Archive | November, 2011

Cheaper than therapy.

30 Nov

Last night I was fairly stressed out about work when I went to bed. The result?

Nope. You weren't there. Whew.

A never-ending dream that I was one of the finalists on American Idol. We had thirty minutes to choose a song (from a selection of ten options), practice it, then perform it live on television. Unfortunately, I didn’t know ANY of the song options. I’d heard a few of them before, but not well enough to even guess at the lyrics convincingly. And also? All the songs were originally performed by men in falsetto, which put them out of range for my limited voice.

I sat bolt upright in bed at 2am, heart racing and sweating.

Know how I calmed myself down? By replaying the dream in my head and realizing the Simon Cowell had been no where to be found, so it couldn’t possibly have been THE American Idol. Oddly, that put me at ease – at least enough to fall back asleep.

Two hours later – I sat up in bed again. Because Simon wasn’t on the last season of Idol. 

But rather than panicked, for some odd reason, this realization caused me to feel like I’d solved an Encyclopedia Brown mystery. (Remember those? A squirrel can’t BACK down a tree! Ah ha!)

And yes, I realize this post violates two rules of interesting writing: 1) It makes no sense; 2) It bores you with a dream.

Sorry. What can I say? I didn’t sleep well.

I never claimed I could sing the phonebook.

A Tip for the Yogis

27 Nov
Little Kitteh says “Namewste.”

For the yoga teachers who read my blog, let me offer you a tip: Keep the chanting simple.

We usually open and close class with a single group “OM.” I’ll admit, the first time I attended a yoga class, it freaked me out. For a minute I thought I’d accidentally joined a cult and they were going to shave my hair off while my eyes were closed.

But then I started to dig it. There’s something pretty powerful about people united in purpose, joining their voices together. It’s a good reminder of the interconnectedness of all life.

So now I’m cool with an OM, or even three OMs if we have an enthusiastic instructor, though sometimes I can’t stop my mind from focusing on the one clearly tone deaf person who seems to be willfully trying to create discord. (<–BTW, just me or does it seem like that word should be spelled “dischord?”)

However, one thing I am decidedly NOT cool with are the instructors who try to get all creative and work in full chants. I’ll use what is perhaps the simplest of chants to explain why chants – in general – are a bad idea.

Let’s take, “Om. Shanti. Shanti. Shanti.” It’s an invocation of peace, which is nice in theory. And the words are simple and easy to remember. The thing that makes it a mess is that the first two “shantis” go down tonally (like “Mary” in “Mary Had a Little Lamb) but the third “shanti” goes up.

While that seems pretty simple, inevitably there will be a new person in class who doesn’t know that. They try to play along and go with the crowd. They are timid on the first “Shanti” but then more confident on the second one since it’s a repetition of the first. But then, just when they’ve worked themselves up to full participation and go to belt out that third “Shanti,” the rest of the class throws a curve ball.

Now do you understand why it's called Porky Piggin?

It’s like we all told the person it was “No Pants Friday” but then when he shows up Porky Piggin, the rest of us are fully clothed.

This exact thing happened today, and the poor dude who got orphaned on the third “Shanti” scrambled to try to get his pitch to match the rest of the class. The result was that he sounded like Peter Brady when his voice was changing. And it struck me as ridiculously funny. So I started laughing. To the point where I had tears coming out my eyes.

When we opened our eyes and bowed to say “Namaste” (meaning “the light in me bows to the light in you”), I remained face-down on my mat, shaking with laughter. Someone else from class is probably home right now, writing her own blog entry about the crazy girl that was so moved by her practice, she wept.

I guess it depends how you define “moved.”

Not Pithy. Just Thankful.

24 Nov

For once, I’m not going to be snarky or pithy, because Thanksgiving deserves respect. Besides, there’s a whole 48 hours of family-ness ahead of us which should provide fodder for some pithy posts. So instead, this morning I’ll just share a self-indulgent list of things I’m thankful for:

My family. I count myself as lucky every day to still have two living parents who are unconditionally supportive of my somewhat unconventional life. (Not that I live at a nudist colony or travel with a carnival or anything. I just don’t see the point of marriage and kids, so I love that they don’t guilt me about that.)

And my sister and I have become closer with age than experts would’ve thought possible when we were children, given our (almost) six year age difference. In fact, she’s the only person I know who can take a joke even farther than I can in the direction of random or perverse. Oh, and her family is fantastic too.

Proof? Here are two nuggets of wisdom from my youngest nephew, James, who is nine:

“Dad, never, ever criticize a woman’s hair. Her hair is her LIFE.”

“When I get older, I’ll use Just for Men. Until I’m 50. Then I’ll stop. Because it looks weird if your face is wrinkled and your hair isn’t gray.” 

Take THOSE to the bank. (Separately, his obsession with hair is both funny and ironic, since no one in our family has “pretty” hair or actually gives two shits about it. If ever he thinks he’s adopted (he’s not), I’m sure this would be central to his argument that he’s not from our gene pool.)

Reconnecting with Old Friends. Hello! Without this one, Alan wouldn’t be in my life today. And I’m grateful that our paths crossed twice, because he’s a good yin to my yang. For all the reasons I love him, perhaps one of the most telling is that we often pass an evening with nothing more than a bottle of wine and a cribbage board. OK. So maybe Alan deserves a category of his own: I’m thankful for him.

Now back to reconnecting… Whether it’s in person or via Facebook, I feel lucky to still be in touch with people who were a central part of my life at other stages. Whether it’s childhood friends, college roommates or past colleagues (and I use that word loosely when I refer to my friends from Tripper’s Sports Bar!) – I’m thankful to have not lost track of you. And I’m grateful that old friends can just pick up where things left off, no matter how many years have passed.

My friends. You’re awesome and you know who you are. Enough said. Thanks, too, for letting me write about you on my blog without getting offended or sending me a notice about your privacy rights. That makes you double-awesome, which is kind of like a double rainbow, but without the stoned dude providing commentary. Seriously? I have the best friends in the world. Kisses to you all.

My health. So it’s been a weird year health-wise (car accident, inflatable calf, Bakers Cysts, migraines, hives) but  those are the natural product of (gasp!) aging. I’ll take that. It beats the alternative. And it reminds me of my friends who have not been as lucky, but who have taught me about grace in their response to the cards they have been dealt. Thank YOU.

My freedom. You know that song from Annie Get Your Gun, that goes “Anything you can do, I can do better?” Well, that tends to be my motto. I’m thankful I live in a time and place that it CAN be my motto – that I’m not held back by a society that doesn’t allow a woman to do what she’s capable of. And that I can leave my house every day without having to duck bullets (unless I turn the wrong way on U Street!).

My job. Not only is it great to be employed, but I get to train and develop people so they’re better at their jobs. How rewarding is THAT? And I love the people I work with. They’re some of the smartest, funniest, most dedicated people a person could call colleagues. Even better? I get to call a lot of them friends.

The little things. Here’s a list of the random things that I’m thankful for: bathtubs, public libraries, food, fleece/flannel, books, technology, tampons, pillows, NPR, animals, candles, sunny days, snowstorms, fireplaces, exterminators, good wine, bacon, Advil and Dupont Circle.

My readers. Thank YOU for showing up here and reading. Even without an audience, I’d write. But having you here, providing feedback (even if it’s just in the form of a page view and not a comment) makes it rewarding. And when you DO comment? Completely makes my day. Someone recently told me her mom reads my blog, and that – even though she knows my real name – she refers to me as Pithy. So thanks, everyone, for indulging me.

Have a great Thanksgiving! 

I did that. Did I do that?

22 Nov

Have I mentioned that Alan and I enjoy wine? I would go so far as to say we’re oenophiles, but then I’d have to pronounce it. And as I’ve stated before, I’m not so hot when it comes to zee French.

We’ve each had our fair share of ridiculously amazing bottles, but we’re open to trying just about anything, as long as it’s wet and made from grapes. I momentarily forgot that last week after we drove from Urbanna to Williamsburg. We’d been in the car for an hour when we saw a sign pointing down a dirt road for the Williamsburg Winery. When Alan asked if I wanted to go, I made a weird gargling sound before saying, “Nah! Virginia wines aren’t very good.”

Fortunately, Alan ignored me and made the turn. But – because he’s a nice guy – he immediately stopped and, before proceeding, said, “Your call. But it’s a gorgeous day. Want to just check it out?”

When presented that way, how could I say no? Yet I continued to hem and haw as we drove through the vineyards on our way to the winery. “My thing with tastings,” I explained (because I always have a thing), “Is that I feel obligated to buy something. And if the wine sucks, I don’t want to. So I feel guilty, like one of those people who eats samples at Whole Foods as their dinner.”

Alan, being level-headed and understanding, said, “Let’s just check it out. If there’s a paid tasting, maybe we can do that without you feeling guilty. And if not, we can bail.” Good plan. And as it turns out? They did offer a paid tasting – $10 per person with a tour of the cellar and tastes of seven different wines — plus a few bonus pours.

I won’t keep you in suspense: I loved it. Who cares if Virginia will never be Napa? Not me. It was a gorgeous fall day – crisp breeze, bright blue sky, colorful trees, temperature somewhere around 65. And a retired college professor from William & Mary who loved wine was doing the talking and pouring. What’s not to like?

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I didn’t know it was possible for a plane to be occupied by so many children.

19 Nov

Based on this photo, I'm guessing my cabbie was from the Philippines.

Can someone please tell me when the Friday before Thanksgiving became the official travel day for the holiday? I thought the Wednesday of Thanksgiving week was supposed to be the busiest travel day of the year, but based on my experience in LAX yesterday, I’m thinking that’s changed.

The training session that had me in LA for the week wrapped up at 11am, giving me plenty of time to get to the airport for my 1pm flight. However, my cab driver seemed to take it as a personal challenge to get me there in record setting time, flying up the ass of every car in front of him on the 405, changing lanes as if he were in a roller derby.

One of my colleagues was riding with me, so I know I’m not exaggerating when I say: He was the single worst driver I’ve ever ridden with.

Example: We were the second car in line at a left turn arrow. The car in front of us didn’t turn (because there was on-coming traffic) and my driver? He executes a left turn from BEHIND the car that is actually supposed to be turning. Ouch.

I tell you this to explain that I probably wasn’t in the best mood when I tumbled out of the cab curbside at LAX. Actually, I was so car sick, I seriously looked around for a garbage can, thinking I would probably barf before getting my boarding pass. I ran my credit card in the boarding pass kiosk, but instead of it spitting out a piece of paper, I got the dreaded screen announcement: There has been a change to your itinerary. See gate agent. Damn.

Fortunately, the line didn’t seem long – there was only a group of three seniors (traveling together) waiting. Unfortunately, I soon learned that without a line, Delta has no sense of urgency. I waited 20 minutes before actually getting “helped.” I put this in quotes, because the agent who helped me was anything BUT helpful. Here’s how our exchange went:

ME, handing him my license: Hi. I’m hoping you can help me. The kiosk said there’s been a change to my itinerary.

HIM: Hmm. This is an Alaska Airlines flight, not us.

ME: Yeah – it’s operated by Alaska, but all the confirmations and reminders came from Delta and there is a Delta flight number, so I thought I had to check-in at your counter.

HIM, looking at me like I’m an idiot: No. You would NEVER do that.

ME: Apparently I would. So there’s no way for you to generate a boarding pass?  I absolutely need to go to Alaskan Air?

HIM, sighing: That’s what I just told you.

ME: So can you tell me where they are?

HIM: Different terminal.

ME: Thanks for being useless.

I also muttered a swear word as I walked away, but I’m going to blame that on the book I’m reading, which has made liberal use of the word “F*ckwit.” My more mature reaction was to go on Twitter and post, “@DELTA: your check-in workers at #LAX are rude and unhelpful. Not flying you again. Fire the guy at kiosk assistance.” I wish I’d noticed his name.

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