June 27, 2006

Martinis in the desert on a school night

I am writing this, a few martinis in, from a hotel room in Phoenix. Like, Arizona. But I guess that is obvious.

I am supposed to, at this minute, be in Seattle. In bed.

(There are cactuses here! Or cacti, rather. The desert is a very scary place. Not to be confused with dessert, which is my favorite.)

Don't know if you saw it in the news, but D.C. basically turned into a giant underwater city this weekend. Which was perfectly timed, as I was there for work. Did you ever see Waterworld? Yeah, me either. But I feel like it must have been like D.C. There was so much rain it actually caused buses to float, cars to die, trains to cancel and planes to be grounded.

Mine was one of these planes.

But I didn't realize it until after schlepping my shit back and forth in the Dulles airport, nearly screaming at a couple America West employees, being frisked in security after standing in a half-mile long line, and then standing in a Subway line, where a woman who spoke no english made sandwiches as slow as humanly possible. And not only did she put each bit of shredded lettuce on the sandwiches one at an excruciating time, the sandwiches ended up all messy and sloppy and falling all over the place. I almost jumped over the counter at her.

Only after all this, (while in 88 degree weather in torrential downpoar and wearing heels, which I'd spent the weekend in, standing on the cement floor of a trade show), did I recieve the details of my delayed flight, which caused me to miss my connection in Phoenix, which caused me to sweat even more in my suit, possibly cripple myself in my heels, stand in yet another line, and then be told I'd be staying over in Phoenix until the next available flight, which is tomorrow.

So now I'm at the Hilton, and I've cancelled tomorrow's meetings, and I've changed out of the goddamn suit, and am now in a jean skirt and a tank top and flip flops like a local. And it's just fine. Fine fine fine. Sheryl Crow fine. Soon to be Jimmy Buffet fine. And then, maybe later, if someone gives me a stick and a smoke, John Daly fine.

Oh yes, I've been to the bar.

And I'm going back.


June 26, 2006

The Deets

Is it seriously almost July? June has been a strange, short month for me. I've been preoccupied with all sorts of typical stresses - money (or the lack thereof), love (or the lack thereof), family, friends, job, job, job... I've also been doing a bit of jet-setting, which sounds a lot cooler than it really is.

So far, I've been to Philly, New York, back to Seattle, to Eastern Washington, to New York again, and I'm currently in D.C. until Tuesday. All told, I will have spent, like, 2 weeks actually sleeping at my house this month. Which DOUBLES the injustice of rent -- now not only am I flushing money down the toilet to sleep in a place I don't own, I'm also flushing it NOT to sleep there. Fuck.

Anyway, as promised:

1. I guess I dislike fat kids.

I know it's terrible, but I can't help it. I sat next to a fat little girl on the plane on my way home from NY a few days ago. At first glance, I presumed she was somewhere in the 16-19 age range. My suspicions were aroused, however, when the flight attendants began to coddle her to no end, telling her not to be afraid, handing her those wing pins, calling her sweetie, explaining the safety procedures of the plane.

She didn't look special, so I figured she must be lots younger than I thought. And she was. She was 9 years old. And had bigger breasts than me.

Frightening. On top of the fact that she was quite large, she did things that fat kids do that annoy me. Mainly, she was a mouth-breather, a snorer, an armrest hogger, a seat-squisher, a whiner, a stare-er, a mouth-smacker, a messy eater and a "No, I want the WHOLE CAN"-asker. And as much as I tried not to, I sat there on that plane and the whole time I secrety fumed about her.

Something about her almost offended me. I know it's probably not her fault she's a fat kid, so I feel terrible that I so vehemently disliked her for it. It's just that kids aren't SUPPOSED to be fat! I wanted to grab her chubby little shoulders and shake her while yelling "GO TO THE PARK! PLAY A SPORT! YOU'RE WASTING YOUR LIFE AND YOUR HEALTH AND YOU'RE SPITTING CRUMBS ALL OVER ME AND WOULD YOU PLEASE STOP SNORING, GODDAMNIT! KNOCK IT OFF!!!"

I'm going to be an awesome mother.

Especially since I'll probably be punished by spawning ridiculously, inexplicably, fat children who don't like sports, preferring, instead, to watch "Divorce Court" and eat donughts.


So have I offended ALL of you, or is someone still with me, here?
Very sorry for that. Let's move on.

2. Tom Petty is OLD.

Well, he is. I know this because I went to Tom Petty at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday. Good show, I think. (The Budweiser haze makes it a bit difficult to remember exactly, but I think I smiled and clapped a lot, so...). But he still has very young fans, most of whom populated the concert.

I cannot explain this. All I can say is thank GOD kids these days are listening to something besides Chingy and Ja Rule. For a minute there, I was worried. Smoke all the pot you want, hippie children, as long as it keeps you from saying "bling bling" and "keeping it gangsta". There's nothing worse than a 15 year old white kid from the 'burbs rapping like Nelly. Well, except Nelly rapping like Nelly.

2.5. I do NOT look like Stevie Nicks.

She made an appearance at Tom's concert, singing a number of his songs with him. This was very cool. But it drudged up an old, painful memory that had me compulsively loooking in mirrors and searching the Web for a pretty picture of Stevie Nicks for the rest of the weekend:

An ex once told me, early on in our relationship, that I resembled Stevie Nicks. He really knew how to romance a lady, let me tell you. I mean, I may have just had a birthday, but I don't have crow's feet yet. (Though I did spot my first spider vein...) Not only is she not that pretty, we just really don't look that much alike. I know you don't have a picture of me (except the super-cropped one above) to compare to, but trust me, I don't look like her.

3. I love gay bars.

I went to the Tom Petty concert with a couple guys I work with, as we were all in NY for business together. Following the concert, full of Budweiser and bravado, they insisted that we go get another frosty beverage to properly cap off the night. I suggested we walk back towards our hotels, stopping at an Irish pub on the way, but oh, no -- they insisted we had to go to a NY bar with a name. Somewhere hip, happening...

Bowery Bar.

Though I was really ready for a nice long night in my heavenly 4-star hotel bed, they insisted, saying they'd been once and had determined it to be "awesome". Bowery it was. We hailed a cab and rode 10 minutes out to the spot, where we got in line to enter. When we finally made our way to the front, the bouncer made some remark about me being smart to bring two men with me, saying it saved me a cover charge. I didn't get it, but three minutes later, when we were winding our ways to the back of the bar and I looked up to see three writhing, muscled men in whitey tighties dancing on tables in the windows, it hit me:

My preppy little companions had unwittingly chosen to patronize B on gay night - a night that, at Bowrey, they call "Beige".

They made a beeline for the bathrooms, leaving me propped, bemused and buzzed, on a couch with a full view of my surroundings. As I expected, they returned from the bathroom a matter of moments later, stammering something about having to go, being tired, etc. My preppy little companions were uncomfortable about being at a gay bar. So comfortable, in fact, that the comedy of the situation was entirely muffled as I attempted to retain some shred of professionalism while pretending not to notice their incredible homophobia.

But as they scurried out, leaving me to enjoy a drink alone before following suit, I couldn't help but chuckle.

I did end up staying for a drink, and here's what I can tell you about my new take on gay men: while I've always had a gay friend or two, and only half of the time do they make fabulous shopping buddies, dance partners and creme brulee, this was the first time I'd ever been in a full-on gay bar. And I have to say: it was FANTASTIC!

I wasn't groped, asked for my email address (I am, inexplicably, a geek-magnet), or called "sweetie", "cutie" or "sexy" once. I never felt safer in a strange bar in a city far from home. Also, I overheard this awesome exchange:

Gay, fashionable dude wearing adorable seersucker suit: "Do you like this seersucker suit? I couldn't decide between blue and green, so I got one piece in each color. I LOVE seersucker in the summer!"
Super-gay counterpart: "Seersucker? More like queerfucker!"

While I can't speak for my colleagues, I will be back. Well done, Bowerey. Gay night on with your bad, beefy boy toys!

4. It really matters, at a concert, who opens up for whom.

I went to a PSAPP and Jose Gonzalez concert in Seattle last week, which was perhaps the worst idea ever. While PSAPP was rad, wickedly funny and basically a great show (as expected -- I've pimped them here before and will continue to do so until they become as famous as the deserve), they were followed (and therefore Jose was preceded) by a woman called Juana Molina.

Who plays folk/electronica/world music born of Buenos Aires but made famous in Argentina. As she played, she recorded, looped and played over her own guitar riffs and vocals, which were really stunning.


I appreciate her musicality and her artistry and all that, but we were standing, on a Monday night, amongst a thousand other hot people in a warehouse waiting to hear Jose Gonzales (after a rocking PSAPP set), and we had to listen to her same woozy, otherworldly coma-music for nearly an HOUR. By the time it was over, it was after midnight. I left before Jose even came on because I was so frustrated. And when I got to my car, my left headlight was out.

It was a shitty night, and I missed a headliner because some tour organizer didn't do their research on the order in which to schedule their opening acts. AND I paid for 3 tickets, so two of my friends (who have slightly more tame/sane tastes in music) would come, which means I left that place 60 bucks poorer with a bad attitude, sore feet, and a broken car. Awesome.

There IS a silver lining: I felt guilty enough for leaving (which I really don't believe in) that I actually gave Molina a second try and have decided that if you were writing, sleeping or chilling (or on drugs) she'd be perfect. Mood music, plus it's in Spanish, plus her voice is really incredible. When it's not being incredibly boring because it's holding up your entire evening.

So how's that for a raving review?

5. I got trapped in a fire escape on my way to the airport.

That's basically the story. In an attempt to go up to the secure 25th floor of my building at 6 in the morning to retrieve my phone charger for my trip to NY, I realized my security key card didn't work. Thinking I'd outsmart the system (as I've done countless times before), I decided to go to the unsecured 24th floor, then use their fire escape to climb to my floor, where I'd snatch my charger and race down to the street level to catch my impatient (and sleepy) ride to the airport.

Well it turned out that this time, in a cruel twist of fate, the 25th floor fire escape was locked. Which I discovered shortly after hearing the 24th floor escape door click locked behind me. So, in heels, carrying probably 100 lbs of luggage and without cell phone reception (which I discovered when I tried to frantically send out a mass-text message to all my friends which said "I AM TRAPPED IN A FIRE ESCAPE. DO YOU THINK THERE ARE CAMERAS HERE? I HAVE TO PEE. HELP."), I got to climb down 24 flights of stairs as fast as I could.

It reminded me of that Will and Grace episode when they get stuck climbing like 30 flights of stairs with a birthday cake because one of the characters is afraid of elevators. Pure comedy.

Once I finally got to the bottom, my arms were so tired they were numb, my legs were like noodles on stillettos, and I was dripping in sweat and out of breath. And in that condition I had to ask the security guard to escort me back up to the 25th floor to recover my charger. It was humiliating, but also so very funny that I couldn't even be pissed. I seriously just sweated and giggled for about 30 minutes after.

The anger came later, when my quads were so sore from the climb that I couldn't touch them and peeing was a free-fall to the toilet. But that's probably enough detail, no?

June 22, 2006

A taste of what's to come...

A visual preview of my next real post follows. Promised content includes: my uncontrollable hate of fat kids, Stevie Nicks isn't cute, how I ended up hanging at a gay bar with colleagues and my new take on gay men, fire escapes and why they blow, my worst-ever concert experience, and Tom Petty = old. I'll bet you can't wait...

June 19, 2006

Painting my Grandfather

(For the record, this to the left is "Portrait of an Old Man", by Rembrandt. Not my Grandfather. Certainly not by me. Just want to give credit where it's due -- you know, to famous painters, in particular.)

My grandfather was a painter. He painted boats, flowers and landscapes, mostly. Boats because he loved them, after a stint in the Navy. Flowers because my late grandmother loved them. Landscapes (well, all of the above, really) because they didn't have faces, hands or necks.

Sometimes, though, he'd try to paint my siblings and I, which is how I know why he mostly did boats, flowers and landscapes. He never was much for painting a graceful human form, but he tried. And in his attempts, you could always see what part of you most appealed to him; it was the one part that looked in place, as if he started at his favorite feature, meditating on its every detail, painting around it only because a random pair of eyes or a dangling, faceless smile in the middle of a canvas doesn't really look right.

There was one feature you saw that he understood, and the rest of the painting always seemed like a clumsy afterthought. Not careless, just not carefully loved, either.

Recently my family has had the unfortunate task of going through, claiming and disposing of my quickly-fading grandfather's posessions, as he's been moved into assisted care. There, he hardly eats, and he slowly becomes milder tempered and sweeter in disposition as the present slips into the past and then into the darkness of dementia, leaving only Now, and then a moment later, Nothing.

He hasn't painted for a long time.

Last weekend found my brother, sister and I judiciously splitting up under the premise of privacy, and poring through his things in separate rooms of his house. We were politely there to divvy up the belongings of a man who no longer had any use for them. This was precisely as awkward and sad as it seems.

Gingerly, we picked through the evidence of my grandfather's life. In the drawer next to his bed, I found his old navy dog tags sitting right on top of an old box of unwaxed dental floss, and I was suddenly struck by the profound contrast between the two -- a visual study in the precise meanings of the words "symbolic" and "banal".

Each of us kids carried a notepad, on which we were to list items we would take.

Also, the notebooks were our contingency plan should any two of us desire the same artifact. If we both wanted the same thing, somehow these lists would make the resolution of the potential conflict seem easier. This plan seemed holey at best to me, but it turned out there was no need for it at all. Each of us gravitated to objects that best proved the existance of the man we most hoped our grandfather was.
In watching us and what we collected, I discovered that to each of his grandchildren, my grandpa was an entirely different man.

My sister collected photos, china, silver. My grandfather, to her, was a provider. A success. A family man.

My brother was most fascinated by military paraphanalia, cufflinks, old cigar boxes and coins. He also dug up a set of shot glasses with fishing flies painted on them, which he immediately took up and rushed to me with, thrusting them in my face like little palm-sized treasures. He was proud of those. In his eyes, my grandfather is my brother's favoriate war books come to life -- a dusty, rugged Hemmingway. A soldier, a smoker.

As for me, I found an old yearbook from 1930-something. Under his name, it read "Artist and writer of the school, temperamental as a rule." It had to be mine. That was my grandpa. I described the book - it's cover, location, in my notepad and moved on down the bookshelf. I quickly also found my long-gone grandmother's (hers read "Small, but mighty"). That went in the notebook, too.

I also claimed, uncontested, many of his paintings, along with his easel, boxes and jars and tubes of flaking paints, dull, frayed brushes. A few sketches, unfinished canvases.

My grandfather was an artist.

The weight of every cool, heavy brush in my hand as I examined them all made this description incrimentally more alive and true.

My stomach tightened in sadness when I turned up his backgammon set with its well-worn leather cover and heavy, rounded black and white tiles. My grandfather couldn't be beaten at backgammon. That is, of course, why he so loved to play it. And I understood that. Always have.

Like grandpa, while examining the accumulations of his lifetime, I was an artist. With his own belongings and alongside my siblings, I painted his life into my own with an awkward, tender heart.

An artist. A man never at a loss for words. A proud competitor.

A man who makes sense to me, who I understand.

My grandfather.

My grandfather was a painter. He painted landscapes mostly. Boats and flowers, too. And people sometimes, but not much. I used to think he was bad at painting people. And maybe he was. But because of him, I know about painting too -- about painting people, especially.

I know about painting people not how you know them, but how you love them.

My grandfather was a painter.

June 15, 2006

Who's afraid of stillness? (Or, why I'm not Buddhist)

Have you ever noticed that when you are completely still, you can almost trick your body into believing it's not there?

Try it. Sit or lay completely motionless. Even your breathing so it's shallow, silent.

Within a few minutes, without the friction of the seat against your moving legs (table against your palms, hair across cheek, skin against skin, body against air against body), your extremities, to your mind, dissappear.

I've always found this fascinating and a little terrifying, because it means that it's only when moving (or, more specifically, moving against something or someone else) that we really feel like we exist. And, while this could be a launching pad for a dissection of the fast pace of American life, or a titillating digression on promiscuity or our unending attraction to sex, love and connectedness, I'm going someplace else with this today.

The cool pit of unease in my gut about this sense of stillness=dissapearance may well be related to the way I go through my own life. You may sympathize, as I don't think it's particularly unique:

I'm in constant motion, welcoming conflict, challenge, hardship but also glorying in noisy, sensory celebration; Bearing the scars of overcome difficulties like little badges of honor; A little proud and satisfied by both war and resolution but at best disinterested in peace. I practice both excruciating tactfulness and a brutal frankness that disembowels those standing by and surprises me. I am perplexed by apathy - maybe even offended by it. I am passionate in love, passionate in fear and debate, passionate about sex (both about the having and the not having of it), passionately self-critical. And though it can be problematic, I'm proud of this approach, because the reward is sensation, even at my own expense.

I'm not sure if I'm apologizing for this, or even if I mind it so terribly much. My gut feel is that it is innately me: no amount of training will tame an unwieldy, racing mind, a vicious and critical imagination, a deeply soft but carefully guarded heart. No, more than apology or explanation, I offer this as an observation on the feeling of life and what it teaches me.

From sound to touch, the friction of life -- its feel -- colors my existance, setting off moments with little sensory road markers. It gives me points of reference, making instants memorable [the bitter taste of need, the sound of strain, the prickling of goosebumps, a spreading tingle, hot splaying of desire, the scraping of words across ribs].

And the friction of our lives, however we create it (because we do -- I hungrily, constantly, unfailingly do) defines our direction. Importantly, it reminds us that we're always going a direction to begin with. Isn't that sometimes so simple (and lovely) to forget?

But most significantly, in the end, there is this (which may get to the core of why stillness is a little unsettling to me):

Doesn't the feel of life (the recognition of the friction itself) constantly urge us to consider whether this direction (the one we're going at this moment, and this one, and this one) is the direction we would choose purposefully, deliberately and with pure, joyful intention?

June 14, 2006

Goodbye Nessy, hello career

Well, this month I was supposed to be leaving for a 3-week trip to Europe, during which I would be watching World Cup games, drinking unhealthy amounts of German beer, searching for the Loch Ness Monster and generally engaging in ballyhoo across Western Europe.

Was supposed to be. Past tense. Because I'm now not. Because I took a new job, which I love, but which also necessitated the cancellation of said trip.

And now, in an ironic twist of fate, I will still be spending the month on and off planes -- for work. I just returned from business travel which had me in NY until yesterday morning, and am leaving again for NY on Tuesday, returning Thursday, just to leave again on SATURDAY for D.C. returning MONDAY. And so on.

It's been a whirlwind couple weeks, and doesn't look like it will be stopping anytime soon. But such is life. And frankly, though I can't say I don't feel a twinge of remorse every once in a while when I think about the debauchery that would have accompanied the Europe trip, I'm having a helluva time.

And a major perk is traveling first class (they serve breakfast! and alcohol! and endless coffee!) and staying in rad, cushy, couture hotels in major U.S. cities. If not for that, I mightn't be so positive about this development.

More is coming soon, but I must first get out from under the 400 emails I have to read and respond to since my return. Not counting yours, of course. :)

June 09, 2006

Healed! (Also, hunger and hypochondria)

I'm much better, thank you for asking, though I'll have you know I was quite complain-y and entirely intolerable when I was sick (which was for a sum total of 24 hours). The crankiness is directly related to two things: I am a huge bitch when I'm hungry, and every time I get sick I'm sure I'm going to die.

First, the hunger. When throwing up, I'm usually not eating much. This is not good for innocent bystanders, and here's why: I take on the personality of a creature from "Where The Wild Things Are" if I have to go more than 5 hours between meals. It's actually quite scary, and very noticeable. In fact, one past boyfriend had it so figured out that when I'd start to get snarky he just get up/pull over/get out of bed, locate food (preferably something high in protein and coated in chocolate), and get it in front of me as quickly as possible. Funny story: One time I got particularly hungry during a week-long camping trip and we were at least an hour from the nearest restaurant, so he actually killed a possum and cooked it for me. Did the trick.

[You didn't seriously believe that, did you? Gross.]

[I actually just told that story to clumsily segue onto a tangent (if that's even possible): is it opossum or possum? Anyone? Also, is cheesecake actually pie, or cake? It has a crust, which is very confusing, and no icing, indicating pie. But it has no filling and it has "cake" in the name, indicating cake.]

ANYway, hungry me = nasty me.

And sick me = deathbed fantasies.

I realize that hypochondria isn't unique or particularly funny. We all have our moments, of course. But when those moments come when you are actually, legitimately sick, they can be a bit more dramatic than your typical hypochondriacal fixations. For example, I went through an encyclopedia-reading stint for a couple years when I was younger (Okay, two years ago). I didn't read them cover to cover, but rather made my way through each letter, flipping through, watching for interesting keywords, pictures or names. Like "transgender" and "homeostasis" (which, by the way, is not as funny as it seems like it would be), and, when I made it to the M-N encyclopedia, "mandrake", "maraschino cherry", "Meditteranean Sea" and "Meningitis".

Meningitis: (from the Center for Disease control Website because I don't have a damn encyclopedia in front of me):

"Meningitis is an illness in which there is inflammation of the tissues that cover the brain and spinal cord. Viral or "aseptic" meningitis, which is the most common type, is caused by an infection with one of several types of viruses. Meningitis can also be caused by infections with several types of bacteria or fungi. In the United States, there are between 25,000 and 50,000 hospitalizations due to viral meningitis each year. Viral ("aseptic") meningitis is serious but rarely fatal in persons with normal immune systems. Usually, the symptoms last from 7 to 10 days and the patient recovers completely. Bacterial meningitis, on the other hand, can be very serious and result in disability or death if not treated promptly. Often, the symptoms of viral meningitis and bacterial meningitis are the same. For this reason, if you think you or your child has meningitis, see your doctor as soon as possible."

Gross. And now, the scary part, courtesy of Wikepedia:

"…Bacterial Meningitis has a high mortality rate if it goes untreated and is thus a severe medical emergency. All suspected cases, however mild, need emergency medical attention… The classical symptoms of meningitis are headache, neck stiffness and photophobia (intolerance of bright light); the trio is called meningism. Fever and chills are often present, as is nausea and vomiting."

Oh, so, basically, flu-like symptoms. You know, the kind of symptoms I've had a number of times before in my life. Those ones. Could potentially signal a DEADLY DISEASE that kills THOUSANDS (probably) of people like me EVERY DAY (I'm just guessing). Cue freak-out.

Shortly after reading this, I fell ill. You guessed it: flu-like symptoms. Fever, headache, stiffness, pukage. This terrified me. I spent three days horizontal on my parents' couch, moaning, fantasizing about my brain swelling and killing me, and doing my best to convince my parents that they should take me to the hospital, as I was likely (or at least very possibly) suffering from a deadly disease which also happened to coincidentally have the same symptoms as the common flu or stomach bug. I was very convincing, I thought, as I was very convinced, myself, that I was in real danger. And so my parents did what any good, responsible adults in the care of a sick (possibly dying) child (okay, twenty-something) would do:

Laughed hysterically.

Of course, I recovered, and now anytime I'm over for dinner and there's new company who hasn't heard this story yet, they take every opportunity to tell it. And they laugh so hard milk squirts out of their noses or they snort or they cry or all of the above.

My family is not very nice.

[Although they were right about the meningitis thing that one time.]


I was fascinated by reports of a recent study conducted by UCLA's Department of Psychiatry. The study has revealed that the kind of face a woman finds attractive on a man tends to differ depending on where she is in her menstrual cycle.

For example, if she is ovulating, she is attracted to men with rugged, masculine features.

However, if she is menstruating, she tends to be more attracted to a man with a spear lodged in his chest and tape over his mouth while he is on fire.

No further studies are expected.

[Obviously, this is an email forward I received. I don't know how it managed to slip through the cracks, as I usually banish anything starting with FW: immediately to the trash, but when I read it, I actually laughed pretty hard, though that may be more closely related to my sadistic nature (particularly when involving men) than the actual funny quotient of the joke…]

June 07, 2006

Parking lot puking

Woke up exhausted today. Got an extra coffee in the morning, thinking I'd just slept badly. It wasn't long before I was swept by waves of nausea. I actually got up from my desk a couple times, headed to the ladies room. When I got there, all I wanted to do was puke and get it over with. But then I realized that if I did, there was a good possibility that someone else would come into the bathroom while I was hurling.

And since the only people on my floor are folks that work at my company, they would recognize my feet, and speculate.

Eating disorder?

I just couldn't go through with it. So, swallowing hard, I retreated back to my desk, where I considered getting under it and throwing up in my wastepaper basket.

Finally, lunchtime.

I dodged the executives who usually ask me out to lunch and hit the elevator. Down to the lobby, across to the second elevator and down to the parking garage. Finally I arrived at my car door, weak, green, and clammy. I climbed in, reclined the seat, and thought I'd just take a little power nap during my lunch break.

Slept for 30 minutes, then woke up nauseous. And this time, it was for real.

Flug open car door, in a panic. Swallowing frantically, I scoured the garage for an appropriate place to hide and puke. Nothing. Desperate for relief, I finally ran around to front of car, where I hunkered down, squatting (skirt hiked up, mind you -- NOT ladylike) between my bumper and the cement wall of the garage.

And up came the coffee. And water. Relief, at last.

I'm a bad puker. I get all teary and shaky and super self-conscious. I want my mommy.

[Note: I called my mom after this puking episode, and after the obligatory 'ooohhh, sweeetie!!!', she got straight to the point:
Mom: "Oh my God. You're not pregnant, are you? Because that would really..."
Me: "No! God, Mom! That would be entirely impossible. ENTIRELY. Jesus.
Mom: "Well, you can't blame me for asking. But yeah, I guess that would be impossible."
Me: "Wait--what the hell is that supposed to mean? Why would that be impossible? I mean, I'm not a gargoyle, for God sakes!"
Mom, condescendingly: "Oh, no. Of course not, sweetie. You have a winning personality. You just focus on feeling better, now."]

Puking honestly traumatizes me. I fight the whole process. Every heave is painful, and in between them are little hiccups of misery. Like I'm 8 years old.

But afterwards, everything changes. Momentarily, I'm overcome with a rush of euphoria. Afterward, I'm always sure I'm cured of whatever ill got me to the puking part to start with. It's like I'm on a narcotics binge and am manic and superpowerful.

I've been saved! I've once again thwarted death! I'm the queen of the world! I can FLY!

Of course, that's why people do drugs: to escape reality. 35 minutes after the parking lot puke I was back to misery.

And periodic puking.

But I'm the kind of person who never believes other people when they say they're sick and have to leave work. I mean, how many times have you called in sick just to sit in a beer garden all day, or to spend the day on the lake, or to start your weekend early? So because I don't believe anyone when they take sick days, I am held captive at work when I'm actually sick out of some sort of weird reverse psychology guilt complex.

[I should be Catholic, I swear.]

And since I'm leaving on Friday for Philadelphia and will be in NY Sunday and Monday for work, I doubly can't justify taking off early today. So here I sit, queasy, weak, gross, in my skirt and heels (which I thankfully missed in the parking garage squat), waiting for 5:30.


[If there is a Mommy in the greater Seattle area who could maybe just stop by my work and give me ginger ale and brush my hair and call me 'sweetie', please comment with your full name, home and cell numbers and location. Or better yet, just come. Here. And make me all better. Please.]

June 05, 2006

Guilt or die

I just ate a steaming hot plate of guilt and responsibility. The chef? My mother, who is completely committed to being sure I come out of this whole young-adult thing on top, with a clean house and a balanced checkbook.

I've mentioned before how my mother was very involved in, like, everything when I was growing up, right? Local elections, fire district and emergency response plan, her career, my "upbringing", my education, my calcium intake... it was all her domain. And bless her heart, she ruled her kingdom with an iron fist, a clock set 7 minutes ahead, three functional calendars, a strong cup of coffee in the morning and at least one late, disorganized, gasping child/spouse in tow.

It was always cool when I was growing up having a mom who attended everything and knew all my friends by first and last name, driver's license number, address, and political party and stuff. I lucked out, though, because she's actually very cool. And pretty. Which means my guy friends liked her and my girl friends looked up to her.

Yeah, my mom was cooler than me.

Anyway, now that I'm older and she has less direct contact with my peer group/life, I have

a) higher self-esteem
b) a chronic lateness problem
c) more time to fixate on why her being very type A and very involved occasionally sucks for me. Namely, guilt.

You see, two of her greatest passions happen to align with two of my greatest weaknesses: letter-sending and voting.

My mother writes letters with the regularity of clockwork. Though we only live approximately 20 miles apart, I can expect something in the mail on a near-weekly basis. And she makes her own cards, so they're very Martha Stewart (and each letter probably takes her an hour, including labor). I mean, it's actually very awesome to get stuff in the mail - until I consider carefully the time she's invested and the fact that the last time I sent HER mail was... well... never. Then the guilt creeps in.

I'm a taker! All I do is take, take, take! When am I ever going to make time for anyone besides my boss, my cat and myself?! I can't even write a letter to my own mother!

It's pretty bad, this guilt. And it's compounded by the fact that in these letters, she usually includes something she feels I'll find relevant or interesting. Such as a clipping on how to best avoid contracting meningitis (more on this later), or how to make a "Quick And Easy Crockpot Meal" or about how many glasses of milk I should drink per day to avoid osteporosis. (I drink zero glasses of milk per day. She drinks 3. Guilt and self-loathing? OOOh! Another helping, please!!)

And that's not even the worst of it.

My mom's involvement in the voter registration process in our home county means that she is almost as inflamed about voting as P. Diddy himself. She actually mails my absentee ballots on to me -- in a different county, now.

And I'm so threatened by them that I actually fill them out most of the time, because I picture my mom standing there over me, with a "Vote or Die" t-shirt on, wearing it completely without irony:

"Vote or DIE, honey! I mean it! And if I don't kill you, you'll probably wish you were dead! Like how about I come by your office with a sack lunch and ask if somebody forgot something this morning? How about that, Lizzie? Yeah, maybe you should just VOTE, dont you think? Or DIE, remember?"

I'm a bad person. I honestly don't have an opinion about school levees or random referendums. I'm pretty focused on really important issues. Like, paying my car insurance and learning how to apply streak-free self-tanner and determining the most effective abdominal workout and generally being a consumer whore.

And here's my mother, sending mail to everyone she loves on a weekly basis, running a home and working multiple jobs (for fun) and volunteering, and trying to continue to shape me into a responsible, contributing 'adult', even from afar. Poor thing has her work cut out for her.

I'd help her out, but, you know, I've got a lot going on. Like, there's a new "US Weekly" out and the Nordstrom's Half-Yearly Sale is coming up. And another Goddamn absentee ballot to decode, too. So yeah... I'm pretty booked for the next couple weeks.

June 02, 2006

Elevator Adventure

If I were ever to write a coffee table book, I think it would be about things that have happened to me or in front of me in various elevators throughout the course of my life. Some depraved, hilarious, scintillating stuff happens in elevators, you know?

For example:

Today I got on the elevator on the 25th floor of my building. I was going down. On floor 19, the doors opened and a verrry old man got on. He was basically the embodiment of the color gray. Gray hair, gray skin, gray wrinkles, gray eyes, grayish/bluish clothes. Gray walker.

He was not a fast-moving gentlemen, what with the lifting of the walker and the thrusting of it forward and the slow stepping. (Rinse, repeat. Rinse, repeat.) He was slow enough, in fact, that the doors nearly shut on him twice in the amount of time it took him to cross the "threshold". Once he was (finally) in, he stepped to the back of the elevator and leaned against the handrails, exhaling heavily.

I zoned out on the little flat screen that displays today's headlines in the elevator, awaiting our arrival at the lobby. I heard the *ding* signaling our approaching floor, and as the doors opened (I was still reading headlines), I heard a second sound. The old man. Saying the following, with true horror in his raspy old voice:


As you can imagine, this was a bit unsettling. I looked up, and followed his slack-jawed stare beyond the elevator doors, where our next passenger was waiting. You see, we hadn't arrived to the lobby. We were on the 13th floor. And our newest passenger was a giant.

Well, a giant woman, anyway. She easily tipped the 400 lb mark. In fact, standing outside the elevator, she almost seemed too wide to fit through the double doors.

The old man was near apoplectic about this development. He wheezed, and, still wide-eyed and grimacing in revulsion, took his hand off his walker and clamped a death grip on the handrail inside the elevator. He then spread his legs, as if bracing for the elevator cables to snap under the weight of our new companion, sending the whole box hurtling through space. This man was honest to God afraid the woman was going to break the elevator and kill us all.

As you can imagine, this was both terrible and incredibly funny. So much so that I had to remind myself to shut my own mouth and wipe the look of gleeful horror from my own face.

As the large woman stepped onto the elevator, the old man shrunk back into his corner, still gripping the handrails and "getting low", with his legs spread wide as if he were in a defensive basketball stance.

The large woman then turned around to press the "door close" button, and it just got better. She was one of those HouseSpiders. By which I mean she had the shape of those spiders you find in your house that have huge, disproportionate backs full of tiny baby spiders, which spill out and scatter when you squish the mother. In other words, this woman had a heinie the size of a second normal human being.

She adjusted, backing further into the elevator as the doors shut, and I had to again close my own mouth and stifle a snort as the old man reached out his right hand (the one holding his walker), and gave her rear end a little nudge with his closed fist, just to let her know he was there.

It was priceless. This old man was so frightened that he'd be crushed by this large woman's sizeable behind that he actually gave her a little bump for good measure. I nearly peed.

I swear to God if a book called "The Life of an Elevator" comes out now I'm going to just totally lose it. The only good news if this happens is that no one reads coffee table books, (particularly when comprised of short stories) so it will probably flop, right?