Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Come One, Come All!

Imagine what high school would have been like if you took away the stress of "getting into college." No A.P. classes, volunteer projects, extracurricular activities, and SAT's begone! Begone countless applications and essays... tutors, general brown-nosing around recommendation time. And forget about the torture of waiting for the big acceptance-- will it be a fat or skinny envelope? What's the appeal process if I don't get in? What will I do if I don't get in?

Well, apparently all that hard work we did to get into college was pointless... because kids these days don't even need a high school diploma to get into college-- and all they have to do is complete a few courses to get their high school diploma-- COLLEGE COURSES, while they're there. This is fully deserving of a WTF moment.

The NYT reported on this phenomenon today; The major television news programs will likely follow suit this week (The Today Show suspectly mimics the NYT's major stories the day after...). And, okay-- it's certain caliber schools that are admitting non-high school grads into full time college programs, but again, WTF?

The Times reported that in some cases socially-minded schools are doing so to provide opportunities to students who may not have had them in high school, citing that students failing in high school may not reflect upon their academic abilities-- but outside factors such as home life, attention/interaction with teachers, etc. may have impeded them from succeeding in high school. But do they really think that it's going to be all that better in an often times bigger school? And does removing the student from the home (and many times, they're actually not physically removed from home) really remove them from their reality? Some schools too are doing it to take advantage of federal loans and scholarships-- and studies show that these students more often than not end up dropping out of college and defaulting on their loans-- leaving tax payers to pick up the pieces-- both socially and financially.

Maybe I'm missing something; but to me, it still begs the question, if they don't prove that they're capable of the commitment required for academic success by graduating high school, how can they be successful in persuit of higher education? And what about all those kids who have worked hard and HAVE graduated, who are getting rejected?

Tuesday, May 30, 2006


"What is it? My dear?"
"Ah, how can we bear it?"
"Bear what?"
"This. For so short a time. How can we sleep this time away?"
"We can be quiet together, and pretend-- since it is only the beginning-- that we have all the time in the world."
"And every day we shall have less. And then none."
"Would you rather, therefore, have had nothing at all?"
"No. This is where I have always been coming to. Since my time began. And when I go away from here, this will be the mid-point, to which everything ran, before, and from which everything will run. But now, my love, we are here, we are now, and those other times are running elsewhere."

-- A.S. Byatt

Monday, May 29, 2006

Weddings and Celebrations

I remember one weekend during college when I was visiting my aunt and uncle in New Jersey and we were lounging in their living room reading the Sunday NYT. I was laying on the carpet, leafing through Arts & Leisure while my aunt perused Sunday Styles (my favorite section that I hoard even today until the rest of the paper is read and put away). I remember the sun filtering through the front windows; the lazy Sunday unfolding before us over late morning tea with the promise of a luxurious afternoon nap in the near future, when my aunt placed the paper on the ottoman and said, "you know, one day you're going to know someone in here."

"In where?" I asked.

"In the NYT weddings section," she answered.

I scoffed. How would I know anyone important enough for their wedding to be announced in the NYT?

"You'll see," she said, nodding matter-of-factly. "You go to Vassar; your friends are the people whose weddings are announced in the NYT."

I remember the first time I saw one such person. Okay, so she wasn't a friend, but she was someone that I went to school with, and I did know her, if only peripherally. And that Sunday with my aunt came flooding back and it was then-- two years ago, to be exact, that I realized that maybe my life wasn't ever supposed to be ordinary... and that my school, and my experience there and the people I met, meant something. I've always known that Vassar was a special place; going there was a decision-- maybe the best I've ever made, that changed my life. Vassar grads seem to be everywhere you turn-- on tv and in the movies; they're politicians and social activists; they're renowned businesspeople and scholars; they're artists and authors. It doesn't really sound like a lot; after all, many schools can claim famous alums. But when you consider Vassar's size (a mere 2,300 students when I was there, and even smaller the years prior), it's a lot more impactful. I guess until that point, I didn't consciously realize that "those Vassar grads" who were accomplished-- and famous, could be related to me. And that someday those people, could be me.

There have been other mentions of fellow Vassar grads in the prestigious NYT weddings section; and non-Vassar grads that I know-- or once knew, too. Today was one of those days-- the wedding of a childhood friend of a former, very dear friend (from Vassar) of mine was announced, in all its prominent glory. I read this section faithfully every weekend, and think about the people who are publicly declaring their love and starting this new journey together. It's something that makes me happy and sad, all at the same time. My immediate reaction was a smile spreading across my face-- these people who I knew years ago, who met in undergrad and who have worked so hard to become the accomplished people they are today, waiting until they had achieved what they dreamt of academically and had the plans for their professional future laid out in front of them, were finally getting married. And today is the day that they get to start a whole new adventure together. And what makes more sense than two people who love each other as much as they do, doing that?

But sometimes in these moments, sadness creeps in and I feel like I'm being left behind while my friends and loved ones are walking-- and in some cases running, along a path that I don't get to follow. With the flurry of weddings and babies surrounding you, most of the time you don't notice it. But every once in a while I do wonder if there will ever come a day where my wedding will be announced in the NYT.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Things That Make Me Smile

Everyday there are little things-- little observations of the world that humble me, make me angry, and most of all, make me smile. I try to file these things away for a rainy day, so to speak... to try to conjure up the happy things in the midst of a meltdown at work (the hitting your head against your desk moments that unfortunately for me has been a daily event, but I'm sure we've all felt). So I decided that I would write down those happy moments so when I'm having a bad day (tomorrow), I can remember these little things:

  1. A man walking in front of me with the right leg of his trousers tucked into his sock
  2. Listening to Sting and hearing him say "pro-gress" (British) rather than "praw-gress" (American)
  3. Watching an oblivious man continually hit people in the head with his ridiculously large duffle bag as he walked down the aisle of the bus (yes, yes, a schadenfreude moment...)
  4. Watching Paris Bennett sing with Al Jarreau (the only time this year that I've watched American Idol, but I have to say, the finalists better be damned good if this girl got kicked off...)
  5. Spending my lunch hour (oh, okay... maybe a little... or a lot... longer than an hour) researching a potential vacation working on an archaeological dig in Romania
  6. Talking to my sis and listening to her voice "laugh" as she looked at her smiling daughter
  7. Eating an oatmeal chocolate chip cookie from Potbelly's (which, if you haven't had one, are the PERFECT, still-slightly-doughy, undercooked cookies you've ever had).
  8. Prince popping up in a surprise performance on American Idol (aren't I glad I tuned in)-- and holy crap, are those kids freakin' talented.
  9. Top Chef (as a self-proclaimed "foodie", love, love, LOVE that show!!)
  10. The Dixie Chicks' new album-- come on, peeps! REPRESENT!! Support the girls in the fight against the right-winged-closed-mindedness!

Wednesday, May 24, 2006


Wow-- that was egotistical. My equating my blog as "fun" and all. And okay; while I'm confessing; there was really only one phone call...

China Takes on Backstreet

Since my last video posting was wildly popular (2 comments!! and a couple of phone calls!), I've decided to post my all-time favorite web video (which I've been selfishly hoarding, I must admit).

May I present: China Takes on Backstreet.

(Thanks to G for sharing this. What? You think that I have all this free time on my hands to surf for this stuff? Okay, okay, maybe I do... the reality is that my work blocks every single site that doesn't relate to the wide world of insurance, so I can't access anything fun, including this blog, during the day. So I have to count on kind souls to keep me in the know.)

Monday, May 22, 2006

Dance Like Nobody's Watching

But maybe not if you can do it like this. Thanks to my sis for sending this along-- laugh outloud kind of stuff. So, without further ado, may I present:

Dance Evolution

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Mommy Spears-est

What she's thinking:

1. "My career is in the toilet, I don't have a record deal, and I really need the publicity."
2. "My husband is a loser, I made a huge mistake, and maybe if I do enough things wrong, they'll take this kid away from me so I can start over."
3. "Oh, shit. I forgot about the one on the way."
4. "I'm really, really, really dumb."

Mommy Spears-est. That makes me giggle. I can't make this stuff up. Hopefully this kid makes it to his first birthday, but it looks pretty grim.

I'm going to start singing "app-li-cay-shuns...!" like Moira Kelly sang "toe-pick...!" in "The Cutting Edge" soon.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Mark Twain in Hawaii?

Ah, Sundays... and that means the Sunday NYT. I've sung its praises often, but today it did me an even greater service than simply the joy of lingering over the various sections from Week in Review and Arts & Leisure to Business and Sunday Styles (secretly my guiltiest of pleasures b/c of the Weddings section... but that for another blog entry...). The revered Travel section (well, revered by me, anyway...) gave us one up this week and not only covered two places near and dear to my heart (NYC and Hawaii), but also tied literature into both articles. Ah, wonderful NYT. What would I do without you?

Rather than go through what would be an extensive recap, I'll let you see them for yourselves... but both are good reads, especially if you're a book-lover like me, and/or love either of these two places:
I realize that reading online is not the same as lingering over actual newsprint with a steaming cup of joe (or in my case, tea) in your hand, but the NYT online recently got a make-over and it's quite attractive...

Friday, May 12, 2006


In my overzealousness to capture the oversized umbrella comment, I forgot the most important part: the problem with the ridiculously large umbrellas is not that they're ridiculously large (well, okay, we know that I don't exactly believe that), it's that the men (and sometimes women, as my friend Steve has pointed out-- Kristina, your large umbrella doesn't count b/c it's also protecting a baby and stroller... see, people? THREE under the large umbrella!) who carry them seemingly lose all sense of personal space. Because they're so big, they literally knock everything over that's in their path... I cannot tell you how many times my umbrella has been knocked out of my hands into oncoming traffic and bowled over by a delivery truck (okay, I may be exaggerating slightly); or how many times I've been hit in the face b/c the offender is totally oblivious to the sheer size and has an shameful disregard for any other human in the world with their self-centered approach to umbrella-carrying. If they had any sense (or respect for another human being) they would AT LEAST lift the umbrella up so as to not poke someone's eye out.

But, I think this blog entry got the most comments EVER. Whoohoo. Wait 'til my post on the death of chivalry (another passionate tirade of mine...).

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Overcompensation (& Burberry Plaid)

Rain, rain, go away...

Day three... rain. Yes; I realize that I shouldn't be complaining... given the 60 days (+) of rain that the northwest has experienced, but even still, rain in Chicago is a unique and special thing... remember the windy city... I do not lie.

But I digress.

If you've ever lived in a "walking city"-- and I feel like I at the very least can genuinely contribute to this (given at age 30, I have never owned a car...), and as an adult, I've only lived in them: NYC and Chicago, you KNOW that this is true: men carry extraodinarily large unbrellas.

Perhaps if you've never lived in a "walking" city, you don't know exactly what this entails. Well, let me tell you. The "extraordinarily large" umbrella is commonly known as the golf umbrella... in other words, an umbrella large enough to comfortably house 4 (yes, FOUR) people.

Yes, four. But the problem is, that the umbrella built for four is housing only one-- and let me tell you; I can't even count on two hands how many "MEN" I see on a drizzly day carrying the massive four-person umbrella.


Granted... not every man succumbs to the "big umbrella" complex. Some of them don't carry any at all. But I must say that you will never see a woman with an overly-large umbrella. Attn, men: Get over it. We're on to you.

But just so I remain unbiased, and don't appear to be a "man-hater" (because that is certainly NOT the case...), let me comment on the Burberry woman.

Let's just say this: today I witnessed (count them) TWO women who were all-out clad in designer gear. Both with plaid Burberry raincoats, galoshes AND hats... HATS. All Burberry plaid. I don't get it. Don't you know what a lame ass you look like?? And let me remind you... TWO. Not just the one, maybe-write-it-off-as-"Hollywood-wanna-be" lay-deee.... that would be TWO.


Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Baby Vol. 2, Issue 2

Britney Spears confirmed on Letterman tonight that she is expecting baby-who-lost-the-genetic-lottery, number two.


The government somehow thinks they have the right to be in our uteruses, but once that kid's out of there, they are on their own!

Say it with me: WTF?!?!?!

Tuesday, May 09, 2006


Mi estimado amigo (one of the oldest-- ha... and not in the age category, PD) finally found me (after much stalking on my part, might I add) and we caught up and laughed and fell into the old routine as though it hadn't been two years since we last talked (ahem!). Just makes me realize once again how incredibly blessed I am to have amazing people in my life... as I've said before; I must not be all bad if I've somehow managed to be lucky enough to have friends like I do. Reality checks are very good every once in a while.

Business in the front, party in the back...

Believe it. Mullets do exist. Now, I know that you thought it was a myth-- an urban legend, if you will. Until today. When getting into the elevator in my posh place of work (okay-- that's a slight... or rather, overblown... exaggeration...), there it was: The Mullet.

It happened to be on a woman (is that how you refer to the hairstyle that for some reason, never goes out of style?)... with REALLY long hair... but REALLY short on the top and in the front. (She was also wearing acid washed jeans, so that might explain some things.)

In any case, it sparked my curiosity. Why is it that so many people still have mullets? The instant message in a hairstyle that says all things negative and no things positive. So I did some research, which I felt I should share with you:

From wikipedia: A mullet is a haircut that is short in the front, on the top, and on the sides, but long in the back. Mullets have been worn by males and females of all ages, but they have traditionally been most popular with younger men. A slogan or motto often associated with people who wear mullets is: "business in front, party in back."

Just so we all know (as the article does clarify), the mullet is distinct from the rattail, which consists of a long, narrow "tail" of hair growing from the back of the head.

The article then goes on to give the historical significance of the mullet. WOW.

For those interested in even more mullet goodness, be sure to check out these choice sites:

Awwww yeaaaah.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Presentation Schmexellence

My boss has been trying to get me into a Presentation Skills class for about a year-- it's generally given to salespeople, but since I'm targeted as "high potential," she thought that it was a good "development opportunity." Plus, she took the class and loved it. So while I've successfully dodged it thus far, my number came up this week... and I was forced into what I'd like to call "organized torture."

Ten of us in a room, learning how to be a more effective presenter. Doesn't sound so painful, does it? Someone teaching you carriage and gesture (good-- as long as not obscene), "vocal variety" (show emotion, emphasize points by slightly raising your voice), pausing (don't say "UM" or "aaaannnd....") and making eye contact... with everyone in the room, whether there's two people or one hundred. Your goal is to make each and every person feel like you have something to say, just to them.

All good, right? Well, sure... until you take into consideration that it's not simply someone talking at you... but rather, you actually have to practice this stuff... in front of 9 of your peers, and ON CAMERA. Yes. You are being videotaped. And to add insult to injury? You then get to watch your performance-- on painfully slow and paused playback, along with the rest of the room. Over and over again.

I'm not an actor; I hate to draw attention to myself. Yes, I did get up on stage in college all the time and sIng in front of people. But I had 11 other people backing me up. Sure, for a salesperson, or someone who delivers presentations over and over again, this training is awesome. They want to be the rockstar; they were the high school football jock or the class president or the cheerleader. But me? I was the VICE President. Why? Because I HATE TO PRESENT. And to the person (me) who gets up in front of an audience every year, year and a half or so, it's like pulling your finger nails out with a pair of pliers. The only thing that I can think about during those painfully long playbacks are, "God, I need a haircut... is that how I really look? Maybe I should take Jen's advice and wear lipstick... when did I gain all that weight?"

Day one is over... now there's day two... five more tapings to go... and instead of prepping my presentation I'm blogging... prolonging the torture. There's a reason I chose my current vocation... because I'm the "man behind the curtain." I'm the one who puts words in everyone else's mouth because I hate delivering them myself. My favorite phrase, along the lines of... lover not a fighter? "I'm a writer, not a speaker."

Thursday, May 04, 2006


I've been terribly remiss about posting and as such, hope I haven't lost my loyal readers (all three of you) with my blatant disregard. I know there are much more important things to do in the world, and while I could blame it on work (damn travel), really, all I have to blame is myself. As Copperpot would sing, "My Apologies."

Weitzmans, Blahniks and Choos... Sigh. Oh My.

I am a self-proclaimed shoe hound. I love shoes... not in the Carrie-Bradshaw-$600-dropping shoe kind of way, but certainly in the love-them-gotta-have-them kind of way. I love all kinds of shoes... slippers (that's flip flops to the non-Hawaiians), sneakers, hiking/outdoor shoes (love, love, love my Merrells and Timberlands), fashion sport shoes (just made that up... think: Puma), sandals, ballet flats and all the trends in between. I make up for not having the money to buy designer brands (although even if I did have the money, my frugalness and disgust at the thought of spending that kind of money on shoes would ultimately be the end of me-- I mean, I love shoes, but COME ON PEOPLE!) by buying shoes with character from funky stores like my two faves on 23rd Street in Manhattan (if I ever remembered the names of them, I would share... I promise), Nordstrom Rack (you can find GEMS if you have the patience to wade through the vanilla) and the newest find: eBay.

But the question I ask of companies that manufacture fancy (translation: heels) shoes is this: Why the hell don't you have a comfort-tester?

I mean, you're expecting people to spend money-- and lots of it, on shoes... and then you go and make them instruments of torture. Case and point: my navy Stewart Weitzman sling backs. They're everything a designer shoe should be (and might I add, the only "name" designer shoe I actually have... purchased at Filene's Basement at basement prices: $15 for a $250 shoe). They're beautiful: perfect heel height-- just slightly over kitten; they make my calves look thin and give them that perfect, slightly muscular-but-still feminine look that a good heel does; and best of all, they make my size 9 feet look narrow and petite.

But they are the most uncomfortable things that I've ever worn (well, second most, if you count the stillettos I thought I could get away with on my recent Florida trip). I thought that I'd be able to pull off the whole walking to work in cute shoes thing... after all, it's only a few blocks from the bus, and I see hundreds of girls every week wearing much higher and more uncomfortable-looking shoes. And for once I didn't want to look like a total schlub in my suit and dirty sneakers... the 80s, walking commuter look. I wanted to be one of those posh girls who get the enviable looks on the bus and when walking down the street in their pencil skirts and matching heels.

So instead, I ended up limping to the office, wondering if I could get away with walking barefoot the last block and still come off looking pulled together... surely that would be better than mimicking Igor after he says, "Walk this way." And to add insult to injury, I secured two blisters, each squarely located on the palms of my feet (if feet have palms) and cementing the start to another great day at the office.

It should be Monday.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

I Don't Want To Grow Up

I don't really think of myself as a grown up... of course there are occasional reminders: work (okay; so that's a constant reminder... had I been smart, I would have done something that required many, many, many more years of school); the fact that I'm facing my ten (!) year college reunion; and, oh. The multitude of weddings that I've attended in the past few years.

After all, I still watch bad tv. And by bad, I mean, really bad. My favorite shows are the Gilmore Girls, Cheerleader Nation, Sweet Sixteen... and basically, anything on the "WB." Other than the obligatory daily activity (work), I pretty much lead a carefree life and get to relish in the things I like, at my whimsy (guitar, museums, friends, travel, movies).

But where I'm starting to get all tripped up is in the fact that my friends-- the single-then married 20-then-barely 30-somethings-- are starting families. As in, BABIES. So, okay, rolling with the punches, as I usually do, I thought to myself... baby, one baby, I can handle that. At first it was somewhat overwhelming... the baby showers (realization that we really are capable of procreation), physical beings (oh, there's really "parenting" involved) and then schedules (life really isn't going to be like it was before) and ultimately the baptisms (baby really here, acknowledged and not going away).

So, adjustment withstanding, there's still the grasping at straws phase, followed by the marriage and the first baby phase. You adjust to the marriage; then the baby... and you can still convince yourself that you're young and carefree... and then it hits you. Your friends who are parents don't have the carefree life that you still have... and then the bomb drops. Baby number two. Baby number TWO?!? It's cemented... written in stone... we're adults. Grown ups. One kid is one thing... we can still play the young singles and count on babysitters and bringing baby to dinners, and the whole nine yards. You can still play the young game... until baby number two comes along... and you become a family.

So maybe I'm not in the same place... and sometimes, even though it makes me sad and even when I know that for me, I'm in a really good place and if given the opportunity, I don't know that that's the place I'd want to be... I see these little things... these babies that are products of people I love so much, that I have the opportunity to be in their lives and part of shaping who they get to be... who they will become and all the possibility that is wrapped up in them. And I know that even though I may be in a different place, that they are a gift to the world... that life evolves and really, it becomes better... and that utlimately growing up... just might not be such a bad thing.