Saturday, January 28, 2006

Very Sexy, Very Surprised

Motivated by the fact that only 20% of women wear the correct bra size and armed with a $10 Have a Very Sexy Birthday card, I went to Victoria's Secret today for a bra fitting. I was somewhat apprehensive walking in, because I hate feeling pressured into buying something I don't want. Every time I am in VS, I am asked to sign up for an Angel card. Every time I decline to do so. I don't shop there often; I usually just go when they are having a sale or if I receive a postcard for a free pair of underwear. Whenever I use those postcards, I am asked to buy something else. A bra, perhaps? Maybe try some other underwear? No, thanks, I tell them. I just want my free pair. (I am loyal to my Jockey undergarments. They've always done me well, and I swear by them.)

But I was intent on using the $10 card that they had sent me since it expires on the 31st. And I had the feeling that I could be part of that 80% majority wearing the wrong bra size.

I did a quick lap around the store, thinking I might chicken out of the bra fitting once again. But then I was stopped by a sales associate who did her quick sell on their new seamless bra. If I bought one, I'd even get a free lipstick. I nodded and thanked her as I usually do to the salespeople. Then I told her, "I want to do a fitting."

You'd think I had just offered her $50,000. Her face lit up and she unraveled the tape measure from around her neck. Off came my coat and up went my arms. She was just going to do this in the middle of the store? For some reason I had expected a little more intimacy.

"I thought I should do this, you know, since so many women wear the wrong size."

She finished measuring. "What size do you wear?"

"36C". I can't tell you how long I've been this size. I remember the day I thought I was busting out of my B cups and was so shocked that I could fit into a C. This was the moment I was waiting for, when she would tell me I was a 38B or something totally different.

"36C, huh? Have you ever tried a 36D?"

D? There was no way a D would fit me. I'd be swimming in a D. Those bras were for large-chested women, not average gals like me. But she was the one working in the lingerie store, the one with the tape measure. And so I let her lead me to the fitting room where I was given a C and a D, and asked to try each on for a better idea of my size.

To my great surprise, the D fit just right. Upon revealing this to the woman outside the door, I was given a bra box containing a dozen 36Ds in various styles and colors. I rummaged around and found a few styles I liked. I decided to ignore the price tags and remember that this was an investment for which I was long overdue. When had I become a D? How long had I been wearing the wrong bra size? It was time to change all this. And since my old bras no longer "fit", I'd have to buy a few new ones today. This was not saleswoman pressure, this was necessity.

Two bras and $80 later, I walked out of VS feeling like a new woman. A large-chested woman. A D-cup. And the newest Angel cardholder (damn those pushy saleswomen!).

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Worn Out

Life has gotten revenge on me for complaining about how bored I was at work, how I had absolutely nothing to do all day. For about two months, it was slow everyday. Painfully slow (almost as painful as watching this).

But each day this work has been CRAZY. Run around the office and barely have a moment to think straight crazy. Forgetting to eat lunch until 2:30 and munching on those fantastic choc chip cookies in my desk crazy.

I love it.

I thrive on stress and pressure. I like having fast turnarounds on projects, and I love working on new assignments. What I'm working on now is very new for my company, and that gives me just an added thrill. It's days like these that I get excited about my job and realize that I do love what I do. I wouldn't want every day to be this crazy, but I would prefer a little more stress now and then.

Monday, January 23, 2006

When God Bless You Isn't Enough

I hate being sick, which is why I never let myself get sick. I take a multi-vitamin everyday. These, I believe, are the key to preventing illness. Whenever I stop taking them for a few days, I seem to catch a cold or my nose gets all sniffly. But then there are those rare occasions when, despite my best efforts to stay illness-free, I start coughing and sneezing. And then my throat feels scratchy and my eyes start watering.

Now I am stuck in stuffy sinus mode. I am constantly reaching for a Kleenex because it constantly feels like snot is dripping down my face. Even though I am not supposed to, I keep rubbing my itchy eyes. I have to hold back on my perfume since it only makes the itchiness worse. The coughing hasn't gotten too bad yet, but I do sound like there is a bucket of phlegm in my esophagus.

The worst part of it all - the sneezing. I hate sneezing. It's a distant relative of vomiting, in my opinion. There is that anticipation which comes before each act: a tickling in your nose or a rumble from your stomach to your throat. They are both awful feelings that cannot be stopped no matter how much you suppress the feeling. Fluids comes out of your nose and mouth, and you have to just let it flow. Sneezing, in many ways, is even grosser than vomiting because it happens frequently in public places. Look around at work or in a restaurant. On public transportation or in an elevator. Sneezing everywhere. And for some reason, we think "God Bless You" (or a variation of such) makes it all okay. It's fine that someone just shout out nasty germs in this small, enclosed space. I don't mind, as long as I make sure to bless them.

Sneezing can be loud. It can be long and painful. It can be very, very gross. And what happens when you are totally unprepared for the sneeze? Especially a very wet sneeze? It's almost like having a surprise puke attack in your car. Where do you go? What do you do?

And on that slimy image, I'm off to bed.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Shout Outs

Sometimes I like stuff so much I need to give it a shout out so that others can enjoy it as well. So I've decided to devote some blogging space to sharing my recommendations and new interests.

Wonder Boys by Michael Chabon - I saw the movie based on this book a few years ago and really enjoyed it. How could I not? Small, private college. English department. Students in love with professors (and vice versa). I decided to pick up the book, and I enjoyed it even more than the film. Chabon is heavy on details, which made it easy to see and understand the characters. The details weren't overwhelming, though. I noticed that each of the main characters had a specific article of clothing/accessory that they always wore. And I realized that this is true of people in real life. We all know someone who always wears the same jacket or carries the same bag everywhere they go. It becomes a defining aspect of their character, even though it's just clothing or shoes. Chabon also used some interesting, and beautiful, images to describe the most average observations. I recall one from the end of the story, when Grady (the main character) hears the radio coming from inside the car. He describes it as "the trickle of advertising" coming from the radio. This is the kind of stuff I always tried to get into my own stories. It's no surprise that this book inspired me to start writing again. After finishing Wonder Boys last night, I popped open my iBook and started writing, thinking about characters and images and all the things I learned in college. It felt so good.

Netflix - I subscribed to Netflix at the beginning of the year. I had been meaning to for months, and every time I received one of those "Free Trial!" postcards in the mail, I put it in my bag so I would log on at work. In December, I began filling out the application online, but didn't complete it until after the holidays. Why didn't I do this before? It's so convenient! I love convenient! I love movies! I hate Blockbuster! Netflix was made for me. I'm catching up on a number of films I've been meaning to see (old and new, foreign and classic and drama and comedy), as well as getting caught up on Nip/Tuck (I'm on the second disc of Season 1).

Project Runway - If you didn't already know, I am obsessed with this show. I don't watch a lot of TV, and I certainly don't do much reality programming. But each week I look forward to PR. Actually, as soon as the episode ends, I get impatient for the next one to air. The challenges are fun, the designers are unique and dedicated to their work, and the judges/hosts are so entertaining. I'm rooting for Chloe, Nick, and Daniel for the final three. And it's not too late to get into it - Bravo airs repeats multiple times during the week.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Start Spreading the News

I'm moving to New York.

Not today, not this week, or this month. Not even in six months. But, within two to three years, I am moving there.

I had this realization about two weeks ago. When I graduated from college, a lot of my classmates expected me to end up in New York. While I did attempt to look for a job there, coming home to Chicago was a much simpler route, especially when I was a broke, recent college grad. After getting a job that I really liked, I didn't think I'd want to move. But even my best friend was convinced that I wouldn't last in Chicago. "I can still see you moving there, Erin. I give it about three years."

Exactly three years ago today, I moved to Manhattan for a semester-long internship. In the four months that I lived there, I fell in love with everything about the city. Even daily urban annoyances didn't get me down; I found them quite endearing. No matter how smelly or creepy it could be, I became obsessed with the subway system. In fact, I have a soft spot for the smell that rises from the sidewalk grates. I walked whenever and wherever I could. Often I did not have an agenda for the day; I just walked to walk. There was always something to see or something to do. I managed to entertain myself on a severely limited income ($10/day stipend), even while living in a strange community.

Since that semester, I've been back to visit twice. And each time, I fall in love with the city all over again. For me, New York is like a long-distance lover. I think about New York daily: what I would be doing if I were there, how the transportation would be much more efficient than Chicago's (save striking MTA workers), and how I might never be bored. I look at pictures of the city (there is one on my desktop at work and multiple in my bedroom), and I indulge myself in movies and TV shows set in New York. Is it any wonder, then, that I love Woody Allen?

So I'm moving there. I'm waiting a bit, until I get a little more established in my job. There are opportunities to transfer within business units to New York so it's not like I would be forced to quit. And I don't think it would hurt to expose myself to the NY agency lifestyle.

In the meantime, I'll start saving my money.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

The Naked House

I did not grow up in a naked house (ref: Sex & the City episode 33). Although I probably saw my parents in their unmentionables one too many times, I never felt comfortable prancing around outside my bedroom in my underwear or less. I recall feeling so free when I was home alone and could walk down the hall to my bathroom in the nude, without worrying that my father might choose that exact moment to appear on the stairs. Even when I was 20 years old and asked my mom to change the bandage on my post-surgery breast, I was a tad anxious. (She was going to see my boobs?) Of course this was taken care of in the privacy of my own bedroom.

But when it comes to undressing at the gym, I am not bothered. Perhaps it stems from being on a swim team for eight years and having to strip in and out of my swimsuit in a small, humid locker room. I never took my bag and changed in the bathroom like a few other girls. From what I saw, we were all just trying to change clothes without anyone seeing. And since we were all preoccupied with ourselves, no one was sneaking peeks at anyone else. (I did have a few teammates who definitely lived in naked houses - they would get half-naked in the communal shower and that just wasn't cool).

When I was 15, locker room dressing was a bit intimidating. But I always assumed that when everyone was grown-up, there would be little fear in changing in front of a other women. Granted, my gym consists only of people working for my company, but even that shouldn't be a reason to hide. Yet morning after morning, I see my fellow exercisers dart into one of the two "dressing rooms" either to wrap themselves in a towel or to change into their workday attire (or both). One of these dressing room gals is a good friend of mine. I often wonder why she cannot just dress in front of her locker, especially since I know she's lived in a dorm and a sorority house where personal privacy was a luxury. Even when we stayed in a hotel room together a few months ago, she changed in the bathroom while I had no qualms about tugging off my sweater in the middle of the room. I'm not daring, nor am I an exhibitionist. But I have been one of those crazies at a Barney's sale trying on clothes in the middle of the store.

I'm continually baffled by the inhibitions of my fellow gym members, all of whom are at least 22 years old. What I have noticed is that this is a trend among mostly younger women. The older women in the locker room are usually the few that strut around sans towel, or bend over bare-assed in front of their gym bag. Is this something that happens as we get older? Do women begin feeling more at ease with their naked self? Or is it a generational difference? Are we more accustomed to privacy, so we expect it no matter where we are?

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Under Construction

Bear with me....I am making some changes.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Couldn't Ask For Anything Better

Thanks for the birthday wishes! I think this was the best birthday I've had in a few years. I spent the day getting a manicure and hanging out with my best friend, and then in the evening I was surrounded by many of my favorite people. There were friends I've met since moving to the city, some from college, and others from high school. We enjoyed a fulfilling Italian meal and three liters of Chianti before dancing up a storm to the hits of the 70s and 80s.

The end of the evening reminded me of my 22nd birthday, which was the first time FFG and I got together. This was in college, the night before my birthday, and I had left the bar and was walking back to my apartment alone. Suddenly, FFG and a few of his friends passed me, and he dragged me back to the bar to buy me a birthday drink. We ended up sitting at the bar together until we were told to leave, and we went back to my place for awhile. Two years later, during my 24th celebration, I decided I wanted to leave the bar (this happens often) and started making my way toward the door. Just as I got there, FFG walked in. He had waited in line for twenty minutes and was not going to let me leave. Besides, it was my birthday! He bought me a drink and then we went downstairs to join my friends. I was in shock that he had shown up at all. He had brought another friend (who we lost early on), but he had come downtown and waited in line in the cold weather to see me. We hadn't spoken or seen each other since November. But it didn't seem to matter.

After a night of random shots and drinks purchased for me, I was feeling pretty rough. I spent the majority of Sunday afternoon in bed watching Manhattan and napping. Since I had the day off today, I vowed to actually get out and do something with myself. I took myself to the movies to see Good Night, and Good Luck (thanks for the recommendation, Max) and I'm off to Second City tonight for a friend's performance.

Not a bad three-day weekend....

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Happy Birthday to Me

It's like it's 1992 again. I spent my entire afternoon watching Nickelodeon and the horrible movie Bebe's Kids. I had to peel myself from the couch when I saw that VH1 was airing the best miniseries ever produced, The Jacksons: An American Dream.

Time to celebrate turning 24!

Friday, January 13, 2006

I Love Technology

After about 6 hours of frustration, swearing, and throwing of remotes, I managed to get our new TiVo to work. So far we've watched a limited amount of television with the new device (purchased thanks to my company's technology allowance), but it was quite thrilling to pause The OC last night when Jill had to tell me a story. Whenever I think about how I will miss an upcoming program due to obligations and activities this weekend, I remember "Oh, I can just TiVo it." Awesome.

It's been a nasty, wet, sleety day in Chicago. Gone are the 50 degree temperatures of Thursday. Friday the 13th brought gross weather so I think we'll stay in tonight (and enjoy our new toy).

Note: Seems strange that the Blogger spell check recognizes "TiVo" and does not recognize "blog".

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Mr. Robinson, Part II

We left the restaurant and I was struggling to think of a bar we could go to. On a Saturday night most of the bars between the restaurant and my apartment became pretty fratty. These weren't the kinds of places I wanted to go with my 41-year-old former professor in tow. I also didn't want to go anywhere too far away. The closer we were to my building, I reasoned, the easier it would be for me to end the night.

We ended up at a bar/restaurant very close to where I live. It's usually pretty tame, at least on the restaurant side. As we walked in, I fished my wallet out of my purse as he strode right in and up to the bar. He must have forgotten that at my age, I still get carded. It was loud and I was noticeably uncomfortable even though it was him that looked out of place. I scanned the room for familiar faces and, fortunately, didn't see anyone I knew. Tequila for him, Miller Lite for me. We took a seat at the restaurant, at a small two-person table.

The lighting was much brighter here than at the previous place, and we were also sitting much closer together. I found myself regularly glancing at his wedding ring, not because I needed to be reminded, but because he did. He asked me to tell him the story of a romantic relationship I had in (and out) of college. It was something I had briefly touched on in one of my stories and he was curious to know what had happened since I had graduated.

But I was sick of talking. I caught myself trailing off at the end of sentences, feeling awkward. Staring at the table, my hands, or my beer bottle. Like before, I drank slowly, and when he asked if I needed another I quickly told him no. There was music on and he sang out loud once in awhile. I was slightly embarrassed. He asked me if I liked to dance (was this a proposition?), and he was sure that I was a very good dancer. Somewhere in the middle of all this, he asked me if I wanted to get stoned because he had some pot in his car. I declined. Every time I looked up at him, I saw this goofy look on his face. There was something in his eyes that seemed an inappropriate stare for anyone but his wife. It was as if every word that I said was amazing. Since I felt strange talking and simultaneously avoiding his face, I asked him to tell me a story.

"Did I ever tell you my Mrs. Robinson story?"

", I don't think so."

"Well, I was a freshman in college and it was my first time back home. I was at a party in the neighborhood, lots of family friends, and there was this woman who took a liking to me. Her name was Celia. She was stunning, absolutely beautiful woman. We talked at the party and she asked if she could call me sometime. A few days later, the phone rang and my younger sister answered, telling me a girl was on the phone asking for me. Quietly, I took the phone around and around until I was alone. Celia asked if we could go out sometime. I suggested that we do so alone. I would feel uncomfortable going with any of her friends (who were, coincidentally, my friends' parents)."

It was at this point in the story, that I sensed something change. Telling me I was beautiful or that my former lover was an idiot were nothing compared to this. Here he was, eighteen years older than me, telling me his own story about being seduced by a woman fifteen years older than he had been.

He continued his story, describing his date with Celia and how he couldn't believe someone like her would be interested in a young man like him. He laughed and his left hand stopped briefly on my right knee. There was some talk of romance on the beach, but I had already started tuning him out until...

"Have you ever had an affair with an older man?"

Affair. That was the exact word he used. Had I? No.

I laughed nervously. "No, uh, I've always stayed within a year older or a year younger." As I said this, I made a chopping motion with my hands to indicate the age boundaries of my lovers. I don't think he got it.

After refusing his offer for another drink (and noticing that they were chasing us out of the restaurant), he asked "Shall we go?" Sure, I said. But we weren't going anywhere. I was going home and he could walk me there if he liked. This was the end.

When we walked into the lobby, I expected some sort of awkward embrace and goodbye, thanks for dinner, etc. Instead, he asked if he could use my bathroom.

"I guess so", I replied. What else could I say? There was no restroom in our lobby and he had a long drive ahead of him. And how could I say no without being rude?

The elevator ride was silent all the way to the fifteenth floor. My apartment was locked, meaning both of my roommates were gone. Damn. If I had wanted this to be as undatelike as possible, I wasn't doing too well. In fact, everything was going perfectly for a date. But why did it have to be my married, former professor?

A light was on in the living room and I didn't bother to turn on any others. I pointed to the bathroom at the back of the apartment and sort of shooed him in there. I didn't take my coat or scarf off, and I listened to my voicemail messages to distract myself. As I waited for him to walk back out, I mentally prepared my goodbye. I would give him a hug, thank him for dinner, and shuffle him towards the door. Maybe even throw in a fake yawn or two.

But when I hugged him and received my usual kiss on the cheek, he asked me something else.

"Can I kiss you on the lips?"

His face was close to mine and I turned my head so that I was staring at the wall behind our couch. What??? Had he really just asked me that? I was totally unprepared for something like this.

"I don't think that's a good idea." I kept my face turned away until I felt his retreat. Slowly, I looked at him.

"You know that I'm very attracted to you."

Uncomfortable pause.

"I'm sorry, Erin. I shouldn't have done that."

Now he felt bad. Now I felt bad. But I needed to get him out of my living room. "It's fine, really. Don't worry about it", I said as I started pushing him towards the door. As soon as I pushed the door closed behind him, I quietly locked it and started pacing around the entryway. I couldn't make any noise until the elevator came and I knew he was gone.

A million thoughts were racing through my head. A married man had just made a pass at me (these were the words I used to describe it on the phone that night. It sounded old-fashioned, but he was old so it fit). A married man with children. I knew his wife and daughter. I had been in his house before. Was this his intention all along when he asked me to dinner? Or was this something that sprang up out of our conversation and tequila? What if I had said yes and gone along with the kiss? Would that have been the only request? Had he done this before with former students? Has he cheated on his wife before?

I retold the story to a few of my close friends, not as juicy gossip but out of a need for advice and consolation. I needed to be reminded that I had done nothing to provoke this. That I had acted appropriately and that it was he who had crossed the line. How should I react? What was my next step? I realized that some balance between the two of us had shifted. I lost some of my respect for him that night. How was I ever expected to return to our relationship without thinking about the night he tried to kiss me? The one good thing to come out of all this was that he provided me with some fantastic material.

I told my friends that I expected some sort of apologetic email on Monday. When I got into work, sure enough - he had already written me. But I was nervous and still unsure of how I felt about the situation, and I waited to open the email for awhile. And when I did, there was no mention of what had happened. Only a thank you for a lovely evening and a reprise of how beautiful I had looked Saturday evening.

Now, as my friend said, the ball is in my court. How do I respond? I have to let him know that what he did was inappropriate without jeopardizing the relationship even more. He needs to know how I feel, even if it was just a kiss.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Mr. Robinson, Part I

I've mentioned before that I went to a small college. It was a liberal arts school with red brick buildings and Greek houses lining the small-town streets. A campus made beautiful by fall, lonely in winter, and hedonistic come spring. It was also the kind of school where collegiate cliches came alive. The Greek system was a large part of social life, and students wore their fraternity or sorority letters proudly. Classes were small, thus creating intimate relationships between students and professors. Everyone knew everyone. On unexpectedly warm days, students met outside rather than in the confines of an academic building. Other times, professors would hold class in an off-campus locale like a bar, restaurant, or their own home. These were the reasons I chose the school, and these are the reasons I loved every minute of it.

When I left school, I still maintained relationships with some of my professors whether it was for networking purposes or just keeping in touch. But now, a year and a half after graduating, there is only one with whom I correspond. When I was on campus for a career fair this past fall, I saw him for a few minutes and renewed our email relationship. He was one of English professors, and I did not take a class with him until my final semester at school. The course was Memoir Writing and because we shared such personal details with one another, the class became very close. There was an element of trust among each of the students and our professor, and I never feared sharing anything about myself with them. I exposed myself more to this group than to anyone else in my life; my family, my sex life, and my self-esteem were spun into words and open to criticism. Out of all the writing workshops I had in college (five total - I was a Writing major), Memoir was my favorite. I learned so much from others' stories, as well as my own. And I appreciated having a professor who told us his own stories, even those about the first time he tried heroin or his parents' divorce. I will also admit that I had a schoolgirl crush on him, this slightly awkward and goofy writer who, incidentally, was married to my advisor.

Most recently, he has been sending me pieces he's written for his book, asking for my input or general critique. We also write about general life stuff: work, family, etc. When he mentioned he might come to Chicago, I told him to let me know. It would be great to catch up in person, rather than via email once every few weeks. Just a few weeks before Christmas he emailed me to tell me he'd be in town at the beginning of January. Would I be available for dinner? Sure.

We set a date for dinner and he called at the beginning of last week to solidify our plans. He'd asked for Mexican food, so I chose a place just down the street from my apartment. This way, I thought, I could easily meet him there. But when we spoke on the phone, he insisted that he would pick me up at my building.

"No, really, it's close. I can just walk."

"Right. So I'll just pick you up. 7:45ish? I'll be in your area visiting some aunts of mine."

Shit. This was becoming more datelike and less just dinnerish than I had planned. But I wasn't jumping to conclusions; it was my friends who thought this was odd.

"He's picking you up? Sounds like a date. Isn't he married?"

Yes, I told them. Married, with two children. His wife was my advisor. It wasn't going to be weird. True, he had sent me an email shortly following the aforementioned career fair telling me that "he couldn't help but stare because I looked so beautiful and sophisticated". At the time, I thought it was a little strange. One of my friends, who also knows this professor well, told me I was taking it too far. That I was beautiful and sophisticated, and that I should appreciate such a compliment.

The evening of our dinner, still thinking about what my friends had said, I put on one of the less sexy outfits in my closet. Chocolate brown oxford, jeans, and brown kitten heel pumps. This was something I would wear to work, and I was determined to make this evening seem as undatelike as possible. The phone rang around 7:40; it was the front desk letting me know that he was downstairs.

"I'll be right down," I said as I grabbed my coat and scarf. I did not want him coming upstairs.

When I saw him in the lobby, he greeted me as he has in the past: clasping my right hand and kissing me on the cheek. (For a brief moment, I wondered what the front desk attendant was thinking of my much older visitor - he's 18 years my senior.) We exchanged hellos and how are yous and started walking to the restaurant. We talked about our families and about the gay men in the building across from mine who I saw having sex once (they don't own any draperies and the building is pure windows). During dinner, we talked about writing and my job and his classes. Why I should move to New York. Books we've read, films we've seen, and music we're listening to. It was exactly the kind of conversation I expected to have with him.

(In retelling this story, my friend commented that this scene was so Woody Allen. I smiled because I have always wanted moments in my life to resemble Woody Allen films.)

The conversation shifted at times to sex and drugs, topics that had been widely discussed in my writing classes. Because of some of the stories I'd written, he knew about me giving my first blow job and when I lost my virginity. I knew how old he had been when he lost his. We talked about the drugs we'd done (I was the novice here) and about relationships. I asked about his kids, one of whom was born just after I graduated. I asked about his wife. He did not linger on these topics for very long.

Dinner was winding down. Our plates were cleared and the pitcher of margaritas was starting to look empty. I had been sipping my drink slowly all night, not wanting to let myself get drunk for fear of saying (or even doing) something stupid. I checked my watch. 9:20. I could still make it to my friend's birthday party downtown. But then he returned to the table and asked if he could buy me a drink someplace else nearby.

And this is when things got strange.

Tagged on Tuesday

The Scarlett tagged me (it's my first time!) so here are some random facts about me...

I eat food secretly.
Sometimes I go into the kitchen alone to get food and bring it back into my room without anyone knowing. I did this at my parents' house too. The worst example was on my 19th birthday. I (drunkenly) ordered a pizza for myself, locked my dorm room when it arrived, ate the entire thing, and then unlocked the door. I think there is some weird eating disorder in all of this.

I won the chance to meet Paula Abdul and didn't go.
When I got dressed in the mornings I would listen to the radio and, one day during my sophomore year of high school, I called into the radio show and was on the air (talking about my answering machine's outgoing message). All of the people who were on that day were invited to a private dance thing with Paula. Unfortunately, I had a big swim meet that day and couldn't go. This was all pre-American Idol, of course.

At age 11, I went on an exchange program to France for 3 weeks.
At the time, it didn't seem like a big deal. Now I can't imagine an eleven-year-old
being on her own in a foreign country where she doesn't speak the language. All I could say was "Je suis americaine" (as if it wasn't horribly obvious). I lived with a family while I was there, and my program had about 25 other students from my hometown. I met my best friend during that trip.

I think I am slightly obsessive compulsive, though it's never been diagnosed.
Recently I was watching True Life: I Have OCD on MTV and I think I really might have a mild form. I have routines and little rituals that I have to do. If something isn't the way it's supposed to be, the morning or the day is ruined. And I can't even think about doing something outside of my routine. Not only would it throw me off, but I don't physically think I could do it.

For the first two years I was on the swim team, I couldn't dive.
Little did I know that diving and swimming went hand-in-hand. When I joined the team, I had no idea how to do the former and spent many evenings after practice in the diving well, attempting to throw myself into the water head first. It took me two years to get it right. Before that, I basically jumped into the pool hunched over like a cat. My parents have video proof of this. Thank goodness VHS is becoming obsolete.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Where the HELL is my chiffon?

I'm in love with season two of Project Runway. And I am a regular reader of Blogging Project Runway, so I was very excited to see a shout-out on the site today. My time at Banana Republic yesterday provided me with some extra insight into this week's episode.

Ohhh, I can't wait!

Saturday, January 07, 2006

My Least Favorite Subject

Last week I mentioned that I'd been emotional over all sorts of things, as well as doing quite a bit of thinking on relationships, love, etc. And at that same time, I found this. It's actually from a journal entry of mine dated 5/18/05:

I tried to avoid the subject of love for a long time. I rarely let my poems or short stories fall into the category of sentimental prose many of my classmates wrote. Depression, abuse, illegal substances, dysfunctional families or relationships - these were all acceptable and worthwhile subjects. Even sex, a distant relative of love, could be part of the story. But once I sensed some sort of emotionally lovey-dovey tone in the words, I automatically dismissed the piece (and the writer).

My final writing assignment in college was a memoir piece on any subject. I knew, as I'd known all semester, what I would write about. It was an idea I'd circulated in my thoughts and notebook. My sexual history (and my lack of real relationships) was something I thought about often, especially on a college campus steeped in a tradition of booze and hooking up. By writing about myself, I was attempting to better understand why I behaved a certain way around men.

In the end, the piece came out well and in rereading it, I did learn more about myself. I could see my motivations and fears around men, and I also saw the strength and beauty of my words. I was proud of my story, and the feeling I put into it showed.

But there was one expository paragraph that lingered with me. In fact, I can still remember it a year later. It's not because the prose was so memorable in its imagery; I remember it because I finally broached the subject of love. In my story, surrounded by descriptions of blow jobs and an awkward loss of virginity, I acknowledged that I'd never been in love. That one sentence was the meat of the story, the reason I was floundering around with men and losing respect for myself. And, in writing that sentence and sharing it with my classmates, I realized I wanted to fall in love.

The idea of love is so mysterious because the details surrounding the who, when, where, and how cannot be predicted. It's this mystery that keeps us guessing, wondering in what form love will appear. But even stranger is not knowing what love feels like. As a child you learn what it means to be angry or sad or hurt, and you carry these emotions with you for a lifetime. Love, happening less frequently, is an emotion we are unprepared for, and we may even doubt its existence.

When I realized I was in love with someone, it surprised me most because it didn't follow the script. Though it was somewhat predictable, I was caught off guard. Predictable because I fell in love with someone who I had been involved with before, but not recently. A good friend of mine, with whom I kept in touch regularly. Our friendship was built on emails and phone calls and instant messaging. Because we were writing all of the time, we didn't withhold things from each other and I grew to be very honest with him.

He told me he loved me first. We hadn't seen each other for a year and I didn't suspect either of us had romantic feelings. I was half-right. I loved him, but only as I love my closest friends. He, however, claimed he was in love with me and it was painful to honestly say I did not feel the same way. Our friendship continued, albeit with an awkward emotional balance of power, and I was convinced that he'd always be a friend and nothing more.

Since I had never been in love before, I was unprepared for how it would happen. We were among many people, and he had walked away from me for a few minutes. I looked around, observing the families nearby and the people who were alone. I looked over at my friend who stood about 50 feet away from me. And I noticed a lump forming in my throat. I did everything I could to push the tears back before he returned, before he asked me why I was crying. I knew I wouldn't be able to tell him. Even later in the evening, when we enjoyed a long dinner alone, I felt the lump and the tears return. I began thinking about how I wanted it to be like this all the time, but I knew that it couldn't be since I lived too far from him. And it was because of that impossibility that I couldn't tell him what I was thinking or feeling.

I did finally tell him. But I think it was too late. And I've been thinking about him a lot recently, as these feelings have resurfaced, never really disappearing in the first place. This is the second phase of love that I was unprepared for: the pain in loss.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

No Hablo Espanol

"Did you know your father is Cuban?"


I was probably fourteen or fifteen at the time. I had no idea what my mother was talking about.

"Well, according to Visa, he is. See," she said, handing me a credit card offer that had been on the table. Sure enough, the letter was addressed to my dad and told him that he could have a card like the one pictured at the top of the page - a card decorated in Cuban flags - so that he would celebrate and remember his heritage each time he made a purchase.

I laughed. My mom laughed. A few minutes later when my dad walked into the kitchen, we began calling him Pedro (he's Peter Claus by birth). His mysterious Cuban heritage became a running joke in our family, especially because my dad looked the part. Although he's 100% German, most people assume he's Greek or Italian. With dark features and skin that becomes almost black after a day in the sun, my dad could definitely be Hispanic.

We joked about the Cuban card for awhile, until more mail started arriving at our house. Latino Business magazine. More credit card offers and direct mail in Spanish. Somehow my father's name had been included on a distribution list of Spanish-speaking men. And within a few months, I discovered that I had also been labeled Hispanic. Latina Girl came addressed to me. I began receiving Money Saver envelopes and Oldsmobile mailings, all in Spanish.

My mom felt left out. And she was the only one in our house who spoke Spanish.

During the summer when I was fifteen, a guy I met at a concert asked me if I was Latina. I've been told by three people that I look like Eva Mendes (I don't see it at all, but I will accept the compliment at any time). I have dressed up as J Lo for costume parties. I enjoy Mexican, Spanish, and Latin American food. My favorite film director is Spanish. I even enjoy a lot of Latin music. Quesadillas are my specialty in the kitchen. But that is as Latina as I get.

Even after I moved out of my parents house, the mail en Espanol kept arriving. My Yahoo music station at work plays song after song in Spanish even though I never listed Latin music as a preference. The "Erin is Latina" jokes are still going strong, perpetuated mostly by my best friend. She tells people that I'm Cuban or Puerto Rican and, even though they don't quite see it in me, they believe her.

And I don't mind really. Being Irish/German has yet to reveal its perks.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Crazy Delicious

Maybe it's because work is slow, but I can't stop watching this.

My best friend and I agree, this is the kind of thing we would have made up in high school. Or even now.

Today I am a woman

My mother, a teacher, is always telling me she's jealous of my job. I get assorted perks (a $20 Starbucks gift card today, a $100 purse another), am invited to various open bar parties in the city, can drink unlimited amounts of free Diet Coke, and am allowed wear jeans whenever I want.

My office is very casual. Unless there is an important client or sales rep meeting, most of my coworkers arrive everyday in jeans. Sneakers and flip-flops are acceptable. Jorts are not because, well, jorts are never acceptable.

I shouldn't (and won't) complain about the dress code here. It's pretty nice to know that on a day when you're feeling a cold coming on, you can show up to work in jeans and a hooded sweatshirt. Or, when it is blazingly hot and humid in July, you don't have to sweat out the commute in a dress shirt or pants.

So even though I can dress casually Mon-Fri, I don't. I wear jeans no more than twice a week. I show up in a skirt at least once. (In the summer, skirts are preferred. Fortunately, tights have made a comeback this year so I am even more likely to show off my legs when it's cold.) I wear a lot of black. All black.

As happy as I am about the evolution of women's denim (not the prices, just the styles), I prefer not to wear jeans all the time. Even when I go out on the weekends, I think about subbing in some nice black pants. But when I do, I feel oddly out of place and overdressed.

In my opinion, there is nothing that makes me feel sexier or more feminine than a skirt. And today, when I am decked out in another black ensemble, knit tights, and kitten heels (seriously, no sexier shoe name exists), I feel like a woman.

p.s. As for men, there is really nothing hotter than a suit & tie.

Monday, January 02, 2006

A rainy finale to my vacation

It's a soggy second day of the year. I haven't done much but work out, eat, and read today. And I'm quite uninspired to do anything more than round out that first list of 50 things with a second helping of me, me, me.

51. I like watching Food Network shows about food, not about making it.
52. I've been in the audience of Oprah, The View, and Jenny Jones.
53. I hated ordering from the children's menu when I was under 12.
54. Cops is my guilty pleasure.
55. If you're buying me a margarita, make it an original on the rocks.
56. I think I have a mild obsession with outerwear.
57. My phone is always on vibrate.
58. I own a pair of Uggs, but I think they are hideous.
59. I never had a pedicure before the summer of 05.
60. I think my feet are cute.
61. Pauly Shore never really bothered me.
62. In fact, I kinda like his movies (especially Son-In-Law).
63. I can still sing along with the Care Bears II: The Next Generation.
64. I wish I had traveled abroad during college.
65. I prefer Sweet N Low to Equal or Splenda.
66. I was a runner-up in a Booty Shaking contest on my Spring Break trip to Florida.
67. My favorite kind of sandwich is a mozzarella, tomato, & basil.
68. I like only two flavors of yogurt: raspberry and vanilla.
69. I didn't eat yogurt until I went to college.
70. I didn't eat grilled cheese sandwiches until I graduated from college.
71. I was a lifeguard for six summers at a country club.
72. And I was only certified for four of those summers.
73. My underwear can only be black, nude, or white.
74. I think I've been in love once.
75. Although it is bad for you, I think smoking looks cool.
76. But I don't smoke.
77. The most beautiful place I've ever been was Pere Lachaise cemetery in Paris.
78. The smell of breakfast sausage makes me nauseous.
79. When I was a child, I performed for my family at all major holiday gatherings.
80. My most memorable performance was singing the "Mc D-O-N-A-L-D-S" jingle.
81. I'm a fantastic quesadilla maker.
82. I hate crowds.
83. And I prefer being alone to being with a large group.
84. I once took my shoes off at a bar because my feet hurt so much.
85. I am anal about eating three meals a day.
86. I have never played a musical instrument.
87. But I would have chosen the trombone if I had joined the band.
88. I was in choir for five years.
89. And I was an Alto.
90. I also took drama lessons for four years.
91. Jeri Ryan also studied with my acting teacher.
92. I must have music on when I exercise.
93. And if my batteries run out or my iPod stops working, I stop exercising.
94. I lost the 5th grade spelling bee on "available".
95. I cannot drink rum.
96. Using Sun-In on my hair was the worst beauty decision I ever made.
97. My favorite ice cream flavor is Coffee.
98. Sour Patch Kids are my favorite sugary snack.
99. I prefer sweet to salty.
100. I am a neat freak.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Happy New Year

Here's to 2006!