Thursday, August 30, 2007

Blind, But Now I See

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It holds in its grasp a bank of conflicting connotations: to the wide-eyed co-ed, it entails a trip to Nordstrom for lip gloss and new patent-leather heels. For the mid-life divorcee it requires a babysitter and two week’s notice. For me, it’s come to be a typical Tuesday night.

I leave work in a bustle, checking myself in the rear-view mirror only for as long as it takes to find my key and turn the ignition. A swipe of lip gloss and fingers through my hair between my intermittent shift-changes provide the only primping necessary for the night’s events: The Blind Date.

“I’ve found your soul-mate.”
“You two: I see it happening”
“He’s single. You’re single. It’s just so coincidental!”
“We’ll just set up this casual thing, so you can meet him.”
“Don’t go getting a boyfriend. His divorce is almost final!”
“Really, his speech impediment isn’t bad. You can understand him most the time.”
“Well, what else were you going to do tonight?”

I have yet to uncover the “Find Me a Husband: Reward Offered” flier attached to my chest, and it’s a rare occurrence that I walk the greater Salt Lake area humming “Matchmaker, matchmaker, make me a match. . .” nonetheless, my knack for being set up has become, by this point, nearly uncanny.

And yet, after seven years of eligible singledom, I feel the time has come to retire this player’s jersey. I gave it all I had, coach. But you’ve had me working so much defense that, well, I have yet to even graze the rim.

It is for the following reasons that I am giving up, officially, on blind dating:

The Age Guage
Blind dating? More like carbon dating. I know I’m not 18 anymore, but I’d like to think I haven’t been let out to spinster pasture either. I used to get offers of, “I have this friend. . .” They have since digressed to “My dad’s business partner. . .” In my mind, there are only two reasons for being set up with the grossly over-aged: 1. You’re desperate. At this point, romantic beggars can’t be choosers.” 2. He’s rich, divorced and only dates 25 year-olds. A strike on both counts, sirs.

The Connection Rejection
Wait, you dated who? This came to a climax a few weeks ago when, on my third date with a July set-up, his roommate came home and in an awkward yet silent moment we came to the sickening realization that we’d had dinner the prior week. Such connections make one horrifically aware of how shallow the dating pool really is.

Baggage Claim
Men, take note: A blind date is not therapy-for-the-price-of-dinner. My listening ear cannot be bartered for two California rolls and a diet coke. Your divorce? No. Your last girlfriend? Zip. Your stalker-like tendencies? Mum.

20,000 Leagues Under . . . ?
Five minutes into the drive to the restaurant and you have the sickening realization: This is what my friends think I deserve. There is no way to dodge the “league” they’ve neatly filed you into. The next two hours involve the painstaking introspection required to find just why your dating rating has slipped three notches.

They say love is blind. Well, my friends, I say dating is not. I’m turning in my stick and my friendly German shepherd for binoculars and Visine: From here on out, feel free to pass me on the right: I no longer have a blind spot.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The Airing of the Grievances

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Just the sight of them makes me grip my steering wheel a little tighter. I cringe and bite my lip, the resentment so tangible that I breathe deep to keep the anger from swelling. And yet the white dashes of I-15 do nothing to curb my unadulterated disgust.

There they are: blatant and unapologetic in the rush-hour traffic. Civics, Focuses, Corollas and Neons – super-souped and ready to race at the drop of a plaastic hubcap.

They come in red, orange, yellow –complete with racing stripes, twin exhaust pipes, and prefabricated spoiler kits that reach for the sky and sway just so on their thin wire legs.

They form a thorn in my side, darkening my drive home to the color of their over-tinted windows.

I attempt to pay them no mind when we’re tied at a stoplight; their revving engines my cue to race them across 4800 South. But even as I gently shift from first to second, second to third, the blood in my veins boils and I hold the cursings back, determined to conquer this, my most obstinate of pet peeves.

But the light changes and my breathing slows, the sight of stock Sentras and bottom-rung Echoes enough to calm my palpitating chest. I whisper a hushed but fervent prayer:

Heaven help those who frequent the detail aisle of the American Fork Wal-Mart.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Ann Who?

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It’s more than a store. It’s more than a brand. And it’s a bit more than a job. It’s a group of the quirkiest, most entertaining girls you’ll ever hope to meet.

During my nearly three-year tenure at the charming store we’ve lovingly referred to as FAT (further explanation of the acronym is not necessary), I have come to find that fashion, in its wide array of style, fabrication and fit, is simply a side-bar in the workings of the store we call Ann Taylor.

Entertainment, for instance, seeps from the pine-stained furnishings. I confess that my natural inhibition for all things embarrassing have, over the years, turned this fine retailer into a bit of a slapstick comedy – albeit one in which red noses and white-painted faces are replaced by pencil skirts and wide leather belts.

The following are just a few of my favorite AT moments:

The Silk Dress Incident – It was beautiful: turquoise and white, a halter neck and a bias-cut skirt that fell just right – or would have, if it weren’t too small. Nevertheless, my first week of AT employment and I tried it on, convinced that I could make it fit over my poky rib cage. Oops. The fastening of too many zipper teeth led to a moment that I have yet to forget: the instant that I got my first Ann Taylor dress irreparably stuck. Tugging at the zipper for a good 15 minutes and coming to the sinking realization that it wasn’t moving either up or down, I called for back-up. After assessing the situation, my then-manager pulled out the only weapon left to our defense – a pair of shiny silver scissors. And with that, my induction to Ann Taylor was complete. The sound of stainless steel slicing through solid silk still haunts me to this day.

The Day That Karma Struck Back – I was running late. I had just left Ann Taylor and had one short stop at Steak-Out before driving to Farmington for my manager’s wedding reception. It was Saturday, and the parking lot was filled to capacity. In an attempt to save time, I pulled into the handicapped parking stall, knowing that I’d be less than five minutes. It was actually more like three: I ran out of the restaurant, proud of my brevity and pleased that I saw no ticket on my car. –BAM!— There was no way of seeing the handicapped parking sign coming – except to have actually watched where I was going. In one abrupt blow, the gods of handicapped parking rained their vengeance on my callous parking decision, ensuring that a right-angled cut on my forehead be my most noticeable accessory at that night’s reception.

A Wretched Offense – I was leaving Ann Taylor – for four months. It was my last week in town before I trekked to Washington for a summer of makeup artistry and unadulterated boredom. My BFF, Megan, and I were discussing ways in which to make our respective summers a bit more bearable apart. One idea of a friendly competition came to mind, self-improvement its primary motivation: The first one to 80 lbs this summer wins! It seemed a grand idea – albeit I would have to lose 50 pounds in comparison with Megan’s mere 25. Still, we discussed the various ways in which this could be accomplished – the abandonment of food the most promising method. Unfortunately, in our involved discussion of all things eating-disordered, Meg and I failed to notice the portly woman shopping within hearing-range of our less-than-healthy discussion. Upon our respective departures, a formal complaint was filed, stating that all this “anorexia talk” was unbecoming and offensive in the retail industry. Megan and I were never scheduled together again, and I’m shamed to report a four-month weight-loss of a mere five pounds.

With amusement as plentiful and varied as the tweed skirts in our fall collection, Ann Taylor has offered a bit of entertainment and as many great friends as embarrassing moments – well, almost.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Graduation

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I owe my wit to him.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Sleigh Bells Ring . . . Aren’t You Listening?

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Well, dear friends, another summer is wrapping up. I confess that while others may cling to these fleeting August afternoons, holding onto sunshine with clenched fists, I cross each calendar day off with red ink, a wistful sigh and the anticipation of a five-year-old.

September means fall.

Fall signifies the latter half of the year.

The latter half of the year breeds winter.

Winter, in all its enchantment, is delivered with Christmas bells attached.

I believe that God considered heaven too far away, and that’s why He gave us Christmas. For as long as I can remember, Christmas has held with it magical connotations that, old as I get, have never lost their shine.

The following are my recent observations of the impending arrival of the holiday season:

Costco Costco seems to be the first to deck their halls. For that reason (along with countless others) this is a company that claims my unbridled devotion. It began two weeks ago, when I noticed snowflake and wreath-spangled spools of ribbon donning a less-popular corner of the store. This is just the beginning, my friends. By next month the decorations will be blatant, an entire aisle dedicated to Christmas cheer.

Web-Radio Feed Many of you are already accustomed to web-radio. The stations are ever-present, personalized and easily-accessible. What you may not know is the plethora of Christmas stations dotting the web, charming listeners with red-nosed reindeer and little drummer boys. These can be found year-round, however, the numbers are steadily growing as we march toward December, jingling all the way.

Movie Magic Remember the last blockbuster you saw in the theater? Remember the previews before hand? Oh yes, Fred Clause and are just a holly-trimmed cross-section of what the entertainment industry is giving us for Christmas.

Colors of Cheer Dart into any clothing store and look at their color scheme: deep reds and jade-greens find their niche in fall sweaters and festive dresses. Call me crazy, but am I detecting a little bit of retail cheer? It may begin with a tiny dose of ruby or a slight dabble in jade, but before you know it, holly-dotted ties and reindeer-printed sweaters will be finding their way home with merry shoppers.

So I say to August, you’re days are numbered (7, to be exact). You’ve served us well, but we have found another love – one who doesn’t require tanning lotion and string-bikinis, but merrily offers us a little joy in a cup of cheer.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

“No Harm in Casual Texts?”

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I love text messaging. If your name resides somewhere in my phone book, chances are you already know this.

7 a.m. goes something like this:

(phone ringing)
K—A groggy “yeah?”
Unidentified texter— “Why were you up so late last night?”
K—“I went to bed at ten.”
UT—(laughter)
“I got a text from you at 3.”
K—“It must’ve been another Kristen.”
UT—“Another Kristen with your same number?”

And on and on. Okay, so it’s a habit. I find that I would oft times rather text than actually talk. Texting is brief, concise and, well, I could always say things better in writing.

I confess that I sometimes engage in unsafe-texts. You know what I’m talking about: the kinds of conversations that should only be had in person. From time to time, I’ll receive a text that contains textually-inappropriate content. These I lock it in my phone—my own personal vault of amusement.

I now relinquish a small cache of textual clich├ęs, in hopes that the etiquette gods will smile a little brighter on hopeless texters.

“About tomorrow. I can’t.”
First and foremost, he was referring to a date we had planned. I replied “Of course you can. It’s just Tuesday,” in order to learn him of his textual misgivings. “I can’t?” Come on. Put the revolver down and finish a complete thought. Secondly, breaking a date via text is just poor-mannered.

“I realize now that I’m in love with you.”
Come now. If you have to send your declaration through a wireless network, chances are it’s not the stuff of legends. A quick ‘love ya,’ is one thing, but a verbal admission of undying affection? Save the 10 cents.

“What am I supposed to say? We’ve had an entire relationship of text messages. That should say something.”
Right, my friend. It does. It says a lot. In fact, it says so much that I’m cutting this explanation short.

“I think I just broke my leg. Help?”
Give a girl a warning. I found this message 3 hours after it was sent. By that point she was x-rayed, casted and discharged and I was the chick who doesn’t bother to help her broken friends.

“We’re just in different places. I think it’s best we end this now.”
My reply to this one is, “that’s probably best. I shouldn’t text while I’m working. See you tonight.” Bad form. We don’t break up via text messages (Nor do we break up when we’re not dating, but that’s a separate blog altogether.).

“You’re brother’s with me. It’s going to be okay.”
Shove your fist in my heart and squeeze; needlessly frightening texts are not accepted here. (Note that had this ACTUALLY been a frightening situation, the text would have then been inappropriate by a separate rule).

“All night the voices in my head were telling me not to let this one go.”
We don’t talk about the voices in our heads. Via text or otherwise.

"Why don't we do this: I took a long lunch so I'll have to work until 6, so maybe we should just meet up in . . ." If you're going to send an email, send it to a computer.



Take note, dear texters. You may consider yourself a key-pad pro and I have no doubt your thumb dexterity is off-the-charts, but without the proper sanctions and the above guidance, well, you’d just have bad texts.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Measure my Life with a Limbo Stick

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The routine is something like this: 6 a.m. signified by a shrill and insensitive alarm clock, with no apparent regard for my nerves or my necessitated continuation of slumber.

I bite my lip, assuring myself that maturity means never crying when your alarm clock goes off.

I roll off the couch that has become my new home, a bed frame in pieces in an upstairs bedroom while its mattress lies useless and naked in Murray.

A 45-minute drive and a diet coke before 8 a.m. solidify the creeping
suspicion that 6 hours of sleep just wasn’t enough.

Work until 5, when I’ll return to a home that isn’t mine, eat from borrowed plates, run through a neighborhood I don’t know, and fashion a bed from an overstuffed couch.

Yes, this is my season in limbo.

It’s a wonder then, that I’ve never been so happy. Independence is a new skin, one that comes with a freedom I never felt during my college years (which, I may add, only concluded a week ago).

I’ve known for some time that I’m addicted to newness. A fresh start is like a drug, injected into my spine with a burst of opportunity and the sweeping air of new challenges.

I crave the changing seasons, start a new book before the last one is finished, write, rewrite, and write again, and never consider anyone my boyfriend.

In my little world where nothing is permanent, I find myself thinking I should be overwhelmed by my constant state of purgatory.

I fear that I’m committed solely to a noncommittal life.

I wonder, sometimes, why we work toward this goal of “settling down.” Career security and a stable family are fine ambitions, to be sure. But I won’t ever “settle” for the sake of comfort. Part of me will always be restless, insatiable, voracious.

The world is an ever-changing expanse of new challenges, new discoveries, and new people.

And I could settle for that.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Mi Casa es mi . . . Coche?

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Graduation. Commencement: Both signify advancement, and the arrival of something new.

I suppose that something new has, in my life, taken the form of a new (and temporary) place to live, a better-paying job and half of my belongings crammed into a Volkswagen Jetta.

On my lunchbreak, I was, per usual, headed in the general direction of Costco when a Murray City police officer found it pertinent to flash his blue/red lights in my unsuspecting rear-view mirror.

In the current upheaval of my life, I had apprently let a burned-out tail light go unnoticed.

The officer was very nice, complimented my sunglasses and when I couldn't find my registration right away, told me that the sautee pan on my passenger seat might suffice.


This got me thinking about the contents 0f my car. I realized that were I stuck away from home in a natural disaster of some sort, I could take comfort in the the knowledge that I could take care of myself, almost entirely, with my current cargo.

Were it cold outside, I need not fear: I have 14 winter sweaters in my trunk.

Warm weather couldn't pose a threat either, as there lies a case of mountain spring water in the back seat.

I could make my car rather comfortable with the king size featherbed that's wrapped itself around five black picture frames I could pawn off for extra change.

For those days when my seratonin needs an electric boost, the 6-foot artificial Christmas tree in my trunk would lend a bit of cheer to any downtrodden afternoon.


Not to mention the natural high that would come from lending a hand (and a set of jumper cables, a bag of almonds and sherpa-lined slippers) to strangers in need of a friend (or a silk top and ten hot chocolate mugs).

And, if boredom happens to ensue, three David Sedaris books, one leather-bound scripture quad and a 10 year-old Artley flute are sure to elevate my mental, spiritual and musical health.

Someday I'll unpack my car and find a more permanent home for a duffel bag of pajamas and a 12-pack of toilet paper. But if "commencement" truly signifies the arrival of a new life, consider me fully (and constantly) prepared.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Too Much Pomp, under these Circumstances

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Remember 2001?

It was President Bush's first year in office. No war was waging in Iraq. The Trade Center towers stood high, and I don't recall a single soul in skinny jeans.

I found myself falling, quite frequently, into the GAP.

And somehow I managed to live on roughly $12 a week.

Ah, 2001 -- the year I started BYU. The fall I turned 19, I knew that college was my element. High school was a tiny blip on the radar of my past, but college! College with its effortless expanse of eclectic opportunity.

I got over it.

The first burnout came in 2003, just 18 months into coed-coexistence. Mono struck, and with it, another 18 months of family life, job hunting and psuedo-money-saving.

Then came 2004 -- the year of sketchy basement apartments (as any of my friends 6-foot and taller can attest to) and the onset of working/studying/financial independence.

Well, that wasn't exactly all it was cracked up to be.

By 2007, I was working two jobs, finishing an internship and taking classes in order to tie all the loose ends on this torture we call a degree.

Six years later...

I graduate tomorrow! I have a "real" job and an 8-5 schedule. I can legitimately claim to be a "journalist" and I pay all my bills on time.

Why do I want to go back to school?

Perhaps it comes down to the fact that I've never quite been able to narrow my interests to fit the small circumference of my brain. In the six-year sprawl that encompassed my undergraduate years, I considered (or claimed) the following majors:

--Astrophysics
--Fashion Merchandizing
--Pre-Med
--English
--Comparative Literature
--Business
--Advertising
--Journalism (and the winner is...)

Perhaps I shouldn't be alarmed then that I'm already filling out applications for culinary school.

But for now, can I say (with a certain air of pomp) that I am FINISHED!