Category Archives: general life

The time I didn’t realize I was friends with twins.

In 8th grade (1998), due to a couple different reasons, I had to switch schools three months into the school year. Not only did I switch schools, but I was now in a different school district, so I was surrounded by people who didn’t know me (with one exception, a girl I’ve known my entire life was also a student there and was thrilled to know I recognized her). Starting a new school with a clean slate is honestly pretty annoying, especially when you inadvertently become popular. This was during the height of my goth years but just before the Columbine school shooting, so I walked into that school in all black, weighted down with silver jewelry, wearing a black trenchcoat. You’d think the new kid was from outer space, I got a TON of attention. Word spread immediately that I was “a witch” because this was during the time I studied Wicca, so a large chunk of the school wanted to be my friend either because they thought I was awesome or because they were afraid I’d turn them into a frog.

There were a large handful of people who were almost comically nice to me, they made it a point to say hello to me every single day and their face would brighten when I said hello back. One girl in particular sticks out in my memory because it took me the entire year to realize there were actually two of her.

Every day when I got to school, a tall black girl would practically fall from the sky and wave while cheerfully saying hi to me. She was skinny, pretty, always wore a puffy jacket, and always had her afro tied at the very top of her head like a pineapple. Then later in the day, usually during our lunch break, I’d see her again, this time in a different jacket, and she’d say hi again.

I’m sure you can already see where this is going.

I just assumed she’d change into a different jacket at some point during the day, maybe one was lighter than the other and she only liked the bigger one in the cold mornings, or maybe she’d switch back and forth with a friend she liked borrowing clothes from. It never occurred to me “she” was actually “them,” because I only ever saw one at a time. It took me the entire year to realize they were identical twin sisters. One day toward the end of the school year, I saw them both together for the first time and tried to play it cool as they both said hi to me while we passed each other. Then I just stopped walking and laughed at myself for never realizing the girl who mysteriously changed jackets during the day was really two different girls. I’d never learned their names, so it’s not like I was constantly calling them both by the same name, and it’s always been a problem for me to tell identical twins apart, I just can’t do it. So because I hadn’t seen them together until that moment, I never realized I was always saying hi to two girls and not just one.

AIM usernames from childhood.

I kind of hate BuzzFeed. The “articles” are awful, but their videos are good time wasters and occasionally, actually funny. I just came across this one of people explaining their childhood AIM names. If you don’t know what AIM is, you’re probably too young to be reading my blog because I bet I keep mentioning all sorts of stuff you don’t know about. But it’s an instant messenger program that’s surprisingly not defunct yet, instant messaging was texting before texting was even a thing. Except online. I feel really old trying to explain instant messaging because wow. It’s bad enough I keep accidentally typing “messenging.”

My first AOL/AIM name was TwiggyHEH. I loved Twiggy from the band Marilyn Manson and HEH are my initials. Except after a while I got real sick of people asking what HEH stood for and then trying to ask what my whole name was, so I decided it was time for a new name. I think we got AOL when I was around 12 or so, and by this time, I was 14 and the movie Strangeland came out. I absolutely loved the movie, and quickly grew annoyed with my parents suddenly constantly asking who I’m talking to online because they were worried a totally cool guy was going to ask me to a party and then chain me inside a cage or something. Obviously now I completely see where they were coming from, but back then I was a stereotypical teenager saying things like “Geeze Mom, I’m not stupid, I know better than to just go to some random guy’s house.” To give myself credit, I never tried saying “I’m not a child, I’m fourteen!”

There’s a band that performs in the movie. Their name was Bile, and the song was called In League. I really liked the song. Here’s where the explanation gets both hilarious and embarrassing. This is the first verse of the song:

Pretty boy with a gun, bang-bang, fun-fun.
Pretty girl with a knife, watch your back it’s your wife!
Heroin, load my blood, shoot-shoot, fun-fun.
Pretty girl on ecstasy, now she wants to fuck me.

My new username came from that last line, I became PrettieGurlOnXTC. Or maybe PrittieGurlOnXTC, I can’t remember. I knew how to spell but it’s not like that’s the worst part about the name. I chose the line where a chick on drugs wants to bone some dude. Seriously, 14-year-old Heather?! Oh I don’t want people asking what my full name is but let me make them think I do drugs instead. Brilliant, kid. That hadn’t even been my intention, I wasn’t trying to pretend I did drugs, it was just a name. Much like all the teenage boys with 69 in their names even though you knew they were still virgins. I just liked the song and for some reason, that was the line I ended up choosing for a name. I did end up making a friend because of the username, his name was Jerome and he also had a username based on a lyric from the song. His was also misspelled but I know that was because AOL had a character limit. I want to say maybe BileThingWitNoHed, something similar to that.

Another year or so later, I grew tired of the drug questions, and came up with yet another username. This time, I came up with the name ToFeignReality. I have no recollection of how exactly I came up with that, but something about how people say things like “Get your head out of the clouds and join reality.” I don’t remember anyone actually saying it to me, but I was thinking of it, and from that came my own thought of “Well, what if I had my own make-believe reality?” And somehow I was intelligent enough as a teenager to think up To Feign Reality. I can’t remember a time I’ve ever used the word “feign” in everyday conversation. Not to say I don’t use “big” words, I just don’t use that particular word. I’d never come up with anything like that now, I try to think of simple things. I’ve been Heatherface for years, which I came up with after watching The Emperor’s New Groove and couldn’t stop laughing at the “LLAMA FACE” quote. I’m now finally starting to get sick of that name, but I haven’t been able to come up with much else. Sure, there’s JustSomeBroad which I’ve chosen on a few websites, but it’s usually taken. Ideally, I could just sign up as Heather on any site and be done with trying to think up usernames.

The time my diabetic grandfather tried to sneakily eat candy.

zadi

There’s this snack called Halva, it’s usually served as a candybar or in bite-sized chunks and it’s made out of sesame seed paste. I abhor it, I think it’s absolutely disgusting. My paternal grandfather loved the stuff. One of the best memories I have of him was when I was 13 and went to Israel with both him and my grandmother. There was this deal with a tour company, if you flew to Israel and brought a teen to have their bar/bat mitzvah, the teen flew for free. I never wanted a bat mitzvah, but I ended up not having a choice in the matter, though I did enjoy the trip a little. I feel I was too young at the time to really appreciate it, but it gave me one of my favorite memories of all time.

I’m going to pause here and mention I called them Bubby and Zadi, which mean grandmother and grandfather in Yiddish.

During the second week, I caught a horrible cold. It was so bad that one day Bubby decided they’d both stay in the hotel to help take care of me, even though by this point I was just sleeping a lot. She went downstairs to get food for me and came back with a plate full of Halva, and another plate full of stuff like bread & butter, pickled herring, and cherry tomatoes. I devoured that plate, didn’t go near the Halva. While I ate my lunch, Bubby was fussing with something across the room, probably packing away some souvenirs. While she was preoccupied, Zadi sneaked a piece of the candy and sat at the table happily munching on it. He was diabetic, so Bubby rarely let him have anything sweet. She came back over to see him eating it and shrieked that he’s not supposed to eat it and shouldn’t have taken such a big piece, and while she was trying to take it from him, he grumbled and fought while trying to finish it. I have this very clear picture in my mind of Bubby trying to grab at the candy while Zadi held her at arm’s length, trying to finish the Halva as quickly as he could, with a determined and grumpy look on his face. I’m hoping I didn’t laugh then, but every time I look back on that trip and remember that moment, I laugh out loud.

It’s been 15 years since he passed away, but I know he laughs right along with me when I remember the defiant look on his face while he tried to cram the rest of the candybar in his mouth.

Postcards instead of photographs.

Click photo to enlarge.
Top row: Miami Beach, FL | Middle row: Jamaica | Third row: New Orleans, LA

I found an old photo album which had belonged to my maternal grandmother, evidently the majority of the memories inside were from her 1969 honeymoon with her second husband. Instead of photographs, the scrapbook was full of postcards. Nothing’s written on the back of any of them, they were simply purchased to keep as a memory in lieu of pictures. My grandmother was never much of a photographer, so it was a clever idea to collect postcards for a scrapbook.

Unfortunately, she didn’t write the correct year, so I wouldn’t actually know as much as I do if it weren’t for my mother. Grandma wrote “1979 honeymoon” on the first page, and that’s all. So I just assumed maybe they took a second honeymoon and went to Miami Beach. Mom told me their honeymoon was actually in 1969, and not only did they go to Miami Beach, they also went to New Orleans and Jamaica. So while I just thought these postcards were from trips, it turns out pretty much all of them were from their honeymoon.

I do wish there were some actual photographs to go along with the postcards, the cards alone are extremely impersonal and therefore not sentimental to me at all. A friend of mine collects vintage postcards, so after making sure it’s okay with mom, I sold these all to her. It’d be one thing if these were pictures my grandmother or grandfather had taken, but honestly, I looked through all these and simply shrugged. I can look up vintage postcards online, but the trip through the eyes of my grandparents would’ve been a lot more interesting to me.

This is why I’m very surprised when I meet people who aren’t interested in documenting their life at all. They don’t take pictures, they don’t make scrapbooks, they don’t keep a diary or blog, they don’t write letters or emails. In fact, for a lot of people, the closest they come to documenting their life is a Facebook status or a couple of sentences on Twitter. My grandmother may have had a scrapbook full of postcards instead of photographs, but at least she documented her honeymoon and was able to verify my mother’s knowledge on where they’d gone. I don’t know any more than that, but at least I know something.

Click photo to enlarge.
Top row: Solvang, CA | Middle row: Mazatlan, Mexico | Bottom row: Coronado, CA

“Get mad, then get over it.” — Colin Powell

Five years ago, after hearing about a great sale at a nearby furniture store, we finally replaced our old sofas. We got two big recliners and an L-shaped loveseat. One of the recliners was for me, the other recliner and the loveseat would go in the living room to replace the sofa and loveseat that were as old as me. They weren’t exactly falling apart at the seams, but there was no support anymore so if you sat down too hard, your butt would thump against the insides of the couch and you felt like you’d hit the floor because it was so low. Watching my tall friends attempt to sit in them was always hilarious. Buying the furniture went without a problem, but there was a whole lot of fighting throughout the day of delivery.

My dad and I both have really short tempers, but also really short attention spans which is one aspect that helps us get over our anger pretty quick. One of the best pieces of advice my mother gave me as a child is never go to bed angry, either settle things or get over it. It’s pretty rare that either me or my father stays mad longer than a few hours at most. But when we get mad, we breathe fire. Especially at each other. When dad and I piss each other off, all you can really do is stay out of the line of fire and let us verbally battle each other to the death. The death of our anger, anyway. Something will be said that rubs the other person the wrong way and we’ll spit tacks, and a few minutes later we apologize and continue what we were doing.

“Anger and intolerance are the enemies of correct understanding.” — Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi

Our biggest fault regarding our anger is getting so riled up that we can’t properly listen. For instance, when mom and I were talking to him about the furniture sale and how we’d found pieces we liked, mom mentioned she’d asked the salesman if they’d haul away the old couches and was told that’s not part of their services. Dad immediately became angry and ranted breathlessly about how for a $50 fee the guys can’t even take the old stuff out of the house, and where do they expect to put the new stuff. Mom was just trying to calm him down and get him to stop yelling, I yelled over him to get him to hush — something that can make us more angry, but it has to be done sometimes — long enough for me to say “We didn’t ask about them moving the couches to the driveway or the curb, all we’d asked was if they take the old furniture away.” Just like that, dad calms down and says “Oh! I thought you meant they said they won’t even help us move the old stuff out of the house to make room for the new stuff. Of course I don’t expect them to take it away, they’re not a dumping business!”

At one point, while I was helping mom frantically clean the room because the delivery men had shown up two hours before we’d expected them, dad sat in my recliner. He was convinced that that recliner should stay in the living room with the new sofa and I take the one we’d bought for him, because my recliner matches the new sofa better. See, the new sofa is a dark brown. My recliner is a couple shades lighter, and dad’s recliner is a light tan. On one hand, my recliner does match the couch a bit better, but the light color looks good next to it as well. Besides, on a more selfish note, they’re two different chairs and I like mine better. I took one look at my dad sitting in my chair and like a disgruntled Baby Bear, told my father in a demanding tone to “Get out of my recliner.” He looked at me with an expression of “Excuse you?” and didn’t budge. So I repeated myself. I can’t remember what was said next or even who spoke, but it turned into a five second screaming match. The yelling stopped and we were staring daggers at each other, poor mom was trying to be the peacemaker but we weren’t hearing it. I left the room, and not two seconds passed when dad followed me and started calmly brainstorming with me about how we were going to get my recliner where I wanted it as if he hadn’t just threatened to punch my face to the back of my head.

I don’t enjoy yelling or being mad at my father, but the adrenaline rush during a fight and then the almost audible whoosh of relief after the anger’s gone helps me realize what a great bond we share. I know my temper has ruined some past friendships and relationships, but I have plenty of friends who can handle it or have learned to give me my space until I’m over it. Those are the friendships that count, not the ones who assume I won’t get angry anymore because they’re in my life now. My anger is just part of who I am, and I suppose in a way it’s helped me weed out people who didn’t deserve to be in my life. And if nothing else, it’s given me some funny stories over the years from situations where I overreacted.

Tator Tot, 2004-2016.


Goodbye, old friend. 🌈

A photo posted by ☁ Heather Haft ☁ (@heatherhaft) on

We put my dog to sleep today. His health had been declining the past couple of weeks, and this morning it took a turn for the worst and he had a seizure in the front yard. I’d still been asleep when it happened, but both my parents were there with him. Dad came and woke me to tell me what happened, Mom came back in and called the vet to see if they could take us. Luckily, they could fit us in fairly quickly, we were there approximately 45 minutes later. The last thing we wanted was for him to continue suffering, whether it meant medications or the final sedative.

We brought him into our lives exactly twelve years ago, we went and adopted him from the shelter on my 20th birthday. I made the decision that since it was my birthday, I was the one who’d get to name him, and he became Tator Tot. Officially the name came from a Ron White joke, but it was much easier to explain to people we named him for his coloring. He had the same color as a cooked tater tot. (I named him Tator instead of Tater because it just looks better to me. It’s not spelled potate.)

We joked that this dog had nine lives, and nine of someone else’s lives. There’d been more than one occasion where he seemed on the brink of death only to bounce back, and I half expected the same to happen this time. I suppose that’s part of the five stages of grief.

The day we brought him home.

The day we brought him home.

And so today, after a short exam by the doctor, it was made clear that this was, indeed, the end, and putting him under would be the best course of action. The vet said it was likely he may have had a tumor in his brain, because his vision was suddenly gone and there were a few other signs, and that most likely is what triggered the seizure. As a family, we decided today was it. We all gave him a gentle pet as farewell, continuing to pet him as the shots took effect, and at approximately 1:30pm Mountain Time, he was gone. He was an amazing friend, and we know he was extremely happy with us. Today was the first day in over a decade I was able to eat lunch at the dining table without a fuzzy nose snuffling about my feet, hoping I dropped an entire burger for him. I can’t say I enjoyed not having that minor annoyance. I’ll miss you, Mister Tot.

tator