Thursday, June 29, 2006

gone are the lazy days of summer

Nostalgia has a way of slipping in without warning when the days are long, the heat is high and children in swimsuits trigger daydreams of youth. I don't mean youth as in missing my 20's (which I sometimes do) or the teen years (which I never do), I mean those glorious years when summer meant no school, no schedule, no structure, no homework for three whole months. Endless days filled with bike ride adventures and frequent trips to the local swimming pool. When the sounds of an ice-cream truck sent you scrambling inside to beg for some coins for a fudgecicle. Summer days when a swimming suit was put on as soon as you woke up and not removed until a parent forced you to remove it to bathe and go to bed.

One specific summer swimming incident springs to mind:

I was nine or ten. My family belonged to the Sports Club which had a pool but the Alta Canyon sports center had just opened where Highland Drive ended and everyone went there, so we begged to go too. These were the outer limits of Sandy at that time, everything beyond was literally sand dunes with this public pool at the entrance. My siblings and I loved swimming. We could (and did) spend hours at the pool playing Marco Polo, doing hand stands or surfing on my dad's back as he crawled along the bottom of the pool. The one luxury my parents consistently indulged in throughout my childhood no matter where we lived was a local pool membership. Perhaps it saved my mother's sanity during the long, hot summer months without school to give her a respite.

When I needed a break from swimming and games in the pool I would jump out of the side and pad back to where my mom was trying to relax with a book trailing wet footprints missing a middle behind me - my arches are so high only the toes, ball and heel of my foot touch the ground unless I roll my foot to the edge. My mom would hold out a beach towel (mine had popsicles on it) in response to my clattering teeth to clear away the goose bumps that were making my bleached arm hairs stand on end atop my browning skin. Sometimes, if it wasn't too breezy I shunned the towel in favor of lying on my stomach on the hot cement, hands pressed firmly at my sides, one cheek against the cement as rivulets of water darkened the sidewalk beneath me. I would shiver and continue to chatter until the sun's rays soaked up the excess pool water. The smell of chlorine and sunscreen mingling with the dusty smell of the cement. I'd squeeze my eyes shut and ball my fists, willing my body to warm up before I ever so carefully lifted my body off the cement to observe the wet impression my body left behind which was quickly being erased in the heat. My odd footprints had already evaporated. Then I would dash back to the pool in the half speed walk/run children create to avoid the life guard's glare and jump back in the pool to see how big my splash was.

On one of those beautiful pool days at Alta Canyon, I decided I needed to jump off the diving board. I swam the width of the deep end to show the life guard I could swim and then scaled the ladder to attempt not just the regular diving board but the high board. I was nervous but trembling with excited anticipation as I stood in line with a puddle forming beneath me wondering if I could really jump off the high dive for the first time. This was the pool everyone in my school went to and on this particular day there were many, many kids I knew.

I faked confidence and scaled the ladder, my heart beating faster as I pushed past each rung. At the top I walked to the edge, grabbed my nose, squeezed my eyes shut and stepped off the end of the board. I was falling, falling, falling - for so very long - until SPLASH! I entered the water and felt my toes touch the bottom of the deep end. I pushed off and kicked my way to the surface. As I bobbed out of the water I wiped my face and looked around to see who had observed my brave jump from such heights. My near-sightedness prevented me from focusing on my mother's face. But wait, some of those faces I could make out looked a little horrified. And were those fingers pointing at me? Are they laughing at me? I did everything right. I didn't belly flop a failed dive, I just slid into the water feet first, I don't even think I made much of a splash.

Then, as I started to swim to the ladder, to my extreme horror, I noticed my swimming suit was no longer fully attached to my scrawny, pre-teen body. The strings that were supposed to be tied firmly behind my neck were floating with the top half of my one piece on the surface of the water in front of me. I dunked back under the water to hide what I was sure was my scandolous nakedness (I had, after all recently started wearing a bra because that's what you wear in 5th grade, even if it isn't needed) and madly scrambled to re-tie the errant strings in a near-choking knot. Meanwhile, the life guard was yelling at me to get out of the way of the next diver and was I'm sure wondering if he would have to climb off his throne to save me, having surely missed or not cared about this little girls wardrobe malfunction.

I'm sure there were tears mixed with pool water as I ran to my mother who claimed to not have noticed a thing and promised no one else saw the incident either. I didn't own another swimming suit with ties until the string bikini of 2002 - which will stay in the storage tub under my bed until I lose 15 pounds or throw it away.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

make a wish

the lights went off, the singing started and two trays of cupcakes with far too many candles approached. Someone yelled "make a wish" as I closed my eyes, sucked in as much air as my asthmatic lungs would allow and blew as hard as I could across the first tray of far too spaced out candles as another onlooker advised me against spitting on the cupcakes. . . I ran out of air. There had to be nearly 40 candles and I maybe got 20 in one puff. Maybe the rule should be you are only the age of the number of candles you can blow out on the first attempt. Maybe I hit 25.

My failure to extinguish 31 candles (plus the others that were for "good luck") in a single blow means my wish won't come true. But what happens if I got caught up in the moment and forgot to make a wish? I know what the wish would have been, what it should have been and what it always is. It is the same wish I trot out upon seeing a single star twinkling in the sky, the first star I see at night - when I manage to look up past the neon lights, past the skyscrapers and find a little strip of sky with a star (not a plane) strong enough to stare back. It is the same wish I repeat without thought when I read some silly email forward that promises me my wish will come true if I just answer their very serious questions honestly and pass the email to my 20 closest friends. The same wish that creeps to the forefront of my mind and tugs at my heart, unnecessarily reminding me it is still there even when I don't have so much as a wayward eyelash to wish upon. Waiting. Hoping one day to move out of the closed-off, heavily guarded area at the back of my mind reserved for secret hopes and fantastic dreams to settle into the open forefront where sunshine and laughter will welcome the wish into reality.

I just failed to think it. I forgot to make my worn-out wish.

So maybe my failure to take a moment to aritculate the tired, over used wish means this is the year it will come true because I forgot to spring it from the lock-box, dust it off and use another set of candles to help my wish along. Maybe a forgotten star is already working on the wish and it has slipped out of the box without my noticing.

************************************************************************

I wore a new dress to church today. A fantastic 40s style brown and green dress with ridiculously high heels that required a spare set of flip-flops in my purse. I felt amazing. I received compliments on the dress, the party and was told happy birthday several times. My confidence was high.

As I was sitting listlessly in Sunday School with only half an ear to the teacher, the other listening to my own internal dialogue, I saw him walk into the room. Ours eyes met, I glanced down. The rest of class I was distracted as I tried to sneak peeks across the large room to see if I could surreptitiously examine his (and this is no exageration) chisled face in the light of day. Too many people in the way, heads constantly blocking his.

I last saw him at 2 am in my poorly-lit elevator as he was among the last to leave my party. Of course I noticed him then too but it was dark, there were others he seemed to possibly be interested in. Or was he? We did exchange some saucy comments not necessarily repeatable in sunday school. I did tell a group (of which he was a part) I once told my mother I would start having sex when I turned 30 (I didn't mention the AGAIN part). He played along. He has some spirit. I didn't hope for him. I assumed he was young, assumed he was taken, assumed he was temporary.

I walked into the chapel and he was sitting alone on a side bench. I started to sit one place and then resolutely walked to the other end of the chapel to talk to him. To be reminded of his name - Zach or Zack or Zac, I think I like Zach. We made small talk, then I selected my usual bench which happened to be close enough to examine him from behind but from the side, so more than just the back of his head. It happened too often to be dismissed. He was sitting against the wall so he was turned just enough to look at me. And he did. I caught him, several times. I needed to talk to him again.

Meanwhile, a friend entertained me with an article from the Ensign called "Dating: 'He Says,' 'She Says'". We laughed about it through much of the meeting. Helping singles, understanding singles and fixing singles seem to be the new hot topics on which to write these days in the Church. Some of my favorite "He Says" advice: "Guys need a solid hint," "a brush on the arm or a pat on the shoulder often catches men's attention." I know these things. I've used them before but it has been so long since I found a worthy target I may have forgotten. Lucky for me I had some encouraging looks throughout sacrament meeting and some reminder tips from the Ensign (although most of the article I find a bit ridiculous, especially what the girls have to say). I decided to encourage him, but I approached him once already, I couldn't do it again.

So I lingered . . . I talked to friends. Positioned myself. Made myself accessible. It worked. He approached me before he left and we talked some more. I discovered he is a graphic designer and is 27 (a respectable datable age). He also told me he liked my dress because it matches my eyes - I nearly swooned. I had the 3 inch heels on and he was still taller so he must be 6'1'' or 2". I managed to touch him on the arm at one point and maybe tugged at his tie, it is all a bit of a blur. There was a definite spark. Real, undeniable chemistry.

The bad news, no numbers or emails were exchanged. I will be out of town next Sunday so I have no idea when or how I will find him again. He is in temporary housing and may not be in the ward permanently. But I am counting on that spark to bring us back together. Best damn spark I've seen in ages!

************************************************************************

Maybe unmade wishes can come true even if you don't blow out all the candles.

I LOVE cupcakes!

Saturday, June 24, 2006

painless

Relatively painless date. Sushi dinner, only a couple of awkward silences, only walked me part way home and I was home before 10!

But the best part of the night was the belated birthday package from Emily waiting with my doorman that allowed me my favorite Friday night activity: a movie with popcorn and peanut m&ms. Thanks Em!


oh, and I had a celebrity sighting - either Charlie O'Connell (the Bachelor guy from a few years ago) or his actor brother Jerry O'Connell. One of them. I had to google to find out their names. Whichever one, he was cute.

Friday, June 23, 2006

not a date-girl

I have a date tonight. At 8:45 pm. How ridiculous is that? It is 4 now and I am ready to go home, put on some pjs and watch my latest Netflix movie - Bride and Prejudice - while eating dinner I order off the internet. He wanted to pick me up at some unspecified time and I insisted on meeting him at the restaurant because a) I don't like first dates showing up at my house - awkward; and b) I thought we would meet at a normal time like 8 and I could just run errands and get a pedicure before dinner without going home to be tempted by my couch. I know 45 minutes isn't a lot later but on a Friday night I would rather be dozing on my couch with my leftovers in the fridge at 845 than meeting random guy at a new Asian fusion restaurant in Hell's Kitchen - even though I am interested in trying the restaurant.

I guess by now you, my dear reader, have figured out I am not entirely excited about this date. I was going to try and avoid the date but then he sent that fun email. However, each subsequent email has gotten worse and worse to the point of being irritating, like he's trying too hard. Plus, and this is the worst part, I found out he may or may not be divorced. Meaning, he definitely was married but it is questionable whether or not the divorce has been finalized. My friend who handed my number over to him is "pretty sure" the divorce is final and knows he is anxious to get married again. This sounds terrible to me. As a divorcee, I must say much like newly returned missionaries, the newly divorced are an odd lot. They are needy and anxious and are in far too much of a hurry to fill the void their ex-spouse has left. They are also in great need of loads of counseling which they tend to seek from random passers-by, including dates. I understand. I was there, for years. But in order for me to want to endure that emotional hurdle, I would have to have a strong attraction to the guy. The kind of attraction I cannot manufacture here, at all.

So here I am, a few hours away from a date - a novelty I rarely experience - already trying to figure out how to avoid going out with the guy again. You see, I never really learned the fine art of dating so I usually view them as traps. I've had many, many boyfriends (I'm not bragging here, just stating a fact that is mostly due to the great length of time I have been single, besides most of them were bunched up in the 90s, this new millenium thing hasn't treated me as well) but I have done very little dating. In fact, very few of my past boyfriends ever started with a date. I don't know how I slipped through the cracks and never learned how to date - it just happened. I am just not a date-girl. As a result I have never been what I like to call the "flavor of the month." You know, the cute, perky girl every guy in the ward asks out. These are the girls that get confused by the fact that they will go through long periods without a date (say a month) and then suddenly 2 or 3 guys ask them out at once. They are flavor of the month date girls. They are sweet and nice and adoring so Date-Boys like to ask them out. Date-boys are generally BYU grads who have mastered the skill of creative dating. I wish I had some examples but I've only heard second-hand accounts of these activities so I view them mostly as mythical happenings. Although I once had a date-boy boyfriend. He was frustrated by my lack of interest in dating and I was frustrated by his interest in dating. I blame my early years for this gap.

In high school I managed to convince myself that people only went on dates to dances or maybe if they had a boyfriend already. I don't believe I ever saw dating as a means to obtaining a boyfriend. I remember once a guy friend of mine invited me to a high school football game and I thought it was a date until I had to pay for my own ticket. Never again did I assume. Of course the handful of actual dates I went on in high school generally either involved going to a dance or was with some undesirable guy who had already claimed me as his girlfriend by forcing some pretty gross kissing on me (honestly, it is a wonder I ever learned to like kissing after Cro-Magnon man shoved his tongue down my throat for my oh, so sweet first kiss in my parents' basement after a Jazz game or after Broken Neck puckered up like he had a whole lemon in his mouth - as an aside to the aside, Cro-Magnon man received his name for sporting a beard in high school which probably explains my aversion to facial hair and Broken Neck is so-named for his inability to lift his head after I broke up with him after 3 dates and he turned into a skin-head).

During most of college (except when I was married) I pretty much had a new boyfriend each quarter but never managed to go on dates when I was between boyfriends and I can't exactly explain how I ended up with each of those boyfriends without ever going on a first date - except for maybe my kiss-a lot-of-frogs philosophy. Although I probably owe a great number of them either directly or indirectly to the SUU rock climbing club. Post-divorce, post-college has resulted in the same pattern. Since I never learned how to date in high school or college I never managed to pick it up later. In fact, since the boys I liked generally magically morphed from guy-I-was-interested-in (or simply guy interested in me) to boyfriend without any awkward first dates, I came to the conclusion that all dates are bad and I am not missing anything by not going on them.

A handful of awkward first dates (most of them blind dates) that thankfully never resulted in second dates have continued to confirm that I do not like dating and as a result I have no sadness or self-pity when I choose to spend Friday night in my pjs, ordering Thai food and watching a movie with popcorn and peanut m&ms. In fact, I find this one of my secret joys of being single. I have never been able to understand the girls who complain about not dating during testimony meeting (most of these I saw at BYU, some at SUU). Lamenting the lack of love in my life, yes (but never from the church pulpit!); a lack of dates, no. I've had my low points and I have a strong desire to meet someone and get married and all of that but I would prefer to get there by avoiding the dating process altogether. Is that really so much to ask for?

Unfortunately tonight, as much as I would like to indulge myself I have to nearly starve myself until 845 to go on what is sure to be the type of endurance dinner where I try to be nice and engaging but not so engaging and interesting that he will want to ask me out again. I have an all too vivid memory of a bad date a couple of years ago that went so poorly I was convinced he would never try and call me (I refused to hold his hand - literally, I told him I didn't want him to hold my hand - and practically jumped out of his car before it was stopped in my driveway). But he tricked me by calling me at work from his unknown work number and asked me out again. I avoided and then he asked me to be direct and I was forced to flat out tell him I was not interested. I felt my whole body temperature rise by about 15 degrees and I started sweating and I wanted to scream to break the tension as soon as I got off the phone. I can't deal with that, I just want the guy to realize this won't work. I will also have to figure out a way to go home straight after dinner (no extra movie or other activity) and not let him walk me home.

And people ask me why I am still single. . .

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Happy Birthday To Me!



Met a few friends in the East Village for Indian at my favorite little spot that after 5 years of memories has vanished! Luckily every restaurant on 6th Street is cheap Indian so we found a substitute - that wasn't as good but filled the void. Then we ventured on to a dessert place I read about called Room 4 Dessert. My chocolate tasting plate is pictured above. YUM! There was chocolate cake with a drizzle of olive oil and salt - sounds strange but was surprisingly good, chocolate air, chocolate mousse with brown sugar and chocolate ice-cream. Photogenic and scrumptious food are my favorite.
Finished the longest day of the year (how many of you can say that about your birthday) with a few phone calls from friends and family and opened a package from my parents - books and dvds, including a beautiful hard bound edition of the complete works of Jane Austen. My mother was surprised I've read all of them. But this one is just for looking pretty and perhaps transferring my favorite highlights from the tattered paperback versions.
Must go to sleep now, very sleep deprived lately. More birthday fun to follow on Saturday!

p.s. a friend sent me an email addressed to "my favorite summer solstice goddess" - how beautiful is that? I think I like being a summer solstice goddess, that should be my new nickname.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Bonnaroo Lists

Bands I Saw/Heard:
  • The Wood Brothers
  • Ben Folds (nearly melted in the sun)
  • G. Love & Special Sauce (due to melting episode used baby to obtain shade)
  • Nickel Creek (only the end)
  • Cat Power and the Memphis Rhythm Band (only the beginning)
  • Death Cab for Cutie
  • Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers with surprise guest Stevie Nicks!
  • Gomez
  • Rusted Root
  • Damian "Jr. Gong" Marley (I really only heard a couple of songs while I waited for the bathrooms)
  • Blues Traveler (but I was anxious to get to Beck so didn't pay much attention)
  • Beck (LOVED THIS SHOW!! even though I had to miss Medeski Martin & Wood for it)
  • Radiohead - SO amazing
  • Mike Doughty's Band
  • Soulive - blew me away, one of the best shows, especially since I squeezed myself up close
  • Bela Fleck & the Flecktones
  • Matisyahu - overrated
  • Rusted Root solo acoustic work
  • Futureman & String Quartet
  • E. Krasno & R. Watts of Soulive - only saw part because I misread the time on the schedule and ended up watching the overrated Matisyahu
  • Phil Lesh & Friends - only what I heard walking back to my tent
Observations:
  • 1 naked man painted red (picture below)
  • 4 or 5 sets of boobs, most of them tatooed and/or pierced and painted
  • pot, lots and lots and lots of pot
  • 1 guy changing his pants
  • far too many guys peeing wherever they felt the urge but this isn't all that different than the streets of NYC
  • 3 requests for weed
  • many other requests or offers I was too naive to understand what they were offering or asking for

Pictorial Bonnaroo










real quick

no time to write about the 20+ amazing bands I saw over the weekend or the hellatious journey home that included an unplanned jaunt through Atlanta and a 2 am arrival rather than a 730 pm arrival in NYC but I do want to share the something that was waiting in my yahoo email inbox -the email account that is reserved mainly for lists since I've been trying to steer friends, family and everyone else towards gmail or work. The subject reads: "Wild Child. . ." and when I opened it the following popped up:

...watered down with a little molly - or is it the other way around? either that or someone put a little chile in your coco. Hope your little woodstock in the backwoods was smashing. Are you up for late bite to eat Wed night (6/21)? There is a hot dog dive on St. Mark's. Time is a minor detail but I'm thinking around 8pm/8:30pm - it will totally depend on when I can escape my desk...
TA

This is the boy I thought I offended with my "must be 6'2" to 6'4"" comment last week. He called me as I was driving to my backwoods hippy fest and didn't ask me out but indicated he wants to when he gets time - sounds odd but he didn't want me to think it was strange that he got my number from a friend and never used it. Not sure what I think about him, wasn't really interested but the email is definitely fun. Of course Wednesday is my birthday so I already have dinner plans and how weird would that be to go on a first date on your birthday? Trying to decide how to respond........

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

can't wait to get away. . .

For me, the day before a vacation - no matter the destination or length - is a struggle to focus, to accomplish anything. I am distracted by everything, none of it which results in actual work product being completed. As an example, I have spent the last 15 minutes hunting down a new Radiohead song called Videotape.

On another note (no pun intended), I unfortunately missed the last day for homework club yesterday due to a client dinner. But when I arrived at my desk this morning there were a half a dozen brightly colored cards made out of construction paper, crayons and markers. If I had my camera at work today I would take a photo because they really warmed my heart. But here are some excerpts of what the kids wrote, exactly as they wrote it. I must say Makayla's is my favorite:

"Thank you for helping me do my homework and bring us snaks so we don't be hogrey. Thank you for play games with us and stoping me and Shade from fiteing.
by Makayla"

"Thanks for being there for us and helping and careing about us. I will always rember you, AND never forget me. from Dante."

"Thank you Mrs. Pantas" - That is all the card said with a heart colored black on the cover. Inside it reads "Thank your for h". I was told it was from Shade. I have no idea where she came up with the name. She was the most difficult student but one of my favorites too. Having worked with her all year I can pretty much guess that she was distracted or showing off and ran out of time to finish the card. But I think she worked hard on the black heart - it is outlined in pink with blue dots.

"Thank you for helping me and being nice. I really enjoy playing after doing homework! Have a good summer!!! From: Mamadou"

"Dear Homework Club Teachers, Thank you for helping me with my homework. I want to come next year. p.s. I will miss you next year. By: Ronald"

Monday, June 12, 2006

weekend recap

  • ordered way too much food from my favorite Malaysian restaurant friday night.
  • played softball saturday morning for the first time in ages and ages and made three outs - one by catching a fly ball and two others by tagging a runner thus discovering it is a whole different world when the team lets you play second base instead of sticking you way out in right field.
  • yelled "DAMMIT" a bit too loudly when I didn't get the runner out at second - did I mention this was church affiliated? It isn't ward softball but it was two teams of all mormons, but I think only the shortstop and the safe runner really heard me.
  • bought cds (beck, radiohead, soullive and rusted root) in preparation for Bonnaroo Festival later this week - can't wait!!
  • surprise 4 hour sit-down dinner wedding when I was expecting a brief reception open house style. It was nice but long.
  • flippantly explaining to my table at said wedding that I will only date men between 6'2" and 6'4" who are not super skinny
  • trying to awkwardly avoid responding to my bishop's suggested 3 guys in the ward who are within that height range.
  • learning the next day that a guy at the table who is not within my stated specifications had earlier in the week asked a mutual friend for my phone number/email to ask me out - I thought he was acting kind of oddly around me so now I don't know if he emailed me and I accidentally deleted it because I didn't recognize his name or he took my height requirement seriously and has now chosen not to ask me out.
  • saw the movie Water - phenomenal! Unless you are dead inside you will cry - hard. Beautiful scenery, music, everything. Highly, highly, highly recommend it.
  • slept in Sunday then woke up surprisingly stiff and sore - blaming softball.
  • hosted impromptu dinner for 8 at my place after church - used three frozen pizzas and random items from my cupboards and fridge for toppings (fresh mushrooms, pineapple and peppers).
  • made brownies but had to slip downstairs to the market in the lobby for eggs and vanilla ice cream because what is a brownie without a hot fudge sundae on top?
  • guests stayed far too late and now I'm tired.
  • But I only have to work 3 days this week! YEAH!

Sunday, June 11, 2006

rooftop views



I took these pics from the roof of my building last night to add to the evite for my birthday party. I was rushing home to capture the sunset and discovered a bonus full moon rising over the City.
Yes, I decided to go ahead and throw myself a birthday bash. No more being disappointed, I am intent on giving myself a great birthday.

Friday, June 09, 2006

trapped

With increasing frequency and regularity the words "I'm burned out" keep springing to my mind. I hold on tightly to Sunday night as it inevitably slips through my fingers and melts into Monday which blurs into Tuesday, then Wednesday, Thursday moves with a little more speed and finally Friday. Each day becomes an endurance test - I need to concentrate until lunch, I really need to finish this project before I can leave, if I can only make it to Thursday there is only one more day, is it time for the weekend yet? It doesn't help that work has slowed down. Yes, slowing down can be bad. I am less efficient, more distracted and the clock moves as if the gears are covered in molasses. The weather has cooperated to reflect my burned out mode with a gray sky, endless rain and temperatures in the 60s. I have successfully ignored my two alarm clocks twice in a week. Perhaps this is why I am planning not one, not two but three definite upcoming vacations and planning ahead for the holidays with a couple of other plane tickets to be purchased.

Yesterday I was looking forward to attending my firm's annual summer party at Central Park zoo. Good food, sad animals (I won't go into how lucky those animals in Madagascar were to escape, especially if one of them was a polar bear) and socializing and comiserating with colleauges, what better enticement - maybe the open bar if I drank. My day was planned well. The party was starting at 630 and at 5 I was pretty well situated for leaving on time. . . until I ran into a partner in the pantry. He had asked me to join him for a meeting the next day and rather than telling me several hours (or perhaps days) earlier what was needed to prepare for said meeting, he chose a 545 pow wow. I had to scramble to pull together pleadings, find marketing materials and place orders for copies and did not leave the office until just after 7, but still time to attend the party.

Stepping onto the elevator from the 18th floor I felt relief that I was making such a timely escape, until the elevator dropped just below the 11th floor. I pushed several buttons as the three other passengers offered their opinions on the situation, when the doors didn't open I pulled the alarm. Soon a voice told us they would call the maintenance people to come back to the building. We were not given details. Initially I was upset, furious even. Mostly at the two partners who lacked the forsight to plan ahead rather than create emergencies. Why was this happening to me? But when another passenger was interrogating the voice I decided to go inside my head because anger wouldn't help. I sat on the floor to wait. Another passenger started speaking VERY loudly on his cell phone in Spanish. I couldn't take it. I pulled out my ipod and played Beck's Sea Change to help me relax. I then pulled out my moleskin notepad to scribble random thoughts, record the time I entered the box and give myself something to focus on. I had no one to call, no one was waiting for me, no one was expecting me, no one was missing me.

An hour later the doors were pried open. I was wearing a skirt and I chose to hop my butt up onto the just above waist-level floor rather than disgracefully and awkwardly attempt to step on someone's hand. My fellow hostages and I did not bond, we barely talked to one another trapped in a square box for an hour. Much to his surprised embarrassment I did lead the loud cell phone talker to believe I understood enough Spanish to comprehend his half of the conversation. I threw back at him that he was planning a trip to Costa Rica where he was from and that he was explaining to his listener that we tried to pry the doors open but go in trouble. Most of this was a lucky guess from a few words I heard before drowning him out with Beck. He was mortified, I think he must have said something about me. I arrived at the party close to 830, didn't find anyone I knew and ate very little because I didn't like sitting at a table alone. The experience fueled my burn-out.

This morning as I walked to work with my head down, speed walking down Broadway, a changing intersection light caused me to pause briefly at the corner of 56th and something made me look up. Despite the gray clouds there was sunlight filtering down and illuminating one billboard that read:
"You know that happy place they tell you to visualize? It exists."

Next Thursday is vacation number one: Bonnaroo Festival in Manchester, Tennessee. I don't think Tennessee is my happy place but I think it will tide me over until July when I go to Guatemala. But after the crazed morning I had today I am not sure I can wait a week, I need to go there immediately, which is why my office door is shut, I am basking in the sun's rays shining through my window, enjoying a Dr. Pepper, listening to Moby and considering leaving work early - like at 5 or 6. I think I can last just two or three more hours.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

the baker inside me

As some of you may or may not know, I love to cook. More specifically, I love to bake. I sometimes wonder why I didn't ever want to be a cook or chef or pastry maker of some sort growing up. The first cooking class I ever took was in first grade. Among other things, I learned how to make sloppy joe faces - cheese for hair, olives for eyes, a cheeto for the nose and perhaps more olives or cheeotoes for the mouth (I don't remember anymore).

A few years later I took a cake decorating class one summer when I was 9 or 10. I found out my lack of artistic skills transferred to the cake decorating arena. I tried so hard to make roses with my special set of tools, it just never turned out quite right and my mother always told me I was just too impatient. I did get pretty good at making clowns though. But no matter what the final product looked like - I always made it taste good. My youngest brother preferred my chocolate chip cookies to my mother's, which I think probably made her feel bad. Sometimes I think chocolate chip cookies could be my best talent.

Because I loved cooking shows - long before Martha and the Food Network made them stylish - I tried to have my own at home. I would line up stuffed animals and dolls and younger siblings (if they were compliant) on one side of the kitchen table or counter and I would stand on the other side with all the ingredients lined up in pre-measured bowls (my mother really didn't like how I insisted on pre-measuring like they do on tv because of all the extra dishes). The ingredients were lined up in the order they were added to the recipe (a habit I kept observing well into college, but without the pre-measuring) and I would talk my audience through the recipe. I really wanted one of those angled mirrors like I saw in the cooking department at ZCMI when they were doing demonstrations. I also taught myself to crack an egg with one hand - all the cooks on tv did that so I needed to do it to.

Somewhere around that same age, in 4th or 5th grade, I had to do a "how-to" report. I decided to to "How To Bake Brownies." I had been practicing this report with stuffed animals for an audience for years! This was my big chance. I never owned fancy baking toys so instead of transporting so I made an oven out of cardboard and tin foil for my very clever surprise. I had learned from cooking shows that audiences do not want to wait around for the baking process to take place. The cook always inserted the just mixed dish and moments later pulled out the finished product. So I placed in my cardboard oven the brownies I had made at home which I pulled out to cut up for the class moments after inserting the how-to brownies. The report was a success - I am of the opinion that anything ending in chocolate is a success.

Living alone I try to avoid indulging in my baking therapy (which is how I use it now) because I am probably (aside from my youngest brother) my biggest fan - and biggest critic - and I tend to eat whatever I bake. I like to make special cakes for people's birthdays and given the opportunity I will always sign up to bring a dessert to pot luck events. Once a year I make myself crazy by baking between 10-15 different desserts for my annual dessert party around Christmas. Always a hit, always too many leftovers.

As you might imagine, my love of baking has led me to indulge in a lot of fun kitchen ware. My favorite appliance is the Cuisinart food processor my parents gave me for Christmas a few years ago. But what I truly covet is the KitchenAid mixer. I have wanted one for years - I promise before they got all fancy and trendy with the coordinating colors. So when I ran across the below quote in a NY Times article today, you can imagine why it struck a chord:
LISA LEVY waited for years, her girlish hopes and dreams ever deferred, the shining prize just out of reach. "I always, always wanted that KitchenAid mixer," said Ms. Levy, a pharmaceutical marketer who married in March and registered for and received a black five-and-a-half-quart model from Williams-Sonoma. "I was afraid to buy it because on some level I believed I'd never get married if I did."

While I have never gone so far as to think I would not get married if I bought myself a KitchenAid, I have had this idea that if I finally break down and buy it for myself it would be admitting to myself that I have no hope left of getting married. A small but important distinction. Because losing hope is a terrible defeat. While a Cuisinart is amazing for chopping everything, grating cheese and mixing cakes and other light batters and I would not exchange it for anything, it is no match for the KitchenAid for dense dough for cookies like chocolate chip, sugar, ginger and peanut butter for which I must use a hand mixer.

While my not-so-girlish hopes and dreams for getting married are not tied to a KitchenAid mixer, it sure would be a great bonus to help me spoil my future husband and children with made from scratch chocolate chip cookies.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

introducing my newest cousin: PJ

my new favorite quote

Whatever women do they must do twice as well as men to be thought half as good. Luckily this is not difficult.
- Charlotte Whitton

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

birthdays

I have one fast approaching. Each year as June hits I go through the yo-yo emotions of both looking forward to my birthday tempered by the cautionary voice in the back of my head that says in a sing-song voice "you'll be disappointed." I never feel like I build the day up. I don't have high expectations of grand gifts or massively successful parties. I just hope for a day distinct from the other 364 days of the year. Unlike many people, I like attention. I want people to say happy birthday, give me a cake and maybe even sing. I think it is fun. As a kid I always wanted to go to one of those restaurants where the waiters sang happy birthday to you. It never happened for me. I am currently trying to decide whether or not to throw myself a birthday party. On the one hand it feels kind of friend-less and pathetic and I worry I will just be the host and not enjoy it. On the other hand, why not throw myself a party and see what happens. It could be fun. Maybe a hot boy will come and . . . that is how I get disappointed.

Or it could turn out like one of these birthdays, here are my top 5 worst birthdays.
  1. 21: No contest, my 21st birthday was the bad birthday to beat all bad birthdays. It didn't start out so bad. Lizzie and I worked together and even though she was not working that day and was in fact attending her brother's wedding, she dropped off a cake and balloons for me at our office. But then I had to ride the bus home with the balloons because my ass of a husband couldn't bother to pick me up. I felt pathetic and slightly tragic. I knew the jerk hadn't planned anything or bought me anything - we were too poor anyway. I also knew he didn't want to go to my parent's house. When I got home he suggested we go out to dinner. We went to Olive Garden. I can't say he took me to Olive Garden because he didn't bring any money and he told me to put it on my credit card. He may or may not have had a job at that point so either way I was paying but he could have at least pretended. Or maybe made me a card or something. I'm sure there were other bad things about that day because it is a complete black day in my memory and could be the reason I hate my birthday. But thankfully my mind has learned to suppress much of what when on that year. I know I also went to Michele and Emily's joint birthday party and I was so sad and jealous because I was no longer a part of that. They got the big party just for them and I had a bad marriage with a husband who didn't care about my birthday.
  2. 27: It was the year I was giving everyone birthday parties, making everyone special birthday cakes and felt like I was at the top of my social game in NYC. A friend helped me plan my birthday party at Bowlmor, a hip bowling alley in Union Square where my non-drinking and drinking friends could mix with less awkwardness. I sound like a brat but it was just a let down. All of it. It didn't feel like it was about me or for me or had anything much to do with me at all. No one sang happy birthday. No one gave me a cake. No one even paid attention to my crappy bowling. I remember feeling as if I could slip away and no one would notice. At one point after something got to me I went to the bathroom and cried for a minute. It just felt like no one really cared that I was there.
  3. 24: It was my last full day in Sydney, Australia after living there for two months. I was completely alone. I didn't have to work but all the friends I had made in my short time were working so I went to this crappy science museum alone where all of the cool displays were broken or were just not as interesting with only one person playing with it.
  4. 30: last year I moved back to NYC less than 3 weeks before my birthday. This was supposed to be the big eventful birthday. I had nothing planned. I sent out a last minute email and had 8 or so people show up to meet me for dessert at Mozart's Cafe. But the friend who prompted me to do this never showed up. It was nice just disappointing and anticlimactic. Especially when I compared it to all my friend's 30th birthday parties that were big events with tons of people.
  5. 29: You might be confused by the fact that this is also listed below. So, to clarify. It was a birthday weekend, the positive part is below. The sad, hard stuff is here. As indicated below, I spent my 29th birthday with the last boy I loved, the love that still lingers with me when I'm not paying enough attention to push it out. The one I have to consciously remember to forget or else it creeps back in. My birthday wasn't until Monday and Sunday afternoon as I was preparing to fly back to SLC from Denver I had this overwhelming feeling of dread. I felt like it was all ending. I panicked. We ended up in a serious what-is-this-all-about relationship discussion and we both cried and swore it could work despite some pretty major issues. I distinctly remember thinking as I hugged him at the curb at the airport that this was the last time I would see him. We didn't break up until August but that was the last time I saw him. Kind of ironic that both our first and last kiss was at the airport - the first arriving and the second departing.
But here are my top 5 birthdays:
  1. 25: My first summer in New York. My friend Michele was in town and our other friend Emily was arriving later that night. My roommates - whom I had just met when I moved in on Memorial Day a few weeks earlier - threw me a birthday party at Mangia y Bevi, a very fun Italian restaurant in the neighborhood. The very cute waitors gave me tamborines and made me dance on the table to loud music. I was at the center of a table of close to 20 people - mostly people I had just met at work. The next night my work had a function at MoMA, my favorite NYC museum. I took three guests - Michele, Emily and one of my roommates. Afterwards a partner asked us all to join a group for dinner at this Brazilian restaurant. Our server/host paid lots of attention to me (he was old but sweet) and the table sang happy birthday to me and I think I ended up with about 3 desserts: the one with the sparkler, the chocolate mousse I selected and the passion fruit mousse the server/host guy insisted I try. Oh and he insisted that it was a Brazilian tradition that he feed me my dessert. I've inquired of others, it's not.
  2. 18: A week or so before my birthday my fellow Geminis (again Michele and Emily) and I decided we wanted a surprise party, for ourselves. So we made these crazy invitations - I wish I had one to post because they were so ridiculous and funny - and literally gave them to everyone we knew and some people we didn't know. And everyone plus everyone they knew showed up. And brought presents. Fun, creative bizarre presents. On my actual birthday I stayed out all night with a boy and didn't get home until 6 am when my dad was helping my brother fold newspapers for his paper route.
  3. 29: I flew to Denver to spend the weekend with my boyfriend. For the first time ever he was late picking me up at the airport and picked me up at the curb. Shortly after getting in the car, while he was driving, he reached behind my seat and pulled out a Tiffany's bag. I don't know what expression was on my face but it prompted him to say "they sell other things as well." He told me to open it there, while he drove down the freeway. I pulled out a pretty blue box with a pretty white ribbon and read the so sweet card. Inside the box was a pair of beautiful earrings in a felt bag cushioned with cotton. He was embarrassed by the gesture and off-handedly explained the earrings are called "kisses." I melted. Then to cover it all up he said "that's all you are getting." Which wasn't true. It was Friday and we spent the evening at the coldest June baseball game ever. I had to borrow one of his XL fleeces and spent the 5 or 6 innings we lasted latched onto his arm. I think we went hiking Saturday and then he took me to a fantastic restaurant for dinner - the one with the best chocolate cake. He was my last love.
  4. 19: I spent the day with the first boy I fell for. Nothing extravagant. The only detail I really remember was firing super soakers out the top of his car's sunroof. And probably eating red velvet cake with my family.
  5. 5 (I think): The first birthday party I can remember having. The thing I remember most was we drove really far to go to Adventure Video and rented a VCR and a couple of movies. This was a HUGE deal because no one actually owned VCRs yet and it was this special treat to watch movies at home. I feel like I used to know what the movies were but that escapes me now - maybe Peanuts.

As I made these lists I found it was difficult to come up with more than one or two bad birthdays, and those I remembered weren't so bad. The more I thought about the good ones, the more good ones I could remember. Like when I turned 28 and I went to Park City with Emily, Michele and Liz and their husbands. We went shopping and ate somewhere fun and I think Ethan sat in gum or chocolate or something which was funny. We wandered down Main Street and went to the mining museum and Emily made the best chocolate cake ever! And that is saying a lot because I am a snob about cakes. Then there was my 26th birthday in Charlottesville, Virginia. I was studying for the bar but my roommate gave me a small little party with our fellow bar studiers. We were super nerdy and talked about the bar exam far too much. And after a burst of loud laughter around 10 pm there was a knock on the door. We opened it up and there were the cops saying they had a noise complaint. Yeah, someone called the cops on my nerdy little birthday party.

Maybe I need to just get over my own negative pessimism and throw myself a birthday party and have a good time! It isn't like 31 is that old and I certainly don't look or feel 31.

Monday, June 05, 2006

elitism

If there is one word that sums up my pet peeves it has to be "elitism." Better yet, self-entitled over-privileged elitism. I encounter a good number of these people in my profession and geographic region and yes, in my church - the Mormon elite will subsidize their children to go to expensive schools or work low-paying jobs in the Big Apple just like anyone else with money. These are the people who are shocked that I got a job in NYC after going to law school at BYU. These are the people who spent college junior year abroad, never had a job until they graduated from college or perhaps not even until they finished post-graduate studies. It is shocking to me. But it gives me pride in my background and my upbringing - I know how to work because I had to learn early. I could go on but I will restrain myself to avoid offending anyone. I know that there are those who can come from such a background and still be good, down to earth and humble - but that is not who I am talking about.

Today in the NY Times I started reading this article: http://www.nytimes.com/2006/06/04/magazine/04wwln_lede.html?ex=1149652800&en=9f781995efe20bcf&ei=5087%0A (I know, I need to learn how to link properly but no time now). I liked the opening line:

"Elitist" is just about the nastiest name you can call someone, or something, in America these days, a finely-honed term of derision in the culture wars, and "elitist" has stuck to organic food in this country like balsamic vinegar to m√Ęche.

I will admit I eat organic food. I prefer eating organic food. I sometimes go out of my way to eat organic food. This is something I have hidden from my family and some friends out of fear of appearing elitist in some way. But it really is something I believe in. So the author goes on to explain how eating organic food is at the the extreme opposite end of the cultural spectrum from such things as Wal-Mart and Nascar. Again, I will admit I hate Nascar and Wal-Mart makes me angry (see Disclaimer below but also: the aisles are too crowded, the display cases are always overflowing, there are too many people shoving their carts in front of you, the lines are ridiculously long and I always have bizarre experiences - maybe I will share one another time). But here is what made me mad, what made me call the author of this article an elitist. His article is about how Wal-Mart will now begin selling organic food. To which he states:

Organic food will soon be available to the tens of millions of Americans who now
cannot afford it — indeed, who have little or no idea what the term even means.

The pompous ass. Just because people shop at Wal-Mart, might wear a blue collar instead of a white collar, work hard for their wages and cannot afford over-priced organic food does not mean they are illiterate, unintelligent and uninformed. College students and well-educated graduates starting out their lives are also Wal-Mart shoppers. Some people believe frugality over excess is a virtue. Again, pompous, elitist ass.

DISCLAIMER: it should be noted that any anti-Wal-Mart feelings I may have are tied more to conscious and subconscious associations with my ex-husband who was employed there during one of his many brief periods of employment in our short marriage. I also heard a rumor some years ago that while I was working on Wall Street he was once again working at Wal-Mart. That always made me feel a bit smug and elitst myself, for which I offer no apologies.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

lost

I've always had a paranoia that I would leave something important in a cab or on the subway - my cell phone, keys, cash, random contents of my purse, etc. That is why every time I get out of a cab I check the floor, I look back in the cab and compulsively check that I have my purse and sometimes look for my cell phone too. So what did I lose? The worst possible thing - my wallet, in a cab.

Yesterday I left my apartment at 10:30 a.m. and didn't return until nearly 9 pm. During that time I went to two downtown bridal boutiques (one twice so my friend could purchase her dress -fun!), an outdoor recreation store (where I purchased a giant back pack for my trip to Guatemala next month), brunch (I had the best omellete with avocado, tomato and goat cheese!), trader joe's for peanut butter filled, chocolate covered pretzels and dried mangoes with chile powder (yum to both, but not together), a starbucks to sit down for hot chocolate (it was rainy and cold), barnes and noble to further avoid the rain and to sit in a corner and leaf through bridal magazines with the friend who bought the dress and then to a nail salon for a pedicure and facial (and an impulse chair massage). All this time I was carrying around my new, bright red, empty (but for my purse) backpack. It was cumbersome and I had some stairs (especially in the bridal boutique) and some questions about being from out of town (would it really be empty if I was traveling?).

Around 830 feeling relaxed after my pedicure and facial I was ready for my couch. I caught a cab and climbed in with my backpack. I pulled a $20 bill out of my wallet and that was the last time I ever saw it. I put it in the top zipper pocket of the backpack but my guess is I didn't zip it up. The umbrella I had hauled around all day was also in that pocket and neither made it to my apartment. This afternoon as I was slowly, reluctantly getting ready for church I couldn't find it. I tore the apartment apart and finally came to the conclusion it was in the cab. I filled out a lost property report online and tried to call the police precinct to which I was directed online. Nothing. I then called all my credit cards to cancel them and request new ones.

The rest of the afternoon I kept remembering random things I will miss about my wallet:
a) my driver's license - luckily I was able to order a replacement online but it might not arrive before my trip in a couple of weeks when I need to rent a car. Argh!
b) debit card - I just got this straightened out from when the number was somehow stolen in February
c) full cafe rio punch card - sure, I don't live in Utah but I was looking forward to a free salad the next time I'm in town
d) the $60 or so I had in there - luckily it wasn't more, I usually pull $200 out of the atm at a time but for whatever reason I only took out $100 yesterday afternoon
e) stamps - I hate buying stamps and I just bought about 30
f) 2-3 metro cards with anywhere from $6 to $20 on each
g) the credit card size subway card I've had for 6 years, sure it is kind of out of date but I've had it since the first day I moved here in May 2000, that's a sentimental loss
h) temple recommend, maybe if I used it once in a while (since I haven't used it except for 2 weddings in the last 2 years) I would miss it more but now that it is gone I will miss it
i) all the other important things in there that I don't even remember.......

so if you see an olive green wallet with my driver's license in it, please let me know, I miss it.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

random stuff

there is nothing worse than getting on a stinky elevator.

except when someone gets on at the next floor and you are the only one there. it makes you want to explain that the stench was there when you arrived.

--------------------------------

just ordered dinner to eat at my desk again tonight. got my favorite gnocchi (with plenty of cheese at tiff's suggestion). also, in an effort to be healthy I ordered the fruit platter. or at least I thought I had ordered the fruit platter. what I got is the fruit torte. I would hate to have it go to waist, err, I mean waste.........
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