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Four reasons I dislike Finter*

15 Dec

I like fall. And I like winter. I do NOT like the unnamed season between the two, which is where we are right now. I’m choosing to call it Finter. Here are my chief complaints:

  1. It feels like it’s always cold and rainy. Not cold enough for snow, but somehow cold enough to ensure your feet turn into ice cubes that require a long soak in the tub to thaw.
  2. The leaves that fell and haven’t been picked up by the city are disintegrating into massive piles of pulp. In addition to being ugly, they’re super slippery – I’ve almost wiped out WEARING SNEAKERS a half dozen times in the last week. And regardless of how well you wipe your feet, you WILL track this leaf confetti into your home.
  3. The other issue with the leaves: they’re blocking storm drains, so whenever it rains (see bullet #1: always), water backs up until it’s about 3-4 feet away from the curb, ensuring that whenever you leave the sidewalk, you WILL step into at least an inch of standing water.
  4. It’s dark out at 4pm. Tonight I was sitting here reading my Kindle in the dark and I thought, “Well, I guess I’ll brush my teeth and call it a night…” then I looked at the clock and realized it was only 5pm. It felt like midnight.

SIDE NOTE: I just went to find an image for this post and I googled “pile of leaves.” This was on the first page of image results, and honestly, Google, I think you’re kind of an asshole:

Screen Shot 2019-12-15 at 6.57.47 PM

Please, help me: what is redeeming about this non-season? Anything?

Something I didn’t think to be thankful for – until today.

29 Nov

There’s a quote that’s often attributed to Bob Dylan that goes something like, “Be grateful for what you don’t have that you don’t want.” I’ve always appreciated that twist on gratitude because when you think about it, we dodge a LOT of bullets in life.

This morning I was reminded of that quote shortly after Alan and I set out for a post-Thanksgiving walk. As we stepped out onto the street, the air smelled delicious, like someone was grilling a pile of hamburgers over an open flame, which is a bit odd for 10am on a Friday. I speculated that it was probably the bar down the alley behind my place, which often smokes brisket on its back patio on game days. Alan, unwilling to take my word for it (and perpetually curious), decided to investigate.

So I stood on the sidewalk, patiently waiting while he walked down the alley. I saw him approach the pub’s patio and pull himself up to the tall wooden fence, trying to look over. And then I saw him slowly moonwalk away from the fence, dragging his left foot as if he’d survived polio, until he got to a pile of leaves. Then he started wiping and stamping both feet. Clearly he’d stepped in something.

As he approached me with a grimace, I asked, “Did you step in dog poop?”

He shook his head, looking shell-shocked. “More like human poop.” He paused. “That was clearly a homeless person’s bathroom. Don’t ask me how I know.”

I nodded, shoved my hands down in my pockets, and silently gave thanks for NOT being ruled by my curiosity for once and NOT having to contemplate burning my sneakers on Black Friday. And with that, we walked away, one foot dragging with every step.

#gratitude

Observations from the Road

6 Nov

disgust bobcat funny - 7815591424

Editor’s Note: I recently “quit” Facebook, so I expect I’ll be writing here more frequently since those thoughts need to go somewhere. As a result, you can expect my posts here to be shorter, less structured, and even more narcissistic than they may have been in the past. You’re welcome?!

Since leaving full-time employment three years ago, I’ve tried to really dial-back my travel and reduce my carbon footprint. I’ve gone from flying monthly – or more – to only 1-2 times per year for work. It’s not perfect, but it’s progress. I consider it a badge of honor that I’ve lost my “elite” status with airlines’ rewards programs.

That said, this week is one of those times: I’m in LA to facilitate a client’s annual offsite meeting for a team of 25 people. I’m staying at the Loews Hotel in Hollywood, which literally backs up to the terribly tourist block that has Mann’s Chinese Theatre (home of the Oscars), the star-lined sidewalk, and dozens of guys in superhero costumes, trying to persuade you to take a photo with them for cash.

Last night, eager to get my steps in after spending six hours on a plane, I set out for a walk in the neighborhood behind the Magic Castle. The homes there are nice, and many of them have large privacy hedges lining the front walk. I sometimes bring shame to my naturalist father because I get a bit skittish about critters in nature. Had he been with me, last night would’ve been one of those times.

I kept hearing crazy rustling noises in the bushes as I walked. In DC, I would’ve dismissed them as rats. But because I’m in California? The obvious conclusion: a bobcat. Never mind that I’m in the heart of LA. And because I don’t have it in me to be like that guy who killed an attacking bobcat with his bare hands, my solution was to walk in the middle of the street where I could see it coming.

Of course, it didn’t come to that, and it probably WAS a rat. Or a lizard or something. But it definitely got my heartrate up – which is, you might note, the purpose of exercise anyway. Mission accomplished.

 

 

Men just don’t get it.

18 Dec

Trader Joe's Wine

Yesterday I was in line at Trader Joe’s. If you live in a large city, you know that the line of TJ’s is always long enough that you should bring another task to complete while waiting. (Ideas: Christmas cards, knitting projects, expense report prep, etc.)

Whoever conceived of TJs’ store layout is brilliant, because the final stage of the line functions sort of like the “finishing chute” from the Tour de France. But instead of simply corralling riders (or in this case, shoppers) into a neat sequence for the finish line, at TJ’s, this line snakes right past all the wine and beer displays.

By that point, even if you’re not a drinker, a bottle of SOMETHING seems like it’s not a terrible idea.

As a result, you often see people momentarily abandon their carts to wander over and grab a bottle of the shelf. Yesterday was no exception. The couple in line behind me did a quick run-down of the list of items they’d needed to procure for their dinner party that night. Then the wife said, “Go grab two mixed six packs from the shelf over there,” pointing at the beer.

The husband did as requested. The wife said, “Maybe you should grab another cheap six, just to be safe?”

Husband: “Safe for what?”

Wife: “So we don’t run out?”

Husband: “Don’t you think they’ll bring something too?”

Wife: “Probably…”

Husband: “So we’re covered.”

Wife: “Not necessarily. I mean, Janet asked what she could bring and I said, ‘Nothing! We’re good!’ but she’ll probably bring a bottle of wine.”

Husband: “But you told her to bring nothing.”

Wife: “But women know it’s tacky to arrive empty-handed.”

Husband: “But you TOLD HER we were good.”

Wife: “You don’t understand how it works. Just grab an extra six-pack to be safe.”

Then the husband – under his breath, while going to grab the six-pack – said, “Maybe YOU don’t understand how it works…”

 

Random act of kindness: FAIL

7 Aug

Screen Shot 2016-08-07 at 4.31.49 PM

While I was in Chicago for work last week, I met up with a friend for breakfast one day before the office opened. We agreed to meet at Do-Rite Donuts because it was close to my hotel AND had gluten-free and vegan options. (I don’t even want to know what they use to make a donut that doesn’t contain flour or eggs – I assume tree bark.)

Because I’m mildly OCD (and – more realistically – because she had to take a combination of trains and busses, whereas I only had to walk around the corner), I arrived 10 minutes before she did. I decided to grab a donut and hold a table for us outside since the place seemed fairly busy.

The donut selection was overwhelming, and it became even harder to focus when a homeless man shuffled into the place, slowly panhandling his way along the line leading up to the small counter. Everyone looked uncomfortable, so when he got to me, I said, “I won’t give you money, but I’ll buy you a donut if you’d like one.”

The cashiers heard me and we exchanged a look while they patiently waited for him to point to a donut. (Of course he chose a premium gluten-free flavor.) Then he leaned across the counter and tried to get them to bring him a cup of milk (which they said they didn’t have) and started asking about what else they had back there that he could eat. I felt a bit callous, denying a homeless person food, but I also don’t like being taken advantage of, so I reset expectations with him quickly. “No – sorry. I’ll buy you a donut, but that’s all. Let’s go.”

I paid and left, heading outside to claim a table. He, however, remained inside, presumably asking someone else for something. He must not have been successful, because he emerged a few minutes later, holding the donut I’d bought him. Looking at him, I allowed myself the small feel-good moment that comes with performing a random act of kindness, thinking that maybe we could fix all the world’s problems if we each just help each other out a bit more.

And then I watched as he walked to the curb and threw the donut on the ground. He stumbled around it for a bit, and I couldn’t tell if he was trying to pick it up or what, but he resolved my curiosity by drawing back his foot and kicking it, sending it sailing out into the rush hour traffic. Without a backwards glance, he shuffled down the block.

I guess he decided gluten-free was some bullshit.