Friday, September 28

Big plans

I for one was not TGIF, or however you want to say it, today. Guess what I get to do this weekend? Move. But first I have to pack! This past week has been a whirlwind: leave old job, enter new job, birthday, move.

I'm looking forward to getting back to a more normal routine. It's funny how sometimes routine can be so boring, and yet sometimes it's so comforting. It changes back and forth like that for me, unlike some friends who enjoy strictly routine or strictly change. My preference is more about what's going on in my life at the moment. I tend to favor a few changes at a time -- this past week felt like too many changes crammed into too little time, with the end result being not enough time to process what's going on. To be aware. Kind of like talking on the cellphone while riding the subway and listening to an iPod in complete oblivion of what's going on around you. I prefer being in the present - or being present, period.

Ehh, back to packing.

Wednesday, September 26


I'd like to change the proper office rule from 'we "do" lunch' to 'we "grab" lunch.' I think this is as popular as it is because it makes you sound more busy, and thus (I guess) more important. I can't possibly finish all this paperwork and call these people back and go to this meeting on time on top of "having" lunch -- guess I'll have to grab lunch.

You ever notice how it's like a competition around this country: who's busiest? Me, no me, no no me! I've noticed the folks that are the fiercest competitors -- the Busiest people -- are usually the ones who aren't busy at all.

I guess they have to waste time somehow.

Tuesday, September 25


Went out to eat at a vegan restaurant (T.J.s) in Allston tonight with friends from my old work. It was good to catch up, but man when they started talking about work ... let's just say it's nice to not deal with that place anymore. Every job has issues, but that job had a few too many. Anyway, I had a "chicken" and pineapple pizza with a pumpkin blondie for dessert, and even my non-vegan friends loved the food. I'll probably return even though it's quite a hike (four buses and a subway)!

Gearing up for the big move this weekend. We reserved a truck but there's still so much to do. It'll feel nice to be able to have a day off instead of a day packing ... or I should say a day thinking about packing. I should really just buckle down and finish it all, given all the time I waste worrying about what, when, how I'll do it.

I wore jeans to work today. Jeans! These people let me wear jeans! I mean, they're the nice, dark trouser-type variety, but jeans nonetheless.

Monday, September 24

A Mover's Lament

I am surrounded by mounds of crinkly paper, boxes stacked up high in every corner (and not-so-corner) of the house, and packing tape and scissors everywhere I look. Grrrrr. Moving again is not fun.

Saturday, September 22

Last day, first day

My coworkers and bosses were so nice to me on my last day, I actually questioned my decision to leave. Vicki made vegan cupcakes for me, and my friends chipped in and bought me a beautiful Kazuri necklace for my upcoming birthday. It was so nice to be surrounded by support that it made me wonder why they didn't attempt to have that atmosphere in there all along. If they could sustain a supportive environment, they'd retain a lot more employees. Isn't that Management 101?

My first day at the office reinforced what I never should have questioned: I made a good decision. My coworkers and bosses are a super-nice, intelligent bunch, and I'm enjoying the collaborative, non-hierarchical environment there. It has been - and will be, I believe - a strange transition from retail to office. I'm slowly compiling a list of rules to fit in at the office.

Rules to fit in at an office:

1. Substitute the word "boss" for "supervisor."

2. Invest in cardigans. Especially if they're black ones.

3. We don't "eat" lunch. We "do" lunch.

4. Don't leave when your day's work is over. Compete with your boss, err, supervisor, with who can stay latest.

5. Don't drink coffee. Inhale it. The more, the better.

6. If you fail to CC your supervisor several times a day on matters completely unrelated to him/her, they will eventually forget you exist.

7. Live for Fridays, and be sure to leave early on this revered day.

Tuesday, September 18

A simple "good job" would do ...

A new secret shopper report came out. Most of the comments are mediocre: bathroom okay, selection okay, service okay ... save one. It describes help finding a Christmas gift as "friendly, warm, and kind. She really made me feel at home, even in a store. Wonderful!" And as with all secret shopper reports, the shopper gave a physical description of the employee, whose physical attributes match mine: same hair and eye color; same approximate weight, height, and age; same clothes; same time I was in that department.

So what does my boss do? He strolls over to R., a 55-year-old, chunky woman with short, dyed blond hair who sucks up like a champion, and says adoringly, "This must have been you."

Glancing over the report, R. looks up at him and says, "Boss, that's my day off. But thanks for the compliment!"

This isn't the first time, either.

Besides the fact that no one at work looks remotely like me, what else would he ask that for but cold-hearted meanness?

Well, that and sheer stupidity.

Sunday, September 16


Yesterday, as we were counting the day's money, my boss says to me, "Have you ever noticed men's names are always other things?"

I paused in my penny count and looked up quizzically.

"You know," he continued. "Like Bill is a bill," he said, smiling and shaking a dollar bill. "You makes good marks. You get there in the nick of time." He smiled widely, proud of his epiphany.

"Huh. I guess I never thought of it like that," I respond slowly. I have to be careful; if he's not right, he's angry.

"What's your husband's name?" he asks, eager to prove his point.


He holds up an imaginary microphone and smiles even wider. "See?"

"I guess men's names tend to be more action-oriented," I half-agree.

"Well, I don't know about that. But they're almost always objects or things," is his smart reply.

I've thought a little more about what he suggested. It's true that a portion (certainly not "always" or "almost always") of names typically given to men are action-oriented or physical, concrete objects. The feminist in me wonders if this is another subtle reinforcement of socialized gender through language. Are women's names then usually more abstract, relationship-oriented?

I took a look at the top names for babies in the U.S. and found this:

Top 10 Baby Names of 2006


1 Emma 1
2 Madison 3
3 Ava 10
4 Emily 2
5 Isabella 6
6 Kaitlyn 4
7 Sophia 5
8 Olivia 7
9 Abigail 11
10 Hailey 13


1 Aiden 1
2 Jacob 2
3 Ethan 3
4 Ryan 6
5 Matthew 5
6 Jack 8
7 Noah 16
8 Nicholas 4
9 Joshua 9
10 Logan 19

If we stick to using current data like this (found at BabyCenter), then by my count, Jack is the only male name that is also an object. I suppose you could count Matthew if you use Matt for mat, but that seems to be stretching it. For the girls, it appears that Madison is also a city, which is a thing. So far it seems we're even. But what if we go back further, to more "traditional" times?

In the U.S. in the 1950s, the most popular names were:

Boys' Names


Girls' Names


It would seem that a number of boys' names are also objects, especially if you include the nickname: John, Rob, Will, Mike, Rich, Chuck, Don, etc. For girls' names, I find a few also: Pat, Barb, Sue, Sandy, etc. So it seems that in the days my boss grew up in (and thus the names he would be most familiar with), his theory partially holds up, at least in comparison to the contemporary baby names. It does seem that the majority of his theory is based more on nicknames, or what the person is commonly referred to as. I wonder if this has a more simple explanation: we use and hear these objects all the time, and incorporate those objects into names we call those we're close to. A sort of familiarity complex.

I also wonder if his theory is indicative of the way he views others: as objects, i.e. things which he can control with little or no social value.

Whew. The lengths I will go to just to prove my boss wrong.

Saturday, September 15

Her birthday

Today is my mom's birthday. I can never remember how old she is, exactly. 58? It's strange to watch her life evolve from being a mother of five to an empty-nester. The youngest, my sister, just moved out in June.

Of all her kids, my sister is the closest to home. She lives about 45 minutes away. The rest of us are spread out: Chicago, Arizona, Boston. I like being mobile, meeting new cities, but it has been strange. I've never even met three of my four nieces and nephews. You get a lot, but you give up a lot too.

So today's her birthday and I'm not there. We've never been particularly close or anything remotely close to that, but it's a reminder. Another instance where I'm here, not there. Not that I wanted to be there when I was there ...

It's a rainy day, so my thoughts are running down the sides of windows too. It's beautiful to let chaos win sometimes.

Friday, September 14

Food plates and the mistake stakeout

Only three more days! Not that I'm counting or anything ...

They usually take out full-timers on their last day for a business dinner, but not me. I suppose I haven't put in enough time to count, and frankly I expected that they wouldn't take me out. It's funny, though, because a group of my coworkers are taking me out anyway.

My boss has been avoiding me and searching desperately for any mistakes I might make. Today, for example, I unpacked a huge shipment. It took me all morning to finish, but I delayed lunch until 2:30 in the afternoon, so I could return and design the display. After I finished unpacking and before I went to lunch, however, I quickly stacked all of the merchandise out onto the display so it was buyable even while I was at lunch. I mentioned that I didn't design it, just stacked it, to a few people on my way out the door.

Sure enough, when I got back my coworkers were all laughing. "Boy, did you call it," they told me. The boss had come out of his hiding spot, errr office, shortly after I had left and looked around at my department.

"Oh," he told them all snootily, "I guess this is how she merchandises when she's leaving in a week."

I knew he'd do that. His favorite thing in life is to uncover mistakes, and yet I have never seen him find one. I'm way too conscientious for his schemes.

The merchandise I put out today was dinnerware with Chinese characters on it. We had a few Chinese tourists come by right before the end of my day and they were laughing hysterically.

"What?" I asked the two woman. "What does it say?"

They kept laughing and pulled out their digital cameras, shooting pictures of my display. One of the women pointed at a platter and said "Meat!" The other pointed at a bowl and said "Vegetables!"

In the end, I held up a "Food" plate and posed manically for the camera. I wonder how that'll turn out when they arrive back home. "Look at what these stupid Americans are trying to sell us! Plates that say 'food.'"

We really do sell anything.

Thursday, September 13

Wednesday, September 12

Can you take this?

Oh, it'll be nice to leave ...

Business has been so slow lately. For the past few weeks, there have been more employees than customers. Never a good sign, and today was no exception.

I'm in the midst of redesigning an old display, with a bottle of window cleaner in my hand and used paper towels crumpled up around the floor. I'm standing about 50 feet away from the nearest cash register and there are about three dozen dinner plates stacked up to my right and 24 coffee mugs and boxes of dishtowels to my left.

A customer approaches and barks, "Can you take this?"

I look at her thrusting two small items toward me and contemplate whether I should put down the cleaning solution and hold these items for God knows why or if I should I ask what the hell she's talking about. During that brief pause on my part, she snarls, "Or do I have to take it to another register?"

Oh. So being the farthest person in the entire store from a cash register, and seeing how there are no lines at any of the other six registers and the sales people are absolutely not busy, you've chosen me to be your victim. I have to admit, I'm guilty - I am wearing a nametag.

"Uhh, I guess I can take you over there," I say, and begin the long and ardous process of hiking over the moutain of my displaced display toward a cash register.

She says nothing, and at the end of the transaction, I thank her and wish her a wonderful day. "Yes," she replies, clutching her plastic bag and heading for the exit.

No excuse mes, pleases, thank yous ... I was raised in the Midwest, so let me ask you New Englanders out there: is most of the Northeast rude or is it just a Boston thing?

Monday, September 10

In the last week-ish ...

In the last six days, I've accepted a new job doing administrative and editorial work for B., gave my two-week notice to my current supervisor who received the news with less than professionalism which more than reinforced my decision, and toured a number of hopelessly pathetic apartments in and around Boston up until yesterday, when we applied for a one-bedroom place on the top floor of a middle-aged, friendly, jazz-playing couple's home.

Just in case you were wondering: that's my excuse for not posting!

Oh, and: Kingfisher, Indian lager, pretty good but not so good after more than one; Rapscallion Creation, dark "wine-beer," smooth with an airy flavor, similar to Newcastle but not as strong.

Tuesday, September 4

Laborless Day

Headed up to Ipswich on Cape Ann yesterday, where we visited Russell Orchards and Crane Beach. We took the amiable Ipswich/Essex Explorer, a CATA shuttle from the train station to various points of interest, and learned this car-free method of accessing the North Shore may succumb to, you guessed it, government funding. Apparently those groggy folks in government can't see the benefit of removing thousands of cars from the streets and parking lots -- let alone the air -- in addition to the boon to local businesses. We learned all of this from a volunteer who coordinated the shuttle services, and we're looking to join the lobbying effort to keep the shuttle up and running.

Russell Orchards was quaint yet bustling. They had organic garlic for 95 cents per bunch, which we gobbled up, and delicious cold apple cider. It's probably a gorgeous destination in autumn, with hayrides, pick-your-own apples, and hot apple cider. We attempted to pick our own blackberries, but wound up a little confused at which were ready to be picked (city folk!). Tasting fruit wines (uck) and buying cheap dutch apple preserves was a bit more down our alley, although I had mixed feelings about supporting a farm that supports itself in part through butchering animals.

Crane Beach was relaxing, in spite of the crowds. We waded in to absolutely freezing water: it took 45 minutes to move myself from water at my feet to water at my shoulders. We didn't get a chance to learn more about the piping plover's rehab efforts within Crane's, but we will. We'll be back, if the CATA's funding cooperates.

Oh, and dinner: homemade vegan pizza with crumbled tofu, fresh pineapple, broccoli, and onions. Mhmmmm.

Sunday, September 2

Bugged beer

We celebrated the arrival of the much-needed long weekend last night by popping into an Indian restaurant in Arlington. The ambiance was a bit forced while the food and service was above average. I had aloo mutter, my favorite thanks to Krishna, and M ate an eggplant and chickpeas dish whose name I've forgotten. It was so enjoyable to sit and just talk for an evening.

I discovered a small bug swimming in my beer, and was a bit concerned when the waiter tried to tell me that was a result of the foam. I was given a new bottle and all was well, even if I did peer into the glass suspiciously after each sip.

We keep saying we should keep track of all the beer and wines we've drunk because we like to try new kinds, but when it comes to ordering, I can never remember which we've tried/liked/spit back out. Even on simple domestic beers.

"Did I like Beck's Light?" "I don't think you've had it." "Have you?" "I don't remember." "Well crap ... May I have a Beck's Light please? ... Ehhh. It's o-kay, I guess."

There's a few standbys I remember, of course: Magic Hat 9? Goooood. That blueberry ale at Pig's? Goood. But in general I don't seem to have the noggin for these things.