A Blast from the Past

Today the following message was waiting for me in my Myspace inbox:

Subject: stalker
I remember when you thought I was stalking you. I don't even know if you remember me or not. What ever. Hope you are doing well. Let me know what's up, and if you don't remember me then don't worry about it. See ya.
- Frank (the name has been changed for obvious reasons)

Several thoughts came to mind: Frank? Stalker? Which stalker?

I, unfortunately, have had more than one stalker episode in my life, and when I refer to stalker I don’t mean the funny, run into you too often on the street sort of thing.

The first was in high school; we were both percussionists in the band. What started as an effort to befriend a lonely, socially awkward underclassman soon turned into an unsettling and frightening attachment. I remember the first time we spoke he offered me Mentos. Not knowing what lie ahead in that decision, I naively took one of his freshmakers and commented how I really loved those silly Mentos commercials. The next day he brought me an entire pack of Mentos as a gift. The next week he started remarking on the choice of shoes I was wearing with my outfit and proceeded to name off almost every pair I had ever worn to school. “How do you decide which of your 23 pairs to wear everyday,” he asked. “I don’t know,” was all I could manage.

Not long after that came the Valentine’s gift; an Aerosmith CD. As a closeted Aerosmith fan I found the gift to be a little disconcerting. How did he know that I secretly rocked out to that gorgeous Steve Tyler and his amazing rock ballads?

Finally came the shoebox filled with paperclips. This wasn’t a shoebox as in a box that shoes come packaged in at the store, but as in a small ceramic dish with a Victorian looking ceramic shoe on top. Inside were striped paper clips in a variety of different colors. What was he trying to tell me?

I brushed off most of our interactions as a weird version of friendship until the day when I was approached in the lunch line by one of his few friends, decked out in full gothic garb. “He loves you so much he hates you,” she said to me spitefully. “He hates you.” Upon relaying her message she stormed off in a whirlwind of fury. That afternoon I marched myself into the school’s social worker’s office, who also happened to be my track coach, and told him about my stalker. As a result the boy was moved to the library to study during our band class together and we never spoke again.

My second stalkerish incident occurred in college when I started receiving cryptic emails in my school email account from an unnamed source. Although I majored in a writing field, the messages contained song lyrics and messages that I didn’t quite understand. At first I didn’t respond, but then the curiosity got the better of me and I finally sent back a response loaded with questions for my secret admirer: Who are you? How do we know each other? What do all these creepy song lyrics mean? After I sent that message I received several more emails, even more frightening that the others. Several months later the emails suddenly ended and that was the end of it.

I found out from Frank’s Myspace page that he has built a new life for himself with a wife and a new career in the healthcare industry. I can’t help but wonder why the email? Why now? Was that you Frank that sent me those emails so long ago or was there some sort of inside joke that I can’t seem to remember?

For now at least, I’ve decided not to respond to his message, because if my experiences with stalkers have taught me anything, it's that a little encouragement unfortunately goes a long way.


Dueling Dogs

Harper and Sully hangin' on the couch during their two-week slumber party.

For the past week and a half or so, while my family is on vacation, my husband and I have been dog sitting Sully, a 4-year-old Schnauzer mix. Sully is my dog Harper’s alter ego: small, yappy, grey and suspicious of everyone. Despite their differences, the two are great friends, and have spent many a weekend chasing each other around my parent’s home as though it were a dog frat house. But lately, the testosterone is killing me.

I’m one of those people that fall into the trap of thinking of dogs like they were people, and so this past week I put forth extra effort to make them both feel equally loved and cared for. As a treat the other day I gave them each a rawhide chewy; Sully, weighing in at a hefty 14 pounds, getting a small one and Harper, a mere 75 pounds, a much much larger one. Within 30 seconds of distributing the loot, the two dogs, insanely jealous of the treat the other had received, had switched them.

The one-upsmanship continues to transpire whenever we, although I should say my husband, take them out to relieve their bladders. Sully trots around marking the spots freshly marked by Harper as if to say, “I was here LAST.” The suspicion of favoritism is renewed each night when they eat their dinner. Upon finishing, each immediately rushes to the other’s bowl, just making sure they didn’t get anything different or less. Every little thing, including belly rubs and head patting, causes the two to vie for the best, the first and the most.

However, despite the constant competition, the two dogs have been spotted during the last week around the apartment sharing a rawhide chewy, playing a friendly game of chase and even cuddling together contently on the couch, because, although they compete like brothers, they love each other like brothers, too.


Harper has officially become a Jedi Knight. May the force be with you. (Don't venture on over to the dark side, my son. It's not pretty.)


Someone To Watch Over Me

The good thing about my neighborhood: There are a lot of cops. The bad thing about my neighborhood: There are a lot of cops.

Every time I pass one, which is a least twice a day, I still can’t help but feel that urge to make sure my seatbelt is fastened, that my hands are on ten and two and that I’m driving the speed limit. The do-good law abiding citizen in me wants to make sure that I don’t get pulled over. But, in the back of my mind I know that I never will.

The cops aren’t out in full force because they’re looking for speeders or people without their seatbelts on. They’re actually out fighting crime. Having grown up in middle class American suburbia all my life, it’s something I’m not really used to. I don’t think that I’m na├»ve about my “transitional” neighborhood, as my husband and I call it, but I still can’t help but be surprised when I see three police cars, lights swirling, around the corner from my apartment doing a drug bust. Or when I’m lying in bed, about to go to sleep at 11 o’clock at night, and I hear what sounds like eight gun shots fired within a couple of blocks of where I’m laying.

I mentioned that last incident to a friend of mine last week who doesn’t live too far away. “Did you hear them?” I asked. She didn’t. “I tried to find out what happened in the paper today, but I couldn’t find anything,” I said. She gave me a knowing look. “Wait until summer,” was her tired reply.

Although we live in this “real” neighborhood, there are only a couple of times I can remember feeling scared or even unsafe. Last week was one of them. I was thankful that my husband took Harper out to use the bathroom earlier than usual that night and that I was safe and warm in my bed. I drifted off to sleep that night, like so many others, to the sound of fading sirens. It was comforting in a way really, just knowing that someone was out there watching the streets.