Friday, December 31, 2010

Waxing reflective


Happy New Year my little lambs! This year has definitely had its high points for us, like D graduating law school and passing the Bar a few months later, and us driving cross country, which was probably the peak of my year. I often think back to that trip and wish we could be back there, back on the road, skipping from town to town and living by purely spontaneous impulse. Also big for me this year was finishing my first novel. Of course there were low points (losing my grandmother and landing what I thought would be my "dream" job initially come to mind), but all in all 2010 could've been worse.

So here's to 2011. I don't have a steadfast resolution; instead I'm going to see to it that I find happiness in my endeavors. I have a feeling it's going to be an amazing, life-changing year.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

The British are coming

I just finished my Christmas dinner of steak and red wine by the fireplace with my dad and D and thought I'd write a quick post to say Merry Christmas to you and yours (in a British accent, of course). 

My holidays feel just a smidge out of whack since my mother and sister have flown south for the season and are currently enjoying summer in Buenos Aires (opposite hemisphere = opposite seasons). They'll be down there for about a month, living in an apartment rental and hanging out with the locals, then they're off to Peru in early January, wherein my dad will make like the birds and fly south to join then.

I was invited along (more than once) for this fete, but had to decline because of time constraints with my bloody job (apparently I'm all about sounding British tonight). I DO have all next week off -- thank God! -- but would have wanted to stay longer than a week if I was going to spend that much money on airfare. Plus being away from D during this time of the year would have sucked, and I KNOW Boss Man would never let me take time off in January what with a bunch of important news things occuring, so no Buenos Aires/Peru por me. Me no encantan. To satiate my travel bug I've been watching Vicky Cristina Barcelona religiously and pretending I'm summering in Spain with a handsome spaniard who wants to weekend with me in Oviedo.

In other news D bought me some swinging presents this year:
  • A wood-handled melon baller from Sur la Table (only the one I've been talking about FOR-ever. I guess you know you're old when you get your kicks from overpriced kitchen utensils.)
  • A copy of Sterling's Gold, as in Roger Sterling's Gold, the fictional memoir Roger wrote in Mad Men that's been actually published (hardback!) as a collection of Roger's witticisms from the show. I guess this officially makes me a hardcore fan (though me owning a Mad Men wall calendar for three years running would have probably already affirmed that).
  • A pair of black Hunter rain boots!:


D bought me a pair of the original, tall, high-gloss version. Hunter boots were made popular by Arthur Wellesley the 1st Duke of Wellington (hence the name) and became uber fashionable among the British aristocracy in the early 19th century. Apparently they're the Queen's personal favorite in shoe wear.

The Queen in her Hunter boots during the Gun Dog Trials (whatever those are), 1967.
Whatever works for the Queen works for me. Maybe the Hunters are what's making me feel all-sorts British tonight.

I surprised D with the first two seasons of Breaking Bad, a pair of cufflinks and tiebar (no Ferragamo this year; Kenneth Cole had to suffice), and rotating Belgian waffle maker that he's wanted since we got married. He's already made me fluffy Belgian waffles twice and they were divine. Both times. Although with the holidays coming to close I feel I should start watching what I eat again (as in: probably not a good idea to down an entire tin of shortbread in one sitting). Better idea: Salad? (Notice my use of question mark, as taste buds are always partial to processed sugar over leafs). 

I do know that I've felt rather blah lately -- a combination of feeling flabby and lazy. And pale -- did I mention pale? Because something about looking sickly white with no trace of my golden Cabo tan from August makes me feel a bit under the weather. Not that I'd EVER go to a tanning salon (no judging those that do, but something about frying under lightbulbs semi freaks me out). But with my tan gone and my muscle tone non-existent I've just felt blah. And I know it's because normally I walk a lot. 

Up until a couple months ago D and I walked at least a couple miles every night, not including walking to and from the train station for work and what exercise we got walking for lunch. But since the weather's turned unseasonably cold for my area (and the rains have swept in), walking is the last thing I want to do when I get home. And my thighs -- Mona and Camille, yes they have names -- are deffo not thanking me. What I need to do is quit making excuses and bear the cold weather in my Hunters. Don't worry ladies, you'll firm up again soon enough!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Best. Picture. Ever.

(via CuteOverload.com)
This made me laugh out loud at work yesterday. When a coworker asked what I was laughing at I muttered something about Borzois and snowmen and I think they thought I was looking at an x-rated website. Some people have no sense of humor.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Highs and lows, Dec. 19th edition

High:

I finished the charcoal drawing of my grandma -- finally! It took two days (about 8 hours total), and I wanted to spend a lot more time making it perfect, but had to wrap it up quick since I wanted to give it to her last night (I won't be seeing her for Christmas). She seemed like she really liked it, so I was happy about that:


 I used to do charcoal art all the time but stopped at some point in college. Not sure why. Probably a mix of time and priorities (those two rainy clouds on any adult life), and though I've been lugging my art supplies around with me years, I never thought to just sit down and pick up again until this week. And I'm so happy I did! Since I'm on a computer so long every day, it's hard once I get home to sit down at a desk and continue writing on my laptop. Drawing is a nice break for my mind and eyes, and gives me that creative outlet I desperately need. I'm obviously rough around the edges and have a lot of practice to do, but it feels good to put hand to paper.
D says when we eventually get a house he'll build me an art studio off to one side, which would be divine since the carpet that I worked on (even though it was covered with newspapers) is not letting go of those little charcoal stains as nicely as I hoped. Concrete flooring would be SO much nicer to work on.

Low: 

You know, I've been wracking my brain trying to think of a Low today and nothing comes to mind. I'm thinking this is a good thing. 

I suppose what could be considered a low is I started Saul Bellows' "Herzog" recently, and it's taking me longer than I'd like to get into. I'm about 50 pages in and the main character, Moses Herzog, is borderline boring, in a petulant, arrogant way. And I get that he's supposed to be, so maybe I just need to be more patient and let him grow on me. Plus the book has a lot to live up to since I just finished reading the third book in John Updike's Rabbit series ("Rabbit is Rich") and, well, that book won a Pulitzer for a reason. Updike is incredible. So gifted. There's no other way to describe his gift with the written word. Harry "Rabbit" Angstrom, the main character, is one of the best in literature; he's tragic and flawed (like every good main character should be) but has the innocence and impurity that makes him so relatable. And through the four books you get to follow the story arc that is his life through the most pivotal decades of the 20th century. I recently heard a reviewer on NPR call Harry symbolic of America, and that his descent through the books is like the country on its way down the rabbit hole. I couldn't agree more.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The most wonderful time of year

How is it already mid-December? Tingles, reader-friends, tingles. Christmas is right around the corner and though I'm not a fan of plastic trees in the slightest, I saw a 6-ft one at Target for only 20 bones (!!!) and couldn't help myself. Who sells a plastic tree for 20 dollars? Much less one that actually looks pretty good for a fake? D was skeptical we should even get a tree this year -- real or fake -- since our apartment is straight-up European in its tininess, but I convinced him this would not only work, but it would look great. And it does:


So it's a little crammed in its corner, but it was the only open corner in our casa and I actually find it strangely cozy. D and I also decided (well, it was more me deciding since I had the idea) to buy one special ornament each year of our life together. I thought it'd be a cute memory to pass down to our children. This year we couldn't decide on just one, so we bought two:


They remind us of our poodle and cat, don't ask why, because I have no idea. We've just always likened them to a polar bear and a penguin for some reason. 

It's looking like D did not get that Dream Job we were hoping for this month. Christmas won't be coming soon to our household. Sigh. We were pretty down about it last Tuesday, when he contacted them to check in and the hiring manager wrote back that they had extended the offer to someone else. She did say the guy hadn't yet accepted it, and if he doesn't they will go back to their pool of candidates, that D was very well-received in the office and that he would definitely be back in the running if the offer was rejected from their first choice. Which I take to basically be a big, fat no. I mean who would reject this offer? Really? Unless the guy had other, better offers on the table, which would be a stretch in this market. I have a feeling their first choice was a Harvard Law grad (based on what they said to D about their other interviews) who probs had better experience than D. Though we haven't officially received a rejection in the mail, I'm counting on it being there soon enough. Poop. 

I was sad about it for, oh, a day but quickly got over it. I'm already depressed enough as it is with my career, I really don't need to be sad about his as well. I kept telling him he has a very bright future, who cares about this bad news, that I know these opportunities don't come often but let's buck up and make the best of it. I'd rather be drinking eggnog and kissing under mistletoe and dashing through the snow in a one-horse, open sleigh than pouting on the couch together in silence. D seemed to agree, but I can still tell he's uber stressed out. The other night I asked him why and he said "Why do you think? I'm in this apartment, paid for by my wife who hates her job. I want you to be happy."

Totally an "awwww" moment. I threw my arms around him and told him we'd get through it, that just hearing him say that keeps me going. And it does.

I'm happy today because I took the day off (mental health day, I suppose), which was coincidentally a genius time to take a day off since I had a management training meeting earlier this week that lasted ALL DAY. Literally. 8:30am to 5pm, I was sitting in a conference room with a dozen other managers of different levels, listening to a management training professional who had been brought in by our company to teach us "management basics." It was like a parody of corporate life -- something you'd see on The Office or Office Space. We had to do things like break up in to groups and "brainstorm" about ways to evaluate performance (jotted down with a marker on a white board, of course), "roleplay" effective communication styles, and talk about our feelings. It seemed like the only thing we didn't do was that "trust test" people do on company retreats, when you fall backward and let employees catch you.

It was all so dreadful and I wanted to die the entire time. I kept thinking "this is not my reality, this is not my reality" and when we were finally let out of the meeting, I had to stay till 8pm because a writer missed his deadline which meant I had to sit there and wait for the copy to edit. Fun!!!! Because all I ever hoped and wished for was to sit in my office for 12 hours with no real break.

Needless to say when D picked me up from the subway station near our home, I needed two things: Taco Bell and a cocktail. Nothing fixes a bad day for me quite like a run for the border and a vodka gimlet.

Thankfully I got to sleep in today and am going to finish up some Christmas shopping this afternoon. Also, hopefully, I'll have time to start and finish a charcoal drawing I wanted to do of a portrait of my grandma in her early 20s. I think it'd make a nice gift for her, especially since she's an artist herself. 

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Hope on a rope

I have been so bad with my blogging lately. Not because I lead a boring life (at least not between Friday night and Monday morning) but because D and I have been mondo busy. He and I usually take our lunch break at the same time but all last week he was stuck in trials and depositions and other lawyer-ey "itions" that make no sense to me, so I found myself mindlessly perusing Nordstroms, Bloomies, et. al. every single day, trying to fill my lunch break outside of the office. (Cue me aimlessly riding the escalator in Macy's up then down, up then down, admiring the Christmas decorations hanging overhead in my path.) 

My purchases began to spiral out of control. Cookie cutters (for a girl who likes to bake but never actually does), calendars, lingerie, suede peep-toe pumps, numerous articles of clothing. Each time I was rung up and asked by the cashier whether my purchase was a gift or not, I said, with pride, "No, no...this is for me. Always more fun buying gifts for yourself." Not that I NEED any of this, my closet is practically bulging at the seams with clothes I never wear anymore, and I've got three trash bags and counting of clothing in the coat closet that  I'm planning to donate to Goodwill. But something about spending money -- especially these days -- makes me so happy. It's like lapping like a kitten at a well-made Tanqueray martini and feeling that first saucy buzz after a crappy workday. So bad, I know. I shouldn't be leaning on retail therapy as a way to deal with my malaise and inability to cope with reality, but I do and it feels sooo good. I suppose it could be worse. At least I'm not addicted to meth and my teeth are falling out of my head because of my penchant for aspirin and battery acid or whatever it is meth is made up of. I just simply like shoes. And it's not like I can't afford my shopping excursions...I use my debit card for everything, no credit. But I guess a part of me feels a little bad since I know everything I buy is frivolous and unnecessary. 

D still hasn't heard from the firm he interviewed with last Tuesday. This doesn't mean he's out of the running but at the same time doesn't bode well for our nerves. If it's a "no" we'll get a letter in the mail; if it's a "yes" he'll get a phone call. Talk about pressure. Every single evening we are terrified checking the mail, just like two kids covering their faces during a gruesome scene in a horror film. We stiffen, and everything slips into slow-motion as the key makes its final click in the lock, the mailbox door swings open, aaaaaand...there is a Crate and Barrel catalogue (for me) and a school loan bill (for D). We can breathe easy at this sight for just a second, until we're back to worrying about how we're going to pay D's $2,000-per-month school loans back. At this point we might have to defer till he finds something significant; though I make much more than I need, it's not enough to pay what would otherwise be a mortgage payment.

This law firm D is waiting on is like a last vestige of hope at scoring a gig that would start him at a significant pay rate ($145,000, plus bonuses). Any other smaller firm would pay well, but not as much as this firm, which makes landing this job even more important. But this job market has prepared me to expect the worst, so I've inwardly started downplaying the likelihood D got it. Not that I don't believe in him, but because I don't want to dwell on it and be all sad if we do see that letter in our mailbox this week. There will be other opportunities and he'll get to where he wants to be....I just want it to happen soon! I've been a bad girl at work and have been shirking some of my duties that will have ramifications in January, February and March since I'm hoping more than anything that I'll be gone by early January if he gets this job. I'm such a fool since this act alone has probably jinxed this job prospect for him, but I can't help it. That hope on the horizon is so tempting...

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Highs and lows: The "You're not worth it" edition

This week I'm going to lead with my Low first, since it was a pretty big, uncalled-for scene and I have a feeling it's changed things drastically in my husband's life going forward.

Before I explain my low, I should preface it with this: From the beginning of D and I, his mom's side of the family has not liked me. Not because I did anything in particular; in fact, I went out of my way to be extra polite and respectful to them when D and I were first dating because I actually liked them, and I thought they were good people. They gave me no reason to think otherwise. At the time, D was living in a studio apartment off the side of his aunt's (mother's sister's) home, and so I was always invited over to watch movies with all of them, have dinner, laugh over drinks. Normal we're-acclimating-you-into-the-family things that any girlfriend goes through.

But then things began to change after D proposed to me just before Thanksgiving. All of a sudden things were chillier over at his aunt's house. They fought over petty things with him more, snubbed me when I'd stop by and gradually distanced themselves from being around when I'd come over to see him. I was confused as was D, though it took him much longer to see these discrepancies that I noticed right away. About a month later this aunt threw a giant family Christmas party at her house (as, I was told, she does every year) and everyone on that side of the family was invited. Other aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, cousins filled her home and though we were invited, we were largely ignored by most everyone there -- most of whom I had never met before and so had no chance to make a good or bad impression before I was obviously judged and ostracized. I felt super uncomfortable that night and was still confused why we were being snubbed. They all knew D well, had practically helped raise him through childhood since he grew up with a single mother, but for some reason when I entered his life as a serious significant other, it was like they preferred to no affiliation with him.

And then I found out why.

Turns out it's because I'm not a Christian like D is (and I use the word "Christian" loosely because aside from being baptized as a baby, D has never really gone to church, never read the bible, etc.) D's about as Christian as Jon Gosselin is an esteemed father figure. But according to D's family, not being Christian was just the part of the problem -- the other part of the problem was what religion I actually was. And this is where things become muddled. 

I was raised as a Muslim -- but I use the term "Muslim" very, very loosely. My mother was born and raised in Afghanistan but is very liberal and has now lived in the United States longer than she's lived in her home country. My father is a blond haired, blue-eyed Midwesterner from Illinois who was never really raised with any religion (as his parents thought most religion was a farce). So me and my siblings were raised as Muslims, but that basically meant we grew up not eating pork. We still had a Christmas tree in our house every winter, still had Easter egg hunts every April -- we were and are a very normal, all-American family who happens to have a multicultural household, like most Americans. Technically my mother told us as kids that we were Muslims, but I think that was more her culture talking. Looking back on it we really weren't anything...we just existed. Spiritual, but that was about it.

But the moment that side of D's family found out I was a "Muslim" that's when everything changed. I was no longer suitable for D, they told his mother, because I "wasn't one of them." They waxed poetic on "like begatting like" and said some pretty terrible, hurtful things that I'm sure I was never supposed to hear but eventually caught wind of. I was shocked that there were still people who were that small-minded about religion and differences, especially -- and this is the comedic part -- toward a person (me) who doesn't even believe in organized religion. All of a sudden I was "lesser than" because I wasn't a "Christian" and they brought out just about every stereotype you can think of regarding terrorism and Islam when they joked to D about how my family must be -- a family they had never even met but had only heard were "muslim" and therefore must be terrorists and other terrible bigoted stereotypes. Obviously.

D was pissed and embarrassed they were capable of saying such things; he was just as shocked as I was. And, in the the end, they wanted "no part of our marriage." They made this very clear when all of them (there were dozens) did not even RSVP to our wedding invitations with a "yes" or "no." They obviously wanted to make a statement about what they thought, and they succeeded. It hurt a lot to witness bigotry firsthand.

That was over three years ago. In May of this year, D and I sent out commencement invitations to his law school graduation, and against my urging that we leave them out of the loop, that they don't deserve to be given a second chance in D's life, he sent graduation invitations to them anyway, hoping to somehow mend the fragile fences they themselves built when we married. And again, nothing came as a response to his graduation notices. No phone calls, no congratulations. Nothing. In fact, one of his grandmothers had the audacity to send back her invitation, unopened. Totally classy move.

So it goes without saying that I think these people are complete trash. Their words and actions piss me off, yes. But I refuse to dwell on their ignorant shortcomings or allow their bigotry to hurt me. I don't know them, nor have I have ever known them and so they have rarely crossed my mind in these last four years. Unfortunately, though, they are a segment of D's family and while he is more than fine putting them out of mind during the duration thus far of our marriage, every single time we see his mother we're reminded of the chasm because she's constantly trying to bring us back all together.

D's mother is a hippie all about peace and love, and was ostracized herself many years ago by this same family and for some reason she's convinced that the answer to all of this is for D and I to forgive them and apologize. Which I'm sorry, but I cannot do. I have friends and family who love and respect me that I don't even have time for because of my busy schedule, so why should I make time and grovel on my hands and knees apologizing (for what???) to a bunch of small-minded pricks who said nasty things behind my back to my future husband, calling in to question his decision to marry me? I can't do it. In the words of Patrick Swayze in Dirty Dancing when he gets into a fight with that waiter who knocked Penny up, "You're not worth it."

Low:

This last week we were again brought into a situation of having to deal with the family since one of them -- D's aunt -- died in a car accident a few days before Thanksgiving. Yes, it's tragic and all since she was only 34, but there is a part of me that's glad it happened. Terrible terrible terrible, I know. But this blog is all about being honest so there you go. I finally admitted it out loud. They've got some horrible karma coming their way and I feel like this is just the beginning. I can't find it in my heart at all to feel sorry for them about this loss, or feel sorry for her. I just feel nothing. 

As you can imagine, going to her funeral the day after Thanksgiving was the last thing I wanted to do. I made that very clear to D, and he didn't blame me, but he stressed we needed to go out of respect for his mother, and so I reluctantly agreed. Well, we picked D's mom up on the way there and we didn't even make it onto the freeway before she was blowing up at D for being 10 minutes late to pick her up. I get that she was stressed out about the death and all, but please. The way she was shrieking was childish and uncalled for. Then she launched into a lovely tirade about D needs to grow up and mend what's happened between us and the family. D completely lost it and I've never heard him yell so loud in my life, he was practically roaring at her over his shoulder about their bigotry and racism to the point of where I had him pull the car over to the side so we wouldn't get into an accident. 

They were roaring back and forth and then -- for some reason -- I got pulled into the fight because his lovely mother started yelling at me that I was "too strong-willed" and that D needed to grow some you-know-what's because I needed to be "dealt with" (and by "dealt with" I had a sneaking suspicion she meant something along the lines of physical discipline, which really got me fired up since no man has or ever will lay a hand on me like that. That is the last thing D would ever dream of doing, but it makes sense she'd say something like this -- she's been divorced four times and has most likely witnessed domestic abuse first-hand. Sorry honey, but I'm not you.) 

I turned around and flat out told her we were never going to apologize to them and that they didn't deserve it, and then she began hollering about my parents (whom she's only met twice). She spouted off some false assumptions about them and their marriage (how are they any of her business and what do they have to do with this conversation??) and that's when I told her to get out of the car. Which is something I'd NEVER do, but she crossed a definitive line and that was it. D sided with me, and told her to get out, and so we dropped her off on the side of the road with her yelling at me that I was a "bitch." Needless to say D and I skipped the funeral. 

That enough drama for one afternoon? At this point I don't ever see myself speaking to this woman, much less this family, again. Getting to know her these last four years, the way she acted in the car was the completely opposite of how she normally is and what she trumpets herself as being. I have lost all respect for her. D feels very betrayed and keeps wondering out loud how he'll ever trust her again. Which is a good question. Because I don't. As far as I'm concerned I'd be overjoyed if I never had to deal with any of this bullshit again.

High:

Thanksgiving (the night before) was terrific. My parents had 18 relatives over so our house was full of cousins, aunts, uncles and significant others, eating, talking and laughing for hours. Was definitely one of the most memorable Thanksgivings of my life.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Highs and lows, Nov. 21st edition

Highs:

Well, this should be a pretty obvious one for the week -- D passing the bar was euphoric for me , so as you can imagine he is practically over the moon. The bar website waited until 6pm ON THE DOT Friday evening to post the results (we checked a few minutes earlier and were told to return at 6). In the minutes leading up I stood in the kitchen, absentmindedly snacking on soy crackers to kill the tension that grew thicker with each tick of the little second hand on our French clock. I stared off into space, my back to D (who was on the computer) as I stuffed my face with crackers like a senile parrot and waited to hear some response from him to what he was seeing. Silence. Until....

I heard him stand up and walk into the kitchen behind me. 

"Oh crap," I thought. "This can't be good..." 

But as I turned around he had a giant smile on his face. 

"You're looking at a lawyer!" he said. I squealed, he picked me up in his arms and spun me around in the kitchen. It was very James Stewart and Donna Reed from "It's a Wonderful Life."

Later we went out to celebrate with friends at a nice restaurant and I think we went through three bottles of wine that night. Lots of celebrating, food, and spirits. Then Saturday afternoon there was more celebrating, when we went over to my grandmother's house and had a couple bottles of 20-year-old champagne and a bottle of wine with her and my uncle. By that evening I was nearly three sheets to the wind (I LOVE champagne, but I swear the bubbles go straight to my head) when we left to make our dinner reservation D had made earlier that day. Yes, more celebrating. The reservation was for a fancy Italian restaurant we've been wanting to try forever since it's ranked as a top restaurant in our region and the wait was definitely worth it because the food was so good

We started off with two appetizers: Smoked prosciutto and mussels "in bagna" (bathed) in garlic cream. Then for dinner D ordered roasted duck with spinach and brown sugar yams, while I got the linguini with scallops, olives, garlic and capers. Divine. Even better: We were seated at the last open table next to the main window, so we got to watch the rain outside over candlelight and wine. I could definitely get used to this. 

Low:

Today I had a minor freak out in Nordstroms. We went after lunch since I needed new bras, and the lingerie section was completely chaotic and in disarray. Not a big deal, I get it, but I was already a little irritated since I'm almost finished surfing a certain crimson wave and my patience is thin during this time of the month. For some reason the mess really bothered me. When I go to a higher-end department store I expect certain things like clean countertops at the register (as opposed to piles of bras and panties heaped up like in Sears) and, oh I don't know, good service. I waited for nearly 30 minutes for someone to do a bra fitting on me, and when it was finally my turn to get all nakey in front of the frenzied store woman, I swear she didn't even measure me right! 

"You're a 34D," she said, even though the cups were a little gigante. So she comes back with all 34Cs (hello? Didn't she just say I was a 34D??? And 34C was my size up until recently, but I've lost some weight in the last few months, hence the whole purpose of me coming in to buy a new arsenal of bras). And what does she give me? All the $80 Chantelle bras, even though I told her I was looking more in the $40 range. Big sigh. After she left I ducked out onto the floor and pulled a few of what I believed were more of my sizes and guess what? I'm actually a 32C!!! Thank god I didn't listen to that woman and her hurried sales pitches.

I've had bra fittings at Nordstroms before, but today was a first for me. After I left the fitting room I went over to the sales racks and was so stressed out I started crying (so stupid, I know but in my defense I get overly emotional when I pms). D was confused why I was crying, but he felt bad and asked if I wanted to go for a walk and come back. I shook my head no and he took the two bras I was holding then went through the rest of the bra rack, pulling out ones he thought I'd like, waiting for a head nod or a head shake from me. This is why I love him. Because even though I'm sure he'd rather be doing anything else on a Sunday besides shopping for lingerie in a crowded department store, he does it anyway, with patience and love.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Thursday, November 18, 2010

No, not that kind of bar

This week has been a whirlwind for D and I. 

For me, because things have actually picked up slightly at work. Yes, the last few days I haven't sat aimlessly at my desk with absolutely nothing to do. They're actually giving me more tasks!! (What a novel concept -- that I can juggle more than one thing in a punctual manner. Good work, Boss Man. Now I don't feel quite as insulted that you must think I'm incompetent or something.) Not to say I'm being half as creative as I want to be, or feel satisfied every day that I've produced something significant that fulfills me. But whatevs. At least I've been somewhat busier there. Last week I thought I was going to vomit if I had to hit refresh one more on the New York Times/Gawker/New Yorker/CNN/People/Bloomberg homepage for new reading material to pass the time.

For D, this week is probably the most stressful of the year. Why? Because tomorrow bar results are finally released! *insert nefarious cackle here* I don't like seeing D filled with so much anguish and strife, but it is fun to tease him about it because I'm positive he passed. Am I totes jinxing it by saying this? I hope not. But he graduated from a top law school and studied his cute little butt off with bar prep materials all summer (on top of the fact that, aside from my dad, D is the smartest person I know), so if he doesn't pass I will be flabbergasted. Much like the day I found out the tooth fairy didn't exist and nearly had a mental breakdown over the idea of being taken by a ruse for so many years of my young life.

Anyway he's pretty sure he passed but says "Until I see my name on the list I won't believe it," which I understand. The stress and anxiety have built up so much as the results draw nearer that he's even taking tomorrow off from work to chill out -- and he NEVER takes days off. Not even when I try and tempt him with long weekends in wine country filled with days of vino and nights of me. This is serious.

But to put a little wind in his sails today, he got a call to come in for an interview with an AmLaw 100 firm next Tuesday! He still hasn't heard back from the other firm that he interviewed with last week, but this firm scheduled next week is much more prestigious and, well, part of the Big Law club. He was so cute telling me about it, trying not to smile since he doesn't like counting his chickens before they hatch and "it's only an interview, that's all," he kept saying, but I told him it was okay to smile. Broadly. Just getting an interview of this caliber makes me proud of him. I hope he understands that since I told him like a trillion times today.

So, lots of busy work on my end, fannying about my office. Lots of lawyer-ey stuff on D's end. I hope tomorrow brings good bar news; if it does, we've decided to celebrate with a bottle of Veuve Clicquot we bought. Here's to hoping we get to pop its cork.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Misty watercolor memories

I don't know how I missed it (oh wait, I do, I don't get to stay home during the day) BUT yesterday on Oprah, Barbra Streisand was reunited with Robert Redford for their first interview together EVER. *sharp, panicked breaths* My mother called me with this news last night and I almost died that I had missed it. Yeah yeah, it's all online now, but I am (and always have been) a die-hard Robert Redford freak, so whenever I get an opportunity to gawk at him on my 42'' plasma, I take it. Oh and Babs? Die for her. She's such a legendary diva.

Anyway luckily some kind-hearted Twitterer (is that even the right word?) tipped me off on the fact that Oprah replays at 1am every day so you better believe I DVRed it....and on my DVR is where it shall stay. Forever.

If you missed it, you can visit Oprah's site here and watch Bab's get all happy and flustered when she realizes Robert's there to surprise her, and they also talk about making The Way We Were (which is only one of the most amazing movies ever created and therefore elicits a trailer plug):




Chills. Every time. They just don't make romantic dramas like it anymore. Not to this caliber. Now it's all this Nicholas Sparks nonsense with milquetoast "actresses" like Miley Cyrus and Mandy Moore playing lead, and boy actors like Channing Tatum or whatever his name is trying to play a real man. Streisand and Robert -- they were it:

Monday, November 15, 2010

Typical Monday

I must say that if it wasn't for my good friend, B, I'd go crazy at work. Just like my office, B's office uses instant messenger, which means the two of us sit online all day gabbing away about things we can't talk to our coworkers about. These include daily observations of office absurdities, like what I witnessed today...


Me: omg
Me: this is so hilariously lame
B: que?
Me: you know how my boss and I share one long table, with each opposite end as our desk?
Me: (i took pics when he went to the bathroom so i can show you our setup.)
Me: ANYWAY
B: ahahaha
Me: he set up his picture frames so that they go all the way to the edge of his desk, like creating a little barrier between us
Me: WEIRDO
Me: now when i look over to my right, instead of a long table i'm staring at a bunch of picture frame backs with his stupid kids pics in them
B: LOL
B: that's hilarious
Me: i wanna be like buddy, don't kid yourself -- you don't and will never have your own office. creating a little wall of picture frames isn't going to change that
Me: freak
B: i'm surprised he doesn't his own office, or at least a partition
Me: our head boss has his own office...obviously SOMEONE is bitter about that.
Me: it's like the beginnings of a pillow fortress, but not...

So I wonder if one day he thought "Hey I've got it! Let's play a game called 'We're going to pretend we have more of an office space than we actually do.' It involves barricading ourselves in with an avalanche of family photos and picture frames and playing King of the Fort at work."

This further encourages me to put NO pictures up at work (something I've always done in past positions). I feel like once I put my first picture/personal item up, I will be acknowledging the fact that this is my life. And I'm sorry but I refuse to accept that fact. Ignorance is bliss.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Highs and lows, Nov. 14th edition

High:

The Great Gatsby is being made into a movie. FINALLY! It sounds like Baz Luhrmann (of Moulin Rouge fame) will be directing, which is either a great thing or a terrible thing. Possibly terrible because have you seen Australia? Neither have I. And though I love Nicole Kidman and Ewan MacGregor and musicals in general, I wasn't a big fan of Moulin Rouge. (Blasphemy, I know.) With that said, I do LOVE Luhrmann's other two films: Strictly Ballroom and Romeo and Juliet (so much so for the latter, in fact, that I had this giant R&J poster poster on my bedroom wall through most of high school): 


R&J was essentially what kicked off my hyper-obsession with one Leonardo DiCaprio. I used to manically cut out pictures of his mug from every teen magazine I subscribed to so I could collage the wall around the above poster with a Leo shrine of sorts. I even bought a wallet one summer in Italy that was silk-screened with Leo's face all over it -- totes not copyrighted, but whatever. It made me proud. But that was another time. I still fantasize about Leo every once in a while -- though not anymore like Glenn Close from Fatal Attraction -- sooo what made me even happier to see that The Great Gatsby was being made into a film was that Leo is playing Jay Gatsby himself! I hope this news is true and I haven't been drinking the wrong kool-aid because that casting would be spectacular. There are rumors that Tobey Maguire will play Jay G.'s best friend, Nick Carraway, and that Carey Mulligan (who I loved in An Education) is going to play Daisy Buchanan. Both of which I'm okay with. Just as long as Amanda Seyfried (who D has lovingly dubbed "fish eyes") isn't playing Daisy, then everything will remain copacetic. 

Low:

I went to the dentist this week for a routine cleaning and got some fabulous news (if by fabulous you mean lousy). Not only do I have three cavities *quietly pushes candy jar out of sight*, but I also need a crown (my first), and I'm beginning to show signs of TMJ. Before this week I had no idea that TMJ even existed, and at first I thought the dentist was making it up to flirt with me. Awkward when it actually turned out to be a real disorder. Why do I have it? Because apparently I'm stressed out to the max, or so my dentist says (as if he was telling me something I didn't know), and I grind my teeth at night like whoa. During the day I don't grind, but I clench. I didn't even realize I clenched all day till he told me to be completely cognizant of it and, well, stop doing it entirely unless I want to end up with no muscle connecting my jaw to my skull and have constant bone-to-bone contact when I'm older, which doc pointed out would not be fun, since I'll be worried about other, more pressing things like arthritis and artificial knees. Getting older...such a lovely thing. 

All of this basically means I need to chill out, start wearing a night guard for my grinding problem (which will be such the aphrodisiac for D when he hears me speaking pillowtalk with a lisp, don't you think?), get my cavities filled, and man up for the crown I'm about to get cemented to the back of my mouth. My biggest fear (aside from the pain of getting it) is if said crown falls out my mouth and plops into my glass of wine in front of everyone at a dinner party, or falls out on stage and bounces down a crowded aisle while I'm giving a speech to a group of hundreds. Not sure when the latter will ever happen, but it seems like something that would probably happen to me.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

I'm an ENFJ

My brother recently urged me to take the Myers-Briggs psychology test to get an in-depth snapshot into my personality. According to Wikipedia, "the Myers-Briggs assessment was developed from the work of psychiatrist Carl Jung in his book Psychological Types. Jung proposed a psychological typology based on the theories of cognitive functions that he developed through his clinical observations."

Anywits, I took the test and and it was eerie how true my test results turned out to be. Apparently I'm an ENFJ and we only account for 2-5% of the population! (This is probably a good, sane thing.)

The four personality categories break down into:
  • How one focuses their attention or gets their energy (extrovert or introvert)
  • How one perceives or takes in information (sensing or intuition)
  • How one prefers to make decisions (thinking or feeling)
  • How one orients themselves to the external world (judgment or perception)
 Therefore, I'm:
  • E – Extraversion preferred to introversion: ENFJs often feel motivated by their interaction with people. They tend to enjoy a wide circle of acquaintances, and they gain energy in social situations (whereas introverts expend energy).
  • N – Intuition preferred to sensing: ENFJs tend to be more abstract than concrete. They focus their attention on the big picture rather than the details, and on future possibilities rather than immediate realities.
  • F – Feeling preferred to thinking: ENFJs tend to value personal considerations above objective criteria. When making decisions, they often give more weight to social implications than to logic.
  • J – Judgment preferred to perception: ENFJs tend to plan their activities and make decisions early. They derive a sense of control through predictability.
All so true! And it gets even spookier:
"Extraverted feeling types seek continuity through harmonious relationships and collective values. They excel at picking up on the tone of a situation and acting accordingly, adding warmth to a cool setting or turning sour into sweet. They naturally seek to know what people do well, what they enjoy, and where and how they work. They seem to have an infinite number of acquaintances from all walks of life and are always on the lookout for people in need and those who can help out. ENFJs weave and strengthen the collective fabric of social conventions and interactions. Inclusiveness is important and they are particularly sensitive to those who are excluded.

"ENFJs focus on others, feeling a glow when those around them are happy, and troubled when something is amiss. They are natural cheerleaders, often expressing support, gratitude, and encouragement, and heaping praise onto those they appreciate. They take note of what is being done and what needs doing, offering their assistance wherever necessary.

"ENFJs enjoy organizing group activities and tend to take their commitments seriously. In general, they are reliable and do not like to disappoint others. As team players and project leaders, they have a gift for rallying their players, focusing on what is being done right and each member's strengths. They are loyal and they expect loyalty. They carry conversations well, finding common ground with their speaker. They tend to find the correct and gracious way to respond in any given situation, no matter how tense or uncomfortable it is.

"Types with dominant extraverted feeling may uphold a wide range of values, simply because shared values are what create harmony. Some will profess the importance of tough-minded logic, justice and scholarly debate because their environments have these shared values. They tend to adopt the collective values of those in their social group."

I never realized it till now but I do have a wide range of values, and they fluctuate depending on what groups I'm with. It's always felt so organic that I never bothered dwelling on it, but now it makes sense -- I am this way because I do feel that shared values are what create harmony. Everything else in my personality profile is spot on as well. Fascinating.
Have you taken the Myers-Brigg Test? Which personality are you?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

When groovy goes wrong

Last night I dreamed I had gone back in time to the decade I am most obsessed with: the 1960s. 

It was the first time I've ever had this kind of dream and I was thrilled! Not only to finally see what it was like to live in the sixties (which has always been a fantasy of mine), but because I knew I was dreaming, that it wasn't some fluke "Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure" thing.

In my dream I woke up to myself standing on a sidewalk in Berkeley. I'm wearing a billowy creme minstrel shirt beneath a brown suede vest with extra long fringe. Groovy. It was something akin to this:


I beamed, so unbelievably happy that it had finally happened, that I had gone back in time to the sixties! Unlike movies and books where the main characters make it their mission the entire story to get back to their original time period, I remember thinking that I never wanted to go back to "now." I wanted to stay in that decade, well... forever. 

The one strange thing about it all was that my new black Coach bag had magically transported back in time with me, but I thought nothing of it as I clutched it and started down the street. Little did I know the bag would end becoming my nightmare.

Further down the street there was an outdoor farmers market. Lots of open-air booths with people peddling vegetables, woven jewelry...the usual farmers market fare. I walked through, smiling at all the free-spirited hippies who smiled back until I paused at a booth with a couple girls making and selling soap. These girls looked just like me except blond, and were up to their elbows in soup gunk, kneading it for their next batch. Folk music blared from the radio next to them and I watched for a while until I moved on down the market. I want to stay here foreverrrrr, I remember thinking.

That's when I realized -- my Coach bag wasn't in my hand anymore! Dread washed through me. All my money, everything, was in that bag -- which itself wasn't cheap. I dashed back, remembering I'd set it down on the soap-making table.

Hippie making soap (with glassy-eyed smile): "Heyyyy you're back."

Me: "Uh yeah, so I --"

Hippie, tilting her head toward the radio while hands are still in soap vat: "I know, you want to know the name of this song right?"

Me: "No, actually I --"

Hippie: "It's totally in, man, everybody's digging it. It's --"

Me: "I KNOW WHAT SONG THIS IS. It's Crosby, Stills and Nash singing Love the One You're With! Trust me, I know this song. It's going to still be popular decades from now."

Hippie, with a wide smile: "Right on man, you can see the future. We can dig thaaaat."

Her and other hippie girl start laughing slowly, like they'd had one too many 'ludes that morning.

Me: "Listen I put my purse down on this table and now it's gone. Did you see anyone who might have picked it up?"

I spend the next few minutes trying to get an answer out of the two hippie girls who are so drugged out of their mind that I probably looked like a giant bar of soap to them. My fantasy was quickly spiraling into a nightmare. I had visions of me, penniless that night, sleeping on some bench in a Greyhound bus depot. Finally my soap-maker friends called out to a guy at a booth near them. The guy looked like Peter Fonda in Easy Rider (heck, it might have actually been him, who knows).

Peter Fonda-lookalike: "Oh yeah, I saw that purse on the table. Bill picked it up."

Me: "What? Why would this Bill guy pick it up?"

PFL: "He picks up anything he finds, man."

Me: "Ok man, where can I find Bill, what does he look like?"

PFL: "Just chill out man, he'll be back. He comes here every couple days, he's got a long beard, a little dirty..."

Basically I was imagining that guy from Pursuit of Happyness who steals Will Smith's scanner and when confronted screams "No! I needed that! I wanted to back to the sixties man!" I shuddered, imagining his grubby fingers clutching my exquisite bag. Then....

I woke up.

In the words of the Double Rainbow guy: "What does this mean???" Why did I remember this dream so much more vividly than the rest? Is it a good thing I didn't live back then? Is it a sign I should open a homemade soap business?

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

A gaggle of lawyers walk into a bar...

Yesterday was the most boring day of my life. I can definitively say this. 

I came to work, sat in my desk chair, and did absolutely nothing for, oh, about 9 hours. Since I am paranoid about my personal data leaking out on my work computer (gmail passwords, etc.), I obsessively checked my phone every five minutes, eager for something -- anything -- to do (never have I looked so forward to receiving even a Borders coupon). 

D wasn't around for lunch yesterday since he took the day off for his interview with that law firm (fingers crossed -- it sounded like it went well), so I saw no point in venturing outside to brave the frigid afternoon temperatures for a walk, a trip to the accessories aisle at Forever 21, anything to get out of my dreadfully dull, quiet office environment where the only sound is my boss slurping his bowl of noodles at his desk. *shudders* When husband isn't available and secretary-friend is out, I usually lean on retail for an escape worthy of taking Ludes in the '70s (not that I've ever taken Ludes or lived during the '70s, but a girl can dream). How many pairs of boots does it take to make me happy? Take a gander at my closet someday.

ANYWAYS, just when I thought I'd go postal at my desk from listening to the same six Hall and Oates songs looped on my iShuffle for two hours, it was time to go. Glorious, succulent 5pm was here. Oh. Wait. I had to stay later because I had a work banquet to attend that evening. Splendid! Because what I really crave doing on a Monday night is not watching [insert any TLC show here] as I'm curled up and comfy in my pajamas. Nope, I'd much rather be out in what feels like sub-zero temperatures, tottering a few blocks in heels to hang out with a bunch of obnoxiously wealthy, white middle-aged lawyers. Well okay, I just might as long as I get a free steak dinner out of the deal....

LATER THAT NIGHT:

Just before being seated I'd been standing out on the patio in high heels (my feet were killing me) as I listened -- and sipped generously from my glass of pinot noir -- to a couple lawyers talk about all the transactional work they've been doing. 

Confession: In all the lawyer functions and firm meet-and-greets I've been to, I've found that litigators are SO much more fun to converse with than transactional attorneys. Litigators are used to going to trial, to speaking in front of crowds/juries, so they inevitably have a knack for telling stories, for public speaking. They know how to keep banter going at a brisk pace and they manage conversations well. Transactional attorneys, at least the ones I've met, are so socially awkward!! They're a lot like most of my coworkers. The two on the patio were no exception. Both of them were very nice, but I was the only one asking questions to keep the conversation going, and they would give three-, maybe four-word answers, staring around nervously after each response.

Sooo I moved our little party indoors to the main dining room after about 10 minutes of this, and they continued being awkward as we mingled with everyone else inside. Then I had a strange conversation with a legal PR lady who said she always thought about moving to my current town with her husband and kids, but decided against it because it was "too yuppie." Then she laughed. As if being "too yuppie" was an irritating little problem, like back acne or an ingrown toenail. If being yuppie is wrong, then I don't want to be right. 

By this point, everyone had become three sheets to the wind. Lawyers and other executives came up to introduce themselves with glassy eyes and sideways name-tags pinned to their suit lapels.

"Hiiii I'm sothlkdiopl..." they said.
"Very nice to meet you," I said back, shaking their hands and flashing my best Miss America vaseline smile, having no idea in hell what they just said. Exchange business cards, move on. Rinse and repeat.

Somehow I've been assigned to sit at "Table 1" -- only dubbed as such because head lawyer guy, who seems to be somewhat of a biggie (and is a litigator!), is sitting at it as well. Conveniently (or inconveniently, depending on how you look at it), he is sitting directly across from me. He gives the toast to the room before the dinner kicks off and is all jovial and Sean Connery-ish (in his later years), which isn't a bad thing. I got to order whatever I wanted off the menu, which was amazing since we were at a five-star seafood restaurant that I'd never probably eat at on my personal dime unless D landed a firm job, so of course I chose the most expensive thing because I could. Prime rib. Me gusta.

Sean Connery talked for days, telling us all the at the table his stories of big cases he's worked on and people he's met with (he went to Harvard Law so he knows many peeps). I found a friend in a Stanley Tucci-lookalike seated next to me who was just like Nigel from Devil Wears Prada. Personality and all.

All in all it wasn't altogether as terrible as I thought it would be (since Monday nights are usually my time to come home and veg, to prepare myself for the rest of the week). Plus it definitely made up for the first half of my dreary day, pinot noir and all.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Married Life

D and I just finished watching Up for the first time tonight and I loved it. I'm not a cartoon person at all (at least not anymore), but Up came highly recommended from friends and so I thought I'd give it a try. I'm so glad I did! It's a very poignant look at a life in hindsight and the ways in which memories can both be buoyant and weigh us down. There was one scene in particular that showed a montage of the main character's married life with his wife that made me bawl the entire way through. 

What is it with a well-done married life montage that gets people so emotional? Maybe it's because I, like most people who watched it with a significant other, can't help but see ourselves as the characters. And we know that, like most good things, it will eventually -- someday -- come to an end?:

 

Saturday, November 6, 2010

What does your muse look like?

For director Pedro Almodovar, it's Penelope Cruz

Sylvia was Marcello's muse in La Dolce Vita

Quentin Tarantino adores Uma Thurman

Grace Kelly was Hitchcock's inspiration

In American Beauty, Mena Suvari played Kevin Spacey's muse

For Martin Scorcese, Leonardo DiCaprio (and Robert DeNiro) are his muses
Director Federico Fellini found himself in Marcello Mastroianni
Audrey Hepburn was it for designer Givenchy
And of course, my most favorite muse in film history: Claudia Cardinale in 8 1/2

Who is your muse?

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

NaNoWriMo = MIA?


I'm two, no three, days into National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) and I'm already starting to lag in blogging. How are there enough hours in the day to novel, blog and work at a day job?? Ugh. All I'm saying is this better not increase the frequency of suspicious gray hairs on my head that have become a tad more prevalent and just a smidge less hidden in the last few months. (When I go all gray is when I'm going full-blonde. Look out, Marilyn.)

Anyway I'm about 10 pages into my third novel and things aren't going as splendidly as they were last November. But I suppose this is to be expected since I now constantly feel like I'm under a debilitating time crunch with...well...everything. My commute takes FORever (two hours each day), and once I get home I need dinner. So I either settle for something canned or bagged from Trader Joe's (hopefully along with some semblance of a salad) or D and I hit up our favorite eatery (Taco Bell). After that, daily tasks like walking Fluffhead and taking a shower are in order, running any errands like toilet paper trips to Target come after, and by the time I'm ready to sit down and crank this puppy out I'm already stressing that I have to wake up early (6am, ouch) for my hour-long commute the next morning and my subsequent 9-hour day. 

Oy. Just chronicling it exhausts me. 

But I keep plugging away anyway. I refuse to let it be an excuse to not do NaNoWriMo. I'm still on par with where I should be on word count and I do love my story (even if it's not being told as perfectly as it should). That's why they call it a first draft, right? I've got an amazing title for it that I'm a bit secretive about, but I will let you in on the fact that I'm attempting a chick lit book (it's about time, right?). Here's the gist:

Main character loses her marketing job (like most of America) and decides after months of no good job leads to market herself as a brand to try and find a rich husband. Then comes a makeover after which hilarious dates ensue. There are winners, losers, extraordinarily excessive hedge fund banquets and upper-crust sailboat regattas with the disgustingly wealthy. But through it all, in her quest to secure her future with a rich man, she begins falling in love with a handsome barista -- more so than with any of her rich Harvard- and Stanford-educated prospects -- who may be hiding just the secret she's been looking so hard to find.

Phew. Basically that's what it's about and I know it sounds totally cliche but the comedy is in the details and I'm not writing a Pulitzer here, just what I hope is a fun beach read.