Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Facts of life

I truly believe that life has the ability to be inordinately simple. If so, then why do I always find a way to complicate things, fuck it up? Stewing in my own thoughts, I realize that almost every complicating factor in my life ultimately became complicated because of me. I rocked the boat and made the simple dramatic and hard. Sometimes I just yearn for those days where my toughest decision used to be what color to make the sky. Right now, I'd make the sky green and the grass blue.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

It's not all sunshine and sugar plums

I work at a bookstore part-time and can't manage to sell books I would actually recommend or have enjoyed. Every time I've tried I am met with the same blank look, the same curl of the lip. They approach you looking for something different, something good. However, the deeper you delve the more you hear phrases like "something light", "not too difficult". They are looking for cotton candy, and I'm prepared to give them creme brulee. Disappointed, I automatically dim the lights in a certain part of my brain and begin offering up the latest bestseller or the one that everyone else has just loved. Don't get me wrong, every once in a while I want a light read and can be seen curling up with a Carl Hiaasen. However, I have discovered my taste in books gravitates toward fiction that doesn't always give you a happy ending or the resolution you may need. I crave memoirs, travelogues, and books classified cultural studies. I say all of this not to say my taste is better than anyone else's but more that I haven't found the right kind of customer. I guess you could say that I'm still looking for my reading soul mate.

On a side note, if you're a Chuck Palahnuik fan and have read Survivor, email me for information on our book group discussion this Friday at 8 pm.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Throwing salt

I have rituals either in things that I need to do each day or in the order that I do the mundane things that everyone typically does. For example, I have to have a bath before going to bed every night. This may seem like a fairly common occurrence, but I tend to take it to an obsessive level. On any given evening, I can be found unwinding after a brutal (or not so) day in a warm bubble bath. I end 99.9% of my days in this manner. Some nights I add a glass of wine, others see candlelight but always the bubbles and the warm bath. It turns into a quirk when you factor in how ingrained this is for me. If I get off work at midnight, there’s a bubble bath by 12:30. Late night at a concert, bubble bath once home to wash away the cigarette smoke. Falling on my ass drunk, bath when I get home. That’s right. Even on the nights I have been falling down drunk and barely able to remember my name, I’ve managed to pour myself into a bath before bed. A few years ago at a staff retreat I probably came close to drowning myself. After imbibing in much alcohol and dancing, earning myself the nickname whirling dervish, I couldn’t even make it back to my cabin on my own*. That said, the next thing I remember about that night is sitting in the middle of the big Jacuzzi tub in my cabin literally frolicking in the water like a 2 year old, still drunk off my ass. Funny how some habits just stick.

*Upon exiting the party cabin, I promptly fell off the front porch and smacked my head on the ground.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Just like Buddy Holly

I spent the early part of the week in a veritable electronics black hole. Before hopping a plane for business in Hartford, I realized I had walked out the door without the spare charger for my phone. If you know me at all, you know this is akin to chopping off your favorite arm. Sitting at gate B12 at BWI, I suddenly felt alone in the world as my phone issued for a low moan and the battery light blinked with an exclamation point. As I powered my phone off, I contemplated how I would survive without access to email and instant messenger. Even my chances of browsing the internet looked shady. My fears were only confirmed when I stepped through the sliding doors at Bradley International Airport and out into the chilly evening air of Connecticut. I had chosen to take a flight that got into Hartford around 10:40 pm and was supposed to be picked up by Sara. As I searched the cars lined up waiting claim friends and family for Sara’s face, I was disappointed to find she wasn’t among them. I patiently claimed a place under the Southwest sign and waited as circling vehicles slowed and craned their necks in hopes their people were waiting. Still no Sara. The minutes ticked by and people would come and go. The closer it got to midnight, the more I began to panic slightly that I was being abandoned*. Had my cell phone been charged, a quick call to figure out where the fuck she was would have been easy. But, no, I was instead trying to figure out how to find an ATM for my screwy ATM card and potentially get a hotel to wait out the evening. At this point, I even found myself wondering if the airport stayed open 24 hours and if I could just sleep there. When Sara rolled up just shy of any full blown panic attack, I sighed relief that my cell phone woes hadn’t been tested further.

The other missing piece of electronic equipment this week was a camera. I got a dull ache as we passed fall foliage that could only be recorded in my mind (sorry, Scarlet). Even more painful was witnessing the crawling man and not being able to capture him. I’m unsure if this was a UMASS cultural thing, the man truly couldn’t walk, or if he thrived on having a gimmick. However, we saw a man crawling around Amherst to various locations, periodically pausing to stop and kiss the ground. He was a middle aged bloke dressed in New England prep and didn’t appear homeless. Apparently this wasn’t just a day long schtick because Sara and others had witnessed him crawling into a bar on Sunday night, too.

Edit (6:58 pm, 10/18/06):
Well, fuck. I’m waiting at the airport for my return flight and just saw the baggage claim boys taping one of their fellow workers to one of the baggage belts. He was practically mummified with tape and was then driven off into the sunset on the mobile belt. Oh for the love a digital camera.

*Damn those fears of abandonment carried with me since childhood.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Tips for all of you Amazing Race Wannabes

This week found me traveling for work and afforded me precious hours of airport time to do nothing but observe (and worry…but we won’t talk about the worrying). I found myself playing virtual Amazing Race to keep me entertained and determined there are some obvious dos and don’ts that might help* all future Amazing Race contestants.

(1) Learn to pack appropriately. Mobility is a key element in getting ahead, and you shouldn’t load yourself down with a cumbersome pack. Your partner won’t be your pack mule, so don’t rely on them.
(2) Appropriate clothing is important. Think neutral, comfortable and stylish. Both over- and underdressing will only call negative attention to you and your partner. Sweat pants scrunched up under your knees or gauchos aren’t really appropriate. In that same vein, think in terms of layers and combinations. Packing lightly is important (see #1), so loading your pack with clothes is counterproductive.
(3) Find that happy medium between killing people with kindness and being you. Acting like an ass just because you don’t understand the language or the culture doesn’t give you the right to yell, curse, call people stupid, or otherwise get angry. At the same time, being so disgustingly sweet that everyone wants to throw up may backfire, too. This rule applies to everyone from how you treat others in the service industry, nice citizens who stop to offer assistance and even your travel partner.
(4) Abuse modern day technology. Not sure if it’s legal, but, if so, buy one of those fancy pocket PCs and find a way to finagle international service. Talk about making your fellow competitors jealous.
(5) Train. People who really want something practice and train for it. You don’t just wake up one day and decide to run a marathon or play at Carnegie Hall the next day. Hell, you might do this but probably won’t fair very well. The same holds true for Amazing Race.
a. Run. The thing that might stand between you coming in last place may be a footrace with another team. You might as well get used to running now.
b. Study a couple of languages and cultures. You probably won’t have time to memorize everything about every country, but even boning up on a few of the big ones and learn some key phrases in several languages could give you a leg up or at least make you more comfortable.
c. Row a boat.
d. Climb a wall.
(I’m sure there are many more ways to train. Help me out with ideas.)
(6) Get a clue. Being a dumb blonde is not considered an asset when you can’t figure out which gate is yours even though you’re sitting at it. It’s not cute for the gate attendant to have to page you to board.

Edit (11:46 pm 10/18/06): I won my own Amazing Race tonight and scored major karma points in the process. Flying into BWI, I had booked a train ticket to DC with a super tight turn around time. I needed desperately to make that last train home. Booking it out of baggage claim, I held my tongue and didn’t curse the old people slowly making their way onto the airport shuttle to the train station. A ragtag** set of the old folks latched onto me and declared they would be following me to the train station since I apparently knew what I was doing. I didn’t mention to them that I would hurdle any of them in order to make it on the train it was becoming apparent I would miss. Turns out luck was already on my side and the Amtrak train was running 25 minutes behind. Luck must have been on the side of the old folks, too, because they acquired a tour guide (*cough* me). They pumped me for info on how to get to Pentagon City while waiting for the train and declared they would be following me. A younger guy overheard us talking and decided to tag along, since he was also headed to Vienna and had never taken the train. I began referring to the group as my ducklings since from that point on they trailed me like I was their mama leading them to water. Major karma points for making all of my connections all the while leading the ducklings through the intricacies of Amtrak and the metro system.

*This advice truly won’t help you since one of my future Amazing Race partners and I are sure to win.
**The leader fixed and installed air conditioners in Palm Beach. He was coming to visit his sister and escort “Ed”, a man somewhere between 80 and 90 years of age, to a reunion of retired United pilots. Also along for the ride was the hard-ridden female sidekick who I later learned worked safety at some desert casino in Palm Springs. The leader informed me she came along for her EMT skills. I secretly think the leader wanted a chance to bone her.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Be ye not defeated

Well, I survived my own adventures in babysitting last night*. I seriously don't know how people do it. I was basically left to handle 1/2 of what turned out to be a two kid equation and still found it difficult. Do you know how difficult it is to hold a baby, a bottle and a diet coke while walking down the stairs? The baby seriously cramped my ability to adequately caffienate myself or send email/texts. Despite these setbacks, he was still pretty cool**...until he got tired and started to cry (and cry and cry). Somehow I managed to convince him to fall asleep as Allie was putting Cordelia (the three year old) to bed; however, because the parentals had told me how he liked silence we sat there in the dark, afraid to turn on the light or the TV. How pathetic is that? We actually made it 45 minutes before the crying started again. At that point, we just said screw it and turned the TV on. The silence we were rewarded was only after 15 minutes of tears. I will readily admit to wondering how in the hell I would know if he were even broken.

Some of the more memorable moments...

*Cordelia telling Allie her butt hurt.
*Having to change my first diaper...ever.
*Trying to convince Cordelia to dip her PB&J into the ketchup.
*Thor (the baby) rolling over my glass of diet coke.
*Finally falling asleep on the couch around 11.

*Thanks in large part to Allie, who handled the first round of diapers and took care of 1/2 of the kid equation.
**I'm pretty sure I'm too selfish to even consider kids. I explained to little Thor that people like him don't travel well.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Anger management

Do you ever believe that things like your DNA, cultural makeup, day you were born on, etc. predispose you to be a certain way? I am quick to anger, allowing my temper to incubate and seethe at times. I've blogged about my Ally McBeal moments of envisioning small acts of vengefulness I'll never take. Is my significant portion of Irish running through my blood to blame for my temper? Does the fact that I'm a Scorpio born in November explain the fact that I frustrate easily? Try as I might, I just won't believe that that's all that makes me who I am.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Captain Underpants and the Attack of the Wiggles

I'm not naturally a kid person. I was never one of those girls who babysat a lot as a teen (didn't at all, in fact), and though an older sister, my younger brother is only 3 years younger. I'm pretty sure I won't wind up with any of my own. Despite all of this, I have somehow found myself babysitting 4 wee ones a week from today.

You read correctly. Next Tuesday, I'll be babysitting two babies (somewhere around 8 months old) and two toddlers (approximately 3 years old). Thankfully I will have help and will not be facing this squadron of screams alone. While the little one took a liking to me at our last meeting (I personally think he just thought he could get some milk out of these boobs), his older sister did not take to kindly to my trying to get her to dance to Sexyback.

The highlight of the only other time I babysat was realizing all of the cool words I could teach a two year old to say and how she was totally into getting my Diet Coke for me ; )

There's a chance it will just be two (instead of four), but somehow I still don't think that's going to get me out of having to watch the Wiggles.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Boo? Bring us some of that Groth!

Friday afternoon commenced our afternoon of debauchery and wine week, part deux. This is the closest I'll get to ever being one of the ladies who lunch, and if the three martini lunch ever makes a come back, I'm not sure I could hang. Even partaking in this drunken excess twice a year feels lavish and more than a bit Karen*.

I adore the waitstaff at Smith & Wollensky and how they embrace just how tanked you're going to get. The crisp white linens and the outdoor table only set the stage for the leading characters...the wine. Two glasses are placed before you, and this year they don't even bother with the silver bucket. Our waiter doesn't even flinch when we call him boo and ask to try that Groth he has in his hands. I even enjoyed my first zin (nod to Dan).

The restaurant should actually have a contingency plan in place for all of its drunk patrons to protect them from themselves.

(1) They should confiscate all cell phones and other electronic communication devices at the door so that tipsy wine week revelers won't be tempted into emailing pictures of their cleavage to certain people (cough).
(2) All wine week participants should be sequestered in the restaurant so that they are not unleashed upon a sober workforce in their inebriated state. They especially shouldn't be allowed on buses where they grope male passengers as they stumble.

Actually, those two rules should pretty much do it...would protect the not-so-innocent and all.

*Will & Grace's beloved alcoholic...duh.