Friday, July 23, 2010

Bags

I was purchasing some beach reading for my upcoming vacation at Barnes & Noble and needed a pen to sign the credit receipt. I asked the cashier for one. I might have had one on me, but I knew I could never find it easily in the giant bag I was carrying.

How did I get to this point?

In college I did what was expected of me and ditched the traditional purse for the more utilitarian backpack. While walking around campus I didn’t need to be carrying anything other than books, pens, notebooks, and my key. When I wasn’t going to class, I never needed more than my room key and ID card, both of which would fit nicely in my pocket, provided I was wearing clothes with pockets. My ID card holder/key fob combo could also hold small amounts of money and driver’s license if need be. Things that didn’t fit in my pockets and didn’t need to be transported via backpack were rarely necessary.

Post college I took on the same attitude. When I went out, I much preferred to carry things like a man. The wallet went in one pocket and the keys in another. I never needed more than that. Wallets were smaller and thinner in those days because they didn’t hold much. I always felt so liberated to not be carrying a purse, and then always be worried about where to put it or being victim of a purse snatcher.

So why is it that twenty years later I’m carrying the biggest, most burdensome bag ever?

First of all, the wallet just can’t fit in a pocket anymore. Wallets don’t just carry a driver’s license, some money, car info, and single credit card. Now my wallet holds my personal credit card, my company credit card, my HSA credit card, and a debit card. It carries my insurance cards. It carries the various preferred shopper’s cards from the places I regularly shop. Forget photos of loved ones. The only other photo in that wallet is the one of me on my ID card for my New York office building. The wallet is so thick that it doesn’t even fit into some of my smaller bags.

Beyond the wallet, I now have to carry more than just keys and the emergency tampon along with my necessary lip balm. Nope . I have to carry a cell phone, a note book, pens, lipstick for post-lunch touch-ups, and, four out of 7 days, a laptop computer along the power cord. If I’m visiting clients, I have to carry around company literature to hand out. When I’m commuting on the train, I also like to have a book or magazine to help pass the time. If I’m with Kevin, it’s likely that he may ask me to put his books and papers in my bag as well.

Did I mention keys? My keys are an entity unto themselves. In college it was just my room key. Then I graduated and I had a single house key and a single car key. Now I have the key to the outer door of my building, the key to my apartment, the key to my mailbox, a key to my mother’s place, an electronic fob to get into my office building after hours, and the key to my actual office door. My car keys don’t even fit on the same ring and I have to carry them separately.

I never liked carrying a purse. I always hated the burden of always having to keep a hand on a bag to avoid theft or simply to avoid having it bang against my body while I walked. In college I had the revelation one day that it was really dumb to carry a backpack one-shoulder style. I might as well go back to carrying a purse like I did in high school. I found that if I wore my backpack the way it was meant to be worn and actually slip my other arm through the second strap, I could walk upright and have both hands free. It was the most liberating thing ever, especially when it showed everyone that I really didn’t care what they thought of me. I was making myself more comfortable and thumbing my nose at conformity at the same time.

It was also during the collegiate and post-collegiate years that fanny packs came into fashion for a brief time. Talk about liberating! As the stuff I needed to carry was beginning to outgrow the confines of my pockets, but was still not enough to fill a backpack, I could put that stuff in a fanny pack and still be able to walk straight and tall and have both hands free. Too bad fanny packs had their day in the sun and then became too dorky even for me to want to be seen with one. I confess I will still use them in amusement parks and other excursions where I will be walking around all day (they are a godsend on long trail rides when you need a place to store both cameras and toilet paper), but I’d never be seen walking around the streets of New York City with one.

So I have come to a point in my life when I have to not only carry a purse, but I have to carry a big purse. Having a big purse is a big pain. It’s heavy (when my laptop is in it), it’s awkward. I have trouble finding things in it. I don’t really have much choice though. I can carry something smaller on weekends and vacations, but I when it comes to work, it has to be the big bag.

At least I have a beautiful new bag. My mother bought me a lovely Dooney & Bourke bag for my birthday. It’s the kind of bag I would never buy for myself because I would never be able to justify the expense. I don’t have much truck with designer bags (another non-conformity thing), but this one is very elegant and understated. I just don’t like splashy logo bags that scream, “I’m a Coach/Louis Vuitton/Gucci/Etc. My owner paid a lot of money for me. Aren’t you impressed that my owner has that much money?” I don’t want to carry the same bag everyone else is carrying. It doesn’t appear that I currently am.

So is being forced to carry a big expensive bag a sign that I have grown up? God I hope not!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Art of the RSVP

In the past 15 years I have thrown countless dinner parties, one wedding, and one very large birthday party. I find that one of the toughest aspects of throwing a party, no matter how small and casual or how large and spectacular, is getting people to actually tell you they're coming.

Sometimes it feels as if etiquette is a lost art. Obviously there are plenty of aspect of traditional etiquette that have been thrown out the window in the past few decades and rightly so. Trying to fall along the lines of specific modes of behavior to the point where it makes people uncomfortable is not an admirable goal. On the other hand, there are aspects of etiquette that I feel should not go the way of the raised pinky. These are the rules that exist because they're not only polite, but can also avoid confusion, unnecessary expenditures, and hurt feelings.

I'm talking about responding to invitations, whether that invitation is a quick phone call or a formal invitation. It seems that these days pepole think that responding to invitations is optional, and committing to the event once you have responded is unnecessary. It seems there is an extreme lack of empathy for hosts who are putting time and money into an event and would like to know who is showing up and would like to not spend money on a guest who flakes out.

Since I'm always in the process of hosting something, I can't tell you how many times I've had my feelings hurt by callous rejections, no-shows, and wafflers, and I've been majorly angered by wasted money and food spent on last-minute flakes. Ever since Kevin and I were engaged ten years ago I have been a fan of Etiquette Hell, who supports my belief that an RSVP to an event should never be optional, and should be committed to once given.

I have my requests for anyone who ever is invited to an event ever again.

Once you receive an invitation, check your schedule. Look at your calendar. If your calendar isn't showing any conflicts, but you think you might have one anyway, make some calls. If you think you want to attend the event, then make sure you can.

Respond as soon as possible. There are some etiquette rules that say if you receive an invitation and your schedule is clear, you respond positively (provided the event does not require too much in terms of travel time and money). I don't believe that you have to attend something you don't want to attend. You can say no. Just say it right away. Your hosts will be very pleased with the immediate reponse. This goes double for things like wedding invitations where the hosts may have provided the postage for you. Don't wait forever and then leave the invitation lying around the house for weeks on end until you lose it and then don't know the deadline date (Yes, I've been guilty of this myself). You know if you can or can't go? Good. Tell the hosts NOW. Don't make them have to chase you with phone calls.

Don't wait for something better to come along. It's a risk that the event might be lame. Something else might come up with your cooler friends. You sit and waffle. Do you respond to the invite at hand, or do you hope that maybe there is something more fun on the horizon? Once again you'll have your hosts chasing you with phone calls trying to get an answer from you. Most people don't enjoy being pushy, so it makes everyone uncomfortable all around. I'm sorry, but you have to commit. You have to take a chance and commit to the event and risk missing that better event that may or may not come along, or else you commit to the the possible better event. Just do it. Take a chance. Make a decision one way or another. Chances are if you commit to the event, you might just enjoy it as much as anything else you would have missed. Really, what better thing were you thinking was going to happen? I really doubt an all-expenses-paid trip to Bora Bora is going to drop out of the sky and you'd have to miss it for your aunt's dinner party.

Don't make excuses. You don't want to come? Fine. Just say you can't make it. Say you have a prior commitment. You don't need to explain yourself. If you just say you can't make it, your hosts will never know any better. However, in the internet age, trying to lie your way out of an event can really bite you in the butt. If you're going to tell your hosts that you can't make their event because you have to help your Aunt Tilly move furniture or because you're going to be holed up all day with a work project, be very careful about what you say in public. If you mention on your Facebook page how much you look forward to spending the weekend at your friend's beach house, you host now will know he was lied to, and hurt feelings can ensue.

Don't flake out at the last minute. It happens. Sometimes you don't quite follow the first rule and suddenly realize that you can't make the event you just said you would attend because you really did have a prior commitment you forgot about. If you discover this, make sure that this doesn't happen the week before the event. You should not be deciding the week or the day of the event that you're not going. Etiquette dictates only two reasons why you can cancel an event you're committed to. One is illness and the other is an illness or death of a family member. Legitimate reasons do no include seeing the guest list and suddenly realizing you don't know anyone on it, terrorits knocking down the Twin Towers 3 weeks earlier, your dog going to the vet three days earlier, or just suddenly deciding that you don't feel like going. Remember, if it's the last minute, your portion is already paid for, so you're making the hosts eat the cost. If you opt to simply not show and you clearly are healthy and uninjured and have a healthy family, it can cause a lot of hurt feelings too. Parents do sometimes have issues with babysitting, but plenty of times if this is explained to the host, if the hosts want you there, arrangements can be made.

To sum up the rules, if you receive an invitation, say yes, say no, just don't say nothing. Stand by what you say. Everyone will be much happier.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Always Sad When It's Over

After weeks of wondering and anticpating and trying ever so hard not to overspeculate, my birthday has ended. I did my best not to discuss it with Kevin. I didn't want him to feel pressured, nor did I want him to give anything away. It was hard to wait though. I kept wondering about the who, what, and how of things. A week ago, after reading this blog, Kevin cracked and told me it would be a "family party". Of course that's hardly a surprise. My family never misses a party!

I did have a bit of fun razzing my friends and family. They knew something and while I wasn't going to try to worm it out of them, it was fun watching them try to keep their voices calm and keep a straight face while discussing it. I'm so evil! Sometimes they made things a bit too obvious. My mother asked me a week ago how Abbey was and if she planned to visit any time soon. That seemed like a big setup if ever there was one. Speaking of razzing - I learned from the master! She wanted to see how I would respond to questions about when I would see Abbey again. I was on to her and thought, "There is a good chance Abbey will be at this party."

Yesterday afternoon I can not even tell you how nervous I was. Where would this party be? Who would show up? I realized that by building things up in my head, I could potentially be setting myself up for disappointment. We came home from the barn on the late side, but Kevin seemed totally unconcerned. He must have been struggling inside. The only thing I did to break his calm exterior was tell him I wanted to go pick up a perscription at CVS. It was about 6:30 and we had a 7:30 reservation. He warned me that time was running short.

Not knowing where the party would be, I quickly showered and dressed and was ready before 7. Kevin was lying on the bed taking a nap. For a guy who thought me taking a walk down the street to CVS would make us late for a 7:30 reservation, he certainly wasn't in any hurry to get himself ready. I was thinking of going over to CVS anyway. (Had I gone, I might have run in to some of the partygoers, which was what he was desperately trying to avoid.) It was probably 7:25 before he was ready and he was still taking his time.

We left by going down the back stairs of our building. From there we could have either gone into the garage for his car, or kept walking. He kept walking. That pretty much answered my question of where we were going. There are plenty of restaurants within walking distance, but our favorite is Rani Mahal, and Rani Mahal is big enough to accomodate a party. Kevin finally said to me, "I did tell you that we're going to Rani Mahal tonight." I said, "No, but since we're walking in that direction, I figured that's where we were headed." I joked that he also could have had the party at Molly Spillane's. Kevin said he was deaf enough already without having to deal with the loud music at Molly's.

As we walked through the parking lot, I started observing the cars. I know what kinds of cars my immediate family members drive, but I couldn't tell you what everyone else drives. Then there are friends who would not likely drive at all like Abbey, who usually takes the train. I do know that there was one person whose car I could identify and that was Sian. I know she drives a Saturn (or did when I last was in a car with her) and that she would have Maryland plates. Sure enough, as I walked down the line of cars, I saw a Satun with Maryland plates. I said nothing to Kevin, but smiled inwardly. Yes! Sian was there.

I walked into a nearly empty restaurant. Only a few tables were occupied. Kevin said, "I think we're sitting back here." He went around the bar and I realized for the first time that Rani Mahal has a party room in back.

He opened a curtain and there they all were. Kevin had managed to pull together my friends and family from just about every aspect of my life. There were my horse friends, my theater friends, my high school and college friends, Kevin's friends, and Kevin's family. Kevin's brother flew in from Chicago. Sian had come from Baltimore and Abbey had come from Philadelphia. Greg was there and we get together so blessedly little these days. He had remembered to include the Harrison Players. My cousin Matt came with his wife and their weeks-old twins whom I had yet to meet. He hadn't left anyone out.

He had a Blurb book made up of photo spanning my entire life. It's sort of like the album I made for him on his birthday except he was much kinder and didn't put in the ugly school photos!

Not much more to say about the evening. I had to do quite a bit of circulating to make sure I spent time with all of the guests. I hope I did that well enough.

We had plenty of good food. Kevin did well in the department. The appetizer buffet would have fed everyone by itself, but after a while the waitstaff brought in bowls of korma and tikka masala and chana masala and aloo gobi, and saag paneer with bowls of basmati rice and baskets of naan bread. We had plenty for the omnivores and the vegetarians and managed to satisfy the folks who said they hated Indian food or else had simply never eaten Indian food before.

The restaurant provided some Indian desserts, but we also had a big double chocolate cake. Mom told me the cake was her domain. She bought it from the chi chi Black Forest Bakery in Greenwich. She did well. Mothers know what their kids like after all.

I didn't have the house ready, but it hardly mattered when Abbey and Sian said they were staying at our place last night. It's always awesome to have two of my best girlfriends staying with me for the night. Sian got to try out the new guest room.

The next morning we had breakfast at the Ritz Carlton in White Plains with Kevin's family (Kevin's brother and mother were staying there for the night). Bob and Susan and Malcolm had to rush out of there pretty quickly to catch their plane home, but we did manage to have a few more good times together before it all had to end.

The crash after the big build up is always hard. It's pretty lonely now. I stayed home to clean up, put away gifts, and write thank-you notes. I miss everyone already. I do have some super memories though. Thanks to everyone who came and many many many thanks to my wonderful husband for putting this all together!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Those Dumb Things That Really Irk Me

Today I get an email from someone claiming our database is giving her incorrect numbers.

She points out that there are places where 3 or 4 or even 5 companies are showing the same number on certain line items. Let's say, for example, that Endeavor, ENI and Exxonmobil are all showing that the repair and maintenance expenses were $2MM. Okay? Why is that? Keep in mind that those two companies do not proceed or succeed each other in the database. Both alphabetically and peer-wise they aren't together. There were 3 or 4 instances like this in the data run the client sent.

I went into the database and pulled the numbers myself. I pull the same companies, the same metrics, and the same time periods. In the example listed above, Endeavor had the $2mm maintenance cost and Eni and ExxonMobil had no reported numbers for those years.

It seemed to me that whoever downloaded this information simply copied the Endeavor information into the blank cells below it onto the spreadsheet. I don't know why this person did that. Maybe it was just some clueless intern who then handed the spreadsheet to the horrified analyst.

It just gets my goat that this was clearly not an error of our database and just someone using Excel incorrectly and I get huffy emails asking how reliable our database is. The hardest part was pointing this out more diplomatically than I'm doing in this blog!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Those Dumb Things That Surprise Me

Who here reading this blog refers to fruit as "hand fruit"?

A few years ago I was at a farm stand with a friend examining the nectarines and she said, "Nectarines are my favorite hand fruit."

I don't know why I found the term, "hand fruit" amusing. I had never heard it before. I thought it was an interesting and accurate turn of phrase. I figured my friend made it up herself. She was an English major. She's bound to come up with perfect descriptive phrases. That's what writers do.

I never really thought much about the term again until the first time I visited the little cafe located in my new office building (the relocated Connecticut office and not the temporary NYC office). I was hungry and wanted a snack and was hoping I could find some fruit there.

They had a display of fruit on a tiered tray and a price list. The list said:

Banana, $.75
Seasonal Hand Fruit $.95

So that phrase "hand fruit" isn't something my friend made up. There is such a thing as a hand fruit. (That day, the fruit in question was peaches and they were darned good peaches.)

Of course, I can't just be satisfied that the term "hand fruit" is one in wide circulation, yet unbeknownst to me. I now have to contemplate what constitutes a "hand fruit".

They refer to the non-bananas as hand fruits, but not the bananas themselves. Does that mean that bananas, even though you eat them out of hand, don't count as hand fruits, or were they merely using the term hand fruit to describe anything that's not the perpetual and cheap banana. You can't eat a banana directly out of hand. You do have to peel it first. Does that mean oranges are not hand fruits either? You not only have to peel them (which is easier to do with a knife), but they're much less messy if you section them first, and it's also advisable to have a plate handy so the juice doesn't get everywhere.

Do grapes and berries count as hand fruits? You can eat them with your hands, and you can even eat them out of hand if you grab a few at a time. Still, they're more like "finger fruits" rigth? I mean, the berries you see at the office cafe are part of a fruit salad. You don't see them on the hand fruit tray.

It's Friday afternoon, the heat wave has not abated, and my brain is finished with doing any hard thinking. The best you're going to get to me is this type of navel contemplation.

Have a great weekend.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Things I Wish People Would Learn - Road Edition

1. Remember what they taught you when you were a kid about looking both ways before crossing the street? It's still a good idea.

2. Order of arrival matters at intersection. If I get to my stop sign first before you get to yours, I enter the intersection before you do.

3. The Powers That Be place crosswalks in the road where motorists are required to stop for pedestrians. If you don't use them, I am not responsible for what happens to you if I happen to be driving.

4. Your horn does not have special, magical powers. These non-existent magical powers do not grow stronger the longer the sound lingers. In other words, leaning on your horn forever will not make other drivers - or traffic in general - yield to your desires.

**************************************************************************
And now for something completely different.

Ever hope for something, even though you think it's a pretty impractical hope, and then you look at the calendar and the general schedule of events in your world and realize it can never come to pass? Then you suddenly get a new spark of hope and think, "Well, maybe if..." then you realize that if the situation were reversed, it still wouldn't come to pass.

That's okay if you don't get what I'm talking about. I'm just musing "out loud". I have an elephant in the room right now. It's not a very angry or scary elephant. In fact, it's a very happy pretty pink elephant. But it's still an elephant in the room and I can't talk about it. Let's just say I realized something that has made me rather unhappy, but I'll get over it.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Classic Post - What is Patriotism (It's Not About the Flag)

I have decided to repost some of my favorite posts from my old MySpace blog and put them here for any new readers I may have as well as for my own personal archives after I take the MySpace profile down. This is one of my favorites from the early days of my blog. The references here are rather dated, and fortunately some of the things I worried about in this post have not come to pass, but much of the sentiment behind this post still hold true for me.

With the 4th of July upon us and a buttload of Congressional Crap happening to try to distract the people of the US from Iraq, the economy, global warming, and education, the flag is on people's minds right now. Nearly a year after hurricane Katrina, its poorest victims are still struggling with poverty and homelessless. 2500 Americans have now died in Iraq. The weather is freakier than ever. The government tried to solve these problems by brining up a (failed) Amendment to the Consitution prohibiting flag burning.

Don't get me wrong. I am not someone who has any desire to willfully burn a flag, but I really think there is something wrong with giving the American flag so much power and prestige. I don't fly a flag. I don't put flag stickers on my car or wear flag pins. I don't have a problem with people who do, but I sometimes find flag-mania tacky. Why do we fly flags over every McDonalds? What other countries do this? Why do we need so many outward symbols for love of country? Why do we make children swear allegiance on a daily basis? Are we all that insecure about our love of country?

To me patriotism should never be wrapped up in outward symbols. Patriotism is something we have within us. I don't think it should be about what we show, but about what we do. By amending the Constitution to ban the burning of a piece of symbolic cloth, we undermine the exact thing the flag is supposed to represent. Yes, it's disrespectful and we shouldn't do it. But should we really create a Constitutional amendment around it when people in this country are dying at home and abroad, as if the country's flag were somehow more important than the country's people and it's established and respected laws? My friends, that is just wrong.

This morning, in honor of Independence Day, CNN had a poll asking viewers what they thought patriotism was. I did not respond to the poll, but I know what patriotism is to me. I'll discuss some examples.

A year ago I was listening to the Jerry Springer show (the Air America Radio talk show, not the trashy TV show) and Jerry asked listeners to call in and say what they loved about America. One caller, a lifetime member of the Sierra Club and the Green Party, gave a tearful call about how much he loved the natural beauty of the US. He lived in the west and talked about the beauty of the mountains. He said he would fight to preserve that beauty. Love of the land itself, and the determination to conserve it, is a great expression of patriotism to me.

During the 2004 Democratic Convention, Al Sharpton gave a beautiful speech (He may be a nutball, but what a powerful speaker) where he talked about the much-loved Ray Charles version of "America the Beautiful." Sharpton pointed out that Ray Charles was blind all of his life. He had never seen for himself the "purple mountains" or the "fruited plain". He was not singing for what he saw. He was singing about what he believed. While I don't always advocate blind belief in greatness (blind in the figurative sense anyway), I understand what was being expressed in that statement. We don't want to stop believing in our country's potential to be great.

True patriotism is exhibited by my friends who do the AIDS walk. Helping those less fortunate is a tremendous way to love your country. Love the people who live in it.

The same goes for those folks who are still working hard to help the victims of Hurricane Katrina. It's a tragedy that seems to be fading from the memory of many Americans. Kudos to those who try not to let us forget, and are still down there working with organizations like Habitat for Humanity in order to make sure that Louisiana doesn't become a gated community for rich folks and people have homes and a life again.

The people who hold bake sales and other fund raisers for our troops in Iraq so they can have body armor are true patriots. Also the folks who fight for proper veterans' benefits. No matter how you feel about this war or warefare in general, the people who fight them go through hell, and they do it voluntarily. They deserve every benefit that's coming to them, and they deserve to be properly equipped.

The teaching profession is a very patriotic one. Teaching is a thankless job at times and it gets harder every day to serve our students well. Yet few things are more important than education. Dedicated teachers, and those who fight for their benefits and the improvement of the educational system are true patriots.

Another example of a patriot is Cindy Sheehan and those like her, who make sure that someone is out there, questioning the government and their motives for sending our soldiers to war. I have heard few other people ever call this GWB quote into question: 'One of the keys to being seen as a great leader is to be seen as commander in chief. My father had all this political capital built up when he drove the Iraqis out of Kuwait and he wasted it. If I have a chance to invade, if I had that much capital, I'm not going to waste it. I'm going to get everything passed that I want to get passed and I'm going to have a successful presidency.' We need people out there, front and center, asking the questions that no one else will ask. Why are we really in Iraq? For what noble cause are our soldiers dying?

Patriotism is voting, and it's voting consistently, and it's getting involved in the process. Voting once every 4 years, and worse yet, voting third party because you think you're making a statement, and not because of the issues, is not patriotism. Most people vote third party because they resent only having two choices. Yet how many people actually get involved in the choices presented? If you want better candidates, then get involved. Decide what issues really matter to you. Identify those candidates that support those issues. Be willing to contribute your money or your time to their campaigns. Vote in the primaries. Yes, it means you'll have to join a political party, but if you're dissatified with the parties presented, your participation can help change it from within. Most of all, don't just vote every four years. Local elections often affect your daily life more than national ones. Take part in all of it.

What do I think patriotism is not?

Let's point out the old quote (often mistakenly attributed to Thomas Jefferson) "Dissent is the highest form of patriotism". Patriotism is not blindly accepting everything the government tells you, and swallowing every talking point, because that politician belongs to your political party. The Constitution is supposed to make sure that governmental power is always checked. We also want to believe in our politicians and that they will follow the Constitution and do the right thing. But even the members of our government are corruptible when they acquire power. Never questioning them is not always the way to make your country function. Some of the best things achieved in this country, from independence from Britian to universal voting rights, have happened because people went against the government.

Insulting, publicly trashing, and slandering those who oppose you without any honest debate (such as the likes of Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh, and the Swift Boat Veterans) is not patriotism. We are all Americans, and in the end, share a common goal of making this country a better place to live. If you disagree with how that goal should be achieved, then let's discuss our reasons and figure out where our common ground lies. Why trash your fellow Americans who are doing what they are Constitutionally protected to do? You can't sling mud without getting any on yourself.

Patriotism is not just displaying flags and yellow magets. Symbols lose their power if you're not willing to stand behind them. What exactly are you doing for your country?

Patriotism is not assuming that everything that's wrong with this country is wrong because people don't follow your religion, or follow it in the same way you do. Good and bad people exist in all religions and all forms of belief. Automatically assuming that this is a "Christian Nation" and that it should be run as such, is a very exclusive way of running a country. Again, we are all Americans and we have a right to believe as we wish, as long as our beliefs hurt no one.(BTW, wearing a gold cross with your slutty dress doesn't automatically qualify you as a Good Christian.)

Patriotism is not killing or harassing those who say things or do things you disagree with. It's also not advocating the killing of those with whom you disagree. Whether it's assasinating Martin Luther King, or simply saying you'd like to assasinate Bill Clinton, you're not doing anything to support your country.

These past few days most of us have been eating lots of charred food (or in my case zeppoli - YUM!) and watching fireworks. We forget the reason for the season. I hope this humble blog will help all of us stop and think about what our country means to us and how we hope to keep it great. Let's go forward now with the determination to succeed.

Happy Fourth of July!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Welcome to July

So it's been a few weeks since I posted about what's going on with me. We have a new month now, and for me, a new year is approaching. July promises to be an exciting month, and despite a few minor inconveniences like getting older, I'm looking forward to it.

So how is my "new" job? So far so good. Every morning I go there dreading it because I have so much to learn and a strong fear that I'm never going to learn it all. At the end of the day, I end up feeling much more confident because I'm slowly starting to take on client requests (even if they are with someone watching over me every step of the way). Yesterday I did my first ticket from beginning to completion and it was a pretty satisfying feeling. I realize that the learning curve is steep, but I'm slowly convincing myself that I'm going to get it eventually.

The corporate culture at this sister company is way different from the one at Herold. At Herold we're all quite relaxed. Everyone is constantly goofing around. Jovial banter rings out from every corner of the office. We dress extremely casually unless there is an occasion not to. It's way more subdued at Global Insight. I have not really met any more than 4 of my coworkers. They don't bother to introduce themselves. When you walk into that office it's almost church-like. It takes some getting used to. I'm thinking I need to bake some cookies for them all soon so I can break the ice.

I'm finding I don't mind the commute at all. The novelty of working in the city has yet to wear off. When I wanted a new dress recently, I had plenty of options for shopping within two blocks. I found a used bookstore on 45th street. Yesterday I spent my lunch hour in Bryant Park listening to live piano music. I was able to meet my mother easily after work for an evening performance of ABT's Swan Lake. When I have to have dinner on my own in the evenings, I've grown addicted to the tapas bar in the Met Life building, where I can sip an unusual dry rose` and munch on manchego and serrano and croquettas and albondigas.

I know the novelty will wear off eventually. Yesterday while walking back to the office from the park I surveyed the crowds and smelled the air and thought, "God, I hate the city and I can't wait to be in Chincoteague." Well, maybe once I really start hating being in the city, I'll be fully trained and won't need to go there anymore. I'm assuming once I'm trained I will be able to do my GI duties from the CT office.

Plenty of exciting things are happening this month. I have so much to look forward to. I hope it call all live up to my expectations. Here's the list. I think it sounds pretty good.

July 7 - Mike and I will be going to A Midsummer Night Swing. I have wanted to do this for years. I always loved the idea of dancing under the stars to a live band. I don't want 3 years of ballroom dance lessons to go to waste (and Mike has had even more dance lessons than I have). With Mike back in New York and me working in the city, it seems ridiculous not to go.

July 16 - Um, we won't talk about that.

July 21 - Dad is taking me to dinner at The Modern. Hooray for family celebrations! The restaurant looks amazing. It's quite an opportunity for a humble peasant like me.

July 23 - I bought myself tickets for South Pacific for this night. South Pacific is one of my favorite musicals, although I have never seen it staged. I have only ever seen it on the small screen. For the past two years I had secretly hoped someone might buy me tickets. It didn't happen and then I heard it was closing in August. I realized I couldn't wait for someone else to come to my rescue. I had to take matters into my own hands. I bought myself a pair of the cheap seats.

July 25 - I leave for Chincoteague for the week. Need I say more.

Okay, I said I wouldn't talk about the day I turn 25, and I mostly mean that. It's just that I've speculated a bit about what I should be doing that day and with two weeks to go, I ought to be more concerned. I have decided not to worry about it. Whatever happens will happen. I'm just going to go wtih the flow.

Oddly enough, I have no plans for the 4th of July weekend other than hanging with the girls (horses) for all three days and seeing the fireworks on Sunday. I was wondering if I should remedy that, but I think with everything else going on, a leisurely weekend will be welcome.

July is so full of stuff and I have nothing doing in August. That should be remedied. Who wants to make some plans? One should never waste summer days!