Monday, September 29, 2014

The Best Gifts Really Do Come in Small Packages

The late-afternoon/early-evening security guard who patrols the floors of my office has gotten me hooked on protein bars. I’m becoming a protein bar connoisseur and have started buying them in bulk. So far, I prefer the Think Thin brand, with Luna bars making an excellent showing as a first runner-up. If, for any reason, a Think Thin bar is unable to fulfill its duties as a cheap and easy hunger-quencher, Luna would be asked to step in and take care of business.

It all started this past spring when the guard, our protector, knocked on my door a little before 5 p.m., to hand me a pack of Lindor white chocolate (without removing the $3.29 price tag). A few days later, he tried giving me an entire bottle of wine.

During the workweek, I sometimes get really hungry at about 4:30 p.m. And almost every other day, for weeks, that would be around the time he’d appear with a treat to tide me over until dinnertime. The wine is the only offering he has allowed me to politely decline.

After the wine came more chocolate. Followed by heaping handfuls of Werther’s Original. One afternoon, he set a bar of Muscle Milk on my desk, which turned out to be a protein bar. I’d only ever had one protein bar, years ago, and remember finding it too gross to finish. But two days later, I got dangerously hungry less than two hours after lunch, didn’t want to buy an overpriced snack from a vending machine or the newsstand in the building’s lobby, and pulled the (vanilla toffee crunch) Muscle Milk out of my drawer. It hit the spot, in a way almonds never have. A week later, he delivered an equally satisfying Special K bar.

At first I was all, “This is so inappropriate, I have to get him to stop.” When he did eventually stop, it turned into, “Where the hell is this guy? I’m starving here,” compounded by also having to deal with a Werther’s-loving co-worker badgering me about whether a new supply had come in.

So I’ve had to resume foraging for snacks independently. Even though I know protein bars are processed foods that aren’t great for you, they’ve got to trump the bags of Sour Patch Kids I used to hoard, and my Costco membership card is about to come out of a long dry spell.   

Monday, September 22, 2014

Calls and Responses

Some people who don’t live with their parents check in with their parents by phone every day. When there are no grandchildren or childcare situations in the picture. When no parties involved are facing any crisis, frailty, or major life event. When walking down a crowded street, six inches behind another person:

“I ate a quesadilla earlier. It had chicken, mushrooms, spinach, cheese. Maybe Monterey Jack? Or Cheddar? I can’t remember. Now it’s gonna bother me. You’re so right, dad, I should pull up the menu online. I’ll Google it later and call you when I do. I haven’t talked to you or mom since yesterday, you don’t love me anymore. I really want a muffin right now even though it’s after 6 p.m. Is that weird? Have you ever wanted breakfast at night? Two joggers are running toward me and I thought one was barefoot, but her sneakers are just lightweight and flesh-toned. Can you believe I turn 28 in 10 weeks? How does it feel to have a 28-year-old child? Not great?! Put mom on so I can ask her how it feels to have a 28-year-old child. Hi mom. You’re right, you don’t have a 28-year-old child yet so it is premature to ask until the day you do! My left elbow kind of hurts right now, you guys.”

Ever since I left the nest at 17, I’ve usually talked to my parents once a week, on the same day, during the same time block. These days, I talk to my dad on Sunday nights between 7 and 10. In between Sundays we often email back and forth, and nobody is unhappy with this arrangement.  Even as a teenager, I couldn’t stand constant phone chatter, the constant ringing.

If you want to see me slip into panic mode, get my dad to phone me outside of our appointed hour(s). This ends up happening several times a year. At 10 a.m. one Saturday, my phone rang and his name popped up. Someone died, I thought. Someone else. Here comes another turning point, while I’m sitting in this tawdry smoothie café. My heart pounded, continued pounding as he said hello in a serious tone, and only stopped pounding when he asked whether I received the year’s supply of ballpark mustard he shipped after I told him I couldn’t find it anywhere locally.

Last night, he didn’t answer his phone between 7 and 10. I went through every possibility in my head, almost texting my brother that we may have an emergency on our hands, almost texting a few others to please respect my privacy at this time, until he finally picked up at 10:02.

Monday, September 15, 2014

That Voice from Above

After all these years, I thought I finally figured out who my upstairs neighbor is. But wrong person, mystery still unsolved, the suspense will neither kill me nor make me stronger.

We keep similar hours and I like when s/he’s home, the sounds of futzing around, soft singing, guitar strums. It’s a male voice, a tenor, that sings. I’ve heard the click-clack of high heels, a feminine footfall, twice.
I have now entered my building alongside two women who were on their way to the floor above me, not sure whether the younger and quieter one was a cross-dresser until the older of the two got in my face, pointed at Junior and accusatorily asked: “Isn’t she beautiful?”

“Mmm-hmm,” I said. They both had a gloriousness to them, unconventionally speaking, à la a con-artist duo straight out of a long-running Broadway musical – a pair up to no good, but on the cusp of belting out a detailed and catchy diddy to rationalize all the lies and manipulations.
“No one should ever discriminate against her,” Junior’s spokeswoman kept going. “It doesn’t matter what she’s wearing or who she wants to be.”

As if I had said or implied otherwise. As if I could care less whether this was a dude or a lady. I just want to know if s/he’s the guitarist, whose birthday falls on February 11th (Aquarians are notoriously creative individualists). I was home last February 11th and it’s the only time I’ve known him or her to have had anything close to a raucous gathering. Early into it, the small crowd sung happy birthday. And did not enunciate the birthday boy or girl’s first name.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Ten (G-Rated) Things I Once Swore I’d Never Do, But Have Since Done

*Join Facebook

*Count carbs

*Come down with seasonal allergies

*Forgive a non-blood relative who has wronged me

*Go back to wearing heels

*Go back to Whole Foods

*Go back to making the sign of the cross and praying

*A crossword puzzle (or part of one)

*Fall in love with an Apple product

*Become a blogger 

Monday, September 1, 2014

Summer Travel Season May Be Winding Down, But Fall/Winter/Spring Travel Is A-Comin’

We all have reputations. Like the rest of you, there are statements, attitudes, and descriptions I’m used to being on the receiving end of, by now. Commentary I get on a regular basis, reflecting other people’s assumptions of who I am/what I represent:

“You work too much.

There’s hardly anything you say behind people’s backs that you haven’t already said to their faces.

Listen, you CANNOT ever write about what I’m telling you. I guarantee you’re already thinking about it.

I can’t believe you watch Real Housewives.

Looks like you’ve been drinking….”

Almost everyone, male or female, who has ever traveled with me or lifted my luggage has exclaimed some equivalent of: “Damn girl, you pack light.”

Now that one is all true, all inoffensive, all badge of honor. Let’s call me the Anti-Diva. I can easily do two weeks away from home with nothing more than a small suitcase, a roomy over-the-shoulder carry-on number, and a modest tote bag. I won’t pack more than two pairs of shoes. I’ll wear the same cardigan and pair of jeans more than once. I’ll use that little tote I carried-on as my purse for the duration of the trip. If I see a toy that would be perfect for a youngster I’m about to spend time with, but it would take up too much space in a suitcase, I’ll say “never mind, I’ll treat him/her to something bigger and better when I get there.”

I’m over airport security. I’m over airports in general. Amtrak and coach buses too.

Post-9/11, I’ve (accidentally) taken at least three round-trip commercial flights with a box cutter in my bag and nobody stopped me; yet everything goes to hell if there’s a 4 oz. bottle of moisturizer on me. And after recently catching a 20/20 segment that confirmed my worst suspicions about how mischievous baggage handlers can get with unlocked, checked-in luggage, I will continue to err on the side of packing like a pauper.

I need to go on more car trips.