Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Perhaps a blindfolded wedding?

I told my sister last night that I was considering having one of my friends officiate our wedding. This isn't something I've thought a lot about, but it does sound nice to have someone you know really well presiding over the ceremony. This would, however, involve someone getting ordained--probably online, which seems slightly ridiculous.
My sister volunteered immediately.
"Not you!" I said. She and I don't have good a track record in terms of wedding behavior. We giggled through the entire mass at a cousin's wedding; family members three rows up were turning around to see what was going on. And really, it was nothing. We somehow decided it was funny any time the groom's name was mentioned. And when the priest had the couple turn around to face us, declaring that we had before us "a miracle and a mystery", I totally lost control. "Which one is which?" I asked my sister and we nearly peed in our party dresses. I realize this isn't funny to anyone else, but it should demonstrate why she and I are not allowed to sit next to each other at important gatherings anymore, let alone officiate each other's weddings. She would probably start the ceremony by saying "Mah-widge is wot bwings us togethah today" and it would be over.
I reminded her of all of this. Her response?
"Well, you wouldn't be allowed to look at me!"

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Kids are awesome

Our friends Donna and George brought their daughters down from Boston to visit this weekend. Smokey and Emma were immediately terrified, with good reason, since at one point I walked into the bedroom to find Avery, the four year old, pressing down on Smokey with both hands. She looked up at me and said, "Can you help me? I'm trying to teach him to stand."
The girls are ridiculously cute and smart. Lael, the seven year old, learned how to do Sudoku and play Yahtzee while she was here. As I'm the one who taught her, I can definitely vouch for her extreme intelligence. I mean, the kid learned Sudoku while we were sitting in a Starbucks chatting, and she finished the entire puzzle from the New York Post before we got home.
Both Lael and Avery were so excited to be here that they basically ran around declaring how excited they were to be here, how much they loved me and Rob, and how New York was the coolest place ever. It was like being the most important person in the world for two days.
At one point, Donna laughed and said, "It's a shame they're not having any fun."
"I know," I said. "They're behaving like prisoners."
The four year old looked at us. "We are having fun," she announced. "And you're being facetious."

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Stop the madness

I sat down at my desk today and immediately went to strap on my seatbelt. This seems disturbing to me. I don’t even own a car anymore and I rarely ride in taxis, so it’s not like I’m in the habit of buckling up each day; this must be a larger indication of the way I feel at the office. There are a lot of things I enjoy about my job, but I guess I also feel that I'm not fully in control in this work environment, such that I may need a seat belt (or occasionally a punching bag.) An article last year on explored the results of desk rage, the feeling one can get from this type of work insecurity/unhappiness:

Some desk-ragers “go postal,” screaming, cursing, trashing office equipment, even assaulting others. But desk rage also manifests as a slow boil that leads to gossiping at the water cooler, backstabbing, poor productivity, abusing sick days, stealing supplies or becoming irritable or depressed. Some people simply get fed up, stop communicating, put on a headset and emotionally “check out.”

I’m guessing this (most likely the mid to latter part) is familiar to many people. It’s so depressing that this is the result of days spent doing jobs we likely studied to do, jobs we get paid to do, jobs we interviewed and competed for, jobs we really wanted and may still want.

Joshua Ferris’s debut novel, Then We Came to the End, is a fascinating look at corporate existence in a Chicago advertising agency. I loved this book and I highly recommend it, but I had to put it down a few times when it threatened to completely undermine my ability to feel good about life in my—or any—office. So do yourself a favor and read it as the excellent work of fiction that it is, rather than as a motivational tool.

Supposedly there are ways to remedy, or at least ameliorate, the feelings of desk rage: take a 30-minute break every day, get regular exercise, pamper yourself, spend time on activities you love. But when you’re in the middle of a particularly stressful day or week, it’s difficult to find the time and energy to do these things and much easier to fall into the habits of a desk rager. I hereby vow to work harder at quelching the rage. However, if I come into the office in the near future and reach under my desk for a helmet, I’m going to seriously consider finding a new job.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Dumbledore is gay

Dumbledore is gay.
Also, The Onion weighs in.

A good excuse to play in the city

Rob’s nephew Vincent came to visit us from Long Island this weekend. Vincent turns 15 next week and is the perfect shaggy, baggy, shrugging teenage boy. I think he’s adorable. He took the train in for the first time alone and, aside from having to stand up the entire first leg of the trip, seemed unscathed. His younger brother Harry has always been a little nervous to take the train without his mom for fear that someone will “steal" him, but Vincent was ready to make the trip.
It was fun having a kid-like person in town. We took him to some sports stores on Saturday because he needed new workout clothes, watched football, and went to dinner in Times Square (this is like Rob’s personal nightmare, so it says a lot that he was willing not only to enter Times Square on a Saturday night at 7pm, but also walk around it and even—gasp—go to M&M World.)
After M&M World, we went home and watched Transformers. Whose idea was it to make that movie 2 ½ hours long? I simply do not have it in me to sit still for that long watching robot aliens fight each other. I think my robot alien battle tolerance is more like 1 hour 45 minutes long (it's good to know these things about yourself.) After that, I start looking for things to clean.
Yesterday we also had Vincent all day, so we walked through Central Park, went to the Met, and then went bowling at Chelsea Piers. It was great to do the kinds of things that we talk about doing on our own, but never would. In fact, if Vincent hadn’t been in town, I think the highlight of our weekend would have been when Rob picked Smokey up, two feet in each hand, wrapped the cat around his neck, and said, “Smokey, I’m going to wear you like a scarf this winter.”
Ok, that’s not strictly true. This was a bit of a last-minute visit, so we had to cancel plans, including a movie with Jay and Cameron, a brunch date, and a party. But it was a good trade-off. I think we had a much healthier and more well-rounded weekend than we would have otherwise. And when I say healthier, I’m thinking more about the skipped alcohol and less about the fries, cupcakes, pizza…never mind.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

A Mexican vacation

Here is the thing about Americans traveling in Cancun. The bar is really low for impressing the locals with your Spanish. Basically you can say "Hola, como esta" "Muy bien" and "Gracias" and they're like "Oh thank god. Someone who isn't trying to get my attention by screaming Over here, Amigo."* I know something like 20 Spanish words (trust me, I'm not proud of this) and I had a good handful of people tell me that I spoke the language well. And I'm pretty sure that all this means is that I tried to say a few words correctly and I did it at a normal decibel level. Or maybe they were just really, really polite people, which is entirely possible. Also some, but not all of them, may have been flattering me for tips. Which totally works on me. Whatever! They were compliments.
All-inclusive resorts are not really my thing, since you end up spending all day every day in the same place eating the same food. But the people at the resort were exceedingly friendly, we had a good time with Rob's family and the weather was far better than we were expecting--it rained for less than an hour each day, nothing even close to the torrential downpours and possible hurricanes that the "meteorologists" had predicted.
On the last day we were there, the group headed out on a deep-sea fishing excursion, minus me, since I didn't think it would be very appropriate to throw up on John for his birthday. I stayed at the resort and practiced saying "Una margarita, por favor" "Gracias" and "Uno mas." The waitress gave me enormous smiles and complimented my excellent Spanish.

*Yes, this happened. Yes, it was someone in our group. Yes, repeatedly.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Happy Almost Friday

I can't post this on Friday, because unfortunately (for other people, not me) I am going to Cancun this weekend. Rob's brother is turning 50 (!) and we plan to spend our weekend watching the insane thunderstorms that will be hitting Mexico. But who cares? We'll be in Mexico. I can start drinking at 10am and it will be way more acceptable than when I do that in the office.
I should come back with some pretty good stories, because hanging with Rob's family is always amusing and I mean that in the most respectful way possible. Really. But, even if I didn't mean it that way, isn't it great how the phrase "I mean that in a good way" absolves one of all sorts of rudeness? It's one of my favorites.
I leave you with a prime shot of your first guest blogger. This is the face he makes when you tell him that he has to submit his blog post and it's not just going to be automatically accepted. I can't wait to see the face he makes when I tell him I refuse to take this photo down.

Enjoy the weekend! I will.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Bears win; everything else sucks

The Bears beat the Packers, but Chicago had an otherwise rough weekend, with a Cubs loss and possibly the worst marathon experience in their history. Granted, it was 88 degrees and who the hell expects that in October? But the marathon was canceled four hours in, with exhausted bodies strewn throughout the course and at least one death--a 35-year-old police officer. Race officials say they are not to blame for the lack of water and gatorade. Right. It's someone else's fault that runners were so desperate they were taking water from strangers in the crowd and drinking out of fountains.
To be fair, though, you have to prepare and make sure you are fit enough before you embark on running a marathon. And you really have to listen to your body telling you when you're asking too much of it. Marathon runners spent so much time preparing for the big day that even when the race was shut down, many people simply couldn't walk away. If you think those people are idiots, you might enjoy this Chicago Tribune column.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Happy "Columbus" Day

Was there ever a fictional character more terrifying than Christopher Columbus? Rumor has it that this invented explorer crossed oceans to arrive in the Americas just in time for Indigenous People’s Day and immediately hatched his evil domination plan by shaking the hands of the Native Americans and infecting them with all sorts of Italian pirate diseases, like scurvy and pancetta. Today, we celebrate him with parades and clowns, and people dress up like Captain Hook from Peter Pan, because after Columbus spread disease in the “new world”, his hands fell off and it was this legend that gave two brothers named Johnson and Johnson the idea for antibacterial hand soap. Nowadays, kids celebrate the fact that they have hands by tracing them in school to make turkeys, which they offer up to Columbus so that his ghost doesn’t visit them in the night.
Wait…I’ve just been told that Columbus was a real Italian person. But how could he have sailed three different ships around the world in 80 days? Hmmm. Then it does make more sense that there have been protests across the country this week as the nation tries to celebrate a holiday that leaves many of its citizens feeling less than patriotic.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

All the news that's fit to ignore

Today on my walk to work, I passed several newsies (literally dressed in old school newsie outfits—the hat, the vest, the little pants) who were asking if people wanted “a real paper” and handing out The Onion. It was pretty great, because normally I get AM New York on my way to work and that’s just not as fun—the people who hand it out wear regular clothes.
Also, for some reason we are getting The New York Times delivered to our door this week, which we did not order, along with The Wall Street Journal, which Rob does order. I was happy about this at first. Maybe it’s because my commute to work is a 20-minute walk, but now all of these newspapers are stressing me out. I can’t read them and they just sit there looking at me, like “we know what’s going on in the world and all you know is what you heard on NPR this morning between hitting the snooze button and…hitting the snooze button again.” Then they say “You don’t even read online papers, what the hell is wrong with you?” And then when they start getting really insulting, I throw them under the desk. They are there now, in a pile.
My point is that I don’t know how people read a daily newspaper. Much less 4. I do get information from NPR and sometimes I have time to search online for news. But mostly I feel like there is a lot of stuff going on in the world about which I am woefully uninformed.
Luckily, thanks to the newsies and my cursory look at their wares, I do know that a new heart device has allowed Dick Cheney a chance to experience love.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

A guest blogger blogs on the blog!

A Modest Proposal to Attain the Perfect Mate
by Jonathan

First off, I want to thank Sarah for the honor of being a guest on her marquee blog. As a loyal SeeSarahBlog reader, I will do my best to uphold her standards for wit, passion, and journalistic integrity.

For those NYT readers out there, today’s article on Friends with Benefits, reminded me of an evolving theory of mine.

Context: I was recently quoted as saying that women (or men) could be viewed as a ‘portfolio of skills and attributes’, the relative importance of each skill/attribute depends on the specific tastes and preferences of the seeker, coupled with the seeker’s life circumstances. (e.g., a conservative man may value spiritual attributes and domestic skills higher than a young New Yorker). While my original motivation for postulating this theory was rooted in shock value, looking back – I think I was on to something.

In the book Moneyball by Michael Lewis, the Oakland A’s were faced with a predicament when they lost Jason Giambi to the Yankees. How do you replace such a complete player when you can only afford to pay half his market value? The A’s figured out a way to decompose Giambi into the core statistics that made him so great and then synthetically reconstructed those statistics with a combination of cheaper players….so they, in effect, retained the combinatorial effects of Giambi, without having to pay for it.

My point: Would it not be much more efficient and effective to not dismiss those that don’t meet all our requirements, in the obnoxious quest to find ‘the one’, and instead componentize our interactions across several people, effectively achieving all the benefits of having the perfect mate?

Note…I am not advocating polygamy as that would actually compound all the negatives under one roof. This is more of a virtual sharing, a societal understanding if you will. “I am not hanging out with your wife because I want to sleep with her, but because her attribute of enjoying football fulfills a component within my portfolio of needs that encompass the perfect woman.” Yes, I could watch football with the boys, but that’s not the point…we are about achieving the net effect of having the perfect mate.

How many times have you met someone and said, “Wow, I really like this and this about you, but that and that unfortunately precludes a sustainable, committed relationship…so good luck in your quest and have a nice life”. Under my system, the interaction would go more like this…”Wow, I really like this and this about you, those qualities fit into my portfolio of needs and I would like bolt them onto my synthetic dream person. I will reserve 10% of my time to appreciate this and this about you, and you can continue your quest to find someone that appreciates that and that about you, but at least we are both 10% of the way there!” Each interaction with a new person would bring you one step closer to constructing the perfect mate, however minute the percentage, as opposed to the current ‘all or nothing’ decisions we are making now. Without a doubt, these all or nothing decisions are suboptimal and prevent us from being as happy as we should be.

Women, recount your frustrations with those wonderful boyfriends that would have been ‘the one’ if they would only have listened to you talk about your fascinating childhood pet ‘Slippers’ or gone shopping with you at Bloomingdales and lovingly sacrificed their afternoons while you patiently made up your mind about which pair of pants goes best with your silver top. Now, it would be perfectly acceptable for you to pull your artist friend Pierre off the bench to laugh about ‘Slippers’ foibles and take a point of view on whether denim complements silver. It may be me, but I only see upside here.

To be Fair: There are some limitations to my theory. 1. Timing: your schedule and your portfolio’s schedule may not always coincide perfectly to optimize your pinnacled happiness, however, let’s be honest, there are always substitutes available to meet most needs, especially when we break down our needs and requirements into discreet packets, or quanta. Plus, as we are comparing this scheduling constraint to the all or nothing option, we are certainly better off so this should all be viewed in relative measure. 2. Biblical constraints: I suppose the bible/Koran/etc would frown on such behavior, so the gentiles may have to pilot the experiment, but remember how much religion has changed over the years based on societal shifts…I’m confident the happiness attained by the flock will inspire a revelation of some sort. Isn’t that how Joseph Smith came up with the polygamist revelation in the first place?

Conclusion: Knowing that you are no longer limited by the skills and attributes of one person, all those ‘Dear Diary’ descriptions of the perfect mate should no longer be viewed as unattainable. I think people, in fact, would work harder to both understand themselves and what others have to offer. With our interactions spread across more people, I’m not talking conjugal interactions…you can still maintain monogamy under my system, the fabric of our society would weave tighter and we could be one step closer to world peace.

Comments welcome.