Look, That’s Shiny!

I’ve been feeling, to use a friend’s word, a little “grumblepuppies” lately.  Mainly about assumptions.  We all know the old saw about “assume”, right? 

Some of these assumptions are my own, but more often, they’re other people’s.

So, please, never, never, never tell me that we do it that way “because we always have”.  Or that “it’s easier just to let it alone”.

But also, for God’s sake, don’t tell me to “think outside of the box”.  Yes, I admit I’ve used that phrase myself, mainly because it seems many people have no other terminology for the simple act of thinking creatively.   As my mini-rebellion, I’ve started calling my creative thinking “tesseracts”.   (Sidenote:  A Wrinkle in Time  is actually my favorite book.  If you haven’t read it, you need to.  Now.  I’ll wait.)

I’m not going to try to define a tesseract here, so read A Wrinkle in Time.  I’m still prepared to wait for you.  But I did find a bunch of graphics of tesseracts, and given that I am using “tesseract” to replace the shopworn “out of the box”, I liked this one.  As someone who doesn’t think linearly – when most people are working from A to Z, I’m working from A to circle to 4 to purple to “ooh, look, that’s shiny” to Z – this makes a lot of sense. 

I’ll just leave it at that.

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My Secret Armour

This is probably what you think I mean

I wear armour almost every day.  I started doing this over 20 years ago, when a male friend told me I should.  But he didn’t mean “armour”, he meant my secret armour.  In other words, great lingerie.

But this is what I really mean

I don’t know a woman who doesn’t like pretty lingerie.  “Pretty” in this usage means whatever the woman wearing it wants it to mean.  Sexy.  Athletic.  Dainty.  Or whatever else.  I never had much of a problem finding pretty lingerie until the mid- to late- 90s, when sizing changed.

See, for years I was a 36D.  Then all of a sudden, the D cup bras didn’t fit.  I weighed myself.  Same.  I measured myself.  Same.  I compared my old bras to the new ones of the same supposed size…and there you go.  The D cups being sold were much, much smaller.  The lingerie companies had figured out that most women liked the idea of wearing a larger cup size, and had made each cup size smaller so that women would be, they hoped, fooled.  They’ve done this in clothing sizes too, by the way, but in the other direction.  Today’s size 10 is yesterday’s 14.  So there you go.  Again.

But where did that leave me?  Braless?  Not a fucking chance.  I was relegated to the granny bras, the type of secret armour that made me feel fat, unattractive, and as though my breasts were a liability.  In New York, that means the Town Shoppe, where despite their advertised commitment of being inclusive of women like me, they seem to secretly believe I don’t deserve pretty dainties.  This went on until I discovered Bravissimo — “lingerie, swimwear, & nightwear for D – KK cup women”.  And since then, Intimacy and Bare Necessities.

Since those days, I will admit, some major department stores are carrying my size (34F, if you were wondering), and things have gotten much easier.  But it says a lot about our society’s views of women that 1) the sizing changed in the first place, and 2) that what are really pretty normal larger sizes (on, by the way, women of normal weight) are “speciality” – meaning more expensive and harder to find – items.

This goes back to the real reason for the secret armour.  It first came up when I had a very scary meeting the next day, and my friend said, in so many words:  “Wear sexy lingerie.  You’ll feel more confident and have a better meeting.”  And it worked.  It still works.  Not only in work situations, but personal ones as well – though I guess that’s obvious to most people.  I’ve only met one man who didn’t find the secret armour titillating, even if most of them won’t admit they really think it looks better on the floor.

The real point here is that I feel more powerful, more confident, more ready to meet the world, when I am in my secret armour.  And if I feel sexy too, what’s wrong with that?

P.S.  On a side note, this commercial always makes me smile, even though the lingerie is not pretty…to me.  What I love is that the women are just freaking gorgeous in their confidence and secret armour.  Don’t you agree?

The Worst Flight Ever. Really. Seriously.

My flight back from this most recent trip to Los Angeles sucked.  There’s really no better way to describe it.

  • My constant companion has been behaving badly.  And by badly, I mean agonizingly so.  Tear- and whimper-inducingly so.
  • The guy next to me (in the center seat) was simply too large for his allotted space.  And before you jump down my throat, I am not calling him fat.  He  wasn’t.  He was just a big guy with no sense of  where his space ended and mine began.
  • The woman one row back across the aisle kept coming forward to talk to her husband in the seat directly ahead of me, and sticking her rear in my face.
  • It was really, really, really, really turbulent.
  • I hated the movie I had rented on my iPad for the flight.  (Plus, there’s some weird connection issue with the headphones, so unless I hold it in, I lose sound and the movie stops.  Apple Store, here I come…in my copious spare time.)

But it wasn’t my worst flight ever.  That was in the fall of 1988.  I had just graduated from college that spring, and I was flying up for some random event.  I have no idea anymore what it was or why it was important enough for me to fly up from Miami for the weekend, but at the time it was absolutely essential.  Given that I was working at the Coconut Grove Playhouse, or basically donating my services in exchange for health insurance, I got the cheapest ticket ever, which oddly enough, was stopping in Jacksonville on the way to Hartford.  In Miami, a man was boarded in a wheelchair – and he looked very ill.  His partner was traveling with him, so I figured all was okay, and didn’t worry when they were seated in the row ahead of me on a half-empty flight.

In due course, we landed in – and shortly after, took off from – Jacksonville.  All of a sudden, the flight attendants converged on the row ahead.  They were whispering to the sick man’s companion, and an oxygen tank appeared.  I was politely asked to move to another row, which I did quite promptly.  A few minutes later, it was announced we would be making an unscheduled stop in Raleigh-Durham.  Oddly, the flight attendants did not sit down during landing, but continued to hover over the sick passenger.

Once we landed in Raleigh-Durham, we were all made to exit the plane, and told to wait at the gate.  While waiting, we were of course trying to find out what was going on…and then we saw the sick passenger exiting the plane.  On a gurney.  Just like in the photo.

Yes, just like this

Wait!  What’s going on?  Are we going to get to Hartford?  (Yes, that was the question most asked.)  And the worst news was yet to come…we were all called up to the desk, and advised we were being held there in Raleigh-Durham, as the now dead passenger’s companion had advised them he (dead guy) had hepatitis, but was not clear on whether it was infectious hepatitis or not.  So, the airline was trying to reach dead guy’s doctor and find out.  Of course, this all begs the question of why his doctor let him get on a plane if the stress of take-off and landing was too much for his heart, as we were told.

We’re all standing around – we clearly can’t be allowed to wander the airport – and it comes out that my original seat had been in the row right behind dead guy.  I’ve never seen people move so fast in my life.  I was immediately standing in the center of an empty space being glared at from all angles – an adult version of “the cheese stands alone”.

To make an already too-long story shorter, it wasn’t infectious, they got us back on the plane, and we were only a few hours late arriving in Hartford.  It was a great weekend, and the flight home was relatively calm.  Sadly, the airline did not offer vouchers, or snacks, or frequent flyer miles, or what would have been most welcome – free drinks, to acknowledge that we had had a tough flight.  But I guess they figured we had a story to dine out on for the rest of our lives.

Neti-pots, Juice “Cleanses”, Too Many Vitamins – Or Why Health Fads Make Me Crazy

I’m traveling again today.  There was a time where long flights for short trips – or short flights for long trips – would result in my getting sick. I’ve learned a few things over the years, like remembering to hydrate – a lot (which means that I have to have an aisle seat on the plane); eating properly; maintaining an exercise schedule; and so on.  I would add “get enough sleep”, but let’s not lie to each other.

All of these things are how I stay healthy when not traveling, too.   As you may recall, I live with Sjogren’s Syndrome.  Secondary to it, I have fibromyalgia, which can flare up with disruption of my routine or excessive stress – in other words,  all. the. freaking. time.

But what does any of this have to do with Neti-pots?  Juice “cleanses”?  Vitamins?  Well, when you struggle every day to stay as healthy as possible, seeing people try to rely on shortcuts can drive a person crazy.   It does me.   Like so much else in life, if you put in the work, you don’t need the shortcut.   And sometimes, you can do yourself more harm than good.  In my highly scientific survey (I asked three doctors – an internist, a rheumatologist, and an ENT), my suspicions were confirmed.

  • If you usually eat properly, there’s no need to “cleanse” unless you are having certain medical procedures.  And no over the counter fad cleanse is going to prepare you for THAT.
  • Even if you feel congested, there’s no excuse for washing out your sinuses at home.  Plus, it’s disgusting.  Admit it.
  • Too many vitamins can actually be dangerous.   This is further verified by my obsessive reading of murder mysteries, in which potassium has often been a weapon of choice.
So, my friends, be healthy, be safe, and keep your mucus in your nose where it belongs.
P.S.  I had a great photo of Neti-pot use for this, but it grossed me out.  Use your imagination.

This Is The Future?

So, I went to my first Ted Conference today – TedxBroadway.  I’m not going to go into detail about the content, as I’m sure it will be posted online at some point.  Aren’t they all?

But I have to say, I was disappointed by the organization and structure.  You’ve invited me to give up a work day and pay you for the privilege and you told me we were going to attack the question “What’s the Best that Broadway Can Be 20 Years from Now?”.  It started late.  Each speaker ran over.  Lunch was not there when promised.  There were significant technical difficulties.  There was no internet in the venue.  Overall, it was pretty white, pretty male, and fairly middle-aged.  (And before someone posts an attendance list, this was my impression – I didn’t take a survey.)  Not only did we not attract our audience of the future, we did not even attract our audience of the present (which, according to the information presented, is me).  And last, but not least, I did not go expecting to be talked at for five hours.  Not that the speakers were uninteresting, but when you frame your title as a question, I expect dialogue.

If this is the future, I’m a little worried. And if this is my take-away — Houston, we have a problem.

This may sound petty to you, but I actually think these things are important.  We must head into our future, not with a plan necessarily, but with structure.  I don’t care what “how” you use, but have a “how”.  This is what frustrated me, in part, about Occupy Wall Street.  I love a good demonstration, but once you’ve got my attention, direct it.  Have a “how” to get to a plan, and perhaps you will see results.  How many of us can cite any good changes that came from the Occupy movement?  How much of an impact has it actually had?  Yes, we have a new catch-phrase, but it is beginning to have about as much significance as “where’s the beef?”

But in the end, I must admit I did have one other take-away from today.  I was reminded of a favorite quote by Gandhi:  “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”   THAT’S the best Broadway can be twenty years from now.

Packing

Yes, I’m packing again.  I’m off to LA for a grand total of three days, including travel time.   It’s actually harder to pack for a short trip than a long one, since you don’t want to weigh yourself down with luggage, so outfit options tend to be reduced.  So far, I’ve got slippers, yoga clothes, my travel yoga mat, PJs, my mini MagLite (which I travel with since being stuck in Canada’s Hotel Hell during the big blackout) and that’s really about it.   Sigh…

I do love my hotel, though – the Renaissance Hollywood.  It’s right around the corner from our office, and connected to the Hollywood and Highland Complex, which has some great restaurants – and shopping!  Plus, it’s a Marriot, and I have “status” there, so before each arrival, I get an email:

Your stay at the Renaissance Hollywood Hotel & Spa begins in just a few days and we are preparing to give you the red carpet treatment!

I appreciate your loyalty as a Silver Elite Marriott Rewards Member!…In anticipation of your arrival, I am thrilled to offer a specialized registration process designed just for you.

Between 3pm and 7pm, your Elite Loyalty Ambassador will be in lobby to assist you. We will have your guest room keys prepared for you according to your preferences. Your Ambassador will be available for any additional needs or requests you may have upon arrival and throughout your stay.

Please feel free to email me any special needs or requests and your anticipated arrival time.

…I appreciate your loyalty to Marriott and look forward to your arrival!

I’m a sucker for stuff like that.  I always write back, and make my usual requests for a fridge and lots of extra towels (which I take to yoga rather than renting theirs).   They always come through.  And even though I know it’s illogical, they always seem to recognize me the minute I walk in.  I’m not surprised I recognize some of them, but really?  The idea that they would remember me is crazy…but I still let myself think it.  I’m the walking poster child for good customer service and loyalty programs.  They could hire me to tell all my friends about how much I really like their hotel (even though I do that for free).

So, after the drama of packing and the hell that is air travel, I will arrive at the Renaissance and be greeted by my “Elite Loyalty Ambassador”, and I’ll feel right at home.

Except, of course, I’m not taking the cats.

Remember When…?

I almost always bring work home.  I work from home before I leave in the morning, at night when I get home, and on the weekends.  Do you remember when jobs were something we did at the workplace?  I do.  Remember when Friday (or whatever day was the day before your “time off”) meant freedom? I do.  I was 14, and from 14 to 16, I worked at Burger King.  

In Florida, fast food restaurants were some of the few places for which you could get a work permit at 14, and I needed the money.  While I was on scholarship at my private school, going to that school, especially once I was a teenager, meant I needed cash for extras.  “Extras” might include contributing to things like our hideous but expensive uniforms, books, school supplies, and bus fare.  Social activities were on top of those.

Working at Burger King wasn’t so bad.  First off, at my age, I was not allowed to do any of the “hard” jobs, like working the burger line, making fries, or taking out the garbage.  I mainly worked the drive-thru window, since I could calculate a customer’s change in my head.  The real advantage, however, was that I was working in a world totally different from the rest of my life.  Most the of the people I worked with did not see Burger King as a temporary job – they were there to make a living.  And often they resented those of us who were there “just for fun”.   They weren’t wrong.  But I was gaining a perspective that I would never have had I 1) not worked or 2) worked for my parents at an office, as some of my friends did.  This probably had some profound impact on my life that I should be able to better define, but what it really did was help me realize how lucky I was – and am.

So, now when I work from home, I mostly don’t resent it.  I have a job that I love, doing work I think is important, and I believe I’m good at it.  My colleagues are interesting, committed, caring people, I travel to (mostly) fun places, and I get to see lots of shows.   But occasionally, I do play “remember when?”.  Don’t you?

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