Friday, June 22, 2007

An Announcement

Today is my one-year blogiversary!


To commemorate the occasion, I’m making the move to a Blogspot-free existence over at Join me at the new digs (which, by the way, might feel very familiar), update those bookmarks and feeds, and see how I’m ringing in a new year of bloggy fun!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Shoe Shine

I have to go to New York for the day tomorrow to visit a company for work, which means that my normal uniform of jeans and flip-flops isn’t going to cut it. I test-drove a few outfits and settled on a pin-striped dress and red sweater, but I realized sadly that my black heels had seen better days. They were a bargain $20 pair I picked up when I first started working about three years ago and they showed their age and, uh, bargain quality. Glancing at the clock, I assessed the damage. I couldn’t fix the ground-out heel, but the scuffs could be fixed with some polish. I rooted around for the can of black and laid out paper towels on the kitchen counter for a workspace.

As soon as I dabbed into the can of shoe polish, the pungent, waxy smell brought me back to my parents’ kitchen, where my dad would polish his shoes every so often. He had one of those carrier boxes with a handle down the middle to divide it into two sections. On one side, there would be saddle soap, black and brown polish, and a squirt bottle of water. On the other side, he stored clean, soft cloths and a soft-bristled brush for buffing. I viewed that shoe polish box as somewhat of a sacred relic because it was strictly off-limits for touching. I imagine that my parents were afraid that I’d accidentally get into the polish and start fingerprinting the house, which would not have been a stretch. Instead, I’d perch on a stool and watch Dad magically restore his shoes back to an even sheen.

Dad was and is really fastidious about certain things and shoe polishing was one of them. His left hand slid down into the toe of the shoe and his right hand skimmed the outside quickly and carefully. He applied the polish in tiny, round strokes, using the least amount of polish as possible to cover an area. Tilting the shoe this way and that, Dad checked to make sure that he hadn’t missed any spots; when he was satisfied, he laid the shoe down carefully and started on the mate as the first dried. My favorite step was buffing. The brush would fwip-fwip across the shoe, exposing a shiny, like-new surface. I sat, transfixed.

With that fwip-fwip sound echoing in my head, I finished shining my heels. They emerged somewhat battered, but much improved and it only took a little time and a dab of polish. And some magic, I think.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Not Funny at All

As the first order of business for his first day of summer vacation, JG made an appointment to switch from cable to satellite service in order to get high-definition service all the time instead of hoping for good weather and adjusting a giant antenna on our entertainment unit. Even though I was ecstatic about letting go of a bug-like presence in our living room, I pled to make sure that the dish wasn’t visible from the street, if at all possible.

JG called me at work to report on the progress:

JG: So, I just wanted to update you on what’s going on over here.
RA: Okay, cool.
JG: The guy came and had a look around. He climbed on the roof and stuff, but he feels like we have too many trees to put the dish on the roof.
RA: Oh.
JG: The only way he could do it was to put up an 8-foot pole in the middle of our yard. So, of course, I said, “Absolutely!”
RA: (sharp intake of breath)
JG: Hello?
RA: I suggest that we don’t joke about this.
JG: (quickly) Oh, sorry, joke over. I didn’t agree to it. We’re sticking with cable.
RA: Okay. No antenna on the TV?
JG: No antenna.
RA: Thank you.

Jokes are fine every once in a while, but if I was concerned about a little satellite dish on our roof, a pole sticking out of our yard is no laughing matter! Geez.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Contentment, Almost

Saturday really made me feel like I got a weekend. Sometimes, the two days are packed full of chores and bustle so I don’t feel a significant difference between Sunday’s rest and Monday’s routine.

When I think back, it’s not that JG and I did anything spectacular; we just did a few things with the right mixture of activity and rest. The morning was free and lazy. We drifted around in our pajamas, watched The Soup and Best Week Ever, and caught breakfast when we felt like it. JG mowed the lawn before we left to meet a friend at the climbing gym that afternoon and I was intent on recovering from my less-than-stellar workout on Tuesday. Let’s just say that the ratio of falling to climbing was so high as to inspire the term “high-gravity night.” Apparently, gravity had lessened its hold because I finished two long-standing projects and we all had a much improved day of climbing.

Later that evening, JG and I sat at a laminate table in a local Italian restaurant, one of those neighborhood joints with vinyl seats, metal pizza-pan holders on each table, and gigantic menus. After sharing an order of fried mushrooms (every restaurant in Kennett Square has them and they’re always good), we settled into our respective entrees: vegetable primavera for me and a cheese steak Stromboli for him. Quiet fell over the table – the sound of people simply not talking because they were busy enjoying their food.

“Today was a really good day,” I said slowly, breaking the silence.

JG nodded. “Yeah. I feel like we got a lot done, but it wasn’t rushed or anything.”

I nodded along. I had a serene feeling that I was in exactly the right place with exactly the right person. I wanted to wrap up the sensation and save it for another day.

JG continued, “I don’t know what could make this day any better. Except maybe a doggie…”

Ah, yes. JG’s campaign to add a furry friend to our home has not gone unnoticed. I have started to run out of excuses as to why we aren’t ready to accommodate a dog and our friends have gone out of their way to show me their dogs’ most favorable sides. The fact that JG’s concession of naming privileges represented a considerable bargaining chip is not lost on me. It’s a clear indicator that JG’s picture of happiness is incomplete without a dog curled up at his feet.

In other words, we’re getting a dog.

(JG is doing a happy shimmy in the background.)

Today is JG’s last day of the school year. Tomorrow, he will start to apply to shelters, propose dogs from PetFinder, and research electric fences. That serene feeling I wish I had saved is no longer with me. I’m three-quarters through Marley & Me: Life and Love with the World’s Worst Dog, so visions of chewed furniture, soiled carpet, and a backyard full of land mines dance through my head. I’m trying to distract myself by finding really good name candidates. After all the negotiation and discussion we’ve had, maybe we should be frank and name the dog Compromise.

Friday, June 15, 2007

High Points

How is it that the workweek seemed to drag on for 17 days, but I’m all surprised that today is Friday, so there are only eight hours to get everything done? If it were possible to get an instantaneous feed of the running loop of crazy inside my head, it might sound something like: what the heck did I do all week that there so many to-dos on my list not done and how is it that it’s the 15th already and I’ve only finished one book and how in the world am I going to finish four this month and I can’t forget to call my dad on Sunday and do I have any clean clothes and was the last time I blogged really Monday?


To quell the unrest I feel at being so not on top of it, I will take a few minutes to reflect on a handful of things that I thoroughly enjoyed this week. Call it penance for not writing them up in a proper and timely fashion.

Resting Easily
Contrary to the looming forecast for this week, I only experienced one more thunderstorm, and since I was at work, I didn’t exactly have the option to curl up into a ball and quiver. Instead, I opted to breathe deeply (meanwhile groaning, “Oh, my lord…”) as my shoulders lurched at the sound of every roll of thunder. I would like a pat on the back, please. Also, I was spared from any more dreams about criminal monkeys; I actually had a good one about JG and me, instead. I hardly ever dream about him – it’s kind of a regret of mine – so waking up from a swirly vision of dancing together was very nice. The music in the background was “Somewhere That’s Green” from Little Shop of Horrors, but I don’t know what that’s supposed to indicate. I doubt it’s in my dream dictionary…

Daily Word
After I used “riveting” twice, sarcastically, in one day, my co-workers encouraged me to set up a dry-erase board with a word of the day, with a goal to incorporate the word into a sentence during the workday. Yes! I provide the word, a phonetic pronunciation, part of speech, and a brief definition and what do you know? Discussion ensues! Building up vocabulary is fun, I tell you. Now I get a chance to revel in all of the lovely words that seem too high-falutin’ for normal conversation but are so fun to say. Insouciant! Profligate! Acquiesce! (Oh, my!) Today’s word is vociferous (voe-SIFF-er-us), which is describes something that is crying out noisily. Go forth and use!

Foodie Show Tunes
Adam, the Amateur Gourmet, presented a grateful viewing public with a week full of original songs about his food and I dare anyone to listen to odes to malted-milk ice cream and lasagna without A) cracking up at the lyrics or B) standing in awe of his simultaneous piano-playing and cinematography. My favorite is “Falafel Love,” which garnered multiple viewings on my computer. Much to JG’s chagrin, I find myself humming the catchy tune during the day: “Why, why did he pick falafel…”

Good Hair Day
As a follow-up to a detailed hair how-to, Whoorl encouraged readers to send in glamour shots of their good hair days. My hair is my only physical feature that I consistently enjoy; I love that it’s so shiny and well-behaved. I took a dozen self-portraits one morning in an effort to do my mane justice and I have to admit that I was a little giddy when Whoorl responded to my e-mail saying, “Your hair is gorgeous!” Aw, shucks. It’s too bad that my facial expression in that picture is a combination of dubious and goofy. At least my hair looks pretty.

I realize that I’m at least three years behind the curve, here, but in an effort to find a jazz radio station to stream, I discovered the wonder that is Pandora and self-loaded radio stations. I like wordless music for working, but a girl only has a tolerance for so much Aaron Copland and movie soundtracks in a given day. But now, I have an endless supply of free jazz without having to assemble play lists. I am on my way to high-end productivity, um, right after I post this entry. Once again, I’m compelled to consider how my life was so freaking inconvenient before the internet. Let us never go back to the dark ages of cassettes. Amen.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Not a Good Omen

I’m sitting in a rowboat. A doctor, with whom I am unacquainted, is rowing backward, facing me, and telling me about the swampy, foggy surroundings. He tells me how he has been studying the indigenous primates in the area for years, but there has been an incident. It turns out that a local couple, with whom I am slightly acquainted, is searching for their infant baby girl, who has evidently been stolen by the monkeys. They’re not sure she’s still alive. The hair on the back of my neck bristles and I feel a chill. The yapping calls of unseen monkeys make me scan the trees unsteadily. Thunder rumbles in the distance and dark clouds hover overhead.

I open my eyes with a start. It’s three in the morning.

Awakened by the roll of real-life thunder, I brush away the uneasy dream and reach out to JG sleeping next to me. I hate thunder. I know it’s just sound, but the sheer volume sends tremors down my back and makes my hands fly up, involuntarily, to shield my ears. It is impossible for me to relax during a storm; I clutch pillows and twitch nervously as lightning bolts blind me – an unnerving harbinger. This storm is worse than usual because I have images of a stolen baby girl and laughing chimpanzees with dangerous-looking teeth flying through my head. The vivid imagination that served me so well as a child is my downfall during the dark, wee hours when thunder booms, uninvited.

Conflicted between the heavy heat of our bedroom and the impulse to be covered and secure, I toss and turn to find a position that both deafens the noise and feels sheltered. My biceps are getting sore from the extended tension of my fingers plugged into my ears and I can’t help but slide over to JG’s side of the bed for comfort. He’s snoozing away, nonplussed by the storm, until I accidentally nudge him too strongly. “Is it the thunder?” he asks sleepily. Yes! Hence the quivering shell next to you! But I tell him to go back to sleep. It doesn’t make sense for the both of us to be awake at this hour.

The last time I look at the clock, it reads 4:34. I am exhausted. My arms are tired. I drift back to sleep, but thankfully, there are no child-stealing apes this time.

I am at work right now. I am a zombie. And there are scattered thunderstorms on the forecast every single day this week.


Friday, June 8, 2007

Friday, Three Tenses


  • Received a replacement laptop at work because the one I had was plagued with errors impossible to replicate on demand. No sound? No wireless connection? No idea! Happily, the new one worked just fine.
  • Went to lunch at the Greek festival with co-workers and had yummy stuffed grape leaves and chicken and orzo.
  • Became a sweaty mess. Hot food, no shaded outdoor seating, and a record-breaking combination of heat and humidity made for an uncomfortable situation.
  • Sat in a hot car in the sun during my commute home.
  • Jumped into the shower as soon as I walked through the door.

I am…

  • Sitting on my couch, underneath a whirring ceiling fan, in wet hair and pajamas.
  • Breathing easily.
  • Typing on JG’s old college laptop, the one with the R and F keys missing and a finicky Ethernet port.
  • Eavesdropping on Good Eats: the sausage episode.
  • Hearing my stomach growl.
  • Watching the clock.

I will…

  • Make myself presentable and put on something fun and dressy.
  • Drive to meet JG and his teacher friends at a new (to me) Japanese-Thai restaurant.
  • See JG for the first time since 6:30am this morning.
  • Take pictures because we’ll all look snazzy. Hopefully, some of them will be good.
  • Come home late and fall into bed for a hard-earned night of sleep without the threat of an alarm buzzing on Saturday morning.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Pick-Up Lines

According to my application spreadsheet, I have been officially on the job market for four weeks. I think it’s going pretty well, so far. I’m making several contacts, sending out résumés, and of course, combing job sites for postings. Because I’ve chosen to post my information online, I’ve had the pleasure of receiving my fair share of job-related spam in the past month with the following awesomely bad lines. Everything is verbatim, unfortunately.


  • Greetings,dear friend!
  • I am trying to reach you!
  • Are you blessed with a new child yet unable to attend work? Are you a college student with odd class schedules impairing regular work time? Well you’re in luck!!!
  • You are invited to a people-intensive, on-the-edge of technology powered environment.
  • You befit on our position.


  • Honest Workesr Needed!!!
  • Basically, almost anyone can manage to handle the job, but you honesty and doing your best are of utmost importance for us
  • You needn’t any education, qualification or any special skills. Everything you need is a great desire to work.
  • Requirements: USA citizenship. Responsibility, diligence and honesty.
  • General requirements: the ability to work in teamand good communicative skills. Ability to keep company’s interest s more than your own one. USA citizenship required.
  • Age: from 18 till 70 years


  • Your monthly salary can amount to $1,800-2,300.
  • DO NOT TURN THIS OFFER DOWN!! GREAT OPPORTUNITY!!! You can recieve a salary not less then 50 000$ a year!

Big Finishes:

  • ... act now for this great intuitive job offer.
  • If you are interested in this job and you really want to work with us, send us confirmation that you are ready to work in our company , then we will send you contract, you should sign it and we will begin to co-operate.
  • If you have found this letter to be a nuisance, please accept our apologies.

- - -

P.S. I’m glad to report that I got the fun, relaxed weekend I wanted. JG and I spent a lot of time just hanging out together and I felt like I had woken up from a vacation this morning. Thank goodness for mental health days.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

City Longings

JG and I went to the climbing gym yesterday. The twenty-minute drive is very curvy, but best of all, scenic. Rolling over hills, I can see through the windshield wide expanses of cut grass, dotted with grazing cattle and fluffy sheep. There is an equestrian school at one point and it’s common to see young girls in jodhpurs putting their animals through their paces. Stony farmhouses and red barns mark land ownership and wooden rocking chairs tilt gently on open-air porches. The smells of hay, honeysuckle, and humus flow in through the open windows and I breathe deeply.

Most of the time, I love living in our small-town-almost-countryside community. People walk their dogs in the neighborhood, we know that our mechanic’s name is Chip, and we have quiet nights with starry skies. I make a daily commute to a small city, so coming home is like a breath of fresh air. My ears are clear of car alarms and I look forward to seeing the sun set.

But another part of me loves metropolis and everything it includes. I love to wander museums, listen to the orchestra, marvel at the ballet, and eat exotic food. I love not having to drive and, instead, relying on public transit maps that might be really confusing or hearing my shoes slap against the concrete sidewalk. I love knowing that I can do almost anything at any hour. I don’t think I could live in a city, but visiting is exhilarating.

Much to my chagrin, JG does not so much enjoy cities. He finds them loud and dirty. There’s too much going on and there aren’t enough trees. People are brusque and always in a rush. He doesn’t relish the theater or the ballet and his palate is not quite as expansive as mine. Rather than go out for dinner when they charge way too much money for not much food, JG would prefer to stay home and fire up the grill so that he can have a steak the way he likes it.


In a way, I understand. Our life and our home are comfortable and I am grateful for them. Lately, though, I’ve been clicking enviously through the pictures that college friends are taking on their two-week jaunt through Europe and it makes me feel oh-so sedentary. Despite undersized portions of foreign food, it’s nice to have a chance to be an adventurous city mouse.

Sunday Scribblings #61: Town & Country

Friday, June 1, 2007

The Getting It Done

A few nights ago, I struggled to fall asleep. My body was tired, I had already read several chapters of my book, and JG was snoozing away, gently, at my side. But the gears in my mind were turning steadily and my stomach twisted and turned, enough to be uncomfortable, but not enough to be sick. I swallowed hard. I just have to get through this week, I thought.

Suddenly, I was struck with the realization that I’m always trying to get through things: a work day, a meeting, a long drive, reluctant family time, chores. Anxiety washed over me like a wave, leaving me sputtering and gasping for air, as the thought crystallized in my mind: I can’t survive like this. I am overwhelmed. I tried to breathe evenly, but the panic from my flip-flopping stomach rose to my throat and I began to sob.

Between big sniffs and wiping my eyes, I remembered that, about a year ago, I had recurring episodes like this one. I’d sit up in bed, take a box of tissues off of my nightstand, and cry as softly as possible so that I didn’t wake JG. When the tears were spent, I would lie down again and hope that my body was tired enough to sleep. At the time, I felt trapped because I couldn’t figure out how to meld JG’s and my interests – sports and fine arts, respectively – into leisure time that we both enjoyed. I felt overextended and high-maintenance, so I couldn’t bring myself to draw JG into my nighttime sadness.

Not this time, I decided.

I nudged JG and whispered, “Kiddo?” It’s our mutual term of endearment. “I need to tell you something.”

The sheets rustled. “What?”

“I’m very sad right now.”

He turned over, toward me. “Why? What’s going on?”

I sobbed, “I was just saying to myself that I needed to just get through this week, but I feel like I say that all the time, with everything. How can a person live like this? I’m so tired.”

“I’m sorry, kiddo.”

“I know we can’t solve it tonight, but … I don’t know. It’s just very oppressive right now.”


“I wasn’t going to tell you. Like before, remember? But I didn’t think that was a good idea, so I had to wake you up.”

“I’m glad you did.”


I don’t remember how it happened, but after all of the nose-blowing and deep sighs, I fell asleep. Every so often, I woke up, startled, but reaching out and confirming that JG was beside me was enough to send me back to my dreams.

Soon after that night, I read an essay by Anna Quindlen that looked back to her time as a young mother taking care of three children, aged six and under. A particular passage hit me square in the forehead.

I did not live in the moment enough. This is particularly clear now that the moment is gone, captured only in photographs. There is one picture of the three of them sitting in the grass on a quilt in the shadow of the swing set on a summer day, ages six, four, and one. And I wish I could remember what we ate, and what we talked about, and how they sounded, and how they looked when they slept that night. I wish I had not been in such a hurry to get on to the next thing: dinner, bath, book, bed. I wish I had treasured the doing a little more and the getting it done a little less.

I paused and re-read the last bit.

I wish I had treasured the doing a little more and the getting it done a little less.

I don’t want to write that line in 20 years. I will not write that line.

So, this weekend is all about the doing. JG and I are both taking the day off from work on Monday, so we have a nice long weekend. Tonight, we’ll have something off the grill for dinner and then we’ll crash on the couch with our latest Netflix delivery. I’ll turn off my alarm and sleep in as long as I want tomorrow morning. I think we have a few things we want to do, like go climbing, go out for dinner and a movie, and read, but nothing is set in stone. Regardless, I’m going to try to shift my mind to the doing and away from the getting it done.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

It Was a Good Run

Two weeks ago, I gave my notice at 451 Press. This morning, I published my final post at

I view the handful of months writing for a blog network as a valuable learning experience. I appreciated the challenge of writing on a single topic with a deadline of 10am every morning. I enjoyed the camaraderie that came from the community of writers. I gained my first exposure to social networking sites and I was forced to view my writing from the perspective of what might draw readers. I feel better equipped to write on the fly, tie up a concise argument on a small scope, and use WordPress. I am absolutely grateful to everyone who stopped by the site, left comments, and e-mailed me articles to reference. As an exercise, writing for the network was a successful one for me.


I didn’t enjoy writing on a topic about which I only have experiential expertise of a narrow set of circumstances. JG was my only really serious boyfriend and we’ve only been married for two years. Sure, my stories might have their own appeal, but did they give me inherent credibility? I shied away from posts of the “Ask RA” variety out of fear that a reader would pose a situation that might require serious intervention or therapy, neither of which I am able to diagnose nor provide. I felt uncomfortable wearing an unearned badge of knowledge because I wanted to be a reliable resource.

On top of that, I’m working to be a better writer, not a marketer. The double-duty position of both supplying content and getting the world to notice it was a detrimental combination for me. I’d write what I thought was useful or compelling with the grim knowledge that it would never float to the front pages of social networking sites. Then, I’d try to conjure articles that might draw votes on those sites, but I didn’t quite believe what I was writing. Ultimately, I felt like both my writing and my stats suffered, which was such a lose-lose situation. I know that some folks can write and market simultaneously, but I am an introvert in real life as well as online. Asking others to read what I’ve written is anxiety-producing and not because I don’t believe I’m a skilled writer. I want my words to speak for themselves; I don’t want to prop them up with a tag line.

At the end of the day, I felt like I lived with my fingers tapping on a keyboard. After a full day at work, the time spent writing, doing auxiliary research, voting, and responding to comments grew to be more than I wanted to handle. Some might turn down their noses at my inability to commit more time, but I am not a full-time writer who is able to sink deeply into a project. Trying to massage my ideas about relationships into a palatable format for the sake of votes was not the plan. Searching newspapers, columns, and blogs for anything relationship-centric that I could quickly summarize just to get to the point where I could close my laptop was not the plan. Going to bed hours after JG and saying good night to a slumbering body was not the plan.

All of this is not to say that I have hard feelings toward 451 Press. I’m actually really curious about how the network will progress over time. Simply put, writing for a network, even with ad revenue, was not the right fit for me. I’m proud of quite a few articles I wrote for the site, including my final one, so perhaps I’ll revisit them in the future. I’ll continue to plug away in these parts, but most importantly, on my own terms.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Capturing Kennett Square

As I’ve mentioned before, I love our little town of Kennett Square. Aside from the town’s fascination with fungi, the town’s charm oozes through quaint Victorian houses and the local restaurants full of people and food, and both very good. Ever since I got my bearings after we moved in at the end of October 2005, I’ve wanted to go around the one-street-wide downtown area to snap pictures of local color. But, as they usually do, the excuses crept up. It’s not sunny enough. I won’t find a parking spot. There are no charged batteries. And so it goes.

In a move that was very unlike me, I made plans this afternoon to have dinner with two co-workers. (I will appreciate a respectful pause to note my outrageous spontaneity. I mean, who plans a dinner out just two hours before it occurs?) My co-workers happened to be spending the afternoon at Longwood Gardens, a tourist attraction that is no less than ten minutes from where I live. When I jumped at the chance to recommend a restaurant, the three of us* planned to meet up for dinner at the Half Moon.

Suddenly, I found my chance to wander Kennett Square in gorgeous weather. I zoomed home, changed into jeans, grabbed my camera, and spent a blissful hour strolling around, snapping pictures, and greeting the friendly outdoor diners. I garnered my share of strange glances – I mean, I would have viewed a seeming tourist the same way – but simply being outdoors was so refreshing that I ignored the stares. I felt more energetic than I had during the entire workday.

After a tasty dinner, I made the short drive home in a strange state of fuzzy relaxation. The sun left behind a fiery pink sky in my rear-view mirror and a round, pockmarked moon rose before me in a deep blue sky. Those are two pictures I would’ve loved to have captured.

It was a good day.

I like that I can say that.

- - -

* Unfortunately, JG was left out of the fun because tonight was the first meeting of his summer graduate course, which sadly convenes twice a week, from 6-10pm. Gah.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007


As much as I enjoy it, having Monday off always throws me for a loop. I wake up, groggy as ever, with those Monday blues swinging through my brain, and then, the dawning realization that it is not Monday makes that grogginess seem, well, not as bad. It’s a slight improvement that I am willing to accept. Needless to say, I’m a bit disoriented after this long weekend.

Our time with JG’s family was a whirlwind of, um, lying around. I kept myself occupied (so to speak) by eating well, toasting marshmallows, and relaxing on a hammock. Oh, how I covet the hammock. Alongside his siblings, JG and I had our first experience with the Wii and I was completely unsurprised to find that it exposed my utter lack of coordination and depth perception. I was satisfied with cheering people on and taking fuzzy action shots. All in all, I couldn’t complain. We’re still working through the awkwardness inherent in having parents who are not used to having children who happen to be adults – or is that just weirdness that we have?

On Monday, we went to a friend’s house for a cookout, where there were hardcore games of badminton and quoits, mounds of yummy food, and a sweet border collie that I petted voluntarily. Reward, please! Despite a heavily humid morning, the soggy air cleared to reveal a gorgeous afternoon and an almost-full moon. JG hovered around the grill to show our host how to make “killer grill marks” and I brought a dessert called Berrymisú – a sweet combination of white cake, mixed berries, and whipped cream. It was appropriately red, white, and blue for a patriotic holiday but it was eaten so quickly that I have no photographic proof. I’ll have to keep that recipe around.

Dare I go there? All right, I will. I did, indeed, have a memorial weekend.

(Oh, that was pretty bad. I’m groaning with you.)

Friday, May 25, 2007

An Early Start

I didn’t mean to, but I’ve taken today off from work. (Woo!) See, I had every intention of working from home in the morning before JG and I leave for the weekend, but my laptop decided that it didn’t like our wireless network. It also didn’t like being connected via Ethernet cord. After some trial and error, I realized that my computer didn’t like to connect to anything that was not the docking station at my desk at the office. Which totally defeats the purpose of having a laptop. Argh.

Resigned, I submitted my helpdesk ticket to the tech team and turned in a revised time off form. In the end, I think it’s for the best for my sanity. This computer glitch gave me a four-day weekend and a whole morning to do laundry and prep what I needed for the weekend, and that’s always nice. I tend to be a miser when it comes to vacation hours, so this is probably a good exercise in not having control, even if makes me twitch.

Anyway, JG and I are headed up to Jersey this afternoon to spend the next few days with his family for the Memorial Day weekend. There will be grilling, hiking, and lying by the pool, and we’re coming home in time for a cookout with friends on Monday, so I believe we will have done our civic, American duty by reaching – nay – exceeding our fun quota. Booyah.

Happy Memorial Day! Best wishes for cool beverages and hot grills!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Finding the Right Words

I love to receive cards in the mail and I am incredibly picky about choosing them for others. For standard holidays or birthdays, I start hunting very early, in several stores, to make sure I find the best one for the person in mind. If I find one that’s perfect, but out of season, I stash it in a hiding place for a future appearance. There’s a sense of accomplishment that comes with finding the best card that fits my aesthetic demands and contains an appropriate greeting, with bonus points for color coordination with wrapping paper.

Sometimes, sniffing out the right card is really difficult. Purported humorous cards usually aren’t and I refuse to buy anything that blasts a song at me like a handheld MySpace page. My least favorite cards usually involve many layers to open up, piles of glitter, or a 20-line poem dripping with sap. I automatically reject cards on the basis of Too Many Words.

This week, I faced my biggest card-searching challenge: the sympathy card. The father of our college friend passed away very suddenly and unexpectedly, while at his son’s college graduation weekend. Our friend is getting married in two months and the whole situation is just indescribably sad. They don’t make cards with that much sympathy.

Instead, I have to choose from sanctimonious, preachy cardboard rectangles with watercolor images of lilies and butterflies, reassuring us that memories live on forever. Is my friend supposed to feel better by seeing curly script in the form of, “You’re not alone,” even if she feels like she’s alone? I need the card that says, “I’m so sorry and I know there’s nothing I can say that will be right, but I’m going to hope that saying something will help, even just a little bit.” Unfortunately, that one wouldn’t sell so well next to the card depicting a calming ocean scene.

Finally, I found a simple blue card that read, “Caring thoughts of sympathy are with you now.” Oh, relief. In times when words fall so short of the occasion, it’s not about the number of feel-good phrases or pretty packaging. I just wanted a place where I can write a line to let our friend know that we’re thinking about her. I’m glad that it’ll be on its way tomorrow morning.

Monday, May 21, 2007

The Plot Thickens

As if a weekend of fun with friends and ant massacre weren’t enough, I have set aside what I think is the most intriguing part. You see, there has been a proposal to amend the Dog Agreement.

It all started when I began petitioning to add Walter to our list of potential dog names. JG is against this name-listing because he is a firm believer that one can’t name a dog without seeing it first. I can understand that logic, but it doesn’t hurt to have a few names up my sleeve just in case. Am I right? Of course, I am.

I love Walter as a dog name because I think it can be good for any type. It conjures up all sorts of mental images for me: sensitive, literary Walter from Rilla of Ingleside; Walt Whitman; and – er – Walter Cronkite. Much to my chagrin, JG thinks that Walter is “only for a dumb, dopey dog, like a Basset hound.” What! So I started lobbying, only to find that the crowd was pretty evenly split along pro- and anti-Walter lines. Hmph.

On Sunday morning, JG and I were talking about our eventual dog ownership and the merits of certain names when he turned to me suddenly and said, “Would you agree to get a dog this year if I let you name the dog anything you want?”

I was stunned into silence.

“I could name it anything I want?”

“Well, I trust that you won’t name it anything stupid, like Mrs. Puffball.”

“Hey, that can be shortened to Puffy. Or Diddy, whichever we like better.”

During our discussion of the terms of this new proposal, we agreed verbally that all of the clauses from the original agreement would still be in place except the first, which required JG to finish his master’s degree before getting the dog. The new timeline would land the dog at our house in the July-ish realm. In practical matters, I conceded that I could handle feeding and a daily walk. JG agreed to buy a designated dog blanket for the couch (so as to minimize the shedding situation) and to refrain from holding this naming privilege over my head in the future. Baths and doctor visits would be shared responsibilities.

Normally, I wave off (the constant) pleas to get a dog sooner, but JG has thrown out a surprisingly large bargaining chip in giving up the ultimate naming power. I am not sure what my next move will be.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Weekend Wrap-Up

Friends of ours held their first bonfire of the spring season and JG and I attended rather reluctantly because we were kind of tuckered out (I think that’s what they call being old) and we thought there would be a whole gang of people. As it turned out, it was just us and the hosts, so we had a relaxing night of toasting marshmallows, eating s’mores, and playing with the border collie that decided to hang out with us. The night smelled like summer camp and freshly-cut grass. It was great.

- - -

I went to a purported “spectacular” yard sale on Saturday morning and the event was rather falsely advertised, in my opinion. Among the scattered random junk, I found a solid wood end table that did not boast a price tag, so I hunted down the owner, who I found to be a rather gruff older lady.

RA: How much are you asking for this end table?
Owner: Oh, no price tag? $5?
RA: I’ll take it!
Owner: Oh, I should have asked for more than that. $10!
RA: I’ll give you $5.
Owner: There’s another one for sale in the house, you know.
RA: Really! I’ll take the two for $10, then.
Owner: The two will be $15 together.
RA: But two for $10 is the same as your original price.
Owner: Fine, $5 for the first and $10 for the second!

At that point, I had a feeling we were entering the twilight zone and I gave up on it. Who the heck raises a price at a yard sale?

- - -

Our house seems to be under the 2nd Annual Ant Siege and, judging from other folks, we’re not the only ones who have had to deal with it, as if that’s any consolation. Ugh. Having grown up in the middle of the woods, I used to think that I could handle any level of ant infestation, but now that the little soldiers have marched their way into our dishwasher, the creep factor has risen considerably. JG has officially declared war on the ants, but I wish they’d get the message and die already.

- - -

JG and I got to hang out with two of our best friends (here, on either side of me) at our house for Saturday and Sunday and the four of us had so much fun. It’s not that we went out and did a lot of stuff or had a crazy time, but because we only get to see them a few times a year, we take advantage of the time to just catch up on life and rehash all of the old inside jokes. Good times.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Knowing My Limits

Yesterday, I received a fat envelope in the mail with photos from our vacation, all ready to be preserved for posterity.

I imagine that I could be a pretty good scrapbooker. I like doing graphic design-type things, I have a penchant for pretty paper, and I can be crafty if I put my mind to it. I think I would like accumulating all of those fanciful sticker-things, hole-puncher gadgets, and acid-free pens in all colors of the rainbow. I certainly enjoy the end product.

There’s just one problem: I really hate being behind.

Maybe I’m oversimplifying, but it seems to me that scrapbooking is an exercise of endless catching up. There’s nothing you can do ahead of time because you have to see how the pictures turn out. I just couldn’t deal with that.

So, this weekend, I’m putting my photos into a regular photo album. Maybe it’s not as glamorous or whimsical as a scrapbook, but I can stay on top of the flow of pictures much more easily. Plus, I like the fact that people sit through my commentary since I don’t write convenient captions in the margins. I do, however, fire up my handy-dandy label-maker to make labels for whole events. I can’t go completely without gadgets, can I?

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Our Standing Date

Tonight was sad and momentous. Tonight, JG and I watched the series finale of Gilmore Girls.

I know that the show has its enemies. Some can’t stand the rapid banter, the goody-two-shoes daughter, or the unlimited spending power of a single mother. I know this last season has lagged in action and sensible flow, but I stuck with it because I loved the characters and I cared about what happened to them. At the risk of sounding pathetic, Gilmore Girls was more than a television show to me; it was a commitment. It meant -

  • Rushing home from lab to watch with my roommate during freshman year
  • Debating whether Dean or Jess was better or worse for Rory
  • Glorying at the fast-paced conversation
  • Wondering how Lorelai and Rory ate so terribly and stayed so darn thin
  • Nodding at how Mrs. Kim was the summation of every overbearing Asian mother I had the pleasure of meeting
  • Commiserating with Lane because she was nervous about dating a white boy, nice as he might be
  • Setting a tape (yes, an actual VHS tape) if I had to miss an episode for whatever reason
  • Cheering for Luke and Lorelai, moaning at every time they just didn’t work out
  • Wishing I could live in Stars Hollow and eat at Luke’s diner

But most of all, Gilmore Girls means watching it with JG. He’d like our friends to believe that he simply tolerates watching this show with me, but the truth is that he really enjoys it. Originally, Gilmore Girls was my show, but over time, the show’s charm won him over. JG holds his own in arguments about whether Logan was a good guy for Rory, even if I staunchly hold that Marty (a.k.a. the Naked Guy) was really the best choice. JG is a prime Gilmore Girls buddy and I love our standing date at 8pm on Tuesday nights.

My favorite part of watching with JG would take place in the first few minutes. I’d snuggle up next to JG and he and I would sing the theme song together. I cant help but smile when the tune comes to mind. Gilmore Girls, I’ll miss you, but I’ll miss singing that theme song even more.

If you’re out on the road,
Feeling lonely and so cold,
All you have to do is call my name,
And I’ll be there on the next train.
Where you lead, I will follow
Anywhere that you tell me to.
If you need me to be with you,
I will follow where you lead.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Super Saturday

This weekend rocked.

It’s a strange thing for me to say. Usually, the two days fly by without so much of a “how do you do” and then the workweek smacks me in the face. JG and I were really busy on Saturday, but it was full of things we wanted to do instead of things we had to do. Instead of doing chores, mowing the lawn, or catching up on bills, we actually did fun things! For once, I’m ready for Monday.

A few weeks at the climbing gym has made JG and me lean, mean climbing machines. We’re not sore to the point of paralysis anymore! However, our friends, who came with us and had never gone before, were a different story…

Dinner out
After climbing, a group of us went out for dinner at a local restaurant that has a giant menu and correspondingly large portions. We rolled out of there after collectively consuming onion rings, French fries, a table-sized stromboli, and sundry other entrees. It was fabulous.

Book club
I ran to my book club meeting as soon as we got home for dinner. We were discussing Life of Pi, so everyone brought pie! Not one to miss a nerdy opportunity, I made an encore presentation of pi-shaped cookies and an accompanying pi-shaped cheese dip! The pictures came out all scary and pasty-looking (how attractive can a cheese dip be?), so you’ll have to take my word for it.

Late-night showing of Spider-Man 3
After I raced home from book club, JG and I met friends at a 10:15 showing of the new Spider-Man movie. There were two guys in the row in front of us who talked constantly. How can you possibly have endless commentary on everything that is going on? Apparently, they were riveted during the previews, but the movie was either completely confusing or boring. I tapped on one of the guy’s seats and said firmly, “Excuse me, could you please be quiet?” and then interrupted his response of, “Excuse me, but mind your own business,” with a sharp, “Thank you.” Ugh. People. And I wasn’t even impressed with the movie. Boo.

When JG and I got home, we both observed that we haven’t seen the 1am hour in a very long time and just about fell into bed. Forgive me if that makes us seem lame, but … well, what can I say? Party on, I guess.

Thursday, May 10, 2007


My office is on the second floor of a three-story complex with a variety businesses, so it’s common to hear the goings-on of surrounding units. Today, though, is different.

I hear a sound that I think would sound like a big man rolling giant metal gears over a coarse gravel driveway. Or maybe it’s an army tank clanking with a lot of loose parts as it drives across a field of scrap metal. When that noise stops, it’s replaced by the sound of an enormous rocking chair, squeaking all the while. Occasionally, there’s the sound of a super-sized socket wrench. There is creaking and thudding, which wouldn’t be so bad on its own if it were not for the accompanying shaking and movement. My desk is unsteady and my eyes are struggling to focus on a trembling monitor.

Maybe the suite below us is doing construction. I think I saw a new storefront down there, so that would make sense. In that case, the distracting noise and shaking is temporary, right?

A co-worker just took a walk to investigate and he reports that the noise is coming from a new martial arts studio. Apparently, there are three giant punching bags and correspondingly giant guys who are getting good use of them as I type here.

And that means the noise, vibration, et al, are not temporary.


Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Honorary Tech Team Member

(Alternate Title: Why I Have Flowers on My Desk)

Among the host of frustrations that made last week a struggle, the greatest involved walking in to the office on Wednesday to find that we had no connectivity. That meant no access to e-mail, the server, intranet, or Internet. I don’t exaggerate when I say that my co-workers were essentially paralyzed.

My office is a satellite of a San Francisco-based company, so all of our technology resources are on the west coast. Also, I am the default tech person in my office. It’s not in any way part of my job, but when you work for a small company, you tend to do whatever needs to be done. For me, that usually means troubleshooting network or printer issues and setting up workstations for new hires. Whenever there’s an office tech issue, I’m usually on the phone with the tech guys because they know that I can understand their language and I try to be a quick study. It’s a friendly relationship and I enjoy being an honorary tech person.

So, at 9am Eastern, I found out which tech guy was on duty and reluctantly called his cell phone. From the rustling and murmuring, I could tell that he had been asleep prior to the phone ringing. “I’m so sorry,” I said, “but we don’t have access to anything over here. There is no connectivity.”

He told me to hang on, that he’d check out a few things and call me back.

With a cell phone pressed up against my ear, I stood in an ill-lit closet packed with servers and cords, trying to follow the instructions on unplugging, resetting, logging in, and writing rules. After five hours of troubleshooting, we finally had connectivity, and I was completely exhausted. I downloaded my e-mail and left for home. JG had called to check in on me and after I described the experience as “the worst day ever,” he had a bag of gummy bears waiting for me.

The next day, I came in to work and realized that, yet again, we did not have network access. People streamed out of their offices and asked me what was going on, why there was still a problem. I answered sharply, “I don’t know. I can’t even talk about this right now.”

I got back on the phone.

As it turns out, the previous day’s problem had reoccurred in the San Francisco office, but our configuration was such that the issue affected my office, too. It was small consolation that we didn’t have exactly the same problem – that is, that I didn’t break anything – but, oh, I was tired. Ultimately, we had access back by lunchtime and lost working hours for the week totaled at eight.

Yesterday, the UPS man brought me a surprise package that bloomed into tissue-papery irises in purple and yellow. Every time I look up at them, I notice a new petal uncurling and a fresh bloom exposed. The card reads:

You are our Superhero! We are so grateful – the Tech Team

Because I usually talk with this team about systems requirements, documentation, and software updates, getting a bouquet of flowers from them is simultaneously incongruous and completely flattering. I am so pleased and almost speechless.

I realize now that being so exhausted gave me a mindset based on survival. I’d grit my teeth and think, Must get through the day. But this week, I can look at this gift and be reminded that the effort doesn’t always go unnoticed.

Besides, I think it takes a lot for a tech team to send flowers to a girl. I’m enjoying these while they last.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

My Kennett Square

I know I’ve been silent lately; my brain gears have been spinning too rapidly to form something coherent. I tried four times yesterday, but to no avail. Thankfully, I read a post that prompted me to think about my hometown, which I interpreted as the town in which I live now. The thought exercise shook me out of my funk, so thanks, Janet!

- - -

My Kennett Square, PA

  • Age: 20-something
  • Occupation: Proofreader
  • I lived there for: 1.5 years, so far
  • I lived there because: It’s halfway between JG’s and my jobs, so that’s where we bought our first house
  • My neighborhood: Stenning Hills
  • My favorite restaurant: Half Moon
  • If you go to this restaurant, be sure to order: Definitely the crab nachos. They also have a huge selection of Belgian beers
  • My favorite museum: Brandywine River Museum, even though it’s not technically in Kennett Square
  • My favorite tourist destination: Longwood Gardens, which has way too much prettiness per square foot, especially around Christmas
  • Best insider spot: The Farmers’ Market in the spring and summer
  • My favorite area: State Street, the one-street “downtown” area
  • Best place to go shopping: The Mushroom Cap and The Paper Market
  • When you visit, don’t forget to pack: Good walking shoes for the First Friday Art Strolls
  • But leave room in your suitcase for: Yummy mushroom goods like soup mix or infused olive oil
  • The one local cuisine you should try when you’re in town is: Anything mushroom-centric at a local restaurant like Newton’s or Challie’s
  • The best way to get around: Driving is really the only option, sadly
  • If I had to describe this city in one word, it would be: Quaint
  • I tell my friends to stay at: Our house!
  • The one thing most outsiders don’t know about this city is: If you see mushrooms at your supermarket, there’s a 50% chance that they were grown here or in neighboring small towns.
  • They say “Virginia is for lovers.” So fill in the blank: Kennett Square is for present and future mushroom fans. (And we celebrate at the superfun festival every year!)


Tuesday, May 1, 2007


Sometimes, your husband will ask how your day was and you can say honestly, “Fine, actually.” Sometimes, your brain is so exerted that you have no words for how much you dreaded driving in, how much you wished the day would end. Sometimes, you’re beyond griping or venting because even you’re tired of the story and it doesn’t quite seem fair to subject someone else to it, again. You might plop on the couch and ask for hug, but when the tension of the day washes over you, you can’t help it that your eyes fill with tears and dot your husband’s shirt. Sometimes, you have too many words for how hard the day was and you sting your husband with the barbs you kept inside for eight hours. You try to explain that you’re not mad at him, but it doesn’t feel that way at all.

Sometimes, you savor the time spent with co-workers because they are funny, smart people who are doing their best. Sometimes, a missed appointment here and a snide comment there will make you vacillate between being irritated and irritating. Raw emotions lie just under the surface, just waiting to burst out at the slightest prod. Sometimes, you say things you don’t mean and make faces you don’t intend. You’re mean. You hurt people.

Sometimes, you know what you’re doing for a living is making a difference and that no one could do the job as well as you do. Sometimes, you wonder if you actually like what you’re doing. You visualize something you’d like to do better and ask yourself if it’s really worth it to put yourself back out in the meat market. Sometimes, you think back to that time after college when the job search was more about survival and benefits than a fulfilling career path. You don’t relish retooling your résumé for every job possibility, tracking your application history, being rejected, and sneaking around to interviews.

Sometimes, it’s just easier to stay in a familiar situation, even if it doesn’t make sense anymore. Sometimes, the comfort of the known is so much more desirable than the craggy overhang of the unknown. Sometimes, you prefer your ergonomic desk chair to jumping off into thin air.

Sometimes, you reach the end of your rope.

And then you dust off the résumé.

Sunday, April 29, 2007


I did it again. I left lip balm in my jeans pocket, which normally wouldn’t be a problem, but I washed my jeans and then melted the lip balm to oblivion in the dryer. The annoyance of replacing the lip balm aside, I knew that as soon as I found the empty tube, I would have dark spots of melted balminess on my clothing. And because I make this mistake so often, I also knew with dread certainty that those spots would never come out.


A strange Spartan attitude took over my usual packrat mode and I tossed half a dozen shirts into the trash can after finding telltale lip balm spots. I wasn’t going to wear them because of the dark spots, so there was no use in keeping them. Then my thoughts wandered to my dresser, which was busting at the seams with clothing I know I pass by every morning. I only have so many outfits that I swap out for work, so there was no reason for me to be unable to shut the drawers on a regular basis. The latest episode of melted lip balm was the straw that broke the camel’s back: I was weeding out my wardrobe.

I splayed the contents of my bottom dresser drawers on the bed and dropped items into the Goodwill bag without a second thought. That tank top is too low, I don’t wear things with bows anymore, I shrunk that in the wash, etc. I added every button-down shirt I own because, by some strange phenomenon, my arms look like sausages in the sleeves, but I am pretty certain that my arms are not my biggest fat problem. Whatever – I didn’t wear them at all last season. I was emboldened by the growing stack of items in the bag. Look at me! I’m not being all sentimental about my clothing! I’m not like those loonies on What Not to Wear!

And then I saw that my real problem was not tank tops or bows or shrinkage. My real problem was Free T-shirts. Cue ominous music.

If such a thing existed, I would qualify for Free Stuff Anonymous. A radio commercial back in the day featured a commentator saying, “Free is my favorite price. It’s my favorite flavor. It’s my favorite color. It’s always my size.” Oh, how I related. My penchant for not paying for things resulted in an overwhelming collection of t-shirts in varying degrees of bagginess and requisite obnoxious logos. I separated the lot into four major categories:

  • College: bright blue or gold, usually with a picture of a chicken
  • Summer Camp: various campfire or mountainous silk-screened designs
  • Rock Climbing: logo-covered prizes from competitions = human billboard
  • Sentimental: gifts, inside jokes, or otherwise unexplainable to outside parties

I was aghast at the sight of the leaning tower of t-shirts. How many shirts does one person need, anyway?

Though it pained me, I slowly sorted through the stack with my newly-minted Spartan mindset. I only wear college shirts to football games, so three will suffice. I only wear camp shirts in the summer, so I only need two. Only one climbing shirt is small enough to wear in public, but I couldn’t give up any of the sentimental ones. Stacy and Clinton would be shaking their disapproving heads at me.

There is a bright side to all of this separation anxiety. After gazing at my beloved shirts forlornly, I hopped up to e-mail my mother-in-law, which I know is sort of a weird reflex. See, she made quilts for all three of her children out of childhood shirts and they had them for freshman year at college. JG’s quilt is in our living room and I use it all the time, so I asked if she would mind rescuing my shirts. She wrote back right away to say that she was “thrilled to do it,” as long as I didn’t impose a time constraint. JG snorted and said, “Yeah, I hope you don’t mind waiting for five years.”

It’s fine with me! I know I’ll get them back in quilt-form eventually, and in the meantime, I have more drawer space for new clothes…

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Climb Time

After a summer of belaying for high-ropes courses, JG and I went climbing all the time in college. There was a tiny (but free!) gym made out of a converted racquetball court at the fitness center and we went at least twice a week. Slowly, we got better and became friends with the regulars and the staff. JG earned a nickname, “Gigantor,” and we were easily recognizable because of our extreme difference in height. It was a workout that didn’t feel like one and I loved it.

And then we graduated. Rock gyms cost money and getting to them cost time. After the demands on the daily routine, the climbing gear stayed in a dark closet, unused. Every so often, JG and I would look at each other and say, “We should really get out there.” But we never did.

Last week, a friend of ours called up. “They just opened a new gym in Coatesville! Come check it out with me!” JG took him up on it when I was in L.A. and brought home rave reviews, so we went together on Tuesday night.

It was the first time I’d gone climbing in more than two years and I could feel it. My hands were unaccustomed to the dryness of chalky hands and my forearms were confused about the sudden strain. I was pleased to find that my body still remembered the odd configurations that climbing demands, even if my strength was not up to par. I climbed several easy routes and reminded myself how to belay, but JG and our friend did most of the climbing. The fact that I tired so easily was just motivation to get back to my former self.

Unlike other gyms I’ve tried in the area, this one had other workout equipment. When my hands were too raw to hold on any longer, I surprised myself by walking on a treadmill for 20 minutes, and following it up with 7 minutes of running. Running! Which I normally view as cruel torture! I could barely walk down the steps without falling, but I felt like I had really done something good for myself. I heart endorphins! We both joined the gym that night.

One of our friends, a gym teacher and all-around healthy guy, always says that after a hard workout, the second day is the worst. Today is the second day and I believe him. My forearms hurt so much this morning that I had a hard time gripping my steering wheel. I could hardly jog up my one flight of stairs. It’s as though I can hear my body creak.

Tomorrow night, JG and I are hitting up the gym again. Wish me luck.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Chaos and Star Treatment

Yesterday was just one of those days when everything started later than it should have and took longer than was reasonable. I was constantly behind, never catching my footing. JG was excited to fire up the grill for the first time of the season and I had the best of intentions to have tossed and pasta salads ready by the time JG got home from his night class. However, my plans were dashed to pieces when he called to say he was leaving school and I was still in the check-out line at the supermarket. Once home, my grocery bags broke in the kitchen, I couldn’t find a matching pair of flip-flops in my dark closet, and I dropped an egg while I tried to make brownies. JG found me making a ruckus as I washed dishes; I was not friendly at all. I know I get way too frustrated when small things go wrong, but when it seems like nothing goes right, it’s more than I can handle gracefully. I went on to burn the French fries and turn a pot of pasta into overcooked mush; much to my chagrin, I had to toss out all of that food. In what turned out to be slight consolation, JG accidentally over-parsleyed the pasta salad so that it tasted of burning. And then he made me a cosmo.

Good man.


From the department of More Interesting Things, I offer what I would have written upon my return home on Saturday had I not been A) so freaking exhausted, B) busy making chili and/or C) running the combo chili cook-off/square dance that evening. My chili tied for 2nd place and then I proceeded to sleep for over twelve hours on Sunday.

- - -

On Tuesday, the staff of my small organization was set to meet for an all-hands dinner, but my immediate team met for happy hour a bit earlier. (I ordered a lemon drop before I realized that the special that day was 2-for-1 and I had two yummy martinis sitting in front of me without warning. Needless to say, I tried to avoid talking and standing up.) I looked up and saw a girl walking to the restaurant next door on the arm of a short-ish guy. “Hey,” I whispered to my neighbor, “That girl really looks like Hillary Swank.” She looked at me and said flatly, “That is Hillary Swank, RA.”


The rest of my table craned and whispered, “Why didn’t you say anything?!” I didn’t even realize it was her until it was too late! Conveniently, we were sitting on the patio, so we staked out Hillary and her date (her agent, we wondered?) until they came out again. Cue more whispering and gasping.

Then, on Saturday morning, I was standing at baggage claim in Philly with a few of my officemates when I spied a small woman across the way with red hair. I looked once. Twice. I nudged my nearest co-worker and said dubiously, “Is that Kathy Griffin?”

“Oh, my gosh, yes. Let’s get a picture with her!”

“Uh, would you want your picture taken with random crazy people after a red-eye?”

“She’s probably used to it! She’d probably like it because she’s so D-list.”

“I’m not doing it.”

“Fine. We’ll just stand here and stare, then.”

And we did. Not as glamorous as Hillary Swank, maybe, but it brought my celebrity sighting count up to a big TWO! I call that a successful L.A. trip!

- - -

I booked a shuttle to and from the airport for this trip and I relish the luxurious rides in town cars. The ground transportation person called my name and I walked out to meet the driver … who was standing next to a white stretch limo. What in the world!

And so, on my way home from my trip to Hollywood, I rode all alone in a limousine. I sat across from empty decanters, tiny television screens, and wine glasses in their own holders. I put my feet up on the seat stretched before me and watched where I had been through the back windshield. I saw people’s eyes linger on the car, just as mine usually do, and I realized that I could see them, but they couldn’t see me. It was very surreal. And very L.A.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Summing Up

  • The conference is over.
  • My feet hurt.
  • My suitcase is packed.
  • My flight back home leaves in six hours.
  • I didn’t ever get to In-n-Out.
  • I’ll get home at 7am.
  • JG will be a sight for sore eyes.
  • I’ll crash for two hours of sleep before getting up to run an event for my church.

And then sleep, sweet sleep.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

From the Other Coast

Somewhere between bouncing back from vacation, reorienting myself to working, and preparing to leave town again, I completely forgot to mention that I was flying across the country. I’m in Los Angeles for a conference for work, so I’ll be surprised if I’ll get a chance to set foot on Rodeo Drive and window shop. This week will consist of suits, schmoozing, and shaking hands; in short, a whole lot of fun. Rolling my eyes.

I got a call from one of my co-workers last night, informing me that our flight was leaving at 8:30am the next day. This call wouldn’t have startled me so much, except that the flight was originally scheduled to depart at 10am. And I hadn’t packed yet. And I was covered in bread flour. I had to reschedule my shuttle pick-up for 5:45am – Heaven, help me – and I raced around to pack since I actually had to get to bed at a decent hour. Although I had interpreted the flight change as a bad omen for the week, I made it to my flight with plenty of time to eat breakfast and I managed to sleep during 4 out of the 5.5 hours on the plane. After a yummy lunch, I’m settling into my hotel room and steaming out wrinkles from my clothes. Oh, the glamorous life of a business traveler.

The major up side to being out here is that I have three whole evenings available for dinners out with my co-workers, so I’m trolling for restaurant recommendations. I did zero research before coming out here because I knew I’d be holed up in a conference center for 12 hours straight, but I forgot about dinners. What food is indigenous to Los Angeles? A girl’s got to eat, you know.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Try Saying, "Hi"

The church JG and I attend is new and small and meets in another church’s building for Sunday service. Today, a member of the other church, a man with whom I am not acquainted, approached me and I expected a normal, good-natured conversation. Instead, I got the following (my gut reactions italicized):

He: So… is your family Vietnamese?
I: (What in the world? Oh, he’s just asking what my background is.) Uh, no, my family is Chinese.
He: Oh, sorry, my mistake.
I: (Ooh, he feels bad. Just make light of it and be nice.) Don’t worry, I can’t tell the difference sometimes.
He: If you had been Vietnamese, I would have been able to talk to you.
I: (Um, because we’re not talking right now?) Oh.
He: Well, have a nice day.

With that, the man ambled off. I guess we’re done now, I thought.

Admittedly, this episode does not come close to the ignorance displayed by the Rice Knowledge Woman, but I’m obliged to raise my eyebrow in a general expression of, “What the heck just happened here?” Besides the obvious fact that asking someone about ethnic background this bluntly is awkward and generally inappropriate, I have three major objections to the conversation.

First, I hate how I feel obligated to maintain my composure when I’m caught in these circumstances. Why is it my role to be sensitive to people’s ignorance and lack of common courtesy when it comes to race? Why can’t I just lash out with some zinger? (“I think all you middle-aged, pot-bellied, white guys look the same, too.”) Oh, right. I’m supposed to be a docile, Asian girl who giggles behind her hand and wears chopsticks in her hair.

Although this conversation did not include this pet peeve explicitly, I always become irritated when people are surprised that I don’t speak Chinese. I was born in America! Where we speak English! I was an English major, for goodness’ sake! I hardly expect to meet a third-generation European-American who speaks Italian or French or whatever, but I don’t exclaim, “Oh, really? That’s a shame! Why didn’t you try to pick it up?”

Last, but certainly not least - why didn’t this man even introduce himself? I think I may have been a little less startled if the conversation had started out with something like: “Hi, I’m Joe. I learned some Vietnamese back in the day and I was wondering what your background is.” I imagine that the interaction would have been strange nonetheless, but I think it may have felt better with a different lead-in.

I don’t mind being asked about my ethnicity, but the question is so often posed in such a coarse manner that I am completely turned off. To this man, I was no more than an Asian face. I wasn’t a person he thought to address directly and that bothers me most of all.

Here’s a little tip for those who might be interested in others’ ethnicities: To break the ice, try saying, “Hi.” It’s kind of like speaking to any other person.