Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Working on Life Support

 There's a certain irony in the fact that one of my past clients included
a job-seeker website. Also ironic that it too go cut from our company...

A couple years ago, I read Joshua Ferris' acclaimed novel Then We Came to the End which tells the story of a slowly dying advertising agency. Through lost clients, layoffs and personal tragedy the agency disintegrates character by character until there is no one left.

That book keeps popping into my head lately as I watch my coworkers deal with our impending department death.

We're lame ducks to some degree right now, putting finishing touches on projects we started Before The News. Handling the few assignments our clients beg us to jump on because they don't want to send them to the mothership in Sunnyvale. Mostly, though, we all come in and work on our resumes and portfolios and LinkedIn pages. It's rather nice that we're earning paychecks while we gear up for unemployed life.

It has been an interesting character study to observe the different attitudes of the people around me.

There are the angries. The people who say, "I'm checked out," and no longer want to invest in providing the service we once offered. There are the panic mode-ers who want a job immediately because the instability and wondering is just too much. There are the nostalgics who are most upset because this was a job they loved and they don't want to think about leaving.

And then there is me.

I am caught in the middle of a muddle of emotions.

I'm endlessly excited about having time off to work on my outside writing projects. Although my rational self doesn't feel scared about getting future jobs and income, there's a ratty little voice that has popped up a few times and said, "What IF you can't ever find a good job again?" Then there's the prickly little sadness that crept in over the weekend when I realized I won't get to be around the inside jokes and quirky personalities I've enjoyed so much these last 6 1/2 years. I suppose I'm feeling bittersweet.

I don't know how many more days we'll be in the office—if we'll actually continue coming in until our exit day, November 1st. I wonder if we'll just slip away unnoticed or if our client coworkers will feel our absence and rant about us being gone.

I wonder what my new normal will look like. Whether I'll segment my day into crafting, writing, cleaning and networking spells. Or if I'll talk Mr. Wonderful's ear off when he returns from his 12-hour days because I haven't had enough human interaction. Maybe I'll need to have skype lunch dates with people where I save money by eating leftovers from my kitchen, but still get to chat with a live person in the process.

I'm hopeful that the "great" will outweigh the "unknown." I'm hopeful that I will get paid to write in a new capacity that fulfills me more than ever. I'm hopeful that this job was not the pinnacle. And that I will continue feeling that this has all happened for an important reason. I am hopeful. I am hopeful. I am hopeful.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Night Terrors

One of the realities of living in Hollywood (especially when you're up the hill from the 101 freeway) is that you will routinely be woken up by the sound of helicopters. Or as some refer to them, "ghetto birds." They hover over your house, breaking the silence of your slumber with their rhythmic whirs. And they don't go away for what feels like an eternity.

Earlier this week, I was peacefully sawing z's when that familiar rhythm interrupted my sleep. Not one but two—maybe even three helicopters were overhead. I started to wonder if maybe there was a bad guy on the loose. And then I heard something loud coming from the very near vicinity of our house.

It sounded like metal banging. It sounded like someone was breaking into our sliding glass door. In fact, I was positive that's what was happening. The choppers were after an escaped con and he was now trying to take cover in our dining room.

I reached over and grabbed Mr. Wonderful with both hands, "There's a loud noise!" I whisper-shrieked.

He flew out of bed and immediately went for the bedroom door.

"Don't go OUT THERE!" I panicked.

But he didn't listen.

I prepared myself for the sight of him being hit with the butt of a pistol.

He took a step out the door, paused to listen, then turned back.

"It's the trash truck."


He has since instituted a new rule in our marriage. I am never allowed to put two hands on him to wake him up from a dead sleep. Giving him a heart attack over the morning trash pickup was apparently not an okay thing to do...

Thursday, September 22, 2011

A Taste of Parental Pride

My niece and I dorking out with glow-in-the-dark headbands
and our best model faces on 4th of July 2008.

In June of 2012, my oldest niece is graduating from high school. She hasn't decided exactly where she wants to go to college (has it narrowed to a mere 15 universities), so in November, I'm traveling with her and my sister to check out some schools on the east coast.

The thought of her being so far away makes me feel anxious. I'm pretty used to having her around—I was even in the delivery room when she was born.

My sister and her husband didn't find out the sex of the baby, and when we saw she was a girl, we all cheered. I'll never forget watching her tiny arms waving around like a mad woman as the doctor and my sister pulled her out. It was one of the most amazing things I will ever witness in my life. I'm sure of it.

I guess because I was right there when she came into the world, I've sort of always felt like she was mine. I had no problem disciplining her when she was a surly toddler. I never hold back the million questions about what's going on in her life. I chuckle every time she's sarcastic because it reminds me of myself. 

But a couple weeks ago, I had what felt like the closest thing to a parental pride moment I think I've ever experienced with her.

Throughout high school, she has emailed me her English papers to proofread and help refine. Now, I should mention that the girl is a straight-A student, so she doesn't really need my help. But she sends them nonetheless and I enjoy reading them. Given this routine we've developed, it wasn't a surprise when she sent me a draft of one of her college essays to review.

She wrote about an experience she had while volunteering with her church in the Dominican Republic. Her writing was impeccable. Her story, so moving it nearly brought me to tears at my desk.

I have never been so proud of her.

Not just because she is aces when it comes to writing. I'm proud of the person she has become.

That must be the most amazing feeling for a parent to have. To look at your child and think, "Wow, you are really incredible. The world is lucky to have you in it."

I know she is going to go on to do great things. And I can only imagine how exciting it will be to watch her grow and succeed. How lucky I am to have a seat in the spectator box right next to her real mom and dad.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

An Argument in Favor of Granny Panties

No those are not my legs or my underwear. I was just looking for a little visual support. But thanks for thinking my stomach is that flat.

After having my suitcase stolen on the honeymoon, I had to go on a bit of a shopping spree to replace everything I'd lost. This included about a dozen pairs of underwear. Of course I stocked up on some cute ones before the trip, so I was happy to discover many of the same styles and patterns still available at Macy's. 

In attempt to replace a comfy, silky boy-short-esque style I was missing, I accidentally bought some big lady briefs. They don't come all the way to my belly button, but they're definitely far more substantial than other pairs I own. 

Mr. Wonderful is not a fan.

When he came home from being in London for 8 1/2 weeks (or was it years...?) Friday, he was none too pleased to give me a little up-the-sundress-bottom-pat and discover I was wearing my big mama underpants. 

"Just because we're married doesn't mean you can start wearing underwear like that now," he scolded me. 

I told him they were comfortable and a good idea to wear under short sundresses. 

About an hour later, we were heading out for a romantic welcome-home dinner. 

I noticed that our green trash bin was still in the street, so I rolled it up the driveway and maneuvered it onto the ledge where we store it. (See below)

As I was hopping back down off the wall, something bad happened. I'm not exactly sure what even transpired, but my foot didn't quite work and my ankle twisted and the next thing I knew, I was lying in the driveway in my sundress with my feet pointing up the slope.

I didn't want to move at first because I wasn't sure if I had hurt anything—Mr. W and I are running our first half marathon together in late October and I can't afford to have any broken appendages. So I sort of sat there inspecting my bleeding foot and tweaked ankle until Mr. W dashed to my aid.

At the same time, I heard the male next-door neighbor shout, "Are you okay?!"

Enter: Humor, my best defense in embarrassing situations—"Oh yes, I'm fine! Mr. W's only been home an hour and already he's sweeping me off my feet!"

As I sat with ballet flats pointed skyward and my sundress hiked to my thighs, I looked at Mr. W and said, "Good thing I'm wearing my granny panties. He could've had quite the show otherwise."

Mr. W nodded... And I rest my case.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Eye Candy on an Overcast Friday

 A cliffside view from Ravello, Italy

When Mr. Wonderful and I were on our honeymoon in Italy a few months ago, I realized something about travel that I'd never thought of before. One of the reasons I love vacationing so much is the continuous visual stimulation. Everywhere you look, there is something new to see. 

Walking around a city like Rome or Capri or Paris or Memphis, you're going to encounter things of beauty everywhere you look. 

I don't think I ever realized what a glutton I am for beauty. Seeing lovely things both calms and excites me. 

Which is why I'm now addicted to Pinterest

I resisted the urge to sign up for it for several months. And then one day a friend sent a recommendation email and I caved. If you're not familiar with the site, go check it out. It's a girls' eye candy dream come true. Gorgeous house interiors, cute outfit ideas, hairstyles, DIY projects, funny quotes, recipes—anything cool that's on the Internet seems to be getting pinned. I have now lost hours scrolling through the images on that site. It's a fantastic escape.

Almost as good as traveling.

While I'm talking eye candy, I'll leave you with this little snapshot from my Etsy store. Ooooh pretty colors, right? Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Knife-Wielding and Wenises Just Don't Mix

My mom has this habit of getting off the phone with me and then calling five minutes later to tell me some random story she forgot to mention on the first call. It wasn't a surprise when my phone rang moments after I said goodbye to her Saturday evening.

"Yes?" I said.

"I forgot to tell you a weird story." Of course.

She went on to talk about how she'd been in the backyard a few days prior and heard a strange sound coming from the neighbor's yard. Naturally, she decided so spy through the fence boards.

What she saw was the neighbor's 20-something son throwing knives at a tree trunk. Stark ass naked (I believe those were her exact words.)

Now my first instinct was to ask her why the hell she was calling specifically to tell me this. Did she want me to go ask him not to do that again? Did she want me to call the police?

No. She just thought it was weird and wanted to pass it on.

We should get her a blog...

Anyway, as I thought about it later, I started to get kind of freaked out. I mean, one of those things independent of the other would be strange enough. Unless he was throwing knives in an Eagle Scout uniform, I think I'd be freaked out. And if he were doing yoga or gardening naked, I would just think he was communing with nature. But to be out there engrossed in a sort of violent activity while not clothed? That's a recipe for an amputated wiener. I can only come up with a few possible reasons for that kind of behavior.

1. He's a serial killer. Normal people don't do that sh*t. People who deep fry their own hamsters and collect human hair do stuff like throw knives naked.

2. He's batsh*t crazy. Total nutjob who needs to squeeze his nude little buns into a straight jacket.

3. He's a carnie. Every now and then when I was living in my old apartment, I'd see flame-throwers practicing their juggling in a nearby office parking lot. There may be a contingent of circus people in my old area that I never new about. Maybe the parents' neighbor is Nelbert the Naked Knife Thrower or something.

My mother didn't seem concerned that he was going to come across the property line and turn her skin into a dress for himself. She thinks he may in fact be some sort of circus person.

I told her next time he's out there bare-ass, she should strip down and wave over the fence, yelling "You into the nudist colony thing too?"

I guarantee that would scare him right back into his clothing.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

The Rough Side of the Rockstar Lifestyle

Last night, I went for a run around Lake Hollywood (yes, there's a lake there - I didn't know this until about 5 years ago) and was wholly transported to a little alpine village somewhere with pine trees and deer (and sadly an audible coyote attack somewhere). It certainly didn't feel like I was minutes from the big white sign on the hill and the chaos of the city below.

This morning, however, I absolutely felt like I was in Hollywood.

I was rounding one of the sharper turns on the way down my street to Franklin when I came upon a car stopped in the middle of the road. A man in a van was coming toward us and I watched him slow and leer out his window. Irritated, as I usually am during my morning commute, I said something like, "Come on people what the hell is going on here?!"

Then I passed the stopped car on the left and noticed its driver.

Her eyes were closed and her forehead was pressed against the driver's side window.

I didn't even think twice (or think about going to knock on the window to see if she was ok) I grabbed my cell phone and dialed 911.

I've never had to call 911 before and was kind of freaked out about actually doing it, but it seemed clear to me that the situation warranted it.

As I gave my location to the dispatcher and tried to explain what I had seen, I parked the car and began running up the hill toward the girl. By that time a few other people had gathered and two guys were banging on her window. No response.

It felt like forever that I was on that phone. The man on the other end of the line was so calm. He asked me to approach her and check to see if she was breathing. I saw her chest fall and rise and felt relieved. None of us spectators wanted to open her car door to take her pulse for fear that she'd come toppling out.

But then the dispatcher told me that we should try to get her out and onto the ground. My new friends Travis and Krishna who had been driving by, maneuvered the door open and laid her seat back, carefully holding her head straight so her airway didn't get restricted. They were just about to move her onto the pavement when we heard the screech of the ambulance.

The girl flopped like a rag doll as the paramedics extricated her. I never once saw her stir or open her eyes. One of the firefighters jumped in her car and moved it over to the curb.

"Is she going to be okay?" Travis asked.

"She'll be fine," one of the firemen told us. "It looks like she just had a little too much to drink and smoke last night."

Travis, Krishna and I shook hands and headed back to our cars. I felt like I needed a second application of deodorant.

Just another morning in Hollywood, I guess.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Perspectives on Perfection

In the past few weeks, I've found myself engaged in several different conversations with friends who have confessed to feeling disappointed and pressured because they're "not where they're supposed to be" in life. They're not content with where they are because they're of a certain age and 12 of their friends are ten steps ahead of them and they feel so behind.

I blame Facebook.

Seriously, that site has an amazing ability to let people create perfect pictures of their lives. Upload the right photos of your new house and 2.5 kids, exchange a few cute messages with your significant other and BAM your life is impeccable in the eyes of others.

It's like this one site is perpetuating a society of people who feel bad about themselves because they don't have as much money/stuff/free time/family pictures as friend #264? And if it's getting to our generation, what the heck must it be doing to our teenagers?

Okay, maybe the keeping up with the Joneses phenomenon isn't all Facebook's fault.

It's Twitter's, too.

Just kidding.

I think most of us just have a tendency to fall into "what I'm lacking" trap instead of focusing on what we have. Some of us don't have big savings accounts. Some of us don't have jobs. Some of us are going through rough patches in relationships.

But maybe our lack of income is making us craftier and more resourceful. Maybe being out of work is giving us more time to spend with our families. Maybe the ups and downs of our relationships will ultimately strengthen them.

There is always good. You just have to look under the rug for it sometimes.

And I guarantee that the people on Facebook/the blog circuit/Twitter/your favorite coffee shop do not have perfect lives. Everyone has stuff. Everyone has flaws and anxieties and turmoil. Maybe the people who seem so pristine are just better at playing up the positives. Maybe the positives they see in their lives breed more positives. An upward spiral of sorts.

We'll never know 100% what goes on behind other people's doors. The best we can do is try to cherish what's behind our own. Or at least just close the Facebook window when it's blowing in a fowl breeze.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

A Welcome Storm

I walked outside tonight to pick some basil for the bruschetta I was making with dinner, and as I snapped leaves from their stalks, raindrops began plopping down around me.

It's not common to get summer storms in Southern California. So I decided to sit. Right there on the step where our basil pot rests.

I thought of Guy Montag and how pivotal the rainfall in Fahrenheit 451 was for him. He was the first person I knew of who had been cleansed by rain. That was the first book that really taught me about the symbolism of water in literature.

So I sat in my backyard, letting the spotty drops fall on me, washing away the invisible silt that's been coating me for 6 years.

I glanced up at my roofline and that's when I saw the rainbow above. Right over my house. And suddenly I was completely at peace. I knew without a doubt that all would be okay. All was right in the world. I felt so grateful to witness it. Those are the moments in life when you feel most alive, aren't they?

When Mr. Wonderful and I took our first trip together early in our relationship, we saw a full arc rainbow on our drive home from San Francisco. I remember thinking it was a sign. I still believe it was.

And I think maybe the one I saw today was, too. Good things ahead.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

There's No Crying on the Doorstep of Possibility

The outpouring of sympathy and well wishes over my layoff have been quite astounding to me. I have to credit social media for a large chunk of that. After one post on Facebook, people I hadn't talked to in years were contacting me with optimistic notes and potential job leads.

As appreciative as I am for all the nice attention, I feel pretty strongly that I don't need sympathy. I wrote a post about this once before—about how everywhere we land in life is a direct result of the choices we make. I could've chosen to look for a new job months ago when I saw things starting to slip out of whack at work. But I chose to stay. I took the risk, I'll pay the price. It was my choice.

I have a hard time with people who play the victim because I believe that many rough situations are simply our opportunities to create change. Every day is a chance to take a different path. Turn things on their ears.

When my team got the news that our department was being shut down and our work being moved to the Sunnyvale office, I felt a mix of shock and sadness, but also a huge flood of excitement.

What did it all mean? Where would I go next? Was it a sign that I was supposed to move on to something new?

Yes. Of course it was a sign. The old Yahoo! door was swinging shut and 50 new ones were flying open in front of me. I would have time to write. I could get caught up on projects at home. I'd be able to take a little breather from a workload that's been wearing on me since January. I could possibly travel with Mr. Wonderful on his next movie.

The possibilities of what I could do with this layoff—this gift—and where I could go as a result of it were overwhelming.

Of course, when I got up and went to work the next day (we're on the books until Oct. 25th) I felt pretty blue.

But every time I stop and think about what this change could mean, I feel energized.

I may be the victim of a corporate amputation, but I am not a victim. I wish more people I knew would stop feeling sorry for themselves and start exploring the possibilities around them.

Sorry, I think I get saucy when I'm not under a day job's thumb...