Wednesday, January 23, 2013

A good friend does not necessarily a good wingman make

Some women get subtle, some do not. It wasn’t until I was edging towards 30 that I realized some things should only be left up to the first of these.

Scenario: Marketing gals. Post-work. Dive bar. Beer. Men in suits. You do the math.

As several of my girlfriends and I were sitting around a high-top table simultaneously debating which purse should get the prime purse hanging property on the single hook below, appropriate forms of organizational change management, the best hair dresser in town and the virtues of garlic fries over cold pizza (yes, we really can have that many conversations at one time), I couldn’t help but notice the group of suits directly in front of me.

Working in the corporate world of L.A., a group of suits is not out of the norm.  But there was an odd thing about this particular group – one was consistently and repetitively looking in our direction. 

When someone is sitting in front of you, one table over, directly in your line of site, it only requires four somewhat awkward and accidental incidents of eye contact in short repetition to realize, he wasn’t looking in our direction, he was looking at me.

I subtly shifted my weight to optimize the maximum get me out of his eye line now situation while my girlfriend looked at me with a knowing nod. While the shift and dodge is used extremely rarely in my reality, my friend recognized the action. Most would subtly raise their eyebrows in a questioning where?  But my friend took the less well-known tact that aligns more closely with the let’s be blatantly obvious descriptor. Don’t get me wrong, I am typically a fan of straightforward communication. This was not one of those moments.

While her girl radar attempted to zone in, her head shot from left to right, back to left and then to the right as I did a slight head nod to help her identify the source of my sly shift and dodge.  I wondered how long it would take for her to actually pull a muscle when I offered up under my breath “scruffy guy, directly across from me.”

Directly across from me was translated 90 degrees to the left as her eyes began to track through all of the non-suit wearing, clean-shaven guys drinking their beer and minding their own business. 

After she stood up to “stretch” I finally shook my head and countered with the strategic point directly at him under the table move. With this gesture she was able to identify the source of my weight redistribution and nodded in acknowledgement.

A few more happy hour beverages in and I may have been inclined to stand up, walk over and address the scruffy faced suit directly to ask if my beer choice was really that intriguing. This was not one of those moments.

But the evening was not without its learnings; while I didn’t end up with a date, I did mused over the revelation – a good friend does not necessarily a good wingman make.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Photocopy - a photographic copy of written or printed material

Nothing about yesterday seemed out of the norm. The alarm went off far to early (7 a.m. is far to early in my mind). I dragged myself out of bed second-guessing how long it really would take me to get ready (my personal best, 17 minutes. 5 minutes to get in the shower, throw on clothes and run out the door and 12 minutes to get to work). I stopped for coffee (because in my not quite awake state, the coffee maker is far to complicated an electronic device) and then spent 4 minutes trying to convince the lobby elevator that it really was occupied and needed to transport me to the sixth floor (convice=jumping up and down, pushing the “close” button incessantly, walking in and out of the elevator, pulling the fire alarm button, staring angrily…this is a daily battle, stupid elevator). I walked out of the demon elevator, sat down at my desk and turned on my computer which, as always, alerted me that I have far to many problems to solve before I have even come close to finishing the elixir of life which warmed my hand (aka caffeine).

The next few hours were just as mundane, filled with never ending meetings, conference calls and email correspondence. Surprisingly, I can be a quite successful run of the mill marketer (you may now gasp). That is, until 3:36 p.m.

At 3:36 p.m. yesterday afternoon, my true self, the one I am fully capable hiding in my professional career, became apparent. It was something so simple, so unexciting which challenged my professional persona. This afternoon, this mundane and typical day, I managed to do something which I never though I would have the capability to do. I got stuck behind the copier, while making copies.

All started out like usual. I was standing in front of the copy machine getting ready to copy my last 3 hours worth of editing. I placed the pile of original documents on top of the copier for safekeeping as I was waiting for the first copy to scan. And then, it happened, the unabating beeping of an electronic device not happy about its current direction. In an effort to stop the never-ending beep beep beep beep I opened the copy machine lid, which just happened to house my prior three hours worth of labor, causing it to slide more quickly than one would think, taking permanent residence in the quarter of an inch between the machine and the wall.

In an effort to liberate 180 minutes worth of billable hours, I wedged myself in the corner that housed the copy machine to extricate the errant paperwork.

Ten minutes later, I was still behind the copier and my new coworkers have concerns about my professionalism.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Plumage: a bird's feathers collectively

I have never had a reason to reflect on the various forms of vigilante justice of the early America’s (other than a brief, four hour Advanced Placement US History exam where the information may have come in handy) but after an incident this afternoon, I have decided that I should avoid being tarred and feathered.

I am fully aware that this is an odd thing to realize but I do believe that this information will come to serve me well. Imagine it, if I stumbled upon a wormhole/time machine/Star Trek episode/insert your chosen method of time travel here, and end up in the British Colonies chased by vigilantes (did I not mention that you should have suspended reality about 30 seconds ago?) I now know that tarring and feathering is really not in the cards for me.

To truly understand my study into the method, you have to understand my discriminating taste for the place of which I lay my head every single night – my pillow.

Now, I am of the belief that if my head is going to rest on an object for approximately 2,549.75 hours a year, it better be somewhere comfy. Pillows are a very serious matter for me. I have been known to visit high-end retail stores, box stores, discount outlets and even my parent’s guest room in the search for the perfect pillow. I punch them, I throw them in the air and I lay on the floor to test the optimal squishability of each option. Purchasing a pillow takes days, sometimes weeks and once I find that perfect pillow, I don’t go anywhere without it.

Unfortunately this practice is predisposed to a high volume of orphaned perfect pillows. Airports, hotel rooms, friend’s apartments - no matter how hard I try, my pillows seem to lose me.

I found myself in this all-to-familiar situation recently having absented my pillow at an airport hotel in San Francisco. I went through my well-honed, established pillow testing process to no avail and after a week of no pillow, I broke down and purchased a pillow that I could only qualify as merely satisfactory.

After three days of sleeping on my merely satisfactory pillow I knew something had to be done. This pillow was just not cutting it. Drastic measures were necessary to rectify the situation. It was time to perform surgery.

With my needle and thread at the ready I slowly sliced into the side of my merely satisfactory pillow. One snip. Two snips. I was almost there. Just a couple of inches more and I could remove the delinquent feathers to make my merely satisfactory pillow the perfect pillow.

But my plan was flawed and feathers began to make a break for it, not nicely – one at a time, but at a rate that no human being would have the ability to catch. Feathers everywhere.

Now my simply satisfactory pillow was not a pillow at all, but a sad shell of the potential that it once was. I began to slowly, one handful at a time, replace the offending feathers only to cause an even larger dispersal of plumage.

I am no way OCD, but itty bitty little feathers poking out of carpet in centimeter intervals will drive the most level-headed person insane and caused me to spend the remainder of my afternoon removing the irritant feathers. It was during this seemingly never-ending hunt that I had a moment of clarity and realized - I cannot be tarred and feathered, it would simply drive me nuts.

On a positive note, I now have the perfect pillow.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Reality: real life, actuality; truth; physical existence

I am starting to think that I am living a real life version of the Truman Show where everyone around me is involved in some master plot to put me in precarious and irresolvable situations for the entertainment of the rest of humanity.

Now don’t get me wrong, I am not self centered enough to truly think the world revolves around me, but I am cognoscente enough of my daily reality to know that this kind of stuff does not happen to real people.

Case Study #1

Friday Afternoon, approximately 12:37pm.

210 Freeway East On-ramp

It had been a long, exhausting week. I had spent its entirety using every ounce of available brainpower to fix problems not of my own making and was leaving the office exactly one hour and seven minutes later than I promised myself I would.

As I pulled on to the freeway, I let out a sigh of relief thinking, “my week is over. All I have to do is fold a mountain of laundry.” But no, someone else, someone sitting up in a control booth in the sky thought, “laundry will not bring in ratings! My advertisers will not pay top dollar to watch this. How about a little fire instead.”

And fire is what I got. Literally.

As I pulled on to the freeway in my ignorant laundry folding bliss, I noticed a flatbed truck quickly making its way into my lane (this is a nice way of saying he cut me off). Now, under normal circumstances, I would have laid on my horn and let him know my distaste for his driving techniques, but the fingers of flames expediently crawling from beneath the vehicle atop his flatbed caused me to rethink that decision.

Within three seconds the truck had maneuvered its way to the side of the freeway and the flames had maneuvered their way to encompass the entirety of the vehicle atop the truck, with my cute little death trap, ahem car (full of gas, might I add) less than what your driver’s ed. instructor would consider a safe distance between two vehicles.

Oh but wait, “man in the sky” (played by Ed Harris) is greedy and thinks he can go for the Super Bowl style advertising placement on this one - what if the cab exploded into flames and the truck driver narrowly escapes said flames by jumping right in front of the heroine’s death trap. Oh, it’s an Emmy in the making.

I swerved and pulled over.

“911, what is your emergency?”


“I am sorry ma’am, let me transfer you to the CHP”

“Hello, CHP what is your emergency?”


“I am sorry ma’am, let me transfer you the fire department,”

“Fire Department, what is your emergency?”


“We already know about this (insert dial tone here).”

Finally, flashing lights. But it’s just the paramedics, but not all the paramedics, just one, who doesn’t really do anything but sit and watch the truck continue to burst into flames.

Now, man in the sky decides “oh, let’s make this a bit more fun” and an ambulance full of three attractive paramedics, all in full firefighter uniform, visit the scene and decide that my current location on the side of the freeway is not safe (because really, sitting directly behind an ambulance is not the safest place on earth to be) and I am relocated to the front seat of the ambulance (for future reference ambulance guys, me+knobs+buttons+ambulance=accident waiting to happen).

It wasn’t long before ambulance guy number one decided placing me with all the knobs and buttons might not have been the best idea ever and sent me on my merry way.

Friday Afternoon, approximately 1:37pm.

Kitchen, Dining Room Table

Here I am folding my laundry and thinking “hey man in the sky…I want my cut.”

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Plan: a detailed proposal for doing or achieving something

One would think that with 26 years of real-life experience I would have the ability to plan a catastrophic-event-free vacation. My parents trained me well, giving a diverse range of painstakingly planned experiences to prepare me for any situation.

Left in a deserted castle in the hillsides of Bavaria at the age of two? Check.

Stuck in a death-defying riptide in Mexico? Check.

No usable Italian while barefoot wearing pajamas at midnight in Rome? Check.

Finding yourself passportless in Spain? Check.

I’ve met witch doctors in the Bahamas and watched toilets explode in the British Virgin Islands; but nothing could prepare me for the mighty, ever daunting, girls road trip.

In theory this girls road trip should not require more than two minutes of planning – throw some clothes in a suitcase, a cooler in the backseat, some bikes on the back and hit the road by 9. Right?

Evidently not.

Hear-in lies the first mistake: the bike rack on the back of your mother’s car that disguises itself as user friendly is in fact not.

Beach cruiser one on? Yes. Tie it down and move to beach cruise two.

Wait, beach cruise two will not fit on bike rack. How is that possible? What if we put it on first?

Untie beach cruiser one and replace with beach cruiser two. Unfortunately beach cruiser two only confirms to the bike racks static design constraints while placed at a vertical angle. Oh well.

Load beach cruiser one again. If only beach cruiser two weren’t encroaching on all usable space.

Remove beach cruiser two and replace with beach cruise one.

An hour later all appropriate angles were ascertained and girls road trip is ready to depart.


Highway 1. You have been warned. We're on vacation.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Proclivity: an inclination or predisposition toward a particular thing

I’ve learned that as human beings we all have a proclivity for something. Some excel in the arts, others languages and some have a mastery over the written word. While multiple individuals can be inclined to a similar proclivity its ultimate manifestation is truly unique to each individual.

Some are lucky enough to find their proclivity early in life; others spend years seeking their true inclination. This journey can be both frustrating and exhilarating giving each individual a unique understanding of self.

While I applaud others in their search, I must say, I was fortunate to stumble upon my proclivity early in life. I did not seek it. I was one of the lucky ones whose proclivity found me.

This proclivity is one that I cannot shy away from; it is something that has become a part of who I am. No matter what I do, where I go and or how I try to change it, my proclivity is a part of me.

What is my predisposition? What was I lucky enough to find so early in life that eludes so many? What, you ask, is my proclivity?

I run into stuff. Constantly.

I will not soon forget the great wedding crashing debacle of 2002 (nor will those of the wedding party). I am waiting in fear that I might never recover fully from the filing cabinet incident of only mere weeks ago. And my screen door will forever have the imprint of my profile floating 5 feet above the floor.

I hope to one day fully understand the reason for my gift, my proclivity. But until that day I would ask only one thing. Be careful my friends, when walking around corners. My proclivity and me might just be on the other side.

Because Scott Said So

Let's face it. I love to write. And someone once said, "a writer writes." So here I am writing. Although I don't think I can be called a writer yet.

My friend Scott gave an awe inspiring speech a few weeks ago about harnessing creativity into something productive 365 days of the year (see his amazing productivity here). And Lis (the creative genius that she is) constantly proves that creating beautiful art isn't really that difficult (although I would beg to differ, I almost failed art class). I finally broke the cycle of procrastination and started writing again (I still hold that the two of them forced me into this).

365 musings in 365 days. Overwhelming? Yes. Impossible? Yes. I'd be happy with 52 posts in 52 weeks.

Just keep coming back, I'll do what I can to entertain.

Welcome to Life on the Side. Would you like Fries with that?