Monday, May 30, 2011

Things You Can Tell From a Booth

If you've never worked retail or had to work a trade show, job fair, health fair or career corner, you really should be made to. Mostly because if you do and then you go to a conference or any other thing that has the word "fair" in the title to make it sound more lively, you would feel some empathy for those people who are stuck in a booth with a smile on for 10 hours a day.

It's been 4 days here and most of 3 in the booth plus one day setting up the booth. I'm about over working it. It's grueling. There's about 5 minutes of customer interaction and 55 minutes of getting interrupted every 2 minutes by people who just want to look at the stuff behind you. So you can't really read or mess around on the computer for any significant stretch of time.

But there are things that you can tell from a convention booth. I can spot a Gender Studies academic professor or researcher from 10 paces. I know if someone is French by the squinty look they give me when approaching the booth. I know exactly how many times I can look at my watch before it's time to take a walk outside for a break in the day.

They are life's little lessons of observation and survival. And kind of fun. When not boring.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Like the Dollar Store Brand

Canada is like the dollar store brand of toilet paper. It's not Charmin, but like Charmane and it looks kind of like good toilet paper, but it's really just an off brand. That's like Fredericton, New Brunswick Canada.

I'm here for work. The place is clearly not a large town--about 45,000. And it's not super quaint and even though it has two universities, it's not a college town. At least not a US college town. It's like an off-brand Evansville. Except much smaller. And with fewer stores and shops. When the mall to hang out at was billed so lovingly by a local as "doesn't even have a GAP-- just a Sears" that's not a good sign. And so far it hasn't been.

The other odd thing is that it's on Atlantic time. Which means we're an hour a head of Eastern. Which means I'm four hours behind LA. And my body doesn't really know the difference yet. I have a feeling it will feel it soon though.

So, one day down and only 4 more here. And then two in New York. That's going to be a night and day difference. Kind of like LA to Fredericton. The one good thing is that the more time I spend here, the more I'm reminded why I love big city living. And it's always nice to be a little homesick.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Blame Canada

In a few days I'm heading to the other end of the continent--almost quite literally--for work. And each time I think of the trip, that famous South Park song goes roaring through my head and I instantly tap my toes singing "Blame Canada!".

Why am I blaming Canada? Did I not just mention that I'm heading there for work? Well aside from that, I'm also there for nearly a week in a small town and missing a holiday. Canadians either don't celebrate the same or don't have Memorial Day. So instead of kicking off the summer with a grill and a beach, I'll be spending my holiday in a booth and at meetings. (insert sad sound effect here).

Honestly, it's not that bad as I'm sure I'll make up the time later this month, but there's a long stretch between President's Day and now, so I was kinda looking forward to a long weekend. Oh well. Maybe I can find a nice place to have a good dinner and see a movie that Chef wouldn't want to see while I'm there. Besides, the Canada trip ends and I head straight to New York, so I'm sure that leg of the trip (albeit brief) will be pretty cool. I haven't been to New York in ages.

Anyway, please don't text or phone me and expect a response while I'm "international" (seriously how can Canada be international? That's just ridiculous). It's too damn expensive to respond. Another reason to Blame Canada.

Monday, May 23, 2011

What's Red, Puffy and Running all Day?

My nose? Nope. A Zit? Nope. My stupid, frickin' eye. I could feel it coming on and I'm an idiot so I didn't go to the optometrist.

Well, that's not entirely true. I didn't go to the optometrist because it was Saturday and the ones on my insurance weren't open. And since it was overcast yesterday in LA, I wasn't light sensitive and thought I was doing better.

Then I get hit full blast with a bunch of sunshine in my face sent me to tears faster than a movie with a cancer-stricken mom. I suffered for the morning in my cave like office and then decided that enough was enough. I couldn't go to a doctor near my work because my glasses were at home and once the contacts come out, they can't go back in. So I found a doctor near my house, got the quickest appointment and headed out.

I knew what I had. I've had it twice before in my life and it's not something you quickly forget. The optometrist, though, wasn't my favorite. I probably won't go back. Mostly because he seemed very proud of himself for having diagnosed me (after I told him what I probably had) and then proceeded to lecture me.

It was (as I knew) a corneal ulcer. My eyes have always had a hard time with contacts and not being "able to breathe" properly. But they haven't acted up in like 7 years, so it's not a huge deal. The guy then told me that I needed new glasses (which I never wear unless I have an eye problem). Finally he listened to me say that and then told me that I should get Lasik. He then told me that I needed to take Chef with me on the appointment because it was a decision that I couldn't make on my own. Had he had said that once or twice, I might've been okay, but he said it repeatedly, which honestly just pissed me off.

In the end, he made me "get my money's worth" and kept me in the chair for 30 minutes longer than necessary asking me if I had any questions repeatedly (which I didn't) and then almost forgot to give me the eye drop prescription that I needed.

So, drops for a week. Glasses (ugh) for the next couple of days. And then I need to find an IU optometrist out here. There's something healing about a Hoosier-taught eye doc.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

I Thought I Saw A Ghost

Last night I got up in the middle of the night and scared the crap out of myself. Through my blurry night eyes and mussed up hair, I looked over in the mirror and thought it was someone else. I thought it was my mom looking back at me.

I think this is a natural occurrence in most women's lives. When they look back or hear themselves and think "Man, I'm turning into my mom." But for people who have lost their moms, this can be a satisfying and scary thing.

Honestly I was thinking about it today. Why now? I have a hair color that my mother never had. and I can never remember her having hair this long. After much thought I think I've nailed it down to a few things:
  • I'm now getting to be the age my mom was when I was born. I'm in my thirties which is where my mom was when we met. (And by met, I mean she popped me out of her stomach-I was a C-section baby). So it's only natural that the pictures that I've seen are mostly from after that time. The memories I have are of her from the thirties and beyond.
  • I have bangs now. It's a simple thing, but my bangs were pushed to the side in my night time slumber-induced rearrangement. This was the way my mom wore her hair for my entire life. So that contributed to the confusion.
  • It was the middle of the night and I often scare the crap out of myself so I was probably making a bigger thing of this than it really was.
So, I take a little pride in having confused myself for a while as I think my mom aged well (minus the whole cancer thing, of course) and she was always cute. Honestly, if I ended up like her in even a very small way, I would ecstatic. She was a pretty great lady.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Things I've Noticed Lately (Elliptical Edition)

Here are some random observations from my morning time on the elliptical. Please note that these things popped into my head at 5 a.m., so they may be a little odd:
  • When did the fat on my face start jiggling when I run? Did this always happen or did it start when I hit a certain age?
  • What is the term for the upper ass area that not quite hip, not quite back but still holds weird pockets of fat? How do you get rid of those things?
  • Why does the guy (and I'm sure it's a man because he leaves the gym a mess) who comes in late at night insist on turning the AC units down as low as they can go? And then open the gym doors to the cool night air? Does he not know he's letting out "bought air"?
  • I love that random southern sayings like "bought air" can still creep into my thoughts.
  • Why did the apartment people put the air conditioning units up too high for a person of normal height to reach?
  • If I were attacked walking from my apartment to the complex gym, I would make the attacker head to the gym or at least chase me there because it's got cameras.
  • I know that by nature they're full of trash, but there has to be way to make the dumpsters not spew a stream of hot garbage air into your face when you close them. Why isn't someone working on this?
  • Early morning news crews / anchors are bad no matter how large the market.
That's it for this installment of "Things I've noticed lately" Elliptical edition. Enjoy!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

What a Coincidence

Just a few days after I write about the different versions of me and how I dress different for them, I got my latest personality test results back.

Latest personality test? Yes. It's a corporate thing. I actually enjoy it and most people do. Who doesn't like to hear about themselves? No one, that's who. I've taken a few different ones in a few different forms. This one was the DISC format. The DISC are dominance, influence, steadiness and conscientiousness.

What they don't tell you when you're taking it is that you're actually taking it for a "work" you and a "true" you. How they come up with results from answering like 24 questions, I'll never know. Nor will I ever take them 100 percent at value. Because it's like a horoscope. There's some piece of every one that resonates with a piece of everyone. So whether the results were based on the stars or research from a psychologist, it's still kind of the same.

Anyway, the work me was a D. Dominance. Ds make quick decisions, sometimes without a lot of information, they are goal-driven and often blinded by the path to the end result. Ds can appear unfriendly in work scenarios because they're thinking about steps to a goal.

That actually sounds pretty much like me. Maybe not so much in a my old job, but me in my new job. I don't have a lot of people to impress or harmony to keep. I just really see a lot of things that need to be fixed and am driven by the steps to try and fix them.

The home me is a combination of I and D. Which means that I'm still an extrovert (Ds and Is are extroverts, Ss and Cs are introverts). But it also means that I'm more outgoing in a friendly nature. I tend to be more persuasive and political. I'd say that is probably true too. I still have the D that's driving to get stuff done but I'm much more friendly about it.

So basically, I not only dress differently at home and work, but I act it too. And it's not just me. Which makes me feel simultaneously better and worse. Better because I'm not alone (although I rarely think that I am). Worse because I wonder how many people I see as one-dimensional and miss out on. I guess the trick is to make sure that my one-dimension is one that's somewhat interesting. And that if I see someone else who is interesting to see if their other dimension is interesting too.

And I just thought life was getting simple. . .

Friday, May 13, 2011

Waist Not, Want Not? Hell yes I want it!

I’m currently in one of those tricky phases of weight loss where you get good and motivated and you start to see results. Why is this tricky? For a couple reasons: 1) You get in a transition period in between your fat clothes and your skinny clothes. 2) You want this feeling to last, but you know it’s not gonna.

Oh the fat and the skinny clothes. If you’re like me, you tend to only be one or the other. Or you have some things that look better to cover the pudge and other things that look better when your svelte. Or maybe not svelte, but smaller. I’m also notorious for not wearing properly fitting clothes. I’m super belly-conscious, so I hate having anything that fits too tightly around the belly. On the other hand, I have big boobs so it it’s gonna be loose at the belly and fit the boobs, I end up wearing a shapeless tent on top. I find that the well-placed belt can help in some occasions, but not all.

So I venture into a store and find a few pieces that can help the tight stuff look less lumpy and the loose stuff look less frumpy. But as I try on I realize...I'm a few sizes smaller than I was before. So I like trying on stuff and looking good. Which opens the door for buying more clothes...clothes that won't fit in a few months when I've lost more weight. And I know this. I want to hold off on buying clothes, but it's important to reward myself, right? It's a vicious cycle.

And then comes part two. I get some momentum and I feel good about my plan, losing weight seems easier and everything's kicking on high gear. The weight's coming off and BAM! I get stuck. How the hell did this happen?How the hell did I stop losing weight? I'm still watching what I eat. I'm still under calories. I get so baffled that I get pissed. And when I get pissed, I want to eat fried foods. It's my way of saying "Okay, body, you don't like what I put in you? Well, wait until you see THIS!".

Oh, the cycle. The ups and downs. Right now I'm riding an up. I'm preparing for the down. But in the end, I just want to have the perseverance to keeping moving. Isn't that really what we're all asking for?

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

I Wish I Could Be Like Our Neighbors

I want to openly thank our upstairs neighbors for they are so nice and helpful to our life here in LA. Honestly, I don't know what I'd do without them. Their habits have inspired me and I think could inspire you. So, here are ways my neighbors are great:
  • They aren't bound by the standards of time. They live a life free of things like "early mornings" and "respectable hours." They can stay up until 6 a.m. -- and often do--without the confines of society weighing them down.
  • They're environmentally conscious. They are so reluctant to throw things in the trash that they often freely give them to mother nature. In fact, they often give to her specifically on the five foot area of shrubbery by our patio. We should honor their offerings, but don't. I often feel guilty when I'm forced to throw their trash away as I know it's not what they clearly intended.
  • Their cleanliness is beyond reproach. I only aspire to the level of cleanliness that our upstairs neighbors live with every day. I think about that as the showers of soapy water come cascading down upon Chef and my's heads on the patio. This happens about every two weeks and is literally sending gallons of water and soap down upon our patio. I think they're trying to tell us that we need to clean our area as well.
  • They are very frugal. Our neighbors are so frugal. Instead of spending the dollar or so to have a new key made, they use a rock--obtained for free mind you--to prop open our locked gates for all hours of the night.
  • Our neighbors are hospitable. They feel confined by our security system and its unapproachability with codes and having others "be let in". Luckily, they work around that one with the above.
I can only hope that in time I will rise above my current level of thinking and break my habits of being unneighborly. Wish me luck.

Monday, May 09, 2011

The Two (or three or four. . . ) Sides of Me

Do you ever look at yourself throughout the day and wonder: Who is this person? Is this person the real me or is the real me at home in my sweats watching TV and cuddling cats?

I know there are lots of people who will tell me that both of these are me. But I don't really buy it. One of these is the natural me and one is the me that takes a little effort. And I'm reconciled with the fact that I can't skate by on my looks or brains. I'm just not that lucky. Then again about 99.9% of us are in the same boat on that one.

And there is no place that's harder for me to reconcile these two sides than in my work place fashion (not where you thought I was going with that, is it?). I like fashion for the most part (especially when I've got something to wear). But am I the suit or the blue jeans? Our work place is fairly casual--I think most of California is--and while I don't mind it, I also miss the formality of a suit. In fact, some days I bust out my suit and rock it despite the fact that people stare and I look ridiculously overdressed.

I think that's the main issue. If it were one way or another, I'd have less of a hard time reconciling the two versions of me. If it were either business dress or casual dress, the choices are more cut and dried. More representative of the two sides of my life that I like to treat Jim Crow-style--separate but equal. (But in this case it's actually true and not just a way to legally dupe people out of rights).

But this whole "business casual" crap is messing with me. Be business or be casual. Don't be both. It just opens up the spectrum for too many interpretations--nearly all of them wrong. And it makes the dress code enforcement a little like playing games with the neighbor kids when you were young. The rules change as to who is making them up and it's all a moot point when it's dinner time or the street lights come on.

Until then I just hope I don't show up to work in my Scooby Doo pajama pants.

Sunday, May 08, 2011


For the last week or so I've been making an incredible transformation. I go to bed as a 32 year old and wake up as a 70 year old. It's quite amazing.

Sadly, not all of me is 70. Or should I be thankful. There are days that I would debate that. But mostly I'm thankful.

So why am I feeling so old? Because for the last week I have woken up with the world's worst neck crick. Actually, it's probably more than a neck crick. It's horrendous. It's what Chef thinks is a seized muscle. My neck (and subsequently my shoulder) are so taut and painful to move. There's a strip of muscle and tendon that run down the length of it. Chef's theory (and probably a right one) is that that muscle is refusing to move and tightens up because it's trying to immobilize my neck. It wants to prevent further damage.

Sadly there's really no medicine for that. No form of Aleve or Tylenol: Muscle Seizure that can help. I've tried warm showers to loosen it up and Chef has probably sprained a hand from massage. But still no use. And to make things more complicated, the pain is probably related to my sleeping with one arm under my head of my back.

I think this might be the one that sends me over the edge to doctordom. I've got to visit because at this point, I'm thinking muscle relaxers sound like a hell of an idea. And for the last trick, I've got to torture Chef by sleeping on my back. Hope I don't snore too loudly.

Not that, in the end, I'm looking for much. Just to wake up and feel like a 40 year old.

Saturday, May 07, 2011

The Great Mother's Day Debate

Mother's Day has become like Passover to me. I'm not involved. I don't completely get it. And I only know it's coming when I see decorations hanging in Ralph's.

And this Mother's Day was no exception. Typically no one gets hurt. However, this year there was some carnage left in my wake. Because as anyone who has lost a parent knows, and especially those who lost one young, it doesn't matter how long ago you lost them, you still feel it. It hurts less over time, but there are still these twinges of angst and mourning that hit you when you least expect it and like a ton of bricks.

That's one thing they never tell you (sidenote: who is this "they" and how are "they" such experts on loss and how do "they" have so much collective knowledge of mourning?) is the longer someone's been gone, the more surprising the moment of mourn, so to speak, is. You expect (and are expected by "them") to feel great sadness the first year of these big events. First birthday, first Christmases, first Mother's Day, etc. In fact, if you don't feel a great weight of sorrow you almost have to fake it to make "them" feel like they knew and you feel like you're living up to everyone's expectations of sorrow.

This all leads back to my lack of Mother's Day awareness. Most times, I'm oblivious, see it, realize there's very little obligation on my end as I am neither a mother nor have a living one, and move on. This year one little bitch at Macy's tried to make me get into the spirit of Mother's Day and for that, she felt the wrath of Ash.

"Would you like some help finding a Mother's Day gift," all 5 foot nothing, 100 pound blondeness of her cooed a I was racewalking through the great cosmetics/ accessories divide on my way to the escalators and then through Macy's to get to Sephora. She had stepped directly into my path which on a day when I was more determined could probably have gotten her killed or at least severely bruised.

"No, thank you," I replied annoyed that I no only had to break stride to answer, but stop to politely decline.

"But we have some lovely new fragrances and some great cosmetic gift sets that would be perfect for your mom," she said.

I cracked a smile to myself because as much as I love my mother to this day, I thought of what little use cosmetics and perfume would be after a decade of decay. Not the typical warm, fuzzy, I know.

"No, thank you," I said. "I really don't need anything for Mother's Day." And I was just getting ready to start my jaunt again when she said the words that pushed me over the edge.

"Well, why not?" she said. "Everyone has a mother." If she had said it with a fresh-faced ignorance or naivete, I might've --MIGHT have--been a little nicer. But she was annoyed that I wouldn't stop. And I was annoyed that she stopped me. It was the combination of the two that turned the situation ugly.

"You're right," I said with a smile through gritted teeth. "Everyone does have a mother. However, mine has been dead for more than a decade now so I'm 100 percent certain that she doesn't have a use for a Mother's Day gift."

With her jaw now hitting the floor, I took the silence as my opportunity to continue on my way. If I hadn't said something twice before, I might've felt a little remorse, but this time I just hoped the exchange tempered her aggressive sales tactics. At least for another hour or so.

That being said, Happy Mother's Day to those out there and to my mom and all other lost moms. Your daughters (and sons, t00, I'm sure) miss you and think about on the first Mother's Day after you've been gone and every one after that.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

What Should I Wear?

Two months from today I'll be married. A little hard to believe, but then again I've actually felt married for a while. At least in the practical sense. I've lived with Chef for more than six year. We've shared a bank account, responsibilities, cat duties and a lot of memories nearly just as long.

So I'm not worries or worked up about any of that. And now that I've made my non-decision on the name issue, there's not a lot of finish up. There's just one thing: a dress. I asked my friends for suggestions. Something short. Something not too formal. Something flattering. Doesn't have to white. Just has to make me feel special.

My friends came up with some good suggestions but I waited too late on one and it's not available any more. The other is on its way to be tried on. So now I'm asking for your help. If you can think of something or see something, feel free to leave me a link in the comments or shoot me an email.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

I Need To Write

Apparently i'm very concerned with my needs this week, as is apparent from my blog posts. Or maybe because I'm in town all week, I'm thinking about my need more. Probably on my drive to and from work. Or in the shower. Or in the gym at 5:30 in the morning when I'm alone with my thoughts and ESPN.

But I've come to think about things a lot more lately and realize that I need to write. That I have things to say. And not just blog posts but real things. Some are my inner most thoughts that I haven't caught up with in a while. My journal, or this volume of the tome I've kept since I was about 15, has not been updated in a while. Since I write some of my thoughts in the form of fiction and others on this blog, the things that I can't share with others has taken a back seat. Mostly it's just an unedited, uninhibited version that my children (if we choose to have them) will wince when reading.

Despite all that, I also know that I have a few stories brewing in me. One I think can be added to the latest version of the novel. One that i'm not sure fits and could be the beginning of another project. The only question becomes: How can I finish these projects? Or why can't I seem to? Why am I not prioritizing my writing a I do my sleep? Where can I find the extra hours in the day? Would it be the same to record my thoughts and then transcribe them? Does that count as writing?

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

I Need Continued Motivation

What is wrong with me? I have to remain vigilant (she type with a belly full of fast food). I can't fall off the wagon (she says from the ground as the wagon rolls past her).

For some reason it's been hard for me to string together more than about two weeks of motivation at a time. I can eat my little lunch and feel good about my small dinner for only so long before BAM! I'm ready to eat the house down. I was that way today. I had done well all day and then get home and I'm ravenous. So I suggest fast food. While I didn't get the two cheeseburger meal that I longed for, I did get chicken nuggets. And that's not good.

So tomorrow I will try again to gain my composure. To face my food demons and try to remember when my belly rumbles with hunger that the hunger is temporary. With just a few bites I will stop being a bitchy, whiny person and start being a normal rational one. I will not eat when I'm not hungry. (that's my hardest thing to remember but the first rule of eating, right? Why is it so hard?).

Tomorrow I start again.


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