Sunday, April 29, 2007

some more spring photos

springtime is very nice, of course once the flowers start blooming they're fast on their way to dying. But for the brief blip in the time-space continuum they are here and displaying their beauty, I thought I'd capture some of it with my camera. These irises aren't mine, but my neighbor Rosemary's. She is the owner of Toby, Marcus' nemesis.





Tuesday, April 24, 2007

the water at work

The water here is very strange; if you wash your hands, or have to wash something out (like your lunch dishes) it either smells like metal or rotten eggs. Sometimes both at the same time, if you can imagine that. There are a lot of shared doorknobs, printer buttons, pens, and other overlooked items, and there isn’t any way you can go through the day without washing your hands. Metal smell and everything; I tried going the “hand sanitizer” route and found it to just make my hands feel like I was wearing an Elmer’s glue glove of thick slime.

I have some citrus smelling lotion that simultaneously relaxes me and moisturizes my skin, and seems to keep the rotten egg metal smell at bay.

Monday, April 23, 2007

hindsight is 20:20

When I was at work one day venting about something that frustrated me, my boss told me that I was “just too agitated about it.” That reaction to my rant subsequently deflated my annoyance, and ever since, whenever I get annoyed about something I have a flash of my boss telling me that I’m just too agitated. It’s hard to be firm and effective when you are imagining your boss behind the person you are talking to, scoffing at whatever I’m on a tirade about.

So an incident occurred earlier that I probably got too agitated about. Looking back, I think I was annoyed about a number of things, mostly lack of communication and incompetence, but hardly anything to be annoyed about. Instead of acting I reacted, and in retrospect I could have handled things a million different ways. Of course that’s any story; how does that go, hindsight is 20:20? At least I didn’t do anything regrettable, like curse at someone, or run around screaming, or throw things. At these points in my day I like to focus on what went right.

And we passed the audit, 100%. I really only played a small part, organizing the information and playing hostess, but I’m still relieved it’s over. I couldn’t have done it without a lot of help from the people I work with (but not the ones who annoyed me earlier).

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

agency audit part one.

Relay call right before 5, the operator providing the verbal relay has a heavy accent, and it seems the party on the other end of the line is having a hard time making the transition from sign language speak to the idiom of spoken language. This conversation is an extra challenge because I was up late last night, didn’t get to bed until 2:30 and I’m all jet lagged east coast to west coast time zones. Throughout the day I felt as if I have crust in my eyes that won’t clear out, a frog that won’t leave my throat, a fuzzy coherence as I tackle a week’s worth of catch-up, familiarizing myself with what’s been going on, the day to day, hirings, firings, adjustments, changes, updates, etc.

On top of it we’re being audited, and some of the things the auditor needs to review seem like elements of a foreign language, all riddled with acronyms and numbers, spreadsheets and access reports slowly suffocating me and making me gasp for air. I just want to take a nap. I brought back two pounds of Italian cookies from New York for everyone in the office, and they were an immediate hit. Everyone oooed and aahed, took a few cookies back to their desks, temporarily increasing their productivity on the crescendo of a sugar high.

The buttery smell of those cookies initiated such a strong nostalgia, of times when I was a kid and would gorge myself on those buttery delights, holidays at my Aunt’s house eating all the sweets in sight. Now that I’m older, I still enjoy those cookies, but also appreciate the art of baked goods. The shapes, colors, and combinations of jellies, chocolate and sprinkle adornments make them almost too good to eat, they become an extreme visual and olfactory stimulation.

In the near future I’m going to upload my bakery pictures. If I wasn’t doing what I’m doing now, I might have been a baker. Cooking is an art, but baking is a science.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

SpaHa

My vacation is drawing to a close, and today before my flight leaves I'm feeling ambitious and am going to try to get some last minute things done. Flights are on time, and I'm sure I'm forgetting things, but that's part of the fun of vacationing. It's been a little nostalgic at times, and after not being here for about 2 years, it seems the area is changing at a rapid pace. I went for a ride with my cousin the other night to pick up Chineese food, past my old apartment and past some things that were vaguely familliar. The laundromat I used to go to is now a Papa John's pizza place (oh the irony of corporate pizza in a place where individual italian pizzerias reign supreme), the bakery is now a bank, the grocery store is a National Liquidators store; the list goes on and on. Old houses and lots have been turned into condos, and it's seeming to me that the country is gentrifying at an eyeblinking, incredible rate. I found it particularally amusing that Spanish Harlem is now being referred to as "SpaHa." I get the feeling whenever I visit that I never left and have always been here; as if I haven't moved but passed and fast-forwarded through the time-space continoum, and the only way to meausre that is by the subtle, barely noticable changes taking place.

Please excuse the spelling errors, I'm writing on a Mac and the spell check option isn't working. I've always been hooked on foniks and modern technology gives me the appearance of literacy.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

nor'easter

well, today (on vacation), NYC had a nor'easter rip through, depositing about 5 inches of rain. The quantity of rain and the quickness in which it fell broke a record--the wettest day in 8 years. Amazing!

It was raining buckets. Not much different then Portland.

Actually, it is different; the rain is heavier, harder, everything was flooding, the subway stations, sheets of water cascading down the streets, over 300 flights cancelled from the area 3 airports--JFK, Laguardia and Newark. Anyone who braved the storm was drenched in an instant, power outages were occuring throughout the city, waterfront communities were frantically sandbagging and watching the rising high tide, wondering where (or if) it would stop. It's still raining, but not nearly as hard or with such intensity.

I'm supposed to leave Tuesday night, and I think that things (weatherwise, anyway, I'm not thinking about the backlog of displaced travelers) will be back to semi-normal.

When I lived in NY, I was here for a record breaking snow storm (another nor'easter). It was January, 1996, I think the storm hit on the 2nd, and subsuquently shut the city down for 2 days. The city shutting down was pratcially unheard of, NYC was known for marching on in the face of adverse weather, presidential visits, protests, parades, and any other complicating multiplier. Once the seriousness of the storm hit area residents, there were mad dashes to stock up on bread, milk, lunch meats, diapers, and any other items deemed necessary. After the snow started piling up, the silence was deafening. The only audiable noises were the random and infrequent scraping noises of bored residents shoveling, and occasional emergency vehcile siren was muted and embraced by the 26" of snow. I was snowed in at a friend's house, and we spent several hours making fimo sesame street charachter head earings and listening to The Cure's Paris CD. I had listened to a little Cure prior to that storm, but after those 2 days I had a whole new outlook on Robert Smith and The Cure's music.

When the snowfall subsided, my friend used her father's huge 4 wheeler pick up truck to drive us out to The Unicorn Diner to get a bite to eat. We weren't hungry, but looking for an activity to occupy our cabin fever. There were about 6 other vehicles in the parking lot, all SUV's or big trucks. They were probably at the diner for the same reasons we were. Driving there was a challenge; there was so much snow there was no clear idea of where the street ended, the curb began, or where people's front yards began for that matter. I remember at the time thinking we should have attached the snow plow and done a little zen snowplowing--almost like Luke and the force--letting go, and trusting your feelings to guide where the path needs to be cleared. That could have been really cool.

When we arrived at the diner, we were welcomed by the neon pink tubing, and the warm embrace of practically curdled creamer, greasy disco fries, and tuna melts on huge bagels. My friend's father wasn't at home, in fact I had never met him throughout our brief friendship. I learned over those two days that he had been committed to a mental institution for sucide attempts. He was a cop. I think her mother had died several years earlier of some sort of cancer. It was a very surreal point in time for me, in my life, now that I'm looking back. At the time I was very "go with the flow," twenty-two and carefree. It was all an adventure.

The good ol' Unicorn Diner.

At least it's only raining today...

Friday, April 13, 2007

freaked out and Pat Kiernan.

Well, I'm on vacation in New York, visiting family and friends in the area. I took a red eye flight Wednesday night, which arrived Thursday morning. The flight was good and I actually got a couple of hours rest, which is unusual because I get so keyed up about vacationing or flying (I'm not sure which because they blend after a certain point). The weather was really rainy; raining buckets, soaking everything, gathering in puddles, flooding sidewalks and street corners. The only difference between here and Portland weather wise is the trees and flowers haven't bloomed yet, but have buds that look ready to burst.

Something disturbing happened right as I was landing, actually right after we landed, when we were taxiing to our gate. I looked out my window, and saw a plane engulfed in flames across the tarmac. I couldn't believe what I saw and was staring in disbelief; was I having an acid flashback?? I said out loud, "Oh my god is that plane on fire?" which prompted everyone near me to look out their windows. A girl who was sitting next to me confirmed the situation. It really freaked me out, and I when I finally closed my eyes to go to sleep last night, I couldn't get that image of the gray-black burning plane out of my mind. The landing was kind of rough because of the weather, and I was pretty airsick. I should have taken a picture but I was so busy fighting the urge to vomit the opportunity passed me by.

Ironically I was watching CNN the same time we were landing, the same time I was watching the plane burn across the tarmac, and there was no mention of the incident. I rationalized that it must have been a training exercise. Since I've arrived in New York I've watched some Channel 1, and haven't heard a peep about any burning planes.

Weird.

Oh well. With regard to the NY 1 channel, Pat Kiernan looks great! He must have a picture of himself in his attic that is aging. He looks younger and fresher then when I lived here (about 10 years ago). I used to enjoy watching him deliver reports on local news with a smirky, smarmy smile. Nothing like a subtle eye roll or uncomfortable silence between stories to convey an opinion without verbally stating it! After a couple of hours of watching him repeat the same news, it seems his news delivery style hasn't changed a bit.

He's no Sissy Biggers, though.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

happy "christ has risen from the dead eating deviled eggs and chocolate delivered by a rabbit"




So on Sunday we were riding around town, and I noticed that someone got into the spirit of Easter by dressing up several scary large dolls and displaying them along with several stuffed rabbits.

Monday, April 02, 2007

stan the mailman's replacement

We've had this new no-name mailman for the past 6 months, and he's starting to annoy me. I've been patient because I understand that transition takes time, and he might be shy or still learning his route. But 6 months into it, he should be a little friendlier and make more of an effort to deliver mail.

Stan the Mailman had been my mailman since i moved to Portland in 1999. For a couple of years, I lived outside of his delivery route, but I worked within the same zip code so I still saw him throughout the week. He's delivered to me in 2 other residences besides where I'm at now, and over the years the amount of ground he'd cover on a daily basis amazed me. He was always friendly, waved, smiled big and said hello whenever he'd see you. If he delivered mail when you were home and the door was open on a warm spring day, he'd make some brief small talk while putting your mail in your box. If he had something oversized, he'd leave a post-it note for you explaining he was coming by at the end of his day to see if you were home from work yet to deliver it without damaging the envelope. I've never experienced postal customer service satisfaction like that in my entire life.

Stan the mailman was great, and one day just disappeared. At first I thought he was on vacation, but after about a month I accepted that there had been a changing of the guard.

And this new no-name guy always wears dark glasses, blank expression on his face, and I've never heard him return a "hello." I think he might be a robot. When he delivers my mail, most of it is stuffed into the mail slot in one lump, and my screen door is propped slightly open by the wad of mail. Any mail that did make it inside of my apartment is all crinkled and ripped. This really pissed me off the other day. What's the point of having a slot in my door if the mail can't make it inside? Any meth head walking by can see what's going on with my mail and the door, and help themselves. If the mail man puts the letters in a few at a time he'll get them all through, I figure he's got to be really lazy to do what he's doing. Stan never had a problem getting my mail in the slot.

I really hate the post office sometimes; the thing I hate about them the most is if you are dissatisfied, there's no guaranteeing that the problem will be fixed. If you complain about a carrier, you run the risk of not getting all of your mail. I'm sure they're not going to pull that guy off of that route because I, 1 of 5000 deliveries, has a problem. What I'm mostly annoyed about, is there's no competitor to go to for the same service. For shipping at least, you can do FedEx, DHL, UPS, any other number of shippers, but the services those companies provide don't encompass convieient quantity letter delivery. You unfortunately don't have the option, and can't have the attitude, "Fuck you U.S. Post Office, I'm taking my business to the Frito-Lay Pepsico Mail Delivery Supercenter." You just have to suck it up. It's like being in a relationship, there's ups and downs all throughout your history with the Post Office. Sometimes you have carriers that get it and sometimes you get carriers who are just putting in their 8 and can care less.

I applied to be a letter carrier, right around the beginning of this blog. I applied in December, I think, but didn't get a letter from them until the following May. If you apply for the post office, you have to apply online, and based on your application you'll be invited to a written test at a main post office facility. Depending on how well you do on that test determines if you advance to the next round. I guess the next round is an in-person intimidating panel interview or something. I never took the written test; by the time I received this letter inviting me to the written test I had been working at my new job for about 5 months and wasn't thinking of leaving at all. I thought it would be a fun job, though, and what inspired me to apply was knowing Stan the Mailman and others like him I've met throughout my life.

Anyway, I hope my new no-name mailman gets his act together.