the time at her nanny job. It's a simple thing, really, and not exactly New York Times caliber- easy brain work that is specifically meant for passing the time when you've got something tedious to endure like watching over someone else's children or riding in a car for an extremely long time.

She came to my table, crossword puzzle in hand, and sat down. "I need help with this and the word on the street (ha. ha.) is that you're the man to ask."

Naturally, I deigned to help her. And, of course, in the midst of this non-adventure, we struck up idle chit-chat. Nothing serious or probing. General, easy to talk about kind of stuff. Work, movies, funny anecdotes. Safe stuff.

And we thoroughly enjoyed it, much to my own surprise. Having admired her from afar for so long, I was dead certain that, upon true interpersonal interaction with her, she would prove to be perfectly mundane and uninteresting, so that I could finally be rid of this strange attraction.

And, dammit, I could not have been more wrong.

She's even better up close than she is from afar. Much better. But I'm no idiot. So I kept my mouth shut, didn't ask her out and certainly didn't even come close to telling her about my long-time attraction. I stayed aloof and friendly and helpful and kind. And she showed up the next night, with another crossword in her hands. "Let's see if lightning strikes twice," she said. We set to it, finished the crossword in about five minutes and availed ourselves upon another one.

It was becoming habit-forming. She became a fan of my hand-rolled cigarettes. She opened up to me a little more. We enjoyed conversation with her friends and laughed quite a bit. I wasn't getting a single thing in the way of a "signal" from her- a total fucking mystery, this one. I couldn't tell if she was attracted to me or just in the process of gaining herself another friend.

So I decided to err on the side of caution, played it safe, and remained silent. Decided that she was just making friends and wasn't interested in dating anyone yet- her assertion, not mine, in answer to someone else's question when I was within earshot. I paid attention to that claim. I was not going to crowd her.

And, besides, I was liking this making-friends process. I don't have many friends, least of all friends of the female persuasion. She was proving to be a pleasant change of pace.

So we continued making friends with one another, keeping things light and carefree. She is, after all, a rather free spirit and Holly-Golightly-like, a Breakfast at Tiffani's kind of girl, y'know? Proper and self-effacing at the same time. And I kinda dug that.

And the attraction wasn't diminishing in the least. If anything, it was growing, and I was nursing the idea of coming clean with her. But I'm terrible with these kinds of things. It's not something to just blurt out, is it? I must tread lightly. I must bide my time and be patient, vigilant and watchful for any kind of sign that she might reciprocate an attraction.

She asked for my phone number without me having to prompt it. She gave me her number with me having to ask. She would oftentimes head straight for my table when she came to the cafe. She opened up even more.

Last week she asked me out to help her study for an exam. We were friends now, so I gladly agreed. Biology class. It was interesting for me and, yes, educational. Some of the stuff we covered I had prior knowledge of, but a lot of it was new information. I'll never look at a mollusk the same way again, methinks.

We segueued our conversation to children, sex, dating, marriage... I didn't direct the conversation that way, it just sorta went there. And it was pleasant.

When it was time for her to leave, I said, "Listen. There's something I've been meaning to tell you for a long time and I haven't been able to figure out a way to say it, so I'm just gonna say it. We met two years ago, and ever since then I've had a crush on you. I find you absolutely attractive and, believe me, I've tried to shake it. I have no expectations and I don't wanna put any pressure on you, but... there it is. I just thought you should know."

And she said, "I suspected as much. Thank you." Which is, I suppose, the proper thing to say. Nothing else, that was all.

Right now she is sitting behind me, talking with another one of our mutual friends. She has sat down at my table tonight for about five minutes to talk about work stuff.

What I'm trying to figure out right now is: am I ignoring her or is she ignoring me? And how can I pick that dead thing up off the floor and act as though it never happened?

The Naked Bum

Everytime I use public transportation I see a jobless man standing at the subway station selling a magazine. The magazine is there so the man gets some income. It has been written by social workers and mostly contains stuff interesting to the jobless. I believe the magazine sells poorly. The magazine is not financed by sales, it is by donations.

I wonder whether this makes sense. Wouldn't it be better to have articles written by the jobless, instead of giving social workers something to do ? Why doesn't the magazine have the content which makes other magazines so popular ? Is standing there for hours with little success really improving the situation for the jobless ? Will it help them find a decent job afterwards ?

This leads me to propose the following to improve the situation: A magazine, named "The Naked Bum", which contains articles written by the jobless, pictures of naked jobless taken by dressed jobless and jokes collected by the jobless. I believe this would be a product that the general public would be interested in and in which pride can be taken in making and distributing it.

Surely, having assisted in the making of such a fine product, the jobless shall find it easier to find a new job, and a good new job. I, for one, welcome The Naked Bum.

Today is my 23rd birthday. Twenty-three years ago today, at 7:31pm ET, I was born. Thanks, Mom and Dad.

No gifts yet, although I'm told that Mystery Science Theater 3000 Vol 5 DVD and Futurama Vol 3 DVD are being shipped from sometime in the next two weeks courtesy of my parents.

On January 2, 1999, a day after one of the biggest one day snowstorms in the history of Chicago, I slipped on the ice. I was pretty proud of myself because I didn’t fall. Instead, I caught my balance with a quick upward jerk, said “whoa” and continued on my way. How inconsequential it seemed, just a silly spaz moment, one of many that gave me my college nickname of Crash. Later that night I took a warm bath, a couple of advil and drifted off to sleep.

The next morning, I COULD NOT WALK. There’s no other way to explain it. My spine felt like a very brittle twig, unable to hold up the rest of my body, like there was a piece of it missing, or exposed. I couldn’t hold my head up straight, couldn’t stand in the shower, and had to resort to crawling to the phone to call in sick to work. I was directed to the emergency room by my doctor. Luckily it was only a block away. There I was given a shot of something, perhaps heroin, because the pain temporarily subsided. Then came x-rays and an MRI. The verdict? Two herniated discs in my lumbar spine.

”Here, have some vicodin!” They said. ”The worst of the pain should go away in a few days."


So here we are, March 3, 2004 and I woke up this morning, popped a darvocet and headed out to work, thinking about these five years of near constant pain and the all of the shit I’ve gone through trying to relieve it. I used to be a competitive swimmer, so as soon as I could function again, I began swimming again, way back in 1999, careful not to do straining strokes like the butterfly or breast stroke. I underwent three series of physical therapy including traction, which literally straps you to a table and stretches you out EXACTLY LIKE THE RACK. I was put on the RACK people.

The drugs have been numerous in amount and variety. I was fully addicted to Vicodin for about six months, taking up to six pills a day. Still, my doctor grants me a prescription refill for it, two years later, without question. I have taken Relafen,Vioxx,Celebrex,Darvocet,Tylenol with Codiene,Naproxen,Cyclobenzaprine,Amitriptyline(to raise my pain threshold via anti-depressants (?!?!?)) and good old Advil. Currently I have a standing Darvocet prescription, and take one or two a day, more if I have to sit in a car or fly on a plane. I was given steroid injections straight into the spinal cord, which was, without question, the most pain I’ve ever suffered in my life.

Why in the world didn’t you have surgery? you ask.

If only! I saw two doctors. One said “You should have the surgery NOW, since you’re so young, you’ll heal quickly.” The other said “You’re so young that you shouldn’t have surgery, because your back will heal itself.” In the end, my general practitioner said surgery wasn’t the way to go.

I do Iyengar Yoga now, which helps tremendously. I used to be in pain 97% of the time, and now it’s down to about 65%. At this rate I’m going to feel god damn fantastic when I’m 41. What a great day that will be.

But I can't help but think how different my life would be today if I had only let myself fall on the ice.

I really need to stop doing things like I did tonight. I really need to stop questioning so much. See, I have this problem. When I ask a question out loud when I am by myself, I get an answer that speaks inside my head. The answer is usually a very good one, or it is confusing like a riddle might be. Yes, I have voices in my head, send me off to the funny farm. This is why I question the voice so often. Most of the time I think it is a load of crap.

So, I'm driving back from a friends' home and flip the radio station on some station that is doing an "80s night." I forget what they were playing, but I stopped and said out loud, "Okay, Anastasia, prove to me that you are real and that you are who you say. Make the next song they play on this station Wang Chung's Dance Hall Days."

You know better than that.

"You're asking a hell of lot from me, so I want you to prove to me that you have influence here. All you have to do is whisper to the DJ that Dance Hall Days would be a great selection for the next song."

It isn't about tricks. You know that.

"I'm not asking you to do tricks, but you are a voice in my head and I'm not buying you as anything more than my imagination. Give me a sign that I cannot deny. I want to hear Wang Chung."

Haven't you figured out what it is about yet?

"No. What is it all about?"

The next song started. It was George Michael's "Faith."

< To March 2, 2004 | The Journal | To March 4, 2004 >

My first e2 birthday, Thanks to Andrew Aguecheek for pointing that out to me. To be honest, I never thought I'd end up staying here for this long. It seems to have worked out that way. I find this place an extremly interesting resource, I use it almost as much as I use google to look up information.

Thank you, Everything2

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