Monday, December 24, 2007

Friday, December 21, 2007

everyone should just give cookies for christmas

I like to read this columnist on, Cary Tennis. The best thing about his advice is that I often have no idea what angle he's going to take in response to a question. Take, for example, this woman who wrote in a while back: The gift exchange in her family has turned into kids asking for gift cards and instead of putting what they want on the list, it turns into a list of what they don't want this year. It saddens her that she doesn't have the opportunity to pick out something special for her family anymore and now the whole thing just sort of really blows.

As I was reading it, I was all Yeah, what she said! Gift-giving sucks these days! Everything is all hype and commercialized! Down with shopping! But then I
read his response, of which here is a snippet:
"Where, I ask you, are they supposed to find the values that you are talking about? Sure, parents can try to teach them these things. But kids look at their parents, and then they look at the world, and they go, What the fuck? They see the toys spewing out of the world's vast maws of plastic-mold technology, they see the microchips doubling in speed and know that in a year they will be faster and faster still, and tinier and tinier still, and more feature-rich too. They see the new dresses and the new videos, and they know they'll be changing faster than they can change their own clothes. And then they look at their parents, who seem to be moving in black-and-white slo-mo. How can they feel anything but pity and scorn? How can they have any confidence that their parents will even survive the acceleration? In fact it must frighten them that their parents seem so ill-adapted to the world that parents themselves have created."

Suddenly I found myself thinking about how my parents never read this blog because they have dialup and it's such a hassle to get online and then if someone calls the house, they're bumped off and it's totally not worth getting broadband for them because they likely won't use it. What also came to mind was how my dad insists on watching television "live" and won't allow us to start late and fastforward commercials, even though many of the programs are on Indian channels, which aired YESTERDAY over there, so it's really never live for us at all. And my parents aren't even old yet!

So then I was all Right on, Cary Tennis! I have way too much crap in my house, too! I don't need any more things! Everyone should just give
heifers for the holidays! Gift cards aren't such a bad idea! Because if I get run down by another shopping cart at the mall I'm going to kick somebody! And people don't really like most gifts anyway! And anything I get my parents they're just going to be like, "oh you should have saved your money!" and likely it'll sit in the package for a year until I force them to open it. But then I find myself saying and doing the exact same things and I'm all pissed off that I'm turning into my parents. Then after all that, I start thinking about carving out time for one more trip to the mall this weekend to finish up what shopping I have left to do.

We got a lot of scrumptious cookies at the office this week. And there is a good possibility that I have consumed way too many of them today.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

no question is left behind

Today I will be answering Becky's contribution to my request for NaBloPoMo ideas back in October:

1. what's your favorite color, and why?

Right now, my favorite color is green. Mostly of the shades-of-grass variety. But I have been known to change it up from time to time.

2. do you miss the dungeon? even just a little?

Yes and no. I absolutely do not miss sitting around till sometimes 3 am in a tiny windowless cinderblock room. However, that gave me a lot of time with my thoughts and a great excuse to write lengthy emails to this guy who lived all the way across the continental United States and realize that he got me so much more thoroughly than anyone I'd met who lives in this county. I don't know if I would have given the idea of him and I a chance if I weren't trapped in that room so often or if I wasn't on such a late schedule that I could devote so much time to getting to know him because of the time difference.

Also, during that time in the dungeon was when I started this blog. I had been going through a very crappy situation that normally would make being alone with my thoughts an absolute nightmare, but because I had the downtime to troll around and find you guys, and the fact that some people seemed to want to read what I was writing, that time was actually therapeutic. The kindness-without-obligation and support helped me fix my broken heart (not to say the love I got from my real-life peeps wasn't totally and completely appreciated, too). I really miss the time I had to myself back then. These days, I rarely have a minute to just sit around and post or watch a movie with no interruptions. But it's not worth not having a life at all. And don't even get me STARTED about the parking.

3. what was the last thing you purchased at the grocery store?

String cheese. Frankly, I think I have a problem.

4. if you could go anywhere in the world, to visit or live, money not being an issue, where would you want to go, and why?

Everywhere! I got on a plane for the first time when I was two and I've pretty much never stopped thinking about where I might go next. I'm obsessed with culture, food and traditions, so I think I'd want to hang out with all kinds of people and learn about how they live and maybe write about it or take lots of pictures to share with people for whom money is an issue. A lot of the problems in the world today are because people are so trapped in their own little bubbles and don't take the time to see things from some other point of view. Some places on my going-there-when-I-have-the-money list are Iceland, Japan, Brazil, Ireland, Kenya, southern India, Mexico and South Dakota.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

it's all about leadership

"That Frank Caliendo even nailed the president's facial expressions! 'Just like Charles was in charge of those kids'! Bwahahahahahaa! I loved that show back in the day."

"I never wanted Charles to be in charge of me."

"Don't you worry, I'll be in charge of you."

"Um, thanks. But aren't you supposed to say something like 'no honey, I'd never want to be in charge of you.' ?"

"Why? I'd be benevolent dictator."

Monday, December 17, 2007

that's one hour i'm never getting back

Over the years, I'd heard people reference that film Mannequin; the one where Andrew McCarthy makes a department-store clotheshorse who comes to life as pre-Sex in the City Kim Cattrall. Sure, it's a stretch of a premise, but I suspended my belief and got it off my Netflix queue, because I'd heard it referred to as a "classic."

The movie was ridiculous, people. Kim Cattrall was supposed to be an ancient Egyptian trying to get out of an arranged marriage to a camel-dung dealer, but "The Gods" sent her all over the world for millennia, only to end up a mannequin who can only be seen by this one random guy. I pretty much watched the entire film on 1X fast forward with the subtitles on, and I'll admit to skipping a few chapters. I just wanted to see how it ended. And I've gotta say, I was pretty disappointed. My mom even got up and walked out of the room about 1/4-way through.

I'm not sure if everyone my age loved that movie back in the day because we were 11 or because people in the '80s were way more forgiving than I am today. It probably didn't help that the movie I saw right before it was Kate & Leopold, which had just as ridiculous a premise, but executed it slightly better.

But at least I can cross this off the list. What's funny is that I had much lower expectations of Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins, but that one blows Mannequin out of the water.

Friday, December 14, 2007

office space

A few things we didn't know before signing the lease to this place:

a) The people downstairs give dance lessons. promptly at 3:15 yesterday, the lilting strains of "if you don't know me by now... you will nevereverever know me... OOOoooOOOO" started, then continued. On repeat.

b) neighbors who like to jump rope

c) neighbor who listens to voicemail on speakerphone every day after lunch

Thursday, December 13, 2007

hello my name is: confused

I've mentioned before that sometimes people look the same to me. Other times I think somebody looks like another person, but no one else around seems to agree. So today I decided to put it to the test. I'm not usually one for tests, but I recently was ridiculed for my constant confusion between Ryan Reynolds and Jason Lee, so I felt like I needed some validation.

I guess it's not as bad as I thought: I scored 94% (84th percentile) on the face recognition and 100% (93rd percentile) on the "verbal" (recognizing names in print). However, in recognizing objects, I only got 88% (55th percentile). However, I'm not really sure how scoring 20/20 still puts me at only 93. I also got 93% on the recognizing famous faces one and 94% on the regular-people faces.

still, i think everything would be a whole lot easier if everyone came with nametags.

Monday, December 10, 2007

bees and dogs can smell fear

Without going into the messy details, let's say that there once were some people who got overlooked in favor of something bright and shiny that turned out to be a big fat letdown at the end of the day. You know, kind of like how Cuba Gooding, Jr.'s character in Jerry Maguire was overlooked by his agent in favor of that guy (not Uncle Jesse) who married Rebecca Romijn. And let's say the agent never came to his senses in this particular scenario, so one of the people got fed up, took a stand and pulled a Jerry Maguire "Who's with me?" speech.

Well, I'm one of the ones who went with. And now I'm starting a new job and hoping for the best. It's not going to be easy, but I believe it was the right thing to do.

However, me and my eight-pound human head are still a little scared about it.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

i think my mom even has that sari

Back in October when 30 consecutive days of posting were glaring at me from the calendar, I put out a request for post ideas. Guyana Gyal suggested I let loose a stream of consciousness--with no editing*. I tried it a few times, but most of my consciousness streams are just spouty releases of my mental circus of neverending worry: How's the job thing going to work out? Is my brother going to make fun of the woolly socks I'm knitting him for Christmas? Will I be able to make my mortgage payments next year? Did I forget to set Pushing Daisies to record? Am I going to have to run for the bus again tomorrow morning? Are H and I going to have to move to Poughkeepsie to be in the same zip code? Are we out of oatmeal?

But I just watched a movie that liquified my already-chewy center, so I'm feeling a little more consciousness-streamy than usual. It made me cry the good cry. You know the one: when the tears slip down their tracks and make a puddle in the hollow of your neck. As opposed to the ones that fall off the side of your face and into your ears. I really hate those; they're uncomfortable. But mostly because things must be really, truly crappy if I've burrowed under the covers to let it all out.

It was the movie based on The Namesake, a Jhumpa Lahiri book I read years ago and adored, not just for the premise of not knowing where you belong (with which I identify very strongly), but because there weren't any flowery descriptions or clever setups; the author just said it how it was. And honest, that IS how it was for me. The extremely specific details snuck up on me like a fight scene from the Batman tv show. The author was just going along talking about these Indian people trying to get their footing in America and BAM! I recognized the nervous excitement from snapshots of my mom getting off the plane here in 1977. POW! I saw a freeze-frame from an auntie party in my own living room in 1995. WHAM! I heard a snide remark like ones I made to my friends back in junior high. I knew these things were coming, but I had no idea they would hit me so very squarely upside the head.

I gave the book to my mother and she identified with the characters too; mostly the parents' struggle to figure out what the heck they were doing when they got here and how to hold on then let go of their children after they'd sort of gotten an idea. However, other people have said the story was too typical. Cliche even. And that might be true; this is a land of immigrants. But aren't we all just writing about what we know and hoping somebody else will read it and get what we're trying to say? I know I am, most of the time.

One thing's for sure: I've never had a story capture feelings of my own experience so precisely that the glimpse of a mustache in the cold drawer of a morgue seemed so potentially familiar that my heart constricted in panic, if only for a second.

*Sorry, gg, I had to edit. The actual stream-of-consciousness version of this post didn't make no kind of sense.

Friday, November 30, 2007

one challenge i think i'll save for later

When I went to visit my brother in Alabama last month, I noticed a glass jar on their kitchen counter with the words 'FESS UP scrawled on it in permanent marker. There were about three coins in the jar, and my brother's use of obscenities seemed pretty seriously curbed.

I was impressed. Mostly because I have known him to be quite a curser at times, which has never bothered me because I can be quite the curser myself. My dirty mouth is especially jarring to people who haven't been around me much because I come off as a sweet little ethnic girl who knits and bakes zucchini bread. And that is mostly true--until you're sitting in the passenger seat of my car when I'm following a chronic braker or I'm bumping up against a big deadline and starting to lose it. At those times, there's a veritable hailstorm of four-letter-word combinations, complete with fist-shaking and voice-raising.

I blame my line of work. In the Waiting For Reports world, there can be a lot of last-minute do-overs and attempts to accomplish what would normally take eight hours in what is closer to 20 minutes. And one common denominator of all the places I've worked is that the more important the assignment, the more drops of the F-bomb. It's not every day you hear "b*stard "and "c*cksucker" flying around the office and realize it's an exchange between your supervisors about that evening's schedule. Granted, these words are never used against anyone personally--they're just an expression of the stress that we can sometimes be under. It's so prevalent that one of my colleagues at the last place would play this Bud Light commercial every morning after she started her computer. You know, just to get in the mood.

H suggested I get my own 'Fess Up bucket and put in five bucks every time I slip up, "so then you can come visit me ALL the time!" He tends to exaggerate, but I do think that I probably should try and vent my frustration some other way. But even though I love myself a challenge, I refuse to put myself on the jar system. As you may have seen from the last 30 days, I really go out of my way to keep promises--even if that means telling my boyfriend to busy himself with something else for an hour every night he's in town or take myself to a library under construction to make sure I've maintained my oath to Nablopomo. Once I sign up for something, I'm in it for the long haul.

But dammit, only for those hauls that I think I can manage.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

what? i thought it was funny

"Here. You can use my brother's ski gloves while you're in town. I don't want your hands to freeze."

"Thanks. But can you help me put them on? I'm from Southern California; I don't know how these newfangled things work."


"Well, according to your blog, I'm too simple to operate a revolving door, so I wouldn't want to tackle something as complex as winter gloves."

"Har har har. Would you feel better if I told the Internet all about how you built your own computer from spare parts?"


Wednesday, November 28, 2007

I said 'who the f *** are you? I've been here for awhile'

My grandmother was a tailor and a genius. She lived with us for a year when I was seven and imparted what skills I could grasp: mostly knitting, crochet and some basic embroidery. I had already been a crafty kind of kid, so I soaked up every bit of knowhow and my Barbies were the best dressed (if you consider bulky knitwear haute couture) on the block.

But no one my age did those kinds of things. As I was growing up, my friends teased me for acting like a grandma and asked if I'd rather sit at home knitting an afghan or some baby sweater instead of going to a party. And despite the fact that I love to kick it almost as much as anyone, I can admit that there were some times I would have rather sat at home with a bundle of yarn and a good movie than get all dolled up just to dodge projectile postparty puke. If that qualified me for an AARP card, then I was ready for my senior discounts.

Nowadays, knitting has become sort of like a religion to some people. And that's awesome; there is so much more variety available in yarn, needles and ideas that I can make so many more projects that wouldn't end up taking top prize at an Ugly Christmas Sweater party. But at the same time, I can't help but feel snotty that it's become so trendy. I used to be so unique knowing how to do that stuff. Most "knitters" out there these days could probably cable circles around me as though it was no big thing.

But I guess I can take comfort in the fact that I'm the only one of my nani's 14 grandchildren who ever got the hang of it.

*The title of this post came from a Transplants song my boyfriend put on a mix cd for me. However, there are times when I actually do talk like that.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

don't you dare say my people are "so last year"

I've never really been into fashion. Sure, I leaf through the magazines and marvel about how fads spin back around on one big old lazy Susan of pantleg widths and sleeve lengths, making what was fugly in high school somehow cool now. And yeah, sometimes I make clothes, but sewing is more an exercise in seeing if I can pull it off than actually parading around in something that executed my "vision." Once in awhile I'll put together an outfit that makes me feel like a million bucks all day long, but most days I'd rather sleep in a little longer than put in the effort.

But Indian clothes are the exception.

For most of my growing-up years, we socialized with a whole community of Aunties and their families who gathered once a week for tea, one-upping each other and some religion. The women came dressed to impress. Whether they were sporting a cotton salwar kameez or a two-ton gilt sari, they'd always have jewelry and shoes to match. And on Christmas, New Year's and Easter? It was a virtual fashion show up the aisles.

I understand that prancing around like that defeats the entire pious purpose of worship. But when it comes to The Community, you've gotta keep up with the Singhs. And there was no way my mom was going to let me get showed up by any of those other chickadees, so every week I'd wear a simple-but-cute outfit with matching anklets, bangles and jewelry. Even though I put on quite a showy protest of being hassled, I secretly loved having the whole morning to sleep in then take my sweet time getting ready. And being fawned on by the Auntie Patrol made it even better.

I don't make it to many of their gatherings anymore, and I kind of miss those quirky people with their junior-high drama about who didn't invite whom to what and tasty tasty food. And I have a walk-in closet full of salwar kameez, lenghas, chaniya cholis and saris that rarely get to see the sun (my extended family goes way overboard with the gifts whenever we come to visit).

Spread from the October issue of InStyle magazine, featuring saris as "the look."

On one hand, it's freaking fantastic for me to see what I grew up thinking was beautiful and elegant getting mainstream American fashion attention. But on the other hand, it just takes me back to all the other novely fashion spreads from years gone by with headlines like, "Trendwatch: Bindis and Bangles" or "This season add a touch of Spice to your wardrobe" over photos of models in skirts with sari-like trim or "Indian-inspired" blouses. Don't get me wrong, I wear a lot of that stuff. And I think it's cool that other people do, too. Indian fashion is so diverse on its own that it's really very insulting to see such a big part of my identity being reduced to a fashion fad.

It seems the magazine editors are starting to recognize this, which is refreshing. In Aishwarya Rai's caption, they gave Tarun Tahilani props as designer and have chosen a variety of styles to profile. Perhaps if I see more of this stuff in the magazines, I'll feel comfortable enough to bust out my outfits on the streets of mainstream America, too.

Monday, November 26, 2007

he even threatened to take my card

H got into town the day after Thanksgiving, and when we went to my parents’ house, my mom served up the choicest cuts of turkey leftovers along with some of her homemade cilantro chutney. Personally, I found this particular batch of the sauce to be really potent and chased my little dab of it with a big mouthful of mashed potatoes, but H was all about it, slathering it all over the turkey and going back for more and more. Frankly, I was a little surprised, but he earned some major cool points with my mom just by being himself.

The next day, we headed over to BW-3s/Buffalo Wild Wings (an old favorite from my Champaign days) and ordered up some medium-heat hot wings and appetizers. For some reason, I wasn’t able to handle it—my nose started running and my tongue was lolling just a little bit. H was looking at me like my hair had spontaneously burst into small, flickering flames, because normally I like things pretty spicy.

“That’s it,” he said. “I think I might have to revoke your Indian license.”

Sunday, November 25, 2007

a long, cold post about a long, cold night

My parents have a huge tv. And by huge, I mean of wooly mammoth proportions: a 60-inch screen, rear-projection behemoth that was WAY too large for their modest-size family room. And is probably near woolly-mammoth status in age, too. The red in the picture is completely gone and in the last few weeks, the blue has steadily started to wear away, too.

So this past August, for their thirtieth anniversary, my brother and I decided to get them a new one. Mostly because they didn't want us to throw them party or send them on a vacation, and we didn't want the milestone to go unrecognized. So H helped us find a great online deal on a 42-inch flatscreen HDTV. We were thrilled.

Unfortunately, my father was not. You see, when technological items enter our home, they rarely get to leave until they've become fossilized. My father is a very handy type of person who doesn't believe things should ever break or wear down, and somehow manages to resuscitate everything, from the '80s water heater to the vacuum cleaner he got as a company gift in 1979--we used that sucker until last year when Hoover discontinued making the vacuum bags it needs. And because we keep things forever, he's extremely picky about what we buy. In fact, he had some charger-thing on backorder with a tv repair shop for the woolly mammoth that is set to arrive and bring back the colors sometime in the next six months.

So the nice anniversary tv with all the colors went back before it even arrived at the house. I was disappointed, but not terribly heartbroken about saving the money. But now that the woolly mammoth is starting to lose blue, too, we decided something needed to be done. Even if it meant shopping during the nightmare that is Black Friday.

H mentioned that the electronic big-box stores were having some sweet deals this year and the tv we had bought and returned would be another $400 cheaper. If we were to get it, that is. But I had learned my lesson, and we got my dad to pre-approve a few models before we went out there. It turns out, he only liked one: a Panasonic flatscreen HDTV 1080p model, and we had to talk him down from a 50-inch to the 42. It was advertised on a non-BestBuy website as being for $899, normally $1799.

So we knew what we wanted and we knew where to get it. No big, we thought, Best Buy will open its doors at 5 am and we just have to show up a little earlier to make sure we get in. Right? But then H mentioned something about hearing that they gave out tickets of some sort at 3 am, and that you could only get those doorbuster deals if you had one. And then my brother's ex-girlfriend called to say that she saw on the news that people were already lining up around the block at the Best Buys around St. Louis, so maybe we should drive by and take a look at our chances.

So we headed over there. Not to the store in the bustling mall area, but one in a smaller town that we figured wouldn't be as crowded. And there was still a line nearly two blocks long. At midnight. Oh, and did I mention it was a whole TWENTY degrees in Chicago that night? It was a good thing that we both were wearing two shirts, sweatshirts, two pairs of pants, two pairs of socks, ski gloves, hats and scarves. But I still sent my bro home to get a folding chair and a couple of heavy blankets. And we were the amateurs! There were people with TENTS set up, and even a group with a propane-fueled heater. We were embarking on a serious mission here, and there certainly were some haters who drove by and shouted things at the line. One even threw a cup of coffee at people.

My brother and I took half-hour turns sitting in the car. H kept me company on the phone, but after he'd gone to sleep all I could think about were homeless people who didn't have many options for warming up and how I was doing all this for a freaking television. If it weren't for my parents, I'd have really thought again. I was sitting stiffly in the chair with a blanket around my legs and the heavier one over my head, and suddenly everyone got up and started RUNNING toward the entrance, leaving their chairs, blankets and empty thermoses strewn along the sidewalk like the wake of a tornado. It was quarter to 3 am. I didn't know what the hell was happening, but flung off the blanket and ran as fast as I could, hurdling all the debris.

People who got in line an hour after us were suddenly way ahead of me. There was a lot of grumbling camaraderie, and a woman who had done this many times before explained the drill: you get a ticket for the thing you wanted--no mercy for browsers--and if you're lucky enough to get one, you have until 9 am to claim your prize or else it'll be open to anyone. We grabbed the ticket for the tv and I held it to my heart. The very vocal black woman who had come all the way from Chicago told us that the other Best Buys in her area had lines twice as long at 11 pm and that she had her heart set on a laptop. The couple ahead of us (who really should have been behind us) wanted a TomTom at $119. We forgave their cutting because we weren't going for a tv.

By then, we had been in line for three hours and some minutes. My feet felt like sheets of glass that would probably shatter into a million pieces if stepped on or used in any way, and my brother said he didn't think he still had fingers. We decided not to stay for a second item and to go home to warm up and get a little rest. But first we wanted to verify that our ticket was getting us what we had hoped for, only to find that instead of 1080p, it was a 720p television.

So it turns out the deal we waited outside in below-freezing temperatures all night for wasn't quite as sweet as we had thought.

That was kind of a bummer, but we didn't want our wait to go to waste. Plus, if my parents had any idea that we were going to have to wait outside in the cold, they'd never allow us to do it or they'd yell at us for acting like fools for a tv that they'd say they didn't really need.

The tv is up and running, now with a gorgeous picture--with all the colors. No one really said much as far as praise; probably because very few televisions could live up to the hype created by what we went through to get it. But one thing's for sure, it's a giant step up from the woolly mammoth, and I'm sure as hell that nobody's going to complain.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Or maybe her real name is Alberta

"You know, I was thinking. Why are the parents named normal things like Fred and Wilma, but their kid's name is Pebbles?"

"Yeah, and Bam-Bam? What kind of name is that? Sounds more like a caption from the Adam West-era Batman."

"Dude, if Pebbles and Bam-Bam got married, she'd be called 'Pebbles Rubble.' "

"She'd probably keep her name. The Flintstones were pretty progressive for the Stone Age."

Friday, November 23, 2007

black friday

The reason today is called Black Friday is because that is the color the tips of your toes and your nose turn after waiting in line outside in the middle of the night in 20-degree weather.

It is also the color of the hearts of people who think it is okay to cut in front of you after you've been waiting for four hours.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

happy thanksgobble

I hope that all of you are stuffed full of love and good food and are snoozing away on the couch. I give thanks for every single one of you.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

let's just hope we don't get stuck

The first time H came to visit me in Chicago, it was an unusually warm November weekend. We did all the cheesy Chicago touristy things like hang out at the top of the Sears tower, indulge in delicacies from Portillo's, wander around Navy Pier and catch a 3-D Imax movie about space narrated by Tom Hanks. You know, first-datish stuff. And I was doing all the normal beginning-of-the-relationship test stuff, like see if he held the door open or noticed when I was cold and tried to do something about it. Things were going well, and he earned all E's for effort on that report card. Then one afternoon we tried to enter the Kenneth Cole on Michigan Avenue--through a revolving door.

There are some revolving doors out there that are designed to accommodate multiple people. You know the ones, they're found in hospitals and all-you-can-eat restaurants, and sometimes they even have motion detectors and rotate by themselves. However, in my experience, the pie-piece spaces in a run-of-the-mill revolving door are designed for single capacity only. And when H got right into the space with me, I came to know exactly why. When there are too many people in a revolving door, there's no room to move your legs and actually make it revolve. It took some fancy coordination and Fred-Flintstone-like quick babysteps, but we finally got out of there. I turned around and said to H, "What the HELL was that?" He was like, "What? That's not how you do it?"

It turns out that they don't have a whole lot of revolving doors in Southern California. Their main purpose is keeping the cold outside and the heat inside. And because the weather is always 70 degrees F and gorgeous, they don't have a whole lot them where H is from.

He's coming back to town soon, but I'm pretty sure that after two years he's got the hang of the whole revolving door thing. I just want you all to know that I don't plan on missing any posts for the rest of the month. But I just want it on record that getting stuck in a revolving door is a legitimate excuse.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

so ridiculous it still makes me smile

In my first job out of college, I worked in two offices. From Tuesday through Friday, I was at my desk in a small satellite office. And on Saturdays, eight of us worked in the huge main office that looks sort of like a spaceship from the highway. The were no suits on the weekends, so we could dress down and joke around as loudly as we wanted as long as the work got done. But outside of our small group of cubicles, the empty building was really creepy. And I've never been good with lonely places.

Cc was on that crew, too. When I first met her, I admit I was a little intimidated. She was all business, striding around the department with her black boots and New York accent and focusing on work with steely concentration. But after several of those relaxed Saturdays, I noticed her sense of humor would break through the serious facade and catch everyone by surprise.

One afternoon in the mothership, I was walking around in a bit of a fog because I had been out late the night before. I left my desk to use the restroom. It was a huge one with a carpeted foyer area with a chair and a couch, where rumors said the weird IT guy slept late at night. And that day the feminine product machine must have been broken, because there was a gigantic box of them on the counter. I remember seeing that box on the way in and thinking, Damn, that's a lot of tampons.

I went into a stall and was minding my business, when a shower of unused tampons suddenly came raining down on me. I hadn't heard her come in, but cc was throwing them over the door and laughing hysterically. Especially because my gut reaction was to yell, "Heeey!" not unlike a little kid would if someone snatched her candy. She just wanted to see what I'd do and it seemed like she enjoyed the reaction. It was so ridiculous. But for some reason, that's when I knew we would be friends for a very long time.

Even all these years later, cc can make herself crack up just by thinking about my reaction to those flying tampons; it freaks people out on the train or in the elevator when she laughs to herself for no apparent reason. And now that I know her a lot better, when I think back on that incident, I can't believe I was surprised.

Happy Birthday, cc. Now if I enter a stall whenever you're around, I know to cover my head.

Monday, November 19, 2007

there's a reason i'm always ten minutes late

My mother has this habit of "rounding" the time. Like when we were growing up, when there was a 8:30 am dentist appointment, she'd tell us it was at eight so that we'd be strapped into the car by 8:15. This was clever, but we really got screwed during the times when the appointment actually was at 8 am.

I blame her for my overly optimistic time-judgement, which has put me in a perpetual rush for nearly all of my life. It's been a running joke in the family that I've only been on time once in my life, and that was on the day I was born: Monday morning at 10:30 am. It was the target day the doctors had expected and I showed up, just as predicted.

So while I've been unemployed, I've gone through some of the boxes of miscellaneous things and happened to stumble upon an envelope stashed among old magazines and tax bills from 1987. In it were our birth announcements, Christening announcements as well as the little placards they put on our clear plastic cribs in the hospital nursery where we hung out to be gazed upon through the window after we were born.

Of course I was comparing them, because I like to win. My brother was 19 inches long and I was 19 and 1/4 inches long; he weighed 5 pounds, 8 oz. and I weighed 5 pounds, 10 oz.; even my room number was higher than his (I was in room 234 and he was only in room 232.) All was right in the world. Until I looked at the birth times. It turns out that I was born at 10:40 am, not 10:30.

Suddenly I felt like all my life, I'd been living a lie. And when I told my mother, she she shrugged it off. "Eh, 10:40, 10:30, it's practially the same thing."

From this point on, I take no responsibility for my inability to show up on time.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

because if i can't feel, i cannot complain

All I remember about when my childhood dentist numbed my face was that odd no-sensation feeling. For hours, I kept making sure I wasn't drooling or if all the food got from my fork safely into my mouth. Sometimes, just to check if the Novocaine had worn off, I'd smack myself and be appalled that it felt like slapping a side of beef that was somehow glued to my head. Even though, duh, that's what was supposed to happen. But still it amazed me. Every time.

So yesterday my dad gave me this spray to resolve some of my throat issues. One spritz and the itch was gone, but it left the inside of my throat completely numb. So of course, after a few minutes I began "checking" to see if it was still working. Swallowing hard, clearing my throat, trying in vain to get the insides of it to rub together somehow and locate any sensation.

It was such a bizarre feeling, especially because it was coming from the inside of my neck. After awhile, I was concentrating so much on testing it that I couldn't really pay attention to anything else. Eventually it wore off, but instead of reaching for the spray I felt a sense of relief that I could feel again, even though it was unpleasant. I decided that these newfangled medicinal treatments are probably more trouble than how much they help and busted out a bag of Ricola throat drops instead. I'm not ready to shout from the mountaintops yet, but I'm getting there.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

throat for sale

What is it about throats that makes them all sandpapery and itchy, so much so that it inhibits your ability to understand the plotline of Heroes and forces you to rewind every few minutes; however, only a few days later it's so slippery and slimy-feeling that you have no choice but to turn the television up to maximum volume to still be able to hear the Desperate Housewives' desperation over all the hacking attempts to get it back to only just feeling sandpapery?

Friday, November 16, 2007

chilling...till the next episode

People, I have a problem.

It all started when CBS had long-running football, which would push back Sixty Minutes, which would in turn push back The Amazing Race. I had to start taping Cold Case (which comes next) to make sure I didn't miss a single second of the Race, but then when football stopped being a nuisance I kept taping it.

And now I am thoroughly hooked, like a stiff, dead body hanging frozen in a meat locker.

I don't know if it's because of the redemption factor or because I like the era-sensitive musical score or the way they cut from characters the way they were back in the day to present. H has made a very logical case for how the storylines are farfetched, but I don't seem to care. In fact, I now dvr the late-night reruns and catch up on episodes when Justin Chambers from Grey's Anatomy was Lily Rush's partner instead of Danny Pino (who is an improvement, in my opinion--Alex is better in a hospital environment).

It was all good until that episode about four innercity kids who were made to stand in a box and then locked up in storage-unit freezers with their fingers cut off and it was all because some kid had a bad experience in a home when he was young and... oh I had a nightmare about that one.

But I bounced back quickly; Now I just won't watch it very late at night.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

in that case, i'll just drive dirty

a) indoors, surrounded by concrete cinderblock
b) no music?
c) NO MUSIC?!?

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

if one of those lands on me, you'll find it in your eyeball

I do not care WHO you think you are, it is NOT okay to clip your nails during a crowded and herkity-jerkity train ride. Wait till you get outside, away from hordes of people! I have no idea where you were sitting/standing, but after I heard those clip-clip noises, there was nothing I could do to get back to sleep for fear there was an errant former piece of your body lodged in my hat or my hair.

I'm still shuddering thinking about it.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

i'll take everything but the hype. to go.

I've been an enthusiastic member of several failed book clubs. I'm not sure why they don't seem to work out, but I haven' t been to a single gathering at which every person has actually completed the reading. Maybe it's never meant to be for me. That's probably because The Universe knows that if there's one thing I love, it's to tell other people what I think.

So I've accepted that I'm alone in this reading thing. I just tell my notebook what I think instead. But I'm always trolling around for something new, trying to find something good and engaging that's either mostly undiscovered or old enough that I've missed out on all the hype. Because during that window in which everyone is all about it (I'm talking about you, Zadie Smith's White Teeth,) good books are like helium balloons with a slow leak: By the time you get around to them, they are doomed never to live up to all the rave reviews, and by that last page you're left with a limp piece of rubber and a resounding sense that you would've better spent that time watching a countdown on Vh1.

You'll see a little book on my sidebar from now on. It's linked to Shelfari, a new way for me to hunt around for something good to read. I've listed some titles that I've loved and if you're in the market for something to read, I recommend them (just click "next"). But that's all I'll say. I don't want to set you up for a letdown.

Monday, November 12, 2007

lifestyles of the rich and famous

"And then I was in the middle of telling him what Ruksana said, and he interrupted me."


"He said, 'Mom, why are you talking about all this other stuff when I called you for business reasons'? And I was like, "What business reasons?" And he said, "My Christmas List."

"SERIOUSLY? How old are we now?"

"That's what I said! I asked him, "You're 25 and you're still making Christmas Lists?!" And he just started telling me about how he needs a new golf jacket and some shoes and some other things."

"That kid's always had a lot of nerve."

"You didn't even hear all of it! He says to me, "Well, Mom, Cadiz is buying me a digital camera for Christmas."

"WHAT!? He just told me to ask H if he'd seen any good deals and that has somehow morphed into me buying him one for Christmas? I don't even have a job!"

"Be honest, Cadiz. You were already going to buy it, weren't you?"

"Yeah. But now I'm going to get him a pretend one from Toys 'R' Us, instead."

***UPDATE*** I asked my brother and he said he only told my mother "Cadiz is looking at digital cameras for me." But it wouldn't hurt to still check out the Fisher-Price/Barbie models as part of my research.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

but what if i can't find it?

Highcontrast has suggested there should be a book called Soul Searching for Dummies, and that I should set out to try and write it. Unfortunately, I'm not really sure what soul searching actually is. Whenever I sit around and try to contemplate where my life is headed, the exercise turns into a mental review of what has happened followed by thorough self-bashing over every single thing that I've done wrong along the way. Doesn't really sound very pleasant nor productive to me.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

lucky numbers

My phone rang this morning with a number I didn't recognize.

It turned out to be a really good family friend from back when I was in junior high, whom I'd lost touch with and hadn't heard from in a really long time. She said she found my number on a piece of paper among a whole bunch of old stuff and decided to see if it still worked.

It turns out that she just moved to a place about a mile and a half from me, works two buildings away from my old job and is pursuing her MBA across the street from my home. All without having any idea that I lived here.

She's having a party tonight, and though I have different plans, I'm really going to try and go. She's a great person, and I've missed having her in my life.

I feel like I just won the lottery. Not the kind of money to significantly change my life, but an amount that makes people feel like they're having a really lucky day.

Friday, November 09, 2007

up to the minute what i'm up to

Yesterday, I joined Twitter. Just in case my posting every day this month and assaulting the unsuspecting masses with commentary wasn't enough Cadiz for you, you can now track my movements, too.

Now all I have to do is come up with lots and lots of mundane activities to twitter about as a cover for all the secret government work I'm actually doing.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

you're making it real hard to be supportive, people

I have been diligently trying to uphold my promise to leave witty, encouraging comments on as many Nablopomo blogs as I can. And it's been going pretty well. Until today when I stumbled upon an interesting blog, read the entire lengthy post and even formulated a funny comment. But when I tried to post it, the blog began strong-arming me to join Vox, its bloghost. What's up with that? Disgusted and dejected, I was turned off.

And then the same thing happened to me with a WordPress user. This is really annoying, because his blog was very funny and I had a moment of genius-comment clarity, but was faced with having to register with WordPress to leave it. Seriously people, WHAT GIVES? I totally understand the thing about not wanting spam in anonymous comments and even just needing to know who it is commenting. I'm down with word verification and even submitting my email address. But registering? This kind of exclusivity is especially irritating. Dude, if you want to be so limiting on who can participate, why throw your hat into such an open and welcoming arena as NaBloPoMo in the first place?

I haven't had much luck with the randomizer, which seems clunky and not really random, so I've been clicking on interesting-sounding links from the list to some success. Granted, I have a little more time on my hands these days, but I'm working on DIALUP, people. One homepage can take up to 2 minutes to load if it's got enough bells and whistles and after I've read the post and crafted a comment, to not be able to share it is sort of a slap in the face.

I'm on a very strict schedule of sleeping, cooking, eating, not doing dishes and watching bad '80s movies on tv (yesterday I watched War of the Roses). I do not have time for this.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

boo-rthday surprise

It's only fair that, after I've subjected you to a long (and somewhat nasty) rant about surprise parties gone wrong, I tell you a little about a surprise party that went extremely well.

I've spoken at length about my high school friends, many of whom make regular appearances in my posts. And one thing we're known for are our birthday parties, which come close to being over the top. Kaiya's the old lady of the group, so parties for her tend to be a little more extravagant than the rest. There was a murder-mystery dinner where everyone dressed like someone from the '20s, there was an all-out luau with a six-foot fake palm tree and caribbean chicken skewers where Ri and I painted an oceanscape mural on the back of a refrigerator box (people posed in front of it for pictures), and countless other gatherings preceded by covertly procuring emails and phone numbers, staying up all night making Jell-O shots, frantically cooking and decorating, then yelling surprise.

You'd think that after awhile, people in the group would get wise to the not-so-"surprising" theme. You'd be right, but in the interest of fairness we've all been keeping up appearances (at least that's my theory) for years. This time being Kaiya's 30th, we figured it should be even more of a bang than usual.

Because Highcontrast lives in New York now, it's trickier to pick dates. Early on, we settled on November 10, and told Kaiya to keep it open. Ri asked her if she was in the mood for a big shindig with all the extended friends or a more intimate gathering with just the core group. Kai said intimate, and that was the last of her input on the matter. We had other plans.

While Kaiya was busy clearing her schedule for the 10th, Ri and her husband, C, announced that they were throwing a huge Halloween party in the multipurpose room of their condo, which has a kitchen and a sweet theater area. We spent an ungodly amount of time crafting a poem for a spooky yet birthday-ish evite, then mailed Kaiya a fake invitation. But getting many of her nonmutual friends on the list was proving to be really tricky. The party room has a max capacity of 45 people, and we were hoping to get somewhere in the comfy zone of 30-40 to make renting it worth the trouble. So all of us repeatedly hinted to Kai that we were inviting loads of extended friends and encouraged her to send a list of her own.

She sure did. Kaiya submitted a list of TWENTY-FIVE people, pushing the guest list very close to 60. Getting all those extra people past the doorman was going to be interesting.

We were convinced the jig was up: she must have figured out this party was for her and was sticking it to us for being so sneaky. Why else would she invite so many people? We thought the budget we had set would go totally out the window and began frantically looking for deals on liquor and decorations. But despite the new parameters (and a few glitches), somehow two kinds of punch got made, tiny appetizers got little toothpicks, cheese was cut into little triangles and arranged with crackers and pepperoni, fruit got cut up, pumpkin cookies were baked, ice chests were packed with booze, fake spiderwebbing (which smells like shit, btw) was draped around every immobile object, mini lanterns were lit, napkins were fanned out, banners were hung, the screaming doormat was functioning and in place, the Caution, Do Not Enter yellow tape was stretched across the room, and the music was pumping. AND, for which I am most proud, we only went $12 over the budget and had plenty of food and drink to spare.

The party was supposed to start at 6:30 and some of Kai's less experienced-with-us friends actually showed up on time, as we were running around costumeless and twisting crepe paper from the ceiling. The rest started trickling in, and by the end of the night we counted a total of 54 guests. So much for the one-third-won't-show-up rule. And while The Lady of The Evening did not arrive until 9:30, we were too busy rocking out with the life of the party(cc and ray busting out their b-girl moves) to worry too much about it.

Kaiya showed up dressed like Marilyn Monroe with a new guy we had yet to meet. And what a welcome that must have been for him, especially with the 20-minute nostalgic slideshow and body-less photos of her head taped up all over the place. And poor Highcon--who had told Kaiya he wouldn't be able to make it--he spent most of the party concealed in a stuffy Grim Reaper costume disguising his voice and introducing himself to everybody as "Fareed." That worked until someone whose actual name was Fareed showed up, and no one bought the story that Highcon's name had suddenly changed to Julio. But Kaiya was pleasantly surprised.

After the cleanup, sobering up, knocking out and breakfasting on cookies and birthday cake, Highcon, Ri and I deemed it the best party we've ever thrown. The guest of honor seemed delighted and even people we'd never met before said they were impressed. But the icing on the whole thing was when Ri told us how Kai pulled her side during the party and said something to the effect of:
"You know, when you asked me if I wanted a Big Deal birthday party or something small, I chose the more intimate gathering. But later, as you started talking about this Halloween party and I was compiling a list of people to invite, I regretted it. I kept wishing all those people were coming to my party, but I didn't want to ruin the fun of your Halloween thing by saying so. But then when I got here and realized this actually was my party, it just made my year. Thank you so much."
That made it all worthwhile. But seriously, the next time someone proposes a surprise party, that person's going to get smacked in the mouth.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Unemployed: Day Two

"What are you doing?"


"On what, your blog?"

"Yeah, so? I sent out some resumes, too."

"You spend so much time looking at that thing."

"It makes me happy. And what if one day I somehow get famous and I buy you a present and say, 'mom, THE BLOG paid for this present.'?"

"Oh, by that time I'll be dead, so it'll have to be flowers you can put on my grave. But I'm going to be cremated, so I won't even have a grave, so you'll just have to put them on the table and think of your poor, dead mother."

"Is all this continued death talk some sick and twisted way of encouraging me to hurry up and have children?"


Monday, November 05, 2007

Behold, the beauty in my tank

When I got the job for which I had my final day last week, my mom bought me a fish to keep on my desk, with the most adorable office-type setting in its tank. It's a Beta fish, with a reddish body and teal fins.

I took one look at the thing and groaned.

You can't really see it, but the red photo frame has a picture of two creatures hugging and behind the cabinet is a fine piece of plastic potted plantage.

It's not what you think. I happen to find the little fish so cute and lively. He responds to my mom's voice--and, by default, mine too because if it weren't for the accent, people wouldn't be able to tell who's speaking--and he flits around all day being all happy and not bored. What's not to love? But that's just the problem. I don't think I could handle coming home to find him unresponsive. I shudder at the thought. But of course I started preparing the speech I'd give while flushing the little cutiepie down the toilet the day I first laid eyes on him.

I didn't take him to work. Which was a good thing, because I got word of the layoff about two months after I was hired.

But despite my resistance, I did get hooked. This little fish just makes me smile. When there aren't people around, he snuggles up inside that green file cabinet and when I come up to talk to him or feed him, he pokes his face out to say hello.

Yes, I realize this is a horribly out-of-focus photo. But he's not very cooperative, so you get the gist.

I realize that this is likely one of those times where the owner/mother/caregiver thinks her charge is the most beautiful specimen of life on this earth and shamelessly subjects everyone around her to mundane stories and photos of him, but I don't care. This fish is frigging awesome. How often have you seen a non-legged animal rest his weary non-booty on a chair and give you the most sincere May I Help You look ever? There's a reason you come here, people.

No PhotoShop, I swear.

It's going to be a sad sad day when I lose this little guy, but one thing's for sure: he'll have a kickass obituary.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

the abcs of cadiz

Velocibadgergirl tagged me with an alphabet meme. Here's an alphabetical list of words that describe me:

affable (most times of the day)

bristly (when someone rubs me the wrong way)

competitive (I like to win)

devoted (don't mess with my peeps)

earthy (I'm down with worms, just not mosquitoes)

festive (I loves me a party!)

gullible (but I've heard that dictionary thing already)

heavy-footed (only when it comes to driving)

irascible (but I calm down pretty quickly)

judicious (but sometimes it's hard to be fair)

keeper (i.e. packrat)

lamenter (I wish I could think faster on my feet)

madcap (only in certain, oldschool company)

nimble (it'd surprise you how quickly I can get across the room to the snooze button and back)

obstinate (this was suggested by my boyfriend. what does that say about me?)

precise (I'm not always right, but I try to be correct)

quirky (a quality I look for in any good friend)

rollicking (just put on some bumping music)

sleepy (I've managed to hold onto that childhood habit of passing out midsentence)

tyrant (mostly when it comes to wielding the remote control)

unruly (don't you go telling me what to do--unless you're my mom)

voracious (when it comes to gobbling up a good book)

warm (you probably want me at a party where you don't know anyone)

xenophile (I'm obsessed with my own and other cultures. Okay, I looked that one up, but it's true)

yowly (things always seem to go wrong, and I just can't keep quiet about it)

zesty (but that may have something to do with my soap)

Saturday, November 03, 2007

sweet home--for now--alabama

As part of my whirlwind October, I paid a visit to my darling brother in Mobile, Alabama a few weeks ago. Things have finally slowed down enough for me to post about it, but to be perfectly honest, I kind of enjoyed my bro continually checking for a post. The best part of being an older sister is toying with the little brats, isn't it?

Because I had a free voucher for United Airlines, I flew into New Orleans (they don't fly into Mobile) and my brother rented a car to come and pick me up with his roommate, Mark. We spent some time hanging out at the Riverwalk and I was thoroughly chastised for stopping to read historical placards around town. For the rest of the weekend, they made sure someone was always walking between me and any reading materials. And this behavior was coming from two people supposedly completing college degrees. They claim they don't read, which baffles me because I did an immense amount of reading to avoid math when I was in school. But if all goes well, University of South Alabama will give them diplomas, so maybe that's how it works these days.

They live in a lovely house Mark bought from his grandparents with a woodsy back yard and a kitchen three times the size of ours (my mother would be so jealous). It's so nice and peaceful. And so many trees!

The "Avenue of the Oaks" at Spring Hill College, where graduates get to parade after they've received their diplomas. Mobile has plenty of tree-lined streets, but this was by far the loveliest.

I can't say the skyline is much to brag about, however.

They took me on a tour of the area, then capped it off by playing touchscreen video games at McDonald's. I have to say, the concept of eating all Chicken McNuggets and then touching a screen 10,000 other people have touched with their licked fingers is kind of gross (and when the screen goes black between games, you can see all the grease on it, too). I used my knuckle, which is the excuse I'm sticking to for why I was so badly trounced by the boys at touchscreen minigolf. Besides, of course, the fact that those boys devote a considerable part of every day honing their video-game skills while the rest of us are wasting our days working.

On "College Football Day" (Saturday, to those of you who don't bleed the colors of your team) it was more fun to watch the boys scream and throw things than the actual players on one of their three tvs. My brother's ex and I had to practically tear him away to go to dinner, at Felix's Fish Camp, a place I've been hearing about for years.

Gorgeous location, right on the ocean. Even the underside of the restaurant was lovely.
And the food was just as good.

That happened to be the night when LSU and Kentucky went into triple-overtime, so my brother stayed in the bar area watching the game for an extra forty minutes. His ex and I spent the time sharing a plate of oysters and some great conversation. And I've got to say, she spoke more on that one day than I heard her say during the entire four years they had been together, and I liked her so much more than I ever did before.

After dinner, we picked up Mark and headed to Biloxi. Both Mark and my brother's ex had spent quite a bit of time there before Hurricane Katrina, and as we drove around they pointed out places they used to go to that are now piles of rubble or nothing at all. The gas station the ex filled up at every time she went to visit her grandmother was reduced to two poles sticking out of the ground, and her grandmother's house on Ocean Drive is now nothing but an empty lot. It was really sad.

And when we went to the Hard Rock Casino, they had a whole display of destroyed memorabilia. The first time they opened the place was on the day that Hurricane Katrina struck, and only a handful of items could be salvaged. But they've rebuilt, and it's a pretty flashy place.

A whole wall of famous guitars, costumes and other memorabilia from hard rockers through the ages.

New Orleans was devastated very badly, but it seems like the rest of the affected areas don't get nearly as much attention. I used to joke around with people who continually asked me what I was going to do about finding a job by saying that H and I would move to Biloxi and join the circus. But after I saw how hard it's been on the place even this long after the hurricane, I feel like I need to choose a new place to joke about. As of right now, I'm thinking Poughkeepsie. Is that a big circus town?

The next day, my bro and I headed back to New Orleans. He and I hung around the French Quarter and had beignets and special-blend coffee at Cafe du Monde and caught some awesome street performers. Then we headed out and shared a meal at the airport.

I've gotta say, it was a great weekend. My brother has come such a long way from the whiny tag-along he once was, and I genuinely enjoy his company (but don't tell him I said so). It was certainly nice to be waited on by him, and I really liked his friends. In the time since I've been home, I've caught myself counting down the months until he comes home after graduation. There's something I can't explain that makes me feel happy and safe whenever he's around.

But ask me again when he's been home for a couple months and you just might get a different answer.

Friday, November 02, 2007

fraternizing with the enemy

"Oh my god I HATE CLIENTS! The deadline was this morning and now they're like oh, btw, we absolutely can't have this in there and you definitely have to change that about things they themselves approved WEEKS AGO!"

"Omg I do that all the time lol."

"You're going to hell with the rest of them."


"But so truuuuue."

Thursday, November 01, 2007

pack it up, pack it in, let me begin

The last few days have been somber, with me packing up my files into faceless cardboard boxes, dismantling furniture and watching cabinets empty themselves out onto the floor. I had my last meal at Brett's Kitchen and shed a tear or two at the timing that our office was closing right after The Onion headquarters moved in next door. So little time for witty banter at the elevator, but I did manage to squeeze some in, even though I didn't always get their jokes.

As for the job front, there isn't much to report but I fear jinxing myself as much as your average third grader, so hopefully there will be some good news soon. In the meantime, I'm struggling to keep my patience with this dialup connection at home and I'm embarking on the joy that is Nablopomo. Many other lovely bloggers (some 3813) have joined up, including some of my favorite peeps. You can check out my profile page or just browse around--you may just find your new favorite blog. Posting every day of November is tricky business, so every comment is even more appreciated than usual. I'm promising to leave a few comments every day at places I've never been. Good luck to everyone!

Monday, October 29, 2007

swiper, don't swipe!

Last night I got a call from my credit card company, saying that there were some fraudulent charges on my card. I was pretty impressed they figured it out after only three fake charges. And while I am very careful about where I use it, I have been throwing around that piece of plastic quite a bit lately in many different parts of the country. However, it seems that someone had memory on their machine and made a counterfeit card that s/he's been able to swipe and charge to my account.

I'm guessing they figured it out because I was making charges here in Chicago at the same time they were living it up at Von's and Albertson's in Redondo Beach and Torrence, California. They also made an $8 charge online, which is baffling not only because it was so small, but they certainly wouldn't be sending it to my house. I'm so relieved my company caught it in time, but hearing about this has made me feel violated and extremely paranoid. Not that I needed any more encouragement on that last part.

Watch your wallets, people.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

you're so not invited

Dear H’s friend,

You are now officially on my LIST.

When I met you two years ago at the Christmas party for your and H’s company, I got a cold reception; barely a hello even though we were all sitting at the same table. But I didn't think much of it. For all you knew, it may not have worked out between me and him, and there’s no use getting to know someone who lives 2,000 miles away if you never see her again.

Then at the next year’s Christmas party, you didn’t even address me when we were all standing around in a circle under a plane. H was talking to someone and I didn't really know anyone else. I was baffled and kept wondering if you didn't like me for some reason. Sure, my clothes sometimes carry the faint aroma of samosas and I probably smile a little too much, but still. H told me not to worry about it, but I'm just not the let-it-go type, especially if I feel like I haven't done anything wrong.

I was determined to crack the mystery. I called you two months before H’s 30th birthday this year and asked if you’d like to help me do something nice for him. I figured it was a way to better get to know the people he hangs out with every weekend and it'd make him happy. I can’t say I was surprised you didn’t get back to me right away, but I was delighted a few weeks later when you called and offered to throw a party for him at your house. You said you’d get the word out and I suggested you send all the coworkers an evite; it’d be nice for H to see his pals from the office again. I was busy constructing a web of lies to get H to drive us three hours out of his way to go to your house when I came out to visit. And it was proving to be tricky.

About a week and a half before our agreed-upon date, I called to find out how the party planning was going and if I could do anything to help. I found out that you never sent any evite or told anyone at work, and the five-person guest list extended to the far-reaching corners of your living room (it consisted of your siblings, roommates and one friend who comes over all the time). I was baffled, especially because you work and play softball with so many of H's friends. And by that point, most people would have made commitments for that weekend and would likely not come, and I had already booked my tickets to fly out there.

H had told me that the weekend after I came to visit, you and your brother were throwing a Halloween party at your house. Everyone was coming as a rock star, and he was trying to think of what to wear. Just out of curiosity, I asked you about it. You said you invited 40 people from work and your brother invited 50 people from around town where you all grew up together. Granted, I've been told your brother probably had more to do with getting that shindig together—he's also the only one of you guys who came up to me at the Christmas party, said hello and asked me how my flight was. In fact, I'm kicking myself for not just contacting him about all this, because he's always been pretty cool and seems like someone who keeps promises.

You, on the other hand are NOT so cool. Believe me, I'm well aware that hosting parties is exhausting, and that you decided to have a big one the very next weekend. If it was too much work, I wish you had told me you wouldn't be able to do it instead of just sort of letting it fizzle out, or not even offered at all. And after seeing your lackluster enthusiasm and that limp guest list, I decided to cancel the party. It would have taken some fancy footwork to convince him to go all the way to your house from his sister's (whom we'd be visiting that weekend). And for a half-hearted evening, it just wouldn't be worth it. I was sad about canceling, but it turned out okay because nearly all of H's family decided to come down to his sister's place. We'd have our own little party for him. I wasn't going to tell him about the failed attempt because nothing sucks worse than no one doing anything for your birthday than no one doing anything for your birthday and then telling you about all the stuff they didn't do.

I figured what H didn't know couldn't hurt him. Then I found out that you told him about it. "We were going to throw you a party, but Cadiz canceled it," is what I believe he said. His reaction was pretty matter of fact, though, and he said it was no big deal. "When your birthday is on Halloween, Cadiz, you pretty much get used to everyone rather doing other things than celebrating it." That just broke my heart.

I was LIVID. Not only did you totally drop the ball on me, you disappointed a guy who has always gone out of his way to help you out, be it for rewiring your computer system and giving you advice on buying electronics or volunteering to do the annoying duties of a softball team manager when no one else wanted the hassle. And even though he blew it off, I don't think H would have told me what you said if it hadn't bothered him. And on top of all that, his sister said she bumped into you at a wedding, you asked her if you had to come all the way down to her house for H's birthday and she said, "No, but what you do have to do is offer your house for a party." That was the night you called me. So you didn't even come up with THAT on your own!

You may be one of his oldest friends, but from what I've seen, you're not a very good one. I'm pretty much over being mad at you, but I'm not in a hurry to hang out with you anytime soon. Or ever. I made an effort, but I've given up trying to figure out what your problem is. H has plenty of other friends who—even though they're far away—I'm sure would be delighted to do something nice for him. I plan on contacting them in the future.

When I found out you told him about the botched plan, I was so angry I said to my coworker, "I don't care who H is marrying, THIS GUY is not going to be invited." I'm sure he isn't getting married anytime soon, but that's lucky for you if he wants me to be his wedding planner. Because it'll take me a very long time to forget about this.

Monday, October 22, 2007

trial by fire

When she was first teaching me to prepare Indian food (read: making me stand near her but not allowing me to touch anything), my mother would often say it was imperative that I figure out this cooking thing or else my mother-in-law would ask why mom didn't teach me anything and throw me out into the street (in oldschool India, when a girl got married she went to live with the inlaws and often did all the housework). I quickly got bored of standing around and laughed it off. I told her I was only going to marry someone from America who would share in the household duties and who definitely would not still live with his mom, then went back downstairs to watch tv.

Later, in the race against expiration, I got more of a wing-it-and-be-critiqued culinary education (it's much easier to cook when she's not physically in the kitchen telling you to "move your hands and feet faster"). After I'd mostly finished the dish du jour, she'd look into the pot and throw a pinch of this and a shake of that into the mix to fix it. When I'd ask what I'd done wrong, she'd quote her own mother with "all you have to do is look at uskii shakal (its face) to know if you did it right." Mrs. Leuken certainly did not make Baked Alaskas and Peach Cobbler this way in seventh grade Home Economics class; she gave out written recipes. On the other hand, my mother's idea of a recipe is to tell you to put a "fistful" of this and and a "little bit" of that and "don't forget to throw in some" of whatever else. Repeating it too many times or writing it down is too taxing, and she'd remind me that if I had stood around and watched when I was a kid, this wouldn't have been a problem. Then, for good measure, she'd tell me that my youngest aunt could cook ten-course meals around the time she was learning long division.

At some point I realized I can't keep running to mommy, and I'd need to at least learn how to prepare the things I enjoy the most--simple dishes that you can't really get at an Indian restaurant without gross bells and whistles. Things like kadhi, dal, parathas, rotis, egg curry, chicken curry, meat curry, bhindi, aloo bhaji, methi, gawar phali, tindoora, rass malai, kulfi, etc. I also realized that I inherited my mother's discerning taste for North Indian food--when it's comes to our house specialties, neither of us find anything comparable to her own mother's cooking, including her own. (Dishes we don't usually make, however, are pretty well received.) I admit, this is snobby. But a lot of people ask my mom to cook for them or for her recipes, and my nani was known as Mummy to their entire town and often had drop-in guests for dinner. There's gotta be something to that.

All of this is pretty hilarious when you consider that my mother has four other sisters and was considered inept at cooking by my nani when she was a kid. Mom preferred reading about chemistry to watching the cooking process, and was often to blame if something burned even if she was in another room. So she was in quite a pickle when she found herself on the other side of the world, married and trying desperately to remember what snippets she did recall from passing through my nani's kitchen. She's often told me that she didn't really learn to cook until she got to the U.S., but she must have picked up something back then: All five sisters' cooking is remarkably similar to my nani's. Which means she did her job. And biases aside, my mom is a great cook, especially considering the late start.

So when I agreed to cook for H's family, my mother helped me distribute the haldi, garam masala, mirchi, dhaniya, jeera, adrak, laung and other assorted goodies into separate plastic baggies. She gave me some of the rice we use, (knowing it's my weak point) and explained the trick to this specific brand several times. She gave me a hug and said to call if I ran into any problems, because this was likely some sort of potential-daughter-in-law test.

H and I went to the local Indian grocery store and bought the rest of the ingredients. I wasn't about to handmake rotis without my trusty tawa, so we used frozen naan and parathas from the store and I made chicken curry, spinach with potato, dal, raita (yogurt with tomato, cucumber and spices), and my nemesis--rice. But of course, I couldn't just have it plain, but threw in some vegetables to make it a little more fancy.

The potatoes were a little overdone and the shakal of the dal didn't exactly look like my mom's (somehow it's always the simple dishes that prove the hardest for me to master), but it tasted all right. I was pleasantly surprised at the chicken, but more ecstatic that the rice was neither under nor overcooked (luckily, I'd transferred it to a ginormous stock pot when I realized that the one I had originally chosen would be too small). It probably didn't hurt that I got to cook in a dream kitchen with pretty much any and every cool gadget and pretty pot in the catalog.

When I panicked and called my mom, it was mostly for reassurance. She asked if I had remembered to turn on the stove, laughed and said I'd be just fine. I needed to hear that nod of approval, because whether or not it was actually true, I did see this dinner as a test. However, to me it wasn't a test of being worthy of H, but more to prove that I am fit to be called my mom's daughter and my nani's granddaughter.

There's plenty of room for improvement, but I think I passed.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

the heat is on

I've been in California since thursday, and dreading today the last several weeks. You see, I agreed to cook an "authentic" Indian meal for H's family, and I've been freaking out ever since. Hopefully, I'll be able to keep my nerves at bay and not turn them off to the cuisine all together.

Wish me luck.

Monday, October 15, 2007

not conducive to the healing of the ulcer

I like to chat.
I am a bad liar.
Someone told me my face is louder than my mouth. And it's true.

And yet for some reason, I find myself compelled to plan Surprise Party after Surprise Party.

This year, all the planning is overlapping.
And there's quite a bit of stress.
Mostly because I can't keep my stories straight.
I have no idea what I've told to whom.
But in the end the recipients are happy, and so am I.

Unfortunately, being out of a job in a few weeks and having few viable leads is keeping me up at night, too.

And that stress is not quite as rewarding.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

'tis the season...almost

Last year, I signed up for NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month) started by the mastermind behind Basically, it's a commitment to post every day for the entire month of November. And from what I understand, there were some 2,000 participants and some lovely prizes. I fulfilled my obilgation, but it was rough going on some days to come up with anything to say every single day. Shocking, I know. But Jam did it, too. And so did Jon. And that immensely helped me keep going.

This year, they've created an entire social network. I signed up at the end of September and was the 198th person to join. As of this morning, there were exactly 1000 people registered and promising 30 days of nonstop blogging madness. And in the time it's taken me to write this, the number is up to 1007.

The sheer number of participants this early in the game seems to indicate that this thing has gone pretty Big Time. I've found several very cool blogs, and can already feel a little performance anxiety. So I've started to hunt around for some good topics to keep in my pocket for November, and stumbled upon this little idea. I'm toying with the idea of doing all thirty days about people I know.

Regardless, if there are things that you've been dying to know or questions you'd like me to address or topics in general that you'd like to see covered here, feel free to send me an email, carrier pigeon or telepathic message with your suggestions and recommendations. I appreciate your help and love to hear from you, as always.

Friday, October 05, 2007

it's a bad day if i awaken in a good mood

I woke up today in a good mood.

I even got out of the house on time and relished the lovely weather--unseasonably warm!

I managed to choose the perfect spot on the train platform to stand at because when the train stopped, the door lined up right in front of me, so i got on first and had my pick of the best seats.

I sat down, fished out my monthly pass and settled down with an excellent and captivating graphic novel, in which I was engrossed for several minutes.

And then I heard it.

It was low and gutteral and came at me in unexpected bursts from the seat directly behind me. The train is nearly silent in the a.m., so every time it tore through my tranquility with a rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrip, I'd cringe and sit up straighter in annoyance. This woman had sat behind me before, destroying my peaceful morning ride with her just-when-you-thought-she-was-done-oh-wait-she's-not throat clearing. But I didn't know what she looked like to avoid her. Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against throat clearing, sneezing or even repeated coughing. People need to do what they need to do. It's just hers that I cannot withstand: Quiet and painfully drawn out, not unlike the opening of candy wrappers reaaaaaallly sloooooowly in a darkened theater in hopes that no one will notice. And what's worse is that, to me, her particular throat-clearing sounds a lot like the noises very small children make when they're having difficulty trying to fill a diaper.

It took every atom of energy I had for nearly 35 minutes not to turn around and yell at the top of my lungs: LISTEN LADY, APPARENTLY YOU HAVE SOMETHING IN YOUR THROAT. WHY DON'T YOU PUT SOME EFFORT INTO COUGHING IT OUT AND DO SO IN AN ABRUPT, ALBEIT LOUD, MANNER? YOUR METHOD IS DRIVING ME FRICKING BALLISTIC! But instead I sat there, eyes glazed over, pretending to read but contemplating exactly how I'd word my bitter, hateful blog diatribe against her.

And then suddenly, it had been nearly ten minutes without a single rumble. I started to panic. What if throat lady could read minds and heard all the nasty things I was thinking about her? What if she's actually got an untreatable medical condition that causes her to annoy fellow human beings (the guy she was with was rocking some hugeass noise-canceling headphones)? What if this was the one incident that was pushed me completely into the Definitely Going To Hell category? I resumed full concentration on my book, and tried to think nice, apologetic thoughts.

But then she did it again. Just to piss me off. And the rest of my day hasn't been right since.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

the heart of the hood

Having grown up in suburbia, I'd always wanted to live that "city" life--you know, staying in some highrise and taking public transport everywhere and carting my groceries home in a little metal cart on wheels. It seemed so exotic and fancy. But over the years as I've hung out with cc in her hood, I realized that its neighborhoody vibe is much more my style. In Lincoln Square, they can walk to good restaurants and interesting shops, the El is nearby, friends don't have to spend 40 minutes trolling for parking (and when they do, it's free). The bumping nightlife isn't too far away, but the area is quiet with a lot of families. It has cute cafes, parks where kids play little league and martial artists practice on Sunday mornings, and its home to the Old Town School of Folk Music, which, despite it's hippie-ish name, offers classes in everything from Flamenco Dance to Capoeira.

This last week, I spent several more days at cc's barren digs. Even though we both had to work, we went to comedy shows, a friend's book release party, and stayed up watching all the premiere-week shows. It was a blast, as usual.

But as I was packing up my air mattress and saying good-bye, I was also getting my last look around her place. I've been coming over there for tea and great conversation for almost five years. I can't count how many times I've sat on her green-and-gray stripedy couch, gossiping until the sun peeked in through the blinds, the birds began chirping and her husband stumbled in half-asleep asking, "you guys are STILL TALKING?" Or how many times her son, b, came tearing down their long front hallway wearing some sort of superhero getup. I've crashed over there so much, and always got great sleep in that oh-so-comfy Spiderman sheet--covered bed.

It was hard to recognize the place without all the signs of the family who'd lived there: no framed black-and-white baby pictures on the walls; no wall-to-wall bursting cases of books; no viney-plant that I'd given them on the kitchen windowsill. (It touched my heart that her husband, P, took it to San Diego as a carry-on item). And there wasn't a Power Ranger in sight.

I know it's going to break cc's heart to hand over the keys today. Even though she was born and raised in New York, she appreciates how great this city is more than anyone else I've ever met. And while I'm lucky that she's going to be here for a while longer yet, saying goodbye to her place is just another reminder that soon I might be saying goodbye to her.

Lincoln Square is just never going to be the same.