Sunday, April 29, 2007
One good thing about leaving my job is that I won't be working across the street from the ball park anymore, which means the music from the occasional Christian rock concert will no longer drift into my office, disturbing both my spirit and my focus. One bad thing about leaving my job is that I'll have to stop responding to the "So, where do you work?" question with the answer "Oh, this think tank near the ball park."
I find it humorous that this response somehow suggests that I sit around all day philosophizing and strategizing about complex geopolitical issues. And as much as I love the idea of me hanging out in a high security building, solving never-before-solved equations on a white board with a purple dry erase marker while important visiting White House officials frantically nod their heads, my job isn't sooooo much like that.
Much to my dismay, the door to our office doesn't open via retina scan and the closest I've gotten to interacting with famous people in expensive suits was meeting a Hollywood actor one time at a conference. As far as I know, not once has the FBI bribed us to keep our findings confidential and the chances of our work becoming the subject of a prime-time thriller series like The X-Files aren't all that good. We do, however, have office walls painted edgy colors, which visitors tend to notice.
Friday, April 20, 2007
Side note: It's starting to feel sort of silly to call Ali my "little" sister, considering she's 3 inches taller than me (which makes her immense for our family) and way ahead on the maturity front. In fact, the reason for my visit was to check out the new condo she bought a few months ago. She even has her own car and, to top it off a pet cat who's consistently fed and cared for. Meanwhile, the crowing achievement in the adult department of Ali's big" sister was the 2005 purchase of a never-before-used sofa and chair for her San Francisco rental apartment upon which her friends pass out.
An interesting realization that I had while in Atlanta was that accessories can be just a powerful as smells for me when it comes to the occurrence of overpowering flashbacks. Well, maybe not all accessories, but rugs specifically, and in this case, an Oriental rug. Upon walking into my sister's bedroom (see photo) and laying eyes on her "new rug" (i.e. a hand me down from mom and dad), I was shocked to find myself immediately transported to the front hallway of my childhood home, the same home my parents live in today which has since been redecorated, new rugs and all.
With my eyes locked on my sister's bedroom floor, I was suddenly age 9, throwing my L.L. Bean backpack stuffed with a Trapper Keeper and spelling workbook onto that same rug. I saw myself bounding through the front door after running home from the bus stop, just in time to catch another riveting episode of Inspector Gadget. "Hi girls!" my mom would yell from the kitchen. "Don't track mud on the rug, you two--take off your sneaks!"
Within a split second I was now 11, choreographing and performing a sure to be show stopping dance routine with my friend Amy to the song "Got My Mind Set on You" (mortifying). We spun and flipped and cart wheeled on this rug in our new matching palm tree leotards that surely screamed "painful pre-teen!" At four foot five, we knew we were hot in these outfits having moved on from our previous matching attire that featured Snoopy. What show we'd be stopping was unclear, but if one happened to come our way, we'd be sure to stop it with this head turning performance.
Next, I was 15, standing on the rug while posing for the camera in a blue taffeta dress before departing for a Homecoming Dance. I stood beside my date, a boy from down the block who had given me a black eye at my 8th grade end-of-the-year party while serving on our ping pong table (unfortunately, my eye was the same height as his back swing). Luckily, the black eye hid the 8 stitches that also resulted from the accidental battering. Apparently, the bouquet of flowers delivered to our home by his mother the following week was all it took for me forgive him and agree to be his Homecoming date the next year. In my defense, he was extremely cute and went to snowboarding camp in Oregon (which seems beyond exotic at the time) and had an outdoor hot tub at his house. What ever happened to him? Oh ya, rehab.
The memories kept coming, each one more vivid that the last. "Doesn't this rug keep you up at night?" I asked my sister. "Why would it?" she responded, casually tossing a cat toy onto it. Apparently, decorative accessories don't have the same affect on her.
Wednesday, April 18, 2007
Picture it: me drinking a glass of wine while reclining in an Adirondack chair in my friend's stylie sun glasses, watching the clouds pass over us. Fresh crabs are being prepared in the kitchen as the sun begins to set behind the barn. A croquet mallet cracks a ball, sending it hurling toward the chicken coop. I turn the page in my magazine, unwrap a piece of Easter chocolate and wonder if the outdoor patio will soon become a happenin’ dance floor.
Monday, April 2, 2007
When thieves steal wallets, the first and sometimes only thing they do is go to a gas station. The reason I know this is that my wallet was stolen on the 38 Geary on Wednesday, right out of my bag. I didn't realize it until I was off the bus and seated at a restaurant where my stylie friend Leah was giving me a makeup lesson over red veggie curry informally entitled "Completing Your Look."
By the time I called my credit card company, the perpetrator had run up all sorts of gas station charges. The oddly empathetic guy working the "report your card lost or stolen" line at B of A explained that gas stations are the number one destination for thieves to use hot cards, which seems so lackluster to me. The way I see it, if you're going to go so far as to steal someone's card, at least buy something really expensive or at least mildly impressive. Once a thief's tank is full, the most exciting thing he could get at a gas station is pretty much teriyaki beef jerky or maybe a couple bags of sunflower seeds. Believe you me, if I were to use a stolen card, I'd have way better ideas for spending spree locations than Chevron.
Anyway, later that night, I was on the phone with a different card company as I walked home and apparently let my legal obligations as a pedestrian fall by the wayside. The next thing I knew, a police officer had pulled over to the side of the road and was yelling at me: "Excuse me, ma'am, but we have RULES in this city yet you don't seem to think they apply to you." When he started to write me a ticket for jay walking (come ON), I tried to look exasperated (which wasn't so difficult at that point) and pleaded "in crisis." Luckily, he was up for striking a deal wherein he wouldn't give me a ticket as long as I marched right into the Valencia police station (about 20 feet away) and endured the 45 minute process of reporting a stolen wallet. While I was making the report, I learned that the cops who work out of this station are all only up to Season Three of 6 Feet Under. Slackers.
Then just when I thought I had broken the cycle of disaster launched on the 38 Geary, I ruined what was sure to be an incredible slow cooker creation: vegetarian spring rolls to be served at my friend Michael's annual Seder. The contents had simmered for the requisite 8 hours (well, 9 due to arriving home later than I intended on Sunday) and I was now ready for Phase II which involved combining them with rice noodles, adding some Hoisin sauce, stuffing the mixture into rice wraps and lightly frying the rolls. Not realizing my bottle of fancy canola oil had gone bad, I proceeded to fry them up, resulting in precisely 4 pounds of rancid egg rolls. Due to the wallet situation, the closest thing I have at the moment to a credit or debit card is my new Safeway Club discount card. I was therefore left with no choice but to beg the guy behind the counter at my corner liquor store to accept a check so that I could bring something to the Seder.
The end result of all of this comes in the form of a visual: me, exhausted and now sweating from all the frying, dragging a plastic bag full of 4 pounds of rancid egg rolls to garbage bin on my way to the liquor store with a blank check and a passport in my back pocket and an irritated expression on my face as I tried to remember if the light had been green this time when I crossed the street. So much for completing my look.