Monday, November 29, 2010


This morning, I was "alerted" on the news that Zagat had released it's compiled list of airline winners. You can find it here. Somewhere on that page, you can download all survey statistics, which is sort of what caused me to think and sort of what launched me to write today.

Also, there may be vodka involved. *shrugs*

So, pre-vodka (as I am very conscious of early morning limits), I was watching about this list of top airlines and this list of top airports. You can only find the latter if you download the stats.

My favorite airline, Frontier, didn't make the cut any where.

My favorite, airport, Vegas, didn't either.

I have found Frontier (a regional line, thus the non-mention, I'm sure) to have the best value and experience. McCarren was mentioned, but only after other, less drool-worthy airports, like Midway.

As much as I don't like to admit it to people I've met over the last two years, I was once in a long distance relationship. Only once.

Prior to that, I traveled via airplane exactly once in my life- during a family vacation in which we embarked upon a cruise ship to the Carribean Islands. The popular ones.

When I began the LDR, things changed. I boarded many an airplane in 18 months and became quite the novice airline reviewer.

The thing is, I don't always remember much about the airports, only that I only noticed what was happening in them relative to my LDR.

I remember which cities I've boarded airplanes from:

Las Vegas
Salt Lake City

I can't recall how many times I flew or how many times I picked him up. I remember that the arrivals were magical and the departures cursed.

I remember how every time I heard "Welcome to Detroit" I held back the tears of someone who was FINALLY home. Unrelated: in an interview, Sarah Silverman told her interviewer that depression feels like being homesick- even when you're at home. But, when I heard the words "Welcome to Detroit," I was HOME.

I remember the joys of seeing him come down the escalator in Vegas and kissing passionately and how I tried to steal away on departure day while he was sleeping so he wouldn't come with me to the airport. It had been that miserable of a trip.

I remember being so afraid I would miss my departure in Salt Lake City because of traffic and how I had to get home, how I couldn't wait another second. I remember losing my favorite cashmere cardigan at the gate. I remember texting one of my best friends at the time and her offering to procure me some weed and laughing out loud. Still I cried the whole way to Austin, then to Denver, then to Detroit, then for days, all for some idealized version of a person that didn't exist. For a poseur.

There are so many things about what held me to him that I don't understand and don't want to.

I told myself I would never again enter a LDR, but I think I was wrong. Were I to find myself a single gal again, I just might remember all of the good things about it. I might remember that I never had to change the way I lived for another person. I might remember how it felt to always long for someone and never long to go away from them. I might remember how it felt to be with a perfect human being because you didn't have day-to-day evidence that he wasn't. I might remember that I could still be alone every single time that I wanted to, I could be a slob if I wanted, my life was still about me and no one else.

Best of all, I could be driving with the Detroit skyline ahead of me, and then behind, and know I was home. Even if it wasn't a physical structure that contained me.

Monday, October 11, 2010

"We're standing still, JENNY!"

I could actually get in trouble for posting this and I may have signed something somewhere along the way promising to never do so. Legalities.

One of our country's major retailers trains its employees by using a fictitious family headed by Jennie and Mike. Naturally, they have two children (a boy and a girl as their good luck would have it) and a dog. I don't recall the names of the children or the dog.

Since we all know that the moms do most of the family shopping, our major retailer focuses on Mom. Jennie.

It is taboo to say "We have to get this stock out to the floor so the customer can buy these sweaters at the sale price." Instead it's, "Jennie's sure going to be mad if she comes in to buy this sweater and it's not on the sales floor!"

Everything is about Jennie and the employees at every level talk about her like she's a real person.

But she's not and why doesn't this hypothetical talk sound ridiculous to anyone else but me?

What kind of people have conversations at work naming Jennie as if they've met her and competing for the best hypothetical situation to drop Jennie's name?

"We need Jennie to open a credit card today!"
"Jennie's average sale is going to be $92.04!"
"The out of stock report was done Sunday so we have those jeans in Jennie's size and she's not going to have to go somewhere else!"
"Jennie is going to love this jacket!"


One time, upon trying to convince a customer that the sweater in her hand was the exact shade of red she was looking for, the salesperson was unsuccessful and the customer walked away unconvinced and deposited the sweater on the nearest table.

The salesperson turned to the closest stockperson and said, "Jennie's so fussy!"

The stockperson waited with a baffled look on her face to see if the salesperson was making some sort of humorous quip about this ridiculous Jennie business. Alas, the salesperson was completely serious.

The stockperson is more determined than ever to never use the name "Jennie" in a sentence and to never, ever make friends with someone named "Jennie." Particularly if her name is spelled with an "i-e" at the end.

I'm reading:

I'd like it better if it wasn't cutting into my Harry Potter series re-read. 39 days until the new movie!!!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Minimal Units of Meaning

A few years ago I had a rather big crush on a gentleman who was in my grammar class on Wednesday nights. It being that I had a boyfriend at the time and this classmate was eight years younger than me, it was a rather harmless little thing.

The grammar class was strictly for students in the education program, so we all had in common that we were future teachers. In spite of the fact that he was rather clean cut for my usual taste in men, I became quite aware of him right off the bat. One gets a good grip on the folks in a class when said class is five hours long and the instructor is one of those there's-no-way-you're-getting-out-early types.

By the second week, my sister-in-law could already tell that I had hit it off with the poor young kid as we had an identical sense of humor. For the first time in all the classes we had together, SIL sat away from me in week three so I could sit next to the cute, clean-cut object of my affection. On this third week of class, I was discussing with my crush our homework and assigned readings and he said (in a most matter-of-fact and proud manner), "I fell asleep dreaming of morphemes." Up until that point, I had never wanted to make out with someone so bad in my life.

Oddly and awesomely, the instructor decided to separate the elementary education students from the secondary education students in week four. She could see that we didn't jive. There are always more elemantary students in an education program and they're constantly relaying stories about how inspiring it is to work with little kids who wipe snot on their sleeves and can't even read yet. Secondary students aren't like that, we always liked to talk about how best to mess with our kids' minds.

So, on this fourth week of class, as our instructor began to notice how hard the secondary students judged the elementary students (as explained in this accusation by my crush, "They put glitter on everything!"), my crush and I found ourselves on the west side of the classroom with the other ten secondary students impolitely feeling superior to the 24 elementaries on the other side of the aisle.

A secondary teacher herself, our teacher decided to "bridge the divide" with some friendly competition by having us play a game that she plays with her high schoolers. Giving the elementary side a ball, she told them "soft." The classmate on the elementary side with the ball had to throw the ball to our side and whomever caught it had to come up with a simile for "soft" and the ball goes back and forth until no one has a simile. If someone catches the ball and can't come up with a simile, they're out and the other side gets the ball back and picks a new word.


And the game went on. Predictably (kidding), the elementary team thinned rapidly until there was one strong player left against me and my crush. She played hard and I was so grateful to her because every time she threw the ball back to me and him, our words were so impressive and unfaltering that it was nothing short of foreplay. Is there really anything hotter than a varied vocabulary inventory that can be accessed with ease?


It's funny when I think about the qualities that I spent a lot of time thinking I couldn't live without in the people I chose to surround myself with. There aren't as many non-negotiables as I once thought. Really, when you find a bunch of friends or a mate that make you feel good, the only non-negotiable is that they appreciate you, in the exact package you come in, whether the ingrediants are listed or not.

At that time in my life, it wasn't enough to have a lot of words in my brain. People weren't good enough if they didn't have more than me. I've come a long way, but I still smile when I think of the night I played the simile game.

That night, I went to bed dreaming of morphemes.

Sometimes, I still do.

Right now I'm reading AND immensely enjoying:

Friday, July 23, 2010


A good old-fashioned 3-for-1 special:

I used to be a heavy girl, weighing in at 195 pounds. I've always been pear-shaped, this was extremely exaggerated in my fat days. Now, at 135, I'm about five pounds heavier than I was at my lowest weight but I haven't much issue with it. I'm proud that I've kept the weight off for well over three years.

There's something about planning a wedding that sparks some biological need to lose weight in women. This is not entirely true for me. I'm pretty sure that if I put on my dress (yet to be selected, mind you) in its final alteration form, I'd be smokin' hott. Yes, with two "t's."

The thing is, the fiance has his sights set on Hawaii for the honeymoon. The last thing a girl wants is to frolick about in Hawaii for the first time sporting a tankini. Nope. What she wants is a smokin' hott bikini bod.

In spite of the fact that it simply is not going to happen, I find myself prepping for dieting again, trying to find the exercises that will turn my pear into an hourglass, and searching for the most effective combination of jumping rope and skin creams that will minimize the dimpling on my ass. Good luck with that.

I know that there are so many levels of ridiculous to the Twilight saga. Vegetarian vampires, teenage werewolves, and Edward's goddam diamond skin. I know that the books are an assault on all that is beautiful in literature. I know that all of my intelligent friends put me in a narrow minded category created especially for the idiots who like those dumb vampire movies.

Sue me. I like the Twilight movies. I stand in line an hour before midnight, having secured my tickets weeks earlier, on release night waiting to see what happens next. And, I'm going to be quite frank, here. I'm excited that my preteen daughter's dad didn't take her to see it during his summer visitation. I am thereby obligated by my parenting contract to ensure that she sees the movie and will be doing so in approximately 100 minutes, along with all the friends who saw the movie at midnight with me.

We're excited to see Eclipse again and we refuse to hide it. We are allowing ourselves to be entertained by the movies even though they are not true to the historical fictitious depiction of vampires. Movies don't always have to be earth-shattering relevations of mind-blowing proportions. They can be a simple, mindless reminder of the fact that some of us are moved by a good eternal love story.

And guess what? I'm still a smart girl.

I have sensitive skin. When I scratch an itch, run into something (I'm a klutz), or play volleyball, whichever part of my skin that is contacted reminds me of its disdain with a nice red welt that goes away within an hour. My face is a study in adult acne. I know which products keep it under control. Unfortunately, these products conflict with my urgent desire to STOP the aging process on my face.

It would seem that anti-aging products forget about the little guys with adult acne because whenever I use them, I break out.

My favorite anti-aging product is rather pricey. But it does not make me break out. Sadly, if I don't break it up every few months, it seems less effective. So, I like to use it for a couple of months and then use something else for a month before going back. I look at the month break as a chance to nurse my budget. But the skin care section at my local Target doesn't seem to carry anything budget friendly that doesn't make me break out. Bitches.

Oddly, I don't want to get old AND I don't want to look like a teenager. Sigh.

I'm currently reading:
This is part of my effort to tackle a good classic a few times a year. I love Flaubert's writing style thus far and do not think this book is going to be a labor at all.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The Irony of Independence

"Where are we going?" I was mildly curious as to why we were turning around, I was in no hurry to get home.

"I want to check that park out back there."

We had been on the motorcycle for a total of about an hour and had stopped about twenty minutes back for fountain pop, it being a ridiculously hot day. I had been ribbing him to take me on a long bike ride for a while as I hadn't been on the back of the bike nearly as much as I would like this season. In spite of the heat coming from mechanical parts I don't begin to understand, I was happy to be sitting behind him with the wind whipping at us at 55 miles per hour.

Even when I'm tired of sitting back there after a trip, it's always a bittersweet end.

He pulled into Lexington Park, one I had heard of but never been to. I hopped off the back, took off my helmet, removed my earplugs, and stretched. We headed in the direction of the lake and found some steps down to the beach.

There were about twenty-five people in the water, not too many. The shore was small and littered with driftwood, not a great place for sunbathing. However, the depth was shallow for quite a way out with no current, making it an excellent place to take children. In fact, half of the beach's occupants were waist-high, climbing on large rocks in the water, pretending they were private islands.

When I had seen all I thought I needed to see, I looked at him and saw him still studying the beach goers. So I waited.

I could hear nervousness in his voice when he looked at me and said, "I brought you down here for a reason."

I stopped breathing.

"I have something for you in my pocket."

With that, he fished for a little gray velvet box in his pocket and dropped to one knee and asked me to marry him.

And even though it had been a couple of months since he took me to the jewelry store to pick out a ring, he surprised me. I had no clue and my body felt the physical symptoms of minor shock. I began shaking, fighting back tears, and generally feeling like I couldn't stand up by myself. I nodded my head, I maybe said the word "yes," and I threw my arms around his neck while he was still on the ground and kissed him.

When he got up, I told him I loved him and I put the ring on my finger. He was as shaky as I was and we were both laughing and saying little nervous things that I already can't remember three days later.

I do remember one important thing he said, "Yep, you're just different."

Then, to lighten it up, "you're the only one who I wanted to marry." Or something like that. It was one of those silly, nervous things.

In the end, he did everything right. I will remember Independence Day of 2010 for the rest of my life. He didn't say anything contrived to be magical. He didn't take me to a fancy dinner. Instead, he took me out for one of my favorite ways to spend a day, something that wouldn't tip me off as to just how wonderful this day would end up. His tiny bit of anxiety, so uncharacteristic of him, said more than his words ever could. So, maybe just this one time, I will acknowledge that language is arbitrary. In very little speech, everything I could ever want to have spoken was, indeed, said.

I just finished reading:

The afterword was dry but the narrative and addition of supplemental documents was terrific.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Fine Art of Decision Making

Not typically one to watch a chick flick unless somehow forced, I do have a handful of favorites. One of these is Beautiful Girls. It follows the lives of a handful of late-20s gentlemen as they try to figure out women and what it is they want with them exactly.

One of the gentlemen has been recently shit-canned by his girlfriend of seven years because he doesn't want to get married. After a few weeks, he finds out she, a vegetarian, is dating a meat-cutter. Clearly, this is just the kick in the ass he needs and he runs out and buys her an engagement ring.

He shows up at the diner she works at with the ring in an attempt to sweep her off her feet. When this is proving unsuccessful, things begin to get heated. Ultimately he is confronted with what some women simply have to say sometimes: he only wants to marry her after faced with losing her. His response is that he didn't like the alternative and is that not how one typically arrives at a decision?

"No, Paul. One arrives at a decision based on what one wants, not based upon what one doesn't. Get it?"

And the lady walks away. For good.

That's always spoken to me, it seemed the most logical thing ever. Him not wanting to live without her IS NOT the same as wanting to marry her. Clearly, while this has the obvious literal translation in terms of relationships (Does any woman really WANT to get married as a result of an ultimatum? I know I don't, someone either wants to marry me or he doesn't. I'm sure as hell not going to make someone marry me.), I really think it applies to everything.

For example, my focus on job hunting. I've just been applying for shit. I've been putting in applications for every job I see whether qualified, over-qualified, or under-qualified. I've been individualizing every cover letter, every resume and it's making me miserable. I've been doing this because I don't want to be unemployed. What I haven't been doing is focusing on what I want.

There are the obvious things: insurance, stability. But there are other things. I have a diverse educational and work background and I want to work in something that incorporates those things. I want to work for a non-profit so I have a feeling at the end of the day as though I've done something for my community. I want to have a job for which I have spent time becoming qualified and am valued for my qualifications.

I've made a decision to narrow down only 3-5 types of jobs I want to work in and, consequently, work really hard on only 2-3 resumes/cover letters that fit what I want to do. That way I don't have the stress of changing them for all of these different jobs that I don't really want and then spending time feeling dejected because I can't even get an interview for one of them (c'mon, Michigan, get it together already!).

Another recent source of stress is the increasing sadness I feel every summer when my kids go away to their dad's for the summer. As much as parents always say "I can't imagine what my life would be like without my children," I CAN imagine, I live it and it's horrible. I get so depressed over what it will be like when my daughter is a few years older. What if she's a typical rebellious teen? What if she hates me every time I say "no." The words "I want to go live with my dad!" are so dreaded that I'm spending every day of my time away from them terrified of it.

Truth is, that's no way to live. Because that's all about what I don't want. What I really do want is to be able to look back and say, "I was a good mother. All parents make mistakes and I made plenty, but I was a good mother." On that note, I'm making a decision to call my kids every couple of days and ask them what they did that was fun since the last time we talked. I'm thinking of the things we can do to make memories when they get back. Mostly, I'm thinking of how much I can't wait to hug them again and plant dozens of tiny kisses all over their faces when I pick them up in 19 days. And that is exactly what I'm going to do.

Of course, given what I've shared about one of my favorite chick flicks, I would be remiss not to discuss my relationship. It's been a year and a half now and we aren't always on our best behavior anymore. Sometimes I think we're in a rut. I'm finding that whenever I have "I don't want it to be like this" thoughts, my actions and thoughts become even more negative. Then, I have even more of those thoughts.

What I do want is to maintain the physical intimacy that has characterized this relationship as different from others. What I do want is to look across the table at a man who has been more patient than others, a man who seems to sense that I'm throwing things out of proportion and says things like "it was an accident" when my daughter doesn't hear the timer go off and the cookies burn. I want to rub my face on his prickly whiskers for years to come.

So, instead of allowing my feelings of injury dictate my actions when he insults me one too many times in jest, I'm going to trust that he'll remember that I told him it's not funny after the first couple of jokes. When he doesn't want to have sex one night because we just did it last night and the night before and the night before, I'm going to remember that as quickly as I can turn him on when I want to, his request to go to sleep is probably related to him being tired and not related to my lumpy ass.

Because, what I really want is to greet him at the door with a hug and tell him I'm glad he's home. So that is precisely what I will do.

In the end, making decision based upon what I don't want does nothing but breed negativity.

Currently reading (upon the suggestion of my sister):

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Conflict Resolution

This is the first of many blogs I intend to post documenting my job search in Michigan. The following is my answer to a conflict resolution question that I must submit along with a job application which I won't submit for a few days yet so I can critique both this and my cover letter. Please criticize!

"Describe a time when you had to resolve a complex problem for a difficult customer. How did you approach the problem, what types of actions and resources did you utilize to resolve the problem and was the customer satisfied with the resolution."

When I was employed as an Assembly Line Supervisor, my line was selected to go through a process we called “Kaizen.” Kaizen is a Japanese word that refers to change leading to an improvement in manufacturing processes. Consequently, I was able to serve on a team of individuals with varying job titles to increase the efficiency of my assembly line while improving quality. It was an extensive process, taking about six months to finish. At its completion, I was excited to have a new, re-vamped assembly line that I had the opportunity to help build.

As part of the process, we invited our customer, Chrysler, to come and see what we had done as our old assembly line had not been without problem and we were eager to show our customer the steps we had taken to remedy those problems in the interest of maintaining our business relationship.

Three representatives from Chrysler were to evaluate our new assembly line and, as the supervisor and a participant in the process used to build the new line, I was assigned to perform the walk through.

I performed all of the necessary steps one performs when a visit of this kind is to occur. I scrubbed the assembly line from top to bottom. I taped new lines on the floor. I added new, bright colors to the hourly production board meant to stimulate the senses of my employees and show my customer we cared about what we were doing. I coached my employees on how they should act and what they should do.

My boss was there to watch my performance and I sparkled in providing my tour, right up until the last station. Our plant built side view mirrors for automobiles, both electric and manual. My line was running electric for this visit, meaning that the mirrors had a wire harness that would hook up to the car allowing the driver to press a button to move the mirror around.

The last station on the line was meant to check the integrity of the wiring. If the harness was told to move the mirror left and it moved right, an alarm would sound and red paint would be sprayed on the glass to alert the packaging station not to pack that part for delivery- it had been wired wrong.

I had asked one of my operators to mis-wire a mirror, in the presence of the Chrysler engineers, so I could show them this great, new feature on my line. The operator made a slow and careful show of mis-wiring the mirror, but when it got to the last station, the testing station, it passed with flying colors. It was as though it had announced in its most proper, British voice, “I am positively wired correctly. Please pack me up and send me to your customer!” Based on the three sets of eyes now fixed on my face, not to mention, the very red face of my boss, who was clearly blaming me for this mishap, the customer was not pleased.
I was put in a position where my boss was speechless and my customer wanted an answer. I promptly apologized and turned to my assistant, requesting that he called maintenance. I steered my customer away from my employees and over to my makeshift desk. I told them that until maintenance arrived, I couldn't tell them what had gone wrong, but that I could assure them that this was the first time this error had occurred. I opened a binder that contained all of my notes and data regarding the Kaizen process and showed them the results of all the tests we had done on my line. It became apparent that this data did not solve their concerns and that they were very upset.

Ultimately, I told them that we would not leave them without support on this issue. We would get a team together to manually re-test the parts before they left the facility for delivery and I offered to lend my support by driving to the Chrysler plant fifty minutes away and stand on the door line to take care of re-working any mirrors that had already been shipped. I did this for three days until the re-tested parts came through. Gladly, none of the mirrors were wired incorrectly and I was able to turn in a data chart that showed that every mirror I tested was error free.

In manufacturing, there will always be something that goes wrong and responding becomes nothing short of procedural. However, building relationships in business will always be important. Customers feel assured when a face they recognize and trust shows up at the door to solve a problem.