Thursday, February 25, 2016

It's Not Okay

The older I get the less I say "It's okay" in situations where that's the obvious social expectation.

A coworker screamed in my face at a meeting for whispering in the background.  Later,
    Her: I hope I didn't offend you.
    Me: [Pause] Well, I was talking on a sidebar.

A college student called half an hour after a scheduled informational phone interview.
    Her: I forgot I had a midterm I had to study for.
    Me: [Pause] I'm still free, we can still talk.

Because it's not okay. 

I was standing in a circle with four men at work who are at least ten years older than me, including two of my bosses.
    Coworker: I'd tell a [dirty] joke, but, well, Abby's here.
    Me: [Smile politely and keep standing there so he can't tell it and doesn't get a reaction from me.]

I don't want to acquiesce or give permission to things that aren't okay.

That is my rebellion.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Bedroom Colors

After some time, the mint green on the bedroom walls was too much. 

I don't think it was a record number of paint testers to pick a new color, but it was close.  Oatbran, Asiago, Oatlands Subtle Taupe, and Woodrow Wilson Putty.  I thought Asiago was too pale in the sunlight, but Oatbran and Oatlands Subtle Taupe were too dark without direct light.  Even though I had wanted more of a greige than a beige Woodrow Wilson Putty was the winner by default!

Now it looks calm and neutral but not too plain in daylight:

 And in lamplight:

I've decided to start an Excel document with my paint colors because blogging them is likely a strange system.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Paint Colors

In an update on paint colors, I painted my small bathroom.

 The wall color is Benjamin Moore's "Violetta", adjusted down 25 or 50% (I forget), in Behr paint.

I also painted the vanity in Benjamin Moore's Sihouette, in actual Benjamin Moore Advance paint, because that's so good for cabinets.

Friday, December 20, 2013

I Take the "I" Out of iPhone

As time goes on, I am increasingly challenged on my decision not to have a smart phone.

Sometimes the issue comes up when someone sees my phone.

Sometimes the issue comes up when I ask for directions to a location ("Let's all meet at [restaurant name]. What do you mean, 'Where is it'?  Just look it up.").  

Sometimes the issue comes up when I have to correct an underlying assumption ("We can just require every employee to complete their lab safety inspection using an iPhone app on their personal phones.")

My slide phone (and landline) are generally met with an incredible level of disbelief.  It is never accepted without question.  Normally there is a barrage of questions about my reasons and motives, none of which are satisfactory.  So, to organize my own thoughts, and prepare for the next onslaught, here are the reasons I do not have a smart phone.

1.  I am cheap.  

There is no denying that my current phone plan is cheap.  I'm on a family plan with my parents which costs $20-$30 a month depending on which additional line I am considered.  Since my dad refuses to bill me, whenever I visit my parents I slip a twenty into his wallet and softly call out what I'm doing to which he replies "Okay, sure!" because his hearing aids aren't in and he's pretending he can hear me.

2.  I don't need another distraction.

Trust me, I waste plenty of time on the Internet as it is.  Between 10 pm and 11 pm, I spend a good half hour to 45 minutes consciously procrastinating going to bed by reading news and joke websites.  It's stupid and I know it but I do it every single day.  Plus, I'll admit I've been spending a ludicrous amount of time playing Jurassic Park Builder on the Nexus tablet I won at a conference (notice a theme of me being reluctant to pay for technology for myself).  I've been going into work around 20 minutes later than usual for the past six months just so I can poke at dinosaurs and collect their dino coins.  If I had dinosaurs in my palm all the time?  I can't even imagine.

3.  I would rely on it as a social crutch

Like everyone else.

4.  I own a GPS

Everyone, when trying to explain how useful a smart phone is, mentions maps.  Funny thing, that's what a GPS does.  Without a monthly subscription cost.

5.  I want to leave work at work

Because of the nature of my job, I'm on call for manufacturing 24/7 for a big chunk of the year.  I also frequently work weekends or holidays because cell culture experiments work that way.  Having a smart phone capable of having work email all the time would mean I have work email in the little time I currently have away from work.  I don't want the capability or the expectation that work invade every hour of the day.

6.  I want to leave email at work

Because my work requires so much email, I've started to feel like email is work.  Even to people I like.  There are a few people, like my friends from high school and my family, who I think "get" me enough that I can write in my natural voice, but with most other personal emails I have to exert a day job level of effort to avoid inadvertently sounding bitter or sarcastic.  

Sarcasm is my first language.  Polite and chipper is a hard-won second.

7.  I charge my phone around twice a week

Not all the time that it's not in my hand.  Not in the car.  Not with a borrowed charger at a party.  My phone battery lasts over four days, and that's only when it gets down to 60% and I charge it because I paranoid and always think of a massive emergency scenario where I'm forced to evacuate my home and would want enough cell phone charge to call my family.  

This is also why I fill my car with gas when it reaches the half tank.

8.  I want to be aware of the world around me

I feel time.  I wait in lines.  I read books on buses.  I remember things rather than Instagram things.  

9.  I don't want to carry something that expensive around all the time

If I lose my phone, it's not the end of the world.  Or the end of my paycheck.

10.  I don't want to be the most important person in my life

I'm part of what is probably the last generation that will remember a time before Facebook.  I've seen the Internet and social media twist slowly from an experimental realm you used to discover new things to a space where everyone carefully crafts an image of themselves, carefully choosing what to share, what to show off.  I'm starting to hear "Look at me!  Look at me!  Look at me!" reverberate inside my head when I look at Facebook or Instagram.  If we all think only about ourselves, what we'll post, how many likes we'll get, where do other people fit into our lives except as backup players on our stage (or likers to our posts, commenters on our status)?  I don't want my life to be all about me.  We're all players on the stage but it's not my stage.  

And I don't want a device in my hand that implies otherwise.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Giving Drugs to Strangers

Several years ago I told myself that I couldn't let fear of social awkwardness thwart my charitable instincts.  I have to repeat it to myself sometimes when I think I can help but don't want to because it might be weird.  So then I'll do it.  And it is always weird.

Today I was on a flight back from Atlanta and it sounded like a man a few rows up was asking for medicine from a flight attendant.  The flight attendant offered him Tylenol, but said she didn't expect it to help his son's ears.  A woman in the row ahead of him mimed holding her nose and forcing air into her ears as a method that might help.  While it seemed like the man was getting plenty of input about his son's ear pain, I had a sack full of drugs I thought I should offer.

When I flew back from Munich the first time, I had a cold I had caught toward the end of my trip.  That plane flight was misery; my nose was running the whole time, I couldn't sleep, and the pressure forced junk into my ears so bad that I got an ear infection and spent the whole next week recovering.  But that time when I went to the doctor for the ear infection they didn't hand out antibiotics like candy (which I appreciate) but they told me to take Sudafed for several days to dry up the mucus and give my ears a chance to heal themselves.

This trip, when I was heading to Atlanta, I was at the tail end of a cold but I didn't want to take any chances.  I brought two packages of Sudafed (the good, behind-the-counter, show-your-ID, assure-the-pharmacist-you-won't-make-meth kind), a whole bottle of Benadryl (dual purpose since I was staying with a friend with a cat, which I'm allergic to), and a bottle of lorataine (also for the cat).

So I went up to the man with my box of Sudafed and offered it to him.  When I got to their row I could see his son had tears streaming down his face, indicating why they'd gone to the lengths of asking a flight attendant for meds.  I tried to explain what Sudafed was, that I had previously had a doctor indicate it for mucus getting into the ears, and I tried to make him read the back of the box including contraindications.  But he seemed to be foreign and I wasn't sure if he could read the box and I'm pretty sure "contraindications" wasn't in the vocabulary.  After the lady one row ahead had chimed in that she thought it would be better to try the Sudafed before the Tylenol he had given a tablet to his son before I really knew what was happening.

And that is how I came to give drugs to strangers.

Of course, after this, I worried that I shouldn't have done that and kept watching to see if I could confirm the kid was 1. moving 2. breathing and since he was in a seat I couldn't see then I wondered what kind of trouble I would be in if he did have a negative reaction.  But not too long after he was trading seats with his sisters and going down the aisle dry-eyed.  When his father passed me on his way to the restroom he said "After he took your tablet it was like a miracle.  Now he is fine!"

And that is how taking drugs from strangers turned out well for someone once.  A story which should never be repeated to any impressionable young children.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

A Bit of Unusual

I frequently feel like I am the weirdest moment in other people's day.

For instance, I recently went to the doctor because one of my pinky toes has been turning sideways and feels funny.  I figured I needed new orthotics for my shoes and was looking for a referral to a podiatrist but instead I was sent for X-rays and an MRI of the lower spine because my toes tingled when the doctor raised my leg, a "positive sciatic test".  Anyway, my HMO puts you through a whole rigmarole before the doctor will talk to you about your actual problem, checking on all your medications, weighing you with your shoes, coat, and purse still on you, etc.

This time, the nurse asked about my activity level.
Me: Well, according to my Fitbit I've been doing over 10,000 steps a day.
Nurse: [Lengthy silence while she stares motionless at the computer screen]
Me: Is there not a field for that? You could just say 20 minutes.

Then, later, when scheduling the MRI the clerk made me answer the gamut of questions to see if I'd want to sue them after the MRI.

Clerk: Have you ever had surgery on your heart, where they might have inserted something metal like a pacemaker?
Me: No.
Clerk: Have you ever had surgery on your head, where they might have inserted something metal like a metal plate?
Me: No.
Clerk: Have you ever had surgery to implant anything in your ears, where they might have inserted something like a cochlear implant?
Me: No.
Clerk: Have you ever had surgery on your eyes?
Me: No.
Clerk: Have you ever had surgery to repair a broken bone, where they might have inserted surgical pins or screws?
Me: No.
Clerk: Have you ever had any surgery at all?
Me: No. [Pause.] Is that in case they left something inside you during surgery?
Clerk: [Confused look at the questionnaire.]  I never thought about that before!

Monday, April 8, 2013


Maybe it's because of who I follow, but I've noticed the things on Pinterest fall into a few distinct categories.

1.  Pretty pictures of wishlist type things - travel destinations, quaint forest cabins, fairy gardens, etc.
2.  Household hints that simply cannot all work ("Replace every cleaning product ever with an equimolar and therefore neutralized solution of white vinegar and baking soda!")
3.  Beauty tips, nail polish colors, outfit ideas, hairstyles
4.  Ludicrous, delicious-looking foods

This is partly why I think that men don't use Pinterest.  The other reason is that I did the math and men don't use Pinterest

While I'm happy seeing the first three pass me by, I did want to try some of the foods.  But really, when are you going to ever bake an Oreo in a chocolate cookie in a brownie in a tiramisu?  I wanted an excuse to cook some of the ludicrous foods so I threw a Pinterest-themed party.

Sadly, I forgot to photograph the food.  This is the closest I came:

Here you can see the pulled pork sliders, pigs in blankets, pizza dip, the ham and potato pancakes, the macaroni and cheese with tater tots, and the "cross between alfredo, lasagna, and mac'n'cheese".  Along with the guacamole-stuffed eggs that came later that made up the the savory dishes.  

The desserts I didn't get any pictures of but they were the stars.  We had Tofutti pumpkin cheesecake, pistachio toffee, Butterfinger blondies, brownies with peanut butter cups and marshmallow fluff, homemade peanut butter cups, and apple dumplings made with crescent rolls, Mountain Dew, and Nectresse.  

There were also activities.  I set up a craft station in the guest bedroom with things to glue on magnets and the ten Biblical plagues hand puppet kit I had.  My friend Jen brought her daughter Mariella who made this gem:

That is the puppet for the wild animals plague.  According to Mariella it's going to a birthday party.  It's so cute.

I also made a pinata.

I learned a few things about pinatas.  For instance, they have an upper weight limit on the candy you put in them.  And then, if you're butting up against the upper weight limit on your pinata, you should take that into consideration when you're having it.

Yes, that is a grand total of three feet off the ground.

Still, it did take three adults for it to break open.

And after spending probably 15 working hours making a pinata it was gratifying to see adults sprint for the candy and fruit snacks.