Category Archives: 2011

Reflections on a Childhood, Couches

The first time I realized my family was even crazier than I’d ever imagined was in 1997, the year my mother began renting couches. At first, this seemed to be a marvelous idea. A new couch was an exciting addition to the family of furniture that already existed, although it did not much match the “rugged individualism” of our very American decor.

As time went on, my mother paid off the new couch. But eventually the appeal of it settled and one day, out of the blue, another couch suddenly appeared. And later, another. Again and again the couches appeared, always taking place of a slightly new but not properly pristine couch. I believe this is something like people turning in cars to get newer ones, but with couches. Or perhaps it is more like buying a new bag of popsicles once frostbite sufficiently covers all the leftover purple ones. Either way, it was couches galore in the Wallace family household.

RAC Logo

$17 a month will buy you a pretty nice couch.

When I moved out of my parents house in 2006, I lived with a few roommates who had acquired a couch from a rather suspicious source. I immediately realized how my world view would be forever tainted by the couch-rental mania that engulfed my mother. I was often frustrated by the sight of the pattern and wear of the couch in my apartment, and quickly took to the nearest chair. On numerous occasions I would ponder the life of the dirty couch, questioning its validity and worth. Who had been on that couch before my roommates? Where had the couch been? And Christ Almighty! How did it get into our apartment? Was it possible that new couches weren’t the norm?

I never thought about buying a couch for myself. My tiny studio hardly fits my possessions, not to mention Zack’s (he is quite the pack rat, although he allows me to control it a bit). I think the ability to live in a small space for so long is born from a comfort of a working class childhood. Perhaps I am also secretly avoiding a general addiction to rent-to-own furniture—there’s really no way for me to know. I could go into some pretty costly therapy to figure out my aversion and attraction to this type of furniture, but that’s clearly a silly and worthless endeavor.

This whole couch debacle not only changed the way I see my mother, but more importantly changed the way I see other people. I realized that the ways people relate to one another are deeply ingrained in the environment and surrounding in which each was raised. For me, a clean couch will always offer the comfort of home, while for others it may be a special food item, a certain blanket, or a type of book that symbolizes those special (sometimes very special) people in our lives.

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Living With Your Lover

“Lover” is a pretty repulsive noun, and I wouldn’t normally use it except in cases of extreme sarcasm. But boyfriend just doesn’t seem to cut it and manfriend is a little too lame. For a while I toyed with the term partner, which evokes memories of picturesque cowboys and political hippies (worst kind), not to mention the fact that people just assume I’m a lesbian if I call anyone a “partner.” Which is another thing. Because that’s the point right? That people shouldn’t be worried about the gender and/or sex of my partner, and I shouldn’t have to label people in these ways? And really, who am I to care if others think my boyfriend is actually a lady? Maybe he would care, but I don’t. So, on we go.

Living with your lover is not hard. Let’s face it. People suck, and that’s what’s hard. It turns out that everyone is more selfish than they’d actually lead you to believe, but once you live with another person you learn that really you both suck, and that’s that. This is not an attempt to beguile you and I am not in  any position to give out serious love advice, since my relationship sort of fell into my lap after years of dating other, okay-but-not-really-my-type-men. But since people are easily shocked, or at least feign shocked-ness whenever I tell them how long Zack and I have been together and how long we’ve lived together, I’ve finally decided to address living with your lover (and why it’s not hard).

Zack and I in San Fransisco

Having the best time, best time.

For the past two years, I have lived with Zack in a 395 square foot studio. And we just signed the lease for another year. Before this charming little—I’m serious about little—studio, Zack and I lived in a house with some of our closest friends (which was hard, but not nearly as hard as the time before that). People always ask me something along the lines of “how do you get away” or “don’t you need personal space,” or anything like that which suggests that people don’t realize how busy we both are. Continue reading

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Surviving College: Despair & Panic

Blogging is an amusing thing to pursue when I only have five more weeks until I officially become an annoying hope-filled college graduate. It will unquestionably become both my best friend and my worst enemy in the upcoming weeks as I think about all the things I should be paying for and all of the working I’m not doing.

As far as school goes, I’m behind. Not just normal behind, but unproductive in every aspect. I’ve been skipping volunteer sessions  supposedly to finish schoolwork (uh-hem, let’s talk the newest episode of 30 Rock?); I’ve been going out to eat almost every day (not daring to look at my bank statement), and have rarely been working more than two shifts a week at work. What this begins to add up to is an exceptionally poor student in many aspects moneywise, educationwise, and emotionwise.

However, there is an upside to all of this school house of procrastination, which is that I have had plenty of time to go to the dentist, clean my apartment, sell my clothes, read magazines, and look at jobs in other cities for which I am not qualified nor interested. I’ve also had plenty of time to update my personal website, print resumes, and did I mention eating? Yes, plenty of eating to pass the time. Continue reading

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Awkward Encounters

Following the realization that my education would soon cost me a humble mound of gold, and that my (then-current) rate of education was brutally worthless, I have become less and less able to respond to awkward strangers in attempt to force my resume into a handsome and alluring work of art. In the beginning I thought clumsy clashes with strangers were my fault. Over time, though, I have realized that it’s not me, it’s them. I am not the weird one. I can function like a socialized human; I’ve only become intolerant of the inability of other people to act as our rigorous society dictates. Let me expand, and perhaps give advice on how to avoid these painful and time-consuming meetings.


Cafes have become a notorious hot-spot of ham-handed conversations, causing me to avoid lattes and espresso altogether. There is always that certain someone who I barely know and am forced to say hello to, even if I have nothing to say or know absolutely nothing about the person and don’t care to fiend a convincing exchange of interest. The best way to avoid these conversations—a tried and true technique—is to stare intently away from this person of  alarming inconvenience at something in which you are desperately interested in. Gaze adamantly at whatever object you must, whether it’s a painting of a dead bird or a collage of faux-antique fashion cut-outs. Your awkward moment will subside.

Continue reading

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Blogging, according to the OED.

I start this blog on a foolish note. To be sure I could fully conduct the job of blogging, I began by a little research. This asinine project included me looking up the non-existent word “blogging” in Fowler’s Modern English Usage—seriously—and then feeling immediately defeated when the word following “bloc” was “blonde.” It was at this moment I that I knew I could not, in fact, handle anything more than a lame journal and a ill-functioning pencil, but as any hope-filled and rash American I continued on my way to the OED.

A note about the OED: I have been told countless times that I should not refer to the Oxford English Dictionary as the OED. Nonetheless, I continually defeat professors and editors alike in my one-woman stand against illiteracy and a general distaste for those who insist that absolutely any garbage website counts as a relevant and trustworthy source. But I digress.

In the OED I found hope; blogging is nothing more than,

“the activity of writing or maintaining a weblog.”

I was immediately thrown off by the awful word weblog, which is so disgusting that I’m surprised I am willing to allow it on my very own blog. But, alas, I must cite these things honestly.

So, this is how Contemporary Woman begins. A comical look into the life of a realistic—yet ambitious—woman about the enter a world void of employment and experience.

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