Archive | August, 2011

Vacating My Vacation

30 Aug

After a relaxing six days of lounging on the beach, tanning by the pool, soaking up the sun, and flouncing in the waves, I returned from vacation only to get an ear infection, a 2nd degree blistering sunburn on my lower lip, and O YEA: There was a HURRICANE this weekend! All of this has led me to believe I should just stay on vacation, forever.

While both the ear infection and the blistering sunburn were painful, the prospect of me getting to work on Monday morning caused excruciating stress pains. Visions of a pleasant, albeit long, commute back to the city were quickly dashed when pretty much every imaginable road leading out of my town was shut down. I left at 7 am, hoping to catch a bus, only to find out buses were disabled, parking lots were flooded, and the “detour” was a U-turn back the way I came! Despite my valiant effort, I aborted my mission and spent my morning trolling the aisles of Wal-Mart restocking my underwear drawer. When there’s nothing else to do….buy underwear?

Unfortunately, the flood waters have yet to recede, and are just  devastating  enough to cripple any mode of mass transportation within an acceptable radius of my house. So I hopped in the car this morning at 7 am, sat in traffic til 8:45, made it to a mall with an operating park in ride, sat in more traffic going over the bridge, took a subway down to work, and kissed the floor that I made it in less than 3 hours. Four minutes shy of three hours, if you must know.

Now, I am officially a refugee, and will be spending the next few nights on my friend’s couch. Thank god (again) for my fabulous, wonderful, life-saving friends. Otherwise I’d be renting a mule, which is honestly the 2nd most practical choice at this juncture.

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100 Posts–This is Big.

19 Aug

Wow, it’s my 100th post! Looking back, I’ve certainly experienced a lot of, um, angst. Between jobs I’ve hated, commuting I’ve loathed, and haircuts I’ve despised, this blog became a dumping ground for my life complaints. Of course, there were high moments too: my new job, my newer job, and my newest job, trips to Europe, and entertaining run-ins with New Jersey transit bus drivers and oblivious idiots on the street.

This blog morphed from something I started to become insanely and wildly famous (cough cough) and turned into something that kept me from actually going insane.  Aside from being cathartic, I’ve been able to look back at events that seemed huge and traumatizing, and have laughed instead. (Excluding said haircuts, of course.)

In honor of the big 1-0-0, I’ve compiled 10 of my favorite moments. Enjoy, and keep reading!

I can only imagine what the next 100 will bring…

Original illustration by Rebecca Pry. Visit her blog here

Good Night, Brooklyn

17 Aug

Tonight will be my last night as a subletter. It’s been a good run–the five weeks has absolutely flown by, and a vacation next week will be the perfect way to buffer my descent back into the little known 8th circle of hell: commuting from Northern NJ.

While living by myself certainly had its challenges–a roof leak in my room had me sleeping on the most uncomfortable futon ever made for more nights than I would have liked, and cleaning up after a cat wasn’t always a picnic,  it was great not having to deal with the slew of stresses and worries that typically congregate my psyche. Instead, I spent energy on hanging with friends, becoming more of a workaholic than I already was, and finding 100 different ways to cook the same exact food. It was nice not having to worry about getting into work on time, and I really didn’t miss the helplessness that accompanies bumper to bumper traffic through the Lincoln Tunnel at 9:47 am. I liked spending my nights taking after-dinner walks through Brooklyn, or a late-night yoga class, instead of on the highway…in my car. I enjoyed the lack of emotional melt-downs in my life and the occasional Sunday brunch. I just love being independent, and falling into the groove of life in New York City.

But alas, it’s all coming to an end, at least for now. Of course, I’m looking forward to moving back to my free room, with its free laundry facilities and free meals. It’ll be nice to save a few more paychecks and get back on board with my budget, which was thrown to the wind when I crossed that bridge. I’m just hoping I’ve stored up enough positive, peaceful yen to get me through the next few months.  And there’s always Craigslist when I’m feeling especially weak. Nothing like astronomical rents to remind me why I’m living at home until I have a permanent job!

Work “Party”

15 Aug

Since there’s nothing better to do, our office has been having a lot of parties lately. With half the staff on vacation at any given time, no pressing deadline in the foreseeable future, and an overall attitude that bends towards the lackadaisical, it makes perfect sense to congregate at 4:30 and hang out in the conference room until 5:45 before calling it a day.

In the past few weeks, I’ve gone to three birthdays, a baby shower, a post-wedding party, and an intern farewell soiree.  (Yes, the interns are gone!) Aside from the subject matter, the parties, and the pre-party process, are exactly the same.

First, a “The party is now starting” mass email is sent out. Then, it’s five minutes of pretending you haven’t been waiting for the party all day, and suddenly have ten things to finish up so you’re not the first to arrive. Then, you and a few coworkers hang out in front of a cubicle, waiting for everyone to go up en masse. Then you participate in the half-hearted complaining– “Another party? I just have so much to do!” Next, you peek in the conference room and breathe a sigh of relief that you are not the first people there. Then, you find a spot against the wall and self-consciously pick at your fingernails or send a gibberish text to your sister while you wait for the guest of honor to arrive. Everyone stares at the fruit platter sweating under the cellophane wrap, and someone makes a joke about how there should be champagne.

The party starts! The guest of honor is ushered in and everyone claps and laughs awkwardly. Speeches are made. More awkward laughing. The fruit platter is opened, and no one moves, because who wants to be the first person to dig in? But someone takes the initiative and the ice is finally broken.  Naturally, the conversation is about work. These parties are always on a Wednesday, which is too late to talk about what you did last weekend, and too early to talk about what you’re going to be doing this weekend, so all that’s left to talk about is what you’re going to be doing after work, which is typically, uh, nothing.

Then, we give out the card and the gift, another thank you is said, and our boss comes in for the closer: “What I love about this company is the sense of family we have here, the support we all give each other in these special moments in each others’ lives…” and I am filled with a deep desire to have this job for THE REST OF MY LIFE. Then we all meander back to our desks, guiltily snitching half a chocolate-chip cookie.

It’s actually surprisingly fun. There’s very little about this office culture that I dislike, and every time I go to one of these things, or chip in the requisite five bucks for a gift, I’m just happy I finally have a job I enjoy! What I really hope is that when it’s time for a party for me, I’ll get to open the fruit platter first.

Eggplant Overload

10 Aug

When you live by yourself, you typically cook for one. (Unless you’re pregnant …which I am not.) I’ve always had a hard time cooking for myself, mostly because I’m not a huge fan of leftovers and typically don’t consume an entire box of rice in one sitting.

It’s an awful lot of work to make a complex dinner to be enjoyed…alone. I have no problem cooking for my family, or hosting a dinner party for friends, but when it’s just me, I’d rather dump some cereal in a bowl and call it a night than braise a lamb shank in a red wine reduction, whip up some potato puree, and serve with an aged Chablis.  Considering I have no idea what Chablis is, and if it goes with lamb shank, the former seems to be my better choice.

But I’m trying to expand both my cooking skills and my palate for things that don’t start with “corn” and end with “flakes.” Last weekend, I went grocery shopping and bought, among other things, a giant eggplant. They were all the same price, so in my incessant frugality, I found the biggest one there, and headed home with visions of gourmet meals served in candlelight, and me in a silk robe, reading the New Yorker and listening to jazz.

Instead, I’ve basically been eating a variation of eggplant every single night for the past week. Steamed eggplant, grilled eggplant, eggplant sauteed with onions and mushrooms–I feel like the vegetable sitting in my crisper keeps regenerating itself overnight! But it has to be eaten– “waste not, want not,” the old saying goes. Although I think even ancient proverb writers would agree too much of a good thing is, well, too much. Plus, the silk robe has also been a no-go: aside from not owning one, it’s been to hot to swath myself in anything more than a jersey blend.

It’s only going to get more difficult, because I only have a week left in my sublet, and I have an incredibly hard time gauging how much food I’m going to consume. I’ll tell you one thing, another 3 pounds worth of eggplant will not be in my shopping cart. Perhaps it’s time to switch to pea salad?

Expense Reports

8 Aug

Ah, the most basic tenant of working life–the dreaded expense report. Now that I finally have more than five minutes of free time (which is already getting boring…) I can catch up on all the little odds and ends that have slipped through the cracks the past few weeks. O joy.

After my business trip a few weeks ago, I had taken a cab from the airport to avoid spending three hours trying to get back to Brooklyn–a 20 minute trip by cab would’ve involved a shuttle bus to a bus stop, a bus ride to the subway, 2 subway transfers and a 10 block walk. Don’t ever ask me to do anything but bemoan the public transportation system in this country, I swear.

I think I’ve taken a cab maybe 3 times in my life, basically because I am cheap. But I was tired and starving, so I hopped in and watched the world crawl by in rush hour traffic as the ticker shot up at a disproportionate speed. I figured I’d be able to write it off as a travel expense, which I can. That is, unless I go completely insane first.

Filling out an expense report is perhaps the most confusing and unnecessarily complicated thing I have ever had to do in my life. The sheer number of codes and 5-digit passwords for one single expense is ridiculous! In the past hour, I’ve emailed the finance person a whopping 6 times to ask questions about a $50 charge! And after I fill out these countless forms, explaining the purpose of my expense (I’ve written “Cab from airport” ten times so far…), it has to get signed by 5 people, and then processed for a month before I see that check. Phew!

What I am learning though, aside from confirming I was never destined to do anything in my life that involved numbers, was that you can write off A LOT of stuff.  Next time I go on a business trip, I’m going to make long distance calls, stay in hotels, rent a car, and eat out at every meal. On second thought, if that means these expenses are even more confusing than they are right now, I’ll drive myself, sleep in my car, and eat trail mix from Costco!

Time Flies

3 Aug

Today I woke up to yet another beautiful summer day in New York City. I went through my routine, had my early morning stroll through Central Park on my way to work, and arrived–on time–at my desk, refreshed, relaxed, and content.

It’s been a really nice few weeks. The lack of my horrendous commute from New Jersey has made my life approximately 20 billion times less stressful. I’ve been able to see friends, enjoy some fresh air, and eat dinner at a respectable hour. And there must be something in the Brooklyn water, because my hair has frankly never looked better! Which we all have learned is the true gauge of my life’s happiness….

The downside however, is that it’s going by so quickly! I have a mere three weeks left before I’m back inside my own personal hell, chauffeured by the spawn of the devil itself: my car. Why is it that time rushes by so quickly when you’re actually enjoying yourself? Why does a weekend day always fly by faster than a slow day at work? Why do a butterflies’ wings flutter more slowly after dark?

Ahem, seems like my time in Brooklyn has made me a tad poetic, but only because I now have time to savor the everyday, instead of moving through life in a manic blur.  While life is flashing before my eyes (with a swath of perfectly coiffed hair flowing behind them), at least I’m enjoying the ride this time around.

The above illustration was done by Rebecca Pry. See more of her work here.