Saturday, June 30, 2012

Heading west...

Free wifi at the Tulsa airport!  Thank you, airport.  While I don't expect to get wifi for free, I sincerely appreciate it when it's supplied.

So, for the 3rd year running, I'm taking a summer trip to parts unknown.  This tradition has evolved marvelously from a solo trip 2 years ago, to the Grand Colorado Adventure last summer.  This year, I have two legs of the trip; one with my brother, and one with the same friend who conquered Rocky Mountain National Park with me last summer.  We are Seattle, Portland and Vancouver BC bound.

As is usually the case in the day of my vacation commencement, I feel a tremendous relief that the vacation is finally, finally here.  It's been another busy year.  Let's just leave it at that. 

This years adventure to the Pacific Northwest hasn't really begun yet, so I figured it might be fun to reflect on some of the funnier or awesomer moments leading up to my sitting here in this clean, wifi-providing airpot.

First, shopping.  Or, weather.  They combine in a strange way.  See, it's going to be 65-78 degrees on this trip.  Having lived in 100+ heat for the past month (I exaggerate, but you get the point), I find I've forgotten what one wears in temperatures like that.  Turns out jeans, layers and a fleece jacket for chilly mornings are a good bet.  But here's the issue; fleece jackets are scarce in Arkansas in the summer.  And here's a tip for retail clerks everywhere.  I know you're supposed to be chatty and supportive when you check me out, but I don't need you to comment on the comfort level of the underwear I'm buying.  Really, it's ok.  You can just take my credit card and call it done.

Second, logistics.  Good grief.  There are so many things to NOT forget on a trip like this, most importantly your passport.  But travel life will also suck without headphones, contact lens solution and the various cords needed to keep electronics functioning.  And don't even get me started on the incomprehensibility of the AT&T international roaming charges rules.  Seriously, AT&T...why do you have to suck so much?

Third, dog care.  As you've heard before, I'm blessed in my canine support system.  My friends The Kellamses willingly take my pooch for extended periods when I travel, and I just love knowing she's hanging out with her dog friends and humans who love her.  Strangely, however, she's spent more time with these friends of mine than I have, so it was really, really nice to finally be able to sit and have a beer with them last night when I dropped Sadie off.  My favorite moment had to be when we all had to troop inside to listen to an Avett Brothers song, and we all sat quietly, dogs included, listening to the song.  It's comforting to me, that ritual.  No matter what friend group I've been in, we've always been able to just sit and listen to a good song.  It's nice.  Simple, peaceful and nice.

So here I sit quietly in this lovely airport, feeling my neck muscles begin to loosen at the thought o turning off my work email, while my brother, alas, connects on three flights due to some screw up with the airlines.  Sorry, Pete!  Hopefully we will both arrive in Seattle in time to drop our stuff, grab some sushi, and go watch the Red Sox.  It might be raining.  I am completely excited by that (provided the game doesn't get rained out).

More to come.  Thanks for coming along on this journey.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

In basketball, as in life...

Ok, for starters, let me fess up.

I hate "sports as life" metaphors.  Sports is not life.  For 99% of us, life doesn't consist of tens of thousands of people watching us play a game.   When we do our jobs, we don't have the best leaders and trainers there to help us fix something that's going wrong. And, most unfairly of all, if I do say so myself, we don't get highly lucrative endorsement contracts for being people who work in an office (or, if you're my awesome sister-in-law, on a ship), no matter how good we are at answering 200 emails a day and scheduling meetings.

However, I saw a moment last night that has me metaphoring about sports and life all over the place.  There were 54 seconds on the game clock, 5 on the shot clock.  The Celtics were up by one. Paul Pierce, who'd had a generally lousy game in this pivotal game 5 of the Miami-Boston series, saw Lebron James step back and basically say "Go ahead, Pierce.  You've shot like crap all game.  Take the 3.  I dare you."  Pierce leaned over, holding the ball on his hip, eyed James, and smoothly rose up and fired.  James defended (probably thinking "oh, crap, he might make this"), but the ball sailed through the net and stunned the Heat crowd and their annoying white shirts into silence.

Pierce trotted back on defense, having just hit a dagger of a shot that he probably shouldn't have taken.  It wasn't a high percentage shot.  If he'd missed, Miami could have grabbed a long rebound and fast-breaked to a layup and the outcome of the entire game might have been different.  The pundits would have bemoaned Pierce's need to be the hero, his bad shot selection.

But he made it.

The life lesson, for me, is about confidence.  Pierce had a terrible game.  He was probably pretty pissed at himself by this point.  You would think that he'd look for the pass.  But he was given a step, and took it.  And basically won the game.

Confidence.  Pierce, deep down, must have thought he could make that shot.  Even though he'd missed a bunch before.   He knew, subconsciously maybe, that his training would kick in, that he's a kick-ass player, and that it was his job to take and make shots like that.

How often to we sabotage ourselves at work by not taking that shot? We reflect on the crappy day we've had, or the boss who yelled at us, or the project that didn't work as planned, and we say "it's not my day." We pass to someone else.  We stay quiet in a conversation that needs our input, or we decide not to suggest what could be a brilliant idea.   We forget that we're good at this, that we know what we're doing, that just because something bad happened earlier, something good could happen now.  

But, the analysts say, the percentages aren't in our favor.  We might fall on our faces.  We might lose the game for our teammates.

Here's the thing - the Celtics generally want Pierce to take that shot (though they would probably have preferred him to drive, attempt a layup, and get fouled, but I digress).  They know it's his job.  Just like it's ours to speak up, contribute, take a risk.  No, we won't get a top 10 highlight the next day, even if we hit the metaphorical office shot.  Yes, if we miss, we might get yelled at.  But if we hit it, we could jog back to our offices like this, with a small smile on our faces, and a few more seconds to be in the lead.

Monday, June 4, 2012

The world according to Jodi, Entry #1

This is wisdom you can't get anywhere else.  Enjoy.

Social media isn't really about "what's on your mind."  It's really about "what's on your mind that you want everyone else to know".  I've said it before, but I'll bet if we all said what was "on our mind" the world would have more wars, more divorces and exponentially more unemployment.

Yesterday I dumped an entire glass of milk all over the kitchen floor.  I didn't cry.  But I did swear.  I think that's a legit violation of the cliche.

I was talking with a friend the other day about social media "food-braggers" (my term, just now made up).  You know who you are.  You're the ones who post photos of things like "almond eggplant reduction served with freshly plucked duck, with a side of sauteed leeks and braised gold leaf" or other such delicacies.  Your posts generally inspire two reactions.  The first: making yourself more likely to be stalked by hungry "friends" - and second, making cooking morons like me feel inadequate.  I'm sure you don't mean to.  Just remember, though, when I post that I had Cheerios and a glass of Pinot for dinner, that one's for you. 

Is it wrong that I got extreme joy out of putting together my new outdoor umbrella table, especially after reading all those reviews that said it was hard to put together?  I'm convinced those "some assembly required" furniture pieces exist just to make sloths like me think we could actually do work with our hands if the world ended and we had to build a hut out of the debris of humanity.   Provided we have exactly 13 bolts, washers, and that handy little l-shaped wrench that comes with them.

The Goodyear blimp has been flying around since the Walmart Shareholder's meeting this past weekend.  None of us can figure out why it's still here, but I can tell you this; it's an advertising failure.  I have no desire to buy Goodyear products after seeing the blimp buzz around with scrolling marketing messages marring my blue sky.  It was cool once.  10 times later, not so much.

One of the great pleasures of my life came last night when I watched a post-game interview with LeBron James, after the Celtics narrowly didn't lose a playoff game.  King LeBron lounged, arms behind his head in a sulky, defiant pose and declared flatly "I don't foul out.  I know how to play this game.  I don't foul out."  Um, but you did, Sir James.  Sorry about that.  I'm sure it won't happen again because those refs will be fired, but it was a beautiful thing while it lasted. 

Today I had to give my name to someone over the phone.  For most, this is no big deal, but for me, it requires bit of patter I've perfected over the years.  It's a necessity when you have an, ahem, unusual name like mine.  Here's how it goes:

Them:  Could you give me your first name?
Me: Jodi.  J. O. D. I. not Y.

Them: Last name?
Me:  Beznoska (quickly going on before they panic) That's B as in Boston, E, Z as in zebra, N as in Nancy, O, S as in Sally, K, A.

Them: Thank you Ms. Ben-znos-ski.
Me: Gezundheit.

Usually, that's how it ends.  Today, though, the lady stumped me.

Them/her:  And your middle initial?
Me:  Um...G.  As is in...George.  I mean, not that my middle name is George's... something else...
Them/her: Got it, ma'am.  Thank you.

Happy Monday, y'all.  

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Quick, before I forget...ok, I forgot.

Eeek.  I'm so far behind.  This entry was started two weeks ago.  Here it is, completed, and then we'll move on to current events.


I started this blog to track my travels, and it's been a whole week since I returned from NYC with nary a word written.  For shame.  Of course, I have been busy.  You know, building stick sculptures, shaking the rust off my acting skilz, working.  Always working.  Trying to shoehorn some sleep and exercise in there, mostly unsuccessfully.

But it's the start of a three day weekend, and I left my computer at work.  So though I might start shaking from withdrawal soon, I figured now was the time to get a-crackin before I forget everything about the trip. But lest I bore you with too much blabbity blah, here's my trip, in as few words as possible.

Saturday 5/12:  Work on stick sculpture, shop, pack, clean, pack, deposit dog at friends' house, to bed around midnight.

Rondo!  This made me think
of my mom, obsessed
Celtics fan that she is.
Sunday 5/13:  Up at 4:30am.  Flight to LGA, connecting in O'Hare.  Another silent flight; no conversation with seatmate.  Arrival at LGA, have the same thought I always have "This airport is a sh!#hole.  Come on NY.  Do better."  Cab into the city, hunt down lunch at Chopp'd, which is far less tasty when you care about the calories. See an "aerial tango" performance that wasn't worth the price of the ticket (which was $0 for me).  Visit with a friend, then back to midtown to see The Avengers.  Nearly witness to a riot as the movie broke down about an hour in.  Very bad behavior, NY movie-goers.  What gives?  The AMC is not Yankee stadium, y'know.

Good grief, they are just too cute.
Monday, 5/14:  Marketing meetings.  Met two of the adorable little boys who play Billy in Billy Elliot.  Sushi for lunch (mmmm....).  More meetings.  A reception at Bond 45, where I saw Audra McDonald and Norm Lewis in person.  Then, Newsies.  I wanted it to be amazing.  It wasn't.  But oh, those fabulous boys singing and dancing.  They, at least, were entertaining. Then, Indian food.  Yum.  

Performers from Once rocking out.
Tuesday 5/15:  Up early to get into the breakfast session.  Denied entry to said session, relegated to eating breakfast on the floor of the hotel.  No bueno.  But that did mean we scored good seats in the theater that would be our main conference location. Greeted by Kelli O'Hara and Estelle Parsons, then had some conference business/sessions, then a creative conversation with Evita folks (no Ricky Martin).  A keynote followed that was not very noteworthy, then a session, then lunch at the Copacabana.  Post-lunch, another creative convo with Stockard Channing and Stacy Keach of Other Desert Cities.  I wonder who else in the room could claim they worked on a movie with Stacy Keach?  More sessions.  Party at the Hard Rock Cafe with the Once cast.  Awesome.  Then Nice Work if You Can Get It with the luminous Kelly O'Hara and the embarrassing Matthew Broderick.   He was really, really not good.  What a shame.  Final party at John's Pizzeria, one of my favorite spots, hosted by the Book of Mormon

Our lunchtime entertainment.
Wednesday 5/16:  Skipped the breakfast session.   After a visit from James Cordon (British guy, funny), went right into more conference stuff, followed by creative convo with Porgy & Bess cast.  They are all beautiful.  Ooh, I'd forgotten that Sondheim threw a fit about the changes to the show.  Can't wait to see for myself if it's good!  More conference discussion about secondary ticketing, lunch at the Edison with entertainment from Jesus Christ Superstar and Jersey Boys.  Then off to see Porgy & Bess.  Glorious, emotional, heart-breaking.  Had to go back into the theater to buy a magnet and got yelled at by an old lady "You're going the wrong way!"  My response:  "Yes, I know!"   Another party then off to see Peter and the Starcatcher, which.  was.  awesome.  I think it will merit it's own blog post when I get my annotated script in the mail.  Post-show party courtesy of Disney, in some random event space behind the Dave's BBQ on 42nd street.  Got to meet some of the Starcatcher actors (including the quietly awesome Rick Holmes) and stood next to Christian Borle for my celebrity fix. 

I wasn't supposed to take this picture.
Guess the blurriness is my punishment.
But, that's Christian & Kevin up there.
Thursday, 5/17:  We were greeted by Alicia Keys first, then later, Christian Borle and Kevin Del Aguila, then spent the morning talking about dynamic pricing, being interrupted by a star-studded creative convo with Candice Bergen, James Earl Jones, Angela Lansbury, John Larroquette, Jefferson Mays, Eric McCormack, Michael McKean, and Michael Wilson of The Best Man.  Lunch at the Edison again with our neighbors from Celebrity Attractions, then more sessions, then....GASP!

A creative conversation with Philip Seymour Hoffman and Mike Nichols (Death of a Salesman) is already awesome.  Then add that MERYL STREEP!!! was our surprise moderator and you have finally, finally gotten this jaded gal to get the celebrity-induced shivers.  I was 30 feet from Meryl.  It was awesome, and they actually were very interesting to listen to - they take their work seriously.

Jill is doing an excellent
Broderick imitation.
Then we wrapped up the conference, headed off to another party (at Providence) and then our final show, which was Evita for me.  See, here's the thing about Evita.  Evita should be a stunning singer, dancer and actor.  If she's not...well...that's a problem.  But the music was pretty, the set was nice.  Final party hosted by Nice Work if You Can Get It (Broderick was there, but glassy-eyed).  Then back to the hotel.

Friday 5/18:  Sleep in, pack, wander the city, head back to the airport, fly home, pick up dog, collapse into bed.

Basic reflections on the week: 

I need the inspiration that simply seeing work and talking about it brings.  

NYC was dirtier and more crowded than usual, it seemed.  I think it had to do with our hotel location - I like being north of Times Square rather than south. 

Another League Conference under my belt.  It was kick-ass.  I'm a lucky, lucky gal.