Friday, May 29, 2015

San Francisco: Part Two

I woke up already anxious on Saturday morning. It wasn't hard to roll out of bed at 7, considering it was 10 o'clock New York time, and I was eager to get ready for the conference. I wore a professional work dress from Banana Republic and decided to do my hair in a side braid. I didn't really know what to expect at one of these kinds of things, but I'm not going to lie, I was freaking intimidated. Even when I was in the Honor's College during my undergraduate schooling, I always just felt like I was faking it. I consider myself to be a somewhat smart person, but when I find myself in situations where I'm surrounded by real academics, I find myself feeling dumb as hell. Again, I was nervous and didn't really know what to expect.

The hotel I was staying in was only a couple of blocks from the conference hotel, which I didn't stay in because it was stupidly more expensive than the one I found on Expedia, so I headed out around 8:15, giving me plenty of time to stop for coffee and register before sitting down for my first talk.

The talk was pretty interesting, but I was honestly so distracted with thoughts about presenting that I wasn't able to give it my full attention.

I got to the poster area a minute after it was open. For the posters at these conferences, there's fifteen minutes scheduled for prep time before the hour of presenting and then fifteen minutes for everyone to take down their posters after. I continued to take deep breathes as I tacked up my poster. I worked really hard on it and I have to admit, it came out looking pretty awesome.

So, once all the posters are up and the presentation hour begins, people basically just walk around, read posters they are interested in, and ask questions to the people standing there. In theory, it's a great way for presenters to interact with the people interested in their work and it's kind of nicer than when people give a talk, since there's a lot more one on one time for people to have actual discussions about the work.

However, as the presenter, it felt super weird. Some people will just walk right past your poster and even though you shouldn't be offended, it kind of feels like your poster sucks. Then, you have people who stop at your poster and begin to read. I didn't know whether I should interrupt their reading or just stand there with a stupid grin on my face. I decided to settle on saying hello and then telling them to let me know if they had any questions. Then, as they read, I stared at their faces to try to access if there was any distain in their expressions.

For a while, people would briefly read over the poster, ask me a question or two about the research that I would answer the best I could, and then some of them took a copy of my paper, since I had printed out about like fifty. This is something Dr. Cramer told me to do. She said everyone did this, but nobody had their full papers. Why is she so weird?

There was less than fifteen minutes and I was beginning to relax as my presentation time came to an end. As I was drinking the last few drops of my coffee, a tall, brunette woman wearing a dark blue silk blouse tucked into a gray pencil skirt and shiny black pumps stopped in front of my poster, rubbing her chin. Out of every visitor I had that day, she hands down seemed the most focused. Her hair was in a flawless bun that I envied considering I felt like my hair was really frizzy from the humidity of the day.

"Hello," I began, standing with my shoulders back and giving my most professional smile. "Please let me know if you want me to explain anything."

The woman in front of me wasted no time before shooting a very deep question my way. I tried not to begin my answer with an "um" and I succeeded. I luckily knew the answer, so I was able to confidently answer without missing a beat.

She took her hand from her chin for the first time, turned her head, and gave me a genuine smile. "This is extremely interesting work, Caroline. Your hypothesis and research design demonstrate a deep level of thinking that, between us, not all of these presenters seem to possess." The right corner of her mouth turned up into a very coy smile.

"Well, you flatter me," I replied. "Thank you so much."

We made some more small talk about my research and I realized that this was the most I've enjoyed talking with anybody at this conference. I seemed to really connect with Lillian, as I later learned was her name, and I think it's because she was so down to earth.

Lillian looked around just as the hour was up. "It looks like things are clearing up here. I wish I had gotten to your poster sooner!"

"Me too," I honestly and enthusiastically replied. "Please take a copy of my paper if you'd like and I'll put my email on it if you want to discuss it further."

Lillian didn't reply at first and so I just awkwardly wrote my email address down on the back page of my paper before handing it to her.

"I'll do you one better," Lillian replied as she took the paper, shoved it under her arm, and then reached into her pocket. She pulled out a business card and wrote something on the back. "I work at Web Matcher," she began. "I think you might be a good fit for a new service we're working on. Give me a call on Tuesday."

I stared at the card. Oh, I absolutely would call her Tuesday!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

San Francisco: Part One

Well, I had an amazing Memorial Day weekend!

It started for me on Friday when my dad drove my mom and I to the airport bright and early. My eyelids were heavy as I sat in the backseat, watching the road signs race by my sight. I went to bed later than I expected after asking my brother all the details about his proposal. I had no idea he was even planning on it, so I wanted to know if they'd talked about a wedding at all or moving in together. Her parents were very traditional so they would never move in together before getting married. He had been looking at houses, too, so he was hoping to be able to find one and plan the wedding in about a year and a half. I teased him a little bit about her saying no, but he brushed it off. "We've talked about it," he replied a few minutes before he left my room. "So it's not like we're not on the same page."

I was really happy for my brother and he had been with this girl for a couple of years. From what I could tell, they had no serious relationship issues so this was clearly just the next logical step for them. It did make me wonder, though, was an engagement in my future? Would it be with Scott? Or would I meet someone else?

We got through security and everything pretty quick. I grabbed a large black coffee and a few snacks before settling down next to my mom to wait to be called to board.

"I don't think I've been on a plane since I went to France," I said to my mom as I pulled the lid off my coffee and blew on it to cool. The thing I hate about not adding milk to my coffee is that I always burn my tongue!

"How long ago was that?" My mom asked, furrowing her eyebrows.

"Three years, but it doesn't seem like it was that long ago." I had taken a summer study abroad course in Paris right before I started my senior year of college. It was an amazing experience that I am so glad I went on, but it actually made me wish I had done more adventurous stuff in college, you know?

"Well, you sure are growing up," my mom muttered and widened her eyes at me. I rolled mine in response. Could she have said anything more clich√© at that moment?

"Speaking of growing up," I began. "What do you think about this proposal?" My brother mentioned that he told my parents about his intentions of proposing when he bought the ring a couple weeks ago.

"It's exciting," she said but with no real enthusiasm. "But it makes me feel old."

"Yeah, because you are old," I replied and had lean to the side to avoid her swatting me. We talked a little bit more about my brother's soon to be fiancé, Linda, and her family. My mom said she liked her, but I was surprised when she told me that she especially liked how my brother's behavior has changed since they began dating.

"He's a lot more mature and doesn't drink as much," she said as she opened her carry on to look for chapstick.

I hadn't really noticed until she brought it up, but my brother had been acting like a much more responsible adult since he's become serious with this girl. I don't know if it was a coincidence, though. I mean, he's 26, two years older than me. He had to mature sometime, right?

Our plane boarded a few minutes later and I was very content to just lean my head back, attempting to at least rest my mind even if I didn't fall asleep. I don't get nervous on planes or anything, but I'm not good at sleeping in a chair, no matter how much I lean it back or adjust my body. Even though I didn't fall asleep on the flight, I definitely felt energized when we landed.

My mom and I figured we'd head in the general direction of the hotel, even though we wouldn't be able to check in for a couple of hours. My mom had all this stuff that she printed out at work about cool spots to hit in San Francisco and she had so many cool things that I didn't even think of doing or even know about! She's the real MVP.

So we got brunch at this cute place by our hotel before checking out where my conference was. I had looked through the booklet and didn't see many events or talks that I wanted to or needed to attend, but there was one interesting talk the following morning right before I was set to present. I told my mom I'd be back around noon and then we could have the rest of Saturday to explore!

We checked out Pier 39 that first day but didn't stay too long since we had a boat tour in the area planned on Sunday before we were scheduled to head to the airport late that night. We also drove over to the golden gate bridge and walked around by that area, which was pretty touristy as you can imagine. California is just so beautiful, though. No wonder people from there are always so happy! It's always sunny and the perfect temperature.

We decided to hang out in that area for a while because it was about 7 o'clock. It was too late to go somewhere else, but not really early enough to head back. Also, we were trying to avoid jet lag, so we refused to be back at the hotel before 9 so we'd have to stay up at least that late.

When my head hit the pillow at 9:27, though, I was out. The next thing I remember is waking up to my alarm at 7 Saturday morning.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Overpacking

"So you don't even know if he saw the texts?" Darlene's question echoed in my room. I had put her on speaker phone so I could pack while we caught up. Darlene had Mono for a couple weeks so in addition to us all being so out of touch, I really hadn't seen or spoken to her.

"Yeah, but what am I supposed to do?" I asked as I carefully rolled one of my dresses to put in my suitcase. "If I bring it up and he didn't see them, I'm making a problem out of nothing. If he did see them and I don't bring it up, it's almost like I'm hiding something." I grabbed a pair of gray pumps from my closet and tried to arrange them in the most efficient way possible. I was only going to be away for the weekend and as much as I tell myself not to, I always overpack. I can't be the only one, right?

"I don't think I'm going to say anything about it," I continued to Darlene. "I just wanted to see what you thought about it."

"Yeah, I wouldn't stress about it," Darlene replied. "I'm just glad you have something to talk about. The only drama I've been exposed to the last few weeks was the Mad Men marathon."

"I swear, I'm not obsessing," I replied even though it was only partially true. Sure, between that and Scott's comment about moving out, I had a few things on my mind about our relationship that I wasn't voicing, but nothing that kept me up at night. For the most part, I felt like we were really solid and I hadn't felt this good about where a relationship was going since, well, ever.

"Well, I wish you could 'not obsess' with me this weekend. I can't believe you're not going to be around for the Memorial Day weekend festivities!" Darlene, along with most of my other friends, had really fun stereotypical Memorial Day weekend activities planned. They all involved day drinking at the beach or a barbecue hosted by a friend, but I sadly couldn't attend them since I had my first research conference this weekend. I would be going to three this summer and I was super nervous about presenting in front of people. I just have to picture everyone naked, right? Ew. I really don't get that trick.

"I know, I suck," I replied as I rummaged through my make up draw for the spare hair brush I bring with me on trips. "But I'll be around next weekend! We need a girl's brunch or something."

"Yeah, my waistline doesn't need brunch though," Darlene sighed through the receiver. Darlene always had trouble with her weight fluctuating. In high school, she was simply chubby, but quickly gained the 'freshman 15' and then some once college rolled around. A few years ago, though, she dropped a ton of weight and while she was still on the bigger side, looked bagging. She had one of the prettiest faces of my friends so she got her fair share of attention from guys, but her confidence was always a little off and I attribute that to her weight loss struggles.

"Me too," I quickly replied and I wasn't lying. I was definitely gaining some weight between the stress of school and being comfortable in a relationship. "Let's make a gym schedule or something when I get back."

"Sounds good!"

We hung up a few minutes after that. I was pretty bummed that I wouldn't be around to hang out with my friends for the weekend, but I was going to California. I haven't been since I was a kid and I had never seen San Francisco so I was pretty excited to check out the sites. I had funding for the whole thing so I told my mom that if she wanted to come along she'd just have to pay for a plane ticket. I didn't think she'd seriously take me up on it but she did! I was pretty excited to be getting some quality time with her and it would be much more fun to travel with somebody than alone.

As I was trying to zip up my suitcase, I heard a knock on my door. "Come in!" I yelled.

"What's up?" I was still focused on my suitcase, but I recognized the voice as my brother. It may actually come as a surprise to you that I have a brother, because I doubt I've mentioned him, but yeah, I do. He's two years older than me and also still lives at home. We're close in that we see each other every day, but we're not super involved in each other's lives. We get along great, though.

"Just trying to pack," I answered as I tilted my head up and gave him a smile. "Jealous of my trip with mom?"

He laughed. "No, you can have her," he replied as he walked over to my bed and sat down. Nothing was unusual about this encounter. My room was right next to the bathroom and his was in the basement, so he'd stop by my room before taking a shower. We talked about my flight and itinerary for the trip for a few minutes before I asked him if he had any plans for the weekend.

"Well, I'm going to the wineries tomorrow with Linda's friends," he said, rubbing his chin.

"Nice!" I exclaimed. He had been dating this girl, Linda, for a couple years now and he seemed to get along with her friends from what I could tell. My brother began looking around the room and I suddenly had the feeling that something was off. "What?" I asked.

"Nothing, weirdo," he said before standing up. Okay, cool story, bro.

Then before I even knew what was going on, he reached into his pocket and showed me the most beautiful engagement ring.

"Do you think she'll say yes?" He asked, grinning.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

We had plenty of issues

"Heykw"

"Are you up?"

Two texts. Both sent within seconds of each other. Both sent from the same stupid individual.

Moose. I hadn't even talked to him in weeks, but of course he decides that the perfect time to text me would be on a Saturday night while I was away having a romantic weekend with my boyfriend. What were those text messages about anyway? He knew I was with Scott. And wasn't he with Beth? Of course, while Scott was in the shower Sunday morning I checked Facebook to see if I had missed a change in relationship status.

I had trouble sleeping that night. I didn't even care what was going on in Moose's mind or why he sent the messages. I was just wondering if Scott had seen them and if that was the reason he suddenly wasn't in the mood to have sex with me.

The reason this irritated me so much was because this is not the first time Moose has potentially had some sort of influence in my relationship. He used to flirt with me in front of Mike, my first boyfriend, and it actually caused issues. Don't get me wrong, we had plenty of issues. I definitely wouldn't say Moose was the reason we broke up or anything, but it still kind of bothers me that he never really seemed to respect what Mike and I had, which Mike noticed. If you can't tell, this is something I never really got over.

It's also a main reason why I could never really see myself dating Moose. A lot of my friends would make jokes about how Moose and I would end up together. You know the deal; two best friends of the opposite sex spend years as 'just friends' before realizing that they belong together. Yeah, that wasn't going to happen with me and Moose. I mean, if I harbor this resentment towards him, how would I ever be able to seriously date him?

Anyway, it's been over a week since Scott and I had our weekend together. I'm still just as clueless as to whether he saw the text or not as I was that night. The important thing is that if Scott did see it, he's over it now. Sunday morning we woke up and it was like nothing had happened. Maybe he really didn't see it? It is possible that he was just tired. It's unfortunately happened before and it's making me wonder if maybe I'm just bad in bed. Nah, that can't be it!

Last Friday, my friends and I were all going to a bar for a friend's birthday. I actually hesitated going, especially with Scott, because I knew Moose would be there. Then I realized I was being silly. I was also kind of surprised that Moose didn't send me any follow up texts because whenever he used to drunk text me like that, he'd send me an apology in the morning. 

Even though it was still a little chilly out, I wore a shirt dress and some black wedges. I told Scott I'd pick him up so he could feel free to drink as much as he wanted and I didn't have to worry about a hangover the next morning. When Scott got in the car, he kissed me on the cheek and I could smell a faint hint of beer in his breathe.

"Already drunk?" I asked as I put my car into drive.

"Of course not, babe," he replied as he leaned back in his chair. "Just had a couple beers with my dad while watching the game."

I changed the subject, not even caring about what game he was referring to, and asked him how work had been. He let out a sigh as he began to tell me about a dilemma in his department.

"Joel actually mentioned that he's going to be looking for a roommate in July," Scott said. "I was thinking about looking at the place."

My heart skipped a beat. He threw this sentence in like it wasn't a big deal. "You're ready to move out?" Scott and I had both talked about how moving out was in our respective futures, but this was the first time Scott made a definitive statement about it. Even though we hadn't had any discussions about moving in together, I was still hopeful that if we were both ready to move out at the same time, we'd consider it and since I was graduating this month, I was hoping that a move out date was in my near future, as well.

"I think," Scott replied. "Can't hurt to take a look anyway. I'm tired of the commute." I always figured Scott would move into Manhattan, since he works there, but I wasn't so sure. I didn't know where I'd get a job and that would influence where I looked for an apartment.

Scott and I have been dating for a while now, a little over six months, but it was still too early to make too many life decisions around each other. "Cool," I simply responded as I bit my lip. "Well, let me know how you like it!" I tried to sound as carefree as possible about the idea of having to take a train every time I wanted to see him.

As for the outing itself, nothing really exciting happened. But yes, Moose was there. With Beth. I quickly greeted them with Scott when they first arrived and then kind of avoided them for the rest of the night. It totally wasn't intentional. I swear! In all seriousness, a lot of my friends that I hadn't seen in a while were there and it was fun to talk to them. Scott seemed to be having a good time, too. He didn't seem phased by Moose's presence at all, which I took as a good sign that even if he saw the text messages, they weren't bothering him, at least not anymore.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Poconos: Part Two

"You need to follow through with the swing, but watch your feet."


I was not being the best student for Scott. Golfing is hard. I always figured it couldn't be that hard to hit a tiny ball with a decent sized, metal rod but hitting it was hard enough. Then you had to worry about it going where you wanted. I thought golf was something people did when they retired. Shouldn't that mean it's easy?

"Scott, you're telling me so many different things. When I try to get one thing down, you give me something else to think about!" I was growing frustrated, but I was actually really enjoying Scott trying his hardest to teach me.

Scott ran his hand through his hair from the back to the front; a mannerism I noticed him doing when he was acutely stressed out. "I know, Caroline," he said after sighing. His mouth curled into a half smile. "You're doing great. Just try to stay focused."

I began twirling the iron around on the ground. "I am so focused," I joked with him. To be completely honest, I was getting antsy. I enjoyed learning the basics of golf, for the first hour or so, but there was only so much I could learn in a day and I was getting bored.

I continued to try to golf and Scott luckily stopped giving me as many pointers. Maybe he finally realized I was a lost cause. He was an even better golfer than I thought he was, though, so I was pretty impressed watching him.

"Let's grab ice cream," Scott said once we finished the course. My eyes almost bugged out of my head as I rapidly nodded my head.

"Yes, please!"

We found a nice place that had all the basic flavors, but they were homemade. I got mint chocolate chip and Scott got strawberry.

"Strawberry," I repeated after he ordered. "I didn't realize I was dating an elementary school child."

"You bite your tongue, little lady," Scott replied. "Strawberry is a classic. When was the last time you had strawberry?"

I shrugged. As soon as the middle aged woman with red hair passed him his ice cream cone, he placed it in front of my face before taking a bite. "Tell me it's not good and I'll buy you dinner."

I rolled my eyes. As if he didn't know he was already buying me dinner. I waited to have a taste of my cone and awkwardly licked the top of his ice cream as he tried to hold it as steady as possible.

"Okay," I nodded as I wiped my mouth. "It's actually a lot better than I remember."

"See, Caroline? Sometimes you just have to give things a chance."

We went on a hike shortly after that and ordered room service for dinner. It was really an amazing weekend. Scott and I were getting along so well. I guess we're still in the honeymoon phase but I really can't imagine things getting worse. I guess there's always that possibility, though.

If I had to give the weekend a grade, it would definitely get an A, but because of one little incident, I wouldn't be able to give it a 100. It would still get an A, but probably a 98 percent.

After the long day Scott and I had, I was still excited for the end of the day. The whole day was like dragged out foreplay. Every meaningful look. Every playful word. Once we were done eating, we began kissing. We usually don't kiss for that long before the clothes start coming off, but we both seemed to hold the understanding that tonight, we'd take our time. Neither of us were rushing through this. You know when you've been with someone a long time and you almost forget what that person's kiss actually feels like. Focusing back on this basic sign of affection was really hot.

Anyway, we slowly began peeling back layers of clothing, but the defining word here is 'slowly.' There was just no rush. I was reminded of the first time I saw him without his shirt on and the first time I reached for his waist, heart pounding, to take off his pants.

At one point, Scott was sitting upward and I was straddling him, now in my bra and underwear. He was only in his boxers as he began kissing my neck. I almost couldn't take it anymore when I realized that I had to pee. I didn't want to stop, right when things were getting good, but I also know how biology works. I couldn't postpone the act for too much longer.

"I'll be just a minute," I whispered in his ear, as if that would preserve the moment. I peeled myself off of him as he softly groaned. I scurried to the bathroom and tried to be as efficient as possible. I walked out and slowly tip toed to the bed. "So," I began as I lifted my right leg and put my knee onto the bed. "Where were we?"

Scott softly smiled at me. "Come back here," he said. He was now sitting against the headboard and he put his arm out, waiting for me to come sit next to him.

I hobbled over to him on my knees until I was able to sit next to him. I laid my head against his chest and breathed in his scent. "You smell so good," I said before I began lightly kissing his chest. I slightly shifted my body so I was facing him and began rubbing his leg. 

"Babe, do you mind if we call it a night. I'm pretty beat."

Was he serious? Weren't we going somewhere before I went to the bathroom. We were super active all day, though. I couldn't deny that I was tired, too. Still, why was he rejecting me?

Then, it made sense. After Scott fell asleep and I picked up my phone, it made sense.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Poconos: Part One

I really wanted to do some word play with that title; something like "Poco-No" or "Poc-Oh-No No," but fortunately (or unfortunately for poetic license's sake) my weekend with Scott was really, really nice.

The drive to the Poconos takes about three hours from Long Island, but we wanted to avoid traffic so we left around 7 on Friday. This gave us the perfect amount of time to check in, carry our luggage to the room, and have sex on our king size bed once before falling asleep. I usually have trouble falling asleep anywhere besides my bed, but ever since I started having sleep overs with Scott, I haven't had any trouble sleeping when I'm next to him. I know it's corny. Believe me, I want to throw up, too.

When I woke up Saturday morning, I heard the shower running. I pretended to still be asleep when Scott came out of the bathroom. I'm glad I wasn't actually asleep, because Scott jumped on the bed.

"Caroline, Caroline," he sang as he shook the mattress.

"Stop," I playfully whined. "Just come back under the covers with me."

"No way, boss," he said as he finally stopped shaking the mattress. "You have to get up now if you want to get breakfast before golf."

The word 'breakfast' peaked my interest, but it was followed by something that did not. "Since when are we golfing?" I asked him in a half groan.

"I thought it'd be fun," Scott said with a shrug. I felt bad for groaning two seconds prior. Scott regularly went golfing with his dad or his coworkers. I jokingly complained when he couldn't hang out with me because he was golfing and he would respond by offering to teach me. Since I know a lot of guys golf to try to get away from their girlfriends and wives, it felt nice that he wanted to share this activity with me.

"Well, I'm going to need a big breakfast then!" I said as I sat up and stretched my arms up.

"Good," Scott replied with a smile. He began rummaging in his suitcase for clothes while I jumped in the shower and tried to be as quick as possible.

We walked down to the lobby, hand in hand, before Scott guided me down the road to a cute breakfast place. The place was one of those artsy breakfast places, where everything was painted in weird colors but you knew that their pancakes would be amazing. Scott ordered banana ones while I stuck with chocolate chip. I was kind of on vacation, right? With this logic, I also ordered a side of bacon and a cappuccino.

I caught Scott smiling to himself as the waitress walked away. "What?" I nervously asked.

"Nothing," Scott replied shaking his head. "It's just," he continued after a paused moment. "You're so cute sometimes."

I blushed. "I thought you were going to call me a fat ass."

Scott laughed. "Do you really think I would ever do that?" I leaned forward a bit and shook my head no. "I think it's the little things you do that make you so lovable," he went on. "The way you'll order all this food and then push it toward me, insisting I eat it because you don't want to get too full. Or the way you always act cautious when you ask the waitress to bring you something other than black coffee, as if she's going to think you're being a pain."

Scott was completely right. I did do those things. I wanted to start crying right there at breakfast, though, because those are the types of things that you don't think anybody else notices. You don't think people are even paying that much attention. But they're also the kinds of things that the person who loves you will always pick up on and, more importantly, he thinks they're cute as opposed to annoying.

"Well," I began, trying not to sound all choked up. "I'll be here all weekend to keep you entertained."

Scott winked at me before changing the subject to golf. He was trying to explain to me the importance of form and blah, blah, blah. I honestly couldn't really pay attention. I couldn't stop thinking how lucky I was to be with Scott in this moment.

Overall, I feel pretty good about myself on any given day. But have you ever had a moment where you feel like there's nothing special about you? I feel like I meet or hear about empowering, interesting women all the time but everywhere I look these women are having trouble snagging men who are their equals. In those moments, I wonder what made me special enough for Scott. I'm sure he'd met girls before who were just as pretty as me or just as smart or just as nice. So why me? And that makes me wonder if maybe there's something I'm not seeing.

I know, I know, it all sounds so dramatic. I promise I don't act out these impulses. I also don't think like this all the time, but I have some moments of weakness. In this particular moment, I didn't question Scott's character at all. Contrary to what he may believe from our one, kind of, sort of fight the night he told me I was overreacting at the bar, I truly trusted Scott and never in a million years would believe that he would cheat on me.

Anyway, Scott was totally right that I couldn't finish all that food on my own, but he didn't object at all when I shoved the plate of bacon his way. As we walked out of the restaurant, I grabbed his face with both my hands and planted an extra passionate kiss on him.

"I have to take you to this place more often," Scott joked after I pulled away.

"I just love you," I gently replied. Then we were on our way and I actually couldn't wait to golf!

Friday, May 8, 2015

Meet Dr. Cramer

I sat outside my advisor's office for a few minutes while fighting the urge to bite my nails. After all, I had just gotten a manicure in anticipation of my weekend with Scott. This meeting with my advisor would be our last. I had been meeting with her almost every other week for about a year now, so I wondered what would be discussed in this final showdown.

I looked up as another student walked out of her office. My turn. I took a deep breathe before standing up and walking through the doorway

Let me paint you a picture of this woman. She's in her mid seventies and somehow, never learned how to properly dress or conduct herself in really any appropriate manner. I cannot tell you how many times I've had to quickly snap my neck in another direction to keep from being exposed to her crotch. Sometimes I would meet with her and some PhD students at the university about various research projects and she'd always bring a lunch, but not a clean lunch. She couldn't just grab a sandwich or protein bar. Some of her favorites were mashed peas and cheesy pastas that she would chew without closing her mouth. I mean, this woman is a hot mess, minus the hot.

While there was some gossip that the university was encouraging her to retire, she had never hinted at plans to stop teaching. She actually told me about this scheme she had planned to buy a Miami house and commute to school. You read that right; she wanted to commute to Long Island from Florida. She did the math and she could save a ton of cash by buying a place there instead of renting her apartment in Manhattan, even after adjusting for weekly back and forth flights.

But I digress. It took me a while to fully understand my advisor, but I eventually realized that she could be very useful to me. She had given me a lot of advice on ways to do my research but I later found out it was not good advice at all. However, that didn't take away from her connections. The woman had a rolodex that would make your head spin. She traveled for so many conferences and other academic events, plus she was friendly. So, at the end of the day, she was a good person to have in my corner.

"Caroline," Dr. Cramer began. "I'm so sad this is the last time we'll be meeting in this office."

I nodded, not knowing whether to smile or frown in response so I kind of landed in the middle and probably looked like a manic idiot. "It really went by fast, huh?" I finally responded.

She smiled at me. "Yes, the years just continue to zip faster and faster." I nodded, hoping to get past this unbearable small talk. "So tell me, Caroline. What are your plans?"

I shifted in my seat a little. "Um," I began as I diverted eye contact. How do you even answer that question? Especially when you kind of don't have your clear direction yet? "I want to continue on and get my PhD but I don't know how long that's going to take. I'm going to try to figure out what my next step should be before that."

Dr. Cramer nodded, clearly contemplating my response as she looked out her window. She was quiet for an almost uncomfortable amount of time, so I almost thought she had forgotten I was there.

"You should look at some community colleges," she finally responded. "Some of them will hire you with just your master's degree and you can put me as a reference." Ah, there it was. There was the reason I always put up with Dr. Cramer's weirdness.

"Okay, I'll look into that," I said, quickly opening my notepad and scribbling that idea down. It hadn't even occurred to me that I could do anything in academia until I went for my PhD. I had looked into a few entry level jobs but felt like I was either underqualified or overqualified for everything.

"Are you all prepared for your conferences?" She asked me next.

"Yes," I confidently began. "I have the poster printed for San Francisco and the presentation is ready for Washington."

"You are simply so organized," Dr. Cramer praised me and I have to admit, I felt myself slightly blushing. It didn't really mean anything coming from her, though, when her office had more misplaced books than a library after a hurricane.

Dr. Cramer had been the one to encourage me to apply to all these different conferences with my research. I later found out from a PhD student who I had become close with that she did this because every conference I went to was a conference that she could put on her website, saying that she contributed. Nevertheless, they were good networking opportunities. Plus, San Francisco? Washington, DC? I was basically creating mini vacations for myself centered around these events.

The meeting didn't go on for much longer before I was finally out of there. Sure, Dr. Cramer was cooky and definitely unprofessional at times, like when she asked me how many sexual partners I've had in order to better assess my perspective on interpersonal relationships, but at the end of the day, she really did care about seeing me succeed and I guess that's all I could ask for in an advisor.

I went home that night and searched a few websites for jobs. To my slight surprise, Dr. Cramer's advice was spot on. I was able to apply to five community colleges, even though one was in New Jersey and two were in Manhattan, that seemed like they'd hire me without a PhD or excessive teaching experience.

I feel like this is the next logical step for me, but sometimes I wonder if I should have chosen a different career path. I guess everyone feels like that sometimes, right?

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

I'm always like this

I was shimmying into my black skinny jeans when I heard a text message alert on my phone. I cursed myself for not being ready since I knew it was probably Jessica saying she was outside. I guess I could put my make up on in the car.


Darlene was getting over Mono and Anna has a bachelorette party for one of her work friends, so when I texted them all to see who was available to come with me and Scott's friends to a nearby ale house, Jess was the only taker.

We obviously had to go somewhere that they were airing the fight and I was less than enthusiastic about this because I knew the place was going to be packed. I'd get to eat and drink, though, so did I really care that much? Nope.

I was so excited to see Scott that I tried to channel my analytical mind to get through the maze of people that were already crowding the bar to get to him.

"Hey, babe," Scott greeted me, throwing his arm around me and kissing me on the side of my head. If it weren't for him calling me 'babe,' I wouldn't be able to tell if I was his girlfriend or little sister.

He waved to Jess and introduced her to his few friends who she hadn't met yet. Even though I hadn't had in depth conversations with all of them, I had met them at one time or another at this point.

After a relatively short amount of time, a waitress came over and I quickly ordered nachos along with a pitcher of beer while I had the chance.

"So why is this fight such a big deal?" I heard Jessica ask Martin. He began explaining it to her in way more depth than necessary.

"Looks like Martin and Jessica are getting along," I casually whispered to Scott. He quietly chuckled to himself and shook his head. "What?" I pressed, sensing there was something he wasn't telling me.

"Well, Martin told me they've been texting," Scott replied. "I assumed you knew?"

I shook my head. Nope. Jessica hadn't mentioned anything to me. I had noticed them talking at the beer garden more than usual, but I wondered why Jessica wouldn't have told me they exchanged numbers. Maybe she didn't want any of us to know because she didn't want Anna knowing? I mean, I didn't think Anna would care, since her and Martin were both clear about how casual their relationship was, but knowing Jess, she would not want any of us knowing she was interested in any of Anna's sloppy seconds. Still, I was kind of hurt that Jess wouldn't tell me.

I shrugged. "Nope," I replied. "Anyway, I'm really excited for next weekend. I ordered a new bikini for the hot tub."

Scott kissed my cheek. "I can't wait to take it off of you," he whispered to me and I felt myself get excited at the thought. Scott had told me to check my email after I told him about my research day award, so when I checked a few hours later I wasn't super surprised to see a message from him. I was surprised at the content, though; it was an internet deal he found for a hotel in the Poconos. The subject read, "What do you think?" Later he told me he's been wanting to do something special for my graduation, especially since I won that award, and I couldn't think of a better gift than a weekend with Scott all to myself. If he tries to make me watch any sports games while we're there though, I might go hang out with a squirrel instead.

The rest of the evening was pretty uneventful. I talked to a few of Scott's friends and got to know them better. The fight was a let down and I knew it must've been really bad because even I could tell. I was pretty tipsy by the time we left, so maybe I wasn't a reliable source.

I asked Jessica if it was okay if I left with Scott instead of her. "Yeah," she casually replied. "Martin and I might head to a diner, anyway." I instinctually raised my eyebrows at her. As far as she knew, I knew nothing about them becoming friendlier. "We're just hungry," she continued.

"Have fun!" I replied. I really didn't have any problem with Jessica hanging out with Martin. In a weird way, they might actually work. Jessica just has this way of hiding things from us and it kind of makes me feel like she doesn't trust me. Oh, well.

When we got back to Scott's house and into his room, I immediately began clawing at him like a cat. Instead of mirroring my enthusiasm, Scott began to laugh. "What's gotten into you?" He asked.

I rolled my eyes. "What do you mean? I'm always like this." Whenever I initiated sex, Scott would act like it was completely out of character. We were still in our honeymoon phase and the sex was still really exciting.

"Caroline, it's almost 3," Scott replied changing the subject. "So I'm going to cuddle you. Hard." He slipped off his shoes as he winked at me.

Is there any worse feeling than throwing yourself at your boyfriend and being rejected? Is sleep really better than me? Oh, who am I kidding? Sleep is the best.

So, that's what we did. Sleeping next to Scott in his kind sized bed always felt nice. I would wake up earlier than him and nuzzle up on his chest. Then we'd stay in bed talking and having sex. Then we'd go to breakfast or order food in. Sundays were my favorite day with Scott. Neither of us worried about any responsibilities. We just enjoyed each other.

The sun came in through the window the next morning and I decided to wake Scott up in a special way. He didn't protest at all.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Am I the only jealous one?

By the time Scott called me back, I was already cuddled up under my comforter with a bag of fat free popcorn about to catch up on some of my television shows.

"Hey," I answered in a cheerful tone.

"What's up, doll?" Scott asked in an equally cheerful manner. Ever since tax season ended, Scott had been a lot less stressed and seemed to enjoy work more.

"Not much, I'm home now," I replied, feeling weirdly shy about just blurting out that I had won an award.

"Cool. So how'd your presentation go?"

I smiled to myself. "Well," I began. "I'd say pretty great. I won an award for my category."

"Caroline!" Scott practically screamed in my ear. "You lead with that kind of news! That's quite the accomplishment!"

Scott has always been pretty supportive of my schooling and it really made me feel good, especially since I sometimes questioned my choice to pursue a masters degree without any concrete plans in place.

"Thanks," I responded, unable to stop smiling as I slunk further underneath my blankets. "How's work?"

"Not bad," Scott quickly responded. "I don't have too long to talk, though. I'm heading into a meeting in a few minutes. But what do you say we celebrate with dinner?"

"Tonight?" I asked, realizing that my mom had made reservations at an Italian place near my house and I was supposed to ask Scott to come along.

"No, maybe next weekend?"

I felt instant confusion. "Are you not going to be around this weekend?"

Scott laughed. "No, we can do something this weekend. But I have to get off now. Just check your email. Also, don't forget to put this award on your resume."

I felt my body slightly tense up. "Yup. Maybe I'll do it now."

"Okay. I have to go," Scott quickly replied. "I love you."

"I love you, too," I said back before saying goodbye and putting down my phone.

I grabbed my laptop as I let out a heavy sigh. It's not that I wasn't eager to brag about my accomplishments on paper, but I knew what I had to do with this resume after I finished it. I had to send it to Mike.

That's right. I said I had to email my ex-boyfriend. Sure, catching up with him for a matter of twenty minutes was one thing. It was nice, but is it possible to really be good friends with an ex? For other people, I can see it, but I hold on to so many old emotions, I just hope I can do it.

The best part is that emailing my resume to Mike was Scott's idea. Yeah, my current boyfriend suggested that I email my old boyfriend. 

It started when the two of us went out for breakfast the morning after I got my flat tire. Scott and I made plans to grab a bite before doing some shopping. I was nervous to tell him that I had met up with Mike, even though I had nothing to hide, because if he had casually hung out with his ex-girlfriend I don't know that I'd be super cool with it. After he told me not to be so jealous, though, I figured I could use that against him if it came to that.

"So," I began after I took a long sip of my coffee. "You know how I got that flat yesterday?"

Scott nodded. "Yeah,  I'm sorry I wasn't around. Was Anna pissed you didn't make it to her?"

I eagerly shook my head back and forth. "No, she understood. But I just wanted to mention something to you." A look of interest took over Scott's face. "You know how I had to wait a while for my brother to come?" Scott nodded. "Well, I broke down in my ex-boyfriend's town."

Scott scratched the back of his head. "Which one?" he asked with a sense of indifference.

"Mike," I replied. "The one I dated in college." I had informed Scott that I only really seriously dated two guys; Justin and Mike. I knew his only serious relationship was with Jenna, even though he had some flings before her. That was about as far as we went with the "ex" conversation.

"Oh," Scott replied. "So, did you run into him or something?"

I started nervously shifting my feet underneath the table. "I texted him," I said. I didn't feel like I did anything wrong but hearing myself say it out loud sounded ridiculous. "I had some time to kill and figured I'd see if he was nearby. He was so he met me for pizza."

Scott nodded as he picked up his cup and brought it to his lips. "Cool," he replied. "Thanks for letting me know. Have you guys stayed in touch?"

I feel like I know Scott pretty well at this point and maybe he was just playing it super cool, but it did not seem like he cared, like, at all that I was with my ex-boyfriend. He was acting like I just told him that I got an extra bag of chips out of a vending machine.

"No, actually," I answered. "I hadn't seen him in like a year." I don't know why I didn't instantly change the subject but I began telling Scott about how Mike just got a new job as a recruiter in the city. This, to my surprise, got the most attention from Scott.

"If he's a recruiter, maybe his company will have a job for you when you graduate."

I hadn't even thought about that, but Scott had a good point. We spent the rest of breakfast talking about what kinds of things I should be looking for when searching for jobs and Scott made me promise I'd send my resume to Mike so he could possibly set up something for me once I was done with classes.

I guess Scott really isn't the jealous type. At all. Am I the only jealous one?