Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Last week I came to work with a pacifier in my bag. I think I can safely say that I was the only single woman in New York (not working in a pre-school) to manage such a feat.
My blogging is beginning to interfere with my work duties; yesterday, when I wanted to open a new file in Word, it asked if I wanted a blank document or a blog entry.
I definitely need more sleep; autopilot continues to malfunction. Last week I wanted to wipe my face with a nail polish remover instead of a clarifying lotion.
Observed on East 34th Street: two young ladies, approximately college seniors, walking one bright sunny afternoon, each holding a headdress made from fresh bay leaves. Did I miss the Roman's Triumph March somewhere in the Midtown East?
One of our NYC clients "performed as expected": they have misplaced a whole set of drawings.
Due to a fantastic sale at Border's I have achieved a status of the off-season St. Nick (or Russian Ded Moroz) in the eyes of our Golden Delicious. Now, as soon as I drop by, she has to immediately check my bag for a "prize". She also figured my game quite early, even before the sale. Every time I ask her to guess what prize I have got for her, the answer is always the same: sweet, slightly mischievous smile, bright eyes, and "a book?"
Monday, August 25, 2008
So, when one of my former classmates from seminary issued a wedding invitation, I responded in affirmative right away. But then, I was presented with a problem: what the heck was I supposed to do when not dancing? Because even though the bride, despite coming from a very affluent family, was a very nice and friendly individual, her clique was a classic, textbook collection of snobs. I have already attended plenty of weddings where I would stuff myself at the buffet only because very few people at the reception were known to me, or willing to talk with me, for that matter. Then, the inspiration struck: I would just take a book along!
That solution worked like a charm. I loaded my plate once, found a quite table, and read till it was time for Chupah. Then, during the dinner, I decided to be a polite person my parents have raised me to be, and did not take out my book. My fortitude lasted for about five or ten minutes of people chatting with each other over my head. "To heck with everything" , was my final decision, and out came my romance. Apparently, they were paying attention to me, because as soon as I opened my Nora Roberts, everyone stopped chatting and started staring at your humble servant. "Wow, Barbara, you are reading!" Again, my mom's teaching prevailed, and I did not respond with "as apposed to constantly bending my head, because you are talking to each other other it!"; I just smiled and nodded. Soon, they went back to talking to each other and ignoring me, but for about five minutes after discovering the presence of the book by our table they couldn't get over the whole scene.
Since then, I made a rule of not acquiring an evening bag if it was not big enough to hold a paperback; not that I ever dedicated much time to the evening bag shopping or posses a goodly amount of those. My sis likes to reminisce about this episode as a proof my being a non-conformist; to me it was a turning point of sorts. While never accepting social strictures on just "this is the way it is done", I always hesitated in actually doing something to offend the offending party. That little romance, in itself boring and insignificant, began my liberation. I do not have to descent to the level of ill-mannered boors to at least partially demonstrate to them how disgusting their behavior is; I can also have lots of enjoyment in the process. And that is the story of one of my biggest social faux pas.
Friday, August 22, 2008
"This week, Barack Obama's challenge is to select a running mate who's young, hip, and whose accomplishments in life don't overshadow Obama's. Allow me to suggest Kevin Federline. "
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
To begin with, Olympics are supposed to be something along the lines of people getting together in friendship, forgetting all the strife, and just cheering on for the greatest athletes in the world (yes, I know it is a load of horse's turds, but still). So, why in blazes is the Olympic committee even considering to bestow the honour of hosting such show of brotherly love on the countries which are notorious for their horrific and systematic human rights violations? I remember reading all different kinds of tripe about pros and cons of boycotting the Olympics once it was known that China was going to host it. Basically, who cares about the followers of Dali Lama being tortured and killed in Tibet, or Chinese prisoners being executed to harvest their organs for sale, when we can have such spectacular show of fireworks and athletic prowess? Add to that the wonderful telecasts of all the terrific new things build specifically for the Olympics, the spectacular fireworks, the grandeur, the pageantry, the unity of nations; all that beauty, only occasionally spoiled by the show of all the old dilapidated houses that were demolished in order to create all that beauty, and poor people who used to occupy those houses. Basically, we got a terrific demonstration of the great quote the Edmund Burke supposedly never said.
The other sad part? Since there is practically no chance that all the countries are going to boycott the Olympics once they are designated to be hosted by a tyranny, the following scenario will inevitably follow. Once the democratic country decides to boycott the Olympics that are hosted by a tyrannical one, the people who will suffer the worst are that country's athletes; that is precisely what happened back in 1980 when my step-mother country was the host. Which brings me to another aspect of professional sports that I despise on principal.
Being second best is not good enough. These people train very hard; from a pretty young age they work non-stop under very grueling conditions in order to achieve unbelievable physical prowess. And after basically sacrificing normal life and childhood, being second best in Olympic competition is a failure. These few minutes that I watched were of women's group gymnastic competition; I could not get out of my mind the defeated expression on Alicia Sacramone's face after she fell, especially the second time. The girl it only twenty years old, for goodness sake! And what she is capable of doing as a gymnast is nothing short of amazing; but she looked like her life is over! Of course, being the lover of conspiracy theories, I felt that judges deliberately made her wait her turn for about fifteen minutes in order to rattle her (the conspiracy that was seconded by the team's coach the next morning). Yes, I know it's professional sport and not a charity ball, but the whole concept just makes me very sad.
And that, my friends, is why I stay clear from watching any and all sports competitions. The only consolation from not switching the channel that night was watching our swimming team getting their gold, and the subsequent playing of our National Anthem. That always warms my heart: seeing a scene in a foreign country, with audience full of America haters having to listen to Star Spangled Banner. For this, hurray to all our gold medalists!
Wednesday, August 06, 2008
Our Big Boss can be characterized in many different ways. One of them is control freak; literally. I mean, the guy has the official executive title, but he makes his own photocopies, because he does not trust others to follow his precise specifications (to give him credit where credit is due he is also not of the stuck up bosses variety). Plus, he closely supervises such important office matters as water delivery guy, tea, sugar, and napkins for our kitchenette, extra pens by the printer, lamp bulbs in the hallway, labeling of files, new boxes of looseleaf dividers, the above mentioned bagels and spreads, and last, but in no way least, office furniture, which is where this particular story comes in.
Once in a blue moon there are traveling salesmen (or salesladies) who come into our office to peddle their particular product for about an hour and sweeten the presentation with a free lunch and a learning credit of some kind. Usually such presentations garner the requisite audience, but not the requisite attention. The exception occurred about half a year ago. One particularly forceful and loud (literally) saleslady came to do a presentation on the brand of ergonomic furniture that she was pushing; this time, the regular yawns and closing eyes quickly disappeared when she announced that her firm sells the afore mentioned ergonomic furniture with a 70% mark down to the people in their profession. The excitement did not die down for about two hours after the presentation; plus, she had left her samples for all of us to sample at our leisure.
The very next morning I got an e-mail from the second in command with a request to conduct a survey and find out how many people in our office preferred those highly coveted ergonomic chairs with mesh backs as opposed to cloth. Naive me followed the command, send the office e-mail, and then had to listed to inane comments for the next two days (the samples were right in front of my mug). In the middle of all that excitement, all of the sudden the big boss appeared, waving his toothbrush, all in flying hair and offended sensibilities, and asked me in pretty accusatory tones why did I decide to conduct the survey. As I inhaled, preparing to defend myself, he continued his tirade non stop, in the proses himself identifying the true culprit, and winding down by saying that he did not decide if we need new chairs at all, and if we do, who exactly is going or not going to get them.
Next thing I know, the samples were removed, and the office grapevine quickly circulated the disappointing message that nobody is getting new chairs. Few weeks after that, the big boss asked me to contact the loud saleslady for an estimate for seven new chairs (our office at that time officially had twenty two people, not counting the consultants and the interns).
A couple of weeks after that, seven new shiny ergonomic "grass green" chairs with mesh backs arrived at the office, accompanied by a lot of fuss, noise, and four-letter words; and the fun began. Apparently, according to the big boss, only he, second in command, and five senior partners were entitled to the new chairs, even with 70% discount. And, of course, he had to supervise the proceedings personally, in the process driving me up the wall with lots of contradictory orders. To make the long story short, according to his convoluted logic, we have few "generations" of chairs. When the new "generation" comes in, the "senior staff" gets those, the previous "generation" goes to the next tier of employees, etc.
It took roughly two hours to accomplish all the generational switches planed by the big boss. After the dust settled (literally and figuratively), I was privileged to listen to all the disgruntled complains and dashed hopes. One of the guys was especially fumy, threatening with the fact that he was about one knuckle on his pinkie away from officially e-mailing the HR Director. Thankfully, he never did: as much as I love everyday tragicomedy, the results of that one would have been to much for my fragile psyche to witness.
The ironic post scriptum? Half of the "fortunate" ones (including the big boss) did not really like those chairs, after all, and went back to the previous "generation". Where did the rejects go? Of course, not to the ones who were disappointed the most. My favorite Komsomolka, being the equivalent of the office's chief tank and chief whiner, got one. The other two ended up by interns' desks, and one of these interns is the worst our company had seen in a while. I wonder if the big boss realized it yet.
She has a very special place in my heart, and not because she looks so much like yours truly. From birth, which was significant in itself, since she was the first member of our family to be born on American soil, she showed the promise of great personality. She was alert, inquisitive, friendly, smiley, and the easiest baby to take care of. She inherited the best parts of her Mama's multi-talented former tomboy persona. She loves people. She is a member in great standing at our Club. We are great friends and roaming buddies. Her great smile, first toothless, and then increasingly toothy, enchanted many locals and tourists from White Hall and Battery Park City to Met and Central Park. She is the best model for all those adorable Gymboree outfits that her Mama so painstakingly acquires. Most importantly, in the best tradition of Jewish ladies, she shows the promise of great kindness. May G-d bless your fluffy head, our little piece of Jewish happiness!