Tuesday, December 30, 2008

2008 Reflection

2008 has been long and challenging. I can’t remember a year in my past that has been so full of change, emotional struggles, and soaring accomplishments. Things haven’t gone at all to plan and when I think back to twelve months ago I would have never thought I’d end up writing a blog from a desk job in mid-town. True what I DO as a profession does not define me but the things that I DID during the first half of this year destroyed my self induced limitations and shattered my internal perceptions that I was never to be a scholar. Like with any self help life challenge the first step is knowing yourself and I think 2008 introduced myself to a ‘ME’ I have never encountered before. Prior to 2008 I never thought I possessed the aptitude to produce a thesis, a 3.98 GPA or be awarded with a Masters. And sure it took me a few months of tears to overcome the shock that the path I had meticulously set out to follow was slowly dissipating into a cloud of gray fog but in retrospect I truly believe that the work I did internally will be much more valuable than any job.

2008 was not only a year of complex struggles, disappointments, and “pull yourself up by the bootstraps and move on”-ness I also found time to take total advantage of my adopted life as a grad student living off of a school loan. I laughed a lot, drank a lot, and got to spend a huge amount of time with all my super supportive, creative, loving, and genuinely kick ass friends. I went on road trips, attended weddings, visited old buddies, sat lazily on the beach, and during brief lapses of better judgment was easily coerced into acting like an irresponsible yahoo (but even that was kinda fun).

Here’s to 2009 – I have no clue what the new year holds but as long as I can keep paying my rent (and my loan) I am sure I will roll with whatever the fates toss at me.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Rub –a-dub-dumb

Sometimes while I am engaging in the banal tasks of everyday life I mentally check out of the system and take a few moments to let my mind wander through the disconnected clutter of my gray matter. Most of the time these breaks from reality are harmless for I am not a crane operator nor am I on duty at a nuclear silo. However there are times, infrequent as they may be, while unplugged from the grid that I find myself in a situation that may have been avoided if I had just realized that I was operating in a world that was constantly changing and evolving around me even though I had chosen to retract into my inner cerebral realm. Christmas Eve last week afforded me the opportunity to utilize my local Laundromat in complete and utter privacy for I knew my mostly catholic neighbors would be celebrating the anniversary of their savior’s birth which even though I am not expertly versed in all of the holiday’s customs and practices most probably did not include a wash and fluff. I arrived at my parlor of suds to discover that I was correct in my assumptions; the place was relatively empty and ensconced in a blanket of tranquility aided by the soft hummm of the few dryers finishing their last goyish loads. I languished over my washer options…so many to choose from.

After loading up two standard machines and one Big Bertha with my soiled belongings I fed the stainless steel monsters of cleanliness with quarters. Clink, clink, clink, my coins were swallowed up and the sound of rushing water filled the air. That is until I reached Big Bertha. The behemoth beckoned to be fed but with my pockets empty of their booty I was off to the change machine to restock my funds. Along my 20 foot round trip journey I ruminated on such things as the relative humidity of my apartment, the pros and cons of replacing my kitchen mat, and if the Chinese couple screaming at each other were really pissed off or if my western based social constructs deprived me of the tools required to connect authentically with their standard of culturally acceptable communication.

Minutes later I found myself staring into the belly of a big bertha with dampened wash making large circles as it tumbled round in the presoak cycle. Time had lapsed yet I could hardly remember returning from the change machine and feeding the washer… but I had obviously since my pocket was devoid of the twelve quarters I had received in trade for my 3 paper dollars. As I watched the clothing dance in the water I slowly realized that I was neither the owner of a fuzzy pink blanket with kittens emblazoned on it nor anything plaid. My eyes then shifted to the right shocking me back into reality for my wash was still sitting motionless and dry in the machine adjacent to Ms. Kitty’s. Yikes! As I fed another three bucks into MY machine I quickly scanned the area searching for Ms. Kitty, but I could not locate her. I briefly thought about informing the proprietor of my careless yet honest mistake but I then took the cowardly route and settled into the plastic molded seat by the window and perused my Vanity Fair.

A few moments later a middle aged woman entered and made a beeline for the row of washers that contained the mystical machine. I slyly peered over my magazine and watched as Ms. Kitty inquisitively considered her still churning big bertha then moved on to empty her other machines. She returned 2 more times to big bertha, paused, stared, and even shoved it a few times before lastly returning with the owner to complain about the length of the machine’s cycle. I attempted to remain visibly uninterested in the commotion even though my heart was pounding with the fear that Ms. Kitty’s rage would suddenly turn from its current target (the owner) to me….gulp. The confrontation continued as the owner with towel and pliers in hand climbed on top of the machine, reached into its gullet, and forcibly tweaked it into a spin cycle. I remained on the sidelines buried in my Vanity Fair waiting for Ms. Kitty to leave so I could retrieve my clean laundry without calling attention to my proximity to her calamity.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

A reminder for what?

Here at Hydra we are participating in a mandatory holiday potluck lunch combined with the all annoying Secret Santa. I being the eyes and ears of Hydra have been appointed assistant to the company appointed party planner and by such association have become a target for the drones’ anti pot luck whining. Great.
Anyways yesterday the planner sent out an office email reminding the staff about the event and their gifting responsibilities then today I sent out another email informing the entire staff to clear out their fuzzy funky food from the fridge so we have room for the pot luck food tomorrow. Following me so far? Well about fifteen minutes ago this is what went down:

Ebay : GEE!!! Don’t you think you should send out an email reminding people about the Pot Luck?

Me: You mean besides the one Planner sent out yesterday?

Ebay: No like nobody is gonna remember there is a party tomorrow. I didn’t remember so I don’t think anybody else remembered.

Me: I would rather not send out another full company email after we reminded everybody yesterday.

Ebay: Who ? When? I didn’t get any email!

Me: What about the email I sent this morning about cleaning out the fridge because of the pot luck part y tomorrow.

Ebay: No I didn’t get that either. You see you need to send out a reminder because nobody got the other ones.

Me: That’s odd because all the emails are still in my inbox and they are addressed to the entire staff. Maybe your email address is not on the distribution list. I will call IT support and have them check the address lists.

Ebay: Oh no don’t do that I mean I don’t read any of those emails that come into my inbox that are addressed to the whole staff. I just delete them.

Me: Well Ok… I guess I will only need to send an email reminder to those people who don’t read their emails, because I am assuming anybody who read the first two email reminders kinda knows about the party.

Yuletide is a bit different across the river

My holiday senses are a bit heightened since I work smack dab in the middle of the global urban Christmas bull’s-eye. Not only are the streets teeming with wide eyed tourists but every building, both retail and corporate, are trimmed to the gills with garlands, twinkle lights, and anything else that transforms me from Jewish to Yule-ish.

Now the down side to this over exposure to extreme holiday decorations is that my critical eye has been working overtime in my poor hamlet just over the East River.

I’ve lived in my outer borough for twelve years and I have never taken notice of the pathetic attempt to decorate the city center with holiday cheer but now every time I leave my apartment I am bombarded by the sights of a chamber of commerce gone awry. Earlier this week I took notice of our town’s “tree”, not to be confused by “THE TREE” that sores over mid-town just yards from my office front door. No this is just "a" tree, specifically a tree that could be cast in the live stage version of A Charlie Brown Christmas. This poor little tree was recently planted to replace our old tree that finally kacked out after years inhaling exhaust from the nearby bus stop, however it is not quite ready for prime time (see photo – I have outlined the tree for easier viewing). This sapling is barely pushing 4 feet tall so to add spectacle the “Woodside on the Move” team duct taped a stick to the pinnacle so as to extend the height by about 2 extra feet. Atop this stick a star was affixed however due to either the wet weather or the weight of the star the poor tree began to gently sag to the right bending the trunk into the shape of an upside-down U (yes JUST like the Charlie Brown tree) leaving the star to point Due West instead of North. Maybe the 3 Kings are on their way to Jackson Heights? To counter act the pull of the earth’s gravitational forces the decorating team returned and strung lines of Christmas lights from the star to the opposite side of the tree then fastened them into the soft earth at the base. This “tenting” technique has helped and today I noticed that the star is pointing North West ward – more towards LaGuardia Airport than Flushing.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Jingle Bells and a Little Left Over Turkey

The night was cold but we walked quickly through the cobbled streets teeming with collage kids who were all actively participating on of one of two teams. Team one consisted of shivering Abercrombie wanna bees (more JC Penny than GQ) sans cold weather outerwear while team two was a bit more, how would one say, seasonal. The seasonal street cast was cavorting in what can only be described as Santa Wear. Yes hoards of Santa and Elfin clad twenty somethings stormed the historic streets of Georgetown stumbling in and out of the local establishments on a search for nog and holiday cheer. As we passed these yule- rifiic revelers some of our clan would yell out appropriate responses to the Santas as, “ Can I sit on your lap Santa?”, “Make my Christmas wish COME true Santa!” “Are those your sleigh bells or are you just happy to see me?” ahhh the sweetness of the holiday season.

We arrived at our final destination and to my surprise it was festooned with 8 foot tall nutcrackers at the door, how apropos. All we were missing was a bowl of 3 foot round walnuts…..nuts! While waiting at the bar for our table I took advantage of the lull in the conversation to present my amazing rendition of a wild turkey call. Jeeves was truly impressed with my turkey prowess and the turkey call quickly spread to become a crowd favorite (side note – suck it Mom – people think the turkey call is funny and NO it does not loose it’s humor after the 15th or 20th time). Now for those of you who have not heard my wild turkey call it is very similar to the sound a Shiite Militia makes when calling to arms their jihad members while firing semi automatic weapons into the air. It took some practice but by the end of the night even Mac Daddy was participating in our rounds of wild turkey laughter.

Gotta Dance!

On Friday I popped on down to DC to visit my Chicagoans, MAC Daddy and Twinkle Toes, who were workin’ it down at the Kennedy Center. Scooter turned me onto a new bus service, BOLT BUS, that really kicks Greyhound’s tail (except for the fact they are owned by Greyhound…odd) with free wi-fi and the added bonus of NOT utilizing the Port Authority Bus Terminal….yahoo! Anyways after a very pleasant 4.5 hour ride in my comfy coach I arrived late Friday night and quickly moved into the boys’ sweet, suite. After engulfing an organic peanut butter sandwich that was expertly constructed by MAC and inhaling a half pint of ice cream I was tucked into my sofa bed for a good night’s sleep.

Saturday was a gloriously sunny day in our nation’s capitol. The weather was brisk but as Momma always says, “There is no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing” and true to form I stayed toasty in my new overcoat and second season knit hat (that garners mixed reviews). I walked around a deserted metropolis which was rather a nice change to what I am dealing with here at the center of the holiday universe. The streets were devoid of any life forms and shopping was a breeze. I chose not to do the tourist thing in DC since I have visited so many times before so I just headed on down to the Metro Center to buy my Secret Santa gift and take advantage of the Gap’s sweater sale. Why I needed to go The Gap 4.5 hours away from my hometown instead of visiting the one that is NEXT DOOR to my office….um I don’t know maybe cause it is more exotic after crossing like 4 state’s borders?

By 1pm I had to cut my shopping spree short so I hopped into a taxi and headed over to the Kennedy Center for the matinée of Nut Cracker. Oh my Twinkle Toes, what a talent and what a ham. I love watching him cut a rug and what a special bonus – I knew many of the other major male dancers thanks to my prior visits to Chicago. The curtain came down and we met for a nosh at the theater’s restaurant which we ate along with a side dish of my totally unknowledgeable review of the dancers’ performance.

Back to the hotel for me, while the boys commenced the second show of the day. Some TV and a nap, then up and dressed for a late après ballet supper...oh so posh. We met up with my favorite gay harem members, Manos, Jeeves, and Smitty (these are very poor names, sorry to those involved and now confused and hopefully not offended) and headed off to Georgetown for some grub and suds.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Keep Your Pants On!

Over the summer I was witness to a new fashion trend, woman sporting hip length tunic tops with no pants. What was once thought to have been simply a poolside cover-up was spotted parading down the streets of Manhattan and the Hamptons over bare legs and strappy heals. At the time I was puzzled by this look. Sure the 20 something’s kinda pulled it off while standing and sipping cocktails harbor side at B Smith’s. Standing of course for bending at the waist does invite some unseemly consequences. But when I saw grown woman on the Upper East Side trying to rock this look with their anorexic pin straight legs that unforgivingly revealed their age around the knees – I knew we were treading in deep water. But then the seasons changed. The once bare legs turned pale and were sheathed in opaque tights, the strappy sandals were replaced by knee length boots and all was right again in the big city….or so I thought.

Yesterday one of the Loopy Loos at Hydra arrived at work sporting what can only be described as a paper thin navy blue tee shirt that just gently grazed her mid thigh. It was a lovely shirt with large pin tucks and a graceful flow however she forgot to put her PANTS on before departing for the day. The shirt was worn over black tights which ended in a pair of patent leather pumps, a lovely silhouette but hardly appropriate for the office; unless of course your office is at the North East corner of the Port Authority Bus Terminal. I greeted her the only way I could with a quick eye scan and a, “Hi Naked”. She responded with, “Do you think it’s too short?” in a way that did not sound like she was asking for fashion advise but rather accusing me of prudish tendencies. As in “do YOU think it is too short?” I just shrugged and walked away. I know Hydra has an anti flip flop policy that I must monitor however after a meticulous inspection of the company’s dress code I could not find any rules regarding the negation of pants. So I let her be, and hoped that the trend would not spread through the office to the Loopies who are a bit less suited for the style. My decision to do nothing proved successful when to my delight I arrived this morning to find the entire staff with tops and bottoms intact. However as I was patting myself on the back for a passive job well done I crossed through our lobby and spied a spunky young lady who arrived for an interview wearing a black t-shirt, ankle boots and what I thought was no PANTS. This black shirt was even shorter than the previous day’s attire so the thought that this sweet young thing was prancing around midtown in just her skivvies was a bit off putting. Thank goodness on closer inspection she did have her bottom half covered…..in bronze spandex leggings. Whew what a relief and here I thought she was dressed inappropriately for a job interview.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

I’m Behind

I know… I know…. but there hasn’t really been anything to blog about. Well except that Hydra is going bonkers. They have buried me in a pile of minutia; I kinda liked being bored out of my gourd better…ughhhh. But things are looking up for my blogging future. I’m going down to DC for the weekend to visit MAC Daddy so hopefully I will return with a chock a block of fun stories.

Last weekend I turned back the clock and spent a day half frozen in the ol’ prop warehouse with Scooter. It’s odd how your mind filters out all the crap you used to hate and only focuses on the fun good stuff that leaves you nostalgic for the past.

Over ten years ago Scooter and I spent months on end bundled up in our arctic tin roofed oasis of theatrical splendor creating some very bizarre stage properties while riding around on a tandem bicycle and a fork lift. It was in this arena that Scooter first witnessed my amazing skill of removing a latex glove from my hand by simply wiggling my fingers around (try this feat at home….while it is difficult to master it comes in very handy when both gloves are covered with epoxy and you don’t want to get your ungloved hand stuck to the sticky gloved hand). Another highlight of the G & S show (props edition) was the long days journey into night that we spent spraying a dozen fake custom made luscious green bushes (Podar Karpas) a death mask gray. I still to this day cannot say for sure that this task was desperately funny because of the sheer premise of spraying fake trees with gray floral spray or because we were marginalized due to the influx of toxic fumes.

Unlike the active participant roll I played in our distant past, this Saturday I occupied the position of dutiful “hander of things” while Scooter built. And although we did refrain from passively huffing harmful chemicals I did find myself falling into hysterics whenever Scooter, in response to the rock classics of 92.3 K-Rock, felt the spirit within and broke into his signature hip and buttocks swiveling. There is something very entertaining about the incongruity of a grown man covered in sawdust wielding a pneumatic stapler while singing and dancing.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Hey Crazy - I’m back!

On the way to the bus this morning I was reflecting on the past few days spent in the bucolic bosom of the Hamptons searching for some clever situation that may be appropriate for today’s blog. I unfortunately came up empty handed, except for the sad fact that my holiday weekend was devoid of any baked apple dessert items, however this fact would not suffice as a full blog entry. Happily this moment of un- inspiration was quickly shattered when I was greeted at my local bus stop by a squat Mexican woman who appeared to be in control of all her faculties – file this under “Don’t judge a book by its cover”. The following is the conversation that took place between Consuela (real name withheld for security reasons) and me.

*Please note when reading this dialog please employ the use of a very thick Mexican accent for Consuela. *

Consuela: Have you been waiting long?
Gail: No, only about five minutes.
Consuela: Who do you call about machines recording you at your house?
Gail: What? At your house?

Consuela: Who do you call if people are recording you in your house? All weekend I heard a noise in my house but it stopped today.
Gail: What kind of noise?
Consuela: The kind of noise recording machines make when they are recording you. Who do you call about that?

I was rather impressed that I looked like the kind of person that not only Consuela could trust with this information but also could solve her dilemma. It must have been my finely coifed ponytail that I am sporting today – it looks like I mean business.

Gail: Maybe you should call 311? (for those who are not in NYC - this is the city help line that gives you information about trash pickup, parking regulations, transportation, etc…)
Consuela: NO! (Looking at me with distain I could see she was rethinking her decision to have shared this confidential information with me. I was obviously not as well versed in covert operations as once thought.)
Gail: Ummmm you could call the police?
Consuela: What are they going to do?
Gail: They could find the bug?
Consuela: No, no police. They have people, high up. Very high up in government. Big men in charge. They know! (or maybe it was They, NO!)

Consuela had totally called my bluff. I obviously was just pulling lame solutions out of my ass. I was no help to her. Disgusted with my stupidity she turned her back and waited in silence as the Q32 approached. I on the other hand felt relieved, for within 10 minutes of leaving my apartment building I had found my bog-spiration in Consuela the international spy.