Sunday, December 20, 2009

Thoughts that bump in the night

Almost 5 years ago, I woke up in the middle of the night suddenly, slightly disoriented in that way you are when your sleep cycle is disrupted.  I blinked a few times and promptly went back to sleep.

The next day, my cell phone rang as I bustled into my apartment, on a short break between class and rehearsal.  It was a friend I hadn't talked to in a while.  I was so excited to hear from her.  And then, she delivered devastating news.

The next day I was on a plane heading to NY.  I would miss the formal memorial for my friend, a young woman who had been murdered on Manhatten's Lower East Side, but I needed to be with my friends.  On the subway to Brooklyn, my friend's face was plastered on the covers of newspapers.  I watched them sway and bump with the motion of the train and couldn't quite make myself believe any of it was real.

Today, I feel the same way.  But while the pain I felt then was sharp and brutal, today it's sneaky, grabbing me at strange times, like now, in the middle of an evening of cleaning, filing and other mundane tasks.  Now, it's amplified by the fact that all those friends I just had to be with back then are drifting from me: getting married, moving to new places, living full lives somewhere that I'm not.  I'd be sad about that, regardless of the murder.  But the murder amplifies it.  It's a simple, not terribly profound thought, but it knocks on my subconscious sometimes; how would our lives be different if that snowy night in NYC had ended differently?

I wonder sometimes if my being jolted from sleep at approximately the time my friend was dying is some sort of cosmic wonder.  And then I shake my head at myself.  I hadn't talked to this friend in months.  To be honest, I hadn't thought of her in weeks, and I very much doubt she had thought of me.

But still, I trust in the unknown too much to not take moments like that, and even like now, tonight, to heart.  I can't figure out what they are telling me.  But they are telling me something.  Maybe someday I'll figure it out.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Can you ever really know anyone?

I am struck, at this strangely hectic time of year, by how little I actually know the people who are close to me.

Cases in point:

If you asked me about my brother, I'd tell you I adore him; he's the kind of good guy that girls would be lucky (like angels from heaven lucky) to snag.  If you asked me his favorite food or favorite color, I couldn't tell you.

If you asked me about my staff's work styles and office quirks, I can list them, no problem.  If you asked me what they are actually thinking and feeling about life, I can't help you there.

I talk to my parents once a week: about my job, what they've been up to, etc.  And then in a random conversation they drop some news that makes me realize how little I actually know about their lives.

Who among my circle of friends is a blogger?  How many of the dedicated facebook people I follow live the happy, cheerful lives they post about?  That cute guy who I see every few months - what is his story?

Paradoxically, I often wonder if I leave too much of myself out there.  Cue the guilt; do I share too much about myself and not care enough about learning more about my friends, family and colleagues? Like, for example, this blog post? :)

Strange how shopping for Christmas gifts, and realizing with a cosmic gulp that you have no idea what to get the people you are supposed to be closest to, brings it all home.  In this season of fellowship and brotherhood, sometimes it's hard not feel self-centered and alone.

Friday, December 11, 2009

There's something about Glee...

I confess. 

I'm not sure why I like Fox's Glee

Don't get me wrong, I love show stopping group numbers as much as the next person - it's why I love musicals.  But I generally have a hard time with film/tv musicals, especially when there are numbers that attempt to blend obviously digitally enhanced music with people walking down the street or hallway or other "normal" place.  That's always struck me as super awkward and weird. 

And I really despised the story line about the pregnancies, fake or otherwise. 

But I love the show.  It never fails to make me tear up or laugh out loud.  It's a bit embarrassing, honestly, how often I listen to the group numbers on my IPhone, but they've become my way of de-stressing after a long day; I love to crank up the stereo and sing along.


I think it's because Glee is so unabashedly in love with it's medium.  It has no qualms about taking retro material, glitzing it up, remixing it, and asking us to believe that kids singing on a stage in a high school could ever sound like that.   Don't get me wrong.  I'm sure, live and in person, the actors/singers sound great.  But they do not sound like they do on screen, for sure.  But the weird part is, I don't care!  I love watching them and listening to them. 

The mid-season finale seemed like a hedge by the writers and creators; an example of "well, we're not sure we'll be picked up for another 13 episodes, so we'll tie off most of the loose ends and hope for the best."  Normally, I would hate that.  It's too pat, too easy.  But it was perfect. 


This is one is easy to answer.  Things are tough.  We are struggling, nationally and personally.  And while we appreciate the dramatic tension of a fake pregnancy or a Sectionals filled with cheating, we really, really need a win right now.  At least I do. 

And I got it.  Thanks, Glee.  Keep on singing with your cheesy, melodramatic self.  We love ya.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Cookiefest 2009

Every year, during the holidays, two of my dear friends and I embark on a two day adventure known as Cookiefest. Cookiefest is two solid days of baking cookies, for no purpose other than...because we can.   This year, the 3rd Annual Cookiefest, was perhaps our most prolific yet.  53 dozen cookies were made.  Yes, that's at least 636 cookies (not counting the toffee and other non-cookie sweets).

Cookiefest works for several reasons:

1.  Our hostess has a kitchen like non other.  This girl, a former Pampered Chef rep, has EVERYTHING you could want in her kitchen.  Except, strangely, a 9x13 baking pan.  Aha - Christmas present!

2.  Our hostess also has a cool husband and son; the boys put up with our cackling and giggling with grace.  Even a stomach bug for the son couldn't put a damper on things.  He was a real trooper.  And the husband helped make us yummy breakfast to kick off day two.  You've gotta love that.

3.  We're really good at shopping.  This year was our best ; we knew what we needed (5 pounds of butter, 6 bags of chocolate chips, two dozen eggs, etc), and we nearly halved our shopping bill.  Score.

4.  We're great friends.  The kind of friends who know their place.  For example, I am a cooking idiot.  A moron in the kitchen.  I heat up soup and consider it a culinary victory.  And I have absolutely no problem fetching and carrying and measuring upon request.  My two gals are also comfortable enough to know they don't have to feel bad about being far superior to me in kitchen knowledge.  They gently and cheerfully order me about, and it's great!  And this year, they even let me make my own cookie, a mix of Craisins, oatmeal and white chocolate chips that have been dubbed "Joatmeal" cookies. 

Now, a couple of days later, Cookiefest 2009 - Phase 2, also known as Cookiefeast, begins.  It's the effort to distribute the cookies so I don't eat all of them. It's also the time when casual acquaintances suddenly become much more friendly. I wonder why?

Happy Holidays, y'all.  Hope your friends are as great as mine.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

thinking in tweets and updates

OK, social media folks, admit it. Since you started tweeting or facebooking, you're thought process has changed. Maybe in the past something odd would happen to you, and you'd think it to yourself, or, if someone was with you, say it out loud. Maybe if you were super diligent, you'd write it in a diary.

But you had a filter, generally; either the fact that no one was around to talk to and you'd feel stupid talking to yourself, or the person with you was sick and tired of your random thoughts, or you were just too lazy to write in your diary. And so on.

Today though, that filter is, if not gone, at least a bit more porous than it was. Now, if you choose, ANY random thought that you have can be instantly shared with those poor suckers who haven't hidden or blocked you yet.

What tweets/updates did you NOT send today? Here are a few of mine (and no, they are not all less than 140 characters):

7:30am - Crap. 4 days vacation is not really vacation if you're with your family. Can I have one more day just for me? No? Damn it.

8:15am - Breakfast failure; gluten free blueberry waffles with a bit of low fat vanilla ice cream. Gross. Where are the blueberries? And why does it taste like I'm eating sandpaper? Yes, I threw the remaining waffle out the car window. It's biodegradable and editable. In theory.

8:30am - Definitely not in the mood to be social. I should be making the rounds asking people about their holidays. Instead, I'll hunker at my desk and pretend I can't hear anyone.

9:30am - Bless her heart, one of my lovely staff braved the morning thunderclouds and poked her head in to say hi. Starting to feel marginally human.

9:35am - Finally able to step into public and hunt down some tea. Wow, check out that fabulous jacket a coworker is wearing. Instant hatred of every piece in my wardrobe.

10am - First meeting of the day, begun with a giggle-worthy story about Nutcrackers past. Thanks, Martin!

10:30am - now what do I do?

10:31am - right, I've got about 50 emails to answer.

11am - Side note: I can't believe my brother's in a real relationship. He's always been able to share my frustration at going through life without a companion. Now I will really be a 5th wheel, even with my family. That one's gonna take some getting used to.

11:30am - oooh, let's take on that bully of an agent. Yeah! Take that! And that! And THIS! Sometimes it's fun to play tough.

12noon - Lunch with a pal! Favorite part of the day. And best of all, we pretty much decided there would be no impromptu Spanish lesson at our favorite Mexican restaurant. I think our usual teacher wasn't in the mood to put up with our ineptitude.

1pm - Crap. What is that voicemail? I didn't have a phone meeting today, did I? Oh wait, it's not Monday, moron, it's Tuesday! Hey, at least the resulting conversation was WAY cool. Sometimes, we do really cool s#!% at my job.

1:30pm - Senior Staff meeting - scheduled for 30 minutes. An hour later, we're done.

2:30pm - race down to the Box Office for another meeting. I really do love my team. They are just smart, dedicated people, and I've got to remember that it's my job to make sure they have fun while they are doing their jobs.

3pm - back upstairs for yet another meeting. Can't stop being jealous of coworker who is going to EGYPT for a whole month with her mom. Floating on the Nile. I can't really think of anything much more fabulous than that.

3:30pm - back downstairs for another meeting. At least this one has a Brit on the conference call. Love the accent.

5pm - wander outside and suddenly feel woozy and a little nauseous, which NEVER happens. WTF? This doesn't bode well.

5:05pm - no time to feel sick - there's a city council meeting tonight! Guess I'm staying in the office until then. Excellent. Really wanted to work out, but let's face it, probably would have convinced myself not to given the aforementioned wooziness.

5:15pm - coworker mentions wanting peanut butter sandwiches to be magically delivered. Suddenly, this is all. I. can. think. about.

6pm - Screw it. I'm going to the store to get the fixings for peanut butter sandwiches.

6:15pm - OK, in the 2 minutes between the time I entered the store and exited, not only did a Salvation Army bell ringer appear, but about 50 cars. What the?

6:16pm - Crap - I don't have any change. Really baleful look from the bell ringer. Will try to put double in tomorrow to make up for it.

6:25pm - Mmmm. Peanut butter sandwiches.

6:45pm - Feeling human - dizziness and nausea gone. And holy crap, it's time to go to the city council meeting!

7pm - Council meeting. There are some weird cushions on these benches. Both me and my co-worker nearly slid off them when we tried to sit up straight.

8pmish - meeting over. I have no desire to be a city council member. None whatsoever. Glad that other people do.

8:30pmish - Nearly jumped out of my skin when a guy appeared at my side as I struggled to get the mail out of my mailbox. Yet another reason I can't wait to leave my apartment - the light in the mail area has been out for days.

8:50pm - My friend was right, Mythbusters is awesome. I really want to go skydiving. But I probably should lose a bunch of weight first. How depressing is that? Ugh.

8:51 - speaking of losing weight, this little mini pint of Cherry Garcia is mighty tasty. Sorry, but Ben and Jerry are The Men. Hands down.

9:40pm - Am pretty tired, but fundamentally unable to fathom going to bed at this hour. Solution? To the computer!

10:30pm - Geez, Jodi, get a life, would you? Ok, ok. I'm done. For tonight anyway.