Thursday, May 31, 2012

Work Hard, Chill Hard

After 5 straight days that have revolved around not much more than sunscreen, sleeping in, lemonade, nature walks, aloe vera gel, waterfront breezes, and lying on my back, today was the first semi-foray back into productivity mode. By “productivity” I mean shopping for headbands, summer dresses, and better sunscreen.

Is short-term sloth considered a deadly sin? Do I give a shit?

The first real vacation I’ve had in awhile is winding down. There’s a difference between being on a vacation and actually having one. From the headaches that come from traveling to and from a destination to the rushing around and disagreements that can take place during the trip itself, I often need (but don’t get) a few days to recharge after returning from something billed as a vacation. This time, I’m coming back to the heavy stuff with more clarity and some answers. Although many wouldn’t hear of it, chronically industrious and over-scheduled people whose minds are always racing can up their efficacy game by getting in the habit of taking as many extended and utterly unproductive breaks as they can afford to.

I’ve spent too much time directly in the sun. The only part of my body that got burned is the area that was covered with the most sunscreen. That’s the biggest news coming out of this time and space away from how I normally operate, and it’s about as much excitement as I’m willing to put up with for the next 48 hours.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

To Whom Much Is Given, Much Brainstorming Can Be Involved Re: What to Give Back

My morning-shift Starbucks baristas go out of their way to take care of me. The hero’s welcome I get officially begins before I even step inside (they first see me through the window, as my hand reaches for the door), and my usual order is ready and waiting at the edge of the counter by the time I advance to the front of the line. I’m not sure what I’ve done to deserve this tier of treatment, but I’ll miss it when I’m/they’re gone.  

There’s one barista in particular who looks out for me. Whenever she takes control of the cash register, she either insists on charging me the 54-cent refill rate or refuses to charge me at all (and, no, I’ve never had a Starbucks Rewards Card – don’t need one with this crew in my corner).

The generosity has been flowing for long enough, and I was raised to reciprocate. But I don’t know what to give her in return. I also don’t want the reciprocation to end up backfiring on me or making things awkward in any way. When I brought a neighbor (who had to be at least 70 years old at the time) a bag of apples to thank him for spontaneously and expertly fixing my broken mailbox lock with a set of tools he slowly fetched from his apartment, he asked me out.

She has no need for fruit - there are mass quantities of it all around her work station, in addition to the coffee, tea, sandwiches, yogurt parfaits, pastries, travel mugs, and compilation CDs. What do you get the girl who has everything?

I started my spring cleaning the other day and it’s done nothing but put ideas into my head. There are a couple of purses I wouldn’t mind getting rid of. And I found a multi-pack of Bonne Bell Lip Smackers that I can’t use because I’m allergic to the SPF in it; but she could have sensitive skin too.

I’m opening the floor to suggestions.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Parenting the Profiled

Racial profiling (and not just by cops or pseudo-cops) is a living reality for non-whites in this country.  It’s at an alarming rate that blacks and Hispanics (or those who can pass for black or Hispanic) are deemed suspicious and/or followed for all the wrong reasons.  
Do you know of any black or Hispanic American male whose parent/guardian didn’t give him at least one heads-up talk about profiling by the time he rounded out his tween years? I don’t.

One of my friends has a black teenage son, and she wrote an article about what that means to her:

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Smile and Say Sleaze

My fridge is a focal point of my living quarters. Everyone who enters my small home is drawn to it. Its coarse exterior is decorated with snapshots of happy times from some of yesteryear’s birthday parties, wedding-related festivities, road trips, girls’ nights out - it’s a real montage. I love taking pictures of and with my little darlings.

There may have been a time or two when I’ve gotten a little camera-overzealous, but I know when to cool it with the clicking. There’s a fine line between being an overzealous recreational photographer and being an inappropriate one, and it’s a line that’s constantly crossed in this town. Laypeople will zoom in to take close-ups of fresh accident-scene victims or artists performing in on-stage productions that expressly prohibit picture-taking from the audience. Others will take a string of general nuisance shots, not caring about who gets disrupted in the process.
I’ve been frequenting the New York Public Library’s main reading room this month, and some of the amateur photographers who promenade through it are out of control with the cameras that hang from their necks. They stay loud, they stay long, and they’re full of flashes. (There are people trying to get serious work done in that room! Not me – but almost everyone else who doesn’t have a camera looks super stressed out and busy.)
They snap picture after picture of inanimate objects, professional versions of which can probably be found somewhere online. How can you fully appreciate or soak up an environment while you’re maniacally documenting nearly every minute you spend in it?
If any of these reading room photos end up on a fridge someday, I hope it’s not one of the boring ones that were taken of the same ceilings, tables, lamps, and bookshelves over and over again. The hey-here’s-me-pretending-to-engage-in-legitimate-business-at-a-major-public-research-library-after-having-suddenly-inserted-myself-in-the-middle-of-a-group-of-unsuspecting-readers shot seems much more suitable for future household-appliance display.  

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Sick Daze

For years, I had an enviably ironclad immune system. I never got sick, no matter how many watery-eyed snifflers and sneezers got up in my grill. That winning streak came to a runny-nosed halt 3 years ago.

I’m currently engulfed in what’s become my annual head cold. It’s all I can think about. These yearly colds are comparable to how a few of my relatives used to be – you never quite know when they’re coming and, when they do turn up, you’ll be put upon for 3 days to a week.

I feel hot, but don’t have a fever. I lie down, but can’t sleep. I’m functional, but my joie de vivre has taken an unauthorized leave of absence. Plans have been canceled; the chamomile tea binges are in full force; my ears, nose, throat, and taste buds have been violated. There are people who stoically suffer these kinds of snotty setbacks multiple times a year.

Yes, it’s true: I do love how deep and husky my voice sounds the day before hell breaks loose. But once the nasal congestion sets in, I avoid speaking as much as possible – it’s uncomfortable and it can lead to confusion. I once went to a bridal shower on the first day of a head cold, and when one of my bride-friend’s extended family members asked what line of work I’m in, she thought I said auditor instead of editor. For the rest of the shower, and at the following weekend’s wedding reception, there was little end to the tax references and “I better be careful about what I say around you” jokes. I didn’t correct her because she was always situated too far away from me (I certainly couldn’t upset my fragile, recuperating voice by shouting over all the racket); and I enjoyed being mistaken for an auditor. I’ve had a reputation for being a lot of things, but a math and numbers whiz isn’t one of them - it was then or never.  

She later tried to set me up with a busboy. He was cute, but gave off the innocent/hypersensitive vibe of someone who wouldn’t be able to handle me in sickness or in health. 

Friday, May 4, 2012

Absence Makes the Mind Grow Amnesiac

During my lunch break yesterday, I had some business to take care of in Rockefeller Center. My first real job (the gig that’s responsible for bringing me to New York) was Rock Center-based and, aside from the holiday tourist season pedestrian traffic, I have fond memories of everything associated with that entire plaza.

I took a nostalgic lap around its underground mall. Boy does everyone look good down there, in that loose procession of well-mannered professionals.

When I was coming up on a street level-bound escalator, I saw one of my old company’s security guards soberly pacing back and forth, patrolling his heart out. Very lieutenant-esque, with the hat and everything. I called out to him by name, and when he spun around he looked as though if he had a gun he would have shot it. I asked if he remembers me. He doesn’t.

We’ve been separated for 5.5 years, but he and I always got on famously. The only even remotely unpleasant memory I have of him is from when a friend once swung by to pick me up for lunch. She wore a short, low-cut sundress and he treated her standoffishly, with the attitude that she wasn’t professionally presentable enough to proceed through the gates or be in his presence. Now he was giving me the same business. I would have loved to catch up, but I guess there was nothing to talk about.

It’s more typically the random people from my past who I absolutely do not want remembering me who unfailingly (and unquietly) do.