Thursday, July 29, 2004

Guest entry today. I was going to update today because of a funny conversation I was involved in regarding a potential new office chair for me. But then I got sidetracked and knew I wouldn't have time. I was talking to Qwendy who said she'd do it for me, and was fairly surprised when I said, "Sure, go ahead." She's beating me to the punch on the new office chair (which is sad, since there was much comic potential there for me), but does a great job.

Please welcome my (almost) imaginary friend, Qwendy.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

I'm pouting today....

For several reasons, all relating to Laura.

"Who's Laura?" you ask? Well, I don't even know where to start. Laura is... Well.. There's just no short answer to this. I guess to sum it up, she's one of my best nearly imaginary friends. She's in other people in the room can see her. She plays golf, works for Disney, does jujujujubee (form of martial arts/snack food) tai chi, DANCES up a storm, writes, and poohs frequently. And all that is real and 100% true. But I like to embellish -- so she's my Disney Exec Friend (Eisner's right hand gal) who is training for the LPGA tour, who meanwhile centers her life in a Zen sort of way to help keep her grounded.

Oh! And one more thing, she's the owner of this Blog. I'm guest writing for her today. Hence one of the reasons I'm pouting. She writes a fairly lengthy blog, that is quite witty, and for whatever reason, she lets me read it. Today, she taunted me with "I might update my Blog." Then quickly she rained upon my parade with, "but I doubt I'll have time." So, she told me to do it, and that's why I write.

Now for the other reasons I'm pouting:

1.) I'm going up to my parents' house tommorrow. It was my mom's birthday a few weeks ago... It's 3pm ... And I still don't have a gift. I need to have one by tommorrow morning. What to get the woman who has everything.... I'd love to get her a new daughter-in-law to replace my brother's current crazy wife... But I don't exactly know how to go about that. Laura doesn't either, and she's brilliant (brilliant enough to be a resident of Smartsville, my own town I'm creating). Anyhow, apparently she's not brilliant enough to solve this. We need Einstein and Newton to help, and they've passed on, so I think we are out of luck.

2.) In addition to spending the day with my parents in their boring house, watching them build a big gigantic shower, I'm also being subjected to a BBQ in the evening with my brother and his current crazy wife. (wife referenced in Pout #1) I hate her... Despise her... Want to spit venom on her face. Yet, my mother asked me to "Be polite, and pretend to like her, pretend it's an acting excercise." I told her, "We will roll the dice when I get there. Odds = I'm nice, Evens = I'm Evil. It will be a fun little exercise of luck." She thinks I'm kidding. *note to self, pack dice*

3.) I was struck by brillance today. My dear friend Laura said she wished she had a portapotty in her office. I, being a kind friend, wanted to grant her wish. I thought it would not only be a great way for her to meet people, but a convenient item to have in one's office. I'm sure everyone in the building would stop by and visit her to see the porta-potty. I called Andy Gump; they specialize in portapottys. I was ecstatic to learn that indeed it would cost $35 to deliver, and would be "maintained" once a week. I've been wondering what to get Laura for Christmas. This is the gift that would keep on giving. But, my brilliant gift idea was shot down when he asked for the jobsite location. When I informed him it was the 24th floor, he said, "Ahem. We can't do that." Apparently there is some LAME law that you can't put a portapotty in an enclosed area. The 24th floor would fall under an "enclosed area." He said "Yes, even if she could open a window," which I personally would think she would need to have that option with a Portapotty in her office and Taco Bell in close proximity. Anyhow, I was dismayed, but I will fight to have this law changed. Laura will get her wish granted day!

Oh, my. The mental image of me having that in my office, and billing it as my new office chair is just too funny. And a lot embarassing.

Her husband works in the building next door. Since she doesn't know my office address, she was planning on having it delivered to his office, then he could just wheel it on over.

Sadly, I'd have to talk to the office cleaning staff about maintenance, and I don't think I'm up for that.

As much as I appreciate Qwendy's thoughtfulness, I'm equally glad that the word "catheter" never came up anywhere our conversation. Real or imaginary, I'd have to put a stop to our friendship.

And since we're on the subject, this image was sent to me today by a different friend, with the caption, "Would you use it?" It looks like a normal public toilet stall from the outside -- innocent-looking, unobtrusive, not altogether unattractive.

But from the inside:

Oh dear. Can you imagine how many people would start using that as a mirror as you're, um, going about your business?

Qwendy's response: "Absolutely.. but I'd leave the door open.. I like a breeze!"

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

What I'm Reading: "Ring of Truth," by Nancy Pickard.

What Qwendy neglected to mention was the porta-potty alternative, once she found out the real deal wasn't allowed in an enclosed office space. It looks like

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Randomness and More

Thoughtless. Literally. This guy doesn't have a brain.

Yesterday, I received an email from a software vendor. Its name has been changed several times, such that it's unrecognizable as the company or name that I used to work for in northern California. It wasn't being sent to former employees, though; it was from the new sales representative -- the standard allow-me-to-introduce-myself salutation, followed by the be-sure-to-call-me-so-you-can-line-my-pockets-with-a-hefty-commission plea.

Pretty typical stuff. What was noticeable, and kept me from immediately deleting it was the fact that this person used the "To" line for all of his business contacts / clients, not "bcc." That bugged me. Who did he think he was, letting everyone else know who I am? And vice versa, I imagine. It would be like getting a hard copy via snail mail with the list of all of his potential clients. Not cool.

I was debating what to do with it -- respond and complain, quietly delete, nothing -- when another email zinged into my inbox, this one from one of the people who had also been directly addressed.

"Matt Moore

"You have given me one more reason to disrespect, dislike, and distrust [Your Company].

"What right do you have to broadcast my email address to your entire address book? Don't you have any net-courtesy?

"Get a clue.

"And remove me from your prospect list. [Your Company] has screwed my employers way too many times. I ain't interested now, and I won't be interested ever."

Cool. He copied everyone on it. Not so cool -- Matt Morris (incidentally, the same name as a guy I used to date. Wonder if it's him? I wouldn't put it past him to do something boneheaded like that) never responded with an apology. He one-upped himself by resending the same email, this time putting all the addresses in the bcc line. Nice.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Cause and Effect

I know someone who works in a busy office environment with busy people who constantly and frequently need things delivered and picked up to and from clients, other executives, freelancers, other companies, etc. For this purpose, they "lease" two full-time couriers from a courier company. The only responsibility of these two couriers is to carry things. [French courrier, from Old French, from Old Italian corriere, from correre, to run, from Latin currere. See kers- in Indo-European Roots.] They are asked to be there at certain times of the day, with established runs, and when not otherwise occupied with pre-defined runs, they are to , you know, CARRY things from Point A to Destination B. Do not pass Go, do not stop, do not collect $200. Just do your job. Carry things.

I won't elaborate on all the things that go wrong with that plan on a daily basis. You wouldn't think this would be a difficult job. And maybe that's the problem. Maybe it's so simple, they feel the need to compound things by being difficult. Charge for five minutes of overtime. Refuse to take a lunch to get extra overtime. Gripe, moan and complain when asked to make a delivery. Don't show up on time. The list is endless and after awhile, nauseating. That two people can come up with so many reasons to not do something right -- amazes me.

The other day, one of the couriers, let's just call her, oh, Kathy, was asked by one of the aforementioned very busy executive assistants to deliver something. You know, she was asked to do. Her. Job. Kathy accepted the package and said to the assistant as she was turning to leave, "Lazy (insert derogatory insult reserved for women here)." Pot, meet kettle.

Shock. Seriously. The woman's job is to deliver things, and when asked to do so, rebels and verbally insults and assaults.

The assistant did the right thing -- she told the boss' assistant. Kathy was verbally reprimanded, and has been apologetic since. Not sincerely apologetic, mind you, but the type where you know you've done something naughty and don't want to get into more trouble, so you pretend to acknowledge your mistake. That kind. The wrong kind.

Yesterday, the written (first and final) warning was delivered to Kathy. (Not by courier, though. In person.) After receiving it, Kathy asked my friend, "What does 'insubordination' mean?"

(It means you shouldn't call people names when asked to do your job, dummy.)

Kathy: "The boss spoke to me about what happened, and I've been written up for it. I'm willing to take responsibility for saying what I did, but that doesn't mean I wasn't willing to do the job."

My friend: "You're lucky that (the person you were rude to) is the kind of person who would not press any kind of charges against you for hostile work environment or harassment or the other myriad of things she could do. She just won’t have anything more to do with you. She won’t do you in or anything."

Kathy: "Well, she did do me in. (pause) She got me written up.”

Her lack of ability to understand the basic fundamentals of cause and effect is probably the same lack of brains that causes her to not do her job very well. Just saying.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

I went up to girls' camp on Friday. Not having any other valid excuse to go (I'm not officially part of our ward's Young Women leadership), I used the one that Linda needed my technical AV expertise for the pioneer program that night. She and I compiled/wrote/edited the script for it, C put together a fabulous slide show of pictures to match the words and music. Linda got permission from Michael McLean to use several of his songs, which was amazing. (Thanks, Michael!)

Linda acted as director, producer, musical director, and all-around amazing gal to pull it all together. She wrangled the girls together for practices several times before camp, enlisted narrators, soloists and an extremely talented actress to participate. The whole production was strung together by miracle after miracle -- from Michael personally giving us permission, to the writing and compiling of the script (the words simply flowed!), to borrowing a multimedia projector and sound system and microphones, to the girls all pulling together and doing a phenomenal job.

The program has unofficially been called "Light on a Distant Hill," because that's the name of the Michael's show that we pulled the main songs from, but that doesn't begin to describe what it was about.

July 24 is the anniversary of the Mormon pioneers arriving in the Salt Lake Valley after more than a decade of persecution at the hands of murderous mobs. That date is still celebrated annually to commemorate the sacrifice those early Saints made. Many people's lives, Mormons and non-Mormons alike, have been blessed because of those faithful pioneers. I am a descendant on both sides of my family of different pioneering families. However, many members of the church today are not. Such an important anniversary is noted not only because of the lives of our ancestors, but to also remember and ignite the flame of that same dedication and courage that we all have as modern-day pioneers.

The program starts off with some individual pioneer stories, then transitions into the "what about me?" phase, moving to the finale of how our lights need to shine from the inside out as we remember that pioneering spirit to lift and help those around us.

These meager words cannot begin to describe the combination of the script's words and feelings with the music and visuals. Trust me, it was fabulous.

Thanks to everyone who participated and helped make it a success.

Thursday, July 22, 2004

Lost in Translation

I splurged the other day and bought a digital camcorder. The excuse is that I'm going to church girls' camp tomorrow to record and preserve forever the Pioneer Day program that Linda, C and I have been working on for close to two months now. Linda and I wrote, compiled and edited it. C has been working many hours on finding the right images to go with the words and music. Linda and I have been working with the girls for the music part of it -- teaching them the songs, the harmonies; and directing the narrators in the timing of the spoken word -- to match the music as required and all that other fun stuff.

It's been a lot of work and effort, and it seems a shame that it should get performed once in front of an audience of the girls' peers, then never looked at again. It's only right that it be recorded.

It was not a small financial investment, though I did not purchase a very expensive camcorder. After buying a tripod, memory card (it takes digital photos, too!), UV filter, tapes and the 4-year extended warranty, well, let's just say that I'd better get a lot of use out of it. I don't actually anticipate that being a problem. After all, this is what I did and loved in college -- shot and edited moving images. I was really good at it, too. It'll be fun to have an excuse to get back into that.

Since tomorrow is the day of the big performance, it doesn't really give me a lot of time to practice. I have to get it right on the first shot. Retent that I am, I've been perusing the instruction manual this morning. The first item that tipped me off to the fact that this was not originally written in English was this:

"Connect the DC cable to the DC jack socket of the camcorder. (When the battery is attached on the set, you should keep outside the projection of the DC cable.")

Huh? Go ahead, read it again. I'll wait.

Yup, that's really what it says. What does it mean? I dunno. I read it three times, thinking that I wasn't concentrating or focusing enough. It's just poorly translated.

Here are some other translation gems for your enjoyment:

"The PHOTO function lets you capture an object as a still along with sound, while in Camera mode." Sounds exciting. I wonder what types of objects I can capture? The flag?

Everytime it says something about inserting things such as a battery or a tape into the unit, it says "...until you hear a 'click.'" I love that. It makes me think the camcorder is going to start talking to me. "Click. Click, Laura, CLICK! I'm ready!"

"You can record 10 ~ 20 seconds continuously in once by the recording object."

"The file that you recorded are saved in a following folder." It never says which folder, by the way.

"While you record in Memory Card, don't eject it or it might break the data on the Memory Card." I had no idea data could be broken! I knew it could be bad, but broken?

This one is great: "Dust and other foreign material can cause square-shaped noise." Did you know that noises have shapes? Visually? To the human eye?

"You can use your camcorder in any country." Good to know. Thanks.

"You can make recordings with your camcorder and view pictures on the LCD from anywhere in the world." Phew. Because I thought, you know, the LCD viewer might not work in Mexico. I don't think it will work in Mexico if I'm in the United States, which maybe they should have specified.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

In other news, I am taking an on-line writing class. It just started yesterday. The first thing we were supposed to do was to post in the discussion area an introduction and a reason we're taking the class. Here's my introduction: "I live in Burbank, California with my roommate Linda who's also my best friend, and my two (and her one) fart-monkey cats. They are hairy and lovable and loving and obnoxious and frustrating and I love them. The cats. The roommate, she is not so hairy."

The instructor dryly responded, "Already your humor shines through, Laura." Yay! Mission accomplished.

Seriously, I'm looking forward to the opportunity to become familiar with different methods of writing motivation, as well as having my work critiqued and reviewed. This also means I'll probably be posting a lot of those assignments here. Consider yourselves forewarned.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

What I'm Reading, or will be soon, as soon as I'm done with the current batch of library books: "Rachel and Leah: Women of Genesis," by Orson Scott Card. This is the third in a series about women in the book of Genesis. First there was Sarah, then Rebekkah, now these two. He also did one about Moses. It's fun to read these because of the character development about people we know about but don't really know.

Best Movie I've Seen Lately: "King Arthur." I have been interested in the Arthurian legend for as long as I care to remember, and I love it because of the high fantasy legends, but also because there's a good chance that this guy actually existed. He probably didn't do all the things we romanticize him for, and he certainly didn't do them during Medieval times as is so often portrayed. This movie takes the fantasy aspect away from the story, and lets the legend live in the time he probabaly did -- 200 or 300 A.D.; just as the Romans are leaving Breton after centuries of occupation. It's very historically based, and thoroughly enjoyable.

Thursday, July 15, 2004

Two Decades

Twenty years. No matter what was happening during that span of time, it's a long time. It could be your 20th birthday. That's a lot of growing up that's happened in that time. Maybe it's a goal you want to accomplish within twenty years. That's a lot of goaling. Perhaps it's a twenty year wedding anniversary. That's a lot of growing up, goaling, fighting, loving and everything else in between.

In my case, today, twenty years measures the amount of time it's been since I graduated from high school. Las Lomas class of 1984, that's me.

It's not something I've often thought about. Not in any meaningful way, at least. I've used it more as a measurement of my own age to perform periodic reality checks. For example, in 1998: "Let's see, if I graduated in 1984, and you're 20 now, that means I could have been your babysitter!" Observations like that though, made to people who are younger than me but I still consider to be good friends -- that's just downright depressing. I haven't dwelled on the time passage a lot. I have enough other things in my life to make me feel old.

High school is not one of those events in my life I look back on with any longing. Oh, sometimes I'll happen across some photos of me going to prom, or our softball team winning the league championship game and think, "That was fun." But it's not anything I want to go back and relive.

I came out of high school relatively unscathed. Sure, I had the same scars that everyone seems to get, those of feeling awkward and unsure of myself, and wondering what the point of studying was if all it did was teach me that I really didn't understand the Pythagoreum Theorum and what practical application it might have in my future life, whatever that might be.

I had my own group of friends, mostly other girls who played sports with me. We weren't the stoners, the drama geeks, the school government, the cheerleaders, the jocks or the losers, although I knew a few of each from those groups well enough to greet between and during classes. I knew where my boundaries were -- who I could talk to easily, and who I should pay homage to so as to stay out of trouble and avoid attaching any negative labels to myself.

Other than that, high school seemed a blur. It still does. I remember very little of my sophomore year -- I think probably because I played after school sports all year, and the basketball practice and game schedule was so hectic and in constant flux, that I slept when I wasn't at practice, a game or at school. I don't remember any classes I took that year. I just remember sleeping.

When I was finally free, I knew that I was supposed to miss these people and look back on those four years as some of the happiest times of my life. But I was ready to just move on. I was young for my age -- still am -- and it was a lot of work to keep up with everyone around me. Getting out was a relief.

There were a few friends I kept in touch with - mostly younger than me. They were easier to be friends with, probably because I didn't have to pretend I knew everything around them. It was a lot of work to stay caught up with my peers. The younger ones were easier to impress.

So I went to college for three years. I'm pretty sure during that time I kept in touch with the person I considered to be my very bestest friend ever. Her name was Carmel (pronounced like the city, not the candy). She was two years behind me, but she was the friend I had who it felt like I had been friends with forever. Everything came easily between us, and I never had to pretend to be someone I wasn't just to impress her. She liked me because I was Laura, even though I wasn't always entirely sure, in typical teen-age angst, who that was.

I went to her wedding, but I can't tell you now what year that was. I know she married her high school sweetheart -- a big guy who had facial hair when he was a junior, and frankly, scared me brainnless during PE on the soccer field. "Here, dude. You can have the ball. Take it. Go. Score." I wasn't about to mess with him. When she told me she was dating him I was appalled, but mostly because it just seemed like he was so...old. Which, come to find out, he was. Older than me, at least, and I was a senior. But this big lug of a guy turned out to be a big teddy bear, and they seemed really happy together.

I went to their new house a couple of times, and then....I don't know. Is that when I left for Chile? Or was I at BYU when I lost contact with them? All I know is I sent them a Christmas card and never heard anything back.

A few years ago I saw his name on and looked for hers, but never saw it. I looked them up in on-line white pages. No luck. Called information. Nothing. My parents had moved out of state and hadn't heard anything. I didn't know who else to contact to find out about them, since I was no longer in touch with anyone at all from back then. I wistfully chalked it up as one of those friendships I'd remember with fondness and too bad I'd never see her again.

Then I got the notification for the twenty year reunion. (My name, interestingly enough, is on the "Where are they now?" page. Which seems silly since I've been registered on for several years. But whatever.) I started getting nostaligic -- not for the ickiness of high school, but for some people I genuinely miss.

I got brave and used to contact a girl I had been friends with from the eighth grade on, until something happened during our senior year that made us not friends anymore. (I wish I could remember what it was, but I honestly don't know, so Kim, if you ever run across this, I'm sorry for whatever it was. I have a feeling that it was because you started going out with someone I didn't like and I don't think either one of us dealt very well with that, and silly me, you're now married to him, and what can I say other than I was a dumb 16-year old who didn't have a lot of perspective back then.)

So I emailed her, cheerfully blathering on about the reunion, and hope to see you there and hope life has been good to you, blah blah where-has-the-time-gone?-cakes. Surprisingly, she read the email that same morning. Shockingly, she responded immediately. She wondered if I was still in the area, and if I was, give her a call and let's go to lunch.

So I did. Not because I was going to drive six hours for a lunch date, but because I'm a brave 37-year old.

Yeah, right. It was scary. My memories of her are of someone who's always in control in every situation. She knows what to say, when to say it and to whom. Even more so now, she speaks machine-gun fast with sniper accuracy. Though I initiated the call, she owned the conversation. We chit-chatted about this and that, parents, children or in my case, the lack thereof, jobs and careers. Then she mentioned Carmel and how their families are good friends still. And I timidly said, "Do you think you could give me a phone number for her?" I was pretty sure she'd say no, because I think that friendship was another reason Kim and I stopped being friends (Sorry, again, Kim. Dumb 16-year old, that's me.)

Long story longer, I got Carmel's phone number. (Thanks, Kim!) That call was harder to make than the one to Kim had been, probably because I knew where I stood with Kim, but with Carmel, I honestly didn't know how a phone call some 17 years later would be received. She answered the phone (why do our voices get deeper as we get older?) and after I identifed myself, she paused for only a moment and said easily, "Sure. I'm right there with you. How are you doing?" And even though my heart was still going thunka-thunkity-thunk, starting that conversation with her was as though no time had passed.

We agreed that I had fallen off the face of the earth, and I told her about the Christmas card incident, but she didn't remember ever getting it, so they must have moved, and man, was it good to talk to her. Hi, Carmel!

We made plans to meet up when I go there in August for the reunion. And probably due more to my nervousness than anything else, we didn't talk for very much longer. I did have enough presence of mind, though, to tell her that while I didn't miss high school, I did miss the people that mattered to me. There weren't a lot of them that I can remember, but she did. She mattered a lot and had a postive impact on my life. It's been a great sadness in my life to have not had her in it for so long. There's been a hole where she should have gone, and I hope to start filling that in now.

So I'm looking forward to the reunion, not because I have grandiose expectations of reliving the past, (you can't relive what you don't remember!) but because I think there were probably more people than I know who mattered. Who made a difference, but I was too young and dumb to get that back then.

Friday, July 9, 2004

More Random Stuff

Nothing exciting, no great, long anecdotes to write about today (well, actually, there are probably several, which is exactly what's making me not want to write, because there's so much to write about, and if I can't get it perfect, I don't want to do it, so I'm forcing myself to do this instead), but I do want to achieve at least a weekly update. So, here are some shorts to keep you going (think of them as the 10 minute cartoon before the main feature).

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

I got to see two, yes count 'em, two! sets of fireworks over the 4th of July weekend. The first one was actually on the actual date of the actual 4th of July, that is to say, July 4, 2004,actually. Linda and I went up to Sunset Canyon in Burbank to the church parking lot to see the show that the City of Burbank does from the Starlight Bowl, that we're always either too cheap or delinquent to buy tickets to. It was a pretty good show. Well, I'm sure it was a great show, but for us, it was pretty good. We were looking at them sideways, for one thing, which even though fireworks are 3-dimensional, we were off to the side a little, so we didn't get to experience the full majesty of them. Also, the lower ones were a little obscured by the hills and trees. Which, doesn't that answer some age-old question? Something about not being able to see the fireworks for the trees?

The second set we saw was in Ojai on the 5th of July, which is to say, July 5, 2004. (I gotta say, it bugged me when people kept wishing me a "Happy 4th of July," because, hello! this isn't the fourth, it's the fifth, so can't we use the real holiday name which is Independance Day? I took to hollering that at people on various floats in the Ojai parade as they would wish me a "Happy 4th." I gave them a look that essentially told them to stick it, and perversely wished them "Happy Independence Day" instead. I'm not nice when there's a soapbox underneath me of grammatical and wordy accuracy). ANYway, when the 4th of July falls on a Sunday, as it did this year, Ojai moves all their celebrations up a day so as to respect the Christian Sabbath, a move which I full-heartedly applaud. So we saw the parade in the morning, then snagged us some good seats in the high school parking lot for the fireworks show that evening. And when I say "good seats," y'all, I am not just whistling Dixie. We only could have gotten closer had we been part of the actual pyrotechnics crew, which I'm glad we weren't because one of the last ones exploded at ground level, and I'm pretty sure I would not have wanted to be there just then.

Anyway, Ojai always does a fabulous fireworks show. The only display I've ever seen rival it is any fireworks show at Disneyland, and that's just because they've got it timed to music. These things were exploding right above our heads, and were brilliant and huge and lovely and made me feel deliciously tingly and goosebumpy. The loud ones were so loud they made my teeth hurt. Quick background -- I got a cavity re-filled and a crown done a couple of weeks ago, and my mouth is still a little sensitive where everything is still settling into their new homes. Hard foods or a particularly deliberate chomp down give me a twinge of pain. I don't recollect having either hard food or chomping down during the fireworks, and when one of those ferocious loud ones exploded right over our heads, it made my teeth hurt.

Which is exactly what I said when I turned to C. "Wow. That one made my teeth hurt."

"What does that mean, it made your teeth hurt?"

Perplexed, I furrowed by brow a bit and said, "It made my teeth hurt. Ow?"

"Oh. I thought maybe it was a new saying or something about how awesome that one was. 'It made my teeth hurt.'"

So, now it is. Feel free to use it. When something is particularly ferociously awesome, just say, "That made my teeth hurt."

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

I seem to be getting random bits of unsolicited advice from people about how to get a man. Maybe not that crudely put, but it makes me wonder if there is an invisible-to-me tattoo that says "Unattached/Single" across my forehead.

Last weekend, Linda and I went perfume shopping. The nice middle eastern man behind the counter was very helpful about offering advice regarding which perfumes he thought would attract a man. The one he recommended to me, sadly, had gardenia scent in it, so while it may attract a man, it would repel me, and I just don't see a good relationship coming out of that if he's attracted and I'm repelled by myself. I've had it work the other way before, where I've really liked a boy, but he hasn't me so much, or a boy has really liked me but I couldn't stand him, and I know neither one of those is a formula for success. But to have someone attracted to me when I can't live with myself? Not even Yetta could make that one work.

Anyway, Linda tested it for one of his recommended scents. She sprayed some on herself, walked into the main mall corridor and flagged a nice looking young man down. He didn't appear interested, but that may have been due more to the social awkwardness of sniffing a stranger's arm that's been thrust in front of you rather than the scent not being appealing. We will never know. He left without offering an opinion.

The second piece of unsolicited "how to catch a man" advice came from my tai-chi teacher. She was stressing the importance of building up good thigh muscles. Besides advocating them as the "independence" muscles (nothing to do with fireworks or teeth hurting) because of how much freedom having strong muscles give you, especially in your later years, of being able to get out of bed or chairs without assistance, she said that your legs will just keep better and better looking the longer you do tai chi.

She looked at me when she said it, perhaps sensing I need assistance in the "get a man" category? I don't know.

For the record, I don't know that I really need help getting a man. Well, sure, I could flirt a little better, and wear cuter/shorter/whatever-er clothes and taller shoes. Or I could wear the right perfume (gardenia, though? Yuck!) and have great looking thighs because I'm a tai chi master, but.

Is that the sum formula? I don't think so. I think that there other factors to consider, such as man availability, man compatibility and Laura-putting-herself-out-there. Sadly, they all have about equal chances of simultaneously occurring.

First, let's consider me putting myself "out there," on the market, whatever. That happens rarely, because I know that man availability and likeability/compatibility are rare occurrences in and of themselves. But let's say I do. Put myself out there. With the right perfume and good legs, I should now have a one-hundred percent chance of success. Right?

Rhetorically, wrong. The next factor is man availability. There just aren't a lot of eligible (definition = single, straight, LDS) men. If there are, they are also not putting themselves on the market.

Not to be pessimistic though, there are single, straight LDS men. I will grant you that fact.

The last consideration factor is likeability/compatibility (definition = not still living with Mommy. Has a steady job and income. Is not a nerd. Believes in good hygiene. Practices good hygiene. Is not afraid of an intelligent woman.). As you can see my standards are not terribly high. They were when I was 18 and in the Cinderella stage of waiting for Prince Charming, but I've moved past that illusion into reality. No longer does he have to look like the modern-day equivalent of whoever I thought was dreamy-looking back then. He has to have a pulse, hold a job, take showers with soap and be able to acceptably function in society. This is not a lot to ask, people.

Yet, here I am, single and unattached. The greatest legs and best smelling perfume are not going to help in this situation.

And this, my friends, is the key to my happiness. It's acknowledging what is inside my realm of control and what's out of it. I can control my legs, perfume and own marketability. I cannot control the social skills or preferences of others.

So, thank you, Mr. Perfume Store Guy and Ms. Tai-Chi Teacher for the advice. I am acknowledging appropriately and moving on.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Things to share next week: Has it been twenty years already? Me and falling off the face of the earth then trying to catch back up with people who really meant something to me back in the days of high school. I am not getting nostaligic for high school itself, merely the people who helped me function (or at least pretend to) normally as a teenager.

Looking forward to Hollywood Bowl Saturday night. More fireworks. Disneyland with a couple of "my girls" (former students) next week. A long weekend to northern California in August for [shudder] a high school reunion (more info on this coming soon). A week's vacation in August/September, then immediately going to a training class in San Francisco the day after I get back. Yes, it seems like my whole summer is planned out right here, but that's because the only way I can function at work right now is to focus on additional days off.

Currently reading: "Blackberry Wine," by Joanne Harris.