The First Kiss Is The Weirdest

Jana: Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone! Congratulations on Valentine’s Day!

I’m sorry, I don’t know why I congratulated you. It was an awkward way to fill a sentiment about this holiday that people have such varied feelings about. Like, I’m sorry if today is sad for you but happy if it’s happy for you! I don’t know. Today is weird.

Catherine: TODAY IS AWFUL. Today is the day where I go out with my lady pal and we  get drunk but not so drunk that we can’t drive safely to work the next morning. It’s a bad day, guys. A BAD DAY.

Jana: Regardless of where you are romantically today, at least you’ve all at this point been kissed at least once. Right? Well, most of you I guess. Or I’m gonna say it: if I have, I bet all of you have. And I have, guys. For lots of obvious reasons (social anxiety, recurring nose warts) the first kiss didn’t come until 2002, but it came. This is the story of my Very First Kiss.

Like so many of my tales, this one takes place on a high school chorus/band trip. Let me explain a little bit about the chorus/band trip. These trips were simply weird excuses to take hordes of eager, hormonal students on a bus and let them stay in a hotel. As cover, we always did one “concert” for some poor unassuming middle school audience, but the concerts were never the point. The point was the bus ride and the hotel. They were the entire reason for anything. They were EXCITING AS FUCK.

This particular story occurs during my second chorus/band trip, in April of my sophomore year of high school. Having somehow survived the tumultuous ending of my first, kiss-less relationship the previous year, I decided to hop back on the bus and give it another whirl. Things had changed since last year: I’d started wearing eyeliner, for example, and I had a few more t-shirts from the Gap. Despite these leaps forward, I remained, as my friends lovingly put it, a lip virgin. And so I was. My lips were untouched by man or anyone but my mom, really. And I didn’t have any plans to change that – I really think that I felt pretty content with my fate, which I assumed to be no kissing until at least college and possibly age 40. I was cool with it.

So, that’s how I started the trip.

The journey was long: for some reason, we were going to Quebec. On the bus ride there, we watched Goodfellas, and when we finally arrived we went to a Hard Rock Cafe. It was all very exciting and new, and even though I didn’t drink yet, I felt something similar to an alcohol-induced thrill – there were so many cute upperclassmen and we were all staying in a hotel! My sober delirium continued when, on the first night, a bunch of the cute upperclassmen guys came to HANG OUT IN MY ROOM. See, I was rooming with a girl who was – while still a band geek like me – just cool. She’s just somebody who has it together, and isn’t scared to talk to people, and knows what’s up. I shall call her Stella. So Stella just like, invited the dudes to come hang out, and they DID. It was, in my eyes, miraculous.

During that first night, I spent some time flirting with one of these cool upperclassmen (truth: he was younger than me, because I’m so old for my grade. THE BOYS ARE ALWAYS YOUNGER THAN ME. But in this case, he appeared entirely older because he was a junior). I didn’t dare to imagine that anything would come of the flirtation, but I did sort of admit to myself that it was happening, and I went to bed elated.

Here I am on the boat cruise! I'm pretty sure I felt GREAT about my belly shirt, long jean skirt, french braids, flip-flops combo.

Here I am in Quebec! I’m pretty sure I felt GREAT about my belly shirt, long jean skirt, french braids, flip-flops combo.

Stella had also noticed the flirting, and the next day she knew what she had to do. I think we went on a boat cruise of some kind, during which she hatched her plan. Afterward, back in the hotel, she made the arrangements. It was like this:

She cleared our room.

She talked to the guy in question (we will call him MICHAEL).

She ordered me into the room. “Michael is waiting. Get in there,” she said.

I went to the bathroom in the hallway and almost puked from anxiety.

I entered the room, where Michael was, indeed, waiting for me.

The rest is a little blurry, but I know that we began by sitting side-by-side on the bed, and that he made a joke which I believe referenced Tigger, from Winnie the Pooh, although I really can’t imagine how he worked that in or why it was relevant. But whatever, I laughed – or, more likely, I choked on nervous sounds. And then it happened: he reached for my head. WE WERE KISSING.

That’s mostly what I remember. I think at one point we like, laid back, and kept kissing, but that was it. I wasn’t at ALL focused on the sensations of the kiss, because all I could think was HOLY FUCK I HAVE TO CALL MY BEST FRIEND AND TELL HER ABOUT THIS. My best friend, see, had also not yet been kissed. She and I were the last holdouts, like nervous, adolescent WWII buddies. All that mattered about the experience was sharing it with her.

I don’t know how it ended – how do makeout sessions end? I guess we just got tired. I think we joked around a little bit more, and then he left. And I RAN to the payphone booth, located in the hotel hallway, to call my friend.

Michael and I never dated, although we remained friends throughout high school, and I think he knows that he’ll always live in my memory as the first guy who was willing to kiss me. Also, he’s very successful now, whereas I actually have less money than I had in 2002, so I’m sure he doesn’t regret that we never repeated our tigger-fueled makeout sesh.

So there you have it. I owe Stella everything.

Catherine: Just so it’s crystal clear, not having a first kiss till Spring, 2002 would make Jana 16 but VERY NEARLY 17 at the moment of impact. I want like, everyone to be as aware of that fact as possible. That, to me, is very informative information (and yes informative and information mean the same thing, but I think they couple really well together in this instance so shut up about it.)

When I was in eighth grade I also went to Quebec and ALSO went on a weird boat cruise. What is it with schools and Quebec? Weird. I went with the French class, which makes more  sense than your trip, since they speak french there or whatever. But I didn’t take french. So I’m really not sure how or why I was allowed to go. Like, everyone else on the trip spoke french but me and I DON’T KNOW WHY I WAS THERE. One of the main things about that trip that I recall was that a bunch of the girls let the guys write stuff on their stomachs on the back of the bus? And I remember thinking, this is so SEXY. Also that I had a really bad haircut and pants with stripes down the leg were IN.

But besides all that, if you’re happy today – fuck you.

Just kidding.

No, I’m not kidding.

Jana: She’s kidding.

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Dining Alone

Catherine: Hey guys. I meant to write this post over the holidays, because that’s when this story takes place but guess what – I didn’t.

So – here it is now.

When I was about 8 or 9, I got a bright pink matching long-sleeved Barbie shirt and Barbie pants from a friend for my birthday. They were pajamas, but I didn’t understand that – I thought it was an outfit. My birthday was in March, but I so revered this outfit that I SAVED IT UNTIL THE FOLLOWING DECEMBER – Christmas Eve, to be exact. I wanted to debut the shit out of this because it was FIERCE.

Growing up, I didn’t have my own bedroom, I shared a room with my brothers that had no door, so I would have to change in the bathroom. On this particular Christmas Eve, once my entire family had arrived for dinner, I went into the bathroom to make my move. For the first time in my life, I also locked the door – I thought this was suuuuuper grown up. I put on my Barbie ensemble and was ready to greet the family, expecting nothing if not an obscene amount of praise. But. I couldn’t unlock the door.

The lock, you see, was a weird turnkey thingy, and I couldn’t get it to work. It wasn’t until people started to need to use the (only) bathroom that I had to sort of explain, um… I can’t open the door… It was horrifying. I thought I was going to be in there FOREVER. My family was coaching me, trying to explain, “Just turn it to the left, and lift it a little.” Nothing. I was crying. I was going to die, alone, in a bathroom, in my Barbie outfit that I now HATED. Finally, after probably 45 minutes, I was free, having unlocked the door successfully moments before my dad was going to unscrew the doorknob. But I was also humiliated. I had since changed out of my Barbie outfit, so I emerged in what I had been wearing before. I got a plate of food, and too embarassed to talk to anyone, I took it into the bathroom where I shut the door (I didn’t lock it, of course) and ate alone. I remember looking at the discarded pink ensemble with SO MUCH HATE and no, I never wore it again.

This was the first in a string of being locked in bathrooms moment in my life – another memorable one was locking myself in a bathroom in Lithuania and giving myself a full-blown panic attack. So. Now I always test a lock before I lock it to see how it works. Like, I still do that. Y’all, I got problems.

Jana: Oh lil Cath. Poor lil Cath.

I wish you still had the Barbie outfit. Did it have Barbie’s face on it? Or was it a million little Barbies in a pattern that covered all the cloth? I just wish I knew, for some reason. Either way, I’m delighted to picture you sitting on a toilet, face over your plate of food, refusing to leave the bathroom. And I’m happy to report that, just a few miles away, I was probably doing something similar right at that very moment, unaware that parallel me (you) existed.

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A Construction Zone Tragedy

Jana: They say that tragedy + time = comedy. In the case of the story I’m about to tell you, I’m hopeful that the saying holds up. This story is a tragedy. This is the story of a tragedy that occurred in my life last spring at around midnight on a Wednesday.

It was April. At the time, I had a boyfriend who had been living in LA for about three months, and was returning to Boston to graduate from college and hang out with me for a month or two, and he was arriving on this very night. In what we thought was just an annoying thing but turned out to be a fatefully awful thing, his plane was getting in at midnight. Would I pick him up at the airport? Of course I would pick him up at the airport. I was his girlfriend, and I was very excited to see him, and I even bought him a flower and drank coffee at 10 PM.

Picture it: I had coffee. I put on makeup. At 11:30 or so, I walked to my car and felt the spring air alive around me. I turned on the radio and drove through Allston, energized by the city lights. Things were going well.

I kept driving. I got on the highway. I entered the tunnel.

Before I continue, I should say that I am really, really bad at directions. I don’t mean that I am ok at directions; I mean that my sense of direction is about as sharp as my sense of smell, which is essentially non-functioning. I’m an idiot. So, even though I’ve driven to Logan approximately 15 times MINIMUM, I was using the GPS on my phone. And when I use the GPS, I like to really stick to it, because when I don’t I generally end up alone and crying and lost in Revere without money to get past the tolls to make it home (I’ve had some bad experiences with fast pass so I don’t use it anymore, and I always forget to keep quarters in my car – it’s a frightful combination of failures). With memories like that, I really try to go by the GPS and do whatever it tells me, always.

So, I’m in the car. I enter the tunnel. My GPS tells me that I’m two exits away from the exit I should take. Cool, cool, I think, as I sing along to the radio and feel good about my life. But wait, why am I taking this exit? Somehow, it seemed like I’d been manipulated to get off the highway too early? What? This is wrong, but I’m gonna fix it before it gets worse! I thought proudly as I swerved back onto the highway.

And then I heard the sirens.

You see, I’d swerved through cones. THROUGH CONES, my friends. Listen to me: under no circumstances should you swerve through cones. You should never do that. Cones indicate a construction zone, and you are NOT SUPPOSED TO DRIVE IN THOSE.

The cops who pulled me over were NOT KIND. They assumed I had to be wasted, because WHY ELSE WOULD ANYONE DO WHAT I’D DONE, and they treated me like I’d just murdered all of their children. I was sobbing, and apologizing, and they were like, this is gonna cost you a thousand dollars, you could have killed someone, etc etc. Then they left me alone to shake with fear and gasp out tears while they conferred about what to do with me.

When they came back to my window, they handed me a $600 ticket. And then they told me I was lucky they weren’t towing my car, and that I should back up out of the tunnel.

Which I did, somehow. I BACKED UP OUT OF THE TUNNEL. I don’t even know how I did it. I thought I had maybe already died. It was fucking horrific.

So, then I went to the airport to get my boyfriend! It was a really joyous reunion in that I couldn’t even look at him because I was so freaked out and he was like, cool, it’s great to see you, and I was like, you have to drive home I have PTSD and will never drive again.

This is me and my car around the time of the incident. It's not the same day, which you can tell because I'm not sobbing.

This is me and my car around the time of the incident. It’s not the same day, which you can tell because I’m not sobbing.

The icing on the top of this tragedy cake is that, a few months later, I received a citation alerting me that I’d need to take a full-day, $150 class to re-learn about driving or my license would be revoked. And you guys – I went to the class. OH I WENT. It was awesome and I’m thinking about writing a “A Chorus Line”-esque musical based on the experience, but I’ll save that story for another day.

Catherine: If I had my old phone, I would have to go in there and retrieve the string of texts I woke up to from Jana that chronicled the incident. I was nervous by the time I texted her back, because I thought that there was real good possibility that she had killed herself. Luckily for BOTH OF US, that was not the case.

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The Dawn of the Millenium

Jana: Look everyone, it’s New Year’s Eve again! Or I’m sorry, the eve of New Year’s Eve, again. It just keeps happening.

You may remember that last year I told you, in no uncertain terms, that it’s best to STAY HOME on NYE. And I absolutely was not wrong. Odds are good that, if you do something, it will suck. Or, if it doesn’t suck, it will at best be entirely mediocre. Chances that you’ll meet someone you might fall in love with ON new year’s eve are shockingly small. Chances that you’ll just find someone to kiss who isn’t really gross or horrible are ALSO small. If you already have someone who you love and who loves you, it’s likely that you’ll get in a fight. I’m just saying. These are just the cold, hard, facts.

However, this year on NYEE, I wanted to provide you with a happy memory. I know that’s not characteristic of what we do here at DWDSTDT – and is, in fact, unprecedented –  but as I thought about New Year’s Eve’s past, I couldn’t help but remember this really nice one, and it seemed worth sharing.

It was NYE, 1999. The previous year, ’98, had been so brutally awful and sad for me that my parents were determined to make this one good. Plus, it was a big deal: the millenium, and all, and the excitement of a likely Y2K disaster. With these things in my mind, my parents organized a party for my entire 8th grade class. The parents would come too, and they would hang out in the kitchen while we, the teens, partied in the living room. We posed this to the class and people LOVED it because parents knew they’d be in the same house as their kids and everyone would be safe, and the kids were all nerdy like me and just wanted to soberly slow dance anyway. We were doing this!

My best friend Molly and I were elated. We weren’t exactly the “cool kids” in the class (we were weird, dirty, and generally left alone), but here we were, about to host the NYE MILLENNIUM party! We got right to work. First of all, I got my hair straightened, so I looked roughly 1000 times more attractive than usual. Also, I bought a sparkly sweater. Molly put her hair in pigtails. Our other nerdy friend agreed to “DJ.” Molly’s mom showed up early with the largest platter of deli meats that has probably ever existed. IT WAS ON.

Oh, and one other thing. Another friends’ mom happened to own a local toy store. As a surprise, she brought us party favors: little black journals that you had to write in with special day-glo pens. Everyone got one. EVERYONE GOT ONE. Has anything ever been better?


We ALSO had one of those mini polaroid cameras, which were HUGE and not yet defunct. We pasted the mini pictures in the journals. GENIUS.

We partied away; drinking soda, listening to Smashmouth, hugging each other. Everyone used the journals as little “yearbooks” for the night, having everyone else sign theirs. The class HOT GUY, who I will call Jim, wrote in mine: “Thanks for having this party Jana, we really needed something like this.” I read it over and over. He knew my name; I was somebody at last.

There were slight hiccups, like the DJ friend breaking the stereo (see my list of party high points and low points, below). But mostly, I was in heaven.

At midnight, we all gathered on the back porch to watch Boston turn black from the Y2K power outage (my parents’ house has a view of the boston skyline. It’s a “grand view,” which is also the name of the street, which you are not the first one to point out). I will admit that when the lights stayed on I was pretty disappointed – what now, if not the apocalypse?, I thought. Well, life went on. Molly and I spent ALL of new year’s day in our pajamas, listening to Smashmouth’s hit CD on repeat and eating just SO MUCH deli meat. We rode our NYE2000 high straight into January: we were the 8th graders, and it was a new millenium, and anything (read: just high school, more sadness) could happen.

I will leave you with these excerpts from my “Millennium Journal.” Read them, and go forth into your NYE with full hearts and low expectations.




Catherine: Unusual though it may be, yes, this post has been about a happy memory. One of the very few Jana has, so YOU’RE ALL WELCOME. As someone in Jana’s house, right now, I can gladly report that yes, the journal is as wonderful as it looks and oh-so-exquisite.

As Jana and I prepare to spend NYE together tomorrow, I think we can both assuredly say that it will not be any more fun than that party she threw that time in 8th grade. The party we are going to SOUNDS REALLY COOL (it’s in a WOOD SHOP – RIGHT?), but I know that we won’t have anyone to make out with, something unforeseen and tragic will happen, and maybe we’ll kill ourselves. And then it’ll be 2013 and we’ll begin making a new year of shitty memories.

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Happy Anniversary: We Embarrass Ourselves In Song

Did you guys know that today is our blog anniversary?

Well, not today, specifically, but around this time. Ok fine, it was last week and we missed it. We forgot. We’re sorry. We’re busy people!

Anyway, to celebrate one year of sharing all of our embarrassments in this public forum (which, by the way, has meant a great deal to us), here are more embarrassments for you, the public, to consume.

Jana: As a high schooler, I took voice lessons. I took them SERIOUSLY, too, because I believed that I was a talented singer, as evidenced by the accolades I’d received for my starring role in “Peter Pan” in eighth grade, if not by the fact that I’d never been given a solo or been admitted into any select singing groups since entering high school (not because I didn’t audition, guys). This, I believed, was a great injustice; my cross to bear. My parents and voice teacher agreed with me.

My voice teacher was (and is) a wonderful woman who gave voice and piano lessons in her living room. Once a week, I stood there and sang various scales and “On My Own” from Les Mis and felt like – NO ONE KNOWS, but I am Very Talented. Sometimes the kid who had a lesson after me would overhear the end of whatever I was singing, and tell me I had “a nice voice!” as I exited the house. I lived for those moments.

Once a year, in the spring, my teacher held a recital. I participated in all of them, but the one that I want to talk about occurred in the spring of my final year as a voice student, and as a high school student, and as a legal child. That’s right: I was eighteen. A full five to ten years older than every other recital participant, whose ages ranged from about six to about sixth grade. I WAS THE OLDEST ONE.

My teacher’s son, who was in maaaybe 5th grade, had put together a band for this recital, and they had all learned to play Avril Lavigne’s “Complicated,” which was a big hit that year. Would I be the vocalist? My teacher asked me. YES, I SAID. I said yes. I have no idea why I said yes to this. I just said yes, and went to one rehearsal, and then showed up at the UU church on a Saturday afternoon to sing lead vocals to Avril Lavigne’s “Complicated” against a backing band of fifth graders.

And, I invited friends.

That’s right, two of my best friends were there. They heard me belt out “why you gotta go and make things so complicated? I see the way you actin like you’re somebody else gets me frustrated…” while wearing a floor length black skirt and a purple cardigan from Weathervane. Listen: they saw me. People saw me. I WAS EIGHTEEN YEARS OLD.

That’s all. Happy Anniversary! Here’s to another full year’s worth of horrible memories.

We hate ourselves.

Catherine: I love this. I obviously just fucking love this. And you idiots are lucky I let Jana post that picture of us. It’s a real doozy.

Dear readers, I am going to share with you a brief tale from my own singing misadventures. As you may recall I went to Catholic Lithuanian Heritage Camp (if you’re just joining us… that happened.) Every year there was a Talent Night that people would be all shy about being into, but then be really into it, but not like, SHOW that they were into it. There were a lot of repressed feelings is what I’m saying.

One year I had sang “Somewhere Out There” for the “audition” (nobody got turned down, ever, so it was just a rouse) and afterwards I was bullied by the camp bully to SING IT FOR HER. She had heard someone say I sang well and she THREATENED ME TO SING in a VERY SCARY WAY outside by the fire pit during free time before swimming. Terrified, I obliged. This was the same bully who later stole my disposable camera. When I told a counselor about it, she was confronted, at which point she claimed that the last name written on the camera in Sharpie – my distinctive Lithuanian last name – was her cousin’s last name and they had given her the camera. These were lies, people, and when I developed my film there were about five pictures she took of herself, selfies. I digress.

Flash forward a year, I had come to camp prepared. I had spent hours on AOL searching for the song lyrics to all my favorite songs – Alanis, Natalie Imbruglia, Jewel – the ladies of the 90s. This was all in preparation for that year’s talent night, because I was an artist, and that meant having my act together. Feeling wise beyond my years at 15, I settled on singing a Belle and Sebastian song, because I was different, see. I wasn’t going to sing “On My Own” (as someone always did, out of tune, and with a little bit too much fervor.) I was going to sing a song that spoke to me, that expressed my deep, deep feelings, and my immense  maturity. I was going to sing, “Get Me Away From Here, I’m Dying.” So sing I did, a capella, to a crowd of people who DIDN’T KNOW THE FUCK WAS GOING ON. As I started the refrain – I shit you not – an immense thunderstorm started and the lights went out for a moment. Should I keep singing? Everyone was suddenly chattering to themselves, startled, and looking out the windows. I powered through because I was an ARTIST and this song was REALLY IMPORTANT. I fell asleep in my cabin that night with my discman on, listening to Miss Saigon, thinking about how nobody understood me (this wasn’t in fact a particularly unique truth, but it was certainly the case.)

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One Week: The Story of My Second Boyfriend

Jana: Last year, I told you the story of my first boyfriend and our epic relationship in which we never touched each other. I bet you thought that was the last boyfriend I had that I never touched, but YOU WERE WRONG! Today I will tell you about my shorter-lived second boyfriend who I also never touched.

I had a crush on this boy, who I shall call Evan, for a long time. But he was SO COOL, so I never thought I’d ever get to date him. When I started at the public high school and made a few friends, those friends showed me their yearbooks from middle school so that I could get acquainted with the social scene. In each of their yearbooks, there was a heart drawn around Evan’s head. He was a big deal.

Anyway, I didn’t have much hope. But then it turned out that, while he WAS super popular and cool, he was also nerdy enough to take drama as his elective! MY IN! Somehow, we gradually formed a friendship. It was elating.

And then, towards the end of my sophomore year, something big happened. I somehow heard from someone that he was going to ask me out. I do not remember how I heard, but I know that I PANICKED. What! How! Why! What! What do I wear? The usual reactions ran through my head as I trudged up the hill after school. And then, sure enough, the next day after the final bell rang, while I loitered near my locker, he approached me. “Hey Jana, will you go out with me?” he asked. He had this adorable little smile on. I think I somehow managed to be like, “Um, yeah.” And he was like “Cool.” And then he walked away. It was really happening!

The main problem was that I had no idea what to do next. As I mentioned, we were in the same homeroom, but the next morning I was like, do I go over to his desk and talk to him? Do I look over at his desk? OR, should I actively NOT look anywhere in the direction of his desk and pretend to be reading? Yes, I will go with that. And that’s what I did.

It was a very, very stressful week. Finally the weekend arrived, and it was somehow communicated that we would be hanging out at another guy’s house that Saturday night. My friend was dating the other guy, so she and I walked to his house together. I remember that as we walked down the hill to his house, the nice day we’d been having turned dark. There were storm clouds in the direction we were walking. Seriously, I remember that. I was like – something is not right, and also I’m so scared about having to talk to and look at my “boyfriend” that I will probably throw up.

Anyway, we got to the house, and it quickly became evident that Evan was not there. In his place was his friend, looking super uncomfortable. Now listen carefully, because this is slightly confusing: Evan’s friend was actually my first boyfriend, Mark – he of the previous story. Evan and Mark were best friends. So keep in mind that Mark and I already had a VERY awkward past.

So Mark was like, Jana can I talk to you? So we went into the basement, I think, and Mark was like, “Evan wanted me to tell you that he doesn’t think this is going to work with you guys. He just doesn’t think there’s enough chemistry. He’s so so sorry, and I’m really sorry too, and I’m sorry…” The poor kid’s hands were shaking as he spoke. I think I was just like, ok, that’s ok, that’s ok, it’s cool, that’s ok. And then I went home.

Why didn’t he want to date me? Was I not beautiful enough?

When I got home, I ate a bunch of ice cream because I thought: I think in movies I have seen girls who are dumped eat ice cream. Thanks, society!

I do have to say, also, that Evan was a really nice guy. And how could I possibly blame him for dumping me this way after the way I’d dumped Mark just one year prior? It was just a cycle of awkwardness. We were all victims.

In the end, Evan and I were friends again later (SOMEHOW), and then actually weirdly hooked up one time after high school was over and it was SUPER weird, and that was that! There were also some awkward interactions on AIM, I’m pretty sure. And that, my friends, is the story of my second boyfriend whom I never kissed. For anyone calculating, that brings me still un-kissed and well past my 16th birthday. Happy Thanksgiving!

Catherine: I wish that I was more surprised by the arc of this story but… it’s Jana.

Of course her boyfriend #1 would be the one to drop the news that she no longer had boyfriend #2.

An Individual Wave of Feminism, Or, My Childhood

Jana: I was a feminist child.

Here is what that means: as a little girl, I was a subscriber to and avid reader of “New Moon”, which was a magazine by girls and for girls that talked about how to be an empowered girl. The only stuffed animal I cared about was my stuffed pig, aptly named “Piggy,” and the most important thing about her, in my mind, was that she was a GIRL. This was a major point of contention when I introduced Piggy to new people – I found that people assumed that Piggy was a boy unless I specifically indicated otherwise, so I made sure to always discuss her gender during introductions.

“New Moon” also made calendars. In 1999, I cherished mine.

I played sports with the boys at recess, and I was always ready to yell at anyone who had something to say about boys being better than girls at anything. I thought of my lack of personal hygiene as somewhat of a defensive stance against society’s insistence that girls be pretty. And I was NOT ok with popular music that put women down.

This? All this? The clothing and, I can only assume, the wrist guards? My feminist cause.

There is one incident in my life that has come around to haunt me many times, and it occurred in the fourth grade. That year, my entire class took a trip to “The Farm.” As the name suggests, The Farm was just  – yup – a farm, located in New York State, and every year classes from my hippy private school took week-long trips there. For one week, we helped milk cows and herd cows and garden and cook. Despite some extreme homesickness and massive amounts of complaining about the healthy food, I mostly loved it.

In fourth grade, though, a new boy had joined the class; I shall call him Dave. Dave was, for lack of a better word, contentious. He was misogynistic only to the extent that a fourth grade boy can be misogynistic. In handwork class (yes, everyone took “handwork”), while we sat knitting hats, he talked loudly about how HOT Tyra Banks was. For reasons that I couldn’t exactly identify, I was offended. He played soccer with me and the other boys at lunch, and he was openly surprised that I wasn’t terrible. I was offended. Basically, he was just always gettin up in my face about how cool boys were, and I saw it as my personal duty, on behalf of my gender, to take him on every time.

So, we took our trip to The Farm. As luck would have it, Dave and I were put in the same activities group. One afternoon during a free play period, the whole group was hangin around on the tire structure (which was GREAT). He started singing a song that was popular at the time: “One, two, three, four, get your woman on the floor,” he sang. BRRRRRRINNNNG! Went the Feminist Alerts in my head. I felt my face get hot.

Get “your” woman “on the floor”? Oh HELL no. First of all, no one would EVER call me “his” (I’d read numerous stories about this in “New Moon”). Secondly, get her on the floor? Come on. This is the 90s! You can’t just PUT your woman on the FLOOR (I think I also sensed something sexual about that line, but couldn’t define it, but figured I should be mad about it). I yelled these things at him. He sang louder. I said he had BETTER STOP. He sang even louder, and got his buddy to join in. Finally, seeing no other recourse, I kicked him. In the balls.

I wasn’t AIMING for his balls, that I can remember. I was just kicking! But, that’s apparently where it landed, and I guess it really hurt.

Anyway, he told on me. We had a long meeting with the teacher, during which I SOBBED. I wanted HIM to apologize. He did, but I could tell he didn’t mean it. “Not just to ME!” I insisted. “Don’t you understand that this is about women everywhere?” He looked at me like he hated me, and like he wanted to get back to the tire structure.

That was mostly that. But to this day, Dave has yet to forget it, or to forgive. Getting kicked in the balls is a real thing, huh guys? He ended up going to a high school near mine, and when I was introduced to someone who turned out to be a mutual friend, he was like – “Oh jesus, you’re the girl who kicked Dave in the balls? Shiiit. He haaates you.”

Addendum: I, seriously and honestly, wrote my college essay about this incident. I’m also not sure why.

Catherine: JESUS.



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The Paid Acting Gig

Jana: In college, I was an Actor. Here’s what I mean by that: In college, I minored in theater, I auditioned for all the plays, and I was occasionally cast as topless leads. And like all of my acting colleagues, my dream was to get a paid acting gig. Today, I share the story of my first ever (I mean also last, but you know) Paid Acting Gig. A thrill!

The summer of 2006 was spent in Burlington VT; my first time living in an apartment instead of moving home for the summer. And although I spent June locked in my room with a crushing depression that only abated when I finally found steady employment (The Gap stepped in and gave me a job, so. Support them if you can.), by July I was the happiest of 20-year-olds, working days, drinking nights, and generally doing stupid things in a large group of fellow actors.

When August rolled around, we all started to hear tell that there was a thing happening – this gig, this acting opportunity – that was paid. Our ears perked up. What was it, exactly?

Listen. It was the Date Rape Play.

Yes, you heard me. It was a thing called the Date Rape Play (literally, it didn’t even have a gentle subtitle), and it was performed each year for the incoming freshmen as part of orientation, so that they would be clear about knowing they might be raped at some point/what rape was. Here is the plot of the play:

Girl and guy are BEST FRIENDS. But, guy has a douchy brother, who is in a FRAT (bad). Frat boy brother invites girl and guy to party! They go, and they get pretty drunk (BAD). Afterwards, they go back to boy’s room, and make out. Guy is like, let’s have sex, girl is like, no, guy does it anyway (the lights fade as they’re making out, but it’s clear what has Happened).

NEXT MORNING, Girl is deeply confused and upset. She talks to her Lesbian Best Friend about it, who encourages her to tell the R.A. Girl does, and Boy is expelled from school.

That’s mostly it!

The woman who ran the date rape operation generally hired enough theatrically-inclined people to comprise like four casts, and each actor was paid $200. I called to inquire, and after a brief phone interview, I was cast in the play. And – big news – I was cast as the Rapee. (I told this story to someone once, and when I got to this part he was like, you mean the victim? And I was like, oh yeah, I guess that’s more appropriate to say.) So yeah, I was cast as the victim. Or, in my mind, THE STAR. It was fairly exciting, as these things go.

Rehearsals were hilarious. My cast included one of my friends as the lesbian, another friend as the frat boy brother, and a third friend as the person playing two parts (the lesbian’s girlfriend and the health center representative, who I believe was named Willow). Who, you ask, was playing the rapist? Well, let me tell you. Picture this:

He was in his 30s, and when I asked what he did he told me that he “DJ’s downtown sometimes.” He was short with a curly ‘fro sort of haircut and glasses, and he wore a necklace. Also, he was in his 30s and had agreed to be in this play with a bunch of 20-year olds. ALSO HE HAD TO PRETEND RAPE ME.

Regardless, my friends and I laughed our way through the month of rehearsals (my onstage rapist totally tried to be part of the group but we weren’t that welcoming), memorizing just insanely bad dialogue that included lines like  “You got the look girl, work it!” . And then, finally, the day came. The freshman had arrived, and they were piled into the theater, waiting nervously to make fun of whatever was about to be presented to them. We knew we wouldn’t let them down.

And we didn’t, and here’s why: my onstage rapist actually, and I am not kidding, PLAYED THE RAPE SCENE FOR LAUGHS. The dialogue is something like “come on, I love you!” and he was sort of like, bouncing up and down and just saying it like it was a joke. The audience loved it. Meanwhile, I was acting out my own rape so, you know. I didn’t love it as much.

That’s mostly all! Somehow we got through it, and afterwards we had a party that everyone just referred to as the date rape party (not even on purpose, it wasn’t like a THEME, it was just a statement of fact. It was the party after the date rape play).

Taken at the date rape party. Obviously, my starring role had gone to my head.

We collected our $200 and started junior year refreshed.

Catherine: I think we’re about to get judged, and hard, because I too was in the date rape play, different cast. Same deal. Everyone in the cast was friends, the rehearsals were a total joke, and we learned that rape could (and should) be funny if it was meant to entertain. I played WINNIE – not Willow – BUT WINNIE. The character was based off the person at our school who actually had that job, and hadn’t had the foresight to get a name change before beginning her life of ridicule stemming from her truly ridiculous name. Someway, SOMEHOW, this first paid acting gig did not deter me from pursuing acting (SHUT UP). Perhaps it is responsible for the fact that I only do comedy, though.

To the best of my knowledge, they still do this show every year. To the knowledge of my knowledge, I still say “You got the look girl, WORK IT!” every year, at least once.

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“How Did You All Get Here?”: Round 3

Hello, Everyone! Welcome to our third installment of “How Did You All Get Here,” our special edition post in which we answer questions from the Internet that weren’t intended for us. GOOGLE is a miraculous resource, and what we’ve learned as we peruse our blog’s traffic page is that a lot of people think google is their best friend and that it understands just what they mean and also has all the answers. And we, of course, are here to show them that they are right.

To the questions.

Actual Search #1: “”dirty sweatpants””

Jana: Is it ok to wear them? Where do you buy them? What qualifies as “too dirty” – are these your questions? If so, the answers are yes, I can sell you a pair, and it really takes a lot.

Catherine: Your eyes aren’t deceiving you, this was googled with quotation marks around it. Apparently they are only a hypothetical, not quite real thing to this person. For me, in my own life,  no quotation marks required.

Actual Search #2: “pants don’t fit”

Jana: Get bigger pants, I think. Also, again, do you think google is just a friend who will be like, “Yes they do! Wear them!” What do you think google can do? Because it can’t see you really. So we don’t all know if the pants really don’t fit or if maybe you’re just having a low self-esteem day.

Catherine: Girl, GIRL – I FEEL YOU. When Jana and I were gloriously together two weeks ago we both decided I should buy a pair of too-tight purple skinnie jeans. I tried to wear them out on Friday, looked at myself, had a small nervous breakdown, and then changed.

Actual Search #3: “why does my boyfriend sit with me at the hairdressers”

Jana: Probably you should get rid of this guy. Is he trying to monitor your haircut? If so, he’s an asshole. If not, he’s too clingy. He should take a walk. Most hairdressers are located near a great sandwich shop. You should date someone who would rather eat a great sandwich and then tell you how good your hair looks later (or hold you while you cry, if you’re me).

Catherine: Why do you let him?

Actual Search #4: “what did i do to deserve man boobs”

Jana: You seem nice.

Catherine: If you need to GOOGLE THIS to find out why, THAT is what you did to deserve them.

Actual Search #5:  “fucking cashier catherine from work”

Jana: Are you planning to kill her or something?

Catherine: Oh my. Um. Do you want to know like, HOW to do this? How to get the girl or how to -ahem- (fuck.) Or do you want to see it happen? You need to be a lot more clear. Better yet, walk up to Catherine from work, say this to her and watch yourself get slapped in the pimply face.

Actual Search #6: “mario lopez crying”

Jana: Saved By The Bell was so good, I agree. Also how did this lead to our blog?

Catherine: Yeah, ok. Who wouldn’t want to see that?

Actual Search #7: “what is did i do something to u”

Jana: Go to sleep. You’re drunk.

Catherine: Poor thing.

Actual Search #8: “i hate working at deli”

Jana: You’re just not cut out for it, then. Not everyone is.

Catherine: So does everyone besides Jana Pollack. You’re not alone. #itgetsbetter

Actual Search #9: “why its ok to be a hairdresser”

Jana: I would like this to be punctuated like: “why, it’s ok to be a hairdresser!” Then I could believe it was typed into google by a little boy or girl with a dream and a smile.

Catherine: Oh, I don’t know. Because people need their hair done? Is it your dream to be a hairdresser you dear little lost dove? Chase that dream. Cut those split ends. Dye that shit. I’m with you, even though nobody in your family is and you got kicked out of the house.

Actual Search #10: “shaws supermarket employee deli counter fired for”

Jana: Were you looking for reasons that you could get fired from a deli? Because here are some things you can do and remain hired: smoke pot in the freezer, regularly eat many slices of meat, lie to customers about what’s in stock, cook lobster in the back kitchen. I guess maybe if you purposely bled on stuff?

Catherine: A honest to goodness MYSTERY SEARCH! I’m dying over here, WHAT WERE THEY FIRED FOR? Cutting the meat too thin? Laughing when people ordered ham salad? Ridiculing heavy people who attempted to order “light” cheese??

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Trekking Through Hell

Jana: School started this week. And this morning, for the first time in a long time, I cut myself shaving.

This experience, and all of the experiences that come with this time of year – cooler weather, moving, change-related anxiety – reminded me of a time, in the year 2004, when I made a weird, bad choice that made me sad and uncomfortable. In that way, it wasn’t unusual, but it still warrants a blog post.

To start this story, I have to tell you that I only got into one college. Despite being a nearly straight-A student in high school, having totally decent SAT scores, and writing an essay containing a whimsical story about my deep-seated feminism, I was wait-listed by my two top choice schools. This threw me into, first, a long session of sobbing, and next, an overly-ambitious period of attempted positivity. I remember just crying and crying, while choking out the words “I’ll just go to UVM, it’ll be fine, UVM will be fine, I’ll be fine…”

Anyway, I did go to UVM. And in an attempt to embrace the experience that was being forced upon me, I decided to take the bull by the horns and sign up for the pre-orientation week-long wilderness trip option, called TREK. Clearly, I did not think this through. In my mind, it was the only way: I had to do this, to make the most of college, to make friends and LOVE COLLEGE AND IT’S FINE I DIDN’T GET INTO SKIDMORE. The rational thoughts, like, hey Jana, you don’t LIKE camping or the outdoors or building trails – those weren’t ones that I had. Not even for a second. I just bought a wilderness backpack and arrived in the UVM gym, ready to go.

This is the picture on the TREK website. Like. Did I think I belonged in this group?

I’ll also note here that I was still dating my high school boyfriend, and we had decided to stay together even though he was still in high school and I was traveling away to Vermont. So I arrived at the UVM gym, wearing wilderness pants and a wilderness backpack and a baseball hat, desperately sad to be without my boyfriend.

The week was like this: I was sad. My group’s job was to BUILD A TRAIL, and to accomplish this we had to hike really far up a mountain, set up camp, and then spend every day doing hard manual labor like moving giant rocks and carrying large pieces of wood. I was the worst at this. Because OF COURSE I WOULD BE THE WORST AT THIS. I didn’t actually speak most of the time, but inwardly, I felt intensely sorry for myself.

I also want to mention a specific element that made the week especially painful. Ok, Listen. I FORGOT TO BRING CHAPSTICK. For those of you who know me, you’ll understand that I keep chapstick on me at all, ALL, times, and apply it approximately every fifteen minutes. When I don’t have it for a day, my lips become weird and gross, with little skin flakes on them that then fall onto my shirts – you know? You know. So, picture those lips multiplied by one whole week. The thing was, I probably could have asked to borrow some chapstick on the first day, but by the time the situation had gotten bad enough that I really considered doing it (I like, eyed people while mentally rehearsing the question), my lips were so disgusting that I knew no one would ever share with me. Or love me. It was awful.

Some days, in the afternoons, we were given “free time” and allowed to go on recreational group hikes instead of working on the trail. During those times, I always, always claimed to feel sick so that I could lie in my tent alone and cry about missing my boyfriend. Those were the most enjoyable moments of the week. I cherished them.

So yeah, it was hell. When the week mercifully ended, we all piled into the van to drive back to campus, and stopped for lunch at a fast food place. In the bathroom of the restaurant, I think that I actually laughed when I saw my face and how disgusting it was. Like a monster had taken over my mouth. New friends? Anyone?

As an addendum, know that when we finally made it back to campus and I got to take a shower, I was overly-enthusiastic about shaving my legs and cut myself so deeply that I had to run to my RA’s room to A) introduce myself while crying and B) beg her for band-aids (she gave me three, which was not enough). As a result of this wound, all of my jeans from that first month of college have a little blood stain on the spot where they touched the cut. It’s a fitting memorial.

Here’s an email I sent to my dad shortly afterwards:

I’m sure mom told you about my gigantic shaving wound. It is crazy, i dont even want to think about how i did that it makes me cringe. I dont think i will shave for a while – at least its almost fall. Oh well. it is healing so no worries, and i put neosporin on it today so it shouldnt get infected or anything.

Happy Back To School!

Catherine: I too have a debilitating chapstick addiction, so being without it for a week is obviously the thing that terrifies me most about this prospect. Not like I wanna quote Leann Rimes, but “HOW DO I LIVE WITHOUT YOU.” That whole song, lyric for lyric, encapsulates precisely how I feel about chapstick.

Can I also direct everyone to the TREK photo for a moment – look at the man in baseball cap, second from the right. Is this really THE BEST picture they could find? Homeboy looks MIS.ER.ABLE. and photoshopped in all at the same time.

And one more thing – for the past like, ten times I’ve shaved my legs, I have cut myself shaving. Including cuts on BOTH FEET from dropping my razor on them. I’m getting worse with age, guys.

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