This is as good an opportunity as any to direct your attention to LeahAndLia.com, an internet venture where my awesome writing partner Leah Folta and I try to generate laughter in the community. Please check it out and walk about the cabin freely.
My most recent post there is about Coach Ed Orgeron because he’s leaving USC, I’m really going to miss him, and I’m handling it with some humor. You can see that article here.
Thanks and wishing you the best Coach O!
It doesn’t matter where I go or how much I try to dress my age -without fail, people think I am 16 years old. That would be fine and good if I was actually in high school but the reality is I am 23. Whenever adults ask me where I go to school, there’s inevitably a moment of surprise when I reveal I’ve already graduated college. If I go to any 21+ establishment, I have to allow extra time for the carding process because no one believes my ID is real. They spend a good long time looking at the picture, looking at me, looking back at the picture, deciding it must be a pretty good fake, running my ID under a black light, sliding it through a machine, and finally allowing me to enter when all signs indicate I’m telling the truth. Even if I get past the door, bar tenders will still card me because I “look awfully young.” Personally I don’t find it that hard to believe. I think I can pass for at LEAST 21: I have all the trappings of a fully grown woman, I don’t have a high girly voice, sometimes I carry around my college diploma as a helpful accessory… Part of me suspected that society was just confused because actors in their twenties (my age) play 16 year olds on TV, but that was before I realized the truth: I might be Dorian Gray (in lady form).
The problem isn’t so much that I’ve always looked younger than my age, it’s that as a teen I just kind of stopped aging. I don’t remember making any deals to trade my soul in exchange for eternal youth, but I must have.
Here’s a photo of me.
And here’s another one.
Sure, it looks like some time has probably passed between these pictures, but would you guess there’s a six year difference?
This revelation became clear when a guy I was seeing was over at my house and noticed a picture of me on the wall. “When was this taken?” he asked me. I told him it was from 2007… when I was 17. “Oh…” he said before pointing out I look exactly the same in it. He’s mostly right: other than a slightly greater boob presence, I haven’t really changed.
Now that I understand I’m a character in Tuck Everlasting, I have one main question. If I’m so baby-faced, why are guys in their 20s interested in me at all? Why do I still get ogled in the street by men who DON’T know how old I am? What is wrong with everyone?!
Maybe the real takeaway here is that I could be killing it as a very convincing decoy on To Catch A Predator. The least I can do is use my powers for good.
This story actually took place a year ago and I wish I had a really cool reason as to why I couldn’t share it until now, but the truth is until recently I just forgot it happened.
Around this time of year in 2012 my best pal got the two of us a Groupon to go get Thai massages. If you don’t know what a Groupon is, then that’s a little disappointing but it’s not very important to the story at all. If you don’t know what a Thai massage is, that’s perfectly okay because I didn’t know what one was either at the time, and I’m also not sure I know what it is even now that I’ve had one.
Just out of curiosity I looked up Thai massage and Wikipedia told me it’s “a system of massage and assisted stretching developed in Thailand. This form of bodywork is performed on the floor, and the client wears comfortable clothes that allow for movement.” The reason I still am not sure about Thai massage’s definition is because my Thai massage apparently was not the same as what Wikipedia got when they used their Groupon.
There was a lady, and yes, she massaged me, but there were no stretches, floors, or comfortable clothes involved (I’ll elaborate on that later). Beyond the possibility that the lady who performed the massage might have been Thai, I’m not entirely sure where the Thai part came into it. I know that having a French person make you some toast doesn’t make it French toast, but maybe that rule doesn’t apply in the industry of rubbing other people’s muscles. I don’t know how this works because this was my one and only professional massage experience thus far, and I imagine they probably explain all the massage secrets to you on your fifth or sixth go at it. They like to see real commitment before they open up. I get that.
So until I learn the secret rules of what sets one massage apart from another, I’m just going to tell you what happened under the assumption that what I had was in fact a legit Thai massage experience.
Like I said, this was my first massage, so there were a few things I had forgotten to consider. If there’s anything massages are famous for, it’s relaxation, closely followed by seductive music. This was not the seductive music type of massage, however it did involve a significant amount of clothing removal, and this is where I started to do the opposite of relaxing.
It wasn’t the fact that I had to shed some layers – that’s no big deal and I expected that. It was the lack of clarity on how many layers that had me all flustered. I’ve seen movies and TV, and whenever someone’s getting a pro massage, they’re lying face down under a white towel with nothing else. This is also all I had to go on coming into the situation, but I wasn’t sure if that’s how you do it in real life. Maybe you’re supposed to leave your pants on as a courtesy, or play hard to get by hiding in the corner first… I don’t know. How was it possible to even be this confused about it when the lady cheerfully gave me instructions before leaving me alone in the little room?
Here’s how, and it wasn’t her heavy accent, either. I’ll tell you what, the accent didn’t help, but the real problem was in the combination of how fast and softly she talked with my own anxiety over not wanting to mess up. So I didn’t quite catch her instructions about which clothes I should take off, what I should leave on, whether I should lie face up or face down, and which sheet on the table I should get under. Yes, multiple sheets to navigate, as if there weren’t enough variables.
I seriously stood there for a few minutes agonizing over the question, “how naked am I supposed to be??” It might sound silly, but think about it. If you’re wearing too much, you look like an idiot, and if you’re not wearing enough, you’re the person that got overzealously naked. So I made my best guess based on what it sounded like she said and took everything off except my underwear. I also took another gamble and got under the top-most sheet because it seemed safe.
When she came back it turned out I had guessed right about what to wear (or rather, not wear) but had chosen wrong with the sheets. Getting up, pulling back the other sheet, and getting back under wouldn’t have been a big deal except now I was topless. So not only did I have to correct my mistake, but had to apologize as I unsuccessfully did my best not to flash Unclear Directions Lady. Oh well, I’m sure it happens all the time. Or it doesn’t and they still talk about me.
The rest of the massage went pretty smoothly, however there were several instances where I could sense she was hovering above me. Not like, leaning over me, but climbed-up-on-the-table-and-straddled-me type of hovering. If you’ve never had a stranger do that (assuming you didn’t specifically ask for it, maybe that’s your thing) it’s kind of a weird feeling. Once it was clear this was just going to be part of it/nothing weirder was happening, I eventually did leave there feeling very relaxed and I do think I’d recommend it.
I will say that when I looked up Thai massage I was sort of hoping Wikipedia would clear up the climbing-on-the-table thing as part of an ancient Thai tradition.
I remember in sixth grade I sat next to this not particularly nice girl in my computer class. She rarely spoke a word to me, but this story centers around a day that she did.
We had a substitute teacher that day, and he was one of those “cool” substitute teachers. You remember cool substitute teachers, right? I know you do. They were the ones who were like, “yeah, there’s an assignment here for you guys but feel free to work in groups and do whatever. As long as you’re done by the end.” These subs had their own little prepared stand-up set that you KNOW they practiced on classes before yours. And it worked every time.
So as I was saying, we had a cool sub that day, and this guy was one of the jokey types. A subset (no pun intended. really. that’s barely a pun) of the jokey cool sub is the one that’s not afraid to push the envelope with language/dirty jokes in the classroom because he/she “knows what REALLY goes on with you kids and I’ll be gone tomorrow anyway.” Not necessarily anything outrageous but JUST enough to make everybody look around at each other with facial expressions that basically say, “WHOA this cowboy doesn’t play by the rules!” Facial expression voices sound a lot like movie trailer voices, by the way, if that wasn’t clear.
I don’t remember how he even segued into this at all. It’s hard to imagine a scenario that makes sense, but just trust me that it wasn’t entirely out of nowhere. Basically he found a way to work the word “ho” into our sixth grade computer class, and everybody had a field day. Everyone except for me, because I had no idea what ho meant.
I turned to not-particularly-nice-girl next to me (I didn’t have any friends that sat anywhere near me in that class - she was my only resource) because she was laughing and thus demonstrated some level of understanding here, and asked her what ho meant. She rolled her eyes and scoffed before impatiently replying, “it’s a prostitute.”
This might have been helpful if I had known what a prostitute was. I asked for one word, and she explained it with an even longer word I didn’t know. To me, I might as well have asked what the word “foxy” meant only for her to reply in an irritated voice, “pulchritudinous.”
At that point I was too embarrassed about being so out of the loop to ask any further questions. I don’t even recall when I ACTUALLY learned what a prostitute really was. You’d think that would be more memorable, but no. “Learning about a fancy synonym for ho” just felt like too long of a title.
Most people arrive at college and decide it’s time to reinvent themselves for some reason or another. They want to start fresh and leave behind the person they were in high school. This is the chance to be cooler or crazier or whatever-you-want-er than you ever were.
My personal going-away-to-college reinvention entirely consisted of:
a) cutting my hair to shoulder-length
b) wearing my glasses instead of contacts a little more often (and always on Thursdays. Don’t ask me why; I don’t have an answer that makes sense.)
c) deciding I wanted to be somebody that “wore vests.”
That’s literally it.
By December my hair was long again, I wore my contacts most of the time unless I got lazy or got a request, and I gave up on vests. None of these things have changed ever since.
However, nearly a year out of college I can see that I definitely DID change, just not in the ways I expected and not overnight. Kind of like, oh, every other time in my life.
Needless to say, “reinventing myself” was overrated, but maybe that’s because I didn’t really go for it like a lot of other people did. Call me crazy, but I was pretty okay with myself, and life took care of the other significant lasting changes without my help.
But who knows, maybe five years from now I’ll give vests another shot.
For some reason the school system (I don’t actually have proof of this, it may have just been my school alone pretending like this was normal) thinks it’s a great idea to teach children about tar pits at a very young age.
Now, if tar pits, or “asphalt lakes” if you want to be pretentious, were some kind of big, messy pit of fun that man/animals enjoyed recreationally, coming and going as they pleased wayyy back in the day, then telling kids about it might make sense. Instead tar pits manage to get away with being one of the only horrible death traps I can think of that have colorful picture books written about them intended for young impressionable minds. Minds like I once had, except I only had one. One impressionable mind.
When I was five, I vaguely remember my kindergarten class taking a big field trip to the La Brea tar pits. “Vaguely” because that young mind of mine I was just referring to generally did a pretty good job of blocking out most of it. Unfortunately, a few things stuck with me (turns out tar pits are very, very sticky to both the body AND memory.)
This field trip was intended to give us an up close and personal look at what we’d been discussing in class. I also might have been alone in this, but upon hearing about how many things died in tar pits, I automatically assumed it was all too awful and upsetting and concluded tar pits probably weren’t real. According to five year old Lia, tar pits were just another Brothers Grimm story, except for some reason the teachers weren’t making up happier sounding endings that didn’t involve gruesome punishments and or murder. In these stories it didn’t matter if they were good guys or bad guys. Once caught in the tar pit, the saber-tooth tiger/wooly mammoth/early man/confused and disappointed plant that “never should have wound up here!”/giant wolf always ended up dying a slow gooey death.
Faced with the “real live tar pits” complete with their replicas of distressed-looking ancient animals stuck out in the middle of the inky black pool, I was forced to accept these stories as fact. I will never forget wandering around the museum of tar pit related horrors and coming across an image of a baby woolly mammoth stranded in a tar pit. He was struggling to escape death, his trunk outstretched toward his helpless mom while she could only watch. I saw myself in that baby wooly mammoth (we had our small-ness and scared-ness in common) and it really got to me. Those children’s book illustrators were truly talented at giving these wooly mammoths the saddest eyes imaginable. I hope those guys are proud of themselves.
I’m pretty certain this is where my fears about dying started. For a long time I struggled with the terror of falling into a tar pit and slowly sinking to my death while my family couldn’t help me. I had recurring nightmares about this exact scenario, about how awful it would be to slowly suffocate in the black tar and wait for my life to end. Plus I hate getting dirty in general, so you can imagine how upsetting that would be as a full-on cause of death. I didn’t understand how tar pits aren’t just sitting around in the middle of your commute, waiting for people to fall in.
Eventually I discovered that tar pits are a little harder to get to than that. These days there are only a handful of them worldwide. Modern tar pits tend to be pretty clearly labeled with signs and museums, and only hang out in exotic places like Venezuela, Trinidad, and California. They also refuse to take most calls on account of being “real busy.”
Yes, I’ve been able to achieve a healthier attitude about tar pits, but I don’t think the whole learning-about-it-when-we-were-five thing was entirely necessary. Can’t the tar pit talk wait a few years? It’s not like, I dunno, something like puberty where you HAVE to learn because it’s kind of a time sensitive thing and you need plenty of warning for what’s ahead. Unless I’m horribly mistaken, tar pits are not “a part of life” unless you work at one. I could even understand if it was going to be the first wave of something we’d cover repeatedly so that it was really engrained, like U.S. history or the importance of eating a good breakfast before standardized state testing. Instead, the tar pits are introduced in kindergarten and then they never come up again. You have to go to college if you want to keep talking about tar pits. Same goes for learning about Pompeii at a young age. That’s pretty dark stuff too, we never go over it again after second or third grade, and I had a whole slew of issues about volcanos as a result, but that’s another story.
Now that I have friends that live in La Brea, I literally have to park right next to the tar pits in order to visit. I wish I could tell my past self that tar pits aren’t so bad. I mean, I park by them all the time and obviously I have not fallen in.
I have this weird relationship with Special K Red Berries Cereal. It’s the one that has the strawberries in it. I first tried it in college when I stayed at a friend’s place and was offered some. On that morning, something about the crunchy flakes with dried strawberries and milk was mind blowingly delicious to me. I can’t really explain it. My mouth was hit by Taste Bud Cupid’s sneaky little arrow and I decided I loved Special K, the one that has strawberries in it, more than any other cereal.
The first thing I did was buy a box of this munchable morning magic. I actually woke up excited to be reunited with the flavor of Special K Red Berries. Then I took my first bite of what you could call our edible second date.
It was not at all the incredible elixir of life that I remembered. It was generally okay, especially for a healthy cereal, not bad at all really, but nowhere near “my god what is this delicious witchcraft?!” status. In fact a lot of the strawberries had an off-putting consistency and texture once they made it to my mouth. Given that the strawberries are preserved by what can only be an unnatural process, I don’t know why this was surprising, but I was disappointed nonetheless.
Now, a typical person would have given up on Special K Red Berries right then. What I did was continue to eat it every morning until the whole box was gone. Here is why:
That first experience was SO grand that I thought if I kept at it, I could get it back. Sounds crazy, and it is, but it actually worked. Sort of.
After about halfway-through-the-box’s worth of consistently mediocre Special K experiences, inexplicable magic struck again. The cereal tasted absolutely fantastic, just as I remembered, and suddenly all the bowls of disappointment I’d gone through seemed completely worth it. I had achieved breakfast bliss once again, and it was here to stay. Really, after all that, how else could this go?
The next morning revealed exactly how else it could go. I was back to disappointment town, and it was just as disappointed to see me. How could it have been so good yesterday, and not today? I still don’t know the answer to this question, but I’ve been asking it for years because I never gave up on Special K Red Berries thanks to the lame lame lame lame AMAZING lame lame lame AMAZING AGAIN cycle that just won’t end.
This cycle doesn’t stop at Special K Red Berries, either. It turns out I’m kind of consistent with this behavior. You can see it in the way I STILL watch SNL, putting up with laughter-less episode after laughter-less episode just because “Lazy Sunday” happened out of nowhere that one time. Eventually I’ll start to lose faith, finally prepared to throw in the loyalty towel, and then something like this will happen and my resolve is reborn for the next several years.
I keep seeing Pirates of the Caribbean movies even though I always leave filled with regret. All in the name of “MAN was Curse of the Black Pearl excellent!”
I don’t exactly thrive socially at parties/gatherings at bars. I am generally a shy person and also tend to be the only sober one around (which I don’t have a problem with but it seems to make other people self conscious) and yet I keep going to them. Why? Occasionally I will have a good experience. Like one time I actually met somebody and that was real cool. That instance scored a lot of points for parties in my book, but that kind of thing doesn’t happen often and it hasn’t since. Still, I go, because MAYBE…
The same problem is at play in my tendency to believe in certain guys way, way longer than I should just because they were exciting at one time and do things that still seem promising now and then. I hold out for the occasional redeeming gesture that makes all their frustrating ones seem worth it. I’m talking about those nice little moments that hint at what I BELIEVE is a well of significant-other-awesomeness lurking down there just waiting to be revived/unearthed via some good ol’ TLC on my part. The reality is that 9 times out of 8, I am either completely wrong and there is nothing more to be enjoyed, OR I am semi-right and there IS some kind of ‘mature feelings reservoir’ if you will, but for reasons out of my control I am not allowed near it past a certain point, nor will I ever be, so it might as well not exist at all.
In all these situations, the entire time no one was fooling me but myself.
I’ve been 21 for over a year now (which… yes, makes me older than 21) and have never actually tried slot machines. It’s probably for good reason because based on all the things I’ve been saying here, I’m exactly the kind of person from which casinos are looking to take great amounts of money. Kind of in the same way I’ve already given away great amounts of my time and attention to things that weren’t really worth it.
This is probably obvious to lots of people out there, but I know I can’t be the only one who struggles with this. I know because I see it in others around me all the time. It’s you guys I’m talking to now. My peers who can’t give up on things. I think I’m starting to get it now. In order for something, anything, to actually be considered “good” it should be that way the majority of the time. No amount of occasional AMAZING should be able to make up for otherwise pretty consistent blah. At this moment in time I can’t think of very many exceptions to this idea, except maybe the consumption of antioxidants. Even if they don’t taste amazing every time, good things are still happening there.
I’m not sure if Special K Red Berries or Saturday Night Live episodes or wobbly romantic interests have antioxidants (Special K might, actually) but unless they do, I’m going to start redirecting my energy toward other things that really are “good” for me.
And if something magical happens on SNL I can always find it on Hulu.