Friday, September 29, 2006

Love Thursday: Friday Edition

"Some day, there's going to be a special man in your life and he's going to wonder how he got so lucky as to have you," Brian said.

"I'm so happy to hear you say that -- it's the same fairy tale I've been telling myself for years!" I replied.

This exchange took place smack in the middle of our run-down of the results of the weekend's college football games. Brian, sadly, is an Ohio State fan. But there are worse things in life -- he could root for the Irish.*

The thing that surprises him is that I'm not just interested in how my beloved Badgers fared, or even what took place in the rest of the Big Ten, but that my passion for college football is all-encompassing.

In one Saturday I watched considerable portions of ten games and followed scores for a couple dozen more. Michigan-Notre Dame got top billing that afternoon, but once Michigan had the game firmly in hand (you know, sometime in the second quarter), I could stray away from ABC to coverage of other games. At one point I was flipping channels among five games, even sinking so low as to watch the Virginia Tech routing of Duke or the Kansas State-Marshall game on FSN when everyone else was at commercial break. (Fox Sports Net!!! I thought my head would explode! Or at the very least, the television.)

I'm not quite sure where this deep, abiding love for college football comes from. Certainly my high school football team didn't endear me to the game. (Hello, 0-8 season! Nice to see you! Again.) And, while I bleed green and gold, the NFL just doesn't do it for me. Sure, it's entertaining, and I follow the standings and participate in a pool every year,'s just not the same. College football is a special thing, something I couldn't live without, and I knew it when looking at colleges.

Girl on the phone, calling from a liberal arts school that I desperately wanted to go to but had no idea how I'd swing the $30k price tag: So, do you have any questions for me?
Me: Uh, like what do you do on the weekends?
Girl: Oh, there's coffee shops and stuff around here that we hang out at.
Me: [uncomfortable silence]
      So, um, you don't, like, go to football games on Saturday afternoons?
Girl: Well, I think we have a football team, but no, no one goes.

I got off the phone thinking, THANK GOD SHE CALLED. She just saved me $120,000 worth of student loans. I mean, if she'd told me she was in a sorority and spent her weekends doing lines and the baseball team, that may have kept the school on the list, but no one cares about football??? Pass.

So there you have it: my litmus test is college football. I've dated a lot of Baseball Boys lately. And while that's an enjoyable game, too, it's not something I will ever be obsessed about. Thankfully, my friends share the football love. I'm visiting Danielle and Jennie in LA this weekend and the only packing instruction I received was, be sure to bring a Wisconsin t-shirt cuz we're watching the game with the alumni club. 9:00 on a Saturday morning and it's a given that we'll be at a bar, cheering on the Badgers, and loving every minute of it.

*For the record, I'm not anti-Notre Dame. I'm anti-overrated-teams-

Monday, September 25, 2006

It Just Doesn't Get More Exciting Than This

Did you have a nice weekend? Yes, that's good. I bet you were out laughing, frolicking, and generally having a good time, indeed. Well, bully for you.

Me? Oh, why I was at work. Not just "working from the comfort of my own couch while alternately watching football" but actually AT work. Sitting at my desk. In front of my computer. For fourteen hours yesterday. It was delightful, if by delightful you mean "I'd rather like to see what the CIA is now discouraged, but not entirely prohibited, from doing to enemy combatants, because it might be more pleasant."

There's nothing worse than going to the office on a Sunday, except maybe going to work on a Sunday morning thinking that four hours is a generous timeframe in which to get your work done, and then slowly coming to the realization that, bloody hell,* you're not leaving before dark. Or before midnight, even.

Don't worry, though. Those fourteen hours at my desk were occasionally dotted with whole minutes full of excitement, like getting up to use the bathroom, or making a Diet Coke run, or eating a dinner of canned soup and microwave popcorn. (My bodily fluids can now be described as "brine.")

And, what was quite possibly the lowest point of my weekend -- and no, it wasn't that I held off on going to the grocery store** Saturday afternoon, with my logic being that it would be far less crowded at 8 p.m., nor was it that I missed what very well could be the Packers' only win this season, and certainly was Brett's best performance this year. No, the saddest moment came when I was cursing all this work because it was preventing me from doing my taxes.

In somewhat related news, can you guess what I'm doing on Wednesday? Just guess. If you said "haphazardly throwing any available clean clothes in the nearest empty suitcase, traveling to two cities in five days, attending yet another conference at which I must meet 39,062 people, all with the help of two plane tickets and one for the train," give yourself a gold star!

*No, I have no idea where these British colloquialisms came from, but I honest-to-god thought “bloody hell” last night when I figured out I wasn’t leaving any time soon.

**Apparently I am under the delusion that there's time in my schedule to cook, because my refrigerator now holds a pork roast AND A WHOLE CHICKEN. The kind you put in the oven and cook for, like, hours. And then use the leftovers to make soup, which also requires, um, hours. Those must've been "special mushrooms" I was looking at in the produce aisle...

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Oy vey!

I'm back. And all I can say is, THANK GOD.

In the past thirty days, I have spent eight of them in California. Eight. We shall not talk about how many bills were paid late this month. (Hint: more than one.) Nor how many birthdays I missed. (Hint: rough estimate puts it at five. Could be more. Sorry, all, and Happy Birthday! I'll do better next year. Maybe.)

We will also not talk about the bill that came from the doctor's office requesting $1180.00 (but also specifying, DO NOT SEND CASH) that makes me wonder if I wouldn't be better off actually uninsured, because then I would know that all the charges are my responsibility and I can stop spending all this stupid time figuring out what you're billing me for that my insurance should actually cover and please, I can think of a far better way to spend an afternoon and $1200 than nearly passing out in my doctor's office and then letting her scrape my cervix with a wire that has an electrical current running through it, I assure you.

[Hello? Gentlemen? Still reading? How about some smelling salts? There, there, you'll be just fine in a moment.]

Nor shall I think about how I should probably be spending this weekend doing my taxes. My 2005 taxes. That I got an extension on and can't remember if the new deadline is October 1 or October 15, but I'm pretty sure it's in October sometime and holy crap, how is it almost October already???

First, there was the campaign week, which can be summed up as: no food, four hours of sleep per night. The end.

Then I spent a weekend being the Jewish mother Liz never had. I did her laundry, cleaned the kitchen, made breakfast, cleaned the kitchen, went grocery shopping, prepared lunch, cleaned the kitchen, marinated chicken for dinner, made zucchini bread from scratch, cleaned the kitchen, cooked dinner, neatly packaged the leftovers for future consumption, and cleaned the kitchen. I also managed to watch some perfectly dreadful football.

Next was my week in DC, which can be summed up as: constant meetings, no food, plenty of alcohol, four hours of sleep per night. The end.

Do you know how many days in a row I can get four hours of sleep before my body stages a revolt? It's five. And I know that because, despite my 5 a.m. alarm, I woke up Friday morning at 7:06. Just in time to get to my 8:00 meeting. Oh yes, I was on time. Not pretty, but on time. (Later in the day a colleague asked if I'd gotten my hair cut. "It looks different -- shorter," he said. I didn't have the heart to tell him that it looked different -- dirty instead.)

And my weekend in DC? Way too much work, coupled with way too much alcohol. I didn't leave the office Friday night until after 10 p.m., and then actually left a bar Saturday night to take a phone call from a colleague. Yes, my life is that sad. However, I also managed to cram about a month's worth of drinking into one night. And wow, I have not done that in a good long while.

Now would be an opportune time to revisit The Rules of Drinking, as postulated by me and some random guy at the bar in NYC. (Ok, he's not totally random, he's Julie's friend, but still, it was the first time the two of us had met.) Surprisingly, we agreed on these basic rules pretty quickly. Feel free to adopt them yourself; they'll serve you well.

Rule #1 -- Thou shalt eat dinner before going out. No good can come of drinking on an empty stomach.
Rule #2 -- Tequila shots are the work of the devil. Avoid them at all costs. Even your friends calling you a pussy.
Rule #3 -- Thou shalt not make out at the bar. That's just trashy. At least wait until you get outside.

[A note, before all of you are quick to point out any instances wherein I may not have put these rules to use: they are informed by experience. So. Shush.]

Obviously these are some pretty common sense rules. But, failure to follow them can have adverse consequences. While I did abide by Rules 1 and 3, I'm afraid Rule #2 may have been bent a little and may have resulted in a mild inclination to send a text message to the effect of "I'm happy drunk and in your neighborhood and you can't have me, nah nah." But of course, I did not do that, because that would just be mean and antagonistic for no good reason, other than, well, I'm a bitch and it's a damn lot of fun. I like for people to know what they're missing (see also: bitch). Like, perhaps, me in a cream-colored lacy tank top and short denim skirt and if you think my legs (and ass) weren't the center of attention Saturday night, you obviously don't have a very good memory. Tequila shots or not, I would never say such a thing. But I might think it.

One potentially bad decision thwarted, but the tequila won anyway: Sunday morning I woke up with visions of a gigantic slice of cheese pizza dancing in my head. Then I realized that's because it was our last stop Saturday night. Oh god, what was I thinking???

Finally, my flight home Sunday was a classic example of "a day late and a dollar short." Only, it was an hour late and two pieces of luggage short. Getting ready for work Monday morning was very much roughin' it...outside of showering, my entire beauty regimen was reduced to a hairdryer and a tube of mascara I found in the back of a drawer from some Clinique Bonus Days gift thingy. I am a girl who, if stranded on a desert island, would pray to have mascara and eyebrow tint with her. If given the opportunity to select a third item, maybe, maybe, I'd choose something remotely useful like a hatchet or a rain collector -- but I'd be tempted to go with lip gloss -- and by god, there had better be some way of defining my eyes readily available! But, no, American Airlines decided that my make-up kit was better off sitting around in Dallas/Fort Worth than in my possession. Maybe it was payback for my having gone through security, flagged for additional screening, not once but twice at National. But, my gosh, this time I didn't even try to cause bodily harm with my business card holder!

Suffice it to say, I am more than ready to sit at home and do nothing this weekend. Well, nothing but watch football.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Because Even I Am Not Such a Cold, Heartless B*tch As to Let Today Pass Without Saying Something

I'm conflicted about what to say today. In some ways it's just another day. In others, it's one of the most pivotal, living-history-as-it-
happens days of my life, right up there with the Challenger explosion and the 2000 election and the selection of a new Pope. The kind of crazy-strange-tragedy that I hope happens only once in a lifetime, but I'm beginning to think that's too much to ask for.

Five years ago, September 10 was just another day in Bloomington, Indiana, as I sat in front of the TV, Monday Night Football on in the background, doing my reading for the week. Three weeks into my third semester in grad school and my life consisted of (1) looking for a job, (2) getting decent grades, and (3) looking for a job.

And on that night, September 11 looked to be shaping up as just another day, too. I got up that morning, went to the gym and ran on a treadmill, which puts you facing the windows, overlooking campus, your back to the television. I showered, dressed, and left the locker room. Just another day.

The TV was on in the lobby -- the Today Show. I almost didn't stop, as I didn't really care what those fluffy morning TV shows had to say. I was already a news snob back then and figured if the Washington Post didn't tell me about it, I didn't need to know. The sheer number of people staring at the television made me pause, and then I saw the footage we all saw.

Suddenly, it was no longer just another day.

I spent the better part of the day in front of the TV, because it seemed like the thing to do. Because somehow if I saw enough and heard enough and knew enough, I'd be able to make sense of it all. Five years later, I'm still waiting for that particular epiphany.

September 12 dawned like the one before it, with my 6 a.m. alarm blaring. I sat up in bed thinking, hoping, praying that I had imagined the preceding day, that it was some kind of freakishly-detailed dream. I switched the alarm off and the radio on and heard Bob Edwards tell me that it was, in fact, 100% real.

And yet, that Wednesday was just another day. Because it had to be. There was work to be done and class to conduct and, amazingly, the earth didn't stop spinning on its axis simply because we had been attacked, here, in the United States, by foreign enemies for the first time in more than half a century.

It surprised me how quickly things were "normal," though the old "normal" and the new "normal" could never be mistaken for each other. It seemed cold, jaded, wrong somehow, for life to carry on. But it had to. It always has; it always will. It's not a sign of cynicism at all; it's a show of strength and resilience.

And last night, as I sat in Bloomington, Indiana, football on in the background as I did some reading to prep for the week, I was confronted with the fact that I was getting on a plane bound for DC on September 11.

Sure, it's ironic. And maybe a bit symbolic. Take that, terrorists! I'm flying to our nation's capital on the anniversary of September 11 and nobody's going to stop me! (Except maybe the TSA guy who thought the business card holder in my purse looked suspicious/dangerous and demanded a bag check.) But it was also completely unintentional, and I think that's a good thing – after all, it's just another day.

Lest you get the wrong idea, yes, today's remembrances are good. We should remember and commemorate the tragedy visited upon so many lives. But to let one act alter what we would normally do? To allow it to bring everyday life to a grinding halt? That simply gives it more power.

Today, I'm winning the War on Terror, and I'm doing so by getting on a plane and going to work and having a classic alcohol-infused dinner with the other two members of our Blonde Trio. There is joy embedded in the mundane. There is verve hidden in the routine. I am thankful for that, and celebrate it by living -- really living -- today like just another day.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

From the Campaign Trail

Oh, what to say? I don't know how to capture on paper the experience that working on a vibrant campaign is. Maybe I'll have a better description of it in a few weeks, once I've started sleeping again, but for now these random thoughts will have to do.

Things I've Discovered this Week

  • I can work in an environment with news programs showing on two TVs (both located eight feet away from me), people making GOTV calls and various conversations taking place around me, so long as I'm doing visual or numerical work. If I need to be doing something verbal, like writing? Headphones and my iPod to drown out the background noise are a must.
  • These people have an obsession with the intercom. And speakerphone. I can hear both sides of nearly every conversation that takes place in this office And ohmygod, if the two of you would just get out of your chairs and take two steps outside your offices, you could actually have this conversation FACE-TO-FACE!
  • If the number of times I heard some variation of the f-word in a (yes, broadcast on speakerphone) conversation yesterday is any indication, I can TOTALLY work in this field.
  • No amount of sleep will ever be enough. Thankfully, any deprivation can be cured with massive quantities of caffeine.
  • God, indeed, has a plan for me. I know this because my main project this week is to overhaul the campaign's website, and the instructions I got from the Communications Director were "Um, here's the website. I don't know anything about it, but it hasn't been updated in forever." A year ago, I would have run away screaming. Or laughed and suggested they find a nice college kid to take care of the technology stuff.
    But. Miles and miles of ugly HTML code, three phone calls to the web developer, twelve straight hours of sitting at this computer and seventeen jillion uploaded, edited and formatted pictures later, I am happy to report that I have made the website my bitch. (Of course, there are more things I want to do to it but they involve "massive site re-design by the developer" which costs "money," so the answer is no. Oh well.)
  • Those 2-hour parking limits in a downtown that can be described as "you could lay down in the middle of an intersection at lunchtime and take a nap without anyone running you over" don't actually apply. Which is good, since I completely forgot to move the car during the entire thirteen hours I was in the office yesterday. But I do love my five-minute commute!
  • Eating is pretty much unheard of. Five days and I've lost 2.5 pounds and it sure isn't because I'm making time to exercise! The irony is, nearly every event features food, but there's no time to eat it or no discreet way in which to do so, so you just don't. Non-fat lattes are my saving grace -- both for the protein and the caffeine they pack! And on those mornings that I forget to toss a PowerBar in my purse, I kick myself.

God I love this.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

In Which I Amaze Even Myself

Packing for any trip is a pain, especially one of considerable duration. This time around, I knew I'd be on the road for better than two weeks and I dreaded the chore that packing was sure to be. I'd need fancy work clothes and casual on-the-campaign-trail clothes and workout clothes and going out clothes, not to mention shoes to go with all those clothes! I finally convinced myself it would be OK to pack two suitcases. Or a suitcase and a duffle bag of sufficient size to dispose of a dead body. Hauling that much stuff on the Metro wouldn't be fun, but hey, that's why cabs were invented. I'd have options.

But when I actually started to pack, I discovered that I could fit everything I needed into my typical one-week suitcase, if I crammed all my workout clothes and toiletries into my backpack and check that. Woo hoo!
However, this also means that my wardrobe for the next two weeks is a carefully crafted color palette consisting entirely of black. I packed things that are black, things that go with black, things that have black in them, and things that are black. I went a little crazy and threw in a pair of gray pants, too. But! One suitcase! (And five pairs of shoes.)

Thank heavens it's summer or I would never have been able to accomplish this feat!

From the Dude, Karma, What the Hell? files:

The guy who is essentially my boss for the week, the Communications Director, is hot. And, physically, reminds me a lot of an ex-boyfriend. And did I mention he's hot?


Someone please let Nora Ephron know she may retire, as I can take up the mantle of Writer of Embarrassing Scenes in Cheesy Romantic Comedies. Sadly, I'm not imaginative enough to make these scenes up on my own, but no matter, I have plenty of personal experience to draw upon.

Like last night, when several of us were standing around the Labor Day celebration at the county fairgrounds, talking about how beautiful our surroundings were, which then became a conversation of other picturesque places in this majestic country of ours. I mentioned Glacier National Park. Communications Director asked me about some of the other western parks, none of which I've visited, but I will, someday. No, really, I'll get there!

I pulled out my digital camera, flipped to my pictures of Glacier and handed it to Communications Director. As he admired the scenery, I began wondering what pictures were before the park (I'd started him on the last picture so he was basically taking the tour backwards). Occasionally he'd ask questions about a pic or whatever, so I knew when he was getting close to the beginning, but I still couldn't remember what preceded Glacier.

And then I saw.

Ohholymotherinheaven, NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Underwear. My underwear. A picture -- no, several pictures -- of this thong my friend Kelly brought me as a souvenir from her trip to England/Ireland/Wales that reads, "Fancy A Ruck?" I thought it was hilarious, both the underwear itself and the fact that Kelly brought me underwear as a souvenir, and so I took a few pictures of it. I never got around to sharing them here or in real life, but there they sat on my camera. Fan-fucking-tastic.

I saw my underwear on the screen and calmly reached over, put my palm over the screen and took back the camera, saying brightly, "Well, I think that's enough!" He handled the whole thing quite well. I gave a brief explanation about Kelly's trip and the souvenir and ok, I'll just shut up now, there really was no way of making things any better.

So, yeah. I'm on the campaign for two hours and already I've crossed WAY OVER the line we like to call Professionalism. Awesome. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go find a nice hole to crawl into.

One of the offending pictures.
Damn funny underwear...bitch set me up!