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I’m just going to throw this one right out there- do people consider themselves to be in public or in private when driving in their cars?

In the time span of driving to the gym today (approximately ten minutes) I saw at least five people picking their noses. And not just the casual hands swiping at the end of the nostril; I mean that the entire tip of the finger was lodged inside. Scraping. I felt nauseous by the time I’d even gotten there.

This is something I’ve picked up on lately- most people consider themselves to be in a private setting when driving in their cars. I’ve seen people in business suits in a Mercedes picking their noses, I’ve seen grandmothers digging for gold. And it’s not just nose-picking. Last week when driving to New York (and stuck in terrible traffic on Staten Island) I saw a couple turn their car into a bedroom. Maybe they got a kick out of the voyeurism, maybe they just didn’t care that dirty Brooklyn cab drivers were watching with me.

I admit- I’ve completely changed clothes in my car before, including shirts. I’ve even been pulled over for “indecent exposure” once when I was changing after being soaking wet from kayaking. But what is it that makes us think we’re invisible in a hunk of metal and windows?

The past few weeks have been hectic, a flurry of classes, driving to New York and Maryland, and rowing preparations. I felt a huge wave of relief when Lily called me up two weeks ago to tell me that she and Rory would be in town to see family for Easter. She wanted to know if I’d be able to meet up with them for lunch on that Friday.

I can’t decide whether to phrase it as “Lily and Rory were the parents of Chris and John” or “Lily and Rory are the parents of Chris and John”. The boys died almost three years ago, and I’ve written a bit about how much that’s hurt me. I read the eulogy at Chris’s funeral, and spent the months afterward trying to help John cope with his brother’s death. None of that helped.

Since their deaths, I’ve stayed extremely close with Rory and Lily. So close that, when their daughter was born only a few short months after John’s death, they asked if they could use my middle name as her name.

I received weekly emails with the ultrasound pictures, and despite the fact that they now live in Europe, I got to meet Elizabeth shortly after her first month. She was beautiful; even the wrinkly skin that I normally hate was perfect. Huge blue eyes that looked just like Chris’s stared back at me, until eventually she fell asleep on my lap.

Elizabeth is now exactly how I imagine I was as a kid. She climbs everything she can get her hands on and has the sweetest pout when she doesn’t get her way. At the cafe, she sat on my lap and tried sips of my coffee, scrunching her nose as it hit her tongue. I can’t imagine how she moves from country to country every few months, sees thousands of faces, and still recognizes me. As her parents and I talked, she curled her fingers in my hair, twisting and knotting the ends, then squealing with delight.

I’m scared to think of the day that Rory and Lily explain what happened to her three siblings, I’m scared that she’ll realize she’s the only one to survive. It’s true, that naivete is bliss. Until then, she’ll remain the perfect child that she is.

Not that I expected it, but that was an awesome response of emails and comments from people. It’s true, this blog is about me, about my life. I don’t write for the comments, but I gotta say it felt kinda good opening my inbox to a flood of emails and comments. So thanks, everyone. I really missed you guys too.

And the other point: In my coffee-fueled mania last night I forgot to update about the job in Iraq. As of that Sunday, I was completely set on calling in on Monday and accepting the job. I had had an hour long discussion with FaveDave (who lives in Germany now and has decided to stay for good), and decided to call Habibi for some last minute advice.

I’m really glad I did so, because as always I hung up completely calmed and relaxed. While everyone else had said things along the lines of “don’t go! you’ll get killed!” or “have fun!”, his advice really geared towards how I felt. He told me that he knows how quick I am to pick up new projects before completely finishing one.

“Finish your Masters, Caits. I’m not saying that you should never take this job, but finish your Masters first.” He said that when I graduate in December, we’ll also have seen how the election turned out, and we’ll be able to at least have an idea of the effect it’ll have there.

I hadn’t even mentioned anything about the job to Jordan until after I’d made my decision. I mentioned it casually while shooting hoops, and he literally stopped and dropped the ball. I reassured him that I wasn’t going, and he said “sure, not now. But eventually you will, eventually you’ll be moving across the world.”

I’m sure I will end up there. But for now? I think I’ll stick to Philly.

As the few and faithful remaining readers may have noticed, I’ve been M.I.A. on my blog for the past few weeks. I’ve been in the midst of trying to figure out why I haven’t had the urges to get back on here- maybe it’s the fact that I had to make a huge, possibly life-altering decision regarding the job in Iraq? Or perhaps it was that my laptop, the computer I write the majority of my posts on, crashed and burned (I’m praying to Geek Squad that it can be fixed). The thing is, I’ve had this exact feeling before. This whole, as Clink put it, inability to “get it up” for the blog.

It’s another relationship; it’s a surrogate relationship. I know, it’s very “me” to compare everything in my life to a relationship (that’s how it works around here), but hear me out on this on. When I started this blog a bit over a year ago, I was crazed with the idea. I loved it, started writing on it several times a day. I even started forgoing plans with my friends to write on it. I’m not kidding about that, I really spent a Friday night in writing instead of going to the bar.

I can remember the first time I had a fightwith my blog- a random reader left a comment about how I couldn’t keep a guy around because, in his eyes, I was a “fat slut”. I literally gasped when I read that, and even spent a few days away from the blog.

I certainly had moments of sudden disinterest in the blog as well, usually at times when a new guy popped into the picture. Those were the times I’d break away for a few days. When the guy didn’t work out, I’d lapse back into blog mode.

I’m not even sure if this makes sense at all; in my sleep-deprived, coffee-fueled mind it does. It’s just that the way I reacted towards this blog is in fact similar to the way I’d act in a relationship. For the most part, I’m usually the one to pull away, to need space, to end it. I usually get bored quickly, detach myself when things slightly go wrong. Any usual reader might not guess that, particularly because of my past with P, but it’s true. I’ve ended almost all of my relationships in that exact manner.

So I guess that when these so-called fights started raring up, I turned my back on the blog. When some random person commented “who sits around all day and looks at clothes and ugle [sic] dogs!”, I wasn’t angry. Instead I was annoyed, sick of the backlash. It felt like the old boyfriend I had who told me that I wasn’t allowed to wear certain shirts because they made me look like a whore. I didn’t need that, I don’t need that.

But this is something that I’ve worked at for over a year, a relationship that I’ve cultivated and nurtured. And when I started to receive emails asking where I was, I realized that I really missed this. It’s totally worth the few occasional comments from bitches to have my own place. And unlike real relationships, I can delete those comments the second they occur.

So I’m back to stay, for now at least. I have a lot to catch up on, but for now I need to catch up on sleep.

I’ve always had bright green eyes, vivid. Golden, my oma calls them. She says that she can’t recall anyone in our ancestry that had such green eyes. My clothes change them; if I’m wearing a moss green, they turn moss green. If I’m wearing yellow, they look like the tips of of corn in the afternoon sun. I love my eyes, the ease at which they change to fit my mood.

After I received the phone call the other morning, the one in which I was offered the job in Iraq, the man told me that I’d receive a package in the mail with further details. It came this morning, expedited delivery. I held the crisp envelope in my hands, feeling the shape of a box inside of it. The crinkling sound meant there were papers too. I unfolded the seal and pulled out the box- contact lenses. They were the pigmented type, a deep wooden brown.

The accompanying letter told me that if I accepted the job, I’d have to go through a moderate transformation. I read and reread the information. Skin darkeners. Contacts. Language and culture training. For your personal and professional safety. My stomach stirred, an adventurous excitement I hadn’t felt in ages. If I took this, I’d be a new person. Tabula rasa.

It’s still sinking in that I could be living halfway across the world in a few short months. It’s a large step towards where I want my career to go, but it’s also a large step away from my family and friends. From my dogs, from my boathouse, from my favorite running trails. From the local bar, where we sit on the deck in the summer. But also a large step away from stress, away from this rutted and failed relationship.

I called and asked for an extension on the decision, and they reluctantly are allowing me until Monday. Three days to decide on what will probably be one of the biggest decisions in my life.

I can’t believe this weather lately. Yesterday it was sixty-some degrees outside- so warm that I refused to make my girls erg indoors. Our erg room is actually the converted locker room of the football field (not as sweaty as you’d imagine, plus we have lockers and a full bathroom) so I let the girls pull all of their ergs out onto the track to do their steady state piece.

“You should be able to talk to each other during this,” I explained, “but not so much that I have to take six Advil after practice.” I don’t know if you readers know this, but high school girls have the ability to chatter endlessly. These girls are hardly different; as I was coming back out from the erg room, I heard “But Patrick is soooo much hotter than Ryan!”

The girls quickly got bored of their gossiping and instead started talking about their latest erg competition, which had been delightfully scheduled on the same day as my boating certification class; needless to say, I didn’t get to be there. “You weren’t there, so we have to make you thinkthat you were!” one of the girls informed me. I faked a giant sigh, but in actuality I loved their excitment. I remember the bubbly feeling when I was falling in love with this sport. “Well I wish I’d been there instead of in that 8 hour boating course with all of the other coaches.”

One of the girls stopped erging, and I could see her brain processing what I’d just said. Her lips moved into a sly grin, and her eyes bore into me. “So then you met the new coach?” They have yet to meet this new guy, but I already knew where she was going with this. After gossiping and talking about crew, the next favorite thing is torturing me. I noticed that every one of them, even if they had previously been engaged in other conversations, perked up to hear my answer. It reminded of meerkats, if meerkats had side-swept ponytails, pearls, and could erg.

I admitted that I did meet him, and suddenly there was a barrage of questions. How old is he? What’s he like? But most of all, is he cute? And then one of the nosier ones asked, “so, did you get your flirt on?” She said it with such attitude that I had to laugh, which, I don’t know if you guys know this, translates loosely to “yes” in high school girl speak. And then: “Are you guys going to date?” and “Are you guys going to get married? You could get married at the boathouse!”

In actuality, I’d thought the guy had looked like a cocky ass for the first three hours of the class. He had that I-rowed-Ivy-League attitude about him, sunglasses flipped onto his forehead even though we were indoors. But on one of our few and far-between breaks we had gotten to talking about different rivers and the cockiness faded a bit. After five hours of the course, we were all getting stir-crazy. Head Coach was taking calls on his phone, ignoring the fact that the old lady was still teaching us the differences between sailboats, and the new coach had taken to shooting rubber bands at me.

Holing a bunch of rowers up in one room overlooking a river and talking about boats? Should be considered torture. We burst out of there, shoving our new licenses into our pockets, and then spent the next hour working on the engine of one of our launches.

With the girls’ comments, I tried to think back to whether the new coach and I had been flirting. And then I remembered when we were about to leave: Head Coach told me to be in the erg room at three the next day. “I’m free then too, I can go help her,” the new coach said. Head Coach eyed us suspiciously, and then said “If you’re free then, you can help me out at the boathouse. I’ve got to keep you two separated.”

I’m feeling lazy today, maybe because of this newly-warm weather flowing in. Maybe its the lack of gluten in my system, Or maybe it’s the fact that I was abruptly woken this morning with my cell phone ringing under my cheek. I should have let it go to voicemail, because I’m not reliably able to answer questions until I’ve had a 20 minute shower and three cups of coffee, but I answered. In the next thirty seconds, after the greetings and the “how’s the weather there?” talk, my world was flipped. My possibly-new-boss offered me the job. In Iraq. I am not one to cover up the fact that I’ve been mauled by shock, so he laughed and said that I’d have to give him an answer relatively soon. I have until Friday to decide if I want to take it.

But let’s talk about lighter things right now- I don’t want to think of leaving my dogs and my family, or packing my closet. Instead, I’m going to leave it with two amazing links that my friend emailed me this morning. They’re practically the same in nature- one for Obama and one for Clinton. The minor exception? You’ll figure that out.

Barack Obama is your new bicycle

 Hillary is mom jeans

-I really wish you hadn’t moved so far away. I know we’ve had rough times, but I hate the idea of you living halfway across the world. Visiting you, at cheapest, would cost a thousand and a half- I can’t afford that, nor could I get the vacation time from work. But I hope you find happiness there, something I think you found rarely when you were here. And I hope you fall madly and crazily in love. And I hope that the cds I sent you make you cry and laugh and dance (because they made me do those things).

-You’re an asshole, and you need to come clean. You need to tell her what you did. I may not like her- I hardly even know her- but I know that what we did was wrong. And the engagement is a rough following to doing what you did. And if you don’t? I guess you two deserve each other.

-I’m glad that you were hired right out of college, and I’m glad that the job pays as high as it does. But please stop comparing our lives and declaring your own as better. I may not have the money for a huge apartment like yours, and I may not have the money to go drinking every weekend. And I actually felt sick when you talked about all of the men you take home on each of those weekends. I wouldn’t ever want to trade lives; I’d rather be a poor student falling asleep with my dog every night. And no, your life is not like Cashmere Mafia/Lipstick Jungle.

-I still think of you every day, more lately than ever before. I’m on the verge of tears every time your face hits my mind. Isn’t this supposed to get easier as time passes? I sleep with your old blanket every night, the one your mom gave me in the hospital when she packed up your belongings. And I’ve worn the ring every day, the one you must have picked out knowing you were not going to be there for my birthday. Maybe it would be easier if I packed these things away.

-How could people not like you? I think a better question is how people could not fall in love with you the moment they meet you. I hate that I’ve never heard you so sad in your life- you went to a place that you love with every intention of following your life goal. Hearing you say that you don’t think you’re meant for this field made me angrier than I’ve felt in a long time. You’re brilliant, you’re amazing, and I wish that everyone saw that they way I do. People in Texas do not realize what they’re missing out on- get home soon.

-Stop treating me like I’m still a kid, like I’m still your old student. We’re coworkers now. I know that you’re my boss and I know I’m still learning, but I’m great at what I do. I can handle the responsibility, and I can keep us organized better than it’s been in the past. I’m working way too many hours for meager pay because I love this. But I can not and will not take the hypocracy and the mood swings.

-I really cannot believe that you chose to be with someone so batshit crazy. She’s a monster, she always looks like there’s a bad smell under her nose, and she’s dimwitted. You deserve someone so much better. And you need to have not cut me out of your life for her. I learned this the hard way years ago. I kind of hope that she dumps you again so that you’ll come back around. I miss the late night/early morning talks, and I miss the bickering.

-Even if another three years pass, I don’t think I’m going to forgive myself for what I did to you. I still feel awful. My apologies fell on flat ears because it really was that bad. I don’t know how I would have done the situation differently, maybe cut you off earlier? Tell you that I couldn’t do it? I didn’t know anything at the time, I was immature and insensitive. I keep thinking we’ll run into each other years from now and laugh about it, and I hope that by then you’ve found someone that will treat you the way I wish I could have.