Tuesday, June 24, 2008

I'll try the organic shit-on-a-shingle and a nice pinot noir

We are home and trying to catch up on all of the news we missed on our trip to Greece. (Tim Russert? George Carlin? Who knew. RIP, gentlemen.)

Rick had our tv uncharacteristically blaring MSNBC for most of the evening. While I was wading through my 400 or so work emails in anticipation of my re-entry tomorrow, Rick suddenly said: You have GOT to see this.

It turns out that there is a military-themed burger joint in Beirut called--get this--Buns n' Guns. I shit you not. Go look it up. (I'm jetlagged, URLs are hard today). It has camouflage decor and guys in military garb serving up grilled treats with stupid army names. It's moronic, and, given the location, perhaps a teeny bit offensive. But that's not the reason Rick called me in.

We looked at one another and shouted: "They opened TAKE ORDERS!!"

You might think this was the first military mess-themed restaurant to open in our lifetime. You would be so wrong. In the mid-nineties in San Francisco, someone actually opened a restaurant called Take Orders. It was in the hip and food-chic mission district, right on 16th Street between the cool little tapas place and the renowned Bretagne crepe place. It had an olive-drab facade, camouflage netting above the entrance and bleak metal tables. It served dorky army-themed food. And it was quite possibly the stupidest restaurant we'd ever seen.

Think about it. A restaurant designed after an Army mess hall, a place that God knows is not known for its fine cuisine. In San Francisco, where hipster liberal foodies are not so much about restaurants glorifying military food service. It was SO ridiculous on so many levels I could spend a whole day lost in thought, wondering who the hell figured they would actually make money on this place.

We never ate there, just mocked it, but believe it or not we did have friends who tried it. (You shall remain nameless, although YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE). No surprise, it sucked. It closed after a few months and was replaced by a groovy sushi joint that blasted electronica, a much more fitting establishment.

But Take Orders 2.0 lives on! In Beirut! Somewhere there is some poor schmuck saying, see? It was an idea ahead of its time. Or maybe its the SAME GUY. Maybe this one will fail and they'll just open one up in Baghdad. Third time's a charm!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Greece: It doesn't suck

Greetings from Greece!

I would post using the traditional Greek greeting, but I'm embarrassed to say that I am still not quite sure what it is. I am trying to learn at least a word or two of Greek so not to appear like a complete American ass, but it'll probably take me until the end of the week. So far I've managed to fake "hello" and "thank you." I'm still scared to ask for the check, which sounds something like "I'm having an orgasm." Could be awkward.

We've been here since Friday and I've gotta say this is one of the best vacations I've ever had. Our little boat is, f0r the most part, lovely. We haven't sunk it yet. The islands so far:

Paros: Okay. Kinda boring. But peaceful.
Naxos: Lovely. Great clothes. Nice bars. Excellent liqueur.
Mykonos: Sucked donkey dick. Too many tourists, a shitty port a considerable hike from town, expensive, smelled like poo. Needed to drink all of the liqueur from Naxos in order to cope. Feh. But we did take an excellent jaunt to the sacred island of Delos (ruins o' plenty, by far the highlight of the trip).

And we did have drinks with two very nice 24-year-olds who work for Halliburton (that's right) and make six figs serving cafeteria food to contract workers in Baghdad. Exactly.

Which brings us to Tinos. After the hell that was Mykonos, we just wanted to get the fuck out to somewhere, anywhere. The closest island was Tinos--we knew next to nothing about Tinos--the guidebooks had a few paragraphs about it being a religious pilgrimage site for the Greek Orthodoxy, and that's it. We had not given it much thought, not being into the God stuff, but at this point being Not Mykonos far outweighed any God-hopping that we might encounter.

Turns out--Tinos? Fucking awesome. As opposed to the Mykonos "port" where they didn't even have a power hookup or water, Tinos had a delightful toothless gentleman named Dimitri who met our boat, helped us tie off, offered us myriad services, and did everything but give us a foot massage. We're not sure if he actually works for the port or just has a very excellent scam going (he was scarce when the cops came by), but we gave him 20 euro regardless because he was nice to us. Because we're just that needy. Then we had fucking awesome food and looked at fucking awesome jewelry, and now I'm in this fucking awesome Internet cafe having a cappuccino and killing a little time before a long day of hiking and beaching. It sucks not.

What day is it again?

Monday, June 09, 2008

Technology is evil. Or is it good?

I'm sitting here on the couch in my family room, in front of my nice TV. I'm about to watch a movie....on my computer. You may be thinking to yourself, "Well, that's retarded." And you'd be right. But I'm on a mission and our wacked-out entertainment center configuration will not thwart me.

It's like this: Rick and the kids are back in Indiana with the P's. I'm here, because I just love to work and want to get a few more good days in. Point is, I'm at home. By myself. With a TV. I have about 18 months' worth of films to catch up on. I don't ever, ever watch TV or movies. And it's not because I'm a sanctimonious douche who thinks that television is mind-numbing crap. Hey, my kids watch plenty of TV. They're the only ones. Between work and outdoor activities and kid activities (I guess those aren't mutually exclusive, huh) I barely have time to watch a commercial or a film trailer, let alone a feature-length extravaganza.

So here I am, ready to roll with some popcorn and a copy of Superbad. I turn on all of the apparati and...I have sound! And...that's all I have! No picture. Nuthin. I get cable and a DVD menu soundtrack that promises 90 minutes of unapologetic raunch, but for the life of me, I can't get the DVD picture to come up onscreen. I call Rick. He is marginally helpful but he can't figure it out either.

Okay, I was a bit grumpy on the phone but I'm sorry. Last night I watched There Will Be Blood. Not only did I think that the only impressive thing about it was Daniel Day Lewis' ability to chew scenery like no one else, but god--bummer. I felt like I needed a prozac chaser after that one.

I have had this copy of Superbad since Christmas (thanks Dad!) and I have not been able to carve out two hours to watch it. I've either been surrounded by kids or it's been 3 a.m. So goddammit tonight I'm going to watch something rude and inappropriate or die trying. You can't stop me, demon technology. I'm going to use OTHER technology to make my dream happen. And also to share my experience with people who don't really care about my G-rated hell.

Now where do I put the DVD? And what is this cupholder thing?

Friday, June 06, 2008

Like The Jeffersons, but with more flushing

I just got promoted. I know, yay me.

It's pretty exciting. I've been here less than a year and I'm overjoyed and flattered that the powers that be feel I am ready to go to the next level, or at least I'm ready to fake being ready. That's a huge vote of confidence.

I know I've come a long way in that time. I've gone from a writer of deliverables I'd never created about things I'd never written about to being a subject matter expert in a pretty high-profile area. I've gone from being a lone wolf to being part of a team, and now the boss of really talented and cool people.

But there's another metric I use to gauge that I've really arrived. I think it says it all.

When I started last June, I was assigned to the best cube available. And by that, I mean the best cube available to someone completely lacking in seniority in an office with a fully staffed creative team. I got the toilet cube.

That's right, my cube was right next to the john. Of course, I was not in a position to complain and having worked at home with my children, husband and dog, it's safely established that I can work through anything. (I type this while simultaneously answering a question about the meaning of life for my son and detangling a toy from an embarrassing wealth of twist ties.)

But still. A flush is a flush. And two dozen flushes a day can really rob you of your self esteem and sense of worth in a company. I could hear everything. In consolation, I knew it wasn't as bad as the toilet office on the other side of the building, where it sounded like people were squatting right next to your desk. However, I still had to deal with some less-than-genteel noise, and with people balancing their notebooks and coffee cups and shit on the walls of my cube while they hit the head. I'm a good citizen, though, I figured things would change someday.

A few months after I started, an editor with a bit of seniority left and through a strange twist of good fortune, I became the one with enough longevity points to take over her cube. So I moved a little further from the toilet and closer to the awesome writers with whom I've established a great deal of love over the last 8 months.

The ultimate position of privelege for a non muckety-muck type at my company is a cube by the window. With this exulted spot, you gain a little more natural light and a lovely view of Highway 36 and StorageTek. (The fuckers on the other side get to look at the Flatirons. Not that I'm bitter.)

In the last two weeks, I got promoted and two managerial types with window seats announced that they were respectively leaving and going remote. That meant of course we were losing some amazing talent. But it also meant there were two window spots open. And as a now-manager, I get first crack.

So in less than a year, I've gone from toilet cube to window cube. I don't know if that's a record, but I feel it's significant and I'm pretty proud. Best of all, I get to stay in my row with my peeps, just one seat closer to the window. Win-win.

But I'll never forget where I came from. Every time I hear a flush, I'll think of my roots. It keeps me humble. Movin' on up, indeed.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

You talkin' to me, sonny?

Something happened yesterday that left me walking around thinking I'm All That. I was at the light at Pine and Folsom the other day, driving my family truckster. I saw two mountain bikes pull up directly behind my car and observed that the twentysomething guys riding them seemed to be hopping. And waving. They must see someone they know. Whatevs.

Then the bikes pull up next to me. The guys keep waving in my direction. I seriously do the thing where you look around to see if someone else is there receiving the wave. Then I look around and wonder if I have a flat tire or a "Wave if You Think I'm a Jackass" bumper sticker. Nope.

I am used to doing the big city AVOID AVOID AVOID thing, but I had to see what was happening. I looked over and they were definitely waving to me. Trying to get my attention. Because? Call me crazy but I think they actually thought I was cute. The guy closest to me definitely had that "How YOU doin'" look on his face.

I figured that there must be some mistake. I mean, it's me. Do you not see the dueling car seats? Or the crow's feet? Is this Be Nice to a Tired Working Mom Day? As far as I could tell, there was no ulterior motive. Either my windows have some kind of soft lighting filter, or I was lookin' pretty fine. Nice.

They motioned for me to roll down my window. "Are you going left?" the extra-friendly guy asked.
"Great! So are we!" Mmmmmkay!

Then the moment went from being a mere ego boost to the most hilarious thing that's happened to me this month (granted, it was June 2, but I'm not sure anyone can top this.) The other guy was hopping around on his bike, doing little tricks, basically showing off and smiling at me. Then....he fell right over. Yep. Right on his ass, next to my car. It was the comic timing of the century.

As someone whose motto is, "It's only funny until someone gets hurt...then it's hilarious," it cracked my ass right up. Especially when the guy jumped up with this happy goofball look on his face, arms raised, as if to say, "Hey! I'm okay! Thanks for watching, and be sure to visit the gift shop on your way out!"

Then sadly the light turned green and the floor show was over. We all turned left, but speed separated us. Still, I could see my admirer waving at me as I drove away. It was a golden moment, where I got to feel all hot and stuff and also got to laugh heartily at someone else's misfortune. What could be more perfect than that? I'm still smiling.

I'm off to walk past some construction workers now. I'm on a roll.