19 December 2005

Alone, But Not Lonely

Friday night I decided to finish up my Christmas shopping. I really only had my roommate Miss Parker left to shop for. I had had several really fantastic ideas of things to get for her, but at various stages of each operation, things had fallen through. So I found myself wandering The Gateway Friday night searching for the perfect gift. I never did find the perfect gift, probably because I was supremely bitter about all the previous failures. But I found some good stuff and I was feeling pretty good about the whole situation when I walked past the movie theater. I decided that instead of going home to my List of Things To Do that took up an entire page from a legal pad, I would see a movie. I bought tickets for The Family Stone and went to find a seat.

I had thought, with King Kong and The Chronicles of Narnia open, no one would want to see a small dramedy with Sarah Jessica Parker, but I had thought wrong. I found myself at the end of a substantial line comprised mostly of groups of women and couples. Only then did I begin to feel self-conscious about being by myself. I have been to movies alone before, things no one I knew wanted to see, but usually on some random afternoon when most people were otherwise engaged. I’ve never really thought twice about it, but there is something about standing alone in line on a Friday night that made the Chick Flick Coffee Klatch standing in front of me and the married couple standing behind me give me a Look. The Look to which I refer is a mixture of awe, confusion, and pity, related to the one I get when people realize I’m a single 27 year-old living in Utah. Only this had more confusion and less pity.

As I waited for the show to start, overhearing various conversations of people around me, I realized what a social event going to a movie theater is. There was no one for me to chat with as the annoying pre-preview commercials ran, no one with whom to whisper about the actual previews, and no one with whom to share my confusion over Claire Danes getting first billing. I hadn’t even known she was in the movie. Not that any of this will keep me from seeing a movie by myself again. It only serves to remind me what social beings we humans are.

16 December 2005

OCD Like That

Recently, I became disenchanted with the radio station I usually listen to at work. There are already a limited amount of ‘work-appropriate’ non-country radio stations to choose from. And I absolutely hate shuffling between radio stations on the manual tuner alarm clock that sits on my desk. So I registered for LAUNCHcast streaming radio from Yahoo. It is free and allows one to create a personalized station. I thought it was the answer to my work-time music woes.

In adding variety and personal choice to my music options, it is a dream. But there is also a dark side. See, the program allows you to rate songs, artists, and the albums from which the songs come. Which is great for crafting my own personal play list, but it really exacerbates my OCD tendencies. There is such pressure in deciding which rating, from ‘Do Not Play Again’ through ‘Can’t Get Enough’ applies to each song. Is it too harsh to judge an artist by one song? If I hate the song, should I still give an unknown artist an ‘It’s OK’ just in case they might have another song I could love? Will the unknown Powers That Be laugh when I profess my love for Bowling For Soup, while giving a classic Eric Clapton song an ‘It’s OK?’ Can I really 'Not Get Enough' of any song or artist, or does that just mean it becomes part of the permanent rotation? Some days, I just can’t deal with the pressure and have to resort to the listening to the old radio station while I alphabetize my Post-It notes and organize my M&Ms into color-coded pyramids before I eat them.

14 December 2005

Just Call Me Veruca

I have never been a patient person. Most especially when there is no time frame or end-date for what I want. An open-ended promise or goal drives me insane because I want it NOW! When I was little, my parents promised me that we could get a dog once they had bought a house. Well, we moved into the house in September and there was still no dog by the beginning of October, so I took things into my own hands. I knew, even at the young age of six, that nagging and whining would not hurry the process at all, but rather make the parents less inclined. I had already promised all the requisite things, like taking care of the dog, feeding the dog, cleaning up after the dog etc. So I had to come up with something genius. And my devious six year-old brain did.

I found a small piece of wood, probably a small part of a shingle, and tied a white string to it. Then, I convinced my three year-old little brother that if we were ever going to get a dog, he would have to drag the wood-on-a-string creation around pretending it was a dog. Within a week or two, my parents had become so concerned with my brother’s mental health that we had a dog. Just in time for my birthday.

The problem now is that the things I want are much more expensive and grandiose. Also, I’m a (fairly) self-sufficient adult who can no longer psychologically manipulate her little brother nor her parents. At least not in good conscience. I can’t force my brother to drag around a piece of wood pretending it is his iPod, although the mental image of my 23 year-old brother attaching headphones to a piece of wood and carrying it around is just too amusing for words.

So, the issue remains. I want it NOW! It being different things at different times. But if I haven’t learned that instant gratification is unfulfilling in my past 27 years, I doubt it is a lesson I’ll learn anytime soon. Any advice?

12 December 2005

Blame it on Barbie

I want to buy a house. I can’t afford to buy a house, but I want to. Additionally, I don’t want to buy one in my current state of residence. I can’t stand the winters here. This change-of-location requirement for ownership just reinforces the fact that I can’t afford to buy a house. Especially not my dream house.

I have been designing and redesigning my dream house for over a decade. In junior high and high school I was sure I wanted to become an architect and would spend random hours with a stack of graph paper drafting designs for my dream house. Since I graduated from high school, secure in the knowledge that architecture wasn’t for me, I have been mentally drafting designs for my dream house. It has seen many incarnations, but the current one is a variation on the Craftsman cottage, with a lot of large windows, beautiful, simple woodwork and two stories. It is located somewhere temperate near an ocean. Either coast is acceptable. I also have a mental design for the interior, complete with memorized paint chips, catalogued furniture options from IKEA, Pottery Barn, and any number of items found in various editions of InStyle HOME magazine. If I had the time or space, I would start a house scrapbook, with pictures, paint chips, cutouts, fabric swatches etc. But I probably shouldn’t feed the obsession.

Part of the problem is I’m tired of living in someone else’s space. I want a space of my own where I can put the overhead lighting where I want, where I can install sconces if I want, or attached shelving. I’m lucky in that my apartment lease allows me to paint, as long as I return it to its pristine and boring white before I move out. But it just isn’t the same. I want a place to settle, to call home, not just a place I live for the moment, where I have to re-evaluate if I want to stay there once a year after which they will raise my rent payment. I want a home to call my own, not just an address.

09 December 2005

The George Clooney Exemption

Remember when 40 was old. It was the age of our parents, our teachers, and all the other authority figures in our lives. It is the age at which my parents stopped aging in my head. It isn’t that I forget to observe birthdays and if you asked me how old they are, I could tell you, but it always surprises me that they have both entered their 50s. Part of the problem is that it always surprises me when I think about how old I am. I’m still shocked when I remember I’m not a teenager, nor even in my early 20s, that I’m closer to 30 than 20. The years seem to have flown by. Which is why when I heard that one of my friends had gone on a date with a 40 year-old, my first response was: Ew! He is old enough to be her dad. But he isn’t. In fact, he is barely over the 10-year mark that is my standard dating age limit. This age limit is of course self-imposed and completely arbitrary, however, I like it. It hasn’t proven an issue. Last night, Esperanza and I were discussing the conundrum of dating someone in the Over 40 set and the 10-year limit last night. We had both come to the conclusion that we liked the limit and couldn’t see ourselves dating someone over 40. There was a short pause and then we blurted out, in unison: Unless it’s George Clooney!

08 December 2005

I Can Still Smell the Hot Chocolate

I can still smell chocolate because last night I laughed so hard I shot my amaretto hot chocolate out my nose. Simply not being able to laugh and swallow at the same time is embarrassing enough, but to have it shoot from your nose onto a patch of kitchen floor 2 feet away is even more so. It was one of those wish-it-were-Friday evenings in which Miss Parker and I get extraordinarily goofy and not a little slap-happy. Several entries had already been made onto our make-shift quote wall on the side of the fridge, which is how I happened to be in the kitchen with my cup of hot chocolate. Parker had been filling me in on the happenings of the animal shelter charity event she volunteered at the night before. We were discussing our mutual desire to own Great Danes when she announced her decision to name her two future Great Danes Rufus and Scooby. The next sentence she mixed up the names and called them Rooby and Scufus. Hence the hot chocolate through the nose and the burning sensation that followed. As a result the world smells slightly chocolate-almond flavored. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Perhaps it is the olfactory equivalent of rose-colored glasses.

05 December 2005

Happy Little Accidents

Yesterday I woke up at 10:30 a.m., which seems like a very nice thing to do on a Sunday morning, but my ward starts at 9:00 a.m. I had forgotten to set my alarm the night before. So I decided it would be fine to go to another ward I used to attend that meets at 1:00 p.m. During the meeting a young man led an obviously disabled man to the stand. This young man usually brought several disabled individuals to this ward every Sunday, but this level of participation was unusual. The young man introduced himself and the other man and stated that this individual was autistic and didn’t communicate through the spoken word well, but that he loved music and wished to express his testimony through song. What followed was the most beautiful rendition of O Come All Ye Faithful I have ever heard. The man had a clear, clean voice but it was more than that. He had love in his voice and the spirit of his message touched every one of the 400+ congregants. I doubt there was a dry eye in the room. Love flowed out of and through every word and every note he sang, not just his love for his Savior, but also the Lord’s love for him. I have never been so happy to have overslept.

02 December 2005

A Few of My Favorite Things

My top ten guilty pleasures, some more than others.

10. Cable. Yeah, I know all about television being the new opiate for the masses, but who can resist watching Anderson Cooper deliver the news on CNN? And then changing channels and watching Jon Stewart make fun of the news.

9. InStyle, Vogue, and Vanity Fair. Not that I doubt fashion magazines contribute to image problems, but I love the clothes and what can compare to the fun of a full page fashion spread and/or interview with one of my many TV boyfriends?

8. Target. My bank statements suggest I shouldn’t go there as often, but have you seen the new Isaac Mizrahi for Target tuxedo ensemble? To. Die For. Now if I only had a grand holiday event that would justify buying it!

7. The Public Library. Not only is it my favorite building in the city, the coffee shop on the first floor makes the entire place smell like coffee, which is one of my favorite smells.

6. NetZero. Who doesn’t like having internet access in their bedroom? I can spend Saturday mornings reading the New York Times in my pajamas, for free.

5. Hot Chocolate. I have about 6 different flavors sitting in my kitchen. It makes me alarmingly happy when I have the time to make a mug of hazlenut or Irish cream or amaretto and take it to work with me. Somehow the day just goes better.

4. My Washer and Dryer. It adds $30 a month to my rent, but the relief of not scrounging for quarters is worth it. Also, I don’t have to share with any strangers, which greatly relieves the germaphobe in me.

3. Flannel Pajamas. Nothing is better in the winter. I could go bankrupt buying different pairs in crazy patterns. I already have pink flamingos and state-themed snow globes.

2. The Snooze Button. I push it at least three times a morning, which means I have to set my clock ahead an undetermined amount of time in order to get out the door on time, but the illusion that I can stay in bed for a few more minutes every morning is worth it.

1. Turtlenecks. I love them so much my fashion-conscious roommate has forbidden me from buying any more. As it is, I could conceivably wear a turtleneck every day of the week in the winter and still not have to do a load of laundry.

01 December 2005

Oh, the Weather Outside is Frightful

Well, it is cold and windy, which to me is frightful. I have never, in my 20 years living in the North, become acclimated to the cold. I like it when a room is 78 degrees, I just can’t afford to heat my house like that. At work, I sit near the door, which means no matter what the thermostat is set at, when the door opens the cold invades. Today is a perfect example. The clouds blotted out the sun and people kept opening the door, so here I sit, crouched like Bob Cratchett, trying to get warm and concocting ever more elaborate schemes to do so.

I have decided I’m hiding a stash of hot chocolate somewhere in this office and partaking often this winter. That is quite achievable. It is when my fancy takes flight that I get into trouble. Because that is when I think about going to Hawaii, which leads me to thinking of traveling the world. It doesn’t help that my computer wallpaper is a lovely photograph of the Thames and the Houses of Parliament at Christmas. All these dream castles come crashing down when my Outlook inbox pings to let me know there is a new email. It reminds me that I have a job, that I have to work to pay things like rent and my soon-to-be-exorbitant heating bill. This intrusion of reality, once dealt with, tends to make my flights of fancy more grandiose. Confession: I have long harbored the wish that I had some secret trust fund, of which I am unaware, and which will be made known to me any day now. Preferably sooner than later. This large, undecided upon amount of money would enable me to throw off the chains of employment, travel the world with my friends and family in tow, treat my parents to all the things they refuse to do for themselves, and help my brother finish school. I could chase my own dreams and help my loved ones fulfill theirs.

Oh, there is that ping again. Just as I was getting to the good stuff.