Monday, November 28, 2005

It must be a Virgo thing

I cannot believe that the holiday weekend is over already.

Last night I delivered leftovers to my aunt. She is partial to turkey wings so I had saved them for her. Before going to her house, I met a friend at my aunt's favorite restaurant. This meant that I also had to pick up an order of their curried chicken noodle soup, my aunt's favorite.

My aunt and I discussed a number of things including the party invite for this week that I turned down. When I told her who was having the holiday party, she responded, "I don't know. I think I might have found a way to make it work." This was after I explained to her that San Diego to Santa Monica was at least a four hour drive roundtrip. Guess she thinks like Gloria.

The last thing we talked about before I left was my birthday next year. She agrees with me that I will be truly entitled to dinner at French Laundry although I also mentioned Fifth Floor. And of course my aunt also threw Chez Panisse into the mix. (At dinner, my friend agreed that we should try to milk our birthdays next year for all we can.) We also agreed that I should have a huge party. We're pretty sure about the theme but need to figure out the venue. She has some ideas and is going to do some research.

Well, seeing as I am only at work for a few hours today, I suppose I should actually get some work done. I'm off this evening to San Diego for training. Thank goodness. I just read the weather report -- rain all week up here. It's not hot in San Diego but at least it looks like it will be dry. I'll catch you up on all of the fun and excitement at the end of the week.

Friday, November 25, 2005

In recovery

I decided to forego the family thing yesterday. If you have had the pleasure to spend a holiday with my relatives, you would completely understand. Each year I drop a holiday off the list. Now we are down to birthdays and Christmas.

I love holiday food and so cooked for myself. The kittens carefully supervised everything from the kitchen floor. Each found a place to watch the turkey in the oven. It could have also been all the heat being generated by the oven.

I tried a high temperature method this year. Next time I will tent the breast with foil much sooner.

It's not really Thanksgiving unless one makes an utter pig of one's self. I promptly entered a food coma after consuming this food. I am currently trying to work up the energy to go and partake of the leftovers.

I think this photo of Boris taken after I finished eating sums up the feeling around here. I didn't even have room to try the pumpkin pie my neighbor gave me. Perhaps today...

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Greetings from the kittens

The kittens are hard to capture in a photo because they usually move so fast. Therefore, I have provided shots of what they do when they are not busy chasing each other.

Have a happy Turkey Day! We will be eating ourselves into a coma here.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

I actually love the holiday season.

OK. I will finally admit it here. Yes, I do indeed love the holiday season. Well, parts of it at least. What annoys me is getting together with relatives whom I can barely tolerate the rest of the year. Oh, and the pleasure of sitting in my car for hours just so I can hang out with these folks for a day. If it was just the men in the family, it probably wouldn't be so bad but the women on my dad's side of the family (the only family I have in California) can be downright bitchy. I think I can trace the problem back to the fact that most of these folks love the book, The Art of War. This is why I have reached a compromise with my dad. I spend Christmas with him. Any other holiday depends on my mood.

Thanksgiving in the past was spent at my dad's cousin's house as she is only about a 20 minute drive away. Last year I passed on that to go to a friend's house instead. Much more fun. We all cooked the dinner together while drinking copious amounts of wine and bourbon.

This year I haven't received one of those kinds of invitations. I'd probably pass though. All I want to do this Thanksgiving is to sit in front of the TV with the kittens. This brings me to another one of my Thanksgiving traditions. Years ago I realized that even if you leave with a plate of leftovers, it is not nearly enough. Days later I would find myself longing for turkey and cranberry sauce sandwiches only to not have any around. That is when I started purchasing a small bird and making all of the fixings.

I went out this weekend and bought all of the ingredients for my traditional Turkey Day feast. The only thing up in the air is what type of dessert to prepare this year. I'll probably also be making a care package. My aunt -- one the cattiest women in the family but I still love her even though I know she says some of the most horrid things about me behind my back -- does not really cook. She is also going in this week to have a lump removed. (Yes, it is cancerous.) So I figure one of the best ways to recover from surgery is to have a nice home-cooked meal. It is also part of my master plan to show that I really am a better person than she is. You gotta keep the enemies close. I mean, how else will I ever be able to take over the world?

Monday, November 21, 2005

Old movies

Last night I was watching Funny Face and it got me to thinking. I grew up on old movies. I am an only child and there weren't a lot of kids my age in the neighborhood when I was growing up. Then there were the rainy days. On those rainy Saturdays, I knew there was no leaving the house. That's when my movie obsession started.

I was talking to coworkers on Saturday. They were shocked that I appreciated the Three Stooges as women rarely like their brand of slapstick. (Ummm. Isn't that part of the reason the Lethal Weapon series was so popular?) I explained that I grew up around men who think that the Three Stooges are great. They are also known to have long discussions on which Looney Tunes character is truly the greatest. Mix into this a love of George Carlin, the Godfather trilogy, and anything with Clint Eastwood ... Well, you get the point.

When I wasn't around the men in the family, I drowned myself in old Hollywood horror and musicals. For years I thought that Marilyn Monroe was the epitome of female beauty and I hated myself. Then a magical thing happened when I was 10. I saw Breakfast at Tiffany's. So Holly Golightly isn't the nicest of people but she looked fabulous. Even more important, Audrey Hepburn was a stick. This was of great importance to a girl who was the tallest in her class -- and often teased for it. In second grade my nickname at school became "Mama Longlegs" because I was "just like a Daddy Longlegs spider" but a girl. I grew quickly so I had virtually no eye-hand coordination. This meant that I was guaranteed to be picked last for PE. Elementary school was a painful experience. Junior high and high school were not much more of an improvement.

Then I went to college. It was like family friends had promised, the most wonderful place on Earth. I purposefully decided to go to a college at which I didn't know anyone. I knew that I could completely reinvent myself. (By the way, I think I did a great job of doing such. Ask the guys who were at my high school reunion last year.) I knew that I had truly made the transformation when the Dean told me one day my sophomore year that I reminded her of Audrey Hepburn. I can't remember my full outfit but I do remember that I was wearing black leggings and ballet flats. I was also wearing a great straw hat. The dean's comment is one of the greatest compliments I have ever been given.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

I hate turning down invites

The week after Thanksgiving I have to go to San Diego for a training class for work. One of my coworkers forwarded to me an Evite he received from a place he had interned. He figured San Diego was close enough to Santa Monica. He also talked to the person arranging the party who said that she would be more than happy to put me on the guest list if I wanted to attend. The problem is that the party is on a Thursday night and the last day of my class in San Diego starts at 8:30 a.m. on Friday. I kept debating whether it was worth the drive. I guess I must be getting old because ten years ago I wouldn't have even bothered with the debate.

So now Gloria and Jen can be mad at me because, of course, I would have tried to find a way to get the two of them on the guest list as well.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

A new toy

Back to the frivolous...

I was watching a rerun of the Tyra Banks show on Monday morning. They were showing various photography related gadgets. The first item they showed was this cellphone. I must have this phone. I called my wireless carrier. They will be carrying the phone but apparently it is so new that they cannot even tell me the pricing for it. *sigh*

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Leaving on a jet plane

So the Belgian boy left today. I suppose he is somewhere over North America currently. Eh. Trying to think about it makes my brain hurt.

He stopped by last night to say hello, not goodbye. We chatted and watched the cats. It was also handy to have him around so I didn't have to carry the jumbo tub of kitty litter in for once.

He dreaded leaving because he really likes it here. He did mention something about it being between 0 and 4 degrees Celsius at home as opposed to the unseasonable 22 or so it has been around here for the last week. He wants to come back. He also asked when I am going to Belgium. (No, it has not previously been on my list of places to visit.)

When I got up this morning, I had an email waiting for me saying how nice it had been meeting me and that he will keep in touch. Of course, I will keep you all posted on what happens next.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Thank you, Laurie

The age spectrum and where one should date on it have always been kind of assumptions for me. It's also a topic upon which I have had numerous conversations in the past.

I met a woman in a bar who said the range should be plus or minus three years. Her theory was that you would share a lot of cultural references with someone within this range as you were both in high school at the same time. If you go outside of this range, it is a bit more difficult. You might be presented with blank stares when you mention a favorite song or movie from your youth. I like to think of this as the Hey Nineteen effect. It just dawned on me that I may have lost some of you with that reference.

My college roommate feels that one should only date those within a ten-year span of one's self. I have generally stuck to this rule. Of course this only applies once one has reached one's thirties. To do so in one's twenties could lead to criminal prosecution.

In college I dated one guy who was about eight or nine years older than I. He could be condescending at times. I don't think he did it on purpose. He just assumed that because I was younger, there were things I just wouldn't know. This has been the common experience in dating those who are older.

The other thing about dating older in one's thirties is that you start coming across the men who have been burned one time too many. I went out with this one guy earlier this year who was about five years older than I. I think he was afraid that women were trying to take advantage of him because he said that although he was willing to pay on dates, he expected the woman to pick up the check just as often. Then again, maybe he was cheap. OK. He was cheap. I stopped returning his calls after he told me that $25 was a ridiculous amount to pay for a bottle of wine.

The guys who have managed to stay around longer have always been younger. The last guy I seriously dated is four years younger than I am. We broke up years ago (he has this issue about moving out of his parents's house) but we have remained friends. Usually when I head to SoCal, we head out to dinner and a movie -- his treat. What's impressive is that he doesn't even have a job. (That was another issue with him. It also explains why he lives with his parents.)

I dated another guy who was eight years younger for a few months. He was a carpenter from Ireland. I know it was the accent that sold me. The relationship ended when he moved to Australia. It was nice being around someone who actually cared about my opinion.

A couple of years ago, my mom called me after watching an episode of Oprah. The whole show was on how women should start dating down the age spectrum instead of up it. My mom was excited and thought that she was telling me something new. I calmly looked at her and said, "Most of the guys I have dated over the past few years have been younger."

I guess it all goes back to this young man I met about five years ago. He was a bartender in my then favorite bar. Everytime I came in, he would try to ask me out and I would decline. When he asked me why, I replied, "Honey, you are just too young." (He was 21.) The next time he saw me, he said, "You know what the problem is? You keep dating guys around your age. They don't know how to treat women right. Us younger guys do." His explanation was that older guys are more concerned about themselves than the women they date, whereas younger guys will go all out to make sure you're happy. Maybe it's because they are just so happy you are with them.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Just call me Demi Moore

The Belgian is still around. That's why I am writing this post from work. I'll probably see him again tonight and won't have the privacy to write a post.

He stopped by last night and I forced him to watch Desperate Housewives with me. Apparently it is one of his mother's favorite shows but she has never subjected him to watching it. In the middle of the show, he asked me why I did not have a boyfriend. I always hate that question. Natasha, being the cheap slut that she is, promptly curled up in his lap and went to sleep. She only does this men. When women show up, she hisses and spits a lot. Actually she didn't really seem to like Hallway Boy that much.

I forgot to mention that the Belgian is 25. I verified this by looking at his passport. Oh, and if any of you care, he's a Pisces. When I shared this tidbit with my neighbor (I went by to visit her in between visits from the Belgian. Yes, he came by on two separate occasions yesterday.), she asked if I lied about my age. Ummmm, no. Was I supposed to? Anyway, feel free to do the math.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Return of the partygirl

So I didn't make it out on Friday night. The kittens tricked me into taking a nap instead. They have a way of doing that.

I did make it out on Saturday night though. I really had no choice as I had already paid for the tickets. I went with the girls to see a comedy show -- D.L. Hughley to be exact. Of course the girls have little ones at home so that meant that we went to the first show. I was home by 11 and that was entirely too early to call it a night. Besides I had on one of my favorite skirts. I realized over the weekend that there are clothing items that I miss because they are just not appropriate to wear to work.

When I put on the skirt, I thought about my aunt in Savannah. She always asks, "And why are you wearing that?" whenever I make these kind of fashion choices. The corect answer is, "Because I can."

One of my friends had parked at my place and was heading home. I asked her to drop me off at my fave bar on her way home. She decided to come in and then proceeded to complain. Her taste tends to be rather ghetto fab and she hates anything that takes her out of her element. Surprisingly she got into when I explained that even if it isn't your scene, you can always find some form of entertainment somehow. Even if it's just making fun of everyone else's outfits. She actually stayed past last call.

I ended up meeting a visiting Belgian firefighter. Unfortunately he goes home on Thursday. He emailed but of course I was still asleep. Perhaps I'll seem him later. Then again the kittens are saying that today could be another good day for a nap or two and there is a Gilmore Girls marathon.

Friday, November 11, 2005

I want it all

To continue from the last post, I guess what I really miss was the rock'n'roll life I used to have. When I made the career change, I made a lifestyle change as well. One can party til the wee hours of the morning and still be functional in front of a computer the next day. It is much more difficult to do this when one is faced with 28 11-year-olds at 8:30 in the morning though.

I am always quick to share the party memories but not the more recent ones. Jen was correct; I will never forget the hugs. When one kid calls me a bitch, I just remember the hugs I received from the others.

I taught sixth grade English and social studies my first year. I had a total of 75 students in three classes. At the end of the first marking period, I decided to let the students know what their grades. My second class had 25 students. As I told the last student his grade, I scanned the room and realized that I was missing a child. I found her curled up in a ball under her desk. She was sobbing uncontrollably. She was receiving F's in my classes. Seeing her crying made me want to cry. I sat down on the floor next to her and finally managed to coax her out. I explained why she had received the F's. I then asked what was worse -- receiving the F's or having to take home a report card that contained F's. As I thought, it was the latter. I told her that we were going to make a plan so that she would not receive a grade like that again. She was then to explain all of this to her parents as she gave them the report card. After report cards came out, I asked her how things had gone at home. She said that her parents were disappointed by the grades but they weren't nearly as upset as she had thought they would be. Why? Because she had explained that she had already talked to me and that we had come up with a plan so that this would never happen again. By the end of the school year she was receiving A's in my classes. I know that I will never forget her.

That summer I worked in a third grade class teaching science and math. When my university supervisor came to observe, one student announced that she used to hate math but no longer does thanks to my teaching. I told my supervisor that I obviously had not paid that child nearly enough. What I most remember about this little girl is that she also required at least one hug a day. I remember walking through the school garden and telling them what all the different plants were. O remember the wonder on their faces as I broke off a mint leaf, crushed between my fingers, and told them to smell it. I remember receiving stickers on a regular basis. I remember the little boys who were braver than I was and would remove the crayfish for me. (Some of them -- the crayfish -- were downright vicious.) I remember steeling myself before the kids arrived at school because I knew that I would have to remove snails from the terrarium for that week's science class. I remember the kids's initial disgust with the snails and that by the end of the week the kids were letting the snails crawl up their arms.

I could talk about the year I taught eighth grade English and American history but that year is filled with a lot of painful memories. I do still receive the occasional email from students I had during that year. They like to tell me about their high school experiences or to ask for help on a homework assignment. I became known as the English teacher who liked math and who would gladly help a student with his or her Algebra homework.

Now I work at a tutoring center. Sometimes I miss being in the classroom. Then I have days like last Friday. One of my current students had her dad drive her to the center after school because she had just gotten her report card and wanted to show it to me. Last year this girl was barely passing classes. She had received three B's; the rest of the report card was A's.

So somedays I miss my old party lifestyle. Then I remember how although I was often smiling, I really wasn't happy. I'm a lot happier now. It's just that when you've been one person for so long, it can be kind of hard to let it all go. I am still known as the wild child in my family. Perhaps my little cousin, who just turned 21, will pick up the torch. Then again, she's going to need a great deal of coaching to reach my level of wildness. That's why I'm heading out this weekend -- drinks tonight, comedy show tomorrow. Who says that you can't have it all? ;-)

Wednesday, November 9, 2005

Sometimes I miss my old job

Reading over the comments to my last post, I suddenly started feeling nostalgic. Eons ago, or so it seems, I worked for a wireless provider in the real estate and construction department. Actually I would probably still be there if they had not done the reorganization that would have led to my layoff. (I managed to find another job shortly before I would have been laid off. No, I did not want to stick it out for the severance as this was all shortly after September 11.) The whole layoff thing became a catalyst in my re-examination of my life and I ended up taking a whole new career path. Other contributing elements to the change were a number of deaths in the family, my father's heart attack, and of course September 11. 2001 was not a very good year.

Back to today's topic. Because of the nature of my department, we made a number of contributions, both charitable and political. It eventually became a part of my job to show up to events. I remember one afternoon receiving a phone call from my boss in which he said, "I had completely forgotten but there is a fundraiser for X who is running for SF DA. There are not enough people coming and we need more bodies there. Can you stop off on your way home? Free food and drinks..." By the way, my boss frequently forgot about these things. This is why I eventually had access to his Outlook calendar. This is why I also frequently received calls from politicians or their staff members. They knew that I would remember. They also knew that I would nag my boss if necessary.

Not only were there wonderful lunches, dinners, cocktails parties -- you get the point -- but then there was the holiday season. I also had to interact with the vendors on a regular basis. Most years I did not really care what my family gave me for Christmas because I had already received so many great gifts at work. The gifts alone made my aunt question why I would ever leave that job.

In my current job these things would never happen. Now I get excited because a grandmother has baked me some peanut butter cookies. Guess it's better than never receiving any kind of a thank you.

Sunday, November 6, 2005

Royal visit

So Prince Charles and Camilla have arrived in the Bay area. Tonight's news coverage included showing them attending Beach Blanket Babylon. The most disturbing sight was that they were greeted at Club Fugazi by Gavin Newsom and his wife. His wife? What about the divorce?

Thursday, November 3, 2005

Coworkers are still irritating

One of the joys of being a manager is that this week I have to do annual performance reviews. Anyone who knows me well knows that I can be a perfectionist. This means that I expect the best from myself -- and those around me as well.

I knew that the review process was going to be sticky as soon as I started receiving the self-reviews I had asked my co-workers to complete. Apparently they are all exceptional employees with absolutely no flaws. When I told this to a friend, she said, "I guess it would be inappropriate to start the review by saying, 'Gosh. I never realized that I work with Mary Poppins.'"

The first review I gave did not go well. After 45 minutes of discussion, I guess this employee still was not satisfied. She simply cannot comprehend how she can merely "meet expectations." She has requested yet another meeting to discuss her review further. I wanted to shout, "Let it go, already. You are becoming annoying now." My friend pointed out that this woman has obviously never worked in a corporate setting. Otherwise she would be pleased with a review that consists of mostly "meets expectations" with a few "above average" thrown in.

May the last few reviews I do today and tomorrow not be as draining.

Tuesday, November 1, 2005

Coworkers can be irritating

As you all know, yesterday was Halloween, one of the coolest holidays in the year in my opinion. My coworkers do not necessarily share this opinion. I got to overhear many conversations in which they once more demonstrated their general ignorance. I debated about whether I really wanted to post this but then I decided what the heck.

Before I get into yesterday's conversations, I must go back to a conversation I heard over the summer. One woman was telling one of the men that she reads the Harry Potter books even though they are basically evil. She then went onto explain that Pagans are using the books as recruiting tools. Huh? That's the first I've ever heard of that.

Monday was filled with discussions about the Satanic implications of Halloween. I felt like screaming, "You fools. Satanists and Wiccans are not the same. Wiccans do not believe in the concept of Satan so how can a Wiccan holiday be Satanic?" One coworker went onto explain that her pastor said that it is OK to celebrate Halloween because by dressing up they are belittling the importance of the holiday. Once more, huh?

Don't they realize that it's not particularly smart to irritate one's supervisor? They are just so clueless. I am also of the firm belief that religion and politics should not be discussed in the workplace unless you are absolutely sure of your audience. When I worked for a wireless company, we frequently discussed politics as our department made a number of political contributions.

On a happier note, I went to the last night of my beginning Portuguese class after work. We had loads of food and sang Tom Jobim and Joao Gilberto songs. The intermediate class starts next week.