Saturday, July 29, 2006

Masala Chol!!! Teasers from Guatemala

It is late and I am tired and using a keyboard with some funky keys so please forgive the following list of any typos (and the weird space that wont leave the top of this entry). Here are a few teasers about things to look forward to reading about when I return to a computer of my own:
  • digging ditches
  • close to 200 mosquito bites
  • abadoning a shuttle stuck in the mud
  • rubber work boots
  • machetes
  • gluing pipes
  • sickly dogs
  • riding in the back of a truck
  • the chicken bus for five and a half hours
  • broken syringes with needles in tact on the beach
  • a cancelled skinny dipping plan
  • learning Q´echi
  • sweating like I have never sweated in my life
  • showering outside
  • panic attack at the top of a waterfall
  • both a welcome and a goodbye celebration
  • roaches
  • tarantulas
  • giant crickets
  • a frog
  • did i mention all the bug bites? My legs look diseased
  • sketchy town with a robbery
  • boat ride down the Rio Dulce
  • a little beach time
  • sunsets, sunrises, stars and lightening shows
  • 430 am wake up call
  • only one more day .............

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Adios!

I was going to write a really great post to say goodbye and make you miss me. . . but I'm leaving for the airport in 30 minutes so I don't think it is going to happen. Besides, I'm still mad at my computer for dumping the post I wrote the other day about the mosquito incident at 4 am that now the world will never know about because I am not capable of recreating it.

One last thought: packing. I hate it. I always fear overpacking or just packing the wrong things. It is especially difficult in this situation since I have no idea what to expect. My backpack is pretty stuffed and I kept clothes to a minimum but with a sleeping bag, sleeping pad, towel, toiletries, snacks and the other miscellaneous items it is jammed. But I am proud of myself for keeping my carry-on limited to my small camelback pack - even though I had to omit one of the snacks, no ginger snaps in Guatemala!

Maybe we'll chat again soon from an internet cafe from the wild jungles of Guatemala. . .

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Countdown to GUA

I only have three more days of work left before my vacation to Guatemala. I don't think I've written about this trip yet. It is a humanitarian/eco trip through this organization my friend has been working with for about 9 years. My friend is leading the expedition which is how I heard about it and why I talked my sister into going. We will be there 9 days, 4 of which will be spent in a village helping the people build a water system. The remaining time we will be traveling through the jungle and to other tourist attractions for the eco-adventure portion.

Words cannot express how anxious and distracted I am. This morning I had a filing deadline which kept me busy most of yesterday and ate up the morning. But now, even though I should be working late to get my hours in, I just can't get in the groove. I have a project I should make a significant dent in before Friday for which I have zero motivation to complete. Here is what has been on my mind:

Concerns about Guatemala
  • heat
  • disease carrying mosquitos
  • dengue fever: an infectious disease of the tropics transmitted by mosquitoes and characterized by rash and aching head and joints (a friend got a "mild" case while on his mission there, nice of him to share that with me)
  • guilt when face to face with extreme poverty
  • water - we will be building a water system but we aren't supposed to drink the water. I believe we are backpacking into this place so I'm somewhat limited in the amount of water I can carry but I drink a lot of water........
  • latrines - I am assuming the worst on this point, probably some sort of hole in the ground or just the ground
  • diarrhea - no need to elaborate other than to say that the information packet "warns" you are more likely than not to have it at some point on the trip! eeeeeeeeeeeewwwwwwwww!
  • malaria
  • squatting
  • being too out of shape to build a water system
  • very long plane rides
  • cracked heels, even in the humidity with frequent pedicures my heels crack, I am trying to quickly heal one that opened up after the boardwalk incident but I'm running out of time

What I'm Looking Forward to . . .

  • NO WORK!!!
  • meeting up with my sister in the Dallas airport
  • adventure
  • helping people and having a meaningful vacation
  • bonding with my sister
  • getting tan
  • losing weight due to having too much fun to think about eating, a potential aversion to local food or possibly a tape worm (this really could be a pro or a con)
  • exploring the Mayan ruins
  • float trip that has a promised spectacular ending in the Carribean
  • howler monkeys - sound scary but are really fascinating, I first heard them in Costa Rica and was very afraid until I saw how cute they are
  • maybe I'll see a sloth
  • did I mention NO WORK?
  • and relatedly, no blackberry or cell phone service - seriously, this is a pro
  • lots of time to ponder and reflect, maybe write
  • pleasure reading
  • no meddlesome questions from ward members about TW
  • no worrying about why TW hasn't asked me out
  • plus a big surprise at the end!
  • Oh, and once again, in case you didn't catch it before . . . NO WORK for 12 days!!!!!!

Seriously, how can I be expected to work when I have all of that to think about PLUS I still need to pack and complete my to-do list of errands before Friday.

Monday, July 17, 2006

beach trip

Saturday was the stake singles beach day. Yes, it is as horrifying as it sounds. All of the repressed singles get to trek out to Jones Beach on Long Island skantily clad for the day with an opportunity to check each other out in a way that is discouraged and inappropriate during the normal activities. I didn't go for that.

I love the beach, I love the waves and the sand and the sun and getting tan. I love the opportunity to wear very little clothing on a hot and humid day. I love watching people and dozing on a beach towel listening to laughter and waves crashing, conversations buzzing and someone's music playing nearby. I love packing a beach bag full of entertainment and snacks that will soon be neglected in favor of waves and people watching. So Saturday morning I dragged myself out of bed at 10 am (remember I had a very late night), turned on some Jack Johnson to get myself in a beach mood and took a shower to wake up and do some last minute hair removal. I hadn't been in a swimming suit in a while and wasn't feeling particularly excited about it. But the music was doing its job and I find it always helps an outfit to dance in front of the mirror a little bit. I selected a suit, shorts and t-shirt, over-packed my beach bag, bought a juice and croissant in my lobby and headed for Penn Station to meet some friends. We bought some snacks and met up with a few more people from the ward and jumped on the train. TW had been non-commital about whether he would be going. I sent him a text message about what train we were taking and enjoyed catching up with a friend I hadn't seen in a while. Eventually TW texted me back and said he was taking a later train and would join us. I told him to buy the Jones Beach package at the station and to call when he arrived or if needed directions.

I played in the water and talked with friends and then walked down the beach a ways but was distracted most of the time wondering why it was taking him so long. I admit, I was anxious to see him again. He finally called and I thought I knew where he was so I told him to stay put and I would come meet him. But once I got there it didn't seem we were in the same place so I assumed he was at the next building down - about a 5 minute walk away, so I again told him to stay there and I'd meet him. He wasn't there when I arrived. He'd said Field 3 and this was Field 3. He said at the Beach Shop and I was standing at the Beach Shop. I waited, maybe he wandered off. Maybe he got food, maybe he went to the bathroom. I tried his cell. It went straight to voicemail. Odd. I tried again and again and again and again and again until I was practially a stalker obssesively redialing. Always straight to voicemail. I left one message. Then I realized there were other buildings down the boardwalk so I continued walking, maybe he was there. I walked up and down the boardwalk barefoot (he'd called when I was walking on the beach and I didn't have my flip-flops) for about 40 minutes looking for him, redialing his number and ignoring the old man who warned me I'd get splinters. I finally gave up and returned to my friends, distracted by his disappearance. But then thought I should look one more time back at the original place.

Finally, an hour after I last talked to him, I gave up. I spent most of my beach day waiting for him (trying not to be anxious about it) and the other part looking for him. I no longer had the energy to talk to people and everyone was done with the ocean so I sat on my towel and half-listened to other's conversations. I was disappointed. The sun, the sand, the surf were not as appealing as they were when I had arrived. When my friends suggested we leave, I agreed, still hoping we would somehow run into him on the walk to the bus, at the bus, at the train station, on the train station. . . I felt responsible. He was new, he didn't know anyone and he was lost at the beach by himself with a dead cell phone. It was a missed opportunity to spend the day together.

I went home, went to the grocery store and took a long bath to soak my very sore feet and get rid of the sand and salt. While I was reading in the bathtub, he called. His phone had died, no he hadn't charged it, yeah that was dumb. He walked along the beach, I walked along the boardwalk, we never found each other. He seemed good natured about it and I apologized.

But then he told me about the rest of his day and we laughed - a lot.

He lives in Queens so he caught the train at Jamaica train station rather than coming into Penn Station only to back track out to Long Island. On the subway ride to the Jamaica, he was sitting in the car with just one woman he guessed was about 50. She looked fairly normal and unmemorable until she leaned over to tell him that she really had to go to the bathroom and couldn't wait any longer. She then walked to the end of the car, opened the door and relieved herself between the cars on the moving subway! I filled in the details in my mind because he claims the door shut and he chose not to watch. I find it difficult to walk between the cars when the train is moving, I have no idea how this woman managed to drop her pants, squat and pee with the train bumping and swaying and bouncing along. She must have stronger quads than I have. When she was finished she returned to the car and reclaimed her seat next to him. The poor guy was completely bewildered but felt initiated into the City because now he had his first bizarre subway experience - stories New Yorkers tell with pride and revulsion. After the subway experience he missed the train by a couple of minutes and had to wait an hour for the next one. Then he got to the beach and we never found each other.

But wait, there is one more element to the story.

Sunday was a friend's birthday and I was having a party for her at my place so after church she and another girl came home with me to help set up and avoid extra subway rides in the 90+ temperatures. TW was lingering so I invited him to join us so he could avoid further train mishaps. Over dinner TW and I were telling the horrible tale about the beach which we envisioned as him walking on the beach while I was on the boardwalk and vice versa. I kept picturing the movie camera panning out and showing viewers how we missed each other by seconds, just a slight turn of the head in the right direction would have brought us together. But when I complained about the boardwalk and how sore my feet were from walking along it barefoot he got confused. He asked if it was literally a board walk because where he was it was cement and he thought I was just calling it a boardwalk for lack of a better term. No, I call cement walks - sidewalks. This did not sound good. As we delved further it was revealed that we were not in fact at the same beach. He got off the train at Babylon (when I meant to tell him to take the train running towards Babylon) instead of Freeport. It was my fault he was lost on some other beach.

But there he was still willing to hang out with me, having dinner with my friends and me, helping me set up for a party - volunteering to vacuum even! At the party he volunteered to help me take the cake up to the roof, he scooped ice-cream as I cut the cake and he helped me take everything back to my apartment before he left. He also took and seemed to enjoy my endless, sarcastic teasing which is really my only way of flirting. At one point I thanked a friend for giving me a book I loved for my birthday - Life of Pi - and he asked about it but questioned whether he would like it due to the tiger and a boy in a boat idea. But he promised to read at least 50 pages and took it with him. I told him I would judge him by what he thought of it. We actually bonded over a love of Nick Hornby (both his books and movies) earlier in the evening and also found we both like Wes Anderson movies. Neither of these interests are a stretch but I see them as very good indicators.

Let's just hope he doesn't fall into my "guy friend/buddy" role, a common mistake I've made with boys I've been interested in in the past .........

Sunday, July 16, 2006

judge for yourself. . .

He called me when he got out of the subway at 59th and 5th Avenue. It was 8:30 on a Friday night and I was just leaving the office. I told him to walk down 5th Ave and I'd walk up from 53rd Street and we converged at the corner of 55th. Earlier on the phone I told him to pick the type of food and I would choose a restaurant. He chose Chinese but after a call to a friend I decided to suggest Ruby Foo's which is a sushi and dim sum place on the fancier side. We walked the short distance to its location in Times Square and were seated immediately in a cozy corner booth-like table. Despite his original Chinese request we ended up with mostly sushi but he seemed happy. Conversation flowed. I wouldn't say effortlessly but it wasn't awkward and by the end of dinner I didn't feel like I needed to think of things to talk about.

Following dinner I was questioning our decision to see the midnight playing of Superman, it was around 10 and I was fading a bit but enjoying myself. We walked deeper into the Times Square madness (which usually irritates me but I was surprisingly okay with it) to get Dale & Thomas popcorn - chocolate chunk n'caramel - for the movie. Weaving out of Times Square was another matter - the Broadway shows were just letting out and meandering, confused tourists combined with visiting suburbanites and the upper east side theater goers. The diverse array of people were clumped on street corners, clogging the sidewalks as they discussed the show and pedi-cabs offering their services further cluttered the streets angering cabs and black town cars searching for their passengers. I couldn't take it, I abandoned the strolling pace and went into my customary New York crowd survival mode - a brisk pace, weaving and dodging pedestrians, ignoring street lights and pushing past street vendors and performers, glancing over my shoulder to see if he was keeping up. We did this for one block then escaped down a calmer side street and agreed that Times Square on New Year's Eve held no appeal when a regular Friday night post-theater crowd was that chaotic.

We resumed a more leisurely pace up 8th Avenue and stopped at the fountain under the Columbus Circle monument and talked over the noise of the water and the buzzing of nearby conversations. I learned about where he grew up, his siblings, his hobbies. We then continued our walk up Broadway, past Lincoln Center to the theater, then went up the three to four escalators to the IMAX theater and followed the long, snaking line to its end - next to a garbage can overflowing with discarded popcorn and soda. At the fountain I had shoved our outside popcorn into my already weighed down purse which he kept making fun of for its never-ending capacity. While we were in line he took it from me to see how heavy it was and after estimating its weight at 15 to 20 pounds insisted on holding it. He couldn't believe I'd been hauling it around all evening. I should admit that on far more than one occasion I have openly mocked men who allow their dates/girlfriends/wives to hoist purses onto them. They always look slightly sheepish standing outside a dressing room awkwardly clutching or holding the bag out a safe distance from their body in a manner no woman ever would (usually not by the handles or straps by any means). I always saw these men as weak, incapable of telling their girl to carry her own damn purse. Yet, when it happened to me, when a guy offered - no, insisted - on holding my purse while we stood in line, I found it sweet and endearing. Here is a guy who was secure enough in his masculinity to hold an oversized tan and gold BCBG purse with brown embroidery and I let him. I gave up a little bit of control.

I managed to stay awake through the movie and further enjoyed his company. Superman was good but too long. The date lasted over six hours and we were both tired as we exited the theater and he contemplated how long it was going to take him to get to Astoria, Queens. We reached the subway entrance for the 1 train and he announced this was his train, I told him he needed the entrance on the opposite side of the street and that I would just catch a cab. Suddenly everything was about transportation and not about ending the date. We crossed the street and when we reached sidewalk, I stopped at the curb and he sort of kept walking backwards and said he had a great time as he walked away.

No kiss. No hug. No hand shake. No high five. Just him turning and saying he had a great time, maybe he waved too . . . I jumped in a cab and was in bed by 3:15 am.

Up until the end it felt good, now I'm overthinking it.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

I asked a boy out. . .

this may not sound like a big deal but believe me, normally this course of action does not go well for me. Besides, I think many single, mormon boys are spoiled by overly aggressive girls who spend too much time flinging baked goods and themselves at undeserving boys who gain a false sense of their attractiveness and charms. I refuse to be what I like to call a "baking whore." I am proud of my baking skills but I'll be damned if I'm going to give it away for free. A guy has to work for the privilege of having me bake cookies for him. One of my frequent commenters once said her mother put it a bit more delicately when she advised her "don't be a cherry pie." Aside from my principles and my stand against not throwing myself at the undeserving, I have had a couple of incidents which reinforced my resolve to not ask guys out.

Incident #1 occurred in my late college/early divorced years (or I should say months since it began while I was only separated), I met this really great guy - Troy - but we had terrible timing. I knew he was interested in me, but I was freshly separated and going through major trauma and was on a pretty bad downward spiral that didn't head back up for quite awhile. He pursued me and I discouraged him and we parted ways. Over the course of the next year, I ran into him a couple of different times in very different settings (once as my boyfriend was dropping me off at a study group and once at my gym at the other end of the valley). I was starting to get my act together but I was dating someone very seriously and was embroiled in yet another emotional drama which was not suited for his flirtations. Yet, there was something that drew me in with this guy.

Over a year after I initially met him I ran into him once again. We clicked and I was finally free from ex-husbands and ex-boyfriends (though just barely), we exchanged numbers but I believe the universe was against us ever going on a date. At one point we had a really bizarre lunch date at Chile's where for reasons I cannot understand, his co-worker joined us - I believe there was some plausible reason given at the time which I have blocked out now. The co-worker was married and it was weird because our server knew my "date" and flirted shamelessly throughout the meal. But I didn't instigate that date and we both seemed to be interested in each other despite the weirdness so when my dad gave me tickets to the BYU/Utah football game, I decided I could be brave and ask him out. I have a very vivid memory of getting up the courage to call him, I even remember the room in my parent's old house I was standing in and the phone I used. He was initially excited and said yes but then "remembered" he promised to go mountain biking with a friend that Saturday. My dad tried to console me by telling me that when he was single nothing could stop him from going to a football game with a girl he was interested in . . . yeah, key words "girl he was interested in." For some reason we never saw each other again. I often think of that guy as some sort of ill-timed missed opportunity, maybe he was interested but started dating someone else, I'll never know. What I did learn was asking guys out is hard and not fruitful even after the guy was clearly pursuing me.

Incident #2 to discourage me from asking boys out happened more recently. When I moved back to SLC a few years ago I bought two tickets to see the Jack Johnson/Ben Harper concert at Deer Valley. The concert was 4 months out and I decided it would be a good challenge for me to meet and invite someone. I found what appeared to be a good candidate. We had a couple of ambiguous dates and a lot of hanging out time before I invited him to the concert. He was enthusiastic about it and we had a great time. The relationship never amounted to anything of substance and it quickly devolved into a bizarre and ambiguous relationship for succeeding months which ultimately ended in him sending me an email in which he clarified that we were "just friends" even though we had not been on anything that could even be construed as a date for 2-3 months minimum. My theory was the email was prompted either by a meddling bishop or a meddling friend or some combination thereof. At any rate, that was not the aspect that turned me off asking boys out. At some point during all of this but at a time when we were clearly not dating, I had a bunch of people over at my place and the topic of conversation landed on girls asking guys out. This particular boy loudly proclaimed that nothing made him lose interest in a girl faster than having her ask him out. Most of the males in the room agreed. I was shocked. I couldn't even sarcastically throw out that I had asked him out. It hurt. It is one thing for a guy to say that generally but it was a far different thing for him to say it in front of a girl who once asked him out. Perhaps he had forgotten I once asked him out? Maybe he thought I needed a hint that he lost interest - but at that point I was pretty sure he hadn't lost interest. I don't know how to interpret it, but it really put a damper on any latent enthusiasm I might have had for taking the initiative to ask a guy out again.

And yet, I just told you I asked a boy out. So you must be thinking this guy is really something for me to overcome my rule of not asking guys out. Nope. I'm not even sure how interested I am, I just want to try something different. I'm tired of the game where you invite a guy to do something with a group in the hopes that he will single you out (I've had issues with this tactic as well). I decided to stop the game and just get brave and make a move.

You must be wondering who it is - no, you haven't heard of him, he is new and I'll call him TW. He kind of snuck up on me and I have several excuses (okay, maybe just one) why I wouldn't be interested in him. But over the course of the last week or so, starting on the 4th of July, I've ended up in social situations with him and he has been growing on me. Then yesterday, out of the blue at the end of an email my friend Brooke wrote: "So I'm interested in the magic you are making with TW. Ha! He seems to have taken a shine to you. Like he came over just to talk to you at the barbecue last week. Yes. I noticed. And I thought it was kind of cool." I had barely considered him and now I was getting questioned, but not in a nosey way so I didn't mind. I kind of wanted to talk this through with someone. We emailed about it like junior high girls and she gave me some encouragement to take some initiative since several other girls seemed interested in him.

The bbq she referenced was on the 4th and he did talk to me some and he was the only person (aside from Brooke) to ride in my rental car to the fireworks locale. He also sat on top of the stairwell structure thing with us but wasn't really next to me. I thought he was kind of cute but probably too young. Saturday night there was a fundraising auction at the stake center and he was there. Without any effort on my part he managed to join our group that attempted to see Superman at the IMAX theater. The movie was sold out so the group went to dinner instead and he was sitting next to me. We all finished the night talking and doing cartwheels (not sure how the cartwheels came about but they did) on the grass on my rooftop, again he was siting next to me on the grass. At various points that night I caught myself speculating. . . then remembered he just graduated from college which means he is young, young, young.

On Sunday he sat next to me during sacrament meeting. We whispered a few comments back and forth and I finally admitted to myself that I liked it when he leaned closer to me and I became intrigued.

He is tall - probably between 6'2" and 6'3", has brownish curly hair and is thin. If I have a type, he probably fits it. He dresses well but not like other Abercrombie BYU grads, he has a low-key style. He has a good job and is in finance. The more I talk to him the more together he seems.

After church on Sunday a group of us went to a girl's apartment to watch the World Cup game she had dvr'd. He and I stopped to pick up food and had our first one-on-one time together. It was fun. We were the first to arrive at the hostess's apartment and after putting the food together on the coffee table I purposely sat on the opposite couch from the hostess and he sat next to me. We joked and teased all through the game and I enjoyed more subtle, "inadvertent" contact on the couch. I even took the subway home to give him the most opportunity to ask me out or for my number at least (BIG SACRIFICE HERE! from the upper east side I ALWAYS take a cab home because it is a 30-45 minute subway ride and then a 20 minute bus ride home - I at least skipped the bus) - he didn't. I asked for his email on some pretense and was disappointed when he didn't ask for mine.

I am still pretty convinced he is too young for me and probably has some other yet to be revealed defect but I decided to scrap my original idea of including him on a list of people to invite to a movie Friday night and just invite him. I sent him an email early this afternoon asking if he wants to try and see Superman at the IMAX tomorrow night. It may have been a bit ambiguous in terms of being a date (on purpose) but I think it was pretty clear it was just with me. It took him about 6 hours to respond (frustrating) and the total of the email reads: "Yeah, sure. What time?" Not too enthusiastic but a yes. I wrote back: 8:30. Then realized that I should expand on that and try and make actual plans and exchange phone numbers so I sent another email explaining all that and stating that I would buy the tickets. In NYC you always have to buy tickets in advance, especially to popular movies that sell out quickly. But the movie was over 24 hours away so I felt pretty assured I would get tickets. I was wrong. The IMAX is sold out and the next available show time is midnight. I'm not saying this asking a boy out business is going to go terrible because of this but I have to say this isn't a good sign. I don't want to send yet another unsolicited email because I may appear to be a stalker, obsessive freak inundating his inbox with unwanted notes. But if I wait to tell him that could be weird too but better than the former so I'm not emailing him the bad news about the tickets, I'll just break it to him after he makes contact.

Hopefully this will not turn into "Incident #3" in why I don't ask boys out.............. wish me luck.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

summer storms

Emerging from the revolving doors exiting my office building last night the contrast between the cool chill of a refrigerated marble lobby and the hot night air dripping with moisture was stark. It was like walking out of a meat locker and into a steam bath. I watched a nearly full orange moon rise over the City, its edges smudged by the haze that blurred the skyline.

This morning I could feel the moisture in the air even before I made the transition from indoor air conditioning to the oppressive, damp blanket that draped itself over me as soon as I stepped outside. From my living room window I could see the film from the night before had grown thicker. The smell was not New York, instead I experienced a series of aromatic reminiscences - I was walking across the back deck that connected my bedroom to the family's home I was living with in Sydney, Australia, the exotic birds called in the distance as I admired the fog that had settled just below the deck in the early morning; I was in North Queensland, Australia, up early to meet my group on a hazy, humid morning walking through the tropical trees; I was in Costa Rica in February driving through the rain forest - all in a flash. The aroma is like nothing else and it is delightful. It not only promises rain but a summer thunderstorm.

This afternoon the clouds could no longer hold back their heavy burden of moisture - a shock of light followed quickly by a blast of thunder shook my window and I spun around in my chair to observe the storm. The sun was all but extinguished by thick, black clouds weighed down by the rain that was pouring out all at once. I felt each discharge in my stomach and tried to focus on work. But mother nature was calling, she demanded my attention. I faced the window for a moment then pressed forward in shuffling more paper around my desk. The next explosion reverberated off the buildings and rolled down Fifth Avenue, sirens sounded and all was chaos for a few moments. I imagined children clinging to parents and dogs home alone hiding in closets and under beds.

Ideally, I could have shut my office door, turned out the lights and observed the display. I love summer thunder storms. I love the contrasting relief of rain falling on hot cement. All senses are awakened and delighted. Torrents of rain spilling from the heavens as lightening dances across the sky and low, rumbling thunder shocks then fades as it bounces off into the distance. Thunderstorms in the City remind me nature still exists here. I am reminded of other storms where the thunder rolls over mountains and through valleys rather than tall buildings and through streets.

The show has ended for now, but the darkness remains hinting that another rumbling, flashing, pealing display could follow before long. It makes me anxious for my vacation in 10 short days where I have been warned it will briefly rain daily in hot sheets.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

insecurities

I have to believe everyone has them, some are just better than others at shoving them below the surface. There are times I am so good at this I forget I even have insecurities. At other times they paralyze me and I feel as if each criticism of myself is being flashed on a neon sign above my head for all to assess and contemplate. I once explained to a friend of mine that I was not surprised that his attractive, ambitious and successful fiancee had a lot of insecurities. He was shocked, he was tired of insecure girls and thought he had found one with confidence. He had no idea that women often fake confidence to get them through a party, a date, a job interview, first day anywhere you are the "new girl".

New York is a tough place to keep your confidence - so is Utah, but in a different way. Everywhere you turn there is always a woman who is thinner, taller, more exotic, cuter, more stylish, more successful, more articulate, funnier, shorter, more flirtatious, more confident, prettier, better dressed, more accepted, younger, more popular, more approachable, less stressed and seemingly less insecure than the woman standing in the poorly selected shoes on your own feet. How do you turn off the voice in your head that whispers all the things you are not and find the voice that exudes confidence and reminds you of your strengths? Why is the confident voice so tied-up with a three digit number on a scale and a one or (god forbid) two digit number on the tag inside your pants? Why is confidence so tied to external stimuli and yet compliments received fade so quickly when left standing alone in a room full of the women who seem to have you beat on every count recited above?

A couple of week ago I met a boy. He paid me a very good compliment and I have yet to see him again. Earlier today I received an email inviting me to a party tonight, at the end of the email there was a note to one of the other addressees to forward the invite to this same boy. The voice in my head reminds me how bloated I am today, how when I got dressed I purposely pulled out my most comfortable, worn-in work pants so they would still be comfortable when I'm sitting at my desk at 9:00 tonight. The voice reminds me that I have needed a haircut for months and barely managed to blow dry it today and the party is at my former stylist's apartment. The voice goes on to remind me of how thin and fashionable and flirtatious all the girls will be at this particular gathering and that I snoozed through my morning workout for the second time this week (after not even attempting to work out in the last 3 weeks). The voice continues on about how I rarely do much with this set and when I do I often feel like an outsider awkwardly peering in from the fringe, remembering when some of these people were my friends and wondering what changed to shift me so far to the edge. I have to remind myself that I wouldn't be invited if I wasn't wanted and I do not know if he will even show up. For now, I need to focus on work and assess at 9 whether I have the energy to fake some confidence . . .

Monday, July 10, 2006

running errands

I hate them. It doesn't matter if it is a large task like shopping for a dress for a January wedding in the Carribean (I have made a few half-hearted attempts with zero results) or small like walking across the street to deposit reimbursement checks from work . . . I procrastinate. It really doesn't make a difference whether I am living in NYC where some errands are easier and faster to accomplish on foot and others are dreadfully dragged out and cumbersome due to the public transportation and the need to carry things as you go or whether I'm in SLC where a car can aid in the ease of getting somewhere but entail a lot of parking and in and out of the car business which just irritates me.

Maybe this stems back to the resentment I had as a child when my mother said she had to go run errands when I enevitably heard her say she needed to run "Erins". I could not understand why she needed to run my sister around. Why didn't she ever need to run me around? Then I tried it - I decided they weren't so great, my sister could keep them to herself. I was inevitably bored with the stop at the bank, irritated that I couldn't get what I wanted at the store and I still remember the excrutiating pain of standing in line at the post office, I was convinced my legs would not hold me up for another minute waiting for our number to be called. Wait, that is still how the post office works and I still feel that way.......

In no specific order, these are the errands I procrastinate:
  • drycleaning - all I have to do is drop the bag off with my doorman, yet I still wait until I absolutely must have something yesterday to drop it off;
  • prescriptions - again, easy. just log on to the pharmacy website, hit refill and walk half a block out of my way on the way to or from work and I'm done;
  • bank - never, ever give me a check. I currently have two from people I know - one from April the other May, I don't think I will deposit them because I'm embarrassed how long I have held onto them;
  • returning empty glass milk bottles - again, just a quick stop in the lobby of my building but they usually sit soaking in my sink for a day or two at least;
  • returning unwanted purchases - right now I have a couple of things to return to Victoria Secret I ordered by mail a little over a month ago (nothing sexy I promise, I wanted to try some of those loungey gaucho pants that look good on everyone BUT me, I looked about 4 feet wide in them), a shirt I bought Saturday that is missing two buttons with no spare, a pair of chaco sandals that tried to strangle my left big toe with its webbing - I TRIED to adjust it to no avail - the sandals just need a return label slapped on the outside of the box and once again dropped off with the doorman but again . . . too much effort!
  • waxing - a necessary evil I am hoping to ban from my life forever after I get up the courage to try laser hair removal at the place my friend recommends and swears works great. I'm skeptical because she is blonde and seems practically hairless as it is - except on her head. The only reason I ever really manage to get my eyebrows and lip waxed on a regular basis is I combine it with a pedicure - the one errand I make the effort to accomplish!
  • post office - I hate that place, all 1,342 of them (or however many there are). I don't think I have ever been in a post office I liked and for some reason modernization has not managed to streamline waiting time at the post office. I avoid it at all costs but every so often a trip becomes necessary and I procrastinate it until the very last possible second;
  • birthday cards - I'm well intentioned with poor follow through skills;
  • grocery shopping - I think I only go about once a month and I never get more than a couple of bags unless I'm planning a party. At least this task has been reduced to internet ordering or the small over-priced store in my lobby so I don't have to leave my building;
  • purchasing new cell phone - it took me 3 days to buy a new phone when mine literally snapped in two pieces. Funny thing is it still worked, I just couldn't view incoming numbers and had to use the speaker phone to hear anything. Sadly in 3 days I think I received a total of 2 phone calls.

I'm sure there are more but those are the big ones that jump out at me at the moment. Am I alone in this?

Saturday, July 08, 2006

adapted quote

"Belief in God is an effort of the will and one's imagination."

Thursday, July 06, 2006

4th of July

I had my doubts when I was trying to park the rental car (even when I found a spot it was a tight left-hand parallel spot); then again when we had to wait for a personal escort through the police barricade into the building; then yet more doubt crept in when we reached the roof packed with NYU medical students, barbeques and tables overflowing with drinks and chips; doubt turned to great skepticism when I discovered our group was squeezed into the three foot wide space between some sort of roof shed and a high chain link fence - the shed acting as a buffer between the Mormon singles and everyone else. Our host claimed he felt his two worlds were colliding - church and school. We were afterall on top of his dorms. After all that effort and I already wanted to leave. The one redeeming point was on the other side of the chain link fence was an unobstructed view of the East River and the three Macy's fireworks barges with various police boats cruising around them.
One of my friends decided to climb up the slide-like incline onto the shed which turned out to be an enclosed stair-well. It was sturdier than the tin it appeared to be made of so a few more of us joined her. Suddenly we had the best fireworks viewing seat in the City. A light breeze was blowing, the River was in front of us, the City skyline with a quickly setting sun behind us and when we wanted snacks we just called down to our friends and they passed up chips, salsa, cookies, oreos . . . whatever we needed! The perfect night. Except I didn't have my camera to capture it all.
Luckily, my friends did and sent me these:

sitting on top of the shed


sunset view above and the river view (you can see one of the fireworks barges in the background) below:

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

DISCLAIMER ABOUT YESTERDAY'S POST

It is long and unedited. I had a lot swimming around in my head and it all fell out in pieces over the course of the last couple of days, the below post is the result. I didn't have the emotional strength to review, revise, censor or trim it down. So you get the raw and jagged version with its ups and downs. Proceed with caution......

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

together, forever? I barely made it through a week of togetherness with my family how will I survive eternity?

My parents arrived by way of train and taxi late last Monday afternoon after fleeing bizarre accusations from their newest daughter-in-law about ruining a ball gown stuffed in a shopping bag and left in the trunk of her car (she did this, not them). I was at work when they arrived so they were left on their own to find their way out of Penn Station, hail a cab and retrieve the key from the doorman. Their only stumbling blocks were figuring out how the keys worked (top and bottom locks turn in different directions, more confusing than it sounds) and their failure to spot the master light switch (which conserves energy while I'm away) for a short while during which they just fumbled around in the dark until they spotted the glowing red switch by the door. They agreed to meet me at a designated street corner for dinner and I took them to a tiny little Brazilian place I like which they enjoyed. We ended up staying up talking until close to 3 am, not the best idea on a Monday night but that is what my family does best - talk until the wee morning hours.

The week proceeded with them venturing out playing tourist while I worked and rushed home to spend time with them and introduce them to new places I thought they might enjoy. It was exhausting. The weather wasn't too terrible but the high humidity was definitely taking a toll on my desert dwelling parents. One evening I met up with them after their double-decker bus tour (the casual suggestion that possibly saved the week) and my dad exclaimed "Just standing here I am sweating, feel my arm! I am just sweating!!" I did not find it necessary to actually feel his arm as I could see that he was indeed sweating as he stood outside the Starbucks waiting for my mom to return from the restroom (travel tip: McDonalds and Starbucks are relatively good restrooms). When I asked him what he wanted for dinner he said it must be cold, wet, refreshing and don't forget, cold. I told him he was in luck since NYC now has 7-11 since it sounded like he wanted a slurpee for dinner. Since I knew my mother wouldn't really want a slurpee for dinner (and neither did my dad although he was too exhausted from all the sweating to object), I hailed a gratefully air-conditioned cab and we rushed up to a Turkish restaurant on the upper west side called Pasha where I declined outdoor seating to allow my dad some time to chill indoors awhile. Although the names of the dishes were unpronounceable we each managed to order something enjoyable and my dad's cucumber and tomato salad was cold, wet and refreshing so his mood lifted considerably. After dinner in the air conditioning I was able to convince my dad to walk home, or at least partway which turned into all the way home. We enjoyed a stroll down Columbus past the temple and through Lincoln Center where Latin dance night was in full swing with a live band and plenty of talented dancers to observe. My dad was so either surprisingly intrigued as demonstrated by his decision to figure out the video portion of his digital camera right there on the spot or he was tired and didn't want to admit to it so he used the latin dancing and the camera as an excuse. I surmise it really was the latter. We tried to get home in time for the sunset on my roof but missed it by a few minutes but they still enjoyed the dusky view of the City and the Hudson from 40 flights up. If their visit had ended there we all would have parted company wanting a bit more time together but satisfied nonetheless. That was Wednesday.

Instead, we pressed on. My dad oppressed by the heat and humidity, my mom strained by playing mediator between my dad and me and me - I was starting to wonder why I thought three people could cohabitate for a week in a one bedroom apartment. I was tired. Work was ramping up and demanding a lot from me. I was running a marathon each day from 730 am to past midnight. It was inevitable that I would snap.

It happened on Friday.

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

Above almost everything else my dad loves in this world is a good hamburger. He will talk about a hamburger he likes for years. He loves to know what greasy diner in some remote town in Idaho makes the best burgers. Even better, he loves to share these tidbits with others. I've heard him talk about the burger he ate in New Mexico somewhere on a road trip there in 1992! He remembers the name of the place, the day he ate there and what the weather was like as well as how the employees dress. I knew I needed to find my dad a good burger to brag about for the next 15 years. However, I don't like burgers. I was nearly disowned by my father when I finally admitted to this fact somewhere around my junior or senior year of high school. Since then I have eaten a total of two hamburgers:

Burger #1: from In N Out Burger because a boyfriend of mine tried to convince me this would cure me of my aversion to ground beef. It didn't. That was December 1996.
Burger #2: post-snowboarding with another boyfriend and nearly his entire extended family at a condo somewhere near Snow Basin ski resort. There wasn't any other option. The boyfriend offered to drive the 30-45 minutes to the nearest store to purchase an alternative for me but I told him I would eat a hamburger and insisted he not leave me alone with all his relatives and make me appear the picky, demanding girlfriend. I ate a burger, or some portion of one, but didn't really enjoy it. That was February 2001.

Because I had this aversion to hamburgers and my dad loves them so much, I was especially proud of the fact that I was in the know about "the hidden contender for the title of best New York City hamburger." (As an aside, although I had heard of this place often, I was also convinced to send my dad there after being forced to go there by yet another boy, but that time I didn't eat the burger, I had a sorry excuse for a grilled cheese - a slice of cheeze on a hamburger bun). So I kept telling my dad he had to try this place at lunch - when I would not be dining with them.

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

By Friday morning my parents (by that I mean my dad) were done site-seeing and decided to go to the temple. My mom wanted to do some shopping so the plan was temple, Burger Joint, shopping for my mom and apartment for my dad. Here is what actually happened.

They did a noon session and called me sometime between 2 and 230 for instructions to the Burger Joint. I explained that it was difficult to find so call if they got lost. I didn't hear from them until after 4 when my mom called.

No, they didn't find it.
No, they didn't go anywhere else.
No, they haven't eaten yet.
No, they didn't ask anyone for directions to the Parker Meridian. and
Yes, they were still very, very hungry.

This was bad news. I was planning on taking them to a nice restaurant or possibly a Broadway show (or at least my mother) for their last night in town. If they still hadn't eaten they needed to eat pronto and that meant dinner was out unless it was at 9. After I lost my temper at my dad's stubborn refusal to call when he couldn't find something and at the ruined plans I had sort of sketched out in my mind and at what I deemed was my dad's deliberate sabotage of my mother's shopping trip, my mom and I tried to come up with a solution. Actually, my mom listened to my tirade and finally we worked out a solution. I left work around 5 and met them at the Parker Meridian (it was a little difficult to find from 57th Street but by the time I found them they were at the 56th Street entrance feeling sheepish). By dad was in a sour mood until he ate the burger but even then he didn't admit he enjoyed it and will probably never consider it a great burger due to the tremendous effort and starvation that preceded the actual meal.

After feeding my father we sent him home and I went shopping with my mother. We had a great time together. We then picked up our rental car, stopped in Times Square so she could try the best popcorn ever - specifically the chocolate chunk n' caramel mixed with peanut butter. My dad was doing much better but anxious to do laundry and reminded me for the 3rd or 50th time that he was wearing his last clean set of underwear. So my parents and I enjoyed my favorite (or at least my most consistent) Friday night activity - laundry, online food delivery and a netflix movie. Everyone was hungry again so I introduced them to yet another of my favorites - a Malaysian place called Penang - and everyone was happy again.

My surly mood returned the next morning when my alarm went off at 545 a.m. on a SATURDAY! We were getting up early to beat traffic and to optimize the amount of time we spent with family at my dad's sister's beach house in Rhode Island. I got up, showered, packed and rushed myself along only to sit for 45 minutes as I watched my father deliberately pack and re-pack the 15 suitcases (okay 4) they felt were necessary for the trip. I guess when you find it necessary to pack not one but two extension cords and regret that you didn't bring speakers for your laptop and use one small wheely case strictly for dirty clothes, that much luggage is justified. I just didn't understand it. Not wanting to keep my sleep-deprived foul temper to myself I huffed and sighed and threw myself on the couch to express my deep annoyance at each delay - I had reverted to being 15 years old.

The drive made things worse. I was tired, physically, emotionally, mentally. I needed S P A C E and the car ride was not providing it. I missed a turnoff just north of the City. Not a big deal, I turned around and corrected. Then, in Providence, Rhode Island, I missed another one. This time I didn't notice it for a good 40 minutes. I'm generally pretty good at directions. I drive somewhere once and I remember. I had considered going a different way to the beach house but since I was barely speaking to my dad in the back seat and my mom was hopeless with maps I chose to press on without a navigator. This cost us probably an extra hour of driving. I tried to have good humor about it but when we were nearly there I broke down and cried - for no real reason. No one really said anything. I just said I was tired and felt bad that I was in such a bad mood while they were visiting and just cried. I pulled myself together as we closed in the approach and asked my dad not to mention the missed turns, I just couldn't handle it.

The first thing he said upon exiting the car was to tell my uncle that I missed a turn but we still made good time. I was hurt. It was an awkward reunion. My dad's sister's family is quite affluent. My parents could never hope to even rent their beach house for a weekend let alone own it. Sometimes the contrast is difficult. Their entire family is fit and slim and life seems go by with little effort. Children get married (save one) to active members of the Church, children beget more children (in fact each of the three married children is expecting) and children are successful just like their parents. There is always a pile of fruit on a tray on the kitchen island, dinner is always very good but filled with fresh vegetables and other good for you items. Everyone seems to be a runner. Even the pregnant ones are in-shape. They are also all smart and attractive and have loads of friends. Yes, they are the almost perfect family that can spend weekend after weekend together at the beach house without strife. I guess that is why my grandparents liked spending 4-6 weeks at their house but never stayed 4-6 days in a row at ours. My grandmother was there too. We just found out she has cancer the day before. She doesn't believe us. She now seems to like me too but even now it is clear she has always loved them best. They are playful with her, we are formal. Until very recently (meaning the last 2-3 years) I would not have attempted to hug or touch her in any way unless she was just arriving or departing. She was cold, distant and strict with us and barely knew much beyond our names and the small bits of information of what my dad would tell her about us. But my cousins - she joked and smiled and they had a nickname for her and she teased back. She knows them well and knows their friends better than she knows us. Her softening in recent years has only made me more sad about the disparate treatment because I have realized my dad is right - I am a lot like my grandmother.

Ultimately I spent a good deal of the day on the couch or on the porch reading or sleeping. Although I did spend some time throwing a football around with my brother - entertaining my parents, sister-in-law and grandmother in the process. Despite the fact that we were all there only one day, my parents, my brother and his wife and I somehow ended up being outside when they were in or inside when they were out most of the day.

We pushed on in our journey to Boston where we wisely chose to stay in a hotel rather than squeeze into my brother's apartment. Sunday was nice. We went to church, we snacked, I made a cake, I took another nap, we had dinner in my brother's extraordinarily hot apartment then hauled everyone back to the air conditioned hotel where we had birthday cake for my sister-in-law and then squeezed around my laptop to watch a movie.

Then, on Monday, the worst part happened. The discussion fell upon my cousin K who recently moved back to Boston from SF. Despite only two years difference, I don't know my cousin at all. We are not close. We can barely manage a small talkish conversation. But then my dad said "K just needs to get married." NEEDS??? I questioned. He responded that casually that he says the same thing of me. I told him that is a terribly mean thing to say and he responded "maybe in your world." I couldn't argue. I didn't want to argue. I was more hurt than outraged. I couldn't believe my dad misundstands me so much. What does he mean "my world" and does he really not understand how much it would hurt me to say that I "just need" to get married? Like that is going to solve all my problems. As if getting married is the solution to whatever sickness or condition is currently plaguing me. Getting married would help me figure out my life.

I left the room. He never apologized. I didn't mention it again but it hasn't left me for three days - the disappointment that my own father thinks I just need to get married. Maybe you will agree but this is not something I want to hear when I am supposed to be transitioning out of a singles ward. This next step has made me question where I will be landing. I can't say that I've been especially diligent when it comes to pondering the things of God lately. I made a huge choice nearly two years ago that was supposed to solidify my committment to the Church and should have strengthened my testimony. It didn't and it hasn't. That is my confession. I am lost. I've tried to express this at different times and to different people and with no real result. For some reason my dad's stinging words which were never meant to hurt me, have brought this confusion to the forefront of my thoughts. Maybe because to a certain degree ever since I made that big decision two years ago I have wondered, at what age will I just give up and go back to him (as if that is an option) because I'd rather be with someone I love even if it means giving up something important.

So my final question is if I don't get married who will be my forever family? My siblings will each be with their own, my friends theirs and I clearly can't go a week with my parents. I guess I will have to hope for a one bedroom with a great view.
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