Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Giving Thanks

I’m thankful for the guy at the gym who wipes down the machines. No matter how much I or anyone else attempts to remove our splattered filth, he does it much better. Twice I’ve tried to relay my appreciation but he always just looks at me like I’m crazy. Though considering I sweat so much my shorts look like I’ve peed myself, I can understand his blank expression.

I’m thankful for the families at the Ronald McDonald House. Being single, it’s easy to get lost in a selfish existence. Sleeping in the middle of the bed and answering to no one are my norm. But the woman I drove home last night from Children’s Hospital, the woman who excitedly told me about her three-week-old baby’s progress and sadly expressed concern for the two families that had lost their children, she puts life in perspective.

I’m thankful for clients who treat me like family. Whether it’s forwarding a photograph of the owner’s daughter with Taylor Swift or inviting me to the employee appreciation luncheon, they go out of their way to show their gratitude. And if that wasn’t good enough, clients often greet me with a hug. Since I now work for someone who struggles to admit I bring any professional value to the table, it’s helpful to repeatedly be told otherwise, and by the people who matter most.

I’m thankful for the woman at the yarn shop who hung in there while I held steadfast to a specific yarn for a specific project that didn’t technically exist (chunky wool socks Olivia and Anders can wear as slippers). She poured through patterns and thoughtfully suggested yarns. She was never deterred when I scrunched my nose and shook my head no. And when I plopped down on the floor to check out some skeins, she didn’t flinch. Though she did laugh when I stood up, thanked her for her help and announced I was going to pass and instead head next door for a cookie.

I’m thankful for friends like Kristen, Joe and Barry, people who can make me laugh no matter the time or the place. I’m thankful for Martha, Leslie and Erika, friends who have talked me through some dark moments and cheered me on at the brightest of times. I’m thankful for Paula and Beth, two writers who inspire me to tell a story and tell it well. I’m thankful for Sean and Pazzy, two guys who without realizing it, have helped me see myself in ways I should but often do not. I hope I give back the same if not more than I receive from all of them.

I’m thankful for my family. For Olivia and Anders who help me see the world in a way no adult ever could. For Leslie who puts me first, guides me when I stray off course, makes me laugh to the point of tears, and cooks insanely delicious Thanksgiving stuffing. And for my parents. Though my father can be absent and my mother far too present, they both have managed to rally around me through the good and the bad.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Ur So Not 4 Me

Last week I re-upped with eHarmony. It isn’t my only outlet for flirting with the opposite sex. Since I get hit on weekly at the gym, there’s always that venue. And I go out socially a few times a week, attending concerts and gallivanting around town with a noticeably pretty crowd. No, really, not to brag but my friends know how to bring it in the looks department. My parents probably pay them to include me. Anyway, I like to think of online dating as merely stacking the odds in my favor.

The first few days back on eHarmony, I was the belle of the ball. Every hour I was receiving notices, either a generic icebreaker complimenting my smile or a full-blown request to start communicating. In terms of elevating my sense of self, the first week of online dating is pretty much equal to six months on my shrink’s couch.

I try to be open when it comes to online dating. Sure, he looks a little like Dr. Huxtable but he does the Sunday crossword and appreciates fine wine. While living in Harrisburg qualifies as a personality flaw, maybe he ended up there for valid reasons. Of course, when BD Wong’s stunt double pinged me to start talking, I almost threw my computer across the room. People, I couldn’t make this shit up. I swear, this guy is like a herpes sore.

Anyway, I’m now on day sixteen of online dating and the novelty is slowly wearing off. Now that the shiny new glow has dulled considerably, I find myself drawing some conclusions. Walk with me.

(1) One or two grammatical errors I can live with. We’re human, after all. But not knowing the difference between their/there/they’re and you’re/your and it’s/its is a problem. Especially if your chosen profession is teaching. Also, try to avoid spelling in a way that requires me to read your sentence aloud so as to sound out the words. If ur 2 lazy 2 type, ur prob lazy n bed.

(2) There is a general guideline in writing: show don’t tell. Saying you are funny doesn’t make you funny any more than me claiming I am skinny makes me thin.

(3) Photographs are meant to make you look good, not bad. To that end:
  • Unless you are a pro-athlete, leave the team garb in the closet.
  • I don’t want to see your hairless, ripped, greasy chest.
  • I don’t want to see your hairless, ripped, greasy chest posed in front of a Camaro/BMW/Porsche.
  • Photographs shot from 100 feet away tell me nothing.
  • Photographs shot from 100 feet away that depict acid wash jeans tell me everything.
  • For the love of Pete, please find a way to take a picture that does not involve a bathroom, a mirror and a pose of you holding your phone out to snap the shot. I can only conclude this means you have no friends, or no friends willing to help you get laid.
  • I take no issue with you being a dad. My problem is you posting pictures of your children. It makes me feel pervy. I mean, this has to be how pedophiles get their fix, right?
(4) If you’re a commercial pilot, I will automatically assume you’re a whore. Blame the trampy pilots who came before you.

(5) If you’re current or former military and include a photograph in uniform, I might act like a whore. Blame Top Gun.

Now excuse me so I can back to flirting with the curiously cute IT guy from Sioux Falls, Dakota. Yes, Dakota. Color me a city-slicker snob but differentiating North from South is like arguing ecru is different from ivory. At least that is how I feel for now. But that could change. Between his nerdy specs and quirky sense of humor, I could...

(insert pause to google the town)

...learn to appreciate a land-locked state that boasts hosting the largest Christian festival in the country. Or, like, I could at least try.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Filed Under: First World Problems

Three years ago I signed on the dotted line for Gretel, my Audi A4. I admittedly had some hesitations. My father was a loyal Audi driver for decades. That there was always one window that was stuck either in the up or down position didn’t bother him. Heck, he even saw them through that sudden acceleration debacle. But the elegant lines of the new A4, the quick pep of the turbo engine, were enough for me to overlook the issues that have plagued the brand.

“If I drive faster than 40mph with the sunroof open, the noise is deafening,” I told the service person when I stopped in for Gretel’s first check-up.

“Oh, that’s normal.”

“No, no it isn’t.”

“You see, the window seals are super tight, which is a really good thing, but it creates an air suction issue. All you need to do is lower the rear windows.”

“Right, that’s not normal,” I said as I took my keys and scowled.

A few months later, I was informed there was a recall on the wind-deflector. It seemed the original version had accidentally been designed in a way that caused blood to spurt from the driver’s ears.

“My oil light came on,” I told the service rep when I dropped Gretel off to have the sunroof fixed.

“That’s normal.”

“The car has less than 2000 miles on it.”

“Right, you see, it’s a high performance engine. It will burn through some oil during the the first few thousand miles.”

“Uh huh. But the car doesn’t have a dipstick.”

“Do you have someone who can help you? All you need to do is add a little oil, then turn the car on and see if the warning light goes off. If it doesn’t just add a little more oil. Eventually it will be topped off.” He spoke as if this was a reasonable solution.

“This is so not normal.”

“Well, you can also just stop by here. No appointment needed. We’ll top it off for you.”

And that’s what I’ve done. Every 1500 miles, I’ve stopped at my Audi dealership to have them top off the oil. No one grumbles. They even offer coffee. It’s as if they are happy to see me, when I know they really aren’t.

A few weeks ago I took Gretel in for her state inspection. Out of curiosity, I asked if the oil consumption issue had ever been resolved. With her lease ending in three months, now was the time to evaluate buying her.

“And please do not tell me it’s normal, because it isn’t.”

“No, you’re right. And they have a new test. Drain the current oil, add new oil, run the new oil for 650 miles, drain new oil and then test it to see how it reads. It might just be a computer hiccup.”

“Let’s do it.”

I took Gretel home, ran 650 miles on her and brought her back to the dealership for the test.

“She needs new pistons,” the service rep said when he rang me at the office. “It’ll take a week. Because we have to remove the engine.”

My heart sank. That last sentence was the final nail in Gretel’s coffin. She has just been too much of a headache and the poor pup only has 24,000 on her. “So I’ll see you in a week?” I asked with a sigh.

“Yeah, unfortunately, no. I’m doing four piston changes a week. The earliest I can get you in is November 28th.”

“Four a week?”

“Yup.” You could hear the exhaustion in his voice. In my head I imagined tussled hair and large bags under his eyes, somewhat how I appeared during finals at Smith. Except finals ended after ten days.

After work I went up to the dealership to fetch Gretel. As I pulled out of the parking lot, I rang my parents to deliver the news.

“But you’re still going to buy her out, right?” my dad asked.

“They have to remove her engine.”


“I cannot believe I’m going to say this but put mom on the phone. For once she just might be the reasonable one.”