Tuesday, November 25, 2008

We've got the vision- Now let's have some fun

The apartment is ours.

I got the news last Friday. The combination of this, my latte, and no food all day, plus the decision to go see Tiesto on December 17th had me shaking like a small dog in the bath.

I have done a good amount of new things recently. That new Jim Carrey movie is coming out, and I feel like that character and I will have a lot in common with the experience of learning to say "Yes" to new experiences.

Thursday: I met up with an old friend at Bay 13 in the Pearl, and I actually ate a meal of sushi. Yellowtail, Ahi, and eel in all their slippery, chewy goodness. I really like when you meet up with an old friend, and part of your conversation really affirms why you became friends in the first place- in this case, it was a lively discussion about our aversion to ending sentences with a preposition, and the awkward pauses we take to correct ourselves.

Friday: I was approved for my first apartment in the big city! I also got (unfairly) chased out of a restaurant (Montage) at 2:00 AM and swore at the waitress. This was not my finest moment, made even less cool by the fact that we had to wait for a cab for 15 minutes under the Morrison Bridge after being escorted out forcefully. RIP best macaroni and cheese in the city... I don't believe I will be welcome there again.

Saturday: I painted the bonus room for my mother. It's a lovely shade of blue-green and not only did I paint the wall, but I cleaned up after myself, too.
I also managed to make it to Dixie in Portland, for the second time in a weekend, which is a new thing, but not one of which I'm necessarily proud. Yikes.

Sunday: I finally started watching Arrested Development. The Dance Fighter has been hounding me to do this for about a year now, and I guess I never felt like I had the time. But I have it now, and wow, have I wasted a LOT of it on the Bluth family. I may or may not have watched 11 episodes on Sunday, alone. Stop judging me.

Monday: For the first time since I can remember, I went to bed before 10:30 without the excuse of being sick, having to wake up really early, or being drunk and passing out.

In addition to the things mentioned above, I have a newfound appreciation for the following:
- Honeycrisp apples. For a girl who has never loved apples, these things are freakin' gold.

- Parking in the garage. How did I ever live in a world where I parked on the street? I have pilfered my mother's garage door opener, since she was out of town last week, and I don't think I'm going to give it back.

-MGMT. Listen. Listen. Listen.

"Yeah, this is our decision to live fast and die young/ We've got the vision- now let's have some fun. Yeah it's overwhelming but what else can we do? Get jobs in offices and wake up for the morning commute?"

I understand the meaning of "living for the weekends" these days.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Something to Sleep On

If Little Roomie and I EVER hear back from this rental management guy, I am going to a) freak out with joy
b) need a new room

I have to admit, that few things terrify me as much as decorating a whole room. It is an overwhelming task to me, and it's seriously something I need to get over. As much as I thought about being an Interior Designer as a kid, and as much as I l.o.v.e. home decor mags, stores, paint swatches etc. it all gives me the heebie jeebies.
So I found these to help me out. I want a bedroom like this:
In stark contrast to what my spaces actually look like, I don't like a lot IN them, furniture wise. My room will be carpeted, so it won't have this super clean and fresh look like the floors in this room, but I like the abundance of white, and light.
Again, I might be drawn to the wood floors, but the pillows are extravagant, which is a must for me. I love the prominently placed books, the dramatic curtains, and again, the light.
Must have a white bed, and I'm scheming to do something not quite as dramatic with framed pictures, but inspired by this.
Chandelier. Adore. White and light? Yes. I envy the splash of color in here- making that kind of decision makes me sweat. I choose white dishes at IKEA, the most simple glass and silverware, and leave walls white so I don't have to make a decision. Yikes. (This bed needs a napper in it. Don't worry- I'll get right on that).
I mean, doesn't everyone want a tree growing out of their floor and through their roof? Permanent tree house!
I could die in this room. I could also wake up in it every day and be perfectly pleased, probably mainly in part to those pink peonies! I won't be having a dramatic headboard like that, but I like a lot of the small touches in this room.

I would credit the photos but I can't remember where I got them. Oops. Any ideas from you??

Winning Them Over at Work

If you know me, you know winning is kind of important to me.

I have been trying to win at work in a few ways recently, and I have been met with mixed success.

The first thing I've been trying to win at is being sneaky enough to check Facebook, Gmail, this blog, my friends' blogs, wedding planning sites, Pandora, Gofugyourself.com, blogs of random people, YouTube, Wikipedia, CNN, Craig's List, and Google Image Searches of things I want to look at (lately: peonies, room decor inspiration, America's Next Top Model Cycle 11) WITHOUT getting caught by my manager Alan.
Alan is a quiet walker, and often times I don't notice him in my personal space if my headphones are on until he is literally dropping a document in front of my face. This has happened and it is slightly embarassing. Especially because the first time, I was taking an IQ test. Lately though, I've been kicking ass at this game (although I'm sure the joke will eventually be on me, and someone in the basement is monitoring my every key stroke, and is probably wondering why I REALLY NEEDED to look up that CNN link on People Mag's 2008 Sexiest Man Alive (Hugh Jackman, in case you were wondering) and I am going to lose my job).

Another thing I've been trying to beat is the actual software application my company has built. See, from the beginning, we've been mortal enemies, and it never wants me to succeed, so I've honestly spent the last few days trying to use it to withdraw someone's account and process the batch job successfully, so that the account status turns to withdrawn and- oh. Oh, no. I am NOT going to start talking about work like that! Job-1, Me- 0. You win this time...

The most important thing I've been trying to win here at the office is everyone else's affection.
I hate being The New Kid, and I hate being a drag on everyone's time when they have to train me and answer questions. So it is important to me to at least reward them with good company, and muffins every once in a while. That, paired with a few extra smiles, corny jokes, "thank yous", and doing their grunt work, I think they finally like me.
It's a win-win situation.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

To Grandmother's House

I slept in The Pink Room. The queen sized bed of floral would swallow me whole as a kid, a little girl swaddled in her grandmother's silken nighties ("They're just rayon, Dear").
In a morning ritual we developed, I would slink down the interminably long hallway, over the black slate entry way, across the oriental rug in the dining room, and I would notch my tiny fingers into the shuttered doors between the kitchen and the dining room, and I would be still. I would let the air around me stop moving, and let there be no movement, save for the rustle of the newspaper my grandmother was holding as she read it and drank her coffee in the rust-red rocking chair, always with her back to me. I was a fierce thing, a hunter (for attention), and when the moment was right, I would leap from the dining room practically into the newspaper and scare the beejeezus out of my poor darling Grandma, who would never shriek, but let out a satisfying holler as I rolled into a giggle on her lap. She was never angry in those moments, but full of love and understanding.

Other times, when I was older and my brother spent the night too (more rarely than I), I would sleep in one of the twin beds in The Blue Room, he in the other. The smell is different in there- not of Grandma's fur coats in The Pink Room closet, but of Papa's Pendleton shirts- and I swear I could always detect the scent of a box of See's Candies on the top shelf. It wasn't wishful thinking, as I would often drag a chair to the closet and swat the box down, nibbling the edges of the smooth milk chocolate treasures: devour the raspberry and maple. Leave the coconut, always.
When I slept in The Blue Room, Papa would make a deal with me. If I was asleep by the time he checked on me after his evening shower, he would give me fifty cents, and would place it right on the corner of the dresser, which is between the two beds.
I always got the fifty cents (but I was never actually asleep).

For being such a brat, it is remarkable how much time they let me spend over there.
I'm very fortunate, as both of my fathers' parents and my mother's mother all live in a nearby suburb, and have for my whole life. What's more, is that they live within two blocks of each other, and I, being the first grandchild on either side, was doted upon heavily. I think it explains a lot.

My mother's mother is more of an acquired taste: she and I have bonded in recent years over similar interests in luxury retail and foreign travel. But as a little kid, I only had eyes for Grandma.

She talks often, even now, of her childhood in Colombia and New York City. We would bake cakes "from el-scratch-o" (her words, now mine) and make taffy in cinnamon, and peppermint. The splattered pages of her Betty Crocker were my Bible- my ambition and guide to being a woman. A woman who makes a damn good apple pie, a Baked Alaska for dinner parties, a woman who can wear an apron well. We built a doll house together, and furnished it fully. We rode the bus when her eyesight got too poor to drive. We went to the park. We played Bingo. I turned the exercise band they had tied to their couch in the downstairs living room into my own personal bungee-jump (when you weigh 40 pounds and affix a giant rubber band around your middle, and run across the length of the room and let the force of the band bring you flying back to the sofa, you can be entertained for hours. Days) and she would let me. Grandma and Papa had cable before we did, so I got to watch all the good Nickelodeon shows there in the gray recliner. She attempted to teach me to crochet. She taught me to use a typewriter and a sewing machine. She let me decorate her house for Christmas..when I was five. Being Catholic, her Nativity Scene and Creche were way more complicated than my own at home, and I could never figure out why there were so many baby Jesuses (Jeesi? What is the plural?) at varying stages of life. But she let me cram them all into the manger, whereas my own mother liked them spaced out. "They came all the way to see him, and you're going to make them wait in the COLD, MOM?"
"Honey, the cow does NOT need to be the closest figure to Jesus."
Grandma and I always had fun.

It turns out, we still do.
Due to some health complications for Papa following his hip replacement surgery this week, he had to go back into the hospital. My parents were fielding phone calls about it last night and the only thing I could think of was that I didn't want Grandma to be home by herself. My mother's mother lives alone, and I never go spend the night with her, but she's been a widow for fifty-something years, so I don't think about it. Grandma isn't used to it, and what's more, she can't see anything anymore (Thanks, Macular Degeneration- looking forward to meeting you) and plus, she used to be a Stanford educated nurse, and is rather upset she can't properly care for her ailing husband.

So last night, in the rain, I drove the drive to Grandma's. I called her and confirmed that yes, she would like the company, and gathered up my work things and drove over right way.

We didn't bake, and I brought my own nightgown this time, and I didn't scare the hell out of her this morning. Instead, I helped her be the independent adult she always raised me to be by helping her with little things around the house. We transferred scrawled phone numbers ("In my inimitable hand writing" she joked) on scraps of paper to blocky, printed text on card stock, to be placed in plastic sheets in her hand-made phone book. We sorted the mail (I reading aloud, she dictating which bag to drop it into), and I gathered the bath mats to be washed, and I made Papa's bed, and I gleaned all the dead flowers from the arrangement and left the lush ones.

I slept in The Blue Room.
"I will die without that house, I will die without them," something inside me whispers. I know I won't. I know the day will come. I know I will never be ready for it.
Until then, I know I will do my best to take care of them, and to read aloud to them, and to put them to bed, and to allow this Thing to come full circle, as it is bound to do.

I need to start thinking about these things, or before I know it, the news of their passing will sneak up on me in the morning while I am drinking my coffee and it will scare the sense out of me and I will shriek and cry instead of taking it in stride, with understanding and with love.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Food For My Thoughts

There is a little cafe in my building. It isn't much of a cafe, just a hole in the wall - literally - where you can order any number of breakfasty or lunchy food items. It's a little expensive, but for the convenience of not having to go out to my car and drag my unhemmed pants through the wet parking lot to drive somewhere and pay a little less, it's totally worth it.

Besides great tuna melts and perfectly toasted bagels with a luxurious amount of cream cheese, the best thing about the UC Cafe is David.
David comes in every morning and prints up the Daily Specials, and tacks it to the board near the menu. The whole set up is very professional, and the specials are usually unique and tasty.

David is Asian, and has a thick accent, though I have not asked him where he was born, yet. He ususally does the asking. And the teasing. And the political ranting. And the interrogating.
He is great.

My first encounter with him was slightly embarassing, since I didn't know at the time that he took debit cards, and assumed I could only pay with cash. Since I typically carry about 45 cents, some lint, and a button or two, this posed a problem. I somehow scraped together a 1.75 that first day and he teased me saying, "I know how budget tight. You wait for first paycheck, and you come back!"

Sometimes he asks me about myself. He knows where I went to school and what I majored in, and has used this against me many times when I can't come up with anything intelligent to say to his NPR-driven questions about Prop 8 and Sarah Palin. "You Political Science expert. I expected more from you!"

He's a tough sell, David. "You really think that? So uncreative. Same as everyone says."
"You still hate your job? What do you really want to do?"

Now I get a little nervous when I go get a sandwich. I have to be on my A-Game, or David will get upset. I'm always worried he will some day just have had enough of me and my coy side-stepping of tough questions and just refuse to serve me. That my lunch hangs in the balance, on the condition that I answer his latest query sufficiently, and that since he is bored, my insights or opinions are currency I barter for food with. "Come on, what do you really think? Don't ask me that, I just asked you. You know, forget it. You don't deserve this soup. No soup for you."

That last scene may have been borrowed from a Seinfeld episode, but sometimes I am pretty sure it's on the verge of happening.

I like that David expects a lot from me. I like that he is intelligent, and engaging, and probably would be doing something else for a career if he could afford to. I like that he puts sweet pickles in my tuna melts, and I like that he is generally the only person I look forward to seeing at work every day.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Thanks for Giving

How fantastic is it that there is a holiday in our culture where you get to celebrate being THANKFUL?
I know it's a few weeks away, but I am so overwhelmed with things I'm thankful for, even as I've struggled through these past few months, that I want to make this whole month about being grateful and humbled by all the gifts in my life.

First and foremost, I am beyond thankful for my American citizenship and heritage. Last night, I assembled with some friends and watched the election coverage, and even though I may not have voted for him, I will earnestly and sincerely accept Barack Obama as my president. The passion that my fellow countrymen showed in the months leading up to this election, the interest that my peers exhibited, and the promises of the politicians campaigning all highlight what a gift it is to be able to choose, to be heard, to have a say.
Though I am not thankful for war, I am grateful for every man and woman who has ever fought to preserve my freedom and this way of life. I have traveled, I have fallen in love with foreign cities, but this is my home, and these are my ideals, too. We are the lucky ones.
Through our fair share of ugly mistakes, the people of our country have chosen to progress, and not simply for the sake of change, but for positive change- to become more humane and more just. We proved this last night, and I am proud.

On a smaller scale, I am thankful for my family, especially for the person my brother is becoming. I am thankful for our home, and for our security, and for the health and wellness of our extended family. I am thankful for my job and the income it provides, though I hate the job itself and what I'm letting it do to me, and am thankful for my paid vacation time.

Which means I am also thankful for the weekend I got to spend in California with my Beautiful Ba, and the relaxation and relief it brought me. I am grateful for my friends, and for their support and humor and sincerity and goodness. I am grateful for the love I know and have known- and that even though I realized today I have not seen You in three months, I am grateful for the best of things we shared, and that you are not holding me back.