Friday, January 29, 2010

Leave 'em wantin more...

I'm sitting in the business center at a hotel in Miami right now. It's something like 70 degrees. Amazing. I don't have much time, as my food will be ready soon, but I just want to give you a quick taste of what's to come...

- Friendly security lady
- Frazzled couple on their way to the Bahamas
- Weather scare (still playing out! Hope Angie can get here!)
- RUDE passenger on the plane
- Waiting for the airport shuttle
- Annoying family on ride to hotel
- Niiiiice hotel

Aaaand my food is done! Later dudes!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

How about that weather?

Small talk. We use it every day. I find it intriguing. And amusing. Every time I walk into a client's house, I have to come up with something to say. I mean, it takes at least a little time to get settled in. Winter is the best time for this, especially this winter. Every week I can come in and say clever things like, "Staying warm?" and "How'd you like that blizzard?" Their answer doesn't really matter. Same with anyone with whom you engage in small conversations. It's a space-filler, the polite thing to do.

People have varying degrees of skill at small talk. I'm not the greatest at it. I end up with a lot of awkward pauses. Some people are okay. With another mediocre to excellent small talker, they'd be just fine, hold their own. Put me with someone who doesn't talk much, and we spend a lot of time staring at each other, would could be romantic in the right situation until you realize we are both just trying to figure out what to say next that won't sound idiotic. Not that it works. It always sounds dumb. Don't get me wrong, I have plenty of things pop into my head to say. However, if I am just doing small talk I don't tend to let the crazy out. There are people who are amazing small talkers. My sister in law, for example, can talk to anyone about anything for any length of time. She comes up with insightful questions and keeps people talking. It's amazing to watch, impossible for me to emulate. Then there are those people who are oversharers. They are the ones who skip the small talk and go straight for the emotional conversation. The lady sitting next to you in the waiting room who says hello and launches into a story about her itchy rash in delicate places. The one in the rest room who goes on a rant against her husband and talks about how she only stays with him for the kids. The people who divulge every miniscule detail of their life, their entire schedule, anything you could possibly think of. These people can certainly hold their own in conversation, but are usually pretty domineering and do not listen to what the other person is saying, which defeats the purpose of a "conversation."

This topic, random as it is, reminds me of something even more random that I wrote for one of my novels. Here is an amusing (if I do say so myself) little excerpt:

Frankie bypassed the elevator and headed for the stairs. Ronnie was on the fourth floor, but elevators meant being awkward with people you didn't know. Frankie categorized "elevator people" into three categories: comfortably awkward, awkwardly awkward, and annoyingly awkward. The comfortably awkward people were those who could ride up and down on elevators all day and not utter a word. They were never totally relaxed, but they would stare straight ahead or at the digital floor display, pretending no one else in the elevator existed. The awkwardly awkward people would visibly show their insecurity. They would fidget and peek at people from the corners of their eyes, open their mouths as if to say something, then quickly look away if anyone looked back. They were the throat clearers and the sniffers. The annoyingly awkward people were those who tried to make whatever lame conversation they could on the short ride between floors. They would ask the questions that people in normal society would be embarrassed to ask, such as, "Who are you visiting?" "What's wrong with them?" "How long do they have to be here?" A subgroup of the annoyingly awkward people were those who attempted to tell their life story unsolicited to the entire elevator population. They would continue on as people got on and off, seemingly oblivious to the fact that they had an entirely new group of people with them than when they started. These were often the people who also forgot to get off at their floor. "Goodness me! I should have gotten off two floors ago! Can you press the three for me, dearie?" Yes, Frankie much preferred the stairs. When she had to take the elevator, such as when she bringing contraband food or presents to Ronnie, she liked to make up stories for the annoyingly awkward people. "Oh, I'm visiting my sick grandma, they say she'll die any day now," or, "Yeah, my twelve year old sister just had triplets! I'm hoping she'll let me keep one!" Things like that usually got them to be quiet for a bit. Frankie's parents would die of shame if they knew some of the things she had told the elevator people. Anything but the truth, that was Frankie's motto, at least when it came to elevators.

Ta da. The end. Of the snippet.

In other news, I go to the cities tomorrow, fly to Miami Friday, and set sail on my cruise on Saturday! Woohoo! I got some good news and bad news yesterday regarding my cruise. First, a lady called and asked if I wanted to upgrade to a bigger room with a window for a low low price. So that ws exciting. Then I got an email letting me know that our cruise itinerary had changed. Due to problems with the propulsion system or some such thing, we are no longer going to Jamaica and Grand Cayman, but to Cozumel and Costa Maya, Mexico. Now, don't get me wrong, I know we'll have fun, but I am disappointed. We purposely chose a cruise that didn't go to Mexico. I haven't been there, but Angie has. Oh well. It'll be good. I'm hoping to see some ruins at least. I'm history nerd.

Prepare for a trip review when I get back in a week or so! Hasta luego, mis amigos!

Friday, January 22, 2010

A picture is worth...

This week Iowa has gone through all sorts of different weather. Early in the week, there was heavy fog, which left the world looking white and magical.

Midweek, we were hit with an ice storm. Slightly less magical, but admittedly just as pretty. And I didn't fall down. This time. But my car turned into a carsicle. I felt like a hero freeing it from its icy tomb. Or something.
Now it's supposed to rain and flood. Only in Iowa.
See how wonderful pictures are? I could have just described it to you, but now you can SEE what we're dealing with. Phyllis makes fun of me because she says I should have my camera permanently implanted in my hand. Little does she know how AWESOME I think that would be.
I love pictures. I love taking them, finding that perfect shot, and I love the feeling you get when you take a picture and your subject totally comes alive. It's awesome. But I feel like I miss capturing a lot of really great moments because it's just not possible to take out a camera. For example, the drive to Winterset is beautiful, and I do it at least twice a week. In the summer, everything is green, flowers are blooming, and the forests are vibrant and alive. In the fall, the colors are amazing, miles and miles of firey red and orange. In the winter, mist settles over the valleys, and the tallest trees manage to poke through. And when the fog came? Breathtaking. Spring is new life, the buds on the trees and flowers start to shoot up. But alas, I cannot share anything except descriptions, unless someone wants to drive out there with me.
I can't count the number of times something amusing has happened, but I've missed catching it on film. (Or memory card) Or trying to catch my nieces and nephew? Forget it! Most of the pictures I have are the backs of their heads or a patch of carpet where they had been just moments before. Oh, and what about outside of the house? I was at WalMart once and saw a little old lady hiding behind one of the giant yellow pylons in front of the store. I would have loved to take a picture, but I thought it would be rude.
So I have a solution. I am going to have a camera implanted in my EYE! Perfect. What I see, the camera sees! A small tug on the earlobe takes a picture, and there ya go! I thought about having it be a giant blink to take a picture, but then I thought people might assume I'm having an episode or that I have a tic, and I didn't want to draw attention to myself. Too much. So now I just have to figure out the logistics...such as where I will keep the memory card...

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Adventures at the car wash

Sometimes funny things happen, and you don't realize they're funny until after the fact. In fact, sometimes you are completely anxious and have no idea what to do at the time. It's always nice to realize how amusing they actually are.

Today I was bored so I decided to take in a movie. It's sort of become a hobby of mine, to go see movies by myself. It's really a very good activity to do alone. You can't really talk...unless you're in the cheap theater in Sioux Falls...and even then it's pretty much frowned upon. Anyway, this isn't even the story. Incidentally, the movie I went to, Leap Year, multiplied my desire to go to Ireland by like a thousand. I want to go. Now. Visit the castles, see the awesome. Someday :)

Anyway, so after the movie I decided to get my car washed, since it was actually nice out and my car, usually burgundy, has become a shade of poop brown, which is easily transferred onto whatever clothes I am wearing. I don't like showing up at clients' houses with poop brown on my butt. Just sayin.

I picked the cheap car wash because, let's face it, my car is going to be disgusting again about two seconds after I leave the car wash. Of course the line was massive. It was one of the times when I remember to be grateful I'm such a nerd that I carry a book in my purse. Never know when you'll need reading material . I won't increase your opinion of my nerdiness by telling you that the book is "Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief." Wait...

Wow it's taking a long time to tell this story.

So I waited in line for at least half an hour, probably a bit longer. There was a Ford Focus in front of me with the back window full of stuffed animals. A little strange, but I did that in high school, so I figured it was a younger person. I was a little shocked when an elderly woman leaned out to pay once she got to the front of the line, but really, I am going to be an eccentric old lady, so no judgment here. I was relieved to be at the front of the line. I punched in my code and settled back to wait. I watched the lady pull in too far. The car wash started yelling at her, "Back up...back up..." She did. The car wash told her to stop. She did...for about a second. Then she began inching forward. I started warning her, out loud of course, to stop. "Lady, you need to stop. Stop now, lady!" Nope. She was determined to move forward for some reason. The bar with the soap began moving...straight into her car. Nice. It stopped, backed up, and yelled at her to move forward. The door at the end opened up, and she sped away, her car still half soaped.

Now, this car wash is a little anxiety-provoking anyway, because it is a long one lane driveway in, and once someone pulls in behind you, you're stuck, no matter what. I had nowhere to go but forward. I pulled in, going forward just like the car wash told me too. It kept telling me to go forward. I thought, hey, you know, maybe I'll just cut my losses and leave because obviously something is wrong. I just paid for the cheapo wash anyway. So I kept going forward, expecting the door to open for me. Nope. Shut tight. So I backed up. And parked. And wondered what the heck to do. There was a whole line of cars behind me, and I was stuck. I was terrified to get out of my car, because what if the car wash started and I wasn't in my car??? They really should have a phone number posted in there to call in case something goes wrong. The car wash was screaming at me about some error the whole time I sat there. Finally, I decided to suck it up and got out of my car. Thankfully, the guy behind me told me that he already pushed the call button for help. I got back in and waited.

Finally a bored-looking woman came, talked to the truck man, then walked to my window. I rolled it down and told her what happened. She's like, "Oh, it did?" when I told her the bar hit the car in front of me. She went and reset it, and lights flashed and beeps happened and she came back to the window. She leaned down and said, "Well, there's no way...well just sit tight." Then she walked back to the truck man, who was parked next to the keypad for the wash. She talked to the intercom and a few seconds later, the water started going. Good thing I shut my window. I even ended up with the deluxe wash, shiner, protector, and even a timed dry. Not too bad.

So it was actually pretty funny. I told my sister about it, and apparently my five year old niece was worried that I was still stuck in the car wash and was going to miss my birthday and my cruise and that it was going to have to be my new home. And apparently was dead serious. She's so funny.

The end.

Sidenote. Pizza is yummy, especially Papa John's, which I decided to treat myself to after such a harrowing experience. But I miss the hot pizza delivery guy from Sioux Falls who used to flirt with me. Probably for the tips, but hey, I'm not complaining ;)

Friday, January 15, 2010

Sometimes I have multiple personalities

I think this might be a new record for me. Three blog entries in a week. I don't know what's going on, but Phyllis seems pretty sure that there won't be entries for like three months after this. She might be right. But I bet she's wrong. We'll see, I guess.

Wow, I wrote that last paragraph like an hour ago. That's pretty bad for my ADD, isn't it? Whoops.

So anyway.

There went another half hour.

Phyllis has finally convinced me to go to her hair person, who she has termed "The Hair Whisperer," which I find very amusing. I was a little nervous, so she set up appointments at the same time so that she can "hold my hand." Well, this got us on the topic of how strange I am with the things I get anxious about. I'm not sure why I get anxious about going to a new hair person. I mean, gang banger druggie clients, bring 'em on. New hair person? YIPE! Going to the trailer park in the dark? No worries. New Bible study? I think I might be feeling a little sick...

I think it comes down to my multiple personalities. Don't do your happy dance yet, Phyllis, I don't mean that I have actual different personalities all living in my head (though it's big enough) with whom I converse on a regular basis. (Although I do have those blackout periods...hmmm....). What I mean is the fact that I can be a completely different person in different situations. For work, I put on my kickass (sorry Mom!) therapist personality. In fact, I find those lil munchkins endearing. Ooh, so cute that you're in a gang! How sweet that you're doing drugs again! You're a rebel? How cute!! (Okay I used the word cute twice and it's bugging me but I can't think of another word to use. Call it a tribute to my boss, Amanda, who thinks all our little hooligans are adorable. Oh! That would have been a good one to use! Too late now...) But put me in a social situation where I know hardly anyone, and I clam up tighter than a monkey clings to his last banana. Let me take a moment and psychoanalyze myself:

I sink zat zees social phobia comes from ze deep-seated need for ze people to like me, and zat eet ees exacerbated by ze frequent moving around ven I vas a leetle child.

Of course, once I'm comfortable, the random personality jumps out. I will call him Skippy. Oh gosh, why is that personality male?? How weird! This is where all those comments from Phyllis come from. I'm sort of a class clown. Or in my case, the cube clown. Completely sarcastic, and I pretty much say whatever pops into my head. Which isn't always a good thing, because my head is a strange and unpredictable place.

Where was I going with this?

I saw an article today that someone has invented a symbol to denote sarcasm. If I ever need that symbol, I have failed as a writer. Although I could see how it would be nice in some texts or when typing to people who don't know you well.

So anyway, back to my multiple personalities. It sometimes gets hard when I have to switch quickly from one mode to another. Or when I'm out of practice. For example, my small group disbanded and now I have joined a new Bible study instead. It's a women's Bible study over Ephesians, and I think it'll be really good, but I don't know anyone very well except the pastor's wife, and I haven't done a Bible study in a long time. I don't think I know how to do that anymore. It's like, a social situation (remember the monkey and his banana) but also a situation where we have to think and answer questions. Yikes! Eventually I know I will loosen up and be myself, but for the first one I was pretty lame. I wonder though, if I know that eventually I will be myself, what is keeping me from doing it right now. Hmmm...

I sink zat I must feel out ze situation first to feegure out what ze correct personality ees to use in zis situation. In fact, ze...

Oh, monkey farts. (They smell like bananas)

Please pick your nose.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Clowns, food, and uhh...other stuff

I got an email this morning informing me that I am employee of the week next week. Now, this is not as big a deal as it might sound at first. Okay, so maybe it doesn't sound like that big of a deal, but at least it sounds a little special, right? So I'm talking to my sister and letting her know how incredibly awesome her baby sister is, and she's like, "So did Amanda (my supervisor) put your name in?" Pause. Awkward laughter. " kinda put my own name in..." Immediately my cool factor dropped. I could just feel it. See, Tamra, the associate vice president of our branch, decided to do this "employee of the week" thing just so we could all get to know each other a bit better. Good idea, but most of my team was content to just read about everyone else and keep to ourselves. But Tamra, who knows our team well because she supervises the social workers and attends one of our staffings every week, accosted us in our cube and put the guilt trip on us to submit ourselves. So yes, I did put my own name in. And I'm proud of it. And I get a close parking spot all week next week. Of course, we get Monday off, so it's a short week, which I felt pretty shorted about at first...but then I realized I didn't really do anything to deserve it anyway...and...uhhh....

So how about those clowns, eh? Pretty creepy, right? With the face paint and the goofy hair and the big shoes? And how do they all get in that little car anyway? There's something sinister going on there for sure. (That was for Phyllis, who has been insisting that I cover the topic of why clowns are so creepy, even though I don't find them particularly creepy. And yes, Phyllis, you should feel like I'm patting you on the head right now.)

Heather requested that I address the issue of tv dinners. I think they're still called that, even though they aren't always eaten in front of the tv. Is that why they were called that in the first place? Or is it only a tv dinner if it's like a full meal, like the old Kids Cuisine I used to eat. Anyway, Heather was in the lunch room today and saw the garbage can full of Smart Ones and Lean Cuisines. She thinks it's terrible the monopoly they have over lunch foods. I think it's spectacular. I love Smart Ones and Lean Cuisines. Okay, so maybe they're not really as healthy as they pretend to be, but I still love them, and I feel slightly healthier eating them for lunch. It's better than going out, right? As long as I can fool myself, I can eat my Lean Cuisine french bread pizza in happiness.

We were talking about my blog at work today because Phyllis says that it often feels like I am patting her on the head when I'm talking about her. That is a phrase I used when Phyllis was doing the exact same thing to me. We were discussing how Phyllis is the only one with a nickname in my blog, and Meagan was like, "I want a nickname in your bl...wait, no I don't." I was slightly offended. Just because anyone in my life is fair game for my sarcasm is no reason to try to stay out of it. It wouldn't protect you anyway.

I still feel as if I am dry on topics, at least amusing ones. Challenge me, people. Let me know what you want to hear my own skewed view on. I dare you. Or don't.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

By special request...

As a blog author, I have to pay attention to what my readership wants. Well, that's a lie. I don't have to. I can do what I want. And usually do. However, since my readership consists of approximately five people, I can afford to accommodate certain requests. (As a side note, I just asked Phyllis if I spelled accommodate right, and she is already complaining that I use big words. Can I do nothing right, Phyllis??)

This particular request came from Phyllis herself. Actualy it began as a complaint that the funny has gone out of my blog. I'll admit, the last couple of posts have been more introspective than humorous. I apologize if there are others of you out there who prefer not to think, and would rather laugh. I like to do both. Of course, magnanimous scribe that I am, I offered Phyllis the opportunity to select a topic of her choice which I would address. Her choice?


So here I am, finally writing a blog on pants. I read through my previous entries today (um, okay, embarrassing, what was I thinking??) and realized that I promised an entry on pants long ago, so I consider this killing two birds with one stone. (Killing is so violent, perhaps instead I will consider it offering two birds a vacation in the Bahamas, no stones involved. Maybe some coconuts.) It's a fulfillment of my promise, plus the fulfillment of Phyllis' request. Am I a multi-tasker or what??

I like pants. I think they're great. You can get pants for every occasion. Long pants, short pants, dress pants, pajama pants, pants of every color, made of every material. I've even seen duct tape pants. For real. One thing Phyllis did point out, however, is the discrepency in the sizing of women's pants. Men's pants have very specific measurements. Never having shopped for men's pants myself, I can't say whether these measurements translate from store to store. Being rather an expert at shopping for women's pants, however, I can say that women's sizes definitely DO NOT translate from store to store. Sure, it's great when you think you wear one size and it's too big at the store. But the exact opposite is true when it goes the other way. Then you refuse to buy them and go home and drown your sorrows in a tub of ice cream and watch a movie depicting an impossible romance and feel even worse because you aren't Cinderella! *ahem* I sucks. What was I talking about again? Ah yes, shopping for pants. Girls are very picky about pants. The problem is that we are all built so differently. Perhaps that's why there isn't a universal sizing system, Phyllis. It just isn't feasible! Uhhh...

I have a friend named Jean and sometimes I like to call her Pants. She makes me smile.

On a completely un-pants-related note, I've decided I want to build a house. With my bare hands. Well, maybe I'd wear gloves, because splinters hurt. And maybe not by myself. With construction guys. In hard hats. And maybe not build so much as oversee. And use a hammer. Ooo and a saw. I like to cut things. With construction guys. In hard hats. Phew, is it hot? I think it's hot...

Okay, I think I've thoroughly butchered the subject of pants. Please feel free to send any other suggestions my way. I'll tackle any topic. If I feel like it.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Just dance

This blog has been percolating in my head for about a week now, and apparently I'm too slow, because I just read someone else's blog about dancing. But that's okay, it just means that other people are on board the dancing train too. So to speak. Perhaps I should back up and explain what the heck I'm talking about first, eh?

I was babysitting last weekend, and we were being bums and watching TV after dinner. Allie was sleeping on the couch, and Maddy was on my lap, chattering as usual. The opening song came on for the show we were watching and suddenly she stopped, looked at me with an excited expression, and jumped down from my lap to boogie. The song lasted all of 30 seconds, but I couldn't help but join right in. Her excitement was infectious. And I thought to myself, wow, I really love that. My other nieces and my nephew are the same way. I love that they take every opportunity to dance, no matter how short lived it may be. I can't help but wonder when the rest of us forgot how to dance.

Of course I'm not necessarily talking about dancing in the literal sense, although my aunt told me she is a card-carrying member of the spontaneous dance club, and I must admit that sounds like a lot of fun. I'm talking more about taking every opportunity presented to us, not letting them pass us by because they are going to be short-lived. My goal is to stop sitting on the sidelines, to sieze opportunities. To drop the unimportant things for the chance to do something more. To stop talking and start doing.

I love spending time with children. I learn so much from them. They see things with fresh, innocent eyes, free of the cynicism so many of us develop as we age. Life isn't as complicated as we make it.

Just dance.