Thursday, April 30, 2009

Woman's Intuition

Last night I was met with a fortunate coincidence.
I was celebrating the cosmic event of the birth of my friend Katie, some 31 years ago, at a small party at her home. There was ice cream cake. There were iced beverages. There was Katie's awesomely funny husband Rich, the cage fighter. And of course, there were presents. In addition to the classy gift of an Ingrid Michaelson CD I'd picked out for K ("Be OK" is a great album all around... one of my favorites of last year), I also managed to find something a little more... hmm... interesting. While shopping at an antique mall a couple weeks ago, I saw an hexagonal mirror that I knew Katie must have. It had a picture of a girl wearing an "I Love Cage Fighters" shirt super-imposed over the mirror. It definitely wasn't an antique by my traditional definition, and it looked more like something you'd see up in a mechanic's garage, but I felt KKC needed this.
I'm not sure what reaction I expected the gift to merit, but I was pleasantly surprised when Katie tore open the leopard-print paper, looked at the mirror and said, "Isn't that Ali?" Actually, I can't remember if her name was Ali or not, but Katie and Rich totally knew the model! I guess it's a small, small world in the UFC Ring. The girl in the mirror was a cage girl and dates one of Rich's good friends. Little did I know when I picked up that gem of a gift that it would hit so close to home. I think that's the way my friend Tammy felt when I gave her a velvet Elvis one Christmas.
Sometimes my intuition is just spot-on, I guess. Of course, there are other times I miss the mark. I realized right after sending a friend request to a guy I met my freshman year at the Brigham (a very odd little fellow with a massive key chain collection, copious acne and a terrible singing voice) that I'd gotten the wrong man. Oops. I guess this is not the end of the world, but I wish I'd not been so cavalier when hitting "Add as friend." Boo.
In the meantime, I'm hoping that going with my gut in the future will lead to better results. I'll choose to accept the minor embarrassment of friending the wrong Rex as a fluke. Surely, buying a prize-worthy mirror counts for something on my overall record.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The butt of a joke

Disclaimer: The following entry may lead you to believe that I'm the most unfeeling person alive. Truthfully, I just learned some time ago that it's best to laugh about things, particularly if it's awkward.
So most days, work is rather predictable. I update time cards, and pull folders when jobs are completed. It's my job to send out the invoices, and to take in money. I pay the bills. I administer the profit-sharing and 401k plans. Sometimes I'm just typing and sending proposals on behalf of the main sales staff, but sometimes I'm bidding a project from start to finish. I arrange for deliveries, and I run the errands. I keep the whole office end of the operation up and running, and unfortunately, that also sometimes requires helping our employees when they've been injured.
In the spirit of keeping a delicate situation private, we'll just call the injured employee Bob. It's always sad to hear that an employee got hurt (it actually is a pretty rare occurrence), but Bob is one of my favorites. He's a very sweet guy and really believes in good customer service (though in times past he's promised to do things that were completely impossible). Anyway, I guess Bob hurt himself LAST WEEK on a job, but only told my brother today that he was having a problem. By law, I have to make a first report of injury to our insurers within 24-hours of it being reported to a manager. So while I worked on the paperwork right away, it felt like it was a bit overdue because Bob hadn't said anything.
Anyway, my brother came by to drop off some paperwork and to explain to me the extent of Bob's injuries. Rarely, someone will inhale something (rare because our employees wear dust masks) or get something in their eye (they wear safety goggles as well). I think our last injury was a couple years back when one guy threw his back out unloading insulation from a semi. So when I asked my brother just what was bothering Bob, imagine my surprise when he said, "He hurt his colon."
Now, I don't mean any disrespect to Katie Couric, but I've always just thought there was something funny about colons. It's more the word than the function, but in the spirit of full disclosure, I feel it important to recognize my propensity to laugh when the subject comes up. However, it did seem a little weird to me that Bob would have had a colon problem because of something that happened on the job. Bob speaks English, but it's not his first language and sometimes words elude him. When pressed further, I was able to understand that while crossing some attic trusses for a lay-in application, Bob slipped, and landed very hard on his bottom, with his legs sprawling to either side of the stud on the bottom of the truss. Or, if that sounds confusing, picture yourself on a mountain bike with a very high bar (disproportionately high to your short legs), and slipping forward off the seat. Ouch. Painful for anyone, male or female. But Bob bore the brunt of his injuries on his bottom.
So first of all, you've gotta feel for the guy. However (I'm finding myself having a hard time using the qualifier "but" because of its homonym), it was rather funny trying to describe his problem on paper for the insurance people. Body part injured: "Rectum." I mean, what else can you say? (Actually, my brother suggested many colorful alternatives, but none were remotely appropriate.) Even worse was when I further had to explain the situation to the woman from Builder's Trust. We both knew it was impolite to laugh, but neither of us could help it. She said she'd never dealt with this kind of injury before.
Anyway, Bob did go to the doctor and was given a clean bill of health, so here's hoping this is the last time I have to deal with a bum injury. If I were a less sensitive person, I'd call him up and tell him to get his butt back to work.

Pinchers of Power and Bully Blinders

Ever wish you had, in your own circle of friends, an equivalent to Data from "The Goonies?" I do. Particularly when I need something snappy invented. This morning, I was "face-stalking" some of my new "friends" on Facebook-- some girls who were good enough to accept my friend requests without really knowing me. Not that I have any subversive plans for them, unless you count checking in on girls I've never met to try to recruit them back to Relief Society.... Anyway, I was scrolling through hundreds of pictures of these girls, and came to a few conclusions: 1) I'm glad I was never in a sorority (they have to own so many outfits!). 2) There are some things you just don't want to know about people (like what kind of underwear they wear, because they love to take pictures of themselves in the near-nude). And 3) Someone has to perfect Data's Dad's invention from the end of "The Goonies"-- the camera belt.
Think about it. Have you ever taken a look at most of those MySpace and Facebook pictures people post? And don't worry, I know I'm guilty too. But even worse than the mirror shots (and I'm talking about the one where they take a picture of the image in the mirror, not the ones where they use a mirror to get a look at themselves in a viewfinder) are the arm-out, face close-ups. One here and there doesn't bother me, but in viewing 481 pictures of this one particular girl, I felt I'd best recognize her (were she to ever show up at church) by looking up her nose. Apparently, she is the designated photographer in all these shots. Maybe she has the longest arms, I don't know. But photo after photo features her pursing her lips with her face smashed up against one of her friends, and you totally end up with a nostril shot.
I kept thinking to myself, Brianna needs a camera belt. Then, when she and her friends wanted to gather 'round for another identical shot (with the exception of whatever the sorority required them to wear for that particular formal/kegger/kegger-masking-as-a-service-project) and there was no one around willing to act as their own Tom Ford or Annie Leibovitz, then Bri could strap on the belt, extend the camera far enough back to encompass her entire posse, and high enough that we could see, say, her eyes. I know what you're thinking-- how 'bout a tripod? But that won't fit into one of those teeny sorority clutches.
So right now, I'm looking for a Data. Fortunately, there is already a Chunk in my life, half a dozen Mikey's, one Stef and a couple Mouths. I don't really identify so much with Andy, but she was my designated part one Halloween (I forgot and dressed up as Scarlett O'Hara instead) and there are a couple good front-runners for Brand. Heck, I've even got Troy and Rosalita covered! But Data, where are you? Stop setting booty traps and save us from a world of bad social network pictures. That's what I said!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Nearly Perishing can be an Embarrassing Experience

Last night proved to be even more eventful than Thursday's charming episodes. I honestly don't know what it is about April 24, but trends suggest it's regularly going to be a red-letter day. It's easy to remember because it's my cute little sister-in-law's birthday, but something slightly freaky generally also comes to pass on that fateful date. Last year, it wasn't so bad. Just an old guy telling me he was in love with me. I remember being slightly disturbed. Let's just say I'd take that again over last night.
So things started off very well. I'd had a productive day at work, and also managed to help my mom re-do some window treatments (everyone laughs, but come to mother's house and check out what a certified window expert can do for you!). The family members who could make it had a delicious and fun meal at a local restaurant, where we were also so fortunate to run into a lot of wonderful people-- my aunt and cousin, the owners of some pretty important local landmarks/restaurants who are also just super members of the community, my former high school theater teacher, etc. It was nice. After the family festivities, I picked up my friend Trevor and we went to our friend Victor's baptism, which was one of the best ways I can think of to spend a Friday night. Victor completely rules! I've never seen anyone run to a baptismal font before, but it was pretty amazing.
Anyway, it was not long before people started clearing out and it was time to take Trevor home. On the way, we started talking about his million pets (or five... whatever) and just enjoyed one another's company.
Trev lives in a mother-in-law's quarters on the back of his older brother's property. The easiest way to access his pad is through a gate in an alley. Naturally, I pulled up near his gate to drop him off. We were still discussing Kermit and Merlin (his female tree frogs) and their propensity for making a lot of noise about 5 a.m., when I noticed an old man carrying A GUN coming towards us.
I said rather calmly to Trevor, "Um, there's an old man with a gun coming our way." Trevor looked around and I rolled down the window. The man told us we needed to leave. We tried to explain I was just dropping Trevor off and that they were actually neighbors, but the guy wasn't really interested in any explanations about our right to be there. I suspect he had Parkinson's, as he was shaking quite badly. He was also wearing one of those old man jumpers like my Grandfather Stryjewski used to wear. I kind of looked at him like, "Pappy, don't shoot!" and we drove off.
Poor Trevor. For whatever reason, we're always running into scary situations when we're together, like the time I dropped him off at the Institute after we went hot-tubbing. There was a lady behind the dumpster, and he was sure she was after him.
Anyway, we were both a little too scared to attempt to drive him back home through the alley, and I thought it might be best to wait until the old fellow calmed down and went to sleep. So we drove around for a bit, but ended up at the Institute to wait it out. I mean, we couldn't go to the park, because they close at 10, and the cops love to accuse people of "making love" if they're in the park late at night (David and I used to run into this problem quite a bit, though anyone could see he was boring me to tears with some diatribe or another). Anyway, there were a lot of people out partying in their front yards, and rather than watch the drunks on MLK Blvd. crawl around in impersonations of the dogs partying with them, we pulled over near that infamous dumpster.
So now, here's the really awful part of the evening. You'd think that having someone point a gun directly at you would be the worst, but it wasn't. Nerve-wracking, yes. Trev and I were trying to detox and talk it out. We joked around a bit. It was hot, so we rolled down the windows of my car. Trevor, who had been kind enough to complement my ensemble earlier (his words: "you look really pretty tonight... kinda like a gypsy" and I was in love), was dressed up a bit like a dandy. He wore dark slacks, a red button-down shirt, a silver tie and a (tight) grey vest. Just looking at him in that get-up made me uncomfortable on several levels. First off, I wondered how he could even breathe, and having made unrelated comments earlier (pre-gunslinger), I started to worry about this. Secondly is the truly embarrassing part. For whatever reason-- his health or otherwise-- I soon became fascinated and preoccupied with the idea of unbuttoning that blasted vest, and I told him so. I realize now that this is a very inflammatory statement, and likely makes me appear quite wanton, but the truth will set you free. We continued to chat while I unbuttoned his vest, loosened his tie, and rolled up his sleeves. He untucked that shirt and looked 100 percent better. We popped his collar as well, and he was suddenly a 1980s poster child. He was barely even born in the 80s, so that makes it all the more funny to me. Trevvie and I have an interesting friendship based on mutual respect and admiration, though in the spirit of full disclosure, he is one of my spin-the-bottle friends, right or wrong. Without letting your imaginations run too terribly wild, I'll omit certain details of our few minutes in the Institute parking lot (which were mostly spent talking about random things [Trevor's best statement of the evening: "I'm really in touch with wolves."]). Long story short-- there was a bit of canoodling, but at about the level one would see in one of the "High School Musical" series. Still, this was a private moment of friendship, away from the glare of the frat parties and the tumult of an old man who'd tried to do us in.
There were a few minor disturbances as this portion of the evening unfolded. Trevor has amazing senses-- and perhaps literal eyes in the back of his head-- because he kept noticing things. One inebriated gentleman walked through the Institute parking lot from one party to another, which we found a little disturbing. Of course, I'd never have seen the guy, but Trevor heard and then caught a glimpse of him. Trevor kept hearing odd noises, and we decided it was time to go home.
As we pulled out of the parking lot, Trevor told me he thought he'd seen someone behind the dumpster again. I thought he was only trying to scare me. He said, "Isn't that a jacket?" I said, "No, that's just the wheel. Well, it does look like a jacket, but I'm sure it's not-- AAGGHH!! FEET! I SEE FEET!" Someone was actually sleeping under the Tute dumpster! Or at least lying there, listening to me ask Trev if I could unbutton his vest and our conversation about pity kisses. T and I screamed like little girls, which is really ok for me, as I am female, but simply frightening coming out of a man as big as a boulder and whose voice is usually a rich baritone. We peeled out of the parking lot, nearly ripping the security gate down, and decided we can never hang out again because too many scary things happen to us together.
So, yes, I had my first-ever gun pointed at me last night, but truthfully I was much more alarmed about the likely-helpless homeless person who I should have reached out to in compassion, but instead was angry at for listening in on my ill-advised attempts at flirting. I'm pretty much not going back to the Institute anymore except for Sunday church.

Friday, April 24, 2009

How Most of these So-Called Gangstas Pass

And now, the latest installment of "How Weird Can Rachel's Dating Life Get?"
This week has been a busy one, starting with the trauma of dear Sam's Club (ok, we can call him Adrian again, because I'm not currently updating the blog on myspace, and because I doubt very much he'd read them anyway) sending me the creepy "I Love You" animated texts, and progressing to frustration with Jack's ambivalence. I shouldn't be surprised, though, because nothing in my social life ever turns out just the way I'd expect.
Last night was good for a dose of the unexpected, I must say. First off, Lou let me know as I was getting ready to leave that Jack wasn't coming. Now, this in and of itself is NOT eyebrow-raising. He doesn't know me, but I'm used to boys canceling on me. Do I like it? No (unless it is Jack, whose ambivalence I apparently mirror), but I didn't let it get me down. I always enjoy time with Lou, though, and her little pal Chris isn't so bad either. He's actually a nice chap, though he forgot himself and his manners at the end of our dinner last night and tried to snag a birthday kiss from me. He was rewarded not with a peck, but instead me screaming in his face. Sorry, brotha. I don't kiss my girls' men, unless it's in one of our large-group games of Spin-the-Bottle. He looked disappointed, Lou looked annoyed (and honestly, who wouldn't be, when their chump of a dear friend forgets he is merely a man and not Matt Lauer, so therefore, is not worthy of extra-comradely bussing) and I am sure I looked dumbfounded. Though I am proud to be an expert in the field of osculation, I am not without scruples and guiding principles for whom and under what circumstances I apply my gift.
Aside from that small hiccup, the early part of the evening was quite enjoyable. We had dinner at the Independence Grill, where the food is good (though about 25 percent overpriced, I'd say) and the service is terrible. Our waitress was too busy drinking soda at the bar to attend to her customers. Plus, the place was frigid. Those looking for a place to take their next date can probably cross it off their list. Still, Lou and Chris and I enjoyed ourselves, and I couldn't help thinking again how lovely it is to have friends to do things with, even on a Thursday night.
Of course, dinner can't (and certainly shouldn't) last forever, so it wasn't long before we were saying goodbye and I was off to run a few miscellaneous errands. Of course, that was also about that magical time of night when Adrian's texts start arriving in great volume and frequency. Turns out, he lives right in the neighborhood, so we decided to go out to Sonic for a little quality time.
As my faithful readers know, this meeting was all at once nerve-wracking, necessary, and easier than putting off the inevitable. Honestly, I like Sam's Club (the store) too much to only shop at Costco. I figured this was was the easiest to discharge my responsibility of going out with Adrian (after all, I told him I would), without wasting a lot of his time and money. Also, because Sonic is relatively well-lit, and I was going to make him sit in MY car (for safety reasons), I knew I'd probably feel safe. Still, that didn't keep me from calling several friends to say were I to turn up missing, I'd last be with Adrian. A girl's gotta cover her bases, you know.
And again, I was pleasantly surprised. Very good things about my friend A: He is very funny. One of my favorite comments of the evening was when he looked at my car and said, "Wow, this thing is huge. It makes me feel even smaller" and when the police drove by, "It's a good thing your car is so big. I could hide all over the place in here." He effectively put me at ease, and I think he'll fit snugly into the friend category, where I'd truthfully wanted him all along. Yes, he's cute and fun, but perhaps the best thing was that I realized he's also kind of ghetto! Seriously. The guy went to Valley High School, which is one step up from West Mesa and Rio Grande, perhaps on par with Highland or Los Lunas, and one step down from say, Sandia. I don't know why I didn't put it all together before. Maybe because you don't normally see guys in "Korn" hats these days unless they're trying to be ironic. But when he took off his enormous sweatshirt to show me some of his tattoos, I realized better who I was dealing with. He's not wearing these clothes because he's small-- he does it because he's tough (he also told me he'd let me beat him up, though I don't really know why that came up). At the same time, his toughness has a touch of "Malibu's Most Wanted"-- his tats include a tribute to Disney's Captain Jack Sparrow and The Red Hot Chili Peppers. Seriously, he's funny and just awesome. And not at all who I want for a boyfriend. Mostly because we don't have much in common. OK, I'll be honest. It's mostly because of the animated text messages. But I get them now. Talk to this guy for five minutes and you'd say, "Of course he sends you a picture of a purple fairy to tell ya you're loved." Still, he's a perfect addition to my social life, adding spice where once things were bland (once Jacob said he'd like to be garlic or cumin; I think Adrian is ginger-- not as sweet as you'd think, but packs a powerful punch in small doses).
So in the numbers game, would-be 96 became 97; former 97 still hasn't asked me out, but the two-day obsession is over; new 96 is a comfortable back-up, but I'm still in love with 88 and intrigued by 93. I think. My list of former-flames is stored in another location. Whatever. Bring on #98, so long as it isn't Jack.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Why Celibacy Works So Well For Me

You know I’m all about the emotional thrills and spills that come with leading a bit of a frantic life. I’ve said it before, but I’m happiest on those days that are about other people and what I can do for them. I used to think that it was because it feels good to serve others, but now I suspect I’m changing, and mostly like service for the escape it offers from one’s own crazy existence.
Allow me to elaborate. Ever have one of those days when little things that shouldn’t bother you hit ya like a ton of bricks? Or you feel like you’re dropping again and again from Disney’s “Tower of Terror?” Yep. That was my Tuesday.
Sometimes, it’s even a little funny amid the shocking and scary. For example, out of nowhere, I got a text message from Mr. Sam’s Club (whom I’d not gone out with yet)—it was one of those cheesy animated ones. Well, at first, this was not a big deal. He’d sent me a “good morning” message the day before that had a rose (boo to roses!) picture, and even though it was kind of trashy in a myspace kinda way, it was a little funny. Tuesday’s message: not funny. This was the “I Love You” message. And let’s be honest, Sam’s Club doesn’t love me. He doesn’t even know me (poor chap, I can’t even refer to him by his name anymore, for fear of someone meeting him someday). My first reaction was to drop the phone. Then I picked it up and quickly erased the message. Then I pretended like I didn’t get it. I think it’s funny that oft times, the fastest way to a man’s heart is to let him know you’re interested, but the surefire way to get me to hate you is to act like you like me. It reminded me of the time the 55-year-old man said, “Rachel, if you were a few years older and I were a few years younger, I’d never let you go.” I’d thought hindsight would make it flattering, but a year later, it’s still plain creepy.
But the emotional trauma did not stop there. I’ll admit, I had a hard time focusing on work yesterday. I was far too busy blogging and updating my facebook page (talk about a colossal waste of time—the latter, of course). While looking through some old pictures, I saw that you-know-who is back on the social network bandwagon. Why is my stomach now in my feet? It shouldn’t matter. I’ve moved on. The other day someone asked me how many boys I’d kissed and I said, “Gosh, I feel like there was someone else… Who am I missing?” I’d forgotten him. And that’s honest. But the old idealist in me still feels like I should be friends with all those fellas I date unsuccessfully (even Mr. 55, now 56-year-old), and acknowledging the existence of someone out there who used to be a huge part of my life but is now so completely not is still hard to take. It doesn’t open up a wound so much as it reminds me of a small, perpetual void. I’m far from hollow anymore. I just have a little hole around the right ventricle.
Another scary thing for that day was putting myself out there again. For those of you who don’t know me well, or haven’t been reading long, I’m super good at messing up. A couple of weeks ago, things that were boiling under the surface exploded in one of my close friendships, and the lava of hurt hardened before disaster relief moved in. Here and there, things got better. Some of the unpleasant side-effects were easier to take care of than the problem at hand, try as I might to get to the root. Just when I thought I could chip away at the asphalt, some more magma would spew out all over me. And well, a lot of it is my fault. Don’t play with fire if you don’t want to get burned and all that. Is that metaphorical and ambiguous enough for you? My friends who know me well are aware of exactly what I’m talking about, but talking is part of what got me in trouble in the first place. Anyway, I made another stab at it. In addition to the phone call, the email, the texts, the notes passed in Sunday School, the (somewhat of a) jest that our friends would beat us up or hold us hostage until we could work out our issues (an idea I wasn’t completely opposed to), I tried something new that I hope will work: the nostalgia factor. Let’s just say I employed colored paper in a chain to try to get a message across. I don’t know if it will work, but I guess I’ll go ahead and keep trying. Having my now-foote-level (ha-cha-cha) stomach jump up to my throat (along with my heart) feels ookie, but friendship is worth the temporary discomfort of your innards being in the wrong places. Just ask a kidney donor.
And for another little bit of color to my life, a friend of a friend is setting me up with a guy on Thursday. I happened to catch a glimpse of would-be-date last night. And by happened to see him, I mean my friends called the guy down to the restaurant where they work and I was dining. I asked them not to introduce me. He seemed like an ok guy from my position five bar stools down. But out of the corner of my eye, I thought I saw my pal Chris giving a nod in my direction, and newbie Jack saying, "Not bad." Not bad?!!?! I spew you out, lukewarm lover! Actually, when I asked Chris about it later, he said that didn't happen, but still. I guess "not bad" is not that bad, but it doesn't necessarily make a girl feel "not horrible." It kind of reminds me of that time I was visiting my cousin in Georgia and his (very drunk) friend came over in the middle of the night and loudly proclaimed to my cousin's charming and homosexual housemate downstairs, "I can't sleep with Jordan's cousin!" Of course he couldn't, any more than any of the gentlemen in the house (though Richard the housemate would have been by far the leader in any such competition), but something about hearing it was so insulting. What? I'm not good enough for you, you little drunk punk?
So all this gets me thinking that it's a good thing I'm little Miss Celibacy. Aside from the obvious reasons of not wanting to be a big-time sinner, etc., etc., I again see how hopeless I am with men. When they love me (or, in the case of Sam's Club [whose date I postponed, but it's bound to happen sometime] or 55-year-old, they make grand overtures, especially early on), I'm 100 percent put-off. When they hate me, I obsess over what I could have done to save at least the friendship part of our relationship. When they are ambivalent, I want to give them a good smack. This is why I'm single and my celebrity crush is Matt Lauer.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Apologies to the Queen Mary (and Avenge Apollo)

So here's one of the videos I took-- not seriously high-quality, but for those yet to be convinced and looking to understand my great budding love for the Brothers Divett, I think you'll find this one enjoyable. I have another, which I will post if requested, but these things take sooo long to upload, and the other one exposes my great love for one brother over another. It starts out focused on one brother, and then I realize how goofy that makes me look. So I zoom out to get the whole band, and you miss a few seconds of sound. Therefore, I offer their "Apologies" video for your listening and viewing pleasure.

video

Groupies are Good Enough

So last night I went back to my groupie roots. It reminded me of college, and wearing my "Eddie, You're the Garbage and I'm the Fly" t-shirt to the Ed McBand shows. Yes, the one I had "help" making, when I asked the girl to center it and the picture of me with Eddie ended up on my stomach. Oh dear. I kind of got away from going to friend's shows/hosting them at my house after Eddie's percussionist, Seth, made some crack about me onstage, suggesting I was in love with some band member or other. As if. Everyone knows my celebrity crushes tend more toward the news anchors (I love you, Matt Lauer!). And if I were to act like a nincompoop around a musician, it would probably be Michael Stipe, who I still dream about yearly. The dream is always the same-- sitting amicably on an old couch in a green room (waiting room, not the color green) and then we make out. I've had this dream since I was about 14, and it never gets old. But I digress.

Anyway, last night I hit up the Launchpad to visit my dear little friends as they magically entertained a crowd of 30 or so people. I heart you, Avenge Apollo! The picture above (still dark, sorry!) features my cousin Sarah's beau, Eli, filling in for Cole (which he did for one song). Does anyone realize I've never even been introduced to Cole? I thought about wearing a shirt with HIS name on it, but I didn't think he'd think it was cool, so much as it would make me look like a stalker. Also, I regretted forgetting my sledge hammer, yet again. I wanted to dance and dance, but without the hammer, I just couldn't do it.

In some ways, I'm a terrible groupie. Unlike the girls there to see the headlining band (whose name I forget, but I'm not super-impressed with-- I think it has something to do with the way Mr. California Lead Singer sings the word "different"-- broken up into "diff-rent" in the most obnoxious way possible), I was not wearing my Ugg Boots or my minuscule vest. I hadn't even given myself the de rigueur emo-pompadour (which I do actually sport in real life on about a weekly basis). I'm too shy to get particularly close to the stage, and as I said before, I just can't dance around without the hammer. I also am not good at giggling, and I felt like a complete dork with my camera out. When I was at Morrissey, I was in a huge crowd of people, and everyone was using their cell phones as lighters, so I couldn't feel dumb. But dumb is ok, when you get a shot like this:



Isn't Brennan the hottest boy you've ever seen in orange girl pants? I love these. They remind me of so many good memories of yore. If we only go as far back as my first trip to London, age 17, they remind me of the orange tights I bought at Harrod's. I knew I couldn't afford much else there, but they were popular all over London. Funny that it only took us 10 years and a season of "Gossip Girl" to get on the trend here in the U.S. Anyway, B's pants run circles around my tights anyway. They also are a bit reminiscent of Big Bird's legs in "Big Bird in Tokyo" or whatever that show was called. This is why the girls line up to get next to him. Nice guy+ Orange pants+ Mad Drumming Skills= Sexy Man with Big Hair.

Not that B has the monopoly on sexy legs in the Divett family. Here's little Jacob, rockin' out in the free world:

You can see why KB Toys doesn't want me near her celebrity crush! I'd like to think I'm deeper than someone fainting at the feet of a rock-star in training, and I'd justify my Jacob-as-a-heart-throb-love mostly because of his field of study (social work) or the fact that he cleaned up the mess at my house after I spilled roasted tomato soup all over myself and my kitchen. Y'all know I like boys who do dishes and have social causes. He's literate, he's considerate, and he's too legit to quit. Oops. That was stupid. I think the point of this rambling mess, though, is the happy coincidence that he's also surprisingly handsome. I love when my friends have an outside that matches their good inside. Most of us are only "sweet spirits" with faces like fists full of worms. But Jacob's goodness has been rewarded with a very cute face (and I especially like it when he sticks his tongue out whilst concentrating-- he reminds me of Zoey) and, now that he is following his brother's example of wearing girl pants, the world is aware of how nice his legs are. Sorry to embarrass you, Jacob, but I couldn't help noticing. I'm more of a nose girl, but his legs caught my attention.

All in all, a very good night. Sarah and I had a blast. She supported her man, I pretended to be a paparazzo, and all to a soundtrack of mild punk goodness. No sweaty articles of clothing were launched my way, but truthfully, I'm past that stage of my life now. Besides, there's only so much room in my hope chest to house memorabilia after my Johnny Cash and Osmonds 2nd Generation autographs.


Monday, April 20, 2009

Unsolicited Advice

Sometimes people like to tell you things in an effort to “help you.” Sometimes you hear them out and you think, “Yeah, you know, that’s some pretty good counsel. I’m gonna take that and implement it.” This is most effective when it comes from someone who has some authority on the subject at hand, like a professor in a classroom, or an expert on window coverings at Linens-N-Things (I was a Windows Expert there many years ago; of course you can’t get advice at LNT now that they’ve gone out of business—sad day, and no, I had nothing to do with their downfall).
But sometimes well-meaning friends, family, and strangers like to tell you what to do, which is humorous at best, though typically just obnoxious.
Let’s start with one of those obnoxious examples. I know I’ve said it before, but remember that lady who is always telling me that if I don’t get married and start having babies PRONTO, I’m a big sinner? Her favorite words of wisdom to me have included:

  • Move to Utah (everyone’s solution—when I pointed out that I lived in Utah for seven years, she just moved onto her next piece of advice, which was)
  • Don’t be so picky
  • Try online dating (she then used several of the home ward examples of couples who’ve made a cyber love connection, and let’s be honest… these people are nutters!)

Then there are the funnier things you hear. One day not too long ago, a friend of my little brother hopped into my car as I was preparing to leave the Institute. I mentioned that I am quite busy and my life is rather stressful, and he told me I needed to drop things once in a while to have fun. Now, this may be decent advice if the things stressing a person out are “Hmm… what do I wear to my eighth date of the week?” or how to squeeze in one more shopping trip, but my stress tends to be more centered in work, paying off my mortgage, finding money for graduate school, even getting into graduate school, etc., etc. He then said to me, “It’s ok. You can’t help that you’re stubborn. You’re a Taurus.” And who are you, one of LaToya Jackson’s Psychic Friends? Miss Cleo? Hrmph.
Sometimes advice is just unfounded, though well-meant. I mentioned to my mom that I have tentative plans later this week to go out with Adrian. Yes, Mr. Sam’s Club has been in contact, in a major way. Knowing more about him now than just his cuteness, I’m guessing we’re not a love connection, but why not go on a harmless date? I’m happy to give him the #96 slot, even though #89 nearly killed me, and I still struggle with strong feelings for #87 and #92. #97, a boy I plan to go out with someday, haunts my dreams. But Adrian? He just seems like a nice guy. Why shouldn’t I make a friend of him, right? But my mom is worried. “You don’t know what this guy is like,” she says. I know. Exactly the point of going on a casual date and getting to know him. She’s seen him once in line, but I’m sure she didn’t pay attention to him. She’s not the people-watcher I am, and she doesn’t utilize her brain power to memorize faces and facts like I do. Regardless, she worries. Even though I’m a 27 (nearly 28) year-old woman, she says things like, “What if he has an STD?” Um, yes, what if he does? I said, “Oh, mother. It’s not like I’m even planning on making out with him, and even if I were, the boys I kiss have to pass the no-mouth-herpes test.” Really. She worries about my safety, but I’m nine inches taller than he is, and I likely outweigh him by 50 lbs. And even if he did have an STD, it's not like I'm gonna contract it by having dinner with him. In fact, I'm not going to be doing anything with anyone that's gonna give me one, thank you very much.
Still, it’s my own fault for politely listening to these people day-in and day-out. So I guess if you wanted to tell me whether to use my new antique bed as a fainting couch on the porch or an extra guest bed in the study, feel free. If you think you know what I should serve my guests the next time I make a fancy dinner, I’m open. You can tell me who to vote for and how to dress. I don’t mind hearing you think I wear too much jewelry or makeup. I’m glad to know that the music I listen to is outdated, and I really ought to be into Lady Gaga. Don’t feel bad, though, if you later discover I didn’t hear you over the Mountain Goats on my iPod.

PS. Tuesday is D-Day, as in Date Day. Stay tuned for how Adrian fares as #96.

My Endorsement Deals

Sometimes I think it's fun to pretend my blog is popular enough that my own public figure/pseudo-celebrity endorsements count for something. In reality, I know I'm not at that point yet, but there are just a few things I think I'd like to plug today, in the spirit of influencing readers. I don't have much authority, but here are a few things worth checking out:
Number One-- Avenge Apollo. Here's a pic of me and Jacob (I'm the one on the left). This is us in my powder room, displaying our mighty-fine lips. Jacob uses his lips and voice to front Avenge Apollo, and they're playing tonight at the Launchpad. Tickets are $8 (a steal, you might say) and doors open at 7. Be there or be square. (Plus also, if you think J is good looking, you'll definitely want to check out Cole and Brennan... hunky, hunky men-- and vote for them as they try to get on Warped Tour: http://warped.battleofthebands.com/contest.php?sid=65&rid=1320&aid=27845&mid=26580&mtype=2&stage_search.) Number Two-- Estee Lauder Skin Care Products. Specifically, I'm a fan of Idealist Skin Refinisher

and DayWear Plus.
If you doubt, feel free to come up and touch my face the next time you see me. Normally, I'd not allow such behavior, but I've been amazed at how nice my skin feels recently. If only I could bathe in this stuff! Used together, they are an excellent combination. The Repair + the Moisturizer= Total Skin Transformation! And OK, part if it might be the birth control, but hooray! When I was little, I was a little embarrassed of my ruddy cheeks, but mostly that my skin was bumpy (kind of like those bumps a lot of white kids get on their upper arms). I'm sure part of it is that I grew out of bad skin, and part of it is going tanning from time to time. And part of it is no longer eating greasy food. But if you want a quick fix, get to the Estee Lauder counter, and make sure it's at gift time.
Number Three-- Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer in Sin. This stuff is magical if you wear makeup! Forget the days of creases or rubbed-off eyeshadow. It stays on forever, and you can rest-assured that whether you choose Mildew, Polyester Bride, Goddess, or Last Call (several of my favorite Urban Decay Eyeshadow colors), you'll look great all day and all night.

Now, for my gentlemen friends, I thank you for reading this far along. Don't worry. I care about more than just Jacob and makeup. Let us turn two delicious treats in opposite ends of the health spectrum.
The first food to make the list, otherwise known as endorsement Number Four-- Kinder's Happy Hippo. No sugary treat will bring you as much satisfaction as this crispy wafer with a cream filling. I like the chocolate hippos as well, but the original has undeniable charm. Unfortunately, particularly in the Albuquerque market, these are a little hard to come by. Pick them up abroad, or look for them at specialty food stores.Number Five-- This miracle food will indeed change your life for the better: Fiber One Bars. Available in a variety of flavors, the Fiber Ones are a vast improvement over Kellogg's All Bran Bars, my former favorite. Offering nine grams of fiber per serving, partaking of this food of the gods is satisfying, healthy, and delicious. Why have a dry, Quaker Granola Bar when you can do your body a favor and eat this chewy treat? My Food Science Nutrition teacher at the Brigham, Dr. Laura Beth Brown, has me absolutely convinced that fiber cures and prevents nearly everything, so make sure you get your 35 grams per day. A word of caution, however: if you aren't getting all your fiber at present, add it into your diet slowly, and drink plenty of water to mitigate negative side effects.
For Number Six, we'll get a little more personal, as I endorse my lovely friends Pam and Louise, who are wonderful, and I love them!
Pam, the beauty on the right, is an excellent girl all around. Gentlemen gold diggers, Pamsicle will soon be a full-fledged pharmacist, if you know what I mean. But how good was she to let me cry on her shoulder last night and many other times! She appreciates a good joke and gets funnier every time I talk to her. Plus, she makes excellent faces while dancing.
Lou, my great pal on the left, deserves equal praise. As a matter of fact, I recently wrote a letter of recommendation for her for a position to which she is applying. An excerpt:
The thought of two years sans regular time with one of my dearest friends at once inspires pride for her selflessness, and anxiety (a manifestation of my own selfishness) as I wonder what I’ll do without her. Still, Louise and I both gravitate toward people whose purpose in life is to leave the world a little better than they found it. If she weren’t the type of person to not only volunteer, but also to be a true credit to your organization, I doubt we would have been friends in the first place. In any capacity, you can trust Lou to be appropriate, professional, caring, hard-working, inspiring, and fun. She is a patient teacher, a consummate accomplisher, and the most-enjoyable person in the world to be with. She is sensitive and discreet; tough as nails and completely thoughtful. I can always count on Louise to come through, and the [organization] should as well.
Lou and Pam are excellent friends, and I'd be lost without them.
Finally, Endorsement Number Seven-- another bit of bragging time for one of my friends-- the incomparable Andrew Lucas Stewart:

First of all, darling Andrew has ruined my life. Well, ruined my will, I should say, because there is something about him that makes me want to turn myself into his female equivalent. He signed up for Poland Study Abroad, and when he suggested I go again, I found myself on a plane to Warsaw. He just got into the MBA program at BYU, and in researching the Organizational Behavior Emphasis on his behalf, I suddenly found myself buying "GRE for Dummies" and making plans to do the Executive Program at UNM. The other night on the phone, I begged him to not join the military (one of his other long-term goals) because I don't think I could handle boot camp. I am the Ruth to his Naomi. He is an excellent mother-in-law. Last night, I was showing a friend some pictures from my time in Poland, and I found a note Andrew had written to me during FHE in Lublin a few summers ago (five, if you can believe it!). He wrote:
"One can try to capture the essence and goodness of Rachel Sego in one line of paper as well as one can try to pack a rainbow in a jewelry box, but here it goes: raindrops on roses, whiskers on kittens, brown paper packages, and Rachel Sego."
I ask you, my friends, how could I not fall platonically in love with that? Therefore, I most whole-heartedly endorse Andrew as an example of the kind of friend everyone needs-- particularly in the way he makes me consistently better. Sometimes I put him on an unfair and unattainable pedestal, but when certain difficult choices and decisions come my way, I always ask myself, "What would Andrew do?" and I feel like I choose the right. Hmm... just reread that. I sound like I'm starting an Andrew cult. Not really. I just appreciate him, and hope all my readers find their Andrew equivalent.
So make your life better. Eat Fiber One Bars, rock out to Avenge Apollo, and steal my friends. Look good while doing it. Unlike my best friends Tiger Woods and Elizabeth Hurley, I'm not getting paid to say this.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Ask me, Ask Me, Ask Me

video

As promised, in all his glory.

In an effort to bump up my Street Cred

Number one, I need a better camera. Possibly. Actually, I need to learn how to take pictures like my friend Grant. He and his wife Ashley get the most beautiful shots of their daughter-- they work to get lighting right, etc. Grant has devoted a lot of time to learning how to use their fancy-pants camera. Me? No time. No money. No real desire. Until I try to post things and everyone's like, "Hey, what was that blob of darkness supposed to be?" In this case, it's Zoey, traumatized from her run-in with the Easter Bunny moments before. I got her to put on the ears, but she just doesn't trust a 6' rabbit. I guess having her watch "Harvey" someday is not really going to work out (unless it's the actual bunny, and not the concept that scares her... hmm). Restoring Zozer's happiness wasn't too tough. She was naughty while we picked up candy for the family Easter gathering, but I thought we'd try a little carousel ride instead. Sadly, the ears got left behind.
I love the next picture, but you can hardly see my little pal's face. Apparently, this was a bigger hit than having strangers take your picture with a big, scary, furry person. Plus, she's been on real horses before (add that to another thing she's already surpassed her favorite aunt in-- she's also a star with swimming lessons, and I'm a drowning case ready to happen).

Anyway, despite my domestic pretendings, I'm still not your typical Mormon Mom. Aside from the obvious lack of children, I'm still doing my best to live dangerously. Yes, I know you're laughing now. Because nothing I do is remotely dangerous, besides driving back and forth from Los Lunas to Albuquerque multiple times a day. Last night for trip number three, I had to call my friend Insomniac Aaron to help me stay awake. He is heaven-sent.
But yes, I was talking about how cool I am. I'm tough. It's not all antique stores and tea parties for me (though yesterday was the bomb and I got a really great deal on an antique bed)-- no sir. I'm hardcore. I went to the Morrissey concert. All by Myself. And guess what? It was totally worth it!
Oh, Moz, you're such a star! (Even though you are old, and puffed-up [meaning prideful, and not a reference to him looking a little swollen, though the double-meaning does not seem inappropriate] and more than a little weird)
Summer was correct when she said he is perhaps the sweatiest man who ever lived. At first I thought, "Naw-- everybody gets hot up there under the lights." No. He soaked through FIVE shirts. He kept changing them because he was melting away. The couple of times he threw them out into the audience, I was nearly killed by stampede. That's what I get for standing down front. After waiting in line for more than an hour (thank goodness I even got in), I just muscled my way to the front. There were some nice little fellas from El Paso who were good enough to protect me a bit when the crowd surged forward (because basically, I use "little" in the affectionate, diminutive sense-- these dudes were massive!). Unfortunately, these guys were also some of the prime "shirt fighters" and wrestled with this little guy for about 10 minutes straight after the show. Really? I like Morrissey, but I don't think I want his old sweaty shirt. When Jacob Divett throws me his sweaty shirt after his next show (Monday, 7 p.m., Launchpad), then I'll duke it out with someone. Just kidding! Though actually, I can think of one person in particular who would probably kill me for even thinking of looking at Jacob while he sweats. J knows who I mean. She threatened to shank me in a parking lot once, just for being his friend.
So anyway, back to Morrissey.
The show was really good, even with the very smelly girl standing in front of me (it wasn't an unwashed, B.O. smell, or a "I just smoked something illegal smell." Just kind of nasty sweet in the same way old Lance Romance and Judge used to smell-- the kind of scent that makes me think, I couldn't really be around you for a long period of time because I think you smell funky). I like the intimacy of the Sunshine Theatre, though the location gives me the creeps a bit. Downtown is a little weird. However, whilst standing in line, I made many friends, including the contact person for UNM's Executive MBA program. Yep, that's my big secret these days, but let's go ahead a blow the whistle-- I may break down and get the MBA. I've fought the call for years, but now I'm actually looking into it. But that is for another post. Why, oh why, can't I get away from being boring and responsible? Whatever.
Whilst writing, I accidentally deleted a video clip from the concert, and now I can't get it to post. I'll try again later. When I do get it posted, I don't expect you to watch all of it because it's choppy, the sound quality is horrible, and it'll make you a little sea-sick in a "Moulin Rouge" sort of way (only I'm not Baz and it was unintentional). It is funny about mid-song when you can hear the guys behind me singing very enthusiastically. You also get a nice look at Moz whipping the mic cord around. It reminded me of 1980s ribbon dancing. Anyway, how's that incentive for checking back in with me?
On the whole, it was a really good show. I was disappointed that he didn't play my personal Smiths favorites, "Half a Person" and "Please, Please, Please, Let me get what I Want." Also, he scootched himself right back to his tour bus so I couldn't go beg him to autograph "New York Doll," though the El Paso boys said they were having drinks with Mo's guitarist afterwards (apparently Boz is producing their album) and they thought that might console me. I didn't go. Not only does going to a Morrissey concert actually MESS with your street cred, I'm still too nerdy (and maybe cautious and smart) to go play groupie to a second fiddle with a bunch of strangers, as good bodyguards as they were.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Ed McBand's "No Radio"

Am I the only person in the Albuquerque Metro Area who HATES Nickelback? Nickleback? I don't even know how they spell their blasted name, but ugh! Sorry to all you NB fans out there, but I find nothing appealing about their songs, which are played every single rotation. You can't get away from them. They're coming to concert in SEPTEMBER, but you'd think it were tonight. Meanwhile, there has not been one radio mention of the illustrious Morrissey playing the Sunshine tomorrow. But for people who like really generic rock, you can count on hearing again and again how NB tickets go on sale Saturday. Oh, how will I ever endure the hype for the next several months? This is why I'm grateful I splurged for the iPod adapter for the 300 C.
Part of the problem is the lack of decent radio stations in Albuquerque. I just don't find myself in a targeted demographic, I suppose, because while I can deal with country, I never think to listen to it, and rap/hip-hop is generally too hard-core for me. That leaves me with musica de espanol (another good choice, but even I get tired of mariachi music), soft-rock elevator music, oldies, and generic pop/adult contemporary as heard on 100.3 The Peak.
The Peak is my best go-to station, but they play so much NB that I want to pull out my hair. I've never figured out how to program the stations in my new car, so when I hear that infernal "Rock Star" song (which is almost as obnoxious as that awful Kid Rock song that was so calculated and inexplicably popular last summer), I have no choice but to scroll quickly to Magic 99.5 where I'll inevitably be treated to Michael Bolton. And don't get me wrong, MB is still an improvement over NB, but why can't I get my Depeche Mode fix? Or, for those who want something a little more current, give me my Regina Spektor!
The worst thing? For a while I kept getting calls from Arbitron to do radio and music surveys. Clearly, my opinions didn't stack up against the masses. And you didn't really get a chance to explain yourself. I love Pink! I love working out to several of her songs, but I think "You and Your Hand" ought to be banned-- I don't want to have to explain the meaning of that filth to a child in my car. But instead, I only got to say that I "Strongly Disliked" it. It still gets played, so the Peak fails me as well.
I wish we had some kind of college, underground station. Heck, maybe there is one and I've just never found it. I miss my days in Utah, where I'd happily tune into Chunga and Mister on 101.9 The End (formerly 107.5, until they moved to a stronger signal) and listen to Oingo Boingo along with Ingrid Michaelson. There was another short-lived station that was popular for a while-- I kind of remember it being at the top of the dial, but because it was only around for about a year, the name escapes me. But were it not for this obscure station, I wouldn't be the Smiths fan I am today.
And don't get me wrong-- I'm not a music snob. To each their own. Listen to your bluegrass, listen to your jazz. I like to think that I'm open-minded enough to find SOMETHING to like about it. But not NB. My iPod will continue to be my best friend until their popularity wanes and there's a new terrible Miley Cyrus song getting all the attention.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Manic Monday

I didn't sleep well at all last night. I was super-tired from a long day (well, weekend, actually) of trying to make the family's Easter extraordinary. Normally, I fall asleep within minutes of turning out the light. I'm generally a good sleeper. But not last night.
Most of it was my on-going trauma with one of my friends. We finally started talking things out yesterday (I'm so not used to this kind of drama!), but things are still a little shaky. Crap. If I had to guess, I'd doubt he's losing sleep over the situation. But I hate discord. I want to do my part to make everything sunshine and rainbows for the people I love. Blech. My best advice: Don't kiss your best friend. It leads to trouble, and you'll be dealing with it LONG after your fun little experiment.
Also keeping me from getting the required beauty sleep: a new minor obsession. At this point, it's not likely safe to talk about, but suffice it to say I was tossing and turning for ages.
To make up for the lack of candor above, I will share something equally incriminating and strange: When I finally did fall asleep, I had a terrible nightmare. I was at the Morrissey concert (this Wednesday!!!! Woo-hoo!) and I'd forgotten my copy of "New York Doll" for him to autograph. What's more, I'd been in line for the bathroom, and someone suggested I just go in the Men's Room because there wasn't a line. Somehow, I got locked in, and missed the whole concert! When I finally busted out, the only people in the whole place were some folks passed out from a night of hard-partying, and some really angry men who'd been waiting in line for ages. I truly hope this is not an omen. In my dream I did manage to serenade Morrissey with "Please, please, please, Let Me Get What I Want," but he was also old and looked kinda like Brad Pitt in "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button." Anyway, I think I'm gonna go to the concert and hope for the best.
Anyway, tired as I am, I've gotta push through-- there are bills to pay and invoices to write. I've gotta help my mom clean house and I've got a million things to do this week-- not only with various and sundry church responsibilities, but also in preparation for a much-anticipated visit from my old college chum Kimball and her husband, Chris. I love company, but I'm pooped!
Oh, one other thing: Got an email from Sam's Club Hottie's Cousin-- he said he never gave A the tickets. A wants to get together, the email said. Yeah, well, we'll see what develops. I don't particularly care one way or the other. I've gotta deal with everything else first.

Friday, April 10, 2009

For Brecken

Nope.
I went to the game. I wore a cute outfit. No Adrian appearance. But then again, would you just show up to something like that if you didn't know the person? So it's ok. I stayed for half the game and then went to Trader Joe's and bought myself some flowers. They had ranunculus. They're my favorite and not readily available here. And they had daffodils. You get 10 for $1.29. I bought 50. It's an affordable extravagance. And if I don't do it for me, who will?

P.S.

Never got an email from the boy regarding basketball. I'm not upset. I have 150 million things to do in preparation for Easter Dinner (once again-- being held at my house!), and I think mopping the floor will bring me pleasure equal to or greater than I would have experienced spending an evening watching gangly men run back and forth and fake being fouled. Basketball is so ridiculous that way. In the mean time, I'm grateful for the friends I do have, and having not added a new one this week will likely not make much of a difference in the long run.
PPS. Speaking of earlier gratitude, I meant to thank those of you who read my ramblings, faithfully or otherwise. Art can't exist in a vacuum, and one writes better when she imagines she is speaking to someone other than herself. Or so says the character of Amelia Peabody.

Gratitude is Sexy

Welcome to one of the best weekends of the year, my friends. I 100 percent LOVE Easter. To me, it's one of the two best holidays, and another fine example of one we should celebrate all year long. In fact, I'm lobbying to combine it with my other favorite-- Thanksgiving-- and to celebrate it weekly or better.
And no, it has nothing to do with the food. Candy is overrated (except for maybe Peanut Butter Eggs, but they are the devil so I stay away from them as much as possible). I just love holidays with a main focus of gratitude and doing good to and for your fellowmen, as opposed to the manic, often less-than-sincere gift giving and the selfishness that tends to creep in (Poor Christmas, I love you too, but receiving gifts often stresses me out).
It's amazing how gratitude changes your life for the better, and how it lifts one's associates. And I think it means more when it's unexpected.
Here's a story from the trenches:
When I was a PR professional a few years ago, I had a terrible run-in with the owner of a magazine. Granted, my so-called supervisor was a demon and had behaved worse the most horrid, entitled teenager you could find on reality television. She got canned not long after that (thank the merciful heavens!), but the damage was done. While she'd not managed to ruin EVERY relationship with various media outlets, she'd certainly left me with a mess to clean up.
Six months after she left, our little film company had been acquired by a large publisher, and they'd also bought out this little magazine. The former owner and president decided that he wanted to give the current PR people their comeuppance, and scheduled a meeting to blast us and lecture us on our "incompetence."
The meeting was ugly. On the one hand, I understood him looking out for his offended reporter of yore, but at the same time I learned he was a grown-up version of my former evil supervisor. His main message was that we as PR people needed to kiss a lot more bum to get what we wanted. He thought we should send gifts to our media contacts. While we listened to his bigoted opinions about some of our music artists, he lumbered around a conference room telling us that we came off as unprofessional ingrates. This was a man who liked to hear himself talk, and while most of what he said was unfounded, insensitive, and outrageous, my own boss felt we needed to placate this newest vice president of the head organization-- keep our heads down and do what he said.
Privately, I remember explaining to my boss how unprofessional we'd look in the long run, like we were trying to buy people off with gifts so they'd give us some media spots or column inches. I told him that professional societies and media outlets alike (at least, the reputable ones), had policies in place where they couldn't accept gifts. Just like my former supervisor had been dead wrong to treat that magazine reporter like we were doing her a favor and she "owed" us a story, it would be just as wrong to start gifting the others. It wouldn't work, and it would only make us look smarmy. Still, the boss had my PR partner and I deliver pies at Thanksgiving and baskets at Christmas. It was embarrassing, and the truth is, I think we lost a lot of our contacts' respect.
Why didn't it work? Well, aside from the obvious and previously-mentioned reasons, I'm sure it came off as insincere. It's one thing to pop an email over to a reporter, thanking them for their time and coverage when they've run something for you, or even when they've committed to do so (which is a gracious and legitimate practice, I'd say). It's quite another to show up with baked-goods or boxes of candy with all the other crap that gets passed around during the holidays, especially when outlets refuse to work with you. The journalist in me bristled at the thought (people who used to bribe me or pester me too much as an editor ultimately didn't get ANY coverage), and the human in me hated the masquerade of it all. What a sham, and what a shame.
Compare that to some of my recent work experience. I may no longer work in media relations, but as an office manager and salesperson, I've seen just how far sincere gratitude will take you. This morning as I answered the phone (we're actually off today, but I'm here to cover for anyone who needs their insulation questions answered), I spoke to one of our long-time customers. I've never met this man in person. We don't have cozy lunches to shoot the breeze. I give him decent, competitive prices so we can all do our jobs right and at the end of the day, everyone can make a little money. One of his office staff members had also called yesterday, and was completely professional and pleasant. I remarked to the president of this company how much we appreciated their business, particularly in this difficult time in the industry. I mentioned how much my brother (who manages the crews and does quite a bit of sales himself) had to say about the kindness and organization of his employees. I told him how I appreciated the very prompt way in which they pay all their bills. I wasn't sucking up. He's just an outstanding customer, even though not one of our bigger accounts. When you've got angry superintendents who wanted work done three days before they bothered to schedule you, it's a breath of fresh air to speak to someone who treats clients, customers, and subs with a great deal of respect. Anyway, I could just tell by the change in his voice that he was smiling. He could tell I wasn't just feeding him a line, because I was able to give specific examples of what we appreciate. It wasn't B.S. It was just a simple thank you. And I expect him to keep using us exclusively for insulation. It doesn't have anything to do with me, but it made me feel great knowing he understood our gratitude.
In the business world in particular, sincerity and gratitude are so powerful. An accountant I work with seemed exasperated one day, and I asked him what was bothering him. He mentioned that another one of his clients had sent him the rudest communication, masked as a thank-you note. She checked off a list a mile-long of demands and instructions, insulted his intelligence and ability to do the job, and then closed with something along the lines of "I'm so grateful for all you do." That closing line, he said, was like a slap in the face. He didn't buy it for a minute. Because at the end of the day, people aren't stupid when it comes to the way you treat them.
And I get it, it's hard sometimes to seem grateful. We've all got lots on our minds, but can't this holiday weekend be a time to renew that commitment to graciousness? Considering all that we've been given, we ought to look people in the eye and say thank you. We don't just thank for gifts or physical things. Thank someone when they give you a compliment instead of turning away and making excuses about why they're wrong. Thank the person who bags your groceries. Thank your mail carrier. Smile widely at the stranger in line with you at the bank, and even the infuriating people at the bank for splitting your deposit-- the key is to mean it.
I have a couple of friends who are particularly good at this-- J & B, my little pals in a band. Why do I keep going back to their shows? Well, beside the good music and jumping out of my comfort zone, I think it's pretty sweet the way I always get a text from J and a Facebook post from B, thanking me for coming to their show. And they thank everyone-- not just their gorgeous groupie, Rachel Sego. ;) They understand their adoring fans might also adore a movie or an evening of mini-golf, but appreciate people supporting them. And who doesn't want a thank-you from even a local a rock star? I swoon! Gratitude is sexy.
Compare my friends' good manners to some other people I interact with. Even though service shouldn't be about the thanks you get, I'll admit it's frustrating when you feel like you're nothing but a chauffeur, or a cook, or a maid, or an advice-giver, or a listener, or the provider, or the one staying till the bitter end to make sure everyone is taken care of. And I'm no martyr. I sincerely like baking seven-dozen muffins early on a Sunday morning; I'm glad to do it because I love to bake, and I love the people who will consume said muffins. But it feels bad when people swoop in for muffins and don't save you a place at their table. It hurts a person's feeling when one spends great time and money on a gift for a friend who looks at it like, "Why in the world would you give me this?"
Fortunately, most people I know are gracious-- or at the very least, polite. But here's a secret to any gentle reader with a problem expressing thanks: it seems the more you thank, the more likely nice things are to come your way.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

What Spontaneity Gets You

My little brother just came by to drop off today's paperwork. I said to him, "Guess what crazy thing I did last night?"
His guess: "Drugs?"
Then he laughed, of course. I am a D.A.R.E. graduate, and never been tempted by the stuff, by way of disclaimer.
So, no, it wasn't drugs, but still rather crazy.
First, let me state the obvious: I'm pretty rigid when it comes to a lot of things. I like to make lists. I especially like crossing things off my lists. I budget. I don't buy things I can't afford-- like my late vacation. If I hadn't had the money to pay for it, I wouldn't have gone. I like to obey the law (though I've turned into a terrible speeder). I don't think I'm boring or set in my ways, but I've got my routines, and they work for me. Sometimes I try to mix things up and go white-water rafting (which is probably not the best choice because I can't swim) or take a harmonica class. I like taking the road less traveled, but even that is kind of according to a pattern. I'm polite and like to take care of little old people. I open doors for women with arms full of groceries or children (because the men I see rarely do) and give up my seat on a bus or a train. I'm happiest when I can pay it forward and do something nice. It's a lifestyle I'm rather content with.
However, every once in a while, I go and do something remarkable odd. I can't explain it. It's not calculated. It's impulsive, and I don't really think out the consequences. Or even if I do, I suddenly decide I don't care. Sometimes I care the next day, but it's usually good for such a laugh that I figure it doesn't matter in the scheme of things.
So what did I do?
Yesterday I was in Albuquerque, taking care of Zoey and running errands. We'd had a long day of highs and lows (low: she hated the Easter Bunny; high: she loved the mall carousel), and in the midst of all the demands of the day, I'd forgotten to buy Molly's chicken. Remember how I'm taking care of my parents' dog? My mom feeds dear Molly chicken breast for nearly every meal, and she's running out. So on my way to choir last night, I made a second stop at Sam's to pick up some Tyson's, and that's when the trouble began.
Remember how I've written about the attractive cashier? Sadly, he wasn't there. So I picked another line and figured I'd gaze on his loveliness the next time I had occasion to buy paper towels in bulk.
My new and equally charming young cashier asked me how my evening was going. I replied that it was actually my second trip to Sam's Club that day. He said, "Oh really? You must really love us."
What I should have said was, "Actually, I just forgot to buy the chicken."
That's what I should have said.
What I actually said was, "You know, funny you should mention that. Do you know that guy Adrian who works here?"
And the cashier (whose name I think was Michael-- I can't remember, so that's what we'll call him) said, "Oh yeah. He's my cousin."
And I said, "Is he single by any chance? I have the biggest crush on him."
In the typical dude way, Michael looked stunned that I'd think his cousin was particularly attractive, but he said yes, A is single.
And I, the rambling fool, went charging on.
"It's too bad he isn't here. I just love going to his line. I was really hoping I could talk to him. In fact, if things had gone well, I would have offered him a ticket to a basketball game I'm going to on Friday."
Shut up, shut up, shut up! Where is my brain?
Long story short, I did end up giving Cousin Michael the ticket to deliver. I put my name and email address on it. The lady behind me in line laughed and laughed at my supposed gumption.
As I walked out of Sam's to my car, I realized a few things:
1) I'm sure I seem like a stalker.
2) I'm sure Adrian wouldn't have the slightest clue who I am, and when his cousin describes me, he'll likely say, "Yeah, she's kinda weird looking."
3) Adrian may get a restraining order.
4) If by some miracle he were to come to the game with me and the friends, I imagine I'd be embarrassed the whole time.
5) If he were not to respond at all, I'll likely have to only shop at the other area Sam's Clubs or Costco. Thank goodness I have a Costco membership.
6) This is what people who are without friends do. In an attempt to fill the void, we suddenly find ourselves taking desperate measures so we won't have to have another weekend of loneliness.
Boo.
I feel like a nut job. Still, this is kind of how I got to be friends with Chevron. And we all know how that turned out.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Would you look at That?! What Plaid does for a Man

The loneliness hasn't abated, but like a good capitalist, I'm finding ways to harness the bad and turn it into something to benefit me. I've made a lot of lemonade in my life. But to most of my loyal readers, this is neither here nor there-- not surprising, and not engaging. Therefore, onward and upward.
The subject I wish to broach this fine Monday morning is the complication of appearances. Sometimes I find it so striking how much time we put in to look a certain way, when we're all calling for a colorblind world. We sit on our high horses to give a hand up to the poor amongst us, all the while sniffing at their ragged clothes from the local thrift store (generally one we donate to). We tell young girls to be their own kind of beautiful, but most of them try to look like Miley Cyrus (who is, admittedly a lovely little girl), and those who don't are marginalized. You see it in the media, of course-- all the fashion pundits and tabloids-cloaked-as-magazines celebrate Queen Latifah for her beauty. Is she beautiful and an excellent role model? Absolutely. I love that woman. But at this point, she is the chosen "big and beautiful" go-to. No one dares say anything bad about the Queen (not that they should), but poor, poor Britney Spears (in so many tragic ways) and countless others are mocked if they gain a bit of weight. Unless you're pregnant or Queen Latifah, Hollywood doesn't want you showing any sign that you've eaten more than a piece of celery and a cube of cheese. Where are the gorgeous Asian women in magazines? Lucy Liu and Bai Ling seem to have the corner on that market-- one lovely and one mocked. Even the wasps aren't safe. I'm pretty sure Paris Hilton is smarter than a lot of people give her credit for, but she perpetuates the problem by playing into the offensive "dumb blond" stereotype.
But celebrities are another world, and in fact, one I know very little about these days. I think it's been ages since I picked up a copy of People magazine, and I don't have television, so fortunately I'm a little more immune to such celebrity bum-kissing/sacrificing. Still, it all trickles down to the 12-year-olds who end up at concerts, wearing light-up Playboy bunny necklaces and asking men 10 to 15 years their senior to sign their tight t-shirts (props to the boys for not signing scandalously).
Oh, there are always those so-called individuals trying to do their own thing-- on my way to Albuquerque the other night I saw this person who I couldn't quite place as a man or a woman. She was dressed like a woman, but she looked like a female impersonator. I was tempted to look longer, but society and good manners tell us it's impolite to stare. Plus, we were driving, and that gets dangerous.
Likewise, at J & B's concert (apologies to the boys' bassist, C, who I've never officially met), there was this guy from another band who thought he was Orlando Bloom in the "Lord of the Rings" movies. His long hair looked like this nasty old wig my friend Justin used to pull out every Halloween. His face was emaciated and elfin, and his skinny jeans and long wife-beater echoed a tunic and tights. He was almost beautiful, but a bit of a bore, because he was trying too hard.
Not that we don't all try. We do. And then we try to make it seem effortless. I've said it before-- I'm the ultimate poser. I am all too pleased when I dig deep into my closet and throw together the latest in a series of gypsy-chic outfits. I may look like I could go out and picket something, but at the end of the day, I'm a registered Republican (admittedly a moderate one), and I have a strong distaste for people trying to destroy society through their subtle and not-so-subtle campaigns (pot-smokers, I'm talking to you!). That's not to say that I'm really trying to be someone I'm not (you get over that after 9th grade, hopefully), but I'm saying I probably spent just as much time getting ready as my friends C & S, who decided to go a little more rock-n-roll with their looks-- heels so high you thought C would break her neck, hair so glam S could be on the cover of any of the above-mentioned magazines. S has a boyfriend, and C is taking a break because she just got out of a three-year relationship with a hot professional rugby-player/lawyer from Wales, but they still took the time to look their own brand of smashing. Because you never know who you'll meet at the Launchpad.
Add oddly enough, the boys are the same as girls. Their clothes tell the story of who they are. My brother, like my father, rarely wears anything but jeans and some sort of plaid, button-up shirt. You look at him and know he listens to old-time country music. It's what he's grown into. Because in high school he looked like Mark McGrath from Sugar Ray and loved Abercrombie. He even wore shell necklaces and also those wheelies-- I'll never forget the fam's trip to Disneyland right before his mission, when he made me pull him around on his weird, wheeled shoes. But now he's a grown-up, and works in construction. So if it's not plaid, it's not for Ben.
My brother-in-law, on the other hand, is Mr. Sport's Face. He plays everything, coaches everything, and watches everything. He's all about Polo shirts. He's handsome and looks like he and Tiger Woods would be best friends. When on occasion he wears a plaid shirt, I think, "Did you go raid Ben's closet?" Robert is a sensitive man, but you can bet no one would hassle him. Like my brother, but in his own way, he exudes masculinity. Plus he's from Texas, so you don't mess with that and all.
Then there's my cousin Jordan. He's a tougher nut to crack. He's successfully mixed genres in clothing, much like he does with his music. Visit Jordan's antique-filled farmhouse, and don't be surprised to find Curious George coloring books or Our Lady of Guadalupe beaded curtains. He prefers his shirts in neutral colors and close-fitting like a true metrosexual, but then he throws on his cowboy boots for a dash of southern gentleman. Hop in his pickup for a tour around the farm, and be prepared to listen to some Pulp right along with Alan Jackson. His lifestyle and look successfully straddle multiple cultural facets, but I suspect it might be why he has a bit of trouble with the ladies. The country girls are puzzled by the lack of plaid. The city-gals can't wrap their minds around the boots. He's having a time finding a girl who fits his brand. I keep looking for him, but until I see a girl who looks like Sheryl Crow and loves Miller High Life, nothing will do.
Perhaps Jordan's problem mirrors my own (except I don't want anyone who likes any kind of beer or alcohol). My head is turned by the man who finds balance between work and play. The problem is I'm a workaholic, and wouldn't expect that balance to be 50-50. I used to say I wanted an executive in Converse. But where do you find that? I hate the schmooziness of Corporate America-- just because you wear a suit doesn't mean you know what you're talking about. Likewise, I'm perplexed by the devil-may-care attitude of artists. And my look doesn't communicate that I'm a match for anyone. My very traditional brother married a Barbie (RN Barbie, as a matter-of-fact, and perhaps Mother-of-the-Year Barbie). My brother-in-law the sports star ended up with his Miss America (and ok, she was just Miss Central New Mexico, but besides beauty, my sis has brains, spunk, ambition, compassion, and a hundred other grand qualities). I bring to the table Martha Stewart domesticity, a pen mightier than the sword, pioneer work ethic, Don Quixote dreams, mythic loyalty, and a quest for goodness (not to mention signing bonuses like a great mix on my iPod, a house, and child-bearing hips). But you just can't communicate that based on a Rastafarian beret and plastic jewelry alone.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

I'm Coming Down with Something

No, it's not my typical way to post something in the middle of the night. And ok, 12:45 a.m. isn't really the middle, but it is for me. I generally don't have computer access at this time of day, nor would I have much to say, unless it's me talking in my sleep (which I'm actually famous for). Generally, if I were up at this time itching to write, it would be because I've just kissed some new boy or something, and I'm bouncing off the walls. Or maybe it's because I've woken up with some new business idea. I remember when I first started painting trash cans, I couldn't sleep. It's amazing what excites me.
But that's not the case. I'm just dog- and house-sitting. On my way home from my friend's concert tonight, I felt gross, and in a way I couldn't put my finger on at first. I thought perhaps I was (am) hungry because I last ate something at 2 this afternoon and even then it was meager. Then I thought I had to sneeze, which I did, but there wasn't that post-sneeze relief one normally has. It's like my arms feel wrong-- when I hugged a long-lost friend who I'd once planned on having as a long-term sister, my arms felt empty. And yes, she's a little girl, but it felt like hugging your great-aunt Myrtle who has dementia and lives in an assisted-living center and you've never met her before. You want to communicate love, but you're afraid one of you will break. Then I thought I needed to throw up, but that's not right either. It's kind of a hollow-ness.
Part of it is thinking about how I wish I were doing something in my life worthy of having a cheering section.
Part of it was thinking about the conversation I had with my parents before they left on vacation. My dad told me about their wills and life-insurance policies and where to find all the important documents. It was weird and scary, because, unlike my siblings, I don't have anyone else. Even at nearly 28, I'm like the only child now. And I feel safe at my parents', except when I think about what I'd ever do if something did happen to them.
Maybe it was standing awkwardly next to people from various groups once my core friends left this evening. Everyone was congenial, but I felt like a trespasser.
So I think it's just a case of the lonelies. But I got it bad.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

How to Know When You Don't Have a Life

It's Thursday night. I'm kickin' it with my parents' dog, Molly. Actually, Molly and I are going to be seeing even more of one another than usual because Ma and Pa are out of town, and Molly is old and gets upset. She acts out by going potty in the house and turning over houseplants when people aren't there to feed her boiled chicken breast or let her sit on their laps for a while. I've thought about taking her to my house in the evenings, but I don't think she'll be down for it. She hates the car, and I think she was traumatized a couple of years ago when the concrete guys were pouring my driveway and I made her put her paw in the wet cement. It's right next to my footprint. I love it, because having your name and prints etched in concrete really gives one a sense of ownership, but Molly is scarred for life. She's 91 in dog years and maybe going blind. She smells pretty ripe most of the time, and tries to bite people, but she had to have most of her teeth extracted a few years ago, so she's basically harmless. Just smelly. And grumpy. But I love her.
Anyway, you know that your social life is pretty bad when your parents say, "Can you please take care of the dog for the duration of our luxurious vacation?" Because it's not just coming by to feed Molly. I have to throw her favorite toy "Little Soldier" (a stuffed bear in guard uniform from some trip to London or another) and let her sleep with me. I think I'll be bunking down in my old bed, which is bigger than my bed at home, but I won't sleep well because Miss Molly takes her half up out of the middle. If she needs to go potty in the middle of the night, she will growl at me to walk her outside (plus also she can't get up and down off my bed-- when I still lived at home, I'd considered investing in doggy stairs, but she'd be too lazy to use them anyway). Fluffy Princess, as I like to call her, is all at once all the reasons to have a pet and all the reasons not to. She's loving and loyal and sometimes she'll tell you she loves you by reaching out and touching your foot with her paw. But then there's the whole stinky thing and the incontinence (remember, she's 91!).
One of my former boyfriends didn't ever want any pets, and I remember listing that on the "Pro" side of a list when trying to decide if the relationship should continue. I'm not an animal hater, but I just like clean carpet. Keep a dog outside, you say? It just seems kind of mean! Plus also there's poop in your yard, and then you don't have the freedom to roll around in the grass at will. I thought about getting a cat, but I don't want something that's going to tear up my furniture/curtains/etc. I think cat food smells nasty. If I keep kitty outside, it would keep the lizards away (the best reason to get a cat), but Sego family cats of yore were always loyal and left little dead rodents and lizards and centipedes on the doorstep as an offering of love. If I keep a cat outside, would it even love me? Litter boxes gross me out.
And I sure as heckfire am not getting fish or anything slimy. Nasty. Birds poop a lot and make a lot of noise, and if they get loose, how would I ever catch them? Alfred Hitchcock ruined me on them (plus also the pigeons that used to get in our dorm rooms in Lublin-- disease!). Yeah, poop is kind of keeping me from getting any pets, come to think of it. Or having babies. Just kidding. Though Zoey was a champion pooper yesterday-- four of the six diapers I changed. Ugh.
Good thing I love that kid.