Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The Adventures of Business Travel pt.1

Yesterday afternoon, my plane was only 1 hour delayed, which meant that I had time to go workout.  But I had to respond to some work emails that were time sensitive.

I take off my work pants, and put on running shorts.
I take off my work top, and I sit at the desk in my hotel room typing in my cami-undershirt.

I hear a noise.
I am curious because it sounds like someone is using a key card to enter my hotel room.
But that can't be right.
This is my room.
It must be next door.
I must have super-hearing.

And then he opens the door with one hand full of dress shirts on hangers.
He is smiling- this middle aged man.
And then he registers that there is a girl in his room.
With her crap sprawled out everywhere on the beds and floor.

"They must have given me the wrong room."
I smile.
"Yes, I think so."
He retreats, and the door closes behind him.


After this happened, I felt slightly embarrassed that my room was so messy.
I don't mind the mess, but in hotels, I like to tidy up every morning before the cleaning lady comes.

I also was happy that I had clothes on.

I always lock all of the door locking mechanisms before I go to sleep.
But not every time I am in my room.
Especially if I am about to walk out to go exercise.

It is also interesting to me that I was not afraid during this encounter.
Probably because I have been staying in this hotel for the past 3 weeks, checking out on Fridays and checking in on Sunday or Monday.
Also- I knew that the normal girl who checks us in on Mondays is on vacation until Tuesday this week.
There were 2 people at the desk working the check in where there is usually only 1- the normal girl.
They slipped up a little.
I can understand this.

Sunday, August 12, 2012


This post is my response to a post by a friend of mine.  She is a 10% real life- 90% internet friend, because although I knew her in real life first, most of what I know now is all internet.  I love her writing.  J loves her writing.  and we wish she would come back to The PM.  But no pressure.

She was asked by one of her (high school) creative writing students if she had ever been published.  The answer was no.  

I feel like she hit on this in her post, but maybe, being published (in the traditional way), is a yard stick that seems meaningful when you are in high school, but then becomes meaningless once you can see a little more clearly.  For me, having a PhD is this way.  I thought I needed to have one, because it drew a line in the sand between authentic scientists and un-authentic ones.  

But now I know how subjective the process is. 
I know that having a PhD means nothing.  
What has meaning is what I can deliver in my work on a day-to-day basis.  
And I am proud of myself for what I can deliver.

I think publishing is like that.  Especially now that the publishing industry is changing.  "Being Published" might seem meaningful before you know what exactly that means, and what it doesn't mean.  
The discovery of meaning, and lack-of-meaning could be depressing, or it could be a good coming-of-age story.

Maybe what has meaning, is what you can deliver with your writing on a day-to-day basis. 
Or maybe it is what your writing can do to deliver you.  

That brings us to the question of why we write.

I think for some people, like me and David Finch, writing helps because talking can be too much.
Writing helps calm me.
And writing, here, can help me show J topics I am thinking about but might not bring up in real life- because real life is too full of other things.

I might write because I am egocentric.  

That sentence makes me cringe.  I feel like it is somehow bad to be that way.  But I want to be OK with it.  If I allow myself to be egocentric in my writing... then maybe I can be a better person in real life.  


Sunday, July 29, 2012

well I thought about the army... got a job at CFA

Why I still love Chick-fil-a even though they're anti-gay.

Chick-fil-a started in Atlanta, and is a significant part of the Atlanta culture.
Locations of CFAs in ATL:

Gays are also a significant part of the Atlanta culture.

Personally, I think people should be able to partner with whoever they want.  I think non-traditional marriages are necessary.  I even think that if 2 friends want to have a non-sexual but committed relationship, then they, too, should be able to make a legal commitment and get all of the rights and benefits of a traditional marriage partnership.

On top of this, I love Chick-fil-a.  There is a CFA near our apartment, and J and I go there often- at least once a week- but maybe more.  It is run by this older looking (48-55? yo) Indian guy with a comb-over, who is very nice.  There is a younger Indian guy (27 yo?) who might be his son who is also a manager there. These 2 high-school-looking Indian girls work there.  Then there are the black guys.  There is an american black guy who looks about 30, he is a little overweight, has glasses, and is really nice.  Then there is this other one- he looks African-black, and is older- 50ish? he helps us out, too.  They know us at that CFA.  And I love them.

CFA is run well- there are fresh flowers on the tables, and they give you free refills on soft drinks.  They have nutrition facts available, and they just got these new desserts!  The chocolate chip cookie sundae is the BEST!  The dining room is always clean.  People seem happy to work there.  And- they are closed on Sunday.  I bet this is good for business because it creates a yearning in your heart for chicken strips when you drive by on a Sunday and know you cannot have them.  Additionally, it gives their employees a day of rest- which is necessary and forgotten by most of America.

When I meet people for the first time, and the topic of "time not spent working" comes up, the topic of what you do for fun or pleasure, many people say they like to eat out, cook, or something around food.  They like expensive snooty restaurants.  And for me, food is a problem.  I try to not focus on it, and I hate going to restaurants where there is a wait-staff.  But I love CFA.  Why?

I realized that I do like to eat out at certain places, and there are similarities in the places I like to go.

Characteristics of places I like to eat:

1) Order at the front and go sit down.  No wait-staff.
I don't like talking to people trying to earn my money.  I want to just chill with J and eat my food.

2) Diversity of people eating at the place.
I like to go eat because I consider it to be a "show." A reality-life show where people don't know that they are the stars.  I like my CFA, because there are a wide range of customers.  We used to have the gay couples there, and the families with kids, and the old retired couples, and the high school girls, and the college kids.  People can wear interesting outfits to CFA (bright colors, overly-sexy, or Cinderella costumes).  Some restaurants are the Yuppie Restaurants (YR).  Yes, they might have good food, and there are some YR in Atlanta that are order at counter and then chill, but since people-watching is a primary reason for me to enter into society, a low diversity patron group such as All-Yuppies, or All-Atlanta-Blacks makes my dining experience poor and less interesting.

3) Relaxed atmosphere.
Part of this comes from not-being-waited-on.  Another part comes from the fact that I know I probably will not destroy anything in this place unintentionally.  AND- this is major- I can order ANYTHING or NOTHING and it is OK.  I can go at dinner time and just get an ice cream cone.  No problem.

4) Low Staff Turn-Over and Non-White or Diverse Staff.
Finally, I like going somewhere where I can see someone familiar for 5 minutes and then be left alone.  That is about my speed.  So I like seeing the same person at the counter.  I know our meeting will be short and pleasant.  And- since I go to the same places a lot- they remember me, too.  Non-White or Diverse Staff.  I don't even know why I like this, but it might be an indicator of interestingness of the place.

5) Ben Folds worked there and sang about it in Army.
Is it interesting that the Army and CFA are two anti-gay establishments?

Coming back to the Gay controversy.  Did you know Marriott is run by Mormons?

I am still happy to go to CFA even though the leader's views are different from mine.
Because I don't care about his opinions.
I don't care how he spends his money.
He runs a great company- a company that distinguishes itself from all other fast food chains.
So he gets money- he earned it honestly, as far as I can tell.

I don't care about what most people believe.
I want to understand what motivates individuals, in general.
But unless they are directly influencing my life because of that belief, than I do not care.
I bet I would feel differently if I was gay- because maybe I would think he was influencing my life. 

But I am not gay.

I think it is OK for people to make their own choices about how to spend their money and about what they want to believe in.  I think it is OK if people think differently from me.

I think this CFA uproar is more about people trying to pick a fight with CFA, than anything else.
Let it go, and find the pleasure in a Saturday morning chicken biscuit.


Saturday, July 21, 2012

50 shades of embarrassment

I have not read any of the books.  I hear the writing style is poor.

My favorite part of the 50 shades of grey phenomenon is that sometimes I am lucky enough to watch strangers buy the book.  The first time I was in an airport in line to check out, at one of those books and snacks stores, and the middle aged (mid 50s) white guy in front of me was getting a newspaper and 50 shades of grey.  He presented his items to the cashier with the newspaper wrapped around the book.  She opened the newspaper, and scanned each item.  Then he re-wrapped the book in the paper.

The second time, I was at a grocery store with my husband.
There was a black woman (early 40s) with her hair in dreads and a pony-tail standing in front of us.  She was wearing workout clothes.  She had the book* on the moving conveyor belt covered mostly by a magazine.  You could see handcuffs on the cover.

J and I walked out with our groceries and he said to me, "I don't know why she was so embarrassed about that book.  Its OK black woman, you can read your books about slavery."

J thought it was about African-american historical-slavery.  :)

Embarrassment is interesting to watch.  Especially when people are embarrassed about something that I don't place a value judgement on, like sexuality.

*maybe it is a different book in the series than the 1st one?

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Art Alexakis fails at Summerland 2012

On Friday night J and I went to Chastain Park to see the Summerland 2012 Tour: Marcy Playground, Lit, Gin Blossoms, Sugar Ray, and Everclear.  We went for me.  My musical history goes something like this:

5th grade: Ace of Base
8th or 9th grade: Blink 182, Lit, and Matchbox 20
10th or 11th grade: Everclear serves as one of the gateway bands to music that I become no longer ashamed of admitting I listen to.

I wanted to go see Summerland because I wanted to see Everclear.  But it was only going to be Art Alesakis  from everclear- no matter- I will see fake-everclear- and even if it is like a cover band of everclear I will enjoy it.

Highlights/ (bullet points?) of the evening:

1) not huge crowds like before Radiohead

2) Chastain Park has HORSES!!!!  Amazing.  I want to go back and secretly visit them.

3) Marcy Playground is enjoyable.

4) Lit is fun. FUN FUN.  They are good performers.  High Energy.  I liked their new songs.

5) Gin Blossoms- kind of lame.  very lame? 

6) Sugar Ray is funny.  This guy is a performer.  This other blogger called Mark McGrath a douche, which yes, I can see that, but Mark seems to play the doucheness up in a full-character-douche-roll* which I can appreciate the beauty of - from the sidelines of not buying into it.  they started with "Wipe Out" which reminded me that I should look up indie bands doing Surf Rock- because I like it.

7) Everclear.  Everclear was HORRIBLE.  Or really it was just Art Alexakis.  If you have ever seen someone do a really wretched job at karaoke, then you had the experience that I had watching Art. 
Symptoms of Bad Karaoke (Or how Art fucked up):

#1- You do not sing all of the words in the song.
Singing 50% of the words is OK if you are driving in your car - rocking out to the band on the radio.
Singing all of the words takes a considerably larger amount of focus and energy, and it is why being a front-man is hard work.

#2- Something sounds wrong.
The volume of vocals to volume of music is off.  The tune is off.  ?? I don't know but we just shook our heads and said "this sounds horrible."  This is also when most of the people walked out of the amphitheater- during Art's 2nd song.

#3- You sing too fast or too slow.
Art sang "Wonderful" too fast- and it did not appear to be on purpose.

Maybe there were more reasons why Art sucked- but we left by then...
Seeing Art was disappointing.

The other interesting bit was that it seemed like the guys in his band and in all of the other bands KNEW Art was failing.  They came out and tried to help him sing.  The gin blossoms guy basically had to sing ALL of Art's new song- with Art as backup.  Then the Lit guy came out to help.  It was embarrassingly bad.

At first I thought he just got fucked-up before the show so he could not perform as well high as he thought he was performing.  Then I did some reading- and this guy is 50.  J said it reminded him of seeing Old-Ozzy.  What if you do a huge amount of drugs during a crucial stage of brain development (say age 8-14) and then you suffer the normal brain atrophy that occurs with aging - and you are fucked and unable to communicate or self-monitor.  

Maybe that is what we were watching.  It certainly wasn't Everclear.

*douche-role would be the character role, yes, but Douche-Roll could be the new offering next to the spring roll at tin drum.  Can you see a rice-paper wrapped Mark McGrath?

UPDATE 7/17/12:
I did some additional searching and some people are saying that Art has performed this way since 2003, and his voice is shot because of vocal surgeries.  Although he does have this problem of singing into the microphone.  How do you explain that?

"his voice seemed to be the only real problem." But that would be a big problem if what you are contributing to the song is your voice.