Thursday, September 25, 2003

Random Part Whatever

I regularly read a couple of other on-line journals because I've stumbled across them as I find out more about the people who contribute articles for (TWoP for short, my favorite web site). I like their writing styles, and many of them are professional writers of varying degrees, so as I read recaps of my favorite shows, it's fun to find out more about these people who make me think about the mindless entertainment that TV can be, but isn't with these guys, so I follow the links to their own sites, lurk and learn.

They're cool. I mean that in the Fonzie way. Really. They know things about pop culture, they write really well, they reference things that have only a vague meaning to me because I'm so out of it. Whenever I read their sites, I'm painfully reminded of how very un-cool I am. Then I think, what's the point, really, of me even trying to come close to what they do on their on-line journals? I can't compete, so I might as well not even try. (I believe I've referenced this issue of mine in the past.)

So you just have to know that I'm not cool. Read this, learn about my life and how boring it can be, and the little things that bring me joy and happiness, but know that I'm not cool.

What? You're wondering why I'm just now figuring this out about myself? That you knew all along? Well, thanks. A lot.

Just for that, you now have to put up with the drudgery of:

Random Things On My Mind

I have found the perfect 7-11. They have caffeine-free Diet Coke in the fountain. I love getting soft drinks from the fountain -- they're generally the perfect mixture of fizz and taste, and I love it poured over ice. It can almost be duplicated by pouring it out of a can onto ice, but not quite. It's too carbonated and tickly and metallic tasting immediately out of the can. Sure, you can let it sit for a bit, but then it goes flat way too easily. And I love drinking it from a straw, ice cold, which I won't/don't do at home. It freezes my throat just the perfect amount, especially when it's been sitting on the ice for awhile. Here's the coup d' grace with this 7-11 -- you can put flavor squirts in the Big Gulp -- vanilla, lemon or cherry. I don't even feel the need to wrap this paragraph up; it's sufficient to just lean back, take a sip and say, "Ahhhhhh."


The girls at work (that's how I think of them -- they're the gaggle of girls whose cubicles are on the other side of my wall) are now obsessed with diets. More so than usual. Mind you, none of them are over 30, or maybe even 26, they're all fit, youthful, fashionable, healthy looking girls, and they constantly obsess about food. This week's topic -- the "fasting" diet. The ringleader, Kelley, (you just knew she had to have a cutesy name. There's also a Tiffany. I don't have anything against these names, but they go a long way towards describing them, don't you think? Like Pinky Tuscadero. Oh! That's it! They're the Pinkettes! Is that copyrighted? How about the Gagglettes? Gaggettes, more like it.) is advocating drinking water with lemon in it for 10 days. This is supposed to help her not only lose weight, (I'll say. Plate of Ghandi, anyone?) but cleanse her bowels (yuck. Her words, not mine), and help her to stop smoking. Yes, she won't be doing any smoking while she's passed out from hunger. So far, I haven't heard about any actual FOOD intake. They're forgetting the truism of Calories = Energy.

Lemon water * 10 days = Less productivity than usual.


My boss informed me this morning that 90% of my job is social. This came at the tail end of him telling me that he wants me to start taking people out to lunch. He hasn't seen any expense reports come across his desk yet, and he will approve a lunch a week. That should be my goal.

My thought as he's saying this to me: " ."

Seriously. My job requirement is to now take people to lunch, to schmooze, ask about their kids, make small talk -- all in an effort to build relationships of trust so I can figure out how to save costs.

This is the most backwards place I've ever worked in.


But I'm not complaining. I have a job, and I'm good at it. I don't know what I do, but I'm good at it.


I happened across a news story today about a guy in the UK who calls himself Angle-Grinder Man, the U.K.’s first wheel-clamp and speed camera vigilante cum subversive superhero philanthropist entertainer type personage. In a nutshell, he's a self-proclaimed super hero who saws through parking boots that have been placed on illegally parked cars. Check out his website:


I told my two best friends the other day that I just want to be told I'm funny. "If you tell me I'm funny, then I'm happy," I believe were my exact words.

What a mistake that was. I didn't live it down for the next two days. Everytime I said something, they said, "Laura, you're so funny."

Me: There's a hairball on the carpet.

Two Best Friends: Laura, you're so funny.

Me: Stop! Red Light!

TBF: You're so funny.

Me: Let me tell you about the funniest thing I saw today. I was driving along and blah blah proceed to tell funny story-cakes here.

TBF: " " accompanied by blank stares.

Is it me? Am I really not funny? I know that I think funny things, but I guess I'm not so good at translating those into actual words. That, or I have the world's most unique sense of humor.


I don't know why I'm saving the thing that matters the most to me til last. Probably because I'm not sure that it's of general interest (read "Cheaper by the Dozen" to get that reference), but then I remind myself that I'm not cool so it doesn't matter.

Seminary started last week. For those of you not familiar with this, I teach an early morning scripture-study class for high school-aged students before they go to their "regular" classes. We start at 5:55 and end at 6:45. Did I mention a.m.? This is my fifth year of doing it here in Burbank; I did it for two years previously in northern California a lifetime ago.

I love it.

This is the thing that makes my day, that I plan for, that I look forward to, that I dread, that I spend all my time on. There is nothing so envigorating as teaching gospel truths to teenagers, seeing them grasp the concepts and principles and apply those truths in their own lives. It's my way of trying to improve my own corner of the world. By helping these kids recognize and accept truth, I know (hope) they will become responsible, law-abiding, fight-for-truth adults.

I have 35 enrolled students right now, and one who comes sporadically because he doesn't have any parental support. I got twelve new freshman, plus a couple of kids who have recently movede here, and only lost eight seniors, so my class is that much bigger than last year.

After the first day jitters of meeting everyone, memorizing names, doing expectations, and the 2nd day uneasiness of just wanting to find a rhythm and settle down, things are going really well. I hope it continues to be a good year. I feel more relaxed and like I've developed a lot of good teaching skills that I'm able to utilize without having to think about everything I say.

It makes me a better person too. Yes, I'm selfish.

I'm also sleep deprived, but so far, have resisted the urge to go on any postal worker-type violent benders.

I'm sure this will be something that I write about more as the year goes on, as it is simultaneously my greatest source of joy and frustration on any given day.


Excited about: Going to the Hollywood Bowl for the first time ever on Saturday. Indigo Girls concert on the 26th. A friend from my high school days using a free ticket to come see me next week. KZLA's Country Bash on October 11th. My life. I may not be cool, but it is.

Friday, September 5, 2003

Golf And How It's Not Cheating When You Cheat

I went golfing on Wednesday night with my golf buddy, Nancy. Two years ago, she invited me to take group lessons with some of her work cohorts. There were five of us when we started out; now it's just Nancy and me. I'm grateful she deigned to invite an outsider to join in on the fun; she's grateful she invited an outsider because I've been the only consistent one.

Golf was always something I wanted to try -- not because it looked fun but because I thought I might be good at it. I seem to have an affinity to not wanting to fail at things, so I choose activities at which I think I can succeed. I'm too much of a perfectionist for my own good. It seemed like a natural transition for me to make from the world of hitting a ball, plucking it out of the air while it's hurling towards me at 40 mph vs. hitting a stationary ball. Size would be different, yes, yes, but the smaller target wasn't moving, so how big of a challenge could it be, really? Angle of the swing you say? Big deal. Just adjust the club vs. bat downswing a teench, and I'd soon be hollering "FORE!" with the best of them.

Piece. Of. Cake. Or so I thought.

After some initial misgivings because I wasn't perfect right off the bat, er, I mean club, I am an addict. I still can't really watch it on TV, because seriously, this is the world's most boring sport, folks. As for it being an actual sport? I'm on the fence on that one. In fact, at the first lesson when the instructor was demonstrating the proper stance, he said, "Golf requires athleticism." I laughed in his face. There are no aerobics required for this! Workout? Pshaw. Elevated heart rate? Hardly.

But there is something about playing it that makes me want to inject it directly into my veins. Especially for those of us who think we really can be perfect. There is nothing more challenging than hitting a two-inch ball around hundreds of acres of green grass. And nothing more satisfying than the sound it makes when it plunks into the cup. Nirvana.

The key to all of this, though, is to have fun. For someone who takes herself way too seriously in life, even I realize the futility and senslessness of approaching golf in the same way. This is why I make sure to go with a good friend who also doesn't care how well she does, enjoy the great outdoors, and laugh at myself a lot.

It helps that I cheat.

Don't judge me!

Anyways, it's really not cheating. I don't actually write a different score on the card than what I got. I simply improve my score. It's quite simple, really, and I recommend it to anyone who has ever been frustrated at not being able to break 100 or get a good handicap or whatever the terminology is. (See what I mean? I don't even know all the real golf vocabulary yet. You just can't take this stuff too seriously and still have fun.)

Here are a few tips I recommend:

1) If you don't like the drive off the tee, hit it again. There is no stroke penalty to add to your score card -- this is called, "Oof. I-topped-it-and-know-I-can-do-better-so-I'm-hitting-another-one-don't-judge-me-okay?" Some people actually call this a mulligan, but that makes it sound like you know what you're doing. The key to creative scoring is to maintain your innocence to rules so that it's not actually cheating.

1a) Apply the same principle to chipping and putting. Simply change "topped it" to the applicable situation.

2) If you're actually brave enough to brave a "big-girls'" course with [gasp!] sand traps, give the sand wedge the ol' college try a maximum of two times. Any more and the frustration level rises. After that, it's time to break out the "hand wedge." With practice, this move can be perfected to look like you really are hitting it out of the trap with a club, not using your hand to toss it out.

3) Hit two balls on the same hole. Take the lower score.

4) Nancy and I came up with a new term the other night while she was applying suggestion #3. She got par on both of her balls. I got twice par on one of mine. She called hers double par; so did I. Woo! That's some good golfin'.

5) Round down. Always.

6) Fore! is more than a warning. It's a number, baby. Use it wisely.

7) Be creative. I am still working on more ways to "improve" my score, but I believe there are no limits to what you can do -- both as a golfer and a scorer.

Wednesday, September 3, 2003

Not So New Job

In no particular order and because I feel slightly guilty that it's been so long since I've posted anything, here are some random thoughts about the new job (not so new anymore), life and a brief it's back-to-school-time essay on how-I-spent-my-summer-vacation. Also, maybe more randomness on my life as an LDS singleton in her mid-to-late 30s. Oh no! More "late" than "mid-to", really. On second thought, that entry may actually require a two-fer. It deserves its own plus a sequel. Actually, what really will get its own + part two is one of my latest forays into the world of internet dating. Sort of.

Enough procrastinating.

The job. All things considered, it is not bad. It's just so very different from what I've just come from that I believe I'm suffering from a bit of culture shock. My 8 to 5 life before was dictated by angry, selfish and basically stupid people who were driven by deadlines and their own insecurities which left them no alternative (to their small way of thinking) but to make me miserable also. They did this best by never acknowledging promptness, accuracy and intelligence; instead, hanging over my shoulder, criticizing and never trusting. I had daily headaches, neckaches and just you're-a-pain-in-my-butt aches.

My position now is newly created. Just for me. So new, in fact, that no one really knows what I'm supposed to be doing. There are no expectations. I have swung from one end of the pendulum to the other, and teetering on this new edge, am a bit unsure of myself. Is the pace here so much slower because that's just how things are? or is it because I really have no idea what I'm supposed to be doing? Let me be more accurate -- I have plenty of ideas as to what I'm supposed to be doing and how to succeed here, but this slower pace makes me feel very uncertain. It's a huge adjustment to just sssssllllllooooooooooowww dooooooowwwwwwwwwn.

Is this normal? Is this right? I don't know. From what I can tell from my new home here in cubicle-ville (that just means I get to eavesdrop on everyone's conversations; not because I want to but because I'd have to be deaf not to), everyone works at a different pace than what I'm used to. It's enough to make me feel a bit like I'm floundering -- not because I have too much to do, but because I don't have enough to do based on my old measuring standards.

Putting some serious thought into it all, I think the reason that the volume of work that is expected here is so much less than what I've been used to is because -- you just cannot get any work done. It's so DAMN NOISY in this cubicle farm. Even if I wanted to, even if I did have something to do, I wouldn't be able to because of everything going on constantly. Conversations, phone calls, people talking talking talking -- and this time I know they're not the voices in my head.

I mentioned something to my boss the other day about how I can hear everyone's conversations and that I'm not used to it. It's not actually impeding me or anything. Because there's nothing to impede me from.

There was an afternoon last week where all of us little cublicle gophers were ALL having a rowdy moment -- I was on a conference call trying to deal with an insurance company non-helpful lady, the next aisle over a there was a football betting discussion in progress, a guy from across the other aisle was on a conference call with my cubicle wall neighbor with one of the interns who just went back to school, stuff was going on in the aisle behind me, and it was just crazy, man.

Oh, and lots of "Man." "Okay, man." "Cool, man." "Dude, man." "Man, man."

All of these interns are so YOUNG and I'm so (apparently) OLD, it cracks me up listening to all their non-sequitirs and general immaturity. And I think, "I was never like that." Okay, I was, but not that I'd admit to anyone.

Mixed metaphors aside, everything is just fine, really. After I had been here for three weeks and still having no idea what the girl looks like who sits on the other side of my cube wall, I finally walked around the aisle to introduce myself to her. I figured it was about time, since I knew her social security number, home phone and address.

She went on vacation the next week.

I went on vacation the week after that.

Not a lot of opportunity for bonding there.

I think I may have also messed up further bonding moments when she was walking around the other morning offering candy bars to people. I called her "evil," "wicked" and "bad." I don't really see her as the devil incarnate, but really. Chocolate at ten in the morning? I don't need that kind of temptation that early in the day.

I might add that she's also as skinny as Ally McBeal. Sure, go ahead and offer us fat girls the chocolate. Nervy.

Other life news --

Yes, I took a vacation. Or a trip, if you want to qualify it that way. I drove up to Vancouver-ish, Washington, to go visit my sister and family in her new home. It was a lot of driving to get there (16 hours!), but well worth the trip.

I got to see parts of California that I've heard of but never seen. Driving through Shasta national forest and seeing the lake (ocean? it's huge!) and the actual mountain brought back memories from my childhood of church acquaintances saying they were going to Lake Shasta. I had no idea at the time what that really entailed. A boat was required, which I deduced from the word "lake," and that was a world I was never privvy to since my family didn't own a boat and never planned to (we were the "poor" family of our peers). What a drive! Beautiful, and long.

And now, having written this much, I remember that I actually did make a rather lame attempt at chronicling my vacation on my Palm, so will post the details separately.

It has taken me 1 hour and 20 minutes to write this much. How pathetic is that? Of course, I've been alternating the writing with playing solitaire (Three Shuffles and a Draw -- truly addictive and definitely not for the borderline OCD personalities, which I may be) and pretending to be working.

What a morning. Wow. So much accomplished. Very little of it having to do with the actualy weekly paycheck I draw. Ach, well. . .