Good Friends Support Each Other’s Lies

So I have this other dear friend, and I say this with great affection and endearment, who is gifted at creating convincing and thorough alternative narratives – she is an absolutely fantastic liar.

Her name is… “J-PEG”.

Pegs is probably the most intelligent, intuitive, exciting and devious human that I know. She is ambitious, but she can work a couch for hours.

While there are many stories that I could tell to illustrate her character, I think that I can convey a great deal of her in the following anecdote.

January 2004

Pegs and I had just finished the first semester of our Masters programs. I was working on an MA, and she was doing her MBA (because she’s smart like that).  While my classes started up the second week of January, hers’ began during the first week. But, not surprisingly, she felt it was best to spend that extra week with me. We would sit on her parents’ couch, eat their expensive food, and drink their booze, while ordering an inappropriate number of romantic comedies on their bill. It was fantastic.

By the second week, Pegs felt ready to go to her night class, and since I was done for the day, I tagged along. Once we arrived at the University, she performed her usual pre-class routine, which involved smoking not-a-cigarette.  This always impressed me. I would not dream of going into one of my small, intimate, intellectually demanding, participation driven, competitive graduate classes if I had just smoked not-a-cigarette.

We then entered the building where her class was held, and we were hanging out with some of her peers. Many of them were interested in knowing where she had been the previous week. Their curiosity took on a cynical tone. MBA students were much douchier than my Sociology peers. But… much, much cleaner. And, they had brief cases. And they wore blazers.

Having maybe had a little of the not-a-cigarette myself, I was a little out of it, because I don’t usually have any not-a-cigarettes. So, when Pegs started to explain to this particularly competitive and nosey girl that she wasn’t in class the previous week because she had presented a paper in a panel she organized for a conference about ‘Gothic Feminism’ in Montreal, I was a little confused. I thought to myself, “that sounds awesome. Why didn’t I go too?” As I began to realize that she could not have possibly been in Montreal that week because her and I spent the last week gorging together, I could hear here elaborate further; “In my talk I argue that the zeitgeist of the 1970’s brought for literary feminists a sense of instability and change that transformed itself into perfect storm, so to speak, for the emergence of the ‘Gothic Feminist’ genre as we know it…”

She was lying!  But, it sounded so convincing. In 2004 you couldn’t just toss “Montreal Gothic Feminist Conference” into the google box, and collect enough evidence to prove dishonesty. So, lying about events was much easier.

At that moment I gained a lot of respect for Pegs. I realized that so much calculated thinking went into that narrative. Since her undergrad was a double major, in business and English, her ridiculous computer of brain was able to quickly throw on a different (ridiculous looking) hat, and dazzle this one-dimensional biz student with her firm grasp of literary discourse. Having me, someone who could clearly disrupt this narrative at any point didn’t faze her, because she knew that she could trust me to support her performance, and at the very least remain complicit in her tale.

This anecdote not only reveals her brilliance, but also says something about the nature of our friendship—she trusts me enough to tell a bold-faced in front of a group of people and know that I will not sell her out.  You cannot challenge this friendship with any prisoner’s dilemma buffoonery.


A Totally Unemployed Girl’s Christmas

Now that the semester has ended, my students’ grades are in, and I have not been offered but one course in the winter, I am officially unemployed. I have also run out of my E.I. benefits. The second and third job interviews I’ve had over the last month have either lead to dead ends, or have been put on hold until everyone settles into the New Year.

While I am technically experiencing poverty (and learning a ton from this experience), I am much more privileged than most people in my position. I come from a middle class family who loves me, and helps me out financially and emotionally. I have fantastically supportive and wonderful friends, and a great boyfriend. So, my experience, while completely sleep destroyingly stressful, is certainly more manageable than most people’s experiences of unemployment.

That said, being without an income is terrifying at any point, but the holidays are particularly marginalizing. Going out into public (and most public spaces are consumer spaces) is fucking triggering.  Being in a mall, for example immediately makes you feel like an outsider looking into your former culture. I find myself sizing up rando Christmas shoppers, carrying bags, and thinking to myself, “I’m smarter and cuter than that that guy. Why does he have a job when I don’t I have a job?” Or, something as simple as being asked “are you done your Christmas shopping?” can make you feel like a total asshole loser.

Lately I have been exercising a lot of self-restrain in such scenarios. When politely asked about Christmas shopping by a stranger, I have an intense urge to commit premature disclosure. I instinctively want to reply with, “I actually can’t afford to buy any presents, because I don’t have a job right now. I have a Master’s degree and most of PhD, and I was working at this College until I arbitrarily, for no reason at all got slowly phased out, so…”  But then I realize that a) nobody actually cares if you are finished your Christmas shopping, and they certainly don’t want to hear why you haven’t, and b) I sound like one of those crazy people you have encountered in public transit… the ones who manage to disclose way too much about their lives to you.  Within the geographical span of 4 blocks, you leave the conversation knowing their dog’s name, their former dog’s name, and that they have a gluten sensitivity.  Then you spend the next half hour pitying them.

But, there are some upsides…

Is it *that* bad that I’m actually kind of pumped that the Salvation Army is on record saying crazy old-timey homophobic shit about Gay parents, because I get to feel self-righteous when I walk by, muttering “homophobe” instead of dropping a looney in their clear plastic ball? It’s like a little gift to me this Christmas.  I get to feel a little agency.

Another silver-lining- – I get to watch what seems like an infinite amount of 1990’s Christmas B-movies during the day. My favourite? This one where a teenage girl (clearly based on Cher Horowitz, but who the hell are you kidding? There is only one Cher Horowitz) gives Santa a makeover and turns him into George Hamilton.

So yes, being unemployed sucks. But, homophobic charities and movies with dubious plot lines and recycled characters keep the Christmas spirit alive in my heart.


Real Friends let Friends Drink in Their *Used* Wedding Dresses

My friends are 6 different kinds of fun. And, since I’ve been slacking on my posts, I think it would be a good idea to dedicate a series of posts to putting some of our more notable shenanigans on paper, dedicating each post to a particular friend. So, this post will be dedicated my friend… “D-Chase”.

November 2009:

I was hanging out at D’s condo, where she and her new husband lived. In fact, she had only been married for less than 2 months. I was newly single, and starting to feel a little hopeless in terms of finding someone that I might one day like to marry.  My worrisome feelings combined with her coming down from her September wedding ‘high’, mixed with a couple of bottles of wine made pulling out her freshly dry cleaned wedding dress an inevitability.

She was reluctant to put it on, as she felt she might have gained a little weight on her honeymoon. Of course, she hadn’t, but I was very receptive to her suggestion that I try it on instead. I had never tried on a wedding dress before. It didn’t fit properly (D-Chase is stacked like a champ) but I liked it. She even put the veil on me, and insisted that I was “beautiful”, as she cupped my face in her hands. She made me feel like a princess.

I think that the sight of me in her dress, and our intoxication made her very nostalgic for her Fall wedding. So, she went over to the stereo, put on Elton John’s “Your Song”; her wedding song, and offered me her hand.  She wrapped her arms tightly around my waist, and I wrapped mine around her neck. She led me in very romantic slow dance, as I buried my head in her shoulder.

A minute or 2 into the song, her new husband entered the condo. He stood there holding a bottle of wine, looking at us as if he had just caught us doing something salacious. We briefly looked at him, only to return to our dance. He further asserted himself by insisting that the dress should be treated with more reverence, and I shouldn’t be wearing it, and that we most certainly shouldn’t be handling it in our state of inebriation.  By the time he saw her wedding and engagement rings on my left hand, he had worked himself up into quite the tantrum.

I think she managed to convince both her husband and I that *he* was the weird one in the situation, that he was simply overreacting and being completely irrational. She made these arguments as I sat on their couch, drinking red wine, and wearing her wedding dress.

This is why we will always be friends.