Tuesday, December 13, 2005

And They All Lived Happily Ever After


Leaving the theater last week, having just seen the so-much-better-than-I-thought-it-would-be Pride and Prejudice, I felt a sense of loss. Searching my feelings over hot chocolate later that night, I came upon the reason. The movie's ending had robbed me of one of my (many) compulsions: continuing a movie or play in my head long after it is over.

I can't remember when this habit first began, but I suspect its roots are deep. In fact, my earliest post-scripting tendencies may have begun with Disney's Cinderella. He puts on the slipper, and that's it? What about the sewing mice? Did she bring them to the castle with her? Did the fairy godmother come for Sunday brunches? Did she ever change her dress? I needed completion. Or at least extension.

Sometimes, when a film ends sadly, I try to help the characters move past that tragic ending to a more hopeful future. I haven't had much luck with some (Romeo and Juliet - not much can be done there), but for a few I think I've really been able to make a difference. (Scarlett O'Hara had ISSUES, but tomorrow eventually was another day.)

So, when Lizzy kissed Mr. Darcy's hand, I was content. The movie would end, and I would leave the theater in a romantic haze, envisioning the joy Elizabeth would feel as she fell asleep that night, safe and secure in Darcy's love.

Except it didn't end. It continued, and I left the theater entirely unsatisfied. Ah, well. I'm sure Cinderella is in need of a new dress or two.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Tuesday

10:00am
In response to "Thank you for calling, this is Emmelyn", I have received the following greetings:

"Oh, hi Evelyn."
"Hi, Pamela."
"Hey, Emily!"
"Did you say Levela?"
"Hello Andrea."

10:30am
In desperation, I switch:

"Thank you for calling, this is EMMIE."
"Hi, Debbie!"

12:42pm
Me: Thank you for calling, this is Debbie.
Woman: Yeah, I need to talk to Carma Devine*.
Me: (Scanning the employee list) I'm sorry, we don't have an employee by that name.
W: What? Oh, she works there. I want to talk to her.
M: I'm sorry, I can't find her name here . . .
W: Look, I know she works there, okay? Just give her a message for me.
M: I'm sor. . .
W: You tell that &%$#! to leave my husband ALONE!
M: Uh . . . Just one moment, ma'am. (Putting her on hold and turning to my fellow blonde) Does a Carma Devine work here?
YOB: Who? No . . . Oh, WAIT. That's Peter Devine's ex-wife.
M: The sales guy?
YOB: Yeah. At least, they were divorced. I think they got remarried last month or something.
M: Okay, but does she work here?
YOB: No, no, but sometimes she makes calls from here.
M: (To woman) Um, ma'am? I think you're looking for Peter Devine's ex-wife.
W: Yeah, that's her! You tell her to stay away from my husband!! Tell her to go back to cocaine rehab where she belongs! (She hangs up)
Me: (To YOB, who has been listening to my end of the conversation with interest) So, what's the story there?
YOB: Well. Peter and his wife have a pretty interesting relationship.
Me: How so?
YOB: (Pulling her chair closer) WELL, last year when they came to the Christmas party, they brought their girlfriend.
Me: Okay . . . Wait - their girlfriend?
YOB: Yeah. She's a stripper from Vegas.
Me: Did they introduce her as "their" girlfriend?
YOB: Yeah. I heard the reason they got divorced was because she wanted the girlfriend to herself.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Adventures in Temping: The Final Chapter of 2005 or How I Learned That Blondes Don't Necessarily Have More Fun

Last month I received an urgent call from my temp agency.

"Listen, honey, we need you to go in for an interview for your next temping assignment. They want to see you in person before they hire you."

This was highly unusual. The type of work I do does not typically require a pre-hire interview. The type of work I do typically requires a sixth-grade education, and perhaps the ability to sign for packages. I was intrigued. And so it was that on a balmy Friday afternoon I found myself standing in front of the gleaming floor-to-ceiling windows of one of the highest of all high-end car dealerships in this our United States of America.

Walking past showroom cars I scarcely dared breathe upon, I came to the reception desk. Three receptionists, each with long, glistening, decidedly blonde hair, greeted me in unison with three glistening, decidedly blonde smiles. Upon closer inspection, I discovered they were all wearing matching suits. With decidedly plunging necklines. Staring down into a sea of cleavage, I told them why I was there.

Ten minutes later, sitting across from the Client Relations Supervisor, I participated in the following conversation:

CRS: "It's nice to meet you. Do you have receptionist experience?"

ME: "Uh, yes, yes I do. I've been temping for two years, and before that I . . ."

CRS: "Good. Do you have phone-answering experience?"

ME: "Well, yes . . . I've been temping for two yea . . ."

CRS: "Good. Thank you for coming in. We'll see you soon."

Later that day, the agency called.

"You got the job! Congratulations!"

"Okay . . . Do you know why I had to go in for an interview?"

"Well, they just wanted to get a feel for you."

"A feel for me?"

"Yeah. You start work on Monday."

"Okay, thanks."

"Oh, and one more thing. Wear your hair down."

"What?"

"When you go on Monday. Wear your hair down."


MONDAY

(Times are approximate. All other details are to the very best of my recollection.)

10:00am The youngest of the blondes turns to me.

YOB: "So, where are you from?"

ME: "Utah."

YOB: "Seriously? Are you a Mormon?"

ME: "Yes."

YOB: "No way!! Me too!"

10:27am YOB returns from the breakroom with a big cup of coffee.

12:01pm I am informed that after a morning of training, I've learned enough to answer calls by myself.

1:02pm

ME: "Thank you for calling. How may I help you?"

CALLER: "Um, well, I need your help."

ME: "Okay . . . how can I help you?"

C: "Well . . . I need to know if I bought a car from you."

ME: "You don't know if you bought a car from us or not?"

C: "Well . . . no, not really. Did I?"

ME: "Uh, I'm not sure. Do you remember your salesperson's name?"

C: "No! I just told you! I don't know if I bought a car from you guys! I need you to tell me!"

ME: "So, just to make sure I understand - you don't know if you bought a car from us?"

C: "Okay, look. Last month I got into an accident, and now I have amnesia. So I DON'T REMEMBER! Why can't you just TELL ME??"

3:24pm

YOB: "So, do you have a calling in your ward? I'm activities coordinator. It's awesome!"

4:15pm I've counted seven Chanel bags, seven small dogs, and fourteen breast implants accompanied by seven 70-year-old men.

4:58pm

YOB: (on phone) "Oooh, I LOVE that place! They have the BEST margaritas!"


To Be Continued . . .

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Adventures In Temping: Part Deux



So a few weeks ago I threw up at my temp job.

Normally I would not write about such a distasteful subject. (Vomiting, not my temp job). I was not raised in a household where talk of bodily functions was the norm. I do not enjoy bathroom humor. I have a British grandmother. I am often referred to as "proper" or "refined".
But, you guys, I seriously hurled.

When my family was in Utah for my brother's wedding, half of them came down with what I have chosen to call The Great and Terrible Death Flu of 2005. Even my honeymooning brother did not escape its wrath. And those who did were stricken soon after returning to their various homes. Only Steve and I and a few blessed others were spared.

Or so we thought.

A week after the wedding, I arose and drove to work as usual, feeling as fine as one could feel when one is working a job that one does not particularly care for because one would much rather be doing pretty much anything other than what one is being paid not nearly enough to do.

About noon, I started feeling a little queasy. About 12:30, my head was pounding and my stomach churning. About 12:45, I suddenly knew that I was in BIG TROUBLE. I bolted from the desk, racing to the bathroom as fast as my high heels could carry me. I flung open the handicapped stall door (I figured I qualified), and let's just say I made it in the nick of time.

Minutes later, leaning against the handicapped rail, I pondered the fact that I could not remember the last time I had had to avail myself of the facilities in that manner. I could remember having the flu as a kid, but it had been years since I had experienced that particular physical manifestation of illness. I hoped the same amount of years would pass before I experienced it encore.

Returning to my desk, feeling MUCH better, I realized that no one had witnessed my dash to the WC. Feeling grateful that my experience had been a solitary one, and knowing it would be a major hassle to find a mid-day replacement, I decided to try martyr on for size, and returned to work. For about 15 minutes, until I was forced to revisit the handicapped stall, and admit defeat.

Emerging from the ladies, I found my boss, and told her I had to leave. She eyed me suspiciously. "You were just fine an hour ago." I whimpered. She acquiesced.

I called Steve on the way home, and he told me he'd have a bucket ready. Later that night, as I became better acquainted with said bucket, he asked if there was anything he could do.

"Could you hold my hair?"

He did. He held my hair with one hand, and held an orange with the other. He ate the orange while he was holding my hair. I guess we've determined who will be on Future Children Vomit Clean-Up Patrol.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

To Steve, On His 33rd Birthday


Your name is Steven, but we call you Stu
In August of '03, I married you
You cheer me up when I feel blue
You love our nieces, and our nephews, too



You program computers like a mad crazy foo'
Even though you're 33, you laugh at jokes about poo
You wash my car so that it looks brand new
You have big hair, but it can look GQ



You're super smart, and you're good lookin', too



You're the sweetest boy that I ever knew

Happy Birthday, my Stuvey! I LOVE YOU!

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Being A Woman

Last week I made a potentially life-changing discovery.

In Utah for my brother's wedding, the relatives nestled all snug in their beds, I found my night-owl self scanning the bookshelves of my parents' home in search of some eventide entertainment. Running my hand over the familiar titles, I came upon a white, gold-lettered volume I'd never seen before. Curious, I pulled it from the shelf. The Joy of Being A Woman: Guidance for Meaningful Living by Outstanding LDS Women. I was intrigued. My life could certainly be more Meaningful, and I'm always in need of Guidance. Who better to help me with these things than Outstanding LDS Women? I opened it in anxious anticipation. Published in 1972. Best wishes for a happy marriage! This had been a gift to my parents on their wedding day! What words of wisdom would it hold for me? I scanned the pages. Here was a chapter on making your husband happy. I definitely want to do that! With eagerness I read:

Strive to keep your voice soft. If you have become more accepting and peaceable in nature, you will find that you have less to say. Men find whining, piercing, nasal, screeching, raspy, shrill or rough aggressive qualities very annoying in a woman's voice.

I searched my soul. When I was getting over that cold last week, my voice had been raspy! Steve told me he thought it was cute, but had he actually found it very annoying? He could have been lying! And did I strive to keep my voice soft? No, not by a long shot. Sometimes I even yelled to Steve from the other room when his music was loud! This was not looking good. I decided that I would try to cultivate a soft voice when next I talked to him. He had flown home earlier that evening, so the following morning I dialed his cell.

"Good morning, Em!"

"Good morning."

"What? I can't hear you."

"Good morning, honey. How are you?"

"What?"

"How are you?"

"I must have bad reception. I'll call you back."

As I pondered the results of my efforts, I realized the book was right: when I kept my voice soft, I did have less to say! The conversation with my husband would usually have lasted at least ten minutes, but with my new soft voice, it had lasted mere seconds! This book held such promise. Over breakfast, I read on:

The solution I suggest to you for overcoming your problems in marriage is to submit to your husband in everything. Ask his advice on things, without even thinking what you would like first, and accept it. (You may slip back from time to time, but let him know that it isn't permanent and that you are still dedicated). . . When something bothers him, change it immediately. If he expresses a wish, make it the first thing on your list . . . Your single and most compelling desire is to obey and please him 100%. As you do this you'll never have to worry about yourself again.

Wow. I really had some work to do. Why, just last week, Steve had said that he wished he owned a jet, and I had merely agreed with him that that would be really cool. Had I made it the first thing on my list? Not even close! Well, I could remedy that right away. I hopped online, pulled out my credit cards, and put a down payment on a Dassault Falcon 900. What else . . . At church a few weeks ago he mentioned that a woman in the ward really bothered him, and what had I done about it? Nothing! I resolved that as soon as I returned home, I would find some way to get rid of her.

It is going to be so wonderful to never have to worry about myself again.

Monday, October 24, 2005

It's A Swedish Thing



This weekend I built a bookcase.

More specifically, my fabulous sister-in-law and I assembled a bookcase purchased from a Swedish furniture wonderland.
IKEA is its name, and assemble-it-at-your-own-peril furniture is its game.

Our bookcase's formal name is EKTORP. We prefer to call it STANLEY.

Last night, as I stood admiring our handiwork by the glow of the Ikea candle (VARDAG) resting atop my Ikea coffee table (LAGFORS), I thought back to the beginnings of my relationship with Ikea.

This is our story.

One wintry New York day I was bemoaning to a friend the fact that after four months in the city I was still using an open suitcase as my primary mode of clothing storage.

"Oooo, we have GOT to go to Ikea!" she exclaimed with feverish intensity.

I could tell that Ikea meant something special to her. And I wanted to find out why.

There was only one problem.

New York's Ikea wasn't actually in New York. It was in New Jersey, which was, conveniently, 20 miles away. But Ikea wasn't going to let a little thing like distance keep us apart. It knew how much I wanted to meet it, and it wanted to meet me, too. And so I was informed that every Saturday, furniture-seekers such as myself could line up at Grand Central Station and pay $10.00 to board the bus Ikea had chartered: a bus bound specifically for that great and spacious warehouse in the Bronx. That very weekend, perched upon my seat and watching the scenery go by, I felt a sense of excitement, of adventure! The journey reminded me of a grade school field trip. Except that there were a lot of gay couples, and I hadn't brought a sack lunch.

Once there, my friends and I gleefully wandered the furniture and accessory maze, availing ourselves of 50 cent hot dogs, dollar frozen yogurts, and large bags of votive candles. All was right with the world, and it seemed Ikea had enough love to go around. Hours later, stomachs and shopping bags full, we boarded the bus home, basking in the glow of the superstore's fading lights.

Once we arrived at the bus station, however, we soon realized that the honeymoon was over. I mean, Ikea was happy we came to visit and everything, and it was fun to hang out and all, but when it came right down to it, Ikea really didn't care how we got our newly-purchased items off the bus, on to the subway, off the subway, up five flights of stairs, and through our narrow doorway (let alone if we could figure out how to put everything together by following its sparse, obtuse instructions). As the bus sped away into the night, I suddenly realized that Ikea had made other plans for the evening, and they were SO not with me.

As time passed, Ikea and I began to develop a more mature relationship. (Having a car helped.) When I moved to San Diego, Ikea provided me with a grad school bed, desk, and dresser, as well as a big pile of nails and dowels whose purpose I never quite figured out. I began to realize that Ikea wasn't perfect, and that other stores had a lot to offer, too. Ultimately, I came to the understanding that my feelings for what Ikea has to offer can be divided into three separate categories, which are:

Things I Need:




Things I Want:




Things I Don't Understand:



Nowadays, as I explore its aisles with my true love (Steve), I am grateful for the things my relationship with Ikea has taught me. And Steve's cool with it, too, because he knows that Ikea and I are just good friends. Also, he likes the 50 cent hot dogs.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Just dial 1-800-STEVEKNOWS

I think my husband might be psychic.

Now I don't want to spook you - this being Halloween season and all - but I really need an objective opinion about his potentially awesome and frightening mind-reading abilities.

Here's the evidence. Consider carefully:

Situation 1:

A few months ago, we received a call from our friend Marva*
(* name changed to protect the caller). Steve answered, and I half listened to the conversation from the other room. I tuned back in when I heard him say:

"Oh, I'm sorry you're not feeling well."

Pause.

"Surgery, huh."

Pause.

"Well, what did you do, get breast implants?"

Pause.

Pause.

"Oh . . . Uh, well, good on ya, Marva!"

Frightened by my husband's predicting power, it wasn't until later that I thought:

Why was Marva calling to tell us she got breast implants?

and

Good on ya?


Situation Number 2:

Arriving late to church one Sunday, we passed our friends Sparky* and LaDawn* in the hallway. Sparky was wrestling with their 6-month-old, and LaDawn looked a little under the weather. As we passed, the following conversation transpired:

Me: "How are you doing, LaDawn?"

LD: "Oh, not so great, actually. I'm feeling a little sick."

Me: "Oh, I'm sorry to hear that."

Steve: "What is it, morning sickness?"

Pause.

Pause.

LD: "Well, yeah, actually, it is."


You guys, I am seriously spooked. Am I the only woman with a psychic spouse? Will his powers become so strong that he'll be able to sense that I don' t really like watching the SPEED channel? Should I continue to take him out in public? Does he know what I'm thinking about right now? (Answer: Tacos)

Please tell me I'm not alone. Or did you already know I was going to ask that?

Friday, October 14, 2005

Palm Trees and Traffic and Bunnies, Oh My!

We have wild bunnies living in our apartment complex. And no, I'm not referring to those of the Playboy variety, but rather silicone-free, hoppy, bewhiskered little bunnies. The manager was going to get rid of them at one point, but the tenants staged a
"Save the Bunnies" campaign, and now they are here to stay.




They like to hang out by the pool.
Sometimes when I swim at night,
this one chills poolside.

What should I name them?

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Don't Be Ridiculous



When I was in grad school, Bronson Pinchot came to the Globe to do a show. About a week after his arrival, a stage manager pulled a group of us aside. His voice got very quiet and deadly serious as he said:

"You guys, do NOT call him Balki."

Friday, October 07, 2005

The Staff of Life






Wheat has always been a very important part of my life. The delicious smell of my mother's homemade, honey-wheat bread is one of my earliest and most comforting childhood memories, and to this day whenever I smell bread baking I feel warm, cozy and safe. Growing up, I found favor with my brothers by making quadruple batches of cookies for them and their numerous, perpetually ravenous friends. I munched on baguettes at tube stops in London, baked brownies after particularly fruitless days of street contacting in Montreal, and chewed on bagels as I fought my way through crowded downtown Manhattan. Chocolate cake could always make me feel better.

And then one inevitable day, a culinary tragedy occurred: I was diagnosed with a wheat allergy.

Wheat allergies, I learned to my dismay, can develop spontaneously in anyone, at anytime. (Something to look forward to, dear readers!) Thrust into the lone and dreary gluten-free world, I bid a tearful farewell to my close friend Wheat, and began a long, bleak journey to find new gastronomical meaning. As time passed I met some new friends: Spelt and Soy. Our relationship seemed promising at first as we began spending time together. But then I broke up with them, 'cause they were gross.

As my journey progressed, I encountered another unforseen difficulty in the form of trying to order at restaurants. Allow me to illustrate:

Me: (Pointing at item on menu) Does this have wheat in it?
Waiter:
(Looking confused) Uh, no, no, it doesn't have wheat in it.
Me:
(Knowing it's too good to be true) Okay . . . does it have flour in it?
Waiter:
(Looking at me like I have two heads) Well, yeah, it has flour in it!

And sadly, my friends, that flour is rarely soy or spelt derived.

After experiencing this scenario 562 times (approx.), I've come to the conclusion that when I say this:
"Does this have wheat in it?"

Waiters hear this:
"Does this have actual wheat stalks sticking out of it?"

Not that I blame them - I was amazed to find out all the sneaky places where wheat lurks, just waiting to entice me into eating it, and then making my life miserable for doing so. Soup, yogurt, tacos, ice cream, Rice-a-Roni (oh no, not you too, the San Francisco Treat!). Wheat is clever, people. Very clever.

Steve is unfailingly supportive of my wheat-free state, and often insists on eating my inferior rice-based products with me. On occasion, he's even been known to bend the truth for my benefit:

Steve: (Biting into a soy flour cookie) "These are really good!"
Me:
(Shaking my head in sorrow) "No they aren't, honey. They're gross."
Steve:
(Staying upbeat) "Well, they do have a weird aftertaste, but if you just keep eating them one right after the other, you hardly even notice it!"

Is it any wonder I love the boy?

I once had a woman tell me that, because of my wheat allergy, I wasn't obeying the Word of Wisdom. She said I should have more faith. She was serious. I wanted to throw a rice cracker at her head. Instead, I asked: "When was the last time you ate meat in the summer?"

Okay, so I didn't ask her that, but I wanted to. Instead I just smiled as I thought of what my doctor told me several years ago on that life-changing day: Anyone can develop a wheat allergy.

Friday, September 30, 2005

Would you like sugar with that?








When I started my temp job this week at a high-end-shall- remain-nameless furniture dealership, the office manager spent twenty minutes explaining to me the intricacies of making coffee. Twenty. Minutes. This has happened before at other jobs, this coffee-creating tutorial. The sessions vary in length and minutiae, but they do, most often that first Monday morning, occur with predictable frequency. At first my Mormon self was grateful for the education, as the sight of the large, seemingly impenetrable coffee maker, and the knowledge that I would soon be required to produce something drinkable from it, produced slight pangs of anxiety. My mind conjured horrible breakroom scenarios in which my ineptitude caused the coffee maker to explode, spewing scalding liquid all over myself and the president of the company who just happened to enter the kitchen at that precise moment, and also less violent but equally humiliating predicaments in which the entire coffee maker was reduced to a pile of molten plastic because I'd forgotten (silly me!) to put water in it before I turned it on.

It's not that I think these givers of coffee tutorials think I'm stupid. (Do they??) I try to give them the benefit of the doubt whilst hoping they are doing the same for me. These office rituals seem important to them. Very. Important. Not to generalize or anything, but, in general, I've encountered the same type of office manager personality over and over again. Answering the phone the right way ("It's a great day at Drinkworks!" "Thank you so much for choosing Steiner & Son!", "How can I possibly thank you enough for calling Andrich and Associates!"), putting the mail face-up in the mailslots ("Rhonda likes hers folded like this."); these details bring order and purpose to their office world, holding the fabric of their cubicle universe together. Often during the phone lessons ("And then you put them on hold by pushing this big orange button that says 'hold'"), I have an almost overwhelming desire to leap onto the desktop and exclaim with all the force of my Globe-trained diaphragm: "I have a MASTER'S DEGREE!! I think I can FIGURE IT OUT!!!" But I am checked by the realization that they would probably look up at me and ask "A master's in what?" and I would say "Theatre." and they would say "Great! Anyway, this big blue button that says 'speaker . . .'"