Wednesday, January 29, 2003

End of an Era

R.I.P., tenpoundhound.

I've been a faithful reader of Moglia's blog since the night I met him--when his pancakes didn't come, his beer wouldn't settle, and pretty much the entire night was a big huge piss-in-Moglia's-Cheerios-fest. I laughed so hard that night my face hurt, and his site's been one of my favorites ever since.

I and the rest of the blogging world'll miss you, Moglia.

Damn google, anyhow.

Monday, January 27, 2003


New definition of fun: Working your first 10-hour day following a night in which you got about 3 hours sleep!

Even funner: Knowing you have your first all-important Master's Project class AFTER work so you can't go home and go to sleep.

Even funner than that: The sad realization that you're going to miss Joe Millionaire one way or the other.

Thursday, January 23, 2003


Menfolk take heed: this guy knows what women are all about. Take his words as your bible to understanding women from now on!

Thanks to Stumpy-P for the link!

Wednesday, January 22, 2003


So, with the advent of the last semester of my so-called graduate education fast approaching, I thought it'd be a good idea to try and touch base with the peeps I hoped to do my master's project (known in health comm-speak as the "ALE", or "applied learning experience"--gak!) with. Namely, the community relations department of the company I currently bang on the keyboard for. I've been playing phone and email tag with the director for a few weeks now, and she's had to cancel more than one appointment to discuss ideas with me.

She finally got back to me, and asked if I could attend a "Legislative Breakfast" this morning, in which I could learn more about the project I specifically want to work on. Well, great; I thought. A gathering of the legislative division of the project, or the coalition, or something like that. Sounds great! I'm in!

Yesterday she called to give me some last-minute details. Where it was to be held, for instance. I waited, pen in hand, for her to tell me which conference room of our downtown office to report to.

Except that's not what she said. Instead, she told me which hall of the State House to go to. "Nurse's Hall; on the right past the rotunda if you enter through the Beacon Street entrance. It's a chance for us to educate state legislators as well as senators about how obesity and health affect state spending."

Oh. THAT kind of Legislative Breakfast. Oh. Wow.

So, needless to say, I was pretty much wetting my pants over the whole situation. But I figured it'd be Ok--I'd just be a chick in a black suit to everyone there. They wouldn't know that I was just masquerading as a "real person".

It was great. GREAT. We're getting media coverage because WBZ (channel 4) is a sponsor (although it'll be as warped as it usually is--media coverage is media coverage!), and we have some new TV spots coming out next week! So I smiled and shook hands with the important people, was chatted up by TV anchors (hell, they didn't know I wasn't one of the IMPORTANT chicks in the black suit!), and was never, not once, made to feel small or like someone's lackey. I was introduced proudly as "Amanda, from community relations" and passed off like some sort of expert-type person, rather than someone who stuffs and unstuffs envelopes for a living. I was treated like I belonged.

And through the whole experience, I suddenly began to realize that I do. I knew what everyone who spoke was talking about. I was familiar with community programs they referred to, with statistics they mentioned. I talked with a Nutritionist about how crazy diets like Atkins and the Zone are giving people a false sense of health and putting them in a higher risk bracket for cardiovascular disease; with a Harvard professor about the ways in which epidemiological evidence in studies is twisted and warped for commercial purposes; with a fellow corporate junkie about how cause marketing has made companies like Avon synonymous with causes like curing breast cancer, with a Pediatrician about Krispy Kreme v/s Dunkin Donuts. I didn't shuffle, or look at my feet, or feel awkward. And it slowly began to dawn on me that this, this was what I went to grad school for. To learn the poise to work a room, to learn the science behind making people change their behavior, to learn enough about the subtopics of my field that I could dabble in conversations with experts and not get in over my head. And yeah, sometimes I was just treading water, but sometimes I was swimming.

And to top it all off, I ran into a woman I did my huge project of last semester for (yay! I have "contacts"!), and she reiterated to me how completely "blown away" she and her cronies were by our final results--the proposals and planbook. She said she had passed it on to her boss and to her bosses' boss, and that they all were "amazed". She said: "Yeah, the head of the department took a look at it and said 'this is incredible. I can't believe grad students did this!'." She said if I needed anything, anything at all, to get in touch with her.

So, it's starting. I can kind of maybe almost see myself as an intelligent, worthy, semi-professional-type person who has the ability to hobnob with the rich and powerful.

Or, y'know; maybe it was just the suit.

Tuesday, January 21, 2003

S'Been Awhile....

I know, I know. I'm a terrible person! I'm just busy. Or preoccupied. Or mired in seasonal affective disorder. Or something. But, to tide you over, here's a quick report:

Good Things:

1. Catch Me if You Can
2. Bowling for Columbine (WICKED good flick!)
3. The Indian buffet place near Sean's work.
4. Down-filled coats (even if they make you look silly, they are WARM!)
5. Paid volunteer days for work that require 3.5 hours of coloring with kids.
6. Chicken and gruyere quiche.
7. Bookstores.
8. Victoria's Secret half off clearance price sales.
9. Having stuff at Sean's so I don't have to pack lotion, shampoo, etc.

Bad Things:

1. Gangs of New York
2. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches packed for work (ewww! Gooey!).
3. Toy beanie snakes (Explanation to follow...)
4. Fried clam bellies.
5. Fucking ass cold days.
6. New cell phones that don't ring.
7. Confusion, heartache, weirdness, and a thousand other sucky emotions.
8. Parents who won't go to your little brother's boot camp graduation.
9. $135 eye exams.

Thursday, January 16, 2003

National Pride

This has never been a linky sort of blog, but check this out!

Or this!


Saturday, January 11, 2003

Sensitivity....or Something Like It

When I was a kid, my parents used to yell at me about it. "Why are you so goddamn sensitive?" they'd demand. I still remember the way my dad would sneer and snarl the words at me, like sensitivity was something profoundly icky to be deplored. "You're too goddamned soft-hearted!" was another common complaint. I didn't really have an answer for why I was that way, just that I was. I didn't want him to kill the spider, no matter how afraid of it I was. I didn't like it when they yelled at me, even if I deserved it. Eventually I learned that when I cried, they would just become more angry. So, I would stand, stone-faced and stoic, and take whatever it was that they dished out at me. Crying was something you did later on, alone in the woods behind Grandma and Pop's, or maybe in your room if you could muffle the sobs enough to guarantee that they wouldn't hear. I was not oversensitive. I was strong and good.

One of my first serious relationships was with someone cruel and angry. His biggest explanation for being that way was that I was so horrid, so intrinsically mean and awful; that he just couldn't help himself. I was a fucking nasty bitch, so why shouldn't he be that way? Maybe if I wasn't such a fucking nasty bitch he would be nicer. Maybe if I was thinner, prettier, smarter....but I wasn't enough of any of those things, so he had a right to treat me however he chose. Sometimes I lived up to his assessment and was cruel, angry, mean. A fucking nasty bitch. Other times I was small and crumpled and unable to muster the energy to be anything other than quietly "nice".

When I was in college, I remember jokingly telling a friend that I would rip someone a new one if they did a certain thing. She didn't even try to suppress her guffaws. "Can you imagine Amanda being mean to someone?!?", she laughed to another friend who was present. "She's the nicest person I know! Amanda, you couldn't be mean to someone if your life depended on it!"

I was a bit taken aback. I wasn't a nasty fucking bitch? Or a fucking nasty bitch? I was (gasp!) "nice"??? I wondered what she saw, if I somehow had her fooled.

A guy I dated around the same time put me on a strange pedestal of "niceness". It fucked with the relationship. "You have such a big heart," I remember him complaining, "it's almost too big for your body. You love everyone, everything. You drain yourself bleeding for everyone else! I could never be like will always be a better person than me. And I don't know if I can deal with it."

Well, I didn't expect him to be like me. And I wouldn't have assessed myself that way, that's for damn sure. But it's kind of become a theme in my relationships with other people, whether romantic or platonic in nature. They love me because I'm "sensitive", because I'll almost always put them before myself. Because they can step on me unthinkingly and I'll still love them unwaveringly (well, to a point...), attributing such behavior to a "bad day" or some such nonsense. But then, they also hate me for the same reasons. Because they feel somehow smaller when the same sensitivity makes me see things they've missed, when it makes me cry at something they didn't intend to have such an effect. God, I couldn't even begin to count the number of people who have eventually tossed me aside in part because I unintentionally made them feel like an asshole by tearing up when they said certain things to me, things they would never have deemed "mean". And that I wouldn't necessarily have, either, 5 minutes later. But at the time....knee-jerk reaction takes over. And try as I might, sometimes I can't quite blink back the tears enough to make them unnoticeable.

I despise it in part. Mostly because it means I spend much more time than I would like feeling hurt. I wish I could stand stoicly like I did as a child, letting hurtful things roll off me like water off the proverbial duck's back. But then, take it too far and you become a fucking nasty bitch.

I'm still trying to reconcile the different parts of myself, to put them together puzzle-fashion in a manner that is pleasing to both myself and other people. But I always kind of sucked at jigsaw puzzles. So I'm still kind of strewn about haphazardly on the dining-room table.

Friday, January 10, 2003

The World According to Grandma

My Grandmother is 92 years old. She's a complete invalid, and her world barely extends past the recliner that's her own kind of prison bed. She hasn't really been "all there" in some time, but now that she's on the good antidepressants, she's pretty happy. Much better than when she was belligerantly insisting that all my aunts and uncles were plotting to kill her, and that my 96-year-old grandfather was sleeping with the help. Sean met her (well, "them", I guess....) over Christmas, which delighted my grandmother. "Sean?" she said, "Oh, you must be Irish!" (Except with her southern accent, it came out "Our-ish") "You are tall!" she finished emphatically. Well hell, he is.

The highlight of the brief visit was when she asked him (in a whisper at the top of her lungs) if this was a "serious friendship". Sean's affirmation that it was, indeed, a "serious friendship" (whatever that may mean), delighted her even more. "Oh, I like that!" she said with a weak happy smile.

Talking to my mom on the phone last night, I was informed that the incident had grown and grown in her mind, gathering speed as if it were rushing downhill. First, Grandma had been telling visitors just that I and my boyfriend had come for a visit, that he had been sitting next to her and holding her hand, and that she had asked him about his intentions. (Well, that's kind of true, more or less...) Next, it had become that the two of them were dancing, and she had asked him about his intentions. (She hasn't left that chair without someone lifting her in a couple years.) Then, the line between me and my mother became blurred, until it was my mom's boyfriend (it's not entirely clear if my mom is me or her at this point). The boyfriend then became a "New York lawyer" who wanted to marry me; but I was refusing because New York was too far from home and I'd be "homesick" (I'm not sure if she was referring to Maryland or Boston...Maryland I'd assume....). When he became a New York lawyer, he later seemed to have revealed to her that he was simply desperate to marry me, but I wouldn't because I'd miss home too much; even though he said that there was a bus right outside his apartment that would take me home! (I'm not sure about the magical bus that departs NYC and arrives in Smalltown, MD...)

It makes her happy, I suppose. She's rumored to have told people that I have 2 PhD's and am working on a third, as well. (If only that were all it took to make it so...) And if it brings some amount of happiness into her otherwise uneventful life, it's fine with me.

I love my grandmother. I'll miss her terribly when she's gone. But in a way, I suppose she already is.
Engineer Baby-sitter

It would be silly to pretend I have some great job. I don't. I work for a company that gives me kick-ass benefits, the like of which I've really only seen enviously peering at Sean. But the job? It's your typical clerical hell job. It's not the first one I've had, it's just the first one I can truly say that I'm wicked overqualified for. (As a matter of fact, when my boss submitted my resume to HR while I was still a lowly temp, it came back with a notation saying as much. "Hey, this girl is wicked overqualified. She's going to leave the second she gets a better offer." But hey, that was part of the job offer in the first place, so she cared not.)

Back when I lived in Mary-land, I had a gig as a receptionist for quite awhile. It was for a high-technology government contractor; which pretty much describes the majority of companies in southern Maryland. It's really this very strange little dynamic in the area I'm from--a mishmash of old-school rural farmers and a bunch of techies with shiny new VA Tech degrees. Needless to say, it makes for some interesting times.

The company was a great one to work for--if you weren't overhead. The techies all lived the life of Riley--long sushi lunches, frequent office parties, a huge sense of comraderie, and a giant year-end bonus. I used to want to move up desperately--not to work in HR or accounting like most of my receptionist cronies had moved on to do, but to be in one of the NOT overhead departments--namely, to be some sort of techie.

In the meantime, they took ridiculous advantage of my naivete. At the time I left, I was working as a receptionist, working in procurement, working in HR, and doing a bunch of conference planning. Yeah, they had a 7-buck an hour person entertaining their potential million dollar clients. And I was Great. Mostly because I could bail the techies out of trouble half the time. The copier's out of toner? My PhD education never covered what to do when that happens! My client wants a suggestion for a place to go for a fun time tonight? I'm too socially inept to even know! My PDF's I need for a presentation won't open? HELP!!! I was a certified Engineer Baby-sitter. And I said as much when people asked what I did.

The best phone calls that came in where those that asked what the company "did". How do you explain to people not from the area, or not familiar with the industry? The token answer was "We design software and computer systems to aid in government mission planning. Our largest clients are the U.S. Navy, the Australian Air Force, and Iraq." (Well, we didn't actually say the Iraq part, but it was true....) But what did we actually do? Hell, I didn't know for certain. My security clearance didn't allow me to know that much. I could have told them about our B-2 lab (as in, B-2 Bomber?) that was downstairs and that employees had to go through a 6-12 month security investigation before working in; or about how after a strange plane crash in Italy, 3 of our VP's and higher-up's rushed out to flights that day; or that we all had to go through daylong anti-espionage training. But, I didn't volunteer this information. It was probably more than the salespeople wanted to know.

I finally stopped feeling a desire to climb their techie corporate ladder, or any of their corporate ladders for that matter, one year when I was picking out holiday cards to send to all of our clients. My favorite cards are always those that say "Peace On Earth", so I was looking for a nice one with this message--until I was suddenly struck by the realization that, if there was peace on earth, as defense contractors we'd all be out of a job.

I learned a lot from my 2 years and change there. How to shmooze, what I didn't want to be as a manager, that being cute and liked by management will get you farther than creativity and good ideas, and most importantly--that clerical jobs suck.

And, here I am again. But I'm keeping the ideas to myself, in favor of being sweet to the management. And so far, they've begged me to stay, offered to overpay me, and somehow not noticed how much time I spend not working.

Thursday, January 09, 2003

Overheard in Cubicle Land

My cubi-neighbors are discussing the 15-year-old girl and 16-year-old boy who were caught engaged in oral sex (and do I REALLY need to tell you who was giving head to whom?) on the school bus while onlookers cheered.

"That's just disgusting!"

"What kind of girl would do that?"

"Do you know, they say that teenagers don't even consider oral sex 'sex' anymore?!?"

"Well, that President Clinton certainly didn't!"

"That was disgusting. An intern!"

"I blame the girl. The boy just enjoys it. He can't be blamed."

"I hope they get expelled. They expell kids for smoking!"

"Yes, they should be expelled!"

"When I was in high school, we got in trouble for cursing on the bus!"

My job is an exercise in diplomacy. I keep my mouth shut.

Well, I didn't at the "I blame the boy" part.

But the rest? Mum's the word. It's a bit difficult to educate under-educated suburbanites about the "real world" and how things really are out there. Yeah, it was a pretty moronic thing for them to do. But expulsion? That's kind of throwing out the baby with the bath water, n'cest pas? Kids like that need to be in school, more than anything else. Let's get to the bottom of the real issue--like why they thought the bus was an appropriate place, and with an audience no less.

As for the blow job itself? Hell, I don't care. I'm all about the blow jobs. Just use a condom, for heaven's sakes. And be careful not to bite when the bus lumbers over those potholes.

Wednesday, January 08, 2003

Today Thus Far

I wake up and realize 3 things immediately. (1) It's not time to get up yet (5:37 am, just enough time for me to fall back into a deep enough sleep that the alarm will jar me awake), (2) I'm not at Sean's; and (3) Tivy is punishing me for playing musical apartments with him by refusing to sleep in the crook of my leg, instead he has perched on a stereo speaker. He gives me one of his scornful looks.
I go back to sleep.
After some requisite bonding with the snooze button, I heave myself off the futon that should have been a bed long ago and trudge down the hall to the shower.

I can't find any black tights. How is it that I can own about 17 pairs and have them all simultaneously disappear?

Eventually, I find some and put on the I'm-Too-Lazy-To-REALLY-Get-Dressed-But-I-Don't-Want-To-Wear-Jeans
outfit, my long black skirt and grey/black/white sweater. (It's one of those sweaters you can buy at a Phish concert, which I know because I DID buy it at a Phish concert, but amazingly, I can delude myself into thinking it's work-appropriate...)

I drink some water. I take my vitamins. I give the rest of the water to my sad-looking Bonsai tree, Samuel. He's not lookin' so good. I'm a menace to plants, I tell you.

My roommate's boyfriend stumbles out of her bedroom, pees (well, he enters the bathroom for that), and mutters something that could potentially be interpreted as "Goodbye, Amanda" at me. He does not offer to give me a ride to the T. It is snowing out. This is, I believe, the worst kind of mortal sin.

I walk up and down the 3 million hills that separate my apartment from the nearest T stop. Somehow, I manage to do so in platform Mary Janes WITHOUT falling. Freaking snow.

I catch the T. I catch the shuttle. I make it to Quincy. It's still snowing.

I've brought a turkey and cheese sandwich for lunch, and an unnaturally green muffin (Star Market deemed it "pistachio") for breakfast. I don't particularly want either.

In a bit, I'll throw my coat back on and walk across the street to Dunkin Donuts to procure a ridiculously big coffee to keep me from falling asleep. Then I'll walk back across, flash my ID badge at the guards, and take the elevator back up to the seventh floor.

I think I'm slowly beginning to disappear.

Tuesday, January 07, 2003

New Year's Resolutions

I hate New Year's Resolutions. I don't make them. They're retarded. I mean, what's the point? If you're going to do it, DO it. Don't say you're going to do it because you feel some sort of conformity-driven peer pressure to make up resolutions. It's kind of like when I was in Catholic school, and before penance we'd all stand around making up sins to confess. "Hmmm....I talked back to my mom! That's a good one!" I once even confessed to committing adultery. Hey, it sounded good at the time. The priest was a bit skeptical, though. He asked me if I was sure I'd committed adultery. I was pretty insistent. Hell, I only got 10 Hail Mary's either way.

But, I digress. The point I was originally driving at is that I despise New Year's Resolutions. But, I too am feeling the pressure to conform. But, selfless gal that I am, I don't want to think only of myself when I make my resolutions. Instead, I'm going to make them for OTHER people. Generous me! So, here in no particular order, are some "New Year's Resolutions":

Brandy: Reach for the wiener! Go for the nookie! Hide the cannoli! (Was that too graphic?)

Fady: Stop working 27-hour shifts. Bug Amanda till she visits. Take her sailing.

Sean: Take down the Halloween Party decorations.

George W. Bush: Try to be in a picture in which I do NOT look like a chimpanzee.

The ladies who sit around my cubicle at work: Stop talking behind each other's backs. All. Day. Long.

Moglia: See a movie I do not hate.

Jess: Stop bitching about....well, just stop bitching.

People Who Fart on the T: Stop farting on the T.

Mom: Be less dog-crazy. (This one is not going to happen. The G.W. one is more likely....)

Forrest: Worry less. Play more.

Forrest's 'Boy': Make more hilarious and true observations about Sean that can become catch-phrases.

Lara Flynn Boyle: Eat an entire stalk of celery. No matter how long it takes.

The Powers That Be: Ensure that Amanda gets a wondermous, high-paying job and can afford her impending student loan payments.

Chriz: Finish the novel. Become next George Lucas. (Minus the sucking.)

Evening Shuttle-bus Driver: Drive faster so Amanda will NOT constantly miss the T.

Well, I'm sure there's tons more. But that's a start. :)

Me: I've been at your apartment for, like, weeks. Aren't you getting sick of me?

Sean: Honey, no! You're an ENDLESS source of blog material!

Monday, January 06, 2003

When the Clock Struck "12"...

New Year's Eve, 2001:

(Five...Four...Three...Two...ONE!!!!) ManRay. Fishnets. Laughing at preppies. WAAAAAY too many drinks. Cold. Strangers. Streamers. Contortionists. In bed by 9...AM! Kisses at midnight. Lipstick. Glitz. Hangover central. Waking up late in the p.m.

New Year's Eve, 2002:

(Five...Four...Three...Two...ONE!!!) Mucus. Kleenex. Laughing at my own patheticness. WAAAAAAY too much champagne. A cold. Sean. Candles. (Ahem!) In bed by 9. Out of bed at 11:30. Back in bed at 3:30. Kisses at midnight. Waking up to someone who asks if I need more DayQuil.

Life's good. :)