Thursday, September 30, 2010

Well, if Panda Express says so...

...then it MUST be true:

Is this an omen of things to come? Joyful days of bliss, filled with sunshine and pirouetting flutists, uninterrupted reading/writing time and endless bags of Haribo gummi bears? Days that never again include going back to the Gulag office? Days that know no bounds, including those of the 9 to 5 variety? If your "fortune" holds true, Panda, then I will feast on your orange chicken for life.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Italy is not "alright"

Venice was a major maritime power during the Middle Ages and Renaissance, a staging area for the Crusades and an important center of commerce and art in the 13th century up to the end of the 17th century. I guess it's...alright....
Today at work my friend, B (the one who got proposed to in Paris), signed online to chat for a second while she and her fiance waited in Rome for their flight back home.

This was a big trip that meant more than just that new ring on her finger -- B and Co. had never been to Europe before. They'd saved up for nearly a year for this 10-day trip and were excited to finally see what all the fuss about Europe was about.  They spent the first three days and nights in Paris, which of course is one of the most amazing cities in the world and deserves much more time than just three days, but they adored it all the same. According to her, if she ever wins the lottery she's planning to buy a vacation home there (cue the millions of others -- including me -- who are pining for Parisian vacation homes of their own). 

With her second leg of the trip done, I asked today how she had liked Italy. Her answer?

"It was alright."

And this is basically how I inwardly (thus silently) responded to that answer: 

"Are you *%$@^$# kidding me?"

Okay, so maybe I'm a little biased about Italy. It is my favorite country on Earth and I've had many spectacular memories on that boot-shaped land mass, so perhaps I took it more personally than I should have. It's not like she was trying to insult me, after all, and everyone is entitled to their own opinion. I just don't think it's fair to spend only FIVE DAYS in an entire country and think you can make an accurate assessment about it -- especially a country as culturally and historically rich as Italy. (This same thinking would go for any European country. No wonder she liked the city of Paris since she spent three whole days there, almost the equivalent amount of time she spent exploring the entire country of Italy.) 

After leaving Paris a day later than expected due to an airport strike, B and Co. arrived in Venice at 6pm and left the following morning. Venice is one of my favorite cities and I know for a fact that you absolutely can't see it all in under three days, minus in under 24 hours. But c'est la vie. Next stop for them was two nights in Florence, which she said "wasn't what she expected." When I asked what she was expecting, she described something that sounded more like the real Tuscan countryside, a medieval village like Sienna perhaps, surrounded by rolling vineyards and picnic baskets and people pedaling past on old Italian bicycles with baskets full of produce attached to the fronts. Regardless -- Florence is an awesome city! Even if it's not what you expected, the difference in perception versus reality is delightful on its own. 

ANYWAY, they spent their last two nights in Rome (only two nights for the former capital of the world -- I'm dying inside!) She said she liked it but it was too touristy. Again, wrong time of year to go, and what did she expect? It's still warm there and the summer crowds are only beginning to wind down since there's...well...a lot to see there. It was, at one time, only the capital of the entire Roman Empire for, oh, 700 years.

No offense to B, but I guess my problem is that I hate when people go Europe (or anywhere, really) for the first time, try to cram 3,000 cities into a week or two, and then grumble about how it wasn't that great, or it wasn't what they expected it to be, or it was just "alright." No one could possibly capture the essence of any one of those sprawling cities in so little time.

So no. Italy is not "alright." It's fabulous.

Monday, September 27, 2010

A reminder that life is short and such

At 6am this morning our three alarms went off like they do every weekday. (Yes, it takes three alarms to wake us up.) As my husband reached to turn his phone alarm off, he sleepily scanned through his inbox the way he does every weekday before 6:30am. But this morning, it was different. His pause on one particular email was too long. 

"My grandfather died," he said suddenly, sitting up.

"What?" I murmured.

This couldn't be happening. I must still be asleep.

"He had an accident," my husband said, unclear of what happened. As he dialed his father, who was on his way down to be with his grandmother, it all felt surreal. His grandparents just stayed with us for a whole weekend two weeks ago on their way back from an Alaskan cruise. We'd just had steak dinners with them, just toasted cocktails over those dinners to our impending visit to see them soon in Arizona, where they live. This couldn't be possible.

What was worse was when my husband found out what the accident entailed. It wasn't a fall or a car accident (both equally tragic), but instead he'd shot himself in the head. They say it was an accident, that he slept with a gun by his bed every night for safety and that he was alone in the bedroom when it happened, but who knows until the report comes back. I only met him twice so I barely knew him but both times we met he acted like he'd known me forever, even likened me to "Calamity Jane, since I had what he called a "spark" and could "hold my own with men." I can't stop thinking about how when they visited two weeks ago, my husband and I watched them dance together in our living room to Frank Sinatra, and now he's...gone. We're in shock about how sudden it was, how when we dropped them off at the airport we had no clue it would be the last time we'd see him.

And the poor grandmother. They had their whole retirement ahead of them. They were planning to have a big family party this Christmas, and were planning to take a cruise to the Bahamas next year. But now she's alone, with that awful last image of him probably emblazoned onto her brain when she ran into the room and discovered him dead. I feel so sorry for her. Even though she has family, she and her husband were her nucleus, together for over 30 years. I'm still trying to make sense of it all. Somehow it just doesn't seem fair.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Highs and lows, Sept. 26th edition

I've decided to keep track of my high/low point every week. There will often be more than one in each category, which I suppose defeats the purpose of narrowing it down to only two total, but I've always been a fan of defeating purposes so here goes:


I had two highs this week. First, I splurged and bought a new leather Coach bag that I wasn't in the market for but accidentally came across while shopping with my secretary.

It was lunchtime at work and the two of us needed an escape involving the clothing racks at Bloomingdales. On the way we stopped in at Nordstroms, where I spotted a (and my future) Sabrina bag thrown carelessly on a clearance table. Right then I knew that it was all over. Somehow, miraculously, I left without the bag, thinking I'd find it cheaper online. But that night, after all Internet searches ended in a dead end, I could barely fall asleep the bag so consumed my thoughts. I had to have it, kind of like SJP with her bottle of perfume.

The next day (which I had called in sick for) passed without incident yet thoughts of the bag persisted. I tried to talk myself out of it, that it was a frivolous, pricey purchase, that I had more than enough bags. But the talking continually led way to Googling images of the thing...of talking about it over dinner like I'd fallen in love with another man. Another sunset, another sunrise. As I suited up for work I knew I would be buying it that day.

Thankfully, after picturing myself crying in the shower that night to Boy George's "Crying Game" when I saw that the bag was gone upon my arrival, the salespeople found one last Sabrina bag. On a retail high, I was so thrilled leaving the store with it in hand that nothing at the office could ruin the rest of my day. It was like I was walking in tall cotton.

My other high was all the time I got to spend with my husband this weekend. After many weeks of being busy with plans, my husband and I stayed in to watch a movie and nosh on yummy food in our pajamas on Saturday night. He even surprised me with an entire pumpkin pie and a slice of german chocolate cake, just because he knew I'd "like them." I am so lucky to share my life with such a kind, loving man. (Reminder to self: Stop taking out all your stress on him, he doesn't deserve it.) The next morning he made me a big breakfast of pancakes, coffee, and eggs scrambled with sausage, peppers and cheddar (we were out of goat cheese). Over breakfast he kept telling me how beautiful I was even though I insisted no-makeup-con-morning-face was not the best look for me. Good food, good man, good weekend.


Speaking of that Saturday night I was excited to watch The Italian Job since I'd never seen it before (I know, I was born under a rock), but we couldn't find one. copy. anywhere. It's totally one of those movies that's stuck near the cash register at a Marshalls or a TJ Maxx, but no. No copies at Target or Best Buy, and Blockbuster only had new copies -- at $20 a piece. Um, 2002 called, it wants its prices back. Who still pays $20 for a DVD?? They were out of a rental copy, so we checked RedBox, BlueBox, all kinds of boxes. Nothing. Of course it wasn't watch-it-now on Netflix either, and it was $4 -- $4!! -- to rent on iTunes. Ridiculous, since you can buy it on Amazon for the same price. So we watched Presumed Innocent with Harrison Ford instead. But now I've made it my mission to find The Italian Job. So help me, God, I will find a copy. *raises fist to sky*

Saturday, September 25, 2010


What I should be doing every weekend.
Normally I'd be elated about today being Friday. Instead I am drained, abrasive and particularly sorry about an episode I had at lunch earlier with my husband. Before going further I should preface this post with the fact that I'm prone to extreme pissiness (including uncalled-for outbursts toward loved ones) when I have no other outlet to vent my frustration. (It might be time to take up kickboxing again, or make like Regina George and join a competitive lacrosse team.)

Anyway I was supposed to meet up with my husband at 12:30 for our 1-hour lunch but got stuck in a God-awful meeting that went way over schedule and made me seriously think of gouging my eyeballs out with the nearest ballpoint pen to put myself out of my misery. After the meeting was (finally) over, I dashed out of the office and down the street, meeting up with my husband who'd already been waiting for 30 minutes. There went half our lunch break. Ugh.

So what did I do next? I yelled at him. Totally uncalled for, but I was so angry about the meeting, about the entire day, my entire decision in taking this job and making him give up his dream job just so I'd wind up complaining about mine daily. (None of this is an excuse, by the way, to lash out at poor, unsuspecting husband who just wanted to share a pastrami sandwich with his wife on a sunny afternoon.) But with me, when it rains it pours. A bad day or week or month can make me feel like my life is falling apart indefinitely. Today proved no different.

Husband, smiling on street corner: "Hi!"

Me, with a scowl: "Hey."

Husband: "I take it the meeting didn't --"

Me: "GOD, I don't want to talk about the meeting! I don't want to talk about work at all, okay?"


Me: "When are you going to start networking, huh? How do you expect to find a job just looking at job boards? Why don't you get your crap together and get started networking already."*

* - Saying this makes me SUCH a monster. I fully realize I have no right to even utter these words; it's my fault, after all, that he doesn't have a full-time job and is instead getting a three-month stipend while he works for a federal office. It was all for me. And now he's got nothing. No prospects, nothing. Just a wretched wife who makes disgusting accusations as though he didn't have the world, at one point, in the palm of his hand. Moral of the story: I should not have launched into the above tirade without counting to 10 and calming down.

Husband (starting to walk away, no more smile): "I can't believe you."

Me: "Where are you going?"

Husband: "Back to work. I don't want to have lunch with you if you're going to talk to me like that."

A few more words were exchanged, more me than him, and that's when he whipped around and with a hurt look on his face told me he understands I'm frustrated with how everything turned out, but that I can't keep taking it out on him or else someday soon I was going to "find myself alone." Ouch. Of course this comment not only stung but succeeded in antagonizing me and I was about -- about -- to blurt out the most TERRIBLE THING EVER...:

"Oh yeah? Well at least maybe then I'd find someone successful!"

So, so bad. LUCKILY I bit my tongue right before these words came out because I knew it was only the anger talking. It's a lie (I will always love him regardless of how successful he is) and it might make me feel better in the heat of the moment, but all it would do is succeed in hurting him deeply.

And maybe that's the problem. Maybe I want him to be as miserable as I am now, so I have someone to commiserate with. But that's ridiculous and such a waste of energy. Even with his job situation he manages to stay positive. I love him for that. Maybe I do just need an invigorating outlet to release all my pent-up frustration. Competitive racquetball anyone?

It's only Friday and I'm already dreading having to go in on Monday. Something is seriously wrong with this scenario.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Fool if you think it's over

So I'm in what Duck Philips would call a “sticky wicket.”

The reason (which I publicly glossed over in my other blog) why I was moving to more anonymous territory was because I was “found out” at work. Not a big deal, right? What I do outside of work is my business and I'm fully entitled to own and maintain my own personal blog.

But in the heat of a particularly terrible and stressful week recently, I made the mistake of mentioning work on the blog. Again, fully within my rights. Was what I wrote, a tongue-in-cheek look at my management style, that bad? No. (Hyperbole, as always, was generously used). Could what I have written been worse? Yes. Judging from my track record of making light of people in situations I'm silently thanking GOD I refrained from poking fun at anyone but myself in said post. Was it a smart thing to do, venting my frustrations about work on a blog that I THOUGHT was unknown to coworkers? Probably not, no.

But in my defense, that week and all weeks before and after have been been simply dreadful (which I'll save for another post). The day I wrote the “incriminating” blog post I was bawling my eyes out at lunch to my husband, who had elicited my meltdown by simply asking how my workday was going. As I choked on my sobs I could barely breathe I was so frustrated and stressed out. It was terrible. The rest of that day I spent puffy-eyed behind a pair of Wayfarers at my desk, silently cursing my decision to ever take the stupid job. Oh, and this is after the stress caused me to miss my period earlier in the month. (I've since gotten it, not coincidentally, on the day I called in sick last week and had a blissful 24-hour time span to relax.)

The problem is I don't like the atmosphere at work. There's no such thing as general common courtesy, or social etiquette, or anything, but there's lots of passive aggression, lots of eye rolling. It makes working there very, very hard and now it's even worse because I made the impulsive decision to go home and blog about the tip-of-my iceberg of frustrations. Little did I know that I was being watched.

Recently one of my coworkers -- who's been throwing me under the bus from the beginning -- confronted me in private about the blog post. (For the record I have NO idea how he/she found it, but I have a sneaking suspicion he/she is buddies with the IT guy and he's been perusing my work computer to troll for incriminating “gossipy” information to pass on. Not cool.) I assumed that after our talk he/she would go tell my boss, which is fully within his/her right to do. But no, coming to me was an after-thought. Not only did he/she first circulate it to the entire office to smear my name, they then went and talked to my boss about it BEFORE coming to me, because they wanted to “know how to approach me,” which is complete bullshit. He/she knows exactly what they're doing and I couldn't believe how conniving and mean they were in their approach to the situation.

Luckily my boss, L, thought the whole thing to be petty and largely stayed out of it. L and I had a private discussion about it and that was that. But now the office atmosphere is even more toxic and I honestly don't know how much longer I can “hang in there.” No amount of money is worth this kind of stress and workplace bullying. What I hate the most about the bullying is that it's done so passive aggressively that it's hard to tack down and confront.

Basically taking this job and having my husband turn down his six-figure offer down south was THE WORST DECISION OF MY LIFE. I have tried my hardest to live a life with no regrets and had succeeded until I took this job. I was wooed by the notoriety of the company and the stellar income they offered, and didn't stop to question whether they were actually a good fit for me. (Though how would I have known about the office vibe from just my interview?) Either way, I was a fool.

Now I'm crying more often, snapping at my husband over trivial things, and dreading going to sleep at night because I know that in the morning I will have to traipse to the Gulag. I kind of feel like Meg Ryan in French Kiss when she goes to Paris to try and win back her husband and instead runs into terrible luck. Standing in a phonebooth near the Arc de Triomphe, weeping about her misery, she raises one fist in the air and squeaks “I will triumph!”

I could only wish that my now-miserable days were spent in Paris having my luggage stolen. Heck I would even walk the the red light district in Montmartre if it meant I no longer had to do this. But as I get pulled deeper into the mire, I feel myself losing sight of who I am and what I want. I want to cry but I can't. I am becoming numb.

I have no idea how I will triumph.