The pizzazz of Labor Day is generally lost on me for many reasons, but here are a few.
1. I am afraid of my grill. Labor Day is all about the two B’s of summer: barbecuing and boozing. I usually only get to do the latter, if I can afford it. I invested in the old school, never-fail Weber about 3 years ago and have almost got my money’s worth out of it. I stress the word, almost. It never lights. I’ve sprayed myself with lighter fluid more times than I’d like to admit. And I’ve wasted enough matches to get me red flagged by the EPA. The last time I tried to use it, I believe pizza dough was involved and it ended with me calling the Thai place around the corner for takeout. It’s better for my sanity and for the neighborhood in general because if I keep trying, things are going to end like this:
2. I’m almost always broke on LDW (that’s how the kids are acronym-ing it). Somehow, some way, I’m always out of money by that weekend and end up waking up that Monday praying that there’s an SVU marathon on to simultaneously allow me to forget that I’m not doing anything fun that day AND have to go back to work the next day.
3. Shorts and two piece trendy swimwear are the official LDW uniform. If you lived on a steady diet of wine and cheese quesadillas, you’d be boycotting the uniform too.
I have been that friend. You know, THAT friend. The one who’s like Rachel Dratch’s SNL character “Debbie Downer,” who never has anything nice to say and really knows how to shit all over a party.
I don’t like being that person who no one wants to invite to happy hour anymore. I love happy hour too much.
The main source of my Debbie Downer anguish has been career-related. Or lack-of-career related.
I think everyone has been at a crossroads in their career where they were unsure of what the next steps were. Like a holding room. Except I think I’ve overstayed my welcome here.
As much as I’d like to believe I can have a happy and productive life when I have a shitty career situation, that kind of idealism is just that: idealistic. In the US, your job *is* tied to your life. You want to believe it isn’t, but at the most basic level it’s a cultural standard to want to be happy with what you do. So referencing the happiness of people of other countries is irrelevant because job satisfaction isn’t valued more anywhere than it is in the US. I’m sure that’s a statistic. Somewhere. I’m not here to school you though.
As much as I’d love to fill you in on what I do, the details aren’t important. I should err on the side of caution anyway since my behavior at work lately has been equal parts apathy and insubordination. While the mental trauma (for lack of a better word) of work is racking me up some frequent flyer miles at Total Wine, I still need a paycheck. Some of you reading this can attest to the bullshit I’ve endured that would legitimize my “drinking problem.”
Recently, several of my professional relationships were compromised, burned and essentially ruined, not by my hand, which created an entirely different set of disturbing problems. It really makes for an uncomfortable and awkward situation in which I have to continue playing nice when it’s not in my nature to do so. It’s something I still need to learn how to do: not take it personally. If you don’t take it personally, you can continue to play nice right? More importantly, I need to learn how to either not react inappropriately or be smart about striking back, however in this situation striking of any sort is not an option.
It’s hard not to take things at work personally when you take your work to heart, particularly when you are busting your ass. I guess if I didn’t care about what I did, I wouldn’t be so offended. No one else seems to care, moreover, no one seems to notice when I dial myself back. So is the solution to just stop caring?
It doesn’t seem like the most prudent choice or like a solution at all, but I’m at a place where giving less of a shit is the option that’s going to get me in the least amount of trouble. Relatively, that’s still a lot of trouble. Relatively, on the integrity scale, I’m still scoring pretty high if that tells you anything about my surroundings.
Professionally, this is a death sentence. Personally, it is exhausting.
Instead of accepting that something like this is….acceptable, I’ve made some decisions that could be categorized as bridge burning. There’s this negative connotation that comes with that phrase, but in the right conditions, bridge burning is necessary. Who’s to say that there’s not a river I can jump into that will take me elsewhere? Why is it always a bad choice to deliberately burn a bridge?
That was really corny, and I kind of stole it from somewhere, but it’s true. I hate it when someone says not to burn bridges because that person is assuming that the action is strictly retaliatory and not productive. People who say that assume that only bad things can come from making a disconnect-that one day, you’re going to need that entity or person on the other side. Sometimes, that divide has to be made. It’s not the best choice all of the time-use your best judgment and common sense to make the determination that the action is appropriate for the given situation. In other words, be an adult about it.
This recent experience really forced me to evaluate my priorities and I discovered that what I value is more important than the perceived consequence of detaching myself and “burning a bridge.” I’ve had to really figure out what’s important to me so I can start to dig myself out of an incredibly deep post-grad career and life hole.
It’s the same kind of evaluation I’d usually do around New Year’s: what are my next steps, what changes am I going to make, how do I get there. Questions I avoided this past New Year’s to curb the usual holiday season meltdown that is usually experienced at 11:59:50 on December 31st. I hate that. I hate sitting in front of the TV and yelling at my local newscasters to stop the clock because I’m not where I’m supposed to be yet. I hate feeling unaccomplished at that very moment where I’m supposed to be embracing the New Year with hope and excitement.
Resolutions usually fail for me because they’re built on panic, and usually made in those final seconds when filled nostalgia and drunk on my own naivete (amongst other things), am thinking “I’m going to make this year count!” While everyone else is toasting champagne and counting backwards from 10 in unison, I’m drinking straight from a bottle of Martini Rossi Asti and making pacts with myself to stop eating cheese quesadillas until I lose 30 pounds.
While I wouldn’t refer to my plans as resolutions, I’ve pared it down to acknowledging a few things:
1. I want to work for myself. While I haven’t ever worked in the public sector, I’ve had my fill of answering to entities whose professional integrity would disturb the likes of Bernie Madoff. I may not be the most seasoned professional, however I am professional which is more than I can say for about 80% of my colleagues, and I use that word generously. I’d like to set and keep those standards and maintain some sense of integrity, something I’ve had very few good examples to learn from. I don’t know what the challenges are of being self-employed but I’m not dense enough to think that anything about it will be simple or easy. I’m not even sure if it will be fulfilling. I do know that what I’ve been working with has not worked for me yet. I haven’t completely ruled out working for someone else in the public sector. I imagine the public sector is a little more up front about being dishonest which I can respect more than veiled “good intentions” that are nothing of the sort.
2. In order to work for myself, I need to go back to school. Sure there are people out there who don’t need a business background to leverage a career boost or start their own business, they’re entrepreneurs goddamit! But. I want credibility. More than that, I’m finally in a place where I want to go back to school because I want to go back and not because I thought it was what I was supposed to do. I’ve been operating most of my life choices on “Logically, I’m supposed to do this. It’s what everyone expects me to do.” Well everyone else doesn’t have to live with my choices-I do. So I’ll go back to school and at the very least get some really decent networking out of it. After 5 years of dicking around and waiting for things to happen, I need to make it happen for myself not because I think it’s what everyone expects of me. I should have expected better of myself.
3. I need to move out. While living at home is convenient and void of any responsibility, I need my own space. While my mom has been gracious to let me come home, we aren’t eye level about most things which has made living at home stressful. I like to entertain and have people over. I like a neat and organized kitchen. I like to listen to NPR on the weekends and not have the TV on for 10 hours at a time. I like to follow a schedule when it comes to keeping the house clean and orderly. My mom does not like any of those things and because she’s at an age where being set in your ways is a rite of passage into senior citizenship, there’s no changing that. I can’t guarantee that my mom and I will get along better after I move out, but she will finally have a chance to transition into the friend role something that I don’t think she feels like she can do as long as I’m living under her roof. One day, we’ll be able to get to a point where she can stop dispensing advice as a mom and start listening as a friend, knowing that sometimes not saying anything at all is what I need.
I imagine we’ll never be these Gilmores:
But at some point, we’ll likely get to be these Gilmores:
No more settling. No more complacency. No more playing it nice or safe. Nice and safe isn’t going to make me happy or get me anywhere.
I’ve had my fair share of run-ins with the post office in the past year. The concept of the post office is so simple: buy shipping, ship items. Yet, as a government agency, the USPS is anything but simple. Like any other government entity they are fueled off of two things: inefficiency and poor customer service. Not to say the all government agencies are run this way, but you’re prone to start thinking this way after having waited in line at the DMV for 17 hours only to discover you were in the wrong line.
A simple trip for stamps or the mailing of a flat rate box can turn into an all day affair that may or may not end in a screaming match between the post office employee and several customers. Yes, employee, not employees, because it never fails that whichever post office I go to, there is only one employee behind the counter, doing his or her best to stretch out each transaction as if he is getting paid extra to make you wait. They are never nice. They are never friendly. They always eye your Christmas card or precisely taped box suspiciously like you’re running drugs, as if I’d run drugs through the post office. My package wouldn’t get to the buyer on time and I’d be murdered Pablo Escobar-style and memorialized in a future Aaron Sorkin film.
I hardly ever need stamps, but today I needed to get some stamps for the remaining invites for my friend’s wedding shower. I was lucky to arrive at the post office and not have to wait in the usual line of 20+ disgruntled people. Instead, there were two people in front of me, and three being assisted by a record number of postal employees who were showing those customers varying degrees of apathy. One woman tried to ask a question of the curmudgeonly man who in the loosest sense of the term was “assisting” her, and he barked an answer at her before she could even finish asking. The woman seemed unfazed by the more than harsh response and continued to ask more questions, breaking one of the cardinal rules of post office etiquette: never ask the employees anything ever. They are not there to answer questions. They’re not even there to make sure your package gets anywhere in a timely manner or in one piece. They are there because like any other government job, it would almost literally take a sweeping government sanction to get them fired. His local congressman would likely have to come and fire him in person and even then he’d still walk away with a more than generous severance package and get to keep their pension plan.
I was hoping that my place in line didn’t unintentionally delegate me to the 75-year old man with an anger issue, but I would never be so lucky. I casually walked up to the counter, and gently placed the envelopes in between us, like a peace offering. He looked at me over the rim of his glasses and then down at the envelopes like I had just spit on them. He gingerly picked one up, made a face and then asked me what I wanted to do with these. The envelopes were clearly unstamped. I thought it was obvious. I broke the second cardinal rule of post office etiquette: never assume the employee has or will ever use his or her God-given common sense.
“I need stamps,” I said flatly. I’m not one of those people who tries to turn a situation around with a funny quip or by turning on the charm. No, if you’re going to give me snark I’m going to give it right back.
He made another face at the envelopes and turned the one in his hand over to discover the return label. Sometimes I put the return label on the back for aesthetic purposes and this was one of those times.
“You know,” he grumbled. “You shouldn’t put the return label on the back. This might get mailed back to you.”
Incredulous, I asked him what he meant.
“You should always put the label on the front.”
“I’m sorry, what’s confusing about this? The ‘to’ address and stamp will be on the front. Like they should be.”
He practically bared his teeth at me like a rabid dog in response.
“I’M JUST SAYING, THAT’S WHAT HAPPENS SOMETIMES.”
Stunned, I just stood there without words while he painstakingly doled out seven stamps and rang me up.
I paid my due and turned away, saying thank you as an afterthought (for what, I don’t know) and stamped my envelopes at the counter. Upon first glance, they looked like the kind that have to be moistened and I went from 0-60 in a matter of seconds, thinking he’d given me those on purpose. Upon further inspection I saw that they were the self-adhesive kind and was glad I stopped myself from throwing a temper tantrum that would’ve prompted them to call the police (which I’m sure wouldn’t be the first time they would’ve had to do it).
As I drove away, the stupidity of what he said struck me. I wish it had struck me while I was at the counter so I didn’t have to shout it at myself as I headed towards Target.
If I’m to understand correctly, what he said to me was that a trained postal employee cannot tell the difference between a “to” and “from” label. He’s telling me that people who are paid by the US government to know not only what a piece of mail looks like but are also responsible for mail pieces that contain checks, breakables, and J.Crew rewards cards, people who operate mail trucks and large pieces of machinery, these people may not be able to tell the difference between a “to” and “from” address. It’s not even a matter of thinking outside of the box. The post office has been in business for 200+ years and you mean to tell me that in that time the training provided still hasn’t been able to help your employees clearly identify where a piece of mail is coming from and going to?
At the most basic level, what he told me was that the post office has not conquered it’s most very elementary operation: IDENTIFYING MAIL.
As I pulled into the Target parking lot to start the rest of my day, I regretted leaving my envelopes to be mailed at that post office. I have not once ever had a mail piece with the return address on the back of the envelope returned to me. But I can bet that four of the seven I left at that post office will mysteriously make their way back to my mailbox.
Matilda is uncontestedly one of my favorite movies and it’s not because I totally relate to a nerdy little girl who enjoys reading way too much. No. I’m more like the little fat ass who ate the headmasters cake in secrecy, was caught and publicly humiliated in front of the entire school by being forced to eat what appeared to be 20 pounds worth of chocolate cake. He won. And was subsequently further humiliated when the empty plate on which he took his victory lick was smashed over his head.
This video takes one of my top 10 favorite movie scenes and remixes it with the musical diarrhea that is dubstep. The result is 48 seconds of remixing that will not seal your appreciation for dubstep, but will confirm that dubstep can make something funnier without even trying.
Here’s to Bruce Bogtrotter and to everyone else who eats like they mean it.
One of the food bloggers I follow had posted a photo on Instagram of a jug that looked like beer, that she referred to as cold brew. One of the commenters referred to the beverage as “crack liquid” and naturally my interest was piqued. I haven’t had a good cup of coffee in a long time and am starting to worry that I’ve reached a tolerance level that can only be met with high grade designer narcotics.
Coffee and I have come to a boring impasse in which it has agreed to stop meeting my caffeine needs in the morning and I have agreed to continue to drink it out of habit and not make any complaints about it unnecessarily staining my chompers. I am 90% sure that the acidity has directly contributed to the extended disintegration of the chip on my front tooth which qualifies me as a hillbilly in some states. Or maybe it’s the quart of wine I drink every week.
I can’t remember the last time I had a cup of coffee that I could feel pulsing through my veins moments after downing it. I miss that feeling. I derive a lot of untapped power with a good cup of coffee.
So I’m branching out and trying new coffees and methods of brewing that will let caffeine shine the way it should in my circulatory system. Which brings me to the cold brew method.
I followed these instructions and I use the term follow somewhat loosely…
I didn’t grind my own beans because my friend Lindsay gave me a bag of coffee someone had brought her from Ecuador.
She said she was too lazy to put it in her Keurig.
This is why we are friends.
Her laziness became my laziness because although all of the techniques I read recommended “freshly ground” coffee, as far as I was concerned that unopened bag was as fresh as it was going to get. I had a perfectly good excuse not to grind my own beans because someone had generously provided me a FREE bag of already ground beans.
Also this was good coffee because it’s shade grown and organic. I didn’t know what the significance of shade grown meant until Lindsay Googled it while we were at lunch. Basically, it’s coffee that’s grown naturally- no trees were plowed down in the process and no creature habitats destroyed. So you can drink your coffee guilt and pesticide free. How it’s organic, I don’t know, Lindsay ended the Q&A session abruptly before I could continue mocking her about her knowledge of shade grown coffee.
I measured out the coffee per the specifications, but instead of 4 cups of water, I only added 3 because I didn’t want my French press to overflow. Stir. Cover. Sit. Another article I read recommended stirring it again 10 minutes after soaking the grounds “to maximize contact with the ground coffee.” I have a short attention span, so two episodes of Seinfeld later, I stirred the grounds some more (a significant portion had floated to the top) and then let it sit for 24 hours.
When I removed the lid the next day, the coffee had a really pleasant smell-like chocolate-and no strong or bitter tones to it. I filtered with a sieve and coffee filter which I found unnecessary because it drained like honey. Next time I’d probably nix the filter because the grounds were coarse grind and didn’t pass through the sieve.
If you come across a technique for cold brew that recommends using fine grounds and then pressing the coffee with a French press before filtering-DON’T. You will damage your press and possibly injure yourself with exploding glass because presses are designed to filter coarse grounds. The fine grounds get stuck in the filter and all of that pressure can be dangerous. Although this scenario is more likely with hot water, better not to risk the chance of explaining to the ER why you’re covered in coffee grounds and glass.
After straining, I let the coffee sit in the fridge overnight and made iced coffee the next morning using a 1:2 ratio of coffee to water and then sprinkling some sea salt in it per the recommendation of the second article. The thing with the sea salt is you need to stir it a lot to dissolve it and I got a nasty gulp of salty coffee halfway through my morning routine. I don’t really know what the difference is without the salt, but I guess I’ll find out another time.
As I got to the bottom of my cup, I added some more coffee concentrate as my earlier concoction had been watered down by ice and added a splash of creamer. I always add creamer to my coffee to cut through any bitterness, but this version didn’t need any.
Overall the coffee was nicely fragrant, smooth and best of all was lacking the horrible aftertaste I’ve been experiencing with coffee lately. I read that bitterness can be affected by the water temperature at which coffee is brewed which would explain the shitty cups at Starbucks but not the cups I make at home in a Keurig, so I guess there’s more experimenting in my future, likely starting with a deep clean of the Keurig.
This is a great way to make iced coffee-it is simple and low maintenance and as far as I can tell is caffeinated enough to prevent me from exercising verbal abuse on anyone. It keeps in the fridge for about a week and is ready when you are to drink it. Best of all it’s cheap, but it doesn’t taste like it.
Want cold brew? Make your own!
1 1/3 coarse coffee grounds- ground fresh or from an unopened bag that was gifted to you
4 cups of room temperature, filtered water
Put grounds in a french press or a large measuring glass with a spout.
Pour water over grounds and stir.
Wait 10 minutes and stir again. Or stir again when you’ve remembered what you were doing.
Cover and let sit at room temperature for 24 hours.
Filter coffee through a fine sieve with a filter if you’d like, but not necessary. If you used fine grounds for whatever reason, definitely use a filter.
To drink, mix one part coffee to as many parts water as you’d want, but I wouldn’t recommend more than 3 unless you are a weenie.
You can add a pinch of salt as suggested, just make sure you dissolve it really well. I’d recommend using liquid sugar or agave if you plan to sweeten.
Use immediately or store in the fridge, covered, for up to a week.