Thursday, August 31, 2006

10 ten reasons why I am working in Office Space

  1. everyone wears nametags even though they don't have any sort of customer traffic
  2. there are full candy dishes on every ledge and desk
  3. cubicles are all decorated - some with giant banners with a date which I assume was some sort of mile-marker with the company
  4. there is a company fight song on the wall in one of the conference rooms
  5. I frequently see people returning from birthday cake gatherings and I was even offered birthday donuts once
  6. cheezy slogans on the walls
  7. each desk and cube has a poster (red or blue, I assume some sort of "team") with the person's name or nick-name, interests and a quote
  8. if there are stray push-pins or magnets they are put to use spelling someone's name or "HI"
  9. everyone is suspicious of the strange lawyers sequestered in fish-bowl offices
  10. I found this quote in the employee manual: "We want you to go home after every day of work and say 'I love my job.' We want every customer and every associate to be TICKLED, DELIGHTED and HAPPY." (emphasis in original)

Up until this last point you may have thought I was describing your office, right? But is anyone else frightened by the terribly pushy command that an employee be TICKLED, DELIGHTED and HAPPY?? For the most part I like my job and some days I even might say I enjoy it. However, I do not anticipate that I will ever use the words "tickled" or "delighted" to describe it. Maybe if my job involved lounging at the beach eating bon bons (that never made me gain weight) while an attractive young man fanned me with a giant palm and did all my bidding. . . . maybe then I would feel tickled to go to work. But from what I have seen of this place, there isn't a job description like that.

Another oddity I must note, the company purchases lunch for us each day. For the first couple of days we received the same sandwiches from the cafeteria on something called squaw bread - I'd never heard of it before but I really like it. The sandwich was always accompanied by a giant cookie and chips. Our lunch is always delivered sometime between 11 and 1130 a.m. What is up with that? Who eats lunch that early? It only makes the afternoon excrutiatingly long which results in me eating the cookie I was trying not to eat - like I can really ignore a perfectly good chocolate chip cookie sitting on my desk for very long!

This week we have moved away from the cafeteria. On Monday we had Chinese - although the woman was startled that I wanted a menu before making my selection. Silly me. Immediately following lunch on Monday I was emailed a menu for Tuesday's dining selection - more sandwiches. By the time I arrived in the office Tuesday morning I received an irritated email explaining that if we did not submit our lunch orders by 830 we would not be getting lunch. What? Where is this woman ordering the food from? There are only 4 of us working here, not a lot of coordinating. We all managed to slip our orders in and ended up with sandwiches not as good as the cafeteria. Wednesday we were neglected and no one even asked us what we wanted until 11 and we ate at a heavy italian lunch that included miniature cheese cakes at a normal lunch hour of 1 pm. But today was the strangest of all. We never received a menu and we were never questioned about choices. Instead, we received an email telling us what had been ordered and that it would arrive at 1130. It was pizza and a massive pile of cookies from California Pizza Kitchen and as we were eating it in the kitchen, vultures swooped in and stole pieces. I'm sure tomorrow will bring yet another lunch surprise that is not weight watchers approved. . .

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

alone with my solitude

On Sunday this phrase flew into my head as I snuck out of church immediately after the sacrament, and I was proud of myself for lasting that long. The ward I stumbled into was a singles branch where the average age could not have been over 22 or 23. A friend had recommended an "older" singles ward which happened to meet in the same building but when I peeked in I saw a lot of gray hair and bald heads so I thought I was mistaken and continued to wander the halls of the building and discovered a second chapel on the opposite end of the spectrum. I sat down before I realized how young everyone was, then I wondered how long I should stay. Before the first speaker was even introduced, I fled.
I drove back to the hotel, changed my clothes and started driving down the Pacific Coast Highway searching for . . . an escape from my thoughts, a distraction from the lonelieness that has been spotlighted for me on my extended business trip. My phone doesn't ring, I get very few personal emails. I watched the waves and all the families and friends enjoying a perfect day at the beach and I wanted to join them. Then I remembered my solitary beach trip the day before which resulted in a nasty red sunburn on my back, jagged at the top where my sunscreen ended its spray, stark and straight along the bottom where the sun was stopped by my swimming suit with a couple of finger marks on the sides where I attempted to rub in a bit of the spray-on sunscreen. As it turns out, the beach isn't nearly as fun alone. There was a strong rip tide warning which I felt tugging at me when I ventured into the water so I never did more than wade in to the point just before the waves were breaking. Normally I would have rented a boogie board and been thrilled by the large waves. Somehow it didn't draw me in.
Fashion Island was another adventure in solitude that left me feeling empty. I wandered the stores uninspired and disappointed. I even stumbled onto an inside joke with TW - highlighting the fact I hadn't heard from him. Everywhere I went there were families and couples and mothers with babies. The biological clock is real, its tick getting louder each year. I have always wanted children; more accurately, I have never thought of kids as a choice, it was more of a "when" than an "if." A change has taken place, in the last couple of years I have caught myself editing out the "when" and replacing it with "if I have kids. . . ." In the past I would yearn only for the companionship of a relationship and not the fulfillment of starting a family. Now I feel both.
Is it any wonder I have been accused of possibly settling? I've been considering the comment left on this post and asked myself if I am lowering my standards so to speak due to a lack of options. I was startled by the comment but considered all the other guys I have had crushes on or dated from whom I gained the perspective of hind-sight later and realized I was lucky I hadn't settled. Settling implies I have somehow accepted something lesser or inferior as an alternative to what I deserve. Can one settle before making a committment? Was I settling when I dated guys who didn't match my standards? Or is that what dating is for - searching for compatibility and considering what ideals are worth comprimising. I am already cautious and selective, perhaps overly so. It is difficult to be objective in this area when I am lonely and don't see many options and a prospect pops up - no matter how remote.
Alone with my solitude, driving down California's scenic coastline, I questioned my expectations, my desires, my priorities. I have never had, nor do I currently have a "list" of must-haves or even would-like-to-haves; although there are certainly qualities I consider essential. The quesion is - should being pursued be a top priority? Is that an essential element? If I had multiple options or even if I just felt like there were other options out there waiting around the corner, would TW be someone I would still consider despite the fact that the boy can't send an email when I disappear for weeks?
I can't answer that.
What I do know is I am impatient, always have been. I've also been pursued in nearly every relationship in which I've ever been involved, those where I pursued fell pretty flat. When I'm pursued I usually let the boy kiss me too soon because my theory has always been to kiss every frog. But maybe that isn't the best way. Maybe it is good to slow down and enjoy the gradual progression which allows me to appreciate each small step for what it is.
No matter how alone I feel, I am grateful that my current lonelieness is expected and primarily due to being single. I recently read a book wherein the main character was lonely in her marriage yet insisted she was happy in letters and when talking with others. This dredged up some long-ago buried feelings of isolation. It is socially unacceptable and personally heart-breaking to admit you are lonely in your marriage.

Which is why I do not believe I will be tempted to settle again but am grateful for friends who are also looking out for me as well. Maybe I'm not quite so alone in my solitude after all.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Friday Quote

This beautiful quote is from a surprise card I received in the mail a couple of weeks ago from one of my oldest and most cherished friends after I kept her up talking in her driveway into the wee hours of the morning on a random Monday evening about our most private thoughts and beliefs. Everyone deserves an friendship as enduring and adaptable as ours. Our friendship is proof positive that something good can come from lining up alphabetically in 8th grade gym class.

"believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, not even if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense."
Buddha

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Fashion Island

A few years ago about this time of year, I started seeing advertisements for a certain show that looked as if it would fill the guilty-pleasure void I had gaping inside me ever since 90210 went off the air oh, so many years ago. Let me explain that to fully enjoy 90210 it was required that you mock everything they characters, wore, said and did - preferably with anther mocker. For me, that co-mocker was my brother. We loved the drama of the show and the startling seriousness of other fans. So when Fox started advertising a show called The OC, I could only hope it would be as good (in a bad way) as what surely was its inspiration - Beverly Hills 90210. My brother and I, in different states and time zones were addicts from the initial pilot. Every Thursday night we would cast everything aside to watch and then confer to weigh the pros and cons of each episode. After season 1 I even went so far as to purchase the dvd set and my sister and I watched it over and over and even sucked my cousin in over Thanksgiving one year. By the time season 2 hit the air my sister and I were living together and she had joined the beautiful addiction of loving something so bad. Of course, we had standards and season 2 started to lag but redeemed itself near the end enough to coax me into purchasing the dvd set once again. However, by season 3 I had moved to NYC and my work schedule and my vcr (I haven't joined the tivo world yet) didn't cooperate enough to allow me to continue my addiction. Besides, from what I hear the decline has continued and the show has never been as good as the first season.
So, with that background, I must say a trip to the OC cannot be complete in my mind without seeing Newport in general and specifically - Fashion Island. Fashion Island is referenced numerous times throughout the show in a way that makes it sound like a shopping haven. This afternoon I was given the option to move from my Marriott Courtyard just off the freeway that is nowhere near anything interesting to a hotel at Fashion Island. I didn't think about it too long - I move in tomorrow. Anyone interested in a visit to So Cal now? We can explore what it means to be a Newpsie together. . .

Angels

For my first full day in the OC, I worked. But then I went to a baseball game - the Angels versus the Red Sox to be more precise. I realized prior to coming out here that I should call/email everyone I know in the LA, OC region to beg for friends for the next few weeks. The only person I actually ended up sending a plea to was my good friend PJ. PJ and I met years ago as baby lawyers in NYC. I don't remember exactly how or when we first met but here are a few highlights of the adventures we have shared together:
  • rollerblading double date (meaning he and his best friend were both my dates) down the West Side Highway to Battery Park, stunning sunset over the Hudson River and the Statue of Liberty, greasy fries and shakes at a sketchy diner (still wearing the rollerblades) and finishing the night by watching a movie on my pull-out couch (at the boys' insistence) wedged between the boys with popcorn, still one of my favorite NYC evenings;
  • road trip from NYC to Duck Beach, North Carolina learning every detail of PJ's life (he is quite the story teller) in the 12 hour drive there and back - although a particular low light was having PJ talk me into turning my swimming suit butt toward a camera in the hot tub. . . not happy that those photos are out there somewhere;
  • road trip from SLC to LA a couple of years ago for what he promised would be the greatest singles party ever . . . it wasn't but I enjoyed PJ's stories along the way;
  • sand volleyball PJ organized at the Hudson River pier on Saturdays;
  • the Super Bowl Sunday where he almost broke up with his best friend because we (me and the two other guys we were hanging out with) decided to have our own Super Bowl party instead of going to the one we were headed to but couldn't tell PJ our shift in plans because he was the only NYer to not own a cell phone;
  • watching independent movies with him when he would visit SLC from Idaho where he was reporter;
  • oh, a great one was when he showed me a tape he made at a class at NYU of him being a reporter (he did this on vacation) and I told him he looked like a "real" reporter, a few weeks later he told me he got a job in Idaho Falls as a reporter!
  • and now, meeting him for an Angels game after virtually no contact for over a year - we were both pretty disappointed in ourselves for having fallen so far out of touch.

Hopefully PJ and I will have some more opportunities to hang out. He is now in-house counsel (back to being a lawyer) with the Norton Simon Museum. That got me really excited because from the timeI was 10 until I graduated from high school I had a framed Degas print from the Norton Simon Museum in my bedroom. I LOVED that print, it was my first piece of art I loved and the first artist I ever really got excited about. So the Norton Simon Museum is definitely on my list of must-sees while I'm here, especially since I have a free hook-up!

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

California Greetings

Shortly after I disembarked from my cross-country flight, I began noticing the differences between where I was coming from and the place in which I had just landed. Standing around the baggage carousel I felt like I could pick out the Californians from the New York/New Jersey passengers by their height, their blondeness, their tans and their bright smiling faces. Not that people don't smile in New York, just not normally while they stand around a baggage carousel waiting for their suit case to slide down the conveyer belt. Or in front of strangers. At my hotel I was given a warm and almost overly-exuberant greeting from the desk clerk who insisted I sign up for the hotel's rewards program since I will be here a whole 15 days. He then did what he could to find the best king size room available and was accommodating when I requested extra hangars after inspecting my room.
I ventured out to explore my surroundings after I unpacked my bag and felt claustrophobia descending before even an hour had passed in the small room, how will I manage 2-3 weeks here? I did a test run to the office where I will be working starting 8 am tomorrow and then looked for a grocery store among the golf courses, strip malls and endless rows of nearly identical tract home developments. It sunk in that this is why I live in NYC. In law school I made several interview trips to Orange County and though I don't believe I ever truly envisioned myself living here, I got excited about the prospect. I believe New York turned out to be the better match for me. But I shouldn't be so quick to judge after a mere 45 minute drive around Orange County.
At the grocery store I felt very suburban maneuvering my Ford Freestyle (a vehicle I had never heard of before Hertz handed over the keys) into a spot. I walked in the grocery store and was quickly disoriented. I couldn't find the carts. I saw baskets but felt I wanted the luxury of a cart since I didn't have to keep the weight of my load in check as I did when shopping in Manhattan and walking the purchases home. Other people had carts. After inspecting all the obvious places I walked back outside and discovered them there, far from the entrance I had used. Pushing my cart I went about stocking up on snacks and beverages and breakfast items that could be stored in my mini-fridge. At one point when I wheeled into the produce area, before I had a chance to really assess my needs, the produce man stocking the nectarine stand asked if I needed help finding anything. I was startled. He was offering me assistance? I quickly declined and reached for a couple of apples, the closest stand. I gathered my carrots, apples and a couple of plums and decided to loop around the store again to see if I could find the hummus on a second trip. I didn't think the produce man would be much help with hummus. On the opposite side of the store, near the deli I was once again searching the specialty cheeses and dips wondering if it was possible they don't have hummus in Orange County when another service oriented employee called out from behind the counter - do you need help finding anything? This time I did. Did I look lost? He led me to a semi-obstroctued display with a variety of tubs of hummus. He pulled them off the shelf explaining the different types by their labels. Then queried - "what do you do with hummus?" I was startled again. Everyone was so engaging. I explained that I liked to dip triscuits and carrots in hummus, grabbed the garlic version and retreated to my cart and the check-out lane. I made it out of the store without another conversation although I did note the cashier was especially upbeat and thanked me by name which she read off my receipt. She seemed surprised when I declined a Von's card, even after I explained I don't live here. Maybe I was too curt about it, I think it is hard for me to judge these things when I am taken out of NYC too quickly. I'm so used to walking around in my solitary bubble it is almost shocking to encounter people who ignore the shell and press in. Routine questions require direct answers in NYC. If you embellish people get impatient and irritated. A smile gets you nowhere and could make you a victim of unsolicited conversation. You learn to cut out anything unnecessary. But here, everyone smiles and greets you like they see you every day. I think this happens in Utah too but I guess I just expect it there, that is part of the quirkieness of home. It just caught me by surprise here.

Monday, August 21, 2006

unanswered emails, insomnia, a 5 floor walk-up, boobs and the good bye

Last week flew by in a blur of long work hours which helped distract me from the unanswered emails I had sent out earlier in the week to a certain boy. Honestly, how difficult is it to respond to an email? Late Friday afternoon I was basking in the feeling of having wrapped up a project due Monday morning ahead of the weekend when I got a phone call - from TW. I had considered calling him but managed to supress the urge so I was very happy to see his name light up my phone. He had failed to respond to emails earlier in the week (to a group) so he was unaware that the tentative plan to camp out for free tickets to Shakespeare in the Park had been scratched. But somehow we started talking about what to do with the $25 he found last week and that turned into where to go for dinner and I finally asked - "for tonight?" just to clarify what was transpiring. I turned into a date. Tricky.

He met me at my office and we went to dinner at Boca Chica, a Carribean restaurant in the East Vilalge. I told him he needed to come up with an after-dinner activity since I chose the restaurant. He isn't good with decisions so we walked for a while and ended up in the West Village and he suggested dessert but didn't know a place. He is new in the City but there we were in the middle of the Village, surely he could find a place with dessert. I told him to pick a place and we zig-zagged aimlessly through the streets until I pointed out some people eating dessert at a sidewalk cafe and taking the not-so-subtle hint he suggested we eat there. This is one of those traits that at the moment I am mildly entertained by but could get annoying if it keeps up. Contrary to some people's understanding of me, I do not like planning everything. After dessert we went to my place and watched an odd little movie called Saint Ralph. I wanted to watch a more romantic movie - we were both leaning toward Il Postino but when I opened the Netflix envelope I pulled out a broken dvd so we were stuck with the strange and quirky, far from romantic Saint Ralph. At then end of the night he practically ran out the door. Once again I was left wondering what I was doing with this guy who couldn't even manage a hug at the end of the night. Some definite mixed signals.

It was around 1 am and I went to bed but did not sleep. I rolled from one side of my bed to the other, occasionally opening an eye and look at the clock march forward. Sometimes I drifted off for 20 or 30 minutes and then I was awake again. My mind kept getting stuck on insignificant thoughts which refused to leave. I think I drifted off around 4 only to wake up again at 8 or 830 from a vivid dream that involved shopping for mascara, a jerking car ride with the sales clerk down 11th Avenue while attempting to apply the new chic mascara that gave me 5 inch eye lashes and a Bath and Bodyworks store suddenly appearing in my building lobby where I was now barefoot having left my flipflops in the back of the girl's car. I gave up. Sleep was not working out for me and I needed to help move a friend at 10 so I decided to just read instead.

My friend was moving from a 5 floor walk-up to a 4 floor walk-up. That means a lot of stairs. Luckily, she was all packed, a lot of people showed up to help and she didn't have a lot of stuff because it was a muggy, humid morning and just one trip up the stairs was enough to make me sweat. TW also helped with the move and I used the time to analyze him a little more in a non-date setting. Here are a few I came up with. Pros: great blue eyes, lots of dark curly hair, tall, fun sense of humor, well-read, smart, put together, good style, definitely seems interested in me. Cons: unresponsive to both phone calls and email, bad at making plans/decisions, quiet and shy in groups. Hmmm, it doesn't look good when I line it up like that but he some other drawing power for me that I can't quite explain so I decided it is still too early to give up. While everyone was eating pizza after the moving was complete someone suggested we all get together again that evening for dinner. Plans were still up in the air when I headed out to meet another friend for brunch but TW was in and so was I. More group time.

The lack of sleep caught up with me that afternoon with a powerful headache that forced me to discard my contacts and seek refuge on my couch for a couple of hours (although sleep still eluded me). After a long hot shower, I was able to head back out for the evening. As it turned out, our dinner group happened to be 3 guys and 3 girls. This is such a rareity in the NYC mormon singles scene. Generally, there are 4-5 girls and maybe two guys. And usually the one or two guys are completely undatable because they are with someone or just weird. One of the guys was weird but I was only interested in TW so I left others to worry about him. I was still battling the after-effects of my afternoon head ache while our group enjoyed Thai food and tried to come up with a post-dinner plan. We had planned on attending a free outdoor concert but the on and off drizzling rain made us change course and we ended up at my place instead. By the time we were all seated in my living room I was fully recovered from the throbbing and ended up in one of my hyper annoying modes. At least that is how I felt at the end of the night. Conversation bounced around the room but somehow I kept telling stories about random and obnoxious things. TW was sitting on the love seat but I was on the couch next to another boy with whom I thought it was safe to flirt. I don't know why I got like that. Sometimes I wish I had the excuse that I had too much to drink. Can an ice-cream cone have that effect on you? Or maybe it was the Diet Coke? As is always the case when a group of singles is left to talk, the conversation kept landing on dating and relationships. At one point one of the girls (who was sitting next to TW and seems to have taken an interest in him despite her prodding me a couple of weeks ago about wanting him to date me) complained how she hates when a guy takes a long time to kiss her. As far as I know, she does not know the details of how much I have been seeing TW and that this is my current situation but it felt like she was spotlighting the issue for him! Awkward. But it was even more awkward when the third guy (not the one I chose to flirt with but the weird one) kept making leering comments toward me. Like when I made a passing comment about having marriage or relationship issues (like everyone) and he said that was one of the first things he noticed about me. WHAT?? This guy is weird. I normally avoid social situations with him and now I know why. When I was telling a story about shopping for shorts at the Gap in Tokyo he interrupted me to say "oh, I was just picturing you in Japanese shorts." It was creepy. Anxious to distance myself from weird guy, change the seating arrangements and end my obnoxious behavior I suggested we go to the roof since it wasn't raining anymore. We spread out on some deck chairs and TW sat next to me. The wind was picking up speed and making it difficult to talk to anyone but the person next to you, which was fine except it was getting cold. We didn't last long. There was a smallish party going on near the door leaving the roof which we had to pass through to go back to my apartment. As TW and I approached the party I commented on one woman's dress that wasn't so much a dress as a tube, except it really couldn't be considered a tube since the sides weren't completey intact but instead were just strips of cloth, the bare minimum material required to hold the front piece to the back. Just as I was about to counter TW that a towel would actually cover more, the woman took a hold of the top of the "dress" and pulled it down to expose a very large breast to the man with whom she was engaged in coversation. It was quite matter of fact, almost clinical. When the breast flopped out I was close enough I might have been able to touch her if I had stretched out an arm and leaned toward her. I turned to TW trying to supress my laughing and and gauge his response, he was doing the same. A couple more steps and we were back inside waiting for the elevator and the entire group started laughing and gasping at what we had just witnessed. What had we just witnessed? Apparently, after I looked away she pulled the entire tube to her waist to expose both breasts for her conversation mate. It wasn't a Girls-Gone-Wild-I'm-flashing-my-boobs-for-beads type of exposure, it was like she was rolling up her sleeve to show someone her forearm. We decided she must have recently had some sort of augmentation surgery she was looking to show off. Oddly enough the leering boy of our group somehow missed it all. Which was probably for the best. My favorite line was the next day when TW and I were telling his roommate and his girlfriend about it and the roommate said "I've never seen one in real life."

Despite another late night, no nap, a Singulair (which normally knocks me out) and a clear desire to sleep, insomnia met me in bed again that night. Around 230 I gave up, turned on the lamp and finished a book I had been reading. Then turned on a cd and tossed and turned for a few more hours following the same pattern as the night before. Once again, sleeping in wasn't an option, I was hosting a brunch. I moved in slow motion as a I cooked and cried over an especially potent onion. Then cried again when my eyes sealed shut and rejected my contacts. I started wondering if this sore throat, coughing and chest tightness was not just a result of skipping two days of asthma medication but possibly I was getting sick which was why I wasn't sleeping. I made it through the brunch and church in a haze. This week I just sat in my seat in Sunday school and TW came straight to me and sat there. It was probably my last week in that ward so I was happy to not play any games. He sat by me again in sacrament meeting.

After church I was going to TW's apartment for the first time. His roommate's girlfriend had invited us both to dinner at his apartment to be cooked by the roommate. On the subway ride I realized we are getting comfortable together. There were a number of other people from the ward on our train and we ended up in separate conversations to start the ride but managed to share a couple of inside jokes along the way. His roommate had meetings after church and wouldn't be home for another hour or two so we snacked on bran muffins I brought from my brunch and TW gave me the tour of his new apartment. Again, I realized we are relaxing. It doesn't feel as strained although strained is not the right word for it. I don't mean strained as in hard to carry on a conversation. I mean strained as in all the effort that is put in to saying the right things in the beginning. It just felt natural hanging out on his couch leafing through a massive fashion magazine together that was directed to the prior tenant. After dinner we watched a movie - four of us squeezed on their single couch. The roommate and his girlfriend curled up on one end, TW and I not quite so intimate. I wanted to be comfortable enough to just lean up against him but my impression is he needs to take the first steps. I have to just wait. I've never been the one to make the moves anyway. After the movie the roommate walked his girlfriend home and I helped TW finish up the dessert dishes. I collected my things and headed for the door. I am getting sent to California for 2-3 weeks for work this weeks so I knew I wouldn't be seeing him for a while and wanted . . . something. I just needed a signal more tangible than catching him looking at me or his leg pressed against mine during the movie to confirm that this is more than just a budding friendship. The night before the group had discussed hugs. I had explained there was a preferred technique and one of the guys had countered. That guy hugged me when he left that night but TW remained silent and did nothing. I was disappointed but not surprised. As I was standing in TW's doorway, I asked him if he would miss me while I was away - fishing. I harrassed him about his inability to email and make phone calls and said I knew I wouldn't hear from him. He said low expectations were good . . . he was joking but I really am not happy about this point and I told him he should surprise me. Then he said, "let's see if I'm getting this right. . . " and he reached out and hugged me. I've never had so much build up toward a single hug. It was good. He literally reached out. I'm still debating whether the slowness and lack of emailing/phoning skills are endearing and worth the wait or whether it will ultimately be what annoys me about him. But for now, it is sweet and I'm enjoying it and I can't help smiling when I think about him.

And last night, I fell asleep as soon as I turned out the light.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

why are girls so mean?

I usually ask this question when I have been the victim, when I felt wronged, when I was struggling to understand the words or actions of a one time friend. Like when my best friend from the summer passed me a note early in our 6th grade year that read: "I can't be your best friend anymore." She never spoke to me again. Or again in 9th grade when my summer friend just stopped talking to me when we returned to school. More recently but along the same juvenile lines I had a one-time friend freeze me out and then email me that she needed a break, we were never close again. Such incidents are never anticipated and always sting. The prevelant question that springs to mind during the resulting lonelieness but is rarely answered is always "why?"

This time I am watching from a somewhat neutral point as two girls squeeze out a friend of mine. I am listening to her ask why and I have no answers. Over the summer my friend has confided in me over little slights and seeming paranoias related to these two friends, she worried that she was overreacting. I listened and told her to just protect herself by being cautious but don't jump to conclusions yet, often people are just acting selfishly and don't realize how their actions effect others. But last weekend it became clear that the girls had lapsed into junior high behavior and squeezed my friend out of a trip they had been planning by just not telling her the details, not returning her phone calls and then telling her it was too late, everything was already set but if she could find another boy to go along she could join them . . . they didn't want her disrupting their 1 to 1 ratio with boys they weren't dating, boys who were unaware of the manipulating. The why was about a boy, the most common answer.

Years ago during one of the more traumatic of these episodes in my life, my dad told me the best thing I could do was to move on and live well. He knew I wouldn't get a complete and satisfying answer to why and encouraged me to start over. At the time I thought this was horrible advice but I listened because my dad was recovering from a surgery he should not have survived so I assumed that made him wiser. I did move on and I am living well but every time I see girls cast someone out (whether it is me or a friend), I am thrust back into those feelings of rejection - the coldness, the unexplained distance, the hollow feeling of having lost your place in society, the vulnerability. Then the self-doubt and the inner questioning of "what did I do wrong?", "what could I have done differently?" and even worse "what is wrong with me?" takes over and spirals you down. Having endured these feelings and thoughts in my past on a recurring basis I feel I should have something better to say than "move on and live well." But as it turns out my dad's words of wisdom are the best advice I can come up with. I have salvaged friendships after bitter fights and even after freeze-outs and some are stronger for it and usually the why (whether it is disclosed or just guessed) amounts to insecurities, jealousies and cowardice.

I just hope no one views me as the mean girl . . .

Monday, August 14, 2006

my weekend: a good start, a great ending but some not so great parts in the middle

First off, I have to recommend this movie. It was SO funny, I laughed throughout the entire movie (even at times where it may not have been appropriate to laugh) and the audience burst into spontaneous applause at the end. When does that happen? And in NYC? Seriously, best movie I have seen in ages. Although I have to warn everyone I have a high tolerance for rated R content but I think this one was mostly language. Plus it is quirky so if you aren't into quirky indy movies this probably isn't for you. That was Friday night.

On Saturday I meant to go to work and then just never got around to it. I was too busy being productive at home - I did laundry, went to the gym, made a half-hearted effort to clean out a closet, did some minor cleaning and read a couple of books - one while getting some sun on my roof. All of this without leaving my building, all day. All the while I was distracted because around noon I got brave and made a phone call - to TW. I got his voicemail, left a message. He never returned the call! Later in the afternoon I decided to call other people to find something to do to distract me from the fact that he was not returning my call - I no longer wanted a solitary evening with a book. That is when I discovered every person I knew was out of town or not returning my phone calls (so the list only included about 3 people, but still). I spent Saturday watching movies and fighting off the voices in my head that kept reminding me how alone I am, questioning the direction and purpose of my solitary life. I believe this happens to everyone now and then and it has been rarer and rarer for me. But Saturday night I succombed, watched 3 movies, ate a lot of popcorn with peanut m&ms and wallowed a bit.

Sunday I decided I needed to just look really good and ignore TW. I'm not sure why this seemed like a good plan but it was all I had. It didn't work out for two reasons: 1) he looked REALLY good - first time he has worn a suit, navy with blue pinstripes, very fashionable cut; and 2) his roommate's girlfriend, who is a friend of mine, decided she wants to get us together. So while I managed to avoid him before sunday school, he came straight over to talk to me afterwards - not a big stretch as I was sitting directly in front of him, but he made the effort. Then, as we were talking my matchmaker friend asked if I was going to make dinner for them (meaning TW, her and her boyfriend). Her boyfriend was mortified that she would invite us all over like that but I knew what she was trying to do and TW seemed like he wanted to do it and like I said - he looked SO GOOD! It wasn't fair. So it was kind of a replay of last week, but this time we were alone most of the time. My friend conveniently decided she should wait for her boyfriend to finish his meetings and told TW and I to go on ahead.

We got on the 1 train at 14th Street like any other Sunday and the car was mostly empty so we sat down and talked about Life of Pi and how much he is not enjoying the book and cannot finish it. I harrassed him about missing the deeper symbolism. By the time we got to 42nd Street the train was pretty full and there was chaos on the platform, and the chaos was moving into our car. Then I remembered what the chaos was about - it was Dominican Day. Around 50 Dominicans boarded our train with flags and whistles and cow bells and cameras and did I mention the whistles? They were singing and yelling and WHISTLING - loudly! As the train rolled along we were squeezed tighter and tighter in our seats and I was looking around to see if we would be able to get out at our stop. The singing and whistling was taking over the train and they were jumping and pounding on the ceiling. If I thought I had the ability to move I would have taken a photo like a couple of others I saw because it was just wild and unbelievable. I've never seen anything like it. We only had two stops to go but the train slowed down and the car heated up so it seemed to take far longer than necessary. Our conversation was reduced to shock at what was unfolding in front of us. When we finally reached 59th Street we barely managed to squeeze out of the car as more celebrating Dominicans pushed their way in. The NYPD was suddenly everywhere. We were close to the station exit and I pushed my way to the turnstile and just as I was about to push through the one-way exit I looked over toward the main entrance. There was a mass of people that looked as if they were on the brink of getting ugly. The police were holding them at bay and the entire station was packed solid with people - mostly raising Domincan flags, singing and more of those shrill whistles. We ran out into daylight and pushed against the throng of people who continued to mob the subway. On the stairs a guy grabbed TW's arm, looked at me and said "he looks just like John F. Kennedy, Jr." as we exchanged startled looks the guy repeated it and said "no, really!" We didn't really respond but practically ran across the street to avoid getting pulled back down into the subway. It was wild!

We stopped at the store to pick up a few things for dinner and as we were crossing 9th Avenue TW found a $20 bill and a $5 bill in the street. We looked around and there wasn't a person in sight so he kept it and said we should do something with it together. As he was leaving last night I told him it was up to him to come up with a good $25 activity for us.

Dinner was great, very similar to last week. A lot of laughing and teasing. His roommate and girlfriend showed up right when dinner was ready and left not long after that. TW made no move to go with them. So we spent the rest of the evening alone. I told him to pick a movie and oddly he chose Lorna Doone. A movie my parents gave me for my birthday that I had not yet taken out of the wrapping. We decided to check it out. About 15-20 minutes into it I turned and asked if he was enjoying it. He wasn't, I wasn't. We turned it off and put in The Office.

He sat right next to me and I really wanted him to hold my hand or do SOMETHING! He didn't. But I really think he was the reason we ended up shoulder to shoulder, I certainly don't remember scooting closer. When the movie ended we sat there, legs and arms touching and talked. When he was telling me about the three different textures of his hair (don't ask why) I even ran my fingers through his hair - which is amazing, by the way. He has thick, dark curly hair that is kind of longish but not shaggy. And have I mentioned his eyes? He has icy blue eyes. Everytime I see him he has some stubble, which I'm not usually a fan of but it really works for him. Can you tell I am completely attracted to this guy? Despite my complete cave on the plan to ignore him, I did chastise him for failing to return my call Saturday. He had somewhat of an excuse but then said that is one of his issues. Last week Brooke and I had tried to get him to tell us about his issues and he couldn't come up with anything. So now I know - bad at returning phone calls and email. At least this time he didn't leave without making plans for next weekend. That's progress.

Now I just have to continue to have patience because good things come to those who wait. . . right?

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Winter in August

There is a little tv screen in the elevator in my office building that was installed about 6 months ago. It displays the time, ads, weather and scrolls through little news snippets. Important news like Paul McCartney and wife will be using the same divorce lawyers used by Princess Diana and Prince Charles. I also learned that chocolate milk is better at enhancing performance than drinks such as Gatorade. Where else would I get such vital news? The temperature is always off by about 5 to 10 degrees but everyone stares at whatever junk shows up on the screen. I think it is called captivate or something like that which is appropriate. What else are you going to stare at when the car seems to stop at every floor from 12 to 18 (I'm on 18 and my elevator bank starts at 12, 12a to be more precise, shortly before the tv was installed 13 was changed to 12b)? Afterall, proper elevator etiquette dictates that you walk in, move to the back (preferrably the corner) and stare at the doors, the floor number (lest you accidentally get out on the wrong floor) and now Captivate.

Every so often there are polls which request viewers return to their desks and log onto their website so send in answers. I always wonder who responds to these strange polls. Most of the time I feel the elevator is some sort of vortex. Whatever was in my head before I enter is left behind when the doors squeeze shut and anything I think of while I'm in there, remains there. Besides, why would I partcicipate in polls and questions such as - what is the best decorated cube in your office? or what guilty pleasure novel are you reading this summer? But this particular poll caught my attention -

Does it feel like winter in August in your office?

I thought - Why yes, yes it does dear captivate elevator tv. My office is freezing! I wear the same black cardigan sweater every day no matter what I am wearing and how well it matches. And I am often still cold. That is when I have to resort to using the space heater under my desk - in August! What a waste of air conditioning and heat.

But as usual I exited the elevator and didn't think about the question again until this morning when the results scrolled by. I have of course forgotten the precise figures because a) I always forget numbers; and b) elevator vortex problem. But I believe about 71% of the responders (in this highly scientific poll) claimed their offices are too cold. This might explain the girl wearing a wool sweater leaving my apartment building this morning - she must work in the antarctic as well. I've also noticed others in my office shivering and wearing sweaters that don't quite go with their outfits. I actually like it when I can walk outside at lunch and feel hot!

Monday, August 07, 2006

why I hate texting

A few times since my old phone broke and I lost all my numbers, I have received text messages from unknown numbers. Unknown because after buying a cell phone half way through law school I have barely managed to memorize my own phone numbers let alone those of anyone else. Gone are the days when I had every friend's number memorized.

The first random text was from a good friend of mine in New York with a 917 area code just asking what I was doing that night. I texted her back asking for her identity and she complied. Later I received a text from my pilates instructor but figured it out from the context (I don't meet anyone else at 7 am). I thought I had generally restored all my numbers but on Friday I received a text reading "Can you send me your address? I'm getting married and want to invite you." from an 801 number. Who is getting married? Who do I know that is still single in Utah or at least with an 801 number? I was blank and honestly a little startled that this was the method he chose for disseminating such big news. So I wrote back something to the effect of Congrats and who are you? My anonymous texter immediately responded with his name - and I should have guessed because I'd already heard the rumor of his engagement.

So this morning I received yet another random text from an 801 number asking me when and where the 3rd ward (my ward) meets. I gave the info and asked who it was. No response until just now when the texter asks which meeting is first. I again asked who it is and I get this bizarre text that reads "Just some guy. Some guy named reginald from regina." I have no idea who this guy is so I texted back "sounds like a stalker" and I get this: "why do girls all wish for a stalker? Does it help the self esteem? I just need a couple of questions answered. When is sacrament meeting?" This guy is either a total jack ass or a friend of mine trying to be funny. The only friends I can think of who would do that to be funny don't have 801 numbers, unless it is AT back from Japan and I doubt that. I told the random not to flatter himself, my self esteem is fine, I just don't respond well to demands for information. Then I got another text and I decided this guy is not a friend but an ass, this one reads - "why are you guarding a meeting schedule? can't I just know without giving you my social security number?" I was tempted to just not write back but instead I sent something sort of snotty and finally said "it's last, good luck finding it" and received "thanks, that's all I needed."

Am I being completely unreasonable or do you find this behavior bizarre and offensive? You wouldn't call someone, ask for information and not identify yourself or explain how you got the number so why would that be acceptable in a text? I tried to google the number and came up blank. So if anyone reading this is responsible for the jackass texter, please fill your friend in on some basic texting etiquette.

I will be curious to see who this guy is on Sunday. Maybe he was trying to be funny and thinks I'm the bitchy one. If so, I'll just chalk it up to my New York attitude and underlying mistrust of anonymous men.

give me patience

Returning to church yesterday after missing two weeks in a row I was anxious for one reason - TW. I hadn't seen or heard from him in three weeks! My internal dialogue has been waffling between "he never called or emailed so he isn't interested, forget about him" and "he is quiet and reserved and knew I was out of town, good things take time, see how it goes." I admit, I took longer than necessary to get ready for church with a few wardrobe changes because I wanted to wear something that best showed off my tan (white shirt and red skirt).
Just before the start of sunday school, I was in a conversation with a couple of girls when he walked in. He looked even better than I remembered with the addition of glasses. But he just smiled, nodded, maybe said hi and took a seat in a back corner. I was talking to people but I still wanted him to try and talk to me. I found a seat nowhere near him and convinced myself during class to neither seek him out nor avoid him - just leave it up to him.
Immediately after class he walked over to the row where I was sitting and waited for me to get out. He was smiling and I was smiling and we walked to sacrament meeting together and I sat next to him - deciding to not care what the ward gossips might think (honestly, in a singles ward if you sit next to a boy more than once you must be dating - apparently people have been talking)! It was the same as before - comfortable but strained with flirting. Once again he would lean over to make comments to me and I felt myself lifted up. My friend Brooke and I had talked about making dinner out of my farmer's market purchases but I told her I wasn't sure I would feel up to it. But talking to TW after church I knew I would be up for it if he agreed to come. So I invited him over. He accepted. We tried to invite others but couldn't come up with any takers so it was just TW, Brooke and me.
His idea of cooking is opening a can of soup so I put him to work teaching him how to fry chicken (yeah, very healthy but olive oil makes it okay, right?), snap peas, roll crescent rolls and when to add salt to pasta. He really knows nothing about cooking and when I told him that is why he is so skinny he corrected me that he is "slight" with "unexpected, wiry strength." Pretty funny. The best part is when he was frying the chicken he was worried about grease so I gave him a bright yellow Williams-Sonoma apron.
Brooke said we were pretty annoying with our flirting and silliness in the kitchen and the interest definitely appears to be mutual but she didn't mind and just stayed out of our way by chilling out on the couch and selecting music. Good friend. After our fantastic dinner (if I do say so myself) of fried chicken, pasta with marinara, corn on the cob, beans, squash and crescent rolls I bored them with my Guatemala photos and we watched the hazy sunset from my roof.
Then the real fun began. I also bought fresh peaches from the market so we (Brooke and I) decided peach cobbler would be a good use for them. We hunted down a recipe from Betty Crocker and then I instructed TW on what to do so he was the one to make it. Very comical. He didn't really believe me or the recipe that the peaches and sauce would thicken and boil - it did. And he was skeptical when I started dumping nutmeg and allspice in when the recipe only asked for cinnamon. But the best part was when the recipe called for lemon juice I decided we should use a fresh lemon and throw in some zest as well. Apparently he had never heard of lemon zest because he was pretty adament that the peel was not intended to be eaten, especially since this part was not in the recipe. I showed him how to zest the lemon and he complied. The cobbler turned out great, especially when we added vanilla ice cream and I sent half the left-overs home with him.
So today while I should be content with how well the evening went and comforted with the fact that he does still appear to be interested and that I am still interested, I am distracted by my own overanalyzing tendencies. First, I was disappointed when he chose to sit on the love seat by himself instead of on the couch next to me during dinner (I have tv stands, no table so the couch is where I eat - very fancy). Silly, I know. Second, when he and Brooke were leaving I gave her a hug goodbye but before I could even attempt the same with him he had picked up my garbage bag and offered to take it out. I don't force hugs on anyone, especially when the intended recipient is holding garbage. Third and finally, I am about 95% sure that the only way I will see him again before Sunday is if I contact him. I'm not sure that I should. But good things come to those who wait, right? I'm hoping...........

p.s. I started a long post on Guatemala but I got distracted from it, I will finish it soon and give a full report.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

the making of a good Saturday

  • sleeping in
  • waking up to a leisurely phone call from my brother
  • brunch with three of my dearest friends in the City
  • wasting a couple of hours post-brunch with the girls in Barnes & Noble swapping "must-read" book recommendations
  • prolonging the afternoon girl time with a stop in Starbucks
  • picking up fresh produce at the Farmer's Market on the walk home from the subway
  • home before 6 with a/c blaring, new books to read, pjs on and no evening plans - just time to enjoy being with me

This is contentment.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

one more


I also made a surprise visit to my parents (and dog) in Utah. Despite the fun (and the triteness of the statement), there really is no place like home. Very happy I'm finally in mine - even if it is over 100 degrees outside.

how to build a water system


Wednesday, August 02, 2006

a few photos. . .

neither I nor the kids are in jail, I am inside the health center where we lived in the village and the kids are part of the crew that observed us 24 hours a day. Now I kind of know how it would feel like to be on a reality tv show if the audience didn't understand my language, or maybe a zoo animal. I took this as part of an act to entertain the kids, they loved this photo!
A bit out of order but this photo is my sister and me enjoying lemonade in Rio Dulce after a beautiful day hiking waterfalls, playing on the beach and a great boat ride through the jungle.
On the left, the kids and me after the soccer game where the village teenagers kicked our cuits (Quqchi word for butt) - still confused about the jerseys and cleats when shirts and shoes are in such short supply. And on the right my sad attempt at getting corn off the cob, it is harder than it looks!


Tuesday, August 01, 2006

test

test #2

Experiment

In preparation for my upcoming trip -ONLY 2 MORE DAYS!!!!! - I thought it would be useful to see if I can put my blackberry to good use and post away from an actual computer. Cross your fingers because if this works you may be getting fun little updates from such places as the Dallas airport and anywhere else I happen to pick up a signal.  I'm doubting I will have a lot of access but it never hurts to try, right?

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