Monthly Archives: December 2007

De brassieres et portefeuilles

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[Man walks up to desk]

Me: Hi, how may I help you?

Man [angrily]: There are people over there talking in a foreign language!

Me: Oh?

Man: Can’t you do something to stop them?

Me [with remarkable tact]: We allow people to talk in any language.

Man: Really?

Me: Yes.

Man: Then… then I’m going to go talk! [strides off]

[Our heroic librarian proceeds to spend the rest of the talking in French, or trying to.]

Alors. This will be brief. I don’t have much to say, but I want to get a few essential things out of the way. I won’t have a chance to mention them during my next posting, because the next entry will be entirely devoted to…

…are you prepared? This is exciting…

…will be entirely devoted to Jessica’s Book Year in Review, 2007! After last year’s excruciatingly detailed examination of the books I read, I owe it to my readers to repeat the whole tedious process once again, in case anyone was hankering for a tradition to get started.

I won’t want to clutter that post with details that don’t fit. Future biographers, when examining the primary source material of Jessica Zellers (b. 1981), will not want to be distracted by talk of my bra size when they’re trying to determine which books influenced me in 2007.

So: my bra size. After a laborious evening with a tape measure, I determined that I’m a 36F. Let’s examine these findings with a simple list of Pros and Cons:

Cons of being size 36F

  • Cannot buy bras locally. Must order online without trying them on.
  • Must forsake groceries for a month to buy said bras. I just placed an order for three of them. Want to know how much that cost me? One hundred and ninety-four dollars.
  • Cannot wear button-up shirts
  • Back pain
  • Stretch marks like nobody’s business (though, to be fair, I have stretch marks everywhere. Everywhere. What few centimeters of skin that had not developed them on their own were converted the moment I started taking yoga.)
  • Sexual harassment from total strangers; the fella who once yelled out “Hey there, hooters!” from a passing car springs to mind
  • Unfortunate assumptions made by men of a certain type, to wit: “She has big boobs! She wants to sleep with me!”

Pros of being size 36F

  • Free shipping when you pay $194 for three bras
  • Increased attractiveness to desirable, thoughtful, educated, worldly, liberal, witty singles***

***Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha

The bras should be here tomorrow. According to the USPS website, they’re in Richmond right now. Let’s all wish godspeed to our friendly postal carriers.

And now, before I bid you adieu…

Oh, crap, that’s right, I’m supposed to be speaking in French.

Et maintenant, avant je vous parle adieu, je… je… Ya know, foreign languages would be much easier if you didn’t have to conjugate verbs.

As I was saying, I found my wallet. Remember that wallet? The one that I lost early this year?

Our brief story begins with a phone call from Farm Fresh. The person at Farm Fresh didn’t call my number. It’s unlisted. Instead, she looked at my library card and called the library to get my contact info.

This is why every citizen should have a library card.

Apparently the wallet’s been sitting in the safe for nine months. Why did no one contact me that whole time? Dunno, but somehow I thought it prudent to avoid criticizing the person who handed my wallet back to me.

I know, I know, I just explained that my number is unlisted, but as we have already seen, a tiny bit of sleuthing could have solved that. What’s more, my apartment is, like, three feet from Farm Fresh. I can walk there in four minutes. You would think, and I am not trying to make any assumptions about the work ethic of the typical underpaid seventeen-year-old grocery bagger, but you would think that someone in that store would have appreciated a little hike—for the purposes of civic duty, of course, not because of any incidental benefits of getting a break in the fresh air.

But all’s well that ends well. Stay tuned for the book run-down (you can hardly wait! I can sense it!), coming straight to your computer in a few days. Au revoir et bon nuit.


Christmas or bust

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What I did on my Christmas Vacation:

  • Nearly broke my neck
  • Nearly amputated my nipple
  • Nearly lost an arm
  • And more!

Christmas came early this year. I had foolishly waited till November to request time off for the holidays, by which point everyone else had already requested vacation leave. That meant that the only time I could visit Mom and Dad was this past weekend, which had a very unfortunate consequence: I missed the Reference Christmas party. Not only did my coworkers miss out on my holiday tuba playing, they enjoyed a glorious opportunity to talk about me while I wasn’t there. God only knows what they said.

It’s no fun driving 430 miles to Weaverville, and 430 miles back, especially since my iPod dies after 380 miles. The last hour each way posed a dreadful choice: Listen to the radio and risk Christmas music, or listen to nothing. I opted for silence. Safer that way.

After the long car ride home, I was eager to move about. I unpacked the Christmas presents. I unloaded the two hampersand one trashbag of laundry. (Yes. I am 26 years old and I still drive my laundry home. Someday I will have a washer and dryer. Someday.) And then I decided to show Mom and Dad my new yoga moves.

“Look, this is my handstand!” I said. I hopped onto my hands and put my feet up against the door to their bedroom…

…which promptly opened inward. I’d forgotten that their door doesn’t latch shut. I managed to hold my balance for, oh, maybe a quarter of a second, and then I stumbled all the way through, landing in a stunning body slam flat against my back.

That’s how I almost broke my neck.

After nearly paralyzing myself, I thought it best to spend the rest of the evening doing quiet things. I ate Mom’s barley casserole. I drank wine. I played with the cats.

That’s how I nearly lost my arm.

Mom and Dad have two cats, Pixie and Dixie. Pixie is a tiny gray fuzzball with no tail and no courage. He’s scared of everything. I mean this is a cat who gets scared by dust. He’s adorable.

Dixie, now… Dixie is 22-pounds of mountain lion masquerading as a domestic housecat. Mom and Dad call him Big Dix. (Teehee!) I made the mistake of wrestling with him. The blood loss didn’t quite warrant a trip to the emergency room, but it was a close thing.

Then I went to bed. That’s when I nearly amputated my nipple.

Normally I sleep on the couch. I don’t mind sleeping on couches. Once I slept on my couch for two weeks because I didn’t feel like putting away the laundry that was laid out on the bed. (That was back when I had an apartment with a washer and dryer. Oh, those glorious times of days gone by.)

Couches are never too short for me. There are advantages to being five foot one. But the problem with the couch is that it’s in the living room. It’s hard to sleep undisturbed while others are getting ready for work.

So Mom and Dad got a cot for my old bedroom. With my savaged arm and near escape from paralysis, I gratefully slipped onto it…

…and woke up several hours later, pinned to the mattress by my nipple. Somehow my weight had shifted the coils in such a way that they had trapped my nipple ring.

I am not making this up.

I couldn’t really move to extricate myself. It is difficult to reposition oneself when one’s nipple is clamped in place. A few cautious attempts proved to me that further movement caused the coils to clamp tighter on a nipple that was already feeling sore. Releasing my weight from the cot would have loosened the coils, but how was I supposed to manage that? Yoga Instructor Jennifer hasn’t taught us how to levitate yet.

Bear in mind, I was barely awake. I could hardly move and my nipple was in danger. I couldn’t call for help—Mom and Dad were asleep at the other end of the house. (Besides, what if Dad came into the room?!)

I did finally manage to escape the death trap. With several minutes of intricate, cautious finessing, I worked the nipple ring out of the vise.

“Huh,” said Mom the next day. “The pamphlet that came with the cot didn’t mention that at all.”

But the boob stories don’t stop here! The bra I had been wearing had been my favorite, but over the weekend the underwire developed a tendency to poke into my flesh.

“I’ll just switch to my pink bra,” I said. “Have you seen it in the laundry yet?”

“No,” said Mom. “Not yet.”

So then I hunted through the dirty laundry and found shirts, undies, blankets, towels, bedsheets, pants, skirts, dresses, a scarf, socks, and some mittens, but…

“I know I put it in here,” I said.

I know I did. I remember. That bra left my apartment, but it never made it to Weaverville. I’ll miss you, pink bra.

So we went bra shopping. Understand that this is not a task accomplished lightly. I’m sure other women enjoy wearing sexy fun bras that cost less than fifty dollars, but not me. I wear ugly expensive monstrosities.

First we tried Victoria’s Secret. The largest cup size they sell is a double D. I thought I was a double D, but apparently not.

“Dang,” I called from the dressing room. “I must be a triple D.”

Then we tried Lane Bryant. There wasn’t much in the way of 38DDD bras, but I tried them. All of them.

“You’re not going to believe this,” I said through the dressing room door. “I must be a… a… what comes after triple D?”

“That’d be F,” said the sales clerk.

We hunted down the 38F bras in the store, all two of them. At this point I didn’t care about color, style, or price. I just wanted a bra that fit.

“Um,” I said from the dressing room. “Um. What, um, comes after F?”

G. That’s what comes after F, 38G. There were none in the store. That’s when I started to sob.

The sales clerk took pity on me and went to hunt in the back. She managed to dig up two 38G bras.

I tried them on. They seemed to fit. I stopped crying.

It was on the drive back home, when I glanced in a mirror at a rest stop, that I noticed something wrong. My boobs were spilling out of the cup.

"Can’t trust mirrors in rest areas," I thought. “This is some kind of optical illusion.” I clung to that belief until I started unpacking the car, when both boobs hopped right on out of that damn bra.

Guess I’ll be exchanging my bras for… for what? 38Q?

But not all of my adventures in Weaverville were characterized by bodily danger or trauma. Mom and I went to the library. I always visit libraries when I vacation. Don’t you?

A great deal of my childhood was spent at the Weaverville library, but it’s been completely remodeled. Absolutely nothing looks the same except for the librarian. She has the same hair, the same clothes, the same exact appearance as she did when I was eight. I am beginning to suspect that she is a member of the undead. I mean she has not changed, not one iota. According to popular literature and cinema, only vampires can maintain an unchanging appearance. Probably soon she will have to leave the area, before the other townsfolk become suspicious.

Within the hallowed halls of the library, I helped Mom find something to read. Having a librarian in the family is perhaps not as advantageous as having, say, a doctor or a lawyer, but it’s the next best thing to free medical and legal advice. I helped her pick out a book.

A Prayer for Owen Meany!”
said the vampire. “That’s a fantastic book!”

She’s right. It IS fantastic. The vampire and I had a marvelous discussion about John Irving and his wonderful novel, in which religion, politics, and faith come together in one extraordinary story. Perhaps the best part is that the book raises a host of questions but answers none of them. Or maybe the best part of the book is the evocative sense of setting in mid-twentieth century New England. Or maybe the best part of the book is the characters. I don’t know. I can’t make up my mind. But it’s great and I’m going to nudge everyone I know into reading it.

So: You there. You. Go read A Prayer for Owen Meany. Report back to me when you’re done. It’ll be easy to find me. I’ll be the one with no bra.

Don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that mood swing

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Good, though remarkably unsurprising, news: I’m not pregnant.

Well, okay, there’s a tiny chance I may be, but only if there’s been some divine intervention at work. It’s possible. There’s precedent.

Short of miraculous conception, there is no conceivable—ha, ha—way that I’m pregnant. I am not a biologist, but I did make an A in Honors Biology in college (and I can prove it; earning an A in that class was so very extraordinary that the Biology Department gave out certificates to prove it. I still have mine, somewhere.)

Though I can no longer recall the intricacies of the ATP chain, I can tell you with perfect assurance that human conception does not happen unless a sperm gets cozy with an egg. My womb has been living in quiet solitude for an extraordinarily long time, certainly longer than the nine months required to carry a baby to term. No inquisitive sperms (or eggs, for that matter) have come remotely near my own reproductive organs in ages. And ages. And ages.

I have not visited any fertility clinics. Nor have I been abducted my aliens, unless they were mighty quick about it, and I think I’d have noticed.

I am, therefore, not pregnant, not unless I’m carrying the second Messiah, and my period ended just a few days ago so I doubt that’s it.

Why are we even discussing this?

Because I’ve been having some crazy mood swings, the type I normally associate with pregnant women. I know all about pregnant women and their behavior. I worked in a maternity store for two years (which, in my estimation, should knock two years off my sentence in purgatory), and believe me, I know about pregnant women. They’re crazy. They are absolutely apeshit. Some of them are marvelously happy, some of them are mortified, some of them are scared, but all of them are, without exception, certifiably insane.

No idea why I’ve been so moody. I don’t think it’s a fault of my regular hormones. I’m not taking any drugs, I haven’t had a drop of alcohol in weeks, my life has been normal.

Maybe it’s stress from the book?

Maybe it’s the godawful holidays?… Yeah, let’s blame the holidays. They have a special, wicked ability to make anyone feel lonely and sad. “April is the cruelest month,” is it? Bah. December is. I like the true meaning of Christmas, i.e., the birthday of Jesus and getting presents, but all the stuff about being with family and friends? Ugh. Holiday fervor emphasizes how few friends one has, and how far distant family is.

(See? I am whining. I am feeling sorry for myself. I try not to do this publicly, because it is all sorts of pathetic, which just goes to show how yucky I’m feeling.)

My weird mood has manifested in some spectacular ways. I noticed it in yoga last night, right at the very beginning, well before we got to any of the difficult poses. I was sitting on my mat, legs crossed, eyes closed, doing basically nothing. (I think I was supposed to be concentrating on tranquility or somesuch, but I’m not very good at that.)

So I’m sitting there, trying to look all meditative and enlightened, listening to Yoga Instructor Jennifer guiding us through the first few moments.

“Breathe deeply,” said Yoga Instructor Jennifer.

“Fuck that,” I thought. “You can’t tell me what to do.” And I commenced not to breathe at all for half a minute, just to be defiant.

“Breathe deeply.” We’re not talking about a major imposition, here—and for the record, I deliberately pay her money to tell me what to do.

But no, I was feeling belligerent. Absurd, I know, but I was cranky and cantankerous. I spent almost the whole class feeling weepy.

(Almost the whole class. There were two poses that drew me out of my bad mood, probably because they were difficult. Hard to feel much of anything when you’re on all fours but upside down, i.e., when you are in a full backbend. Also hard to feel anything except a sense of accomplishment when you are in your very first handstand. Granted, I needed help to get up there—but I managed it all by myself when I got home that night, and then again this evening. I am nearly ready to go to clown school, I think. Goodbye, library! Hello, circus!)

Why was I all sniffly and depressed during yoga? Don’t know, but I resolved that the only way to make myself feel better was to get takeout Chinese. Which did make me feel better, except that it probably added a pound to my tummy, which makes me feel worse. Paradoxes! Can’t live with ’em, can’t live without ’em!

My inexplicable grouchiness reared its head again this afternoon, though in this case it was quite explicable, now that I think on it. Because I do not talk about patrons here, I can’t give you identifying details. (I talk about patrons generally, but not specifically.) But here are the essentials: I wear a nametag, but at the time of this incident, my scarf was inadvertently obscuring my name. Rather than asking for my name, this patron leaned over the desk and moved my scarf out of the way, brushing his finger against my breast in the process.

Thing is, I think he was just clueless. I am quick, perhaps too quick, to see sexual impropriety. It’s a defense mechanism born of years of creeps, jerks, pervs, and weirdos. But because I have encountered so many creeps, jerks, pervs, and weirdos, I’m pretty good at spotting men who aren’t. This guy wasn’t. I really don’t think he was copping a feel. He was just insensitive to the standards of personal space. Way insensitive.

Wish my anger had manifested itself then, as opposed to the beginning of yoga class, which is about the most peaceful setting imaginable. If I could manage to summon my ire at useful moments, I could have told this guy off. Even if he didn’t mean to do anything inappropriate, the fact remains that he touched my breast. That’s not acceptable.

(So, if it’s unacceptable, why did I accept it? I have a college degree in women’s studies and a passion for feminist activism. If I can’t confront these people, who can?)

But don’t worry: I am sure I will have my spirits restored when I go to clown school. If red rubber noses and hilarious wigs can’t fix me, nothing can.