Monday, November 30, 2009


It pains me to say it, but Bill Plaschke is the only one who gets it right.,0,5628166.column

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Walk This Way

You know how you think someone likes you and considers you a friend, and then something happens and you realize they may have just been being polite or keeping the peace all this time?

There was an incident in the parking lot this morning that, if I didn't know better, would otherwise prove to be just such a rude awakening.

A coworker and I arrived at precisely the same moment. She was closing her driver-side door just as I was opening my trunk. I yelled out a "Hello" in my usual workplace Russian accent. She replied. I then turned to gather my things. In a matter of five seconds, I slung my messenger bag over my shoulder, closed the trunk and looked over, expecting to see my coworker there waiting for me. She wasn't there. In a state of shock, I turned toward the building and saw her walking 20 paces ahead, making a beeline for the door. I couldn't believe it.

Luckily, I know not to take this particular instance personally. This coworker is famous for not being a morning person and I have the utmost confidence that this was not a slight against me personally. However, I think it could still prove to be a good test for the future. It's definitely a choice you make. Last week, another coworker (on the other side of our bullpen wall) arrived at the same time as me. As it became clear that I was waiting for her, she, without making eye contact, began fidgeting in her car with various nondescript busyness. Now that was clearly someone buying time to avoid what they feared would be an awkward walk-in. I know because I've done it myself.

"Oh shit there's so and so. You know I really need to clean out this middle console..."

Thursday, November 19, 2009

!Vamos Barthelona!

Barcelona has been at the top of my list of world destinations I would love to visit pretty much since my first journey overseas almost three years ago. The art of the modernistas, the colorful traditions, the wine, the paella, the culture, the architecture, the futbol, the pride of the Catalan people, it was all calling my name.

I knew Conrad was going in January. He found out that one of the execs we used to work for had a place there and, I don't know how, but he procured use of the place. And for no charge at that. I was happy for him, of course, knowing it would be an incredible experience for him, but as I told him, I was also openly envious.

According to him, he asked me if I wanted to go, but I told him even if I could get the time off work, which was highly unlikely, that there was no way I could afford it. I actually think this part is probably 100% true. The part where we begin to diverge is where he says he twice offered to buy my airfare. The first time, or so the story goes, I refused because I didn't believe him. The second time, he claims, I turned him down again, saying even if he got my ticket, I would have no money to do anything once we got there. While that certainly sounds like me, I just can't believe I would be so short-sighted or dense as to turn down free airfare and free lodging for the top destination on my places-to-see-before-I-die list over something as ultimately trivial as spending money. It's unimaginable to me and I will admit I can be very stupid sometimes. But I digress.

Come to find out, The Doug was now on board for the trip. That didn't really change anything for me, except refresh the topic in my mind as I see The Doug more often than Conrad these days since Conrad is in Atlanta. But still, the timing is financially incompatible for me so what did it matter? In the waning hours of a slow work day, I looked into airfares on a whim. They were over $900. Case closed, so much for that daydream.

Then I got an email from a coworker with all sorts of travel deals. She has no idea why she gets them or when she starting getting them, but she makes a habit of passing them along to us. I am skimming one of them and see a link for LA to Barcelona for ~$500. Whaaa? Turns out it's legit. So I talk to Nicole. Apparently, she is pining for the Wife of the Year Award because I can think of no other way that she greenlights this thing. She's not working at the moment so times are tight, not to mention that the travel dates would mean spending our first New Year's Eve as a married couple some 6,000 miles and an ocean apart to say nothing of the fact that I would be going to Barcelona(!) without her. And yet, she gave me the Go seemingly without hesitation. All I can guess is that having been there before and knowing how badly I wanted to go, she valued my happiness above all else (And the award goes to......Nicole!). So I had that going for me, which was nice...

Next I had to clear it with the boss. He's going to be in Germany for almost the exact same period, but that could have worked for or against me. I don't know. One thing that was definitely not helping me was that I was already the first one in our department leaving town for Christmas. What could I do, that trip was booked, and, besides, that's Christmas. I wasn't about to mess with that even if I could. With nothing to offer as bargaining collateral, I pitched him the idea, stressing it as perhaps my best opportunity to see my most desired location on the globe. He would need to think about it, of course. If he were to come back and say no deal, I would not have even been that disappointed as I knew it was really too much time to ask for right now. I would have chalked it up to fate and moved on. But he said yes.

In the end, it all fell to me. To go or not to go. Could I afford it? Absolutely not. Was it the responsible choice? Probably not. Would it mean we would be homeless and hungry? Well, not necessarily. Was it an incredible opportunity and perhaps my best shot to see Barcelona? It just might have been. Sadly, I must admit that knowing me, I would have bet that I would play it safe and let the parade pass me by. It didn't use to be that way with me, not as much anyway, but it has been since adulthood took hold. I am glad to report that, like most others, it's a bet I would have lost.

I decided that if I waited for the perfect time to do something like this, I would probably be waiting for the rest of my life. The airfare was as low as it gets, the lodging was free. What more did I really expect to have going for me? There is no perfect time for anything. There are only opportunities to act and the choices we make at those moments in time. I looked in the mirror and decided I was much more likely to regret not going than I was to regret going. The time was now.

So I booked it.

Barcelona, stay there, I'm coming to you.


Why?! Why?! Why did they have to tell me this?!

Now I can never in good conscience get popcorn at a movie again! Did you hear what I just said? I can never get friggin' popcorn at a friggin' movie ever a-friggin'-gain! Not without feeling like I am about to blow up like Eddie Murphy in The Nutty Professor. What's next, a riveting expose about the nutritional value of ballpark hot dogs?** Why would they do this to me as we stand at the threshold of the holiday season, prime movie-going time? Are they trying to ruin my Christmas? With all the naysayers I am encountering lately, I am beginning to think there may be a secret, subversive strikeforce aimed at sabotaging my Christmas spirit. I wonder if Glen Beck knows about this. No matter, my spirit is impenetrable and undeniable. Bring it on, I say!

**I have been watching The Today Show every weekday morning for years. As much as I can't stand Meredith Viara (sp?), I do love the Anne Curry and the indomitably jolly Al Roker. I believe Matt Lauer was on my man-crush list when I posted that a while back. Anywho, the more I watch it, the more I realize how much of the show is devoted to the issue of peoples' weight or weight loss. If it's not a segment about how unhealthy our favorite foods are, it's a story about how someone lost 150 pounds. It's really The Today (You're fat!), Today (You're not) Show.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


Feels like a great day to go to Target. I shall do it over lunch. I need Fantastik, Christmas-colored candles, possibly more decor if the price is right, and a squeegee. That's what I am going in for anyway. Lord only knows what I will come out with.

I'm decorating this office for Christmas today, even if I have to fight my coworkers off in the process. The time has come. Since we're not going to be here much the week of Christmas, I think the decoration period should begin one week earlier so as to ensure the proper incubation period of our Christmas spirit. Speaking of Scrooges, has anyone seen the Jim Carrey "Christmas Carol" yet? I am pumped but there are a lot of movies to see so I don't want to go if it sucks or induces motion-sickness.

Thursday, November 12, 2009


So I get a coupon this morning in my inbox from my dear friends at Dick's (formerly Chick's, I shit you not) Sporting Goods.


Wow, four hours only, I'm thinking it must be a helluva deal they are giving me, a deal so great they can not offer it any longer than those four precious hours for fear of going out of business. So I read on.


Okay, so that's not exactly a price slasher, but hey, after tax it takes 10% off of something and, sure, I'd rather pay 90% than 100. So I'm interested. Then I scroll down and check where the asterisk leads me to the fine print:

*Excludes: Burton, EA Sports Active, Odyssey, championship merchandise, adidas golf, Adams Golf, Asics, Atec, Baby Jogger, Bowflex, Brooks, Carhartt, Callaway, Cleveland, Cobra Golf, Columbia, DeMarini, Easton, Ektelon, Fitness Quest, FootJoy, Gun Safes, Head, Horizon, Jugs, K2, Kettler, K-Swiss, Lobster, Louisville Slugger, MBS Mountainboards, MBT, Merrell, Miken Sports, Mission, Mizuno, Mongoose, Nextt Golf, Nike Pro, LIVESTRONG, Nike Hyperize, Nike AF1 and Jordan, Nike Golf, Oakley, Prince, Pro Feet, Puma, Rawlings, Razors, Rollerblade, Reebok EasyTone, Salomon, Schwinn, Skechers Shape Ups, Skycaddie, Sole, TaylorMade, The North Face, Thule, Titleist, Tour Edge, Trend Sports, Under Armour, and Worth, all electronics/optics, ellipticals, treadmills, home gyms, weights, benches, Yakima, select basketball systems, canoes, kayaks, boats, trolling motors, fish locators. Some additional exclusions may apply. See website for details.

Gee. Thanks, Dick.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Ya know, I was in the Christmas spirit anyway, but today I am feeling the overwhelming draw to be in my sweats, hanging out with family, sipping wine (or schnapps-laced chocolate), watching Christmas movies, listening to music, sitting by a fireplace and staring out to a white winter landscape. I'm physically and emotionally exhausted and all I want is to feel warm, and free to just be. The therapy of Christmas.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Eat The Rich

Actual quotes from born Yankee Mark Teixeira after last night's World Series clinching victory:

"To the rich go the spoils." (Not to the victors, mind you, but to the rich. But I guess he's right.)

"(George Steinbrenner) deserves to have the best team money can buy."

These are your Yankees.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Nothin much

--Today I witnessed the absolute worst office chorus "Happy Birthday" in the history of organized labor. It had a void of enthusiasm similar to the birthday cake scene from "Office Space," but without any of the coordination of voices. We had four different groups singing the same song at the same time, yet each group was 5 words off from the others. It sounded like we were playing a record backwards, "happy birthday, dear Michael" becoming "zz-iv-en-nee-sar Michael is dead tors-en-sloop-quax-en-fice..." And at least the characters in "Office Space" actually ate the cake, except Milton of course but that wasn't by choice. As soon as our pathetic rendition of the easiest song ever was over, half the gathering emptied out of there like someone had just farted on the cake. Really, really sad. The cake fit the rest of the effort too. The plastic lid came off it about 30 seconds before the guest of honor came over. There was a totally random and meaningless number of candles plopped on there. No need to avoid messing up the custom writing of "Happy Birthday, Michael" because there was nothing of the sort. And the poor guy is one of the longest tenured, nicest guys on the show. I can't wait for my birthday. It's gonna be 5 people huddled around a Nutri-Grain bar with a single match stuck in it. They probably won't even sing "Happy Birthday." They'll probably sing some generic, made-up birthday song like the TV shows that don't want to pay the royalties for the real McCoy. All the more reason to play hookie that day, I think.

--It occured to me over the weekend that the Yankees are really the Ed Hardy of baseball. Nauseatingly expensive, overpriced, superficial, tasteless, soulless, and yet incredibly popular. Wearing Ed Hardy really defines you as a person, though not the way those wearing it think it does. So does rooting for the Yankees*. I think Bill Simmons put it best when he said "rooting for the Yankees is like rooting for the house in blackjack."

*Amanda excluded from this thesis