Longest Week Ever

I'm in an undisclosed location right now. I'm not telling because many readers will be possibly dismayed to hear that I'm in their geography, but have made no time to call or say hello. I was pained with guilt as the cab driver crossed 63rd and First Avenue, just seven blocks from Grandma. But I had a 1 pm meeting and have been embroiled in presentation rehearsals and conference calls since.
Only now have I had a moment to turn on the television in my room to discover that there is a channel totally dedicated to a live sweeping view of Central Park. Back and forth, back and forth. This channel must be dedicated to those of us worker bees who stay in the hive, and don't even get across the street to Central Park.
Ok, location now totally undisclosed. Sorry to Abby & David, Ellyn & Joe, and most of all Grandma. Yes, I'm in New York City and no, I didn't call.
When I was on the plane this morning at 7 am and rudely sleeping through the safety lecture I realized that it was my fourth airplane ride in as many days. By now I know to pull on the tabs to inflate the vest, and that although the bag may not appear to inflate oxygen is flowing. And always put on your own mask first before helping others.
And maybe next time spare yourself the guilt and visit your Grandmother.
But sadly it's damned if do, damned if don't in this situation, I'm also missing some friends who are visiting Chicago this weekend. I'll just be in the air above all of you on a plane, rehearsing fastening my seatbelt for our final descent. Next time you see a plane in the air, wave to me!

So tired. So busy. So no clue how it'll get done.

I am so ridiculously tired today. There's nothing like having to wake up at 3:30 am for a flight. I felt like I woke up ever hour, "is it 3:30 yet?" "now is it 3:30?" Sometimes I was happy to discover that I still had hours to sleep, but then I came to the morning hours where my mind was racing with the thought that I had to absorb absolutely every valuable second of sleep.
And tonight, after a day of work, there's still a business dinner to go. In a time zone an hour behind my own.
I am so tired, but an attempted evening nap failed. I was distracted by fretting over how the internet connection at this hotel has been so hit or miss that I can barely toss out one e-mail to my boss, or the others who assailed me with their e-mail requests for things both big and petty. And lots of things that I feel like writing back and saying, "That's not my job. Be a big person and figure it out yourself." This is obviously not the tactful or productive response, but I can daydream.
And there will be just a day back in the office, already booked with meetings, (and the appointment I had to schedule myself to remind my boss about my performance review) before turning around for a weekend biz trip.
I don't know when I'll get my actual work done. I'm just quietly, unproductively stressing. Not good.
How sad is it that the best picture of how I feel at the moment is from the comics pages: Cathy. Especially when her hair goes perpendicular to her head in a frenzy.

I love this poem.

A Brief for the Defense
by Jack Gilbert

Sorrow everywhere. Slaughter everywhere. If babies
are not starving someplace, they are starving
somewhere else. With flies in their nostrils.
But we enjoy our lives because that's what God wants.
Otherwise the mornings before summer dawn would not
be made so fine. The Bengal tiger would not
be fashioned so miraculously well. The poor women
at the fountain are laughing together between
the suffering they have known and the awfulness
in their future, smiling and laughing while somebody
in the village is very sick. There is laughter
every day in the terrible streets of Calcutta,
and the women laugh in the cages of Bombay.
If we deny our happiness, resist our satisfaction,
we lessen the importance of their deprivation.
We must risk delight. We can do without pleasure,
but not delight. Not enjoyment. We must have
the stubbornness to accept our gladness in the ruthless
furnace of this world. To make injustice the only
measure of our attention is to praise the Devil.
If the locomotive of the Lord runs us down,
we should give thanks that the end had magnitude.
We must admit there will be music despite everything.
We stand at the prow again of a small ship
anchored late at night in the tiny port
looking over to the sleeping island: the waterfront
is three shuttered caf├ęs and one naked light burning.
To hear the faint sound of oars in the silence as a rowboat
comes slowly out and then goes back is truly worth
all the years of sorrow that are to come.

---
it's a beautiful reflection on the coexistence of happiness and sorrow. And I really don't even like poetry so often.

This is not art, but it is cool.

I've always wondered why the folks at Kleenex try to make our tissue boxes so profound and seemingly artistic. (And why there are so many Americans who buy into this and so prominently display their tissue boxes in their homes.) Personally, I used to keep my tissue box under my living room couch. I had a couch that was high enough off the ground to give clearance to the cheesy floral tissue box. Guests were momentarily disarmed when asking for a tissue and seeing me whip it out from under the couch, but when I explained my disdain for common-place tissue box art, I think they understood. Why do we have to keep tissue boxes right in the middle of our coffee tables/desks/night stands and stare at those ever so bland middle-America designs of muted orchids or climbing ivy vines. BLAH.
So I was quite impressed from a tissue-customer and fellow marketer perspective to see this: mykleenextissue.com DESIGN YOUR OWN TISSUE BOX. $4.99 plus shipping. If I were a better "Price is Right" contest I'd be able to tell you how that compares to buying off the shelf designs.
Of course proving that I'm not nearly as far away from middle America like I pretend to be, my first fancy was to put my cat on a tissue box. Until I realized that might be a little, ahem... tacky? (Oh but he is so cute. :) This might be acceptable for my office where my interior design standards resign themselves to the fact that I'm in a cubicle world.
Instead a new idea might be to take a photo of my rug, or decorative pillow, so as to apply the textile designs of my home on my tissue box. At least this way when I whip it out, it'll be something less nauseating in design.
But then again, with all the clip art that you can add, the cat option is... going to be my little secret that I ordered that.
Pretty cool, Kleenex.

Oh Cruel Irony

There can be little that is more ironic than a pharmaceutical executive who spends countless minutes digging in both her purse and backpack for... a pen. Such was my predicament this evening on the train. ("A horse, a horse, my kingdom for a horse.")

The Ambien ones are my fave. Such a nice cushy grip and pretty pictures. Despite the wide array that I have at home I have been known to pick up a pen at my doctor's office while filling out my forms and hopefully comment, "Nice pen," wishing that the nurse will allow me to take it home. Which they did. I seem to forget that I have the power to make these decisions myself, both to buy my own pens, and, in fact, direct pharmaceutical company decisions on which pens we hand out. The power makes me heady.

"Will it Work?" she asked herself, over the anxious, contemplative, narration

If I were stranded on a desert island, there's no doubt that one of the things I'd wish to bring would be the full library of NPR radio show, This American Life. (Since this is an oft-asked question in teen beauty magazines, I've also known since high school that another item I'd have literally "on hand" would be Neutrogena's Norwegian Formula Hand Cream. I love a great beauty product that you can pick up at any grocery store. And I HATE dry hands.)
With This American Life I could rest my chin on my finely moisturized hand and remember life in America, all its oddities, anxieties and humor. This show is so reflective and internal that I was a little surprised to see that it's making a foray into television. I don't think we have Showtime so this question might be academic, but: will the show be nearly as good when the pictures are provided for us? Will there be the same intimacy of just hearing someone's voice and its emotion on the radio when there's now an entire vision of the clothes they're wearing, the chair they're sitting in, the weather outside their window in front of you? Will this work?
It was the offer of a CD of This American Life recorded live that finally goaded me into donating to my local public radio station this week. After they needled me for 14 mornings with that pledge drive. Ugh. But I hear that this CD promises the story of John Hogdman ("PC") having to go to an Apple store to have his own computer problem fixed. Mob scene.
This American Life debuts on Showtime, March 22nd. You can even add them as a friend to your MySpace page, which curiously locates them in New York. I thought This American Life was brought to you by WBEZ in CHICAGO!! (And yes, I took some pride, as well as security, in that. My NPR station in C'bus canceled their support of TAL because of its cost - devastating loss. I complained and received an e-mail back from a whiny public radio employee bemoaning that they hardly had money to buy highlighters. Really.)

Fashionable Objecter?

There are just some fashions that I can't bring myself to participate in. (At least not yet.) And the "cropped pant" trend is one of them. My mother would have helpfully provided the historical background that these used to be known as "knickerbockers." And because she bought me and my sister matching pairs in grade school, which were a colorful plaid of red, yellow and green, I just can't fathom putting on a pair ever again. I looked for some childhood photos, and while I ran across a number that testified that my sister and I just being clothed seemed sufficient to send us out the door, never mind color coordination, I couldn't find pics of those knickers. In my memory though, there was no shirt that ever matched with them, but we wore them anyway. Probably with purple velcro sneakers.
Exactly what height should you be for these pants to be flattering? I don't know, and suspect it's not me anyway.
How funny that another quirky pant style is coming back too: leggings. It's telling when not even the catalog model looks good in something.

4 1/2 Minutes Happier

It's a little long, but it'll make you happier. (Although maybe more pertinent to women, based on our utilization patterns for public restrooms - watch and you'll get it.)

Ellen Degeneres: humor about potties, without being potty humor!

The Clock on the Wall

The clock on our kitchen wall is satisfying right again. After the heck of a time I had trying to hang it up on the wall months ago when we moved in, I didn't bother to ask it to join us in "falling back" for daylight savings last autumn. So for months guests came over, looked up and said, "That's not the real time, is it?" "No, it's not," we replied, not always offering the story of the struggle to hang it up on the wall. Really, it took two of us to get it up there, and there was a blush of the red paint from its rim all around the hook on our white wall afterwards (from many failed attempts to slide the clock down over the hook until it caught.) Similarly, I have not had the inclination to get up there with a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser to clean that up. (But those things really are magic.)
The member of our appliance family that I am most proud of during this Daylight Savings jump was our new bathroom clock radio. Obviously manufactured after Congress decided that they wanted to play God with our time, it sprung ahead all by itself, clever little thing. Even my Lotus Notes couldn't do that. And that darn 1980 phone on my desk at work is still an hour behind (plus 25 years...)
But Daylight Savings can't be blamed for this week without blog, that's my work, a concert on Monday, and doing nothing on my deck last night... just because it was 70something wonderful, springlike degrees. But we're back to 40 today. Rats.

Laugh it off?

The gloom of my last post can't be left hanging out there online forever, like a dark shadow cast across the blogosphere. Time to distract ourselves with some of the little things in life that make me smile and giggle:
- like Cuteoverload.com Check daily for adorableness.
- like looking at the back of a twenty dollar bill and remembering James' initial reaction to the new design: that it looks like the White House is under attack by killer bees
- like thinking about Dubya's reaction to a bee attack (Git the chainsaw, Laura!)
- And I also recently caught a little bit of the Ellen Degeneres stand up show on Comedy Central. I like humor that manages to be funny without being insulting, dirty, raunch, potty-mouthed, or racist. And who doesn't love the raccoon in this ad?

"May You Live in Interesting Times"

Although it's allegedly an ancient Chinese curse, there have been times where I wished, in the face of a mundane point A to point B routine, that something interesting would happen. There have simply been times where I wished I had something significant or surprising to ponder.
I was thinking about this phrase again as I contemplated the events of the past two weeks. They fit the bill of "interesting" which makes no judgement or promise of events being welcome or tragic:
1. Got engaged. Undeniably good.
2. Fell on the ice in our parking lot. My feet slipped right out from under me to the side, creating a sequential impact of knee, hip, shoulder, and finally the head. Ouch. My freshly minted fiance, on the cell with his brother, was heard to say, "Oh shoot, I gotta go." Not a big "event" but it sure was unfortunate it occurred the same day we'd become engaged, since this involved much looking up adoringly in-love at Jason and darn it, my neck hurt a lot when I had to raise my head to look at his inches taller eyes.
3. Got promoted. Not sure if I deserved it, but now I'll have to work hard to prove it.
4. Got a new office. Goodbye cubicle. Same stupid old phone though.
5. Dentist visit. I had to go back again this week. Ok, also not really that significant, and maybe this making the event list just speaks to the banality of my life, and why I sometimes I wish there were more.
6. Finally, we said goodbye to a well-loved, affectionate and ebullient, but ever soulful and admiring dog next door.
It made me think about the day, a month or two after we brought our own cat Teedie home, that I looked into his curious bright eyes and thought to myself, "Shoot, I've just gotten myself attached to something else that I will miss when he dies." In the remainder of my internal conversation I considered that I might be able to count on my two hands the number of people who I'd painfully, anguishingly, miss if they died (ok readers, stop wondering if you made the list; there is no real LIST, I'd miss you all.) It might be better to just tightly control the group of those you love, so there would be fewer to grieve and miss later. And this philosophy had been an intention after Mom and Dad dying. But somehow this darn cat slipped in, curled up on my couch and now here he was and I loved him.
In the time after both mom and dad died I became a minor collector of quotes, especially those that seemed to express grief better than I could on my own. I began with a quote and I want to end with one and although I opened my 1996 diary tonight to find a different passage, this one seems more fit:

"Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket -- safe, dark, motionless, airless -- it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.
"
- CS Lewis.
I can't pretend there weren't times when I read this and being tightly wound in luxuries sounded like a much more appealing idea. But I'm better for knowing the people I love, the animals (and the neighbors that love them) too. Goodnight, Winston.

Character Building

Admittedly we puzzled over why Jason's sister Courtney and her boyfriend Claudio might choose to leave their sunny Melrose Place-like abode in San Diego to visit Chicago in February. (Look carefully for me and Jason in the reflection of Chicago's Bean.) Through the layers of sweaters, borrowed coat and newly purchased scarf, and raising her voice over the blustery winter wind, Courtney shared her hypothesis that SoCal residents miss out on the important character building exercise that comes with months when just the thought of going outside chills to the bone. If it's beautiful and sunny all the time you go outside, you prioritize washing your car. I can attest to this since there was a morning during my trip to LA where I readily agreed to walk with a colleague to Macy's instead of checking e-mail in my room. Did I need anything at Macy's? No, she was the one who'd forgotten all of her belts.
When do Californians get the forced internalization, reflection and seasonal affective disorder that comes with winter? Where is it easier to be seriously absorbed by a book: on a sunny noisy beach, or tucked up on a rocking chair with a blanket around you? What kind of anxious and lonely self-scrutiny can you do when every day is a blossom of sunshine and surf? Would Southern California seem less superficial if only they had a genuine February?
I'm doing some escapist character building myself this weekend, diving into "Marie Antoinette" by Antonia Fraser. The motivation to read has increased since I picked up Sofia Coppola's movie version on DVD this weekend. Just 458 pages to read before I can watch the movie and compare my vision with Sofia's. 40 pages completed last night! So far it seems like Marie might have fit right into SoCal living.

How I Nearly (But Never) Met Paris Hilton

After a week in Los Angeles, there were no celeb sightings to report, mainly because I spent most of my time inside conference rooms and at the desk in my room. I did become momentarily titillated when I read the report of Paris Hilton getting pulled over, because it mentioned she took refuge from the paparrazzi in The Standard Hotel. How exciting, that was just a block away from my hotel! But wait, my hotel was a Hilton, wouldn't she have preferred to seek solace within the arms of her own family's behemouth empire? It was then that I read more carefully and noted that Paris was in West Hollywood, not downtown LA, and discovered that there are two Standard Hotels. Bummer.
Paris was pulled over for speeding, but to make matters more stupid she was driving her $200k Bentley on a suspended license. Whenever I've taken driving tests (with recent moves to Ohio and Illinois this has been about two times in three years - ask me about right of way at a four way intersection!) I make mental note never to committ any of those offenses that get your license taken away. What an inconvenience. And for less-well-off people who need their car to get to their jobs, it can be really deleterious.
But as someone with $200k to drop on a car, you have no excuse to drive with a suspended license, Paris. (Like she really reads this blog.) You can afford to keep a driver on call 24/7, and why not let them manage knocking down the paparazzi to get out of a crowded street? Ten points for the guy with the telephoto lens.
 

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