Thursday, January 31, 2008

Hidden talents?

I was reading the New Yorker last night. When I'm catching up, guiltily, I'm never sure if I should start oldest to newest, newest to oldest, or head for the most compelling cover.

In any case.

It turns out Barack Obama, when asked to name a hidden talent characterized himself as “a pretty good poker player.” The article went on to talk about poker playing presidents, poker lingo in politics, and so on. An interesting little read.

But what it made me think was, what a compelling thing to ask! Name a hidden talent!

So I am offering up a hidden talent, and asking for one of yours in return.

One you'd never guess by looking at me is that I can speak Spanish with an Indian accent. As a child in Delhi I had an Indian acccent, according to my parents. And sometimes I will pull it out, just for fun. I cannot remember what prompted me to do it while speaking Spanish, but who knows how any of these things start?

Also, I can wiggle my ears.

OK, that's two. One of my not-hidden talents is that I can't do math. And am not so great at consistency. Anyway.

Neither of these things will ever make me any money, but they're good party tricks.

Hidden talents? EVERYONE has something they can do that you wouldn't guess just by looking at them. Maybe you can recite the alphabet backwards, or you can name all the US Presidents, or you can make a gourmet meal from scratch. None of which I can do to save my life.

Please indulge me. I'd love to know.

Also, along the same lines, check out some of the interesting responses Nicole has generated with her complete my sentence game. Sucked me in kinda like PostSecret sucks me in every Sunday.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

A woman's closet is a deep ocean of secrets

Alternate title: Nearer my closet to thee

You know when you start spending loads of time somewhere that you don't live? You need stuff. You need clothes to wear to work, clothes to run in, clothes to hang out in.

At a point, it becomes ridiculous to keep hauling one clean outfit in one dirty outfit out. It's an endless and cumbersome process. Right?

So you are given a drawer. Your own drawer! This initially seems drastic. But practical.

And then quickly not quite enough. See, I started with one drawer, and immediately filled it. It's winter. Clothes like fleece and sweaters take up a lot of room, you know?

To mitigate the piling of clothing, which maybe I am very prone to, I was given a second drawer. Which suddenly and inexplicably was packed to the brim. I didn't make any great display of cramming things in to close the drawer, or pulling everything out when I wanted to find something shoved at the back. But, well, it's hard to live out of two drawers. And a bit of closet.

The cramming of the drawers, however, did not escape attention. "You have a lot of clothes, don't you?"

Heh. Bat eyelashes.

"I have a few. Why?"

"It's just dawning on me that this is the tip of the iceberg."

I consider assuaging his fears by protesting, or feigning innocence or surprise that he'd think that. But really, where does lying ever get you?

So I just agree. "Yeah. That's a good way to put it."

He starts with an explanation of icebergs, how what you see on the surface can be only 10 percent of what's really there. But I already know about this.

And so I say, with no allusion to Rose and Jack, "Oh, yes. This current situation? Is like the Titanic."

PS I know the drawings look like they were done by a three year old on crack. But that's just me trying to draw in Photoshop.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Hooking up

I recently had several conversations that made me feel really, really old. But also thankful for my age.

I was at this dinner last weekend, seated across from and around a bunch of college students - interns in my boyfriend's office. I have to say, I really enjoyed them. I'm never around anyone that age, but I had a great time talking to them.

One of them asked how long we'd been together. And so we got on the topic of dating, and here's what they said. They don't date.


They don't date. People their age don't date.

I was all, "What? What do you mean no dating?"

They hook up, they said.

One lovely blonde said that you'll be out dancing, and then a guy will come up behind you and grind, and then turn you around to kiss you. Which then could lead to a hook up. Which could lead to another one, and another. And maybe one day you'll be dating.

I know I was just sitting there with a bewildered look on my face.

"What do you mean, just grind against you and try to kiss you? Just some random guy?"

They laughed. I felt very maternal.

I said, "No drinks? No asking you out for dinner?"


This beautiful woman said, "You just, well, you hook up with someone enough times and then he's your boyfriend. That's how things started with my boyfriend."

She looked at her guy friend, who she'd brought as a friend date to the dinner. He nodded to corroborate her story.

I said I thought this would be very hard on my psyche, that it would make me insecure.

These women said that it did, it absolutely did.

This made me want to hug them. No dating? Drinks are fun! Dinner is fun! Dating is fun! (Except when it's really not.) How would you get to know someone before getting too invested, which for me would be what happened in the hook up scenario? Truly, I wouldn't trade the dating business.

And then the guy, the friend date, said he didn't quite like it either. Because you never really knew what was what or where things stood.

He said something like, "And if you're not actually going on dates, anything can be a date."

They agreed. Going to the library might be a (not dating) date. Going to a museum might be a date. Hell, walking down the street could be a date. Really, what it came down to was leaving the house - if you did something together outside the house, that could be considered a date.

There are lots of times when I feel like being in college or very early 20s right now would be amazing. But I would hate this aspect of life. I'm so glad that's recent - and not how it's been since I started dating.

What I didn't ask, because it wouldn't be appropriate, is what does this mean? Does kissing count? Does it mean they're regularly sleeping with random people?

I think about how hard it is to figure out if someone likes me. And how thinky I get about it if I don't know - and that's after sitting down and having a drink or dinner and talking. Without any nakeditity. If I were to just randomly hook up with guys and then wonder? I would be 83 kinds of fretty, all the time.

I just think about all the dates I've had over, hell, even just the last two years. All that hooking up would take so much more effort than a glass of wine or dinner. On the other hand, though, I assume it would mean you wouldn't have some of the exhausting, 4-date a week cycles that I've gone through.

But I wonder, is this an accurate portrayal by college age people? Does it extend past college? If it's been the norm for a while, then people past college must be in this mode as well. But I read blogs of 20-somethings, and they go on dates. So then, maybe it's more a DC thing? Or doesn't extend past college? Can it be something you grow out of?

I just don't get it. See how this makes me feel very, very old?

Monday, January 28, 2008

I have no idea

My dreams are always weird, but this one stands out for the oddity of content.

And here's why. I had this dream that I slept with this high school boy. Most of my friends in high school were having sex, and I just happened to be a big prude, so high school kids having sex is neither news to me nor shocking. What's shocking is that I never slept with anyone in high school while I was in high school.

And, I mean, I still haven't. Except in this weird dream.

I cannot even begin to remember how the dream started, or where I'd meet a random high school boy, or how a conversation or anything else would ever get to the point where he'd be like, you know, I'd really like to lose my virginity. And I'd be all, OK! That sounds great!

Because nothing about that sounds great. No matter how cute some teenage boy might be, he's just that - a boy. A kid.


I don't even think the dream included anything about meeting him, and actually, it wasn't even about sex. The focus, rather, was this. I slept over at his house. Or rather, his parents' house. Yes, that's right - his parents' house. Because he was in high school.

And in the morning, I had to face his parents. Really, I only had to face his mother. His dad was all kinds of thrilled for him and delighted with me.

But his mom? She was very upset. Not surprisingly. And so I had this long conversation with her, in her living room, about how I could completely understand why she was so upset. I would absolutely feel the same way she did. She had every right to be. Because it was totally unreasonable, and really, made no sense at all.

And during this entire conversation, the dad was sitting in his living room chair, beaming, pleased as all hell.

It's twisted and pervy and makes me feel dirty.

What? The? Hell?

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Aargh! and a question

So here's the thing. My cell phone died on Friday, or anyway, I thought it did. The screen went white, and that was that.

Which is annoying. It just got tired, really.

Now, I could probably get a PDA with my new job, and that's a conversation I'll have Monday, so I didn't immediately rush out to replace it. But then this morning I started thinking. . .Do I really want to encourage people to think I'm accessible at any moment? Do I want to have all my personal calls and texts on a work PDA?

And even though I'm not dialing phone porn or anything, the answer to both was no.

Then I thought, maybe it's just the battery. So I stopped at AT&T today. They put in a new battery, and determined that actually, it's just that, my screen is dead. Because when they turned it on, the chime saying I had new text messages rang. I just couldn't see them.

I do occasionally have a screen, but only for maybe a minute here and there. And when a screen shows up and my phone is closed, it appears both upside down and backwards.

Once they figured out it's just my screen, I tried calling one of the few numbers I actually know - and it worked. I can call out, and I can get calls. The problem here is that I only really know three people's phone numbers at this point in my life. It's shocking, you know? I barely know my own number.

So here's where I am. At least I have a phone if I have an emergency, and now I'm trying to figure out what kind of phone to buy. I've had several Nokia phones, and stuck with them because I know the interface and I really just need a basic phone. And knowing I can just pick up another Nokia phone and know how to use it without screwing around with it for 37 minutes to figure it out is kind of nice.

That said, I'd kind of love a pink one - and I don't think they make pink ones. Plus there are cuter phones. But I don't actually need a cute phone, and nor do I need a phone that's also a GPS and a karaoke machine. I just need to call out, get calls, and text. I could just stick with very basic, whatever you get for as close to free. But I kind of don't want to.

Do any of you have cute, not super complicated phone recommendation? If so, I'd love to hear them. I realize this isn't the biggest decision of my life, but I hate trying to choose technology.

Friday, January 25, 2008

What kind of chair would you be?

"So, if you were a chair," I asked, "what kind would you be?"

I'd already thought about it, and decided he'd be an enormous, comfy armchair. The kind you want to curl up in with a good book and hang out for hours.

He gave it some thought and said he'd be a big leather armchair. The kind you find in libraries in old clubs, with the brass tacks, soft leather cushions, and the really high back. This is exactly what I had in mind.

So he asked it back. What kind of chair would I be?

I'd been thinking about this ever since I said that the Dementor, if he were a chair, would be modern, uncomfortable, and rigid. I love modern design, don't get me wrong. It's just that comfort is not necessarily the point.

What kind of chair would I be?

I'd kind of like to be an Eames La Chaise lounge chair. But I don't think I am. I think I'm comfortable enough to be a lounge-y kind of chair, but I'm a lot softer than that one, with a lot more give. But I don't think I'd be the kind of lounge chair that you pull the handle and the feet come out. In other words, I haven't yet figure it out.

I asked Marta what kind of chair she'd be, and she said a bar stool. A simple, dark wood one. Sleek and elegant and slightly uncomfortable. Because there's only so much accommodating she's willing to do. I thought this was a fantastic answer.

It's hard, I think, to consider your personality and your frame, and then try to match it with an inanimate obejct.

Oh, and PS - This is just random, but I think this modern design site is really cool. I could pick 54 things I'd like from there without a whole lot of effort.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Forced butt assessment

Out of the blue, my butt seemingly doubled in size. The truth is, it's probably not more than a pound or two. But I'm short; it all shows.

Pants that two weeks ago were loose are tight. And if you are not at home, you have no options. You have to wear too-tight pants to work. This, of course, feels great.

The too-tight pants morning conversation:

"I've gained weight. Don't you think? Have I suddenly gotten fat?"

No response.

I turn around, facing my butt to him, talking to him over my shoulder. "Look at my butt. Doesn't it look bigger?"

He gets all squirmy, still without responding.

I turn and face him, and look him straight in the eye. "Don't you think?"

He looks like a deer caught in headlights. "I. . .I don't know how to answer that."

"It's bigger, right? Just tell me."

"Well, yes."

"I've gained weight. We're eating too much."

"Those pants are tighter than they were."

"But were you looking at me before thinking, 'Oh, her butt! She's gained weight,' or did you just think that because you saw me in these pants?"

He clearly hates this topic. He so doesn't want to be talking about the increased size of my butt, and whether or not he was thinking this before, or if it's the pants.

"We'll go on a diet. We're going to start running more this weekend."

"I don't want to go on a diet. I want my normal eating back. I want my old butt back. I want my butt to be the size it was before."

As in, before you. Implication being, you have singlehandedly and deliberately increased the size of my butt.

Poor man.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The kind of conversations normal human beings probably don't have

You know how when you know someone really well, and you've spent a lot of time in a row together, conversation can devolve into the arena of truly inane? And maybe completely gross?

So at some point Maude and I were traveling. And we'd already discussed our lives inside and out. And so, somehow, the conversation took a turn for the scatological. And absurd. In the following way.

One of us asked the other, and I really cannot remember who started it, the following. Say you were really in need of money, and someone wanted to poo on your foot - your foot being the point on your body that's furthest from your face.

Would you do it? And if so, what's the lowest price you would accept?

We do realize that nobody is ever going to be beating down the door to pay us for the privilege of taking a poo on either of our feet.

But just suspend reality for a second.

We agreed that you wouldn't want to accept less than $10,000. I've since had this conversation with people who would do it for $5,000, and one guy who said hell, he'd do it for $50.

So there are bargains to be found. But honestly. It's poo! On part of your body!

It turns out, though, that as we've talked about it further and with others, there are a whole lot of possible variables involved in price setting.

1. Would it be different if it were a person of the same gender? Does gender matter?
2. Would you charge more, for example, if you had to pat the person on the head and offer words of encouragement?
3. How much more would it cost for you to pretend you were enjoying it?
4. What if it were someone you worked with? Even though neither of you would ever speak of it? Because you'd have to see the person every day, and you'd think, "You! Poo! Foot!"

And so on. It's super disgusting, and ridiculous, and not within the realm of ever ever possibilities. And yet the topic recurs every couple years.

The thing I find truly astounding is not the fact that we would actually set a price to it, but rather that we waste all kinds of time discussing various aspects of crap like this.

No pun intended.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

So, do you work together?

"So, do you work together?" It's an innocuous, conversation-starting question. Not terribly creative, but not bad. And can be answered in a variety of innocuous ways.

That is, assuming you are not a person who says the first thing that comes to your mind. (There are, in case you are concerned, no misused dairy products in this story.)

You are out for a Friday evening. On a really fun date. You've both had long weeks, and are happily unwinding.

You start the date with a glass of wine at the bar, while you wait to be seated for your decadent dinner at Taberna del Alabardero. After your wine-ful dine-ful dinner, you wander back to your date's neighborhood, and mince up the street to his local restaurant and bar - a place he goes all the time. He'll grab dinner there by himself after working really late, or on a Sunday. He knows the bartenders, and the atmosphere is super friendly.

It is crowded, but you find two stools at the bar. And his favorite bartender, the one who can wax poetic about Belgian ale and medieval English literature, is working that night.

And since you both love Belgian beer, even though you have consumed plenty of alcohol, you don't hesitate to split one of those big, fancy bottles. Because after all it's brewed and hand wrapped by naked monks, or some such thing. And when they pull the cork out it's almost like champagne.

Whee! Fun!

Your date, being a regular, sees some people he knows in the crowd. He knows them, not as friends, but through bumping into them in the neighborhood, through familiarity fostered by propinquity. Plus, as DC is small, they are professionally connected by fewer than six degrees of separation.

Once you finish one bottle, you have the bartender choose another kind of yummy Trappist-brewed beer. Because it is fun, and you get an interesting explanation of the monks and the fermentation, and the bottles are big enough that you can offer glasses to others.

Because once you have had plenty to drink, more - more alcohol, more people - more is just, well, more fun. No?

In retrospect, you are pretty certain you were that couple at the bar. The people sitting too close together, holding hands all the time, and looking at each other with ooey gooey eyes. Like, if there were a bear within five miles, he'd charge in and maul you for the honey oozing out of your pores. Yikes.

So let's say the wife of one of these bar friends stops to say hello on her way out. You shake her hand. With the hand that isn't being firmly held by your date.

This woman you have just been introduced to, the first thing she says, after hello, is, "Do you work together?"

I invite you to take a moment to think about how you'd answer that.

Now, please bear in mind that the amount of fancy schmancy dinner food is, at this point, far outweighed by the sheer volume of alcohol consumed. Add to this the fact that you are as close to sitting on each other's laps as you can be while remaining on your respective bar stools.

You might say, in your mind, "What kind of asinine question is that? Do you kiss and hold hand with people you work with?"


You might say that to her. Or you could choose to be polite, and very sincerely explain that no, actually, you're dating, and you'd never date someone you worked with.

Or, before you can formulate a reasonable answer, your mouth might already be saying, "Well, no. We sleep together."

But just know that if you do say this? And she does nothing but blink? And blink again? And you spend a few moments just looking at each other, neither quite sure what to do?

It will be awkward. Very awkward.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Man cold

Maude and Dan directed me to this piece of British comedy and I think it's hilarious. So did Betty. My dad, not so much.

I have a feeling that women will find this funnier than men. . .And this is not to say that this behavior is restricted to men. I might have to admit to being a little high-maintenance when ailing.

Anyway, hope you are all staying warm on this cold cold MLK day.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Products that never make it to the shelves

I was eating yet more Cheez-Its last night - because I finally said fuck it, fuck buying those little fucking bags from the fucking vending machine, and bought an enormous box. (Oh and btw, I'm doing fairly well on my New Year's resolution to be more profane, but falling down seriously on the bacon intake.) But anyway.

So I was looking at the back of this ginormous box, at the pictures of different flavors of Cheez-Its advertised on there. And one of them, at first glance, had an enormous green ball on it. And the first thing that popped to mind? Brussels sprouts flavored Cheez-Its! On more thorough inspection, it was a picture of Shrek on the box.

But it got me thinking about the kinds of flavored and scented products that you could come up with that would just never make it to market. It's an exercise in the ridiculous, much along the lines of naming colors of makeup, something I find endlessly entertaining.

For example:

Breakfast cereal - Breakfast cereal is essentially little crackers in a bowl with milk, no? Yet it's hard to imagine breakfast cereal as anything but generic and maybe sort of fruity or desserty and sweet. Although bacon is fantastic for breakfast, you'll never find bacon and egg flavored cereal. Nor Gouda, Gorgonzola, or Stilton - all nice with crackers, though.

Lip gloss: - This would never come in flavors such as salami, biscuit and gravy, or pork sausage. In fact, probably all meat flavors are out. Similarly, while cinnamon works nicely, seasonings such as onion or garlic are out for obvious reasons. I think rosemary and thyme would probably be weird but not gross. But basil? Questionable.

Juice - Now, juice doesn't always have to be fruit-flavored - you do see carrot, beet, and celery juice. But while cran-apple and cran-raspberry are fine, you will probably never find cran-tunip, -broccoli, -kale, or -lettuce.

Toothpaste - This is something that doesn't always come in mint. I have a Tom's of Maine fennel toothpaste, for example. But it's a product that you want to leave you tasting clean. Cream of broccoli, for one, would be a bad flavor. So would dill pickle. Similarly, beef stroganoff, candied sweet potato, and hollandaise sauce would probably all be pretty undesirable.

Deodorant - Now, this is one you can be a little freer with. Like, you could have sandalwood deodorant, while you'd never want sandalwood lip gloss. But you'd be willing to put more food smells on your lips than in your armpits. Dr. Pepper - kind of fun as a lip gloss. Totally weird in your armpits. Other possibly objectionable pit scents - hot buttered popcorn, fried chicken, or liver and onions.

I also thought about the possibility of scented/flavored nail polish, but then thought about the fact that one might encourage people to chew their nails, which would be most unhelpful. I briefly amused myself with the thought of scratch and sniff nail polish. Ha ha, get it? Ha? So anyway.

A smell I'm not sure about is fresh baked bread. That seems to be a smell everyone likes. Could you wear it as lip gloss? Would the taste be OK for toothpaste? Would it attract people to you, or give them a warm fuzzy feeling, if the smell of fresh baked bread were wafting from your armpits?

You'd think I didn't have enough to do, wouldn't you?

Thursday, January 17, 2008

In which I compare the Dementor to modern furniture, and other stories

I saw a couple friends last night, one of whom I hadn't caught up with for months, except for random emails.

She asked how things were going in my personal life. And then she said, "It all seems so drama-free."

This struck me. There isn't any drama. No manipulation. No attempts to undermine my self-confidence.

And I thought about the Dementor, who is very, very good at all of those.

The Dementor played more of a role in my life over the last couple years than I think he would have in a different time and space. I was in a bad place, which made it easy for him to treat me poorly, but I understand now that it also made him an ideal person for me to work some things out with.

The kinds of things better worked out in therapy, but still. A process is a process.

One of the things I'm thankful about is that we didn't actually get into a long, serious relationship. Because had we, he'd have systematically undermined my self confidence to the point where I would've been pretty sure I was worthless.

Of this, I am absolutely certain, having gotten to know him better in a non-relationship. And in retrospect. With time and distance.

So I was thinking, in particular, about the kinds of compliments I used to get from him.

Because, you see, I was always on edge with him. He prompted things like the purchase of emergency shoes. We have the kind of chemistry that makes you a little dizzy, where you can feel the air buzzing around you. I imagine the constant on-edge-ness increases that immensely.

Although I'm no longer emotionally connected to him, I'm sure I'd be on edge if I saw him tomorrow. There's no settling into the soft, comfy warmth of his company.

If he were a chair, he might be a Le Corbusier. Black leather and chrome. The kind with little give when you sit down, and the back that only sticks up a little, so that there's no lounging, or even leaning comfortably. In fact, there's no leaning at all, unless you want to rely on your abs for support.

There's only sitting awkwardly, but with the understanding that you are sitting on something very fabulous, very exclusive, and very expensive. You should feel privileged, in other words, to be sitting in this uncomfortable seat.

And then, sitting in a chair of such meticulous design, beautiful condition, and impressive expense, you look down and realize that you're just not dressed well enough to be sitting in it. Your sweater, while purchased at a cool boutique in Paris, suddenly feels too bohemian, and your pants are from Ann Taylor (on sale), and your boots are scuffed. And you know for a fact that though nobody can see it, you have a hole in the toe of your silly purple stripey sock.

You get the picture.

I realize, in retrospect, that being on edge is where he wants people. He's charming when he wants to be. But you're never supposed to be at ease, or actually feel good.

So back to compliments. Of the dementing kind.

Not having seen each other for months, he's say things like, "Wow! You look beautiful! Exactly the same as the last time. Except your hair is flat. Why is it so flat? Probably because you were wearing a hat? So anyway..."

And so then, although you felt totally pretty and confident when you arrived, you then fret about your flat hair throughout the evening.

Or this one, my favorite. "You look amazing. And you're really skinny."


"Is everything OK?"

"Totally fine. And I'm the same size as when we were dating."

"No, you're thinner. I mean, you were thin then, but sort of on the verge of getting fat. Like, I was thinking, she looks great now, but in a couple years..." He made a face, and widened his hands.

It's embarrassing to think back on the kinds of things he'd say, and the ways in which he'd make me feel bad, and know that I didn't actually have the wherewithal to say, "Stop it."

Instead, I made allowances for his childhood, which is the worst of anyone I actually know. And his mean, fucked up family.

When I had angst or hysteria about personal things, he was a really, really good source of advice. Because manipulation? Was what he was fed for breakfast growing up. Abuse? That was lunch and dinner. I could call him with questions or upsets, and if he wasn't the person dishing things out, he was great at saying, "That's bad behavior. You're worth more than that. Tell that guy to fuck off."

Odd, huh?

But at some point a very wise woman said to me, "Understanding his issues makes you a good therapist. It doesn't make him a healthy person for you to be emotionally involved with."

I don't miss him, but that doesn't mean I don't think about him. The people who evoke such extreme emotion, they take a long time to dissipate.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Have turned to Cheez-Its

I've got nothing to say except I'm really busy and so stressed I'm eating Cheez-Its. The white cheddar kind. Oh, and peanut butter. Straight out of the jar, on a spoon.

I'm clean and look presentable, however. That's something, right?

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

And then you realize your facade is very, very thin

I will somehow get a big blob of ink on my hand, and then wind up smearing it all over my cheek. Without realizing it, till I go to a meeting. And have it pointed out.

I’m also the person who will have a peanut butter sandwich for lunch, and then look in the mirror in the bathroom hours later. And what I think is an odd new freckle will turn out to be a glob of peanut butter. On my face.

And I am also the person who got See’s lollipops, the very best kind, for Christmas. If you’ve not had them, they’re fantastic – especially the butterscotch ones. They’re big and rectangular and slightly soft. Just soft enough that if you bite into them your teeth get stuck.

If you’re enjoying a See’s lollipop, and you’ve just bitten into it with both your top and bottom side teeth, and you are reading something on your computer monitor, it seems almost inevitable that this would be the time that the president of your organization would drop by. Don't you think?

So there I am, teeth stuck, completely immersed in what I’m reading, peering at my monitor so intently that it takes a moment to realize someone has appeared at my cube. And then, when I do realize, my eyes widen in surprise. I smile around the lollipop.

And so I am, very obviously and frantically, trying to unlollipop myself. There is no way to do it subtly or gracefully.

“Is that a lollipop?”

I nod and blush. Because I’m, like, twelve. I point to my stash. “Gould gyou glike gwone?”

He declines.

I finally unstick my teeth, but I’m so clearly discombobulated. So, after laughing politely at me a bit, he says that he’ll just go ahead and tell me what he needed to, and drop off the materials, and let me enjoy my candy.

I suppose there are worse ways to be caught off guard. But honestly. It’s moments like this where I realize my facade is as thin as the layer of powder on my face. Except that it's a day when I'm not even wearing make up.

I think it must be so apparent to the rest of the world that I’m just faking the grown-up professional thing.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Dude! I made a sports analogy!

Me! Someone who couldn't be less interested in sports or more wrong on the details. Like, once when a friend said something about "the ball being in his court" - an expression we all know - I said, "Why is everything football references?"

Fine. It's a field. Not a court. I get it when I actually sit down to think about it.

I am also the person who referred to someone who wound up working for the San Francisco 49ers as working for "some baseball team."

Seriously. We were looking at a survey of graduates from a particular PhD program, and one of them reported that he'd gone on to be an assistant coach or something of the sort for the 49ers.

And so I mentioned this interesting data point. As in, this person who got a PhD in whatever it was decided to scrap academia and coach some baseball team.

"Which baseball team?" asked the sports-interested man whose project I was helping with.

"It's in San Francisco. The 49ers."

He didn't know me at all. He didn't know that I'd grown up in India, with parents who'd rather spoon their eyes out than attend sporting events or watch them on TV.

"Football, Lisa! That's football! And I wonder how he got that job?"

So back to the present. Because you see, I was writing this speech on data analysis in higher education. And in my outline of points to cover, the last one was "memorable conclusion."

Cripes! Memorable conclusion. And then I thought, hey, he loves sports! He's asked me to drop sports references in before, and so if the speech is in Chicago, for example, I've put in the text "INSERT CHICAGO SPORTS REFERENCE" because I am incapable of coming up with them on my own. He knows this.

But this time, this time I called a friend of mine. I ran through the goal of the speech, and the kind of analogy I needed. It's all about data, but looking at it in a different way.

This was when he introduced me to Sabermetrics. Which fit perfectly! And even if you aren't remotely sports-interested (i.e. even if you're me), it's really quite interesting.

Yay! I made a sports analogy!

Sunday, January 13, 2008


Something chemical happens when you take taffy and stretch it, right?

Like, you cook up sugar and whatever else. And then you pull it and pull it and it - or rather, you stick it into a machine that pulls it and pulls it. I've watched those at the beach before. And it forms into candies you really only ever buy at the seashore. You pull it till it hardens, but is not too hard.

I remember once, for my birthday, I wanted to have a taffy pull. I loved the idea of this stretchy candy that you made by pulling and pulling.

We decided that this could be part of my birthday activities.

The problem, as it turned out, was that we lived in Bangladesh, where it was ungodly hot and the humidity was, on a good day, 100%.

I think we took the would-be taffy, or anyway, whatever part of the candy was left after the rest had saturated our clothing and hair, and poured it over popcorn and made popcorn balls or something. Or maybe Betty just threw it out.

Thinking back, though, it's really kind of disgusting to eat something that a whole bunch of grubby, snot-gobbling little six year olds had their hands all over. I think that was the same year that someone gave me a baby goat as a present. It cried all night and pooped all over the yard and my dad gave it away the next day.

But I digress. Or maybe I just gress. Because I wasn't actually talking about anything in the present tense before that.

What I was thinking was that for the past couple months I have felt stretched. I have too much going on. Much of it fun, and I can't complain about that. But all this fun of the last couple months also coincided with me having two jobs at work. I officially start my new position tomorrow. It's a promotion, and it's great, and I'm really excited about it.

But I've been doing chunks of work in that capacity for a while. And December got busy, both with those projects and the job I already had. And then I was getting ready for Christmas. And New Year's. And having friends in town.

I have been feeling like I am in one of those pulling machines, although actually, I am the one trying to stretch out in all directions. It's not really fair to say that I am being pulled.

But, like, if I were taffy, either I'd be stretched too much and the sugar bits would crystalize and I'd flake a little, or I would get shipped out with my wrapper only halfway on. Or I'd overheat and get temporarily melty, unable to hold firmly together.

I find the balance of everything difficult. I think if I were more organized, more schedule-y, more disciplined, better able to stick to a routine, it'd be easier. I'd block out out two hours for this and three hours for that. And actually use them for their allocated activity.

But I seem to be unable to do that. I don't have enough time for everything I want to do, but maybe it's because I want to do more fun stuff than I have time for. I don't know. Because I find that for me, it's hard enough to get myself bathed and dressed and out the door, and do a solid job at work, and have a fun social life, and get the grocery shopping done often enough to eat more than pasta and power bars and pickled herring - which keeps very nicely in a jar in the fridge, by the way. And is a remnant of my Viking heritage. And now a digression.

My place currently looks like a clean laundry and mail explosion. My fridge is almost bare. And I find myself in the office on a Sunday, making sure I'm lined up for Monday.

And I just think, thank goodness I don't have a dog, although I dearly want one. Or a family. How on earth would I be able to manage a being in my life who was regularly dependent on me?

For those of you with kids and jobs and lives, how on earth do you do it? How do you get people besides yourself clean and fed and out the door and then take care of all your own stuff? I mean without melting into a taffy-pulled frenzy on the floor?

I can't even begin to imagine.

Friday, January 11, 2008

I have got to stop licking telephone poles

So everyone and their dog has a cold. And now I have one, too. It makes me really grumpy, this cold-having. And for some reason feeling bad gives me this annoying desire to place blame.

"You gave me your cold." I say this in a very accusatory fashion. To someone who is nothing but nice to me.

"That’s not my cold. Your symptoms are different. Plus you'd have gotten it a week ago."

"OK, fine..."

He's right, I think. It's not his cold. "So you think maybe it’s because I lick telephone poles on my walk to work?"

"Could definitely be."

"And you know, every once in a while, I do like to lick a car or two."

"The door handles, right?"

"How’d you know?"

"That’s the part that tastes the best."

He's so totally right.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

You think she's an open book, but you don't know which page to turn to

Unless she has a blog. In which case, you can turn to whatever page you'd like.

So for the most part, except for little bursts of excitement here and there, I tend not to write about guys until they are over. Which those of you who have been reading for a while know has happened with some regularity over the last couple years.

The reason for this is that, with the exception of ex-boyfriends, who I hope never come across LG, I do not write about people who are actually in my life unless I ask them first.

Because it turns out that some people would rather chew off their own ear than be written about on the Internet. You have to respect that. I mean, both their privacy and the fact that they'd be capable of chewing their own ear off. These are the people we want doing our waterboarding and running our CIA secret prisons. That is, if they weren't violently opposed to that kind of thing.

It's not that I'm suggesting waterboarding is wrong. Because, like everything, a little waterboarding here and there is probably fine, but I think it should be kept between consenting adults. In the privacy of your own home.

Anyway. Back to writing about people or not. Asking permission to write about someone means telling them about LG in the first place. And LG is not something I offer up when I first meet a potential boyfriend.

While there's nothing on here that's a secret, there's a hell of a lot of raw insecurity and fear, and well, just rawness. Offering this up to someone I want to like me is tantamount to peeling off the top layer or two of my skin and hoping he still thinks I'm pretty.

It's not that the person I might or might not offer it up to won't eventually get all the background on my hopes, fears, loves and losses. But it's a tremendous amount of access to all the inside angst that you don't typically share with many people, much less anyone who clicks by in cyberspace.

It's the opposite of maintaining an air of mystery. And I'm not all that mysterious to begin with.

So what am I getting to? Am I going to stop rambling and have a point? Um. Yes. Sort of.

My point is this. I recently sat someone down and said that I finally trusted him enough to tell him something. Because, you see, as time went by, it seemed like a bigger and bigger thing, the not telling.

I was thinking maybe I should stop LG, and what was I doing putting all this information out there? Because it felt like a secret, and I wasn't trying to keep a secret from him. What if he didn't like it? What if it made him stop liking me? But then if he didn't like it, what did that say about him as a person for me?

I had a lot of fretty frettiness over this. It's a frettable thing, though, don't you think?

So, anyway, I said I had this thing to tell him. Twitch, twitch. The truth is, I was scared to offer it up. It's a big, personal piece of me. I was clearly nervous. And this lead-up made him twitch. Like, visibly. Shoulder to head snap. Twitch.

We were both doing our own little in-seat twitchy dances across a table.

And so when I said it was a blog full of personal stuff, rather than a child, or a venereal disease, or a connection to the mob (because somehow, those were the first things that leapt to mind for him), boy, was he relieved.

And when he said that while he doesn't exactly understand it, one of the things he likes best about me is my creativity, boy, was I relieved.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

He wrote vs. I read

The truth is, I'm not bothered by this anymore. I was for about two solid days, though. It took some thinking to figure out why it bugged me so much.

I received an email from my most serious ex-boyfriend. The one I was with for ages, and about whom I've written extensively.

Here's essentially what it said, paraphrased and greatly condensed:

"Hi group of blind-copied people! I'm sending New Year's wishes from vacation in an exotic location, resting up for a busy upcoming year. I'm selling my condo and most of my furniture. Here are the details, in case you know anyone who is on the market for a place or nice furniture. Also, I'm not moving very far, so I'll still be in the neighborhood. All the best to all of you."

Fairly innocuous and informational, right?

It bothered me so much. Truthfully, what bothered me most was that I was really bothered. Because I don't still want to be with him or harbor any hope of some future reconciliation or have some fantasy that we'd actually be happy if we'd gotten back together.

But still, it bugged. Why did I get this? More importantly, why did receiving it upset me?

Given the celerity with which I delete people - from phone and email - there's no way he'd ever randomly wind up on any missive I was sending out. Plus, I didn't understand why I was on the distribution list. He's too thorough for it to be accidental, and his work contacts are in far-flung locations, so he didn't just send to everyone in his address book.

So I spent some time chewing on the why why why of the upset of it. And then I realized!

Forget what he wrote. Here's what I read:

"Hi Lis. I'm at an amazing resort having a fabulous, relaxing vacation. The kind I never took with you because I worked all the time instead. You'd love it. I've met the most amazing woman and I love her 85 times more than I ever loved you. I'm moving in with her, which of course is why I'm selling my place and my furniture - especially the pieces you helped me choose.

We have soooo much fun! And even though I have an even more stressful job than when we were together (see email signature below) I don't work 20 hours a day anymore, and so we do fun things in the evening and on the weekends. Also? I'm not tired and easily annoyed all the time anymore, probably because I love her so much. We're spending the upcoming year planning the most lavish, exotic wedding you can imagine. Wow, are we busy with fun stuff. It's exhausting being this deliriously happy."

You see what I mean?

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Lisa the Horse

I got this for Christmas this year from my father. It was my favorite present.

I love how it's not a horse for me. It is me. As a horse. Like, if I ever wondered what I might look like as a horse, now I know.

And actually, it's very me. I have long eyelashes and favor pink lip gloss. And would always rather be smiling in the sunshine, enjoying the flowers.

This fall my parent's basement flooded, or at least part of it did. And so they were going through the closet rescuing things and my dad came across this drawing. Lisa the Horse. So he took it and framed it for me.

I hadn't seen it in years and years. Maude drew this for me when we were kids - probably six or seven. She sent it while we were living in Bangladesh.

Long ago we realized that our parents - her mother and my father, in particular, we suspect - decided we were going to be friends. My dad would insert Maude into my bedtime stories. We were always narrowly escaping from the witches together. And I can just hear her mom, with her southern accent saying, "Maudie, why don't you draw something nice for your friend Lisa?"

No matter that we lived in separate countries and hadn't seen each other since we were three.

So eventually we became real friends, and still are, to this day. For all the moving moving moving we did, I have an incredibly close friend that I have known since I was born. We're more like siblings, really.

Our mothers are dear friends. I hope our kids are one day as well.

In fact, I envision us doing the same kinds of things. They'll be coaxed into friendship, years down the road. They'll be well into adulthood before they realize we engineered it.


Monday, January 07, 2008

You’re my favorite waste of time

Does anyone remember that song from the 80s? I don’t know who sings it but I loved it at the time.

First of all, thank you all for commiserating and offering support. I'll respond to comments later. I did appreciate them, just forced myself to stay out of personal email and (mostly) off-line except for researching things I needed.

So I got done what I needed to, but with an inordinate amount of caffeine, stress and angst. I vowed to change things next time. But by this age, I am pretty certain I’m lying to myself.

I realize that this will be astoundingly unhelpful for those of you who suffer from the same fuckaroundiness and angst that I do. But hey, if you’re going to waste time in tiny increments, each moment intending to actually turn to the task you’re supposed to be focusing on, why not waste those moments on fun?

To that end, here are some of my faves:
Shopbop - Spendy, trendy, endless fun. And no tax and free shipping!
What dog are you? - Go to the site and click Game in the top left to figure out what dog you’d be. I'd be an Italian Greyhound. They were bred as Roman lap dogs. And yes, I think that suits me just fine.
Test your reflexes – I finally got up to 10 seconds and was thrilled. My biggest issue seems to be crashing into the walls in panic. Why approaching squares would cause panic I do not know.

Have fun! And if you do the dog thing, buy a spendy treat, or get really good at the reflex test, please let me know! Unless any of these cause you to miss a deadline. I have plenty of my own guilt to contend with.

Sunday, January 06, 2008


The reason I'm procrastinating is not because it's Sunday, or because I'd rather be playing, although both of those things are true. And it's not because it's pretty and sunny outside, which makes me long to go for a run, and if I added up all the random procrastinating minutes, I could've just gone for the damn run rather than feeling guilty wasting the time running when I should be working.

The real reason is that I'm afraid I won't do a good job, though. I have three speeches to write, and don't really know a lot about any of the topics.

I tell myself I'm smart, and that I have material to read, and that I can in fact craft good speeches on all three topics. My mantra has started to be "You're smart. You can figure this out."

But I have this little voice that says, "Except maybe you can't."

I start thinking about them, and get all self-doubt-y and nervous. And then I pick up the folder with the first topic. And promptly put it back down. Because what if I don't do a good job? What if I can't figure out the right thing to say? What if he doesn't like what I've written? What if I'm not actually that smart?

Part of the problem, OK, most of the problem, is that I lack discipline. If I were someone else I'd have forced myself to just start slogging. But me? I fret. I fuck around. I postpone. I re-fret.

I do this until I really really really have no margin for fuckaroundiness any longer. This is the point I've reached. This is my last little bit of time-wasting that I'm going to allow myself. Because as it is I am going to be working till late late late. As in later than late.

This post is not really a time waste, though. It's catharsis. I feel better having gotten it out.

And now? Now I'm really really honest-to-god going to work.

If you see me back on here, please give me a stern talking-to.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Eff the effing cold. I'm going to protest.

I take the cold as a personal affront. I get so offended when it is hideously cold out. And yes, I realize this is ridiculous. It has nothing to do with me. I get it. But it doesn't stop me.

Seriously. I can never say, "It's 24 degrees out." Rather, I say, "It's 24 fucking degrees out! What the fuck is wrong with this place?"

Somehow the fuck word makes it all a little better. Or maybe it's the vitriol that warms me.

As I was complaining bitterly about the temperature this morning, a friend of mine suggested that I start a letter writing campaign. I should absolutely protest the unfair cold.

He was all kinds of delighted with the idea of expressing your outrage over something inane but going through the "proper channels" to do so. Of course this was mental masturbation on his part. But I like that sort of thing.

So what would the proper channels be ? I mean, where would you send such a letter? I get protesting global warming, but to whom would you protest something like the cold?

Would you write to the White House? Ha. Would you send them to rock stars, like Moby and Bono? How about the Scientologists? Tom Cruise and John Travolta?

It's kind of amusing to think about. But then, when you stop to consider it, the real question is: who do you think has the power to effect change in the world?

Thursday, January 03, 2008

The vicissitudes of the unconscious

Why, I would like to know, is four in the morning such a cruel hour?

You can go to bed warm and happy and securely loved, snuggled in fleece and a new periwinkle comforter you got for Christmas. You can even have sweet dreams. But if you awake at 4 am, you are a blind panic.

It's never that you wake up and think about that pair of boots you'd really like to buy, the movie you want to see, or the funny conversation you had yesterday. Nor do you wake up thinking about trying a new paint color in your bedroom, or how you really like eggnog lattes at Starbucks, or that maybe next time you get your hair done you'll ask for more highlights.

No, no, and more no. It's never like that, and I don't know why. Four in the morning is reserved for terror.

It's the hour for waking with a start, suddenly and inexplicably, with a lead ball of dread in your stomach. Why is it the hour for thinking, in sweating anxiety, about should-haves, missed opportunities, and things you will never have the chance to do unless you change your life completely, starting tomorrow? And even then, if you oversleep, which you probably will, since oh, look, you're wide awake and it's 4 am, it might be too late?

Why is it that once you're awake, with enough of a sandstorm of hysterical thoughts to smother an entire desert village, you just keep producing more grains of swirling panic?

Like, if you wake up fretting about a work project, which is what I did, well, it's not enough to wake up and worry about work. Because also? Someone might, right this moment, be using your identity in Outer Mongolia. Or your kids might get lead poisoning from Chinese toys. The kids you don't have. Holy crap - you don't have kids! And you might never have kids! And hey, you haven't thought about dying alone in a while. Because that's always a possibility. Remember? Huh? Remember?

Honestly. I fucking hate 4 am.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

I could so be dangerous

I said goodbye to 2007 and hello to 2008 at Tryst with some of my nearest and dearest.

It was a very fun party, and I totally behaved myself. The worst of it was that I drank too much beer, which is minor in the scheme of things. I didn't say or do anything stupid. I didn't kiss any random strangers. I didn't get arrested for indecent exposure, or anything else, for that matter.

It made me feel all grown up and responsible to enjoy myself and then hit a point where it was time to go. Fun, but enough.

So mature, right?

I then cringed into the sunshine of a new year streaming in my window around 11 on New Year's day. It turns out that even if you decide that your best strategy is to stick to beer, and that is what you do, pouring a variety of them over a dinner of tasty, hasty hors d'oeuvres does a wee hangover make.

So I awoke, and shuffled into the bathroom to take a shower, and nearly screamed when I caught my reflection in the mirror.

Because when offered a fun, sparkly, temporary tattoo? The kind that I have put on many a person at previous New Year's parties? The kind that women are always like, "Here! Put a butterfly on my boob!" That kind?

When offered, it turns out that I will choose an entire page of fighting scorpions. And have them applied as high and low as decently possible. One was even swirling into my belly button.

Consequently, my tummy looks like a breeding ground for angry, swarming scorpions. Holding roses in their lethal claws. Which are maybe called pincers? now that I think about it? Ooh, grr! Or whatever sound scorpions make. Also, they might be covered in glitter. But the angry, dangerous kind. Can you tell there's a theme?

These tattoos come off with rubbing alcohol or an immense amount of scrubbing. I've done neither, as I quite like them. They make me feel secretly tough. In a sparkly princessy glittery but you never know I might actually be in a gang on weekends-y kind of way.

They totally give me an attitude. You know, like if someone were trying to borrow my stapler without asking, I'd be all, "Don't take that stapler without asking, bitch!" Or something like that.

I sound so tough, no? I'm trying it on for size. They'll be gone tomorrow. I have to revel in it while I can.

Happy 2008, everyone! Sparkly scorpions, roses, and massive attitude to all!