The Hazards of Having a Roommate

Right. So, I seriously contemplated sleeping in this morning and calling in “sick” (cough, cough). My alarm went off at 6 like it usually does, but it was so warm and cozy under the covers that I hit the snooze button every 7 minutes for the next 40 minutes while I internally justified staying home from work today.

Justification #1: I didn’t sleep well. I was restless all night and if I go to work I’ll just be tired and irritable and won’t get much done anyway. Really, I’d be doing my employer and co-workers a favor!

Justification #2: I AM actually feeling sort of sick. My stomach has been kinda hurting this morning and I think it was hurting last night too – probably from my post-tennis dinner of chocolate chip cookies and blueberry soda. I should just stay home. I have my health to consider!

Justification #3: Even if I took the whole day off, I would still have enough vacation time for my jaunt to Seattle in May. Personal Time Off – it’s there to be used, isn’t it?

Justification #4: There are no immediate deadlines in my future that I’m aware of. The project won’t suffer (much) if I’m not there today. Besides, it’s a stupid annoying project anyway!

Justification #5: I could get a lot of things done today if I stayed home. I would be WAY more productive here after a few more hours of sleep than I would be at work. I could finish my laundry, clean the kitchen, pay some bills, change the litter, vacuum the stairs, go for a walk, wash the windows, clean my bathroom tile with a toothbrush, polish the silver (oh wait, I don’t have any silver to polish). Ambitious? Bah! I could do it all if only I could sleep a little longer.

I was THIS close (visual aide: thumb and forefinger approximately half an inch apart) to shutting off my ever-loving alarm for good and sleeping til 9 or 10.

And then the voice of reason popped up. This voice was not in my head. This voice belonged to my oh-so-perky, morning-loving roomy. Kill…kiiiillllllllll!

“If you really want to stay home today, ok, but don’t forget you wanted to save vacation time for this summer” and “We’re carpooling today, aren’t we?” and “If you’re going to work today, you better get up or we’ll be late and I know how you hate to be late” and “Here. Toast. With almond butter.”

Yes, I think it’s safe to say he’s the devil. Good thing he's cute!


First Order of Business

Item 1: The Nashville Film Fest

Is over. BUT, Dan and I did manage to catch the Animated Expressions I program last Saturday night. There were a bunch of other films I wanted to see including the Animated Expressions II program, but alas, due to lack of planning combined with work, class, and tennis schedules – we didn’t make it to any of the other films. I refuse to attend a film at 10:15 pm on a Sunday night when I not only have to be up early but have to be focused and moderately productive for at least 8 hours the next day. Not gonna happen.

The animated shorts we saw were, for the most part, creative and entertaining. The program opened with British filmmaker Selina Cobley’s Crow Moon which was stark and elegant and I thought was a good choice for an opener. Then we were treated to such concentrated cinematic gems as Signe Baumane’s Teat Beat of Sex and Michelle Meeker’s When I Grow Up.

I was thoroughly enjoying myself until the closing piece, Chainsaw by Australian filmmaker Dennis Tupicoff, took up the screen for 23 minutes (incredibly lengthy in the world of animated shorts). It was rough, and not because it was long. Maybe I wasn’t in the right frame of mind for this particular short, but between the baby bird killings and the graphic bull fights, it really put my teeth on edge and generally rendered me fussy and irritable. I can’t help it, I’m hyper-sensitive to that kind of stuff even if it’s only animation (which is why I could never stomach cartoons like Tom & Jerry or Bugs Bunny as a kid – way too violent. I’ll take Strawberry Shortcake and The Smurfs thank you very much).

After such a jarringly violent end to the evening, I wanted Indian food at our favorite Indian restaurant (see previous post for details) to soothe my battered senses. This prospect cheered me up considerably until we got there and found out there was no parking for miles around. Seriously. The streets were just crawling with people. Which, granted, it was a Saturday night, but there were nightmarishly large crowds of people EVERYWHERE. Needless to say, we drove home in irritated defeat.

Item 2: Tennis

Slowly improving and enjoying myself more as I get back into the swing of things, as it were.

Last Tuesday, even though my forehand was giving me problems (my timing was way off and I kept swinging up over the ball thus hitting it on the outside of my racket instead of hitting in the middle, where one is supposed to hit it), my serve was spot on. I was consistent. My second serves rocked. I had great spin and speed. So even though the rest of my game was sucky to mediocre, at least I was able to bask in my glorious serve. Yeah, I'll take it.

Item 3: Haircut

Heather walked by my desk last Wednesday a mere hour or two before I was leaving to go get my hair cut. She sighed, “ohhhh…I’m so jealous. I love getting my hair cut, it’s so relaxing”. Huh!? Are you kidding me!? I start stressing about my haircut the minute I hang up the phone after having made the appointment. Haircuts make me tense and self-conscious and irritable. I almost always leave feeling like an ugly duckling.

Perhaps if I didn’t have shitty hair, haircuts would be relaxing for me. But, I do in fact have shitty-ass hair that stylists are forever visibly frustrated with. They start out excited to try new cutting techniques and new products specially formulated for curly hair, but by the end of my typical 3 hour appointment, they are ready to shave my head. The products don’t work as anticipated, the cuts don’t work properly with my non-uniformly curly head, even the flat irons and curling irons fail to satisfy them. And I can tell. And they sigh. And say things like, “I don’t understand, it worked well on my other curly haired client”, or “well, we could always take a little more off here…or here”, or “any ideas?”

So the stylist I went to last Wednesday, despite having a really great personality, layered the hell out of my hair which does not and never has worked on shitty hair like mine (and I mentioned this fact to her several times) and gave me pseudo-bang-like things where my hair is its curliest. Yep.

So there ya go. Another devastatingly stressful hair experience. I give up.

Item 4: ACE Mentors Scholarship Banquet

Was last night and appeared to be a success. Our team of high school students gave their presentation and while their public speaking skills were woefully under-developed, the powerpoint they put together was probably the best one of the evening.

I expected to be under-whelmed with our team’s showing this year at the Banquet, mostly because they have been alarmingly unmotivated this year. I don’t know what the deal was, but we just didn’t have any of those kids who are natural leader types or natural over-achiever types in our group and it really showed. But, the evening went fine, their presentation, while not stellar was fine as well and maybe next year we’ll have students who are more interested in design rather than playing beer pong on the computer.

Item 5: Jim Wallis

He’s speaking at Belmont University tonight…for free. I don’t know a whole lot about him, but I caught a snippet of his interview with Jon Stewart on The Daily Show and he sounds interesting. So, I’ll let you know.

Happy Friday. Meeting adjourned.



Quick Update – Nothing Terribly Interesting but Don’t Want You To Think I Died or Anything:

So, I’m in my 6th day of being 32 years old. Meh. It doesn’t suck so far. Even though I consider 32 to be the Age of Bridget Jones, my biological clock is keeping it’s mouth shut, I’ve experienced no panic attacks regarding my lack of matrimonial enthusiasm, and none of that pre-mid-life career crisis nonsense has surfaced. So there you go. 32 is okay.

Of course it helped being eased into 32 by having a full birthday week celebration (organized and executed by Dan the Wonderman) which included fire extinguishers, Nutella, bubbles, tiaras, coke/mentos fountains, shoes, opera, Indian food, sapphires, lots of wine, and one party complete with chocolate cloud birthday cake. Oh yeah, in case you were wondering, the party went off without a hitch despite my deadline induced work schedule prior to said party and my nearly constant fretting. What can I say? I have poor coping mechanisms.

Speaking of Indian food (I did mention the Indian food, didn’t I?), can I just say that Sitar Restaurant is maybe my favorite restaurant of all time (although Arturos Restaurante in Lincoln comes in at a close second)? Like, besides the perfect fish tikka, they have this naan bread that’s stuffed with spiced potatoes and peas. Hello carbohydrates! It’s a carb-fanatic’s wet dream and oh.my.god. yum. I plot out occasions which will allow me to eat there. Yes, it’s a problem.

Nana and Papa came to town. Yep, my 80-year old grandparents, driving back to Pennsylvania from their annual migration to Florida. Would TOTALLY have taken them to dinner at Sitar, but alas, they’re old and ethnically challenged so we went instead to the Loveless CafĂ©. A Nashville tradition, but not really my cup of tea. You know, all that southern food – okra and grits and gravy…blech. Although the biscuits they serve are gorgeous. Hmmm…sensing a trend here…bread…good. Anyway, they left early Sunday morning and have since called to let me know they made it home.

Had my second tennis match on Tuesday. And while I played FAR better than last week, I still ended up losing the match. Ya know, I’m really not too tore up about it. Surprising, I know, considering how competitive I can be. But, I played a talented opponent. I played well. The games were close. And I realize I just need to work on getting in shape and bringing my skills back up to where they were 5 months ago. Seriously, it’s my own damn fault and instead of beating myself up about it and getting all depressed and frustrated, I’ve decided to use this season to have fun and gradually improve. Crazy concept, huh?

I’ve come to this bottom line: I think I need to work on balance in my life. Historically I tend to adopt an “all or nothing” sort of attitude to – well, to just about everything in my life. Like, if I can’t do something perfectly or near perfectly, I immediately decide it’s not worth doing at all. Not only is this lack of moderation nearly impossible to maintain, it’s really not a healthy strategy to life (gee, ya think?). So, I’m going to consciously strive for balance as a new year’s resolution. Hey! I’m only 4 months late. Gimme a break.


Calgon, Take Me Away!

While I don’t have a bunch of wretched kids tearing open feather pillows, I DO need some effing Calgon!

It’s a fact of life, well MY life, that project deadlines = late nights and working weekends. That’s just how the proverbial cookie crumbles. And I don’t mind this too much. Really. But, as any of my co-workers (or anyone who has been through the hell that is architecture school) can heartily attest, once you are in this Deadline Zone, little else exists outside of the zone. That includes laundry, dishes, social events, eating regular meals, exercise, pretty much any thought or action not involving the project…basically, the rest of your life is put on hold until the deadline passes. I’m not saying this is a healthy attitude towards work, I’m just saying that’s how it is.

I am currently in the midst of one of these Deadline Zones. Joy.

My birthday is tomorrow. Normally, this fact would not amount to a hill of beans and would have little to no impact on my stress level or my ability to remain in the zone. However, four weeks ago in a momentary loss of sanity I concluded it would be a great idea to throw a party Friday night.

How I came to this conclusion I have no idea. I imagine I was thinking it would be a good opportunity to kill a few birds with one stone. Ya know, let people check out the new place, meet Daniel, and have birthday cake all in one fell swoop. A sound theory. But the fact remains that this Friday night the new place I moved into about a month ago is suddenly going to be infested with various friends and acquaintances. Even under ideal circumstances, circumstances which I am not currently under, it takes me more than 4 or 5 weeks to settle into a new place and get it arranged to my particular likings, as I tend to be a tad particular.

So, in addition to being in the Deadline Zone and working like a machine to meet our Friday project due date, I have also been frantically trying to clean, arrange, organize and shop for my party which is taking place Friday night whether I will it or not.

Last night I had my first tennis match of the Spring season and I sucked. I sucked like a Hoover. An industrial Hoover. The suckage was probably partly due to being in the Deadline Zone and not being able to fully extricate myself in order to concentrate on my game. The suckage was also probably – likely – okay, definitely due to being a slug all winter where the most activity I participated in was sitting my lazy butt on the couch, watching LOST and lifting cookies to my maw.

Tomorrow night Daniel and I are going to the opera (Il Trovatore) to celebrate my birthday and I’ll need to claw my way out of the zone in order to fully enjoy it. And trust me, I WILL enjoy my birthday opera, dammit!

Oh, and did I mention that Saturday (the day after my deadline and party), my grandparents will be visiting overnight on their way back home from Florida? This is where the Calgon comes in. Or, alternatively, vodka.



Love At First Sight
by Wislawa Szymborska

Both are convinced
that a sudden surge of emotion bound them together.
Beautiful is such a certainty,
but uncertainty is more beautiful.

Because they didn't know each other earlier, they suppose that
nothing was happening between them.
What of the streets, stairways and corridors
where they could have passed each other long ago?

I'd like to ask them
whether they remember-- perhaps in a revolving door
ever being face to face?
an "excuse me" in a crowd
or a voice "wrong number" in the receiver.
But I know their answer:
no, they don't remember.

They'd be greatly astonished
to learn that for a long time
chance had been playing with them.

Not yet wholly ready
to transform into fate for them
it approached them, then backed off,
stood in their way
and, suppressing a giggle,
jumped to the side. There were signs, signals:
but what of it if they were illegible.
Perhaps three years ago,
or last Tuesday
did a certain leaflet fly
from shoulder to shoulder?
There was something lost and picked up.
Who knows but what it was a ball
in the bushes of childhood.

There were doorknobs and bells
on which earlier
touch piled on touch.
Bags beside each other in the luggage room.
Perhaps they had the same dream on a certain night,
suddenly erased after waking.

Every beginning
is but a continuation,
and the book of events
is never more than half open.

-translated by Walter Whipple

I love this poem by Polish poet and Nobel prize winner Wislawa Szymborska. Even if you are one of those people who harbors serious skepticism about the whole Fate thing, you can’t deny the funny coincidences that happen in life. Or the artful ways in which lives intersect. It's why I also love the movie The Danish Poet.

When I moved to Nashville two years ago, I moved into an apartment less than a hundred yards from his. He lived right across the parking lot from me. We shared the same mailbox kiosk. We shopped at the same grocery store and went to the same bank.

When he started his new job a year ago, it was half a mile down the street from where I work. We shared the same commute every morning and every evening. We frequented the same park and the same lunch spots. We even worked for the same client.

We were running parallel and didn’t know it until we happened to meet, by chance, in a crowd of people on a random Saturday night. That whole “right place at the right time” thing I guess. Funny.


Play It Again

So, a while ago I found this site called Project Playlist where you can listen to and download legal music (that’s right – legal). It’s pretty fun and as I’ve browsed around other people’s various playlists I have gleefully stumbled across songs I thought had been long forgotten by my brain.

But brains are funny things. Ya know how a song can be unassumingly but so strongly tied to a certain memory that when you hear it, it’s a jarring jolt to your brain like being hit upside the head with a whiffle bat? Yep, me too.

I was listening to some random playlist the other day at work when I heard Limp Bizkit’s He Said She Said and was instantly transported to Vegas, driving down the strip with Brett, Carrie and Tyler. Bright and sunny, windows down, the smell of hot concrete - the memory so vivid my cubicle walls became hazy. Crazy.

I don’t know about y’all, but these memory jolts seem to happen when I least expect them. If I happen to hear Oh What A Night, I would swear it was 1994 again – oh shut up - and I am awkwardly crammed into the loud dim den of Felix’s with Jen and Donna. Or when I catch a few bars of Simon & Garfunkel’s Celia, suddenly it’s Fall and I’m in 305 Whitcomb goofily keeping tempo on a pumpkin (don’t ask – don’t judge).

Sometimes a song doesn’t bring up a particular moment but more of a time period. Like, whenever I hear Moby’s Honey, or Venga Boys’ We Like to Party, I can’t help reminiscing about my grad school days. It’s inevitable. You just have to submit to the moment of nostalgia until the song passes.

There are also the songs forever to be associated with break-ups and deaths and disappointments, which, even if I’m in a spectacular mood, can bring me down with one sharp jab to my gut. Powerful stuff these song memories. Not quite as powerful as smell memories (ahhhh…chunky smell – you know what I’m talking about Bethany!), but almost.