So here is a quick recap of our weekend:
On Friday, Brian and I saw the Charlie Chaplain movie City Lights at the Film Forum. We thought it was just okay. On Saturday, our friend Heather came to town. We hung out, ate, drank, ate, chatted, ate, then went to dinner.
She left Saturday morning. Brian and I traveled to the Upper West Side to see the Mythic Creatures special exhibition at the Museum of Natural History. I had been really excited about it, but both Brian and I thought it was just okay. Brian noted that they stole my sea-cow-as-mermaid illusionary schtick. We then went to see The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, which we both really liked, but I think I liked it more than Brian.
Now I want to back up for a moment. On Friday, before City Lights started, Brian and I got some dinner in a small, crowded café where the tables are very close together. We squeezed into our table, and almost immediately noticed that the couple to my left was speaking about their JDate experiences.
I do not believe this couple was an actual couple, or that they were even on a date, because the guy spoke freely and unapologetically about using Jdate as a source of one-time hookups. The girl agreed that if she were going on a Jdate just for fun, she would sleep with the guy on the first date, but if she really liked him, she would wait. The guys said, "I haven't meant anyone on Jdate I liked enough for that. For me, it's just a one-night-stand thing."
Then he started complaining how many of the girls he had met and slept with through Jdate tried contacting him for future dates, and this annoyed him. He complained that many of the girls he meant through Jdate had curly hair. He hated curly hair. One time, he dated a girl with what he described as "natural" hair. He liked her. They went on a few dates, but then he found out she really had curly hair but had been blowing it out straight. This horrified him, and they broke up. "And I hate a girls who wear makeup."
"A lot of girls wear makeup," the girl said. "It's not that big a deal. I'm wearing makeup right now."
"Yeah, but you're hardly wearing any makeup."
"No, I'm wearing a nice amount of makeup. I would say I'm definitely wearing makeup, and it's a nice amount of makeup."
"Well, I didn't notice. I don't like it when you notice that a girl is wearing makeup. Or that she blow dries her hair. You don't blow dry your hair, do you?"
"I blow dry my hair."
"But you don't blow dry it all the time."
"I pretty much blow dry it all the time."
"But you don't blow dry it straight do you? Your hair is naturally straight."
"My hair is a little wavy. It's not curly. But I definitely blow dry it. And when I do, I blow dry it out straight."
After hitting this rough patch, they began to talk about past relationships. Brian and I sat mesmerized by the conversation, unable to talk, unable to do anything else but listen. And occasionally text each other about the horror we were feeling.
It turns out the girl had been married before, but was now single. The guy's longest relationship had gone on for two years, and this is with a girl who was ten years her junior. I started to do the math, but the girl made things easy. She said, "Well, you're 38 now. Things have changed a lot for you."
The guy spoke equivocally about his ex-girlfriend. He said, "She was very immature."
The girl said, "You mean she was socially awkward?"
"No. She was very socially tuned-in. She was very savvy. She just didn't know a lot."
"You mean she wasn't very bright?"
"No, she was brilliant. And very savvy."
"Did she not dress well?"
"No. She dressed amazing. It's just that she didn't know anything. She knew some things. But there were other things that she just didn't know. And it was always irritating."
Just then a new song came on. Brian leaned in and whispered to me that it was a band we liked — the Silver Jews. Ten seconds later, the guy said, "Hear this song?" He pointed up. "What band is this?"
The girl looked at him blankly. "It's a band called the Silver Jews. She would have know that."
The girl said, "I've never heard of them. I know classic rock. Ask me anything about classic rock. I'll be able to answer you. I'm an expert on Classic Rock. Pink Floyd. Led Zeppelin...."
They talked about Zeppelin 4 for a bit, but then were back to JDating, which is when I heard about one of the weirdest dating hang-ups ever. The guy said, "I went on two dates with her, and I like her, but I don't think we can go out again."
The girl said, "What's the problem? Is she too clingy?"
He said, "Not really. It's just that ... she told me that every Sunday she does philanthropy."
"You know. She does things for charities. Every Sunday."
"I think that's nice."
"It may be nice, but don't tell me about it."
"It's not sexy. I can't think of anything less sexy than doing community service."
"I think it's nice that she spends her Sundays doing community service."
"I don't care that she does it. She just shouldn't tell anyone. I mean, not on a date. That's so unsexy. Community service is NOT SEXY. I don't think I can date her again."
"I'd love it if I guy I was dating did community service."
"I can't ever see her again. It's just too gross 'I do community service.' Gross."
After we left the restaurant, I had the desire to alert JDate that we had met their biggest douche bag.
Monday evening was Sam and our fifth annual Asian Food & a Movie Christmas Eve Celebration.
Here the movie list Sam compiled:
2003 – The Fog of War??? Turned out to be Sweeney Todd, which looked visually appealing. And I felt the spurting blood might keep us from falling asleep after the two bottles of wine we drank.
Let me speak briefly about food. In 2003, we ate sushi. 2004 was — I don't remember, but I blogged that we had eaten Japanese. 2005 was Thai. 2006 was sushi, at a restaurant at which I performed my famous joke where the server uncorks the wine, pours it in a glass for a taste, I taste it, then scream "SEND IT BACK!" Only, this time, I made the waitress cry. This year, we went back to Thai. I did not do my famous wine tasting joke because Sam vowed that if I should ever perform it again in his presence, he would forever refuse to eat with me. The restaurant played a Mariah Carey concert album, and our server was her biggest fan. Brian attempted to connect with our server on this level, and was rewarded with his very own Mariah Carey concert poster, which he promptly left behind in the movie theater.
The movie was cute. I think I enjoyed it more than Brian. I think Sam enjoyed it more than me. In the end, who doesn't want to see Johnny Depp?
On Christmas day, Brian and I went to see Persepolis. Brian enjoyed it more than me. As we were leaving, I said to Brian, "It's just that sometime didn't sit right with me. I don't like where the story ended. I didn't feel as close to the protagonist as I would have liked to—"
"YOU'RE WRONG," Brian said.
"I spoke to Sam, who said he saw it already, and I think he felt similarly."
"Well, He's wrong too!"
Brian later apologized for confusing subjective with objective. But he would not lift the specter of the accusation that I had bad taste in movies.
I woke up this morning, and I was very conscious that I had been dreaming.
I had been at the office, which looked a lot like my parents' house, and I had been trying to open a giant can of stewed tomatoes. In some protracted mishap, I wound up cutting up the palms of both of my hands.
I was a bloody mess. I used tissues from my parents' bathroom to try to stop the bleeding. And it would stop for a moment, only to have the wound open and blossom full ripe red with blood again, streaming through my fingers and on to my clothing and the floor.
I was in horrible pain, and I kept trying to do work, to write with a pen or type on the computer, but blood was getting everywhere. In desperation to stop the bleeding, I went through the kitchen drawers looking for something to make it stop. But my hands were throbbing and spilling blood everywhere. I kept asking my coworkers for help, but everyone was to busy to help.
I'm bleeding, I cried. I don't know what to do. Someone, please help me.
And suddenly, my mother walked in. She said, What you need is for someone to bandage you up. And it was true. That's what I needed. How could this not have occurred to me earlier?
She produced some gauze and tape from her purse (which is very surprising, given the fact that she can't even find her own cell phone in that thing) and began wrapping up my hands. That's when I woke up.
But my hands were still throbbing. My knuckles were swollen, especially on my right hand. Arthritis? My joints ached. I groaned, "My hands!" and thrust them into Brian's face.
"I dreamed my hands were all cut up and bleeding," I said, "And now they are killing me. I think I have ARTHRITIS."
I was freaking out, still under the ghostly gauze-like influence of the dream. Brian kissed me on the knuckles. He got up and brought me some Alieve. Then he made me coffee.
The joints in my hands still feel a little swollen and achy. And even hours later, I am still still experiencing the shadow of pain in my right palm.
I called my mother several hours ago to tell her about my strange dream and about what I perceived to be arthritis. She said, "Everybody gets aches and pains all the time. It's part of being human. It's when you get the same aches and pains repeatedly that you should go see a doctor. Then she told me a story about how her entire arm once went numb, and it turned out it was because she had a problem with her toe and had been walking weird to compensate, and this put pressure on her spine in a strange way, which cause her arm to go numb.
My mother said, "Maybe you slept funny, and it pinched a nerve in your back that made you feel like your hand was hurting." Then she said that if it happened again, not to forget I had health insurance and could go see a doctor.
Sent in from a debcentral reader:
What did you sign up to bring to the office pot luck holiday party?
Cynthia's serving up her famous shrimp cocktail. Febe is making chicken fingers.
And someone has signed up to bring "HOMOS DISH"
As it turns out, HOMOS DISH consists of pureed chickpeas with olive oil and lemon juice, and is accompanied by BABAGANOUSH DISH.
The fellow who signed up for HOMOS DISH for the office holiday party lunch pot luck is Syrian, and was transliterating. So it's okay. But the party took place in a psychiatric office, so many people had comments about what they perceived to be a Freudian slip.
I used to be fast.
I even remember my near-hubris one summer at camp. It was during color war. I said, "Let me run the relay. I'm fast.
The next year was the year that all our bodies were changing. I came in third in the relay. Like that slow pained growing of Michael Jackson turning into a werewolf in Thriller, my hips were widening, making me sluggish and clumsy. And as my peers shot up, I remained roughly the same size. No matter how badly I wanted to be fast, I had been doomed by my short, wide genes.
If you look at my extended family, you can see that they are mostly all short. We are a people close to the ground. There are other family traits, like the wide hips and narrow shoulder. And small hands with abnormally short pinky fingers.
My mothers hands are laid out exactly like mine—the same stubby fingers, large knuckles, short pinkies. One day, I was looking at an old picture of my great grandparents. The picture had been taken around the turn of the last century in Warsaw, Poland. I had seen it many times before, but never really noticed their hands. The same hands. Both of them.
Here are the Morochs at the turn of the last century.
On Saturday, I attended my extended family's annual Chanukah party. I was retelling my story of the Moroch family hands, when one of my cousins lifted her hand, palm-out, to mine. It was a match. Another cousin's hands were the same size, and another. Most of them had abnormally short pinkies too.
Different from the agony I had felt at 12 when I saw my body doomed to be short and stubby, I suddenly felt a sense of relief. If phenotypes could throw a party, then wouldn't this be it? We are not born to suffer alone. We are born to suffer with our family. And occassionally, the company can diminish the misery.
I'm biding my time until my own office holiday party.
In the meantime, I am submitting for your review two sets of haikus. The first is from Molly, who usually writes subway haikus. She is finishing her first semester as a law student, and is presently hidden beneath a stack of law books. Here are her 1L haikus.
And Alana has stepped in to fill the subway haiku void. She writes:
This popped into my head yesterday after trying sooooo hard NOT to listen to the angry woman tell us all about Jesus and the End of Days.
Today's entries seem unusually literary.
Suzanne (SuSuBelle): my take on the office party question.
Long ago, in a different city and a different life, I had the paradoxical experience of working for a company that paid really well and treated its employees (particularly its female employees) like crap. The company published five trade magazines, the most successful of which was a real rag, but it was also a cash cow. The men for the most part were ad salesmen, although a few, like my boss, doubled as the publisher of one or another of the magazines, and they raked in the dough with both hands. The women were all editorial--the president was actually heard to loudly proclaim from time to time that as long as he was in charge, no woman would ever be in sales at this place.
Boss lady was having a holiday get together at her place. She posted a list on the break room door so you could post to the office what dish you will be bringing to the party. I took this as an effective application of two tried and true management techniques: guilt and public shame. Having survived 12 years of Catholic school I was all too familiar with them.
My own office holiday office party is this coming Wednesday. Brian's is Thursday. I'm still accepting your feedback, as well as your appeals for new year's cards.
In the meantime, keep warm.
Some more feedback.
Rebecca: Since I'm a big self-help phase, I'm borrowing a little...
The Seven Highly Effective Ways to Survive the Office Holiday Party
Karen: party time
Tonight is my holiday party. I planned it with two other teachers.
I am beginning to see a pattern here. Still accepting submissions. Still accepting requests for new year's cards. If I don't talk to you before then, have a wonderful weekend, and watch your step. Don't slip on the ice that has been predicted for this weekend here in the northeast.
Two more people weigh in.
Sherman: office party
I have never worked in an office.
Susan: Well, since you asked
Office holiday parties are stupid, especially when they are at not-for-profits, held at work, after hours, and the director tells the party planner to make it, and this is a direct quote heard by the entire development office, "as cheap as possible". Also, they are stupid when there is a new HR person and she thinks it would be "cute" to play one of those stupid "guess who's baby picture this is" games, but she's not organized enough to actually figure out how the game should be played, or who the winner actually was. Or, when, because the party will be "as cheap as possible" the same new HR person thinks it will be fun to have a "bake-off" meaning, of course, that the employees will be providing the food. Now, this is what happened last year. This year, who knows? They could give us the moon.
I am almost out of office holiday party submissions. But you can still submit yours here (or to my gmail account). And don't miss your chance to get an authentic Brian & Deb New Year's 2008 card. I think this one is going to be pretty damn good. Email me if your interested.
Here are more of your responses.
Molly: in praise of office parties at a certain cultural institution
O is for the Oddballs who flock to nonprofits in droves
Andrea: Holiday Office Party Protocol
Ok first I think you need to differentiate between holiday office parties and holiday work parties since when there are differences in work environments, there are differences in their holiday celebrations. (There is a reason there are not one, but TWO shows called The Office and a very popular culture movie entitled Office Space. Florescent lighting, canvas cubicles, and shared-germ environments provide for a certain mis en scene) Teachers have cool parties because they don’t really work in offices. And they get to wear jeans, not just on Fridays. That said, I have good arguments both for and against bringing spouses. I am writing them under the assumption there is no cash pay-in because that is the most ridiculous idea I have ever heard of, second only to an office pot-luck.
I am still accepting your submissions. Additionally, we are getting ready to send out our new years cards. So if you would like a card, shoot me an email and send me your address (or your new address if you recently moved).
Here's what some of you said. I will post the first two responses today.
Alana: holiday parties don't completely suck
In principal I think staff parties are stupid, especially when they take place after work hours. But I do go and I do bring my spouse and here's why:
Bob: holiday parties: more is better, booze is essential.
this year, our company is bringing the los angeles and dc branches to nyc for a holiday party. while they appear to be doing a decent job with the restaurant, as was the case last year, they have put us up in fleabag hotels that are laughable. i enjoy laughable fleabag hotels, but my colleagues, more high maintenance than myself (i once lived in a basement that had bats and a broken down car in it; a heavy metal band practiced down there as well), most decidedly do not. the lousy hotel has been a source of endless amusement and will no doubt become one of those office myths -- 'that time we had to stay at the carter and brought roaches back in our luggage/were flashed by a vodka-drunk clown/got into a knife fight with a russian madame.'I will post more responses soon. And I am still accepting your submissions. Secret Sanata gone awry? Boozeless or pot-lucked parties? Married co-workers making out with outside contractors? Email me at my contact or gmail and let debcentral readers know what you think about office holiday parties.
Friday was a big day.
Because it was Brian's birthday. But also because we attended two different going-away parties for people moving abroad.
My cousin and her husband are relocating to London. Their farewell party was at a country-themed bar, which had a mechanical bull. Brian arrived a little late, drank a beer, and then rode the bull. It was kind of awesome. I took some pictures and they looked like this:
Shortly thereafter, we went to our friend Daniel's farewell party. He's starting a PhD program in Berlin. His party was held at a Ukrainian social club, and the theme was Talent Show Extravaganza and Ukraine Awards. There were perogies with black bread and vodka. Daniel juggled. I threw food at Brian, which he caught in his mouth. Our friends Oliver and Ryan did a tango (or mambo?), and then performed some very impressive acrobatics. Other people sang or played guitar or exhibited their double-jointed capabilities. It was very fun. I took a bunch of pictures, and here are a couple:
But what was most special about Friday, December 7, was that it was not just Brian's birthday (and Daniel's), but it was also the birthday of Sean Henry Sobush. Dave, Heather, and Baby Sean Henry are all back from the hospital and doing well. Dave sent us some pictures — one of Sean Henry, and one taken in anticipation of the University of Florida's Tim Tebow becoming the first sophomore to win the Heisman Trophy.
I am still collecting your opinions on holiday office parties. I will post them tomorrow or the next day. If you have an opinion, let it be heard!
Happy Birthday, Brian!
You transform any Day of Infamy into a Day of Famy.
I'm not sure what that means, but it's supposed to be a good thing.
'Tis the season ... for office holiday parties.
And so again does the debate begin: Should significant others and families be invited to office holiday parties?
My feeling: Yes!
I have worked at three separate not for profit organizations, and at all of them, we had holiday parties where significant others were welcome. So it seems perfectly natural to me that this be the case across the board.
Brian works for a government office in which significant others are never invited to the holiday parties.
We have a friend who works for another government agency for which not only are spouses not invited, but there is a $60 pay in, and pressure to attend in order not to be viewed as the antithesis of a team player.
Brian recently overheard a conversation in which one woman declared she was not attending her office holiday party because, as she put it, "Office holiday parties are a chance for your coworkers to prove they are not robots. They do that by letting you meet their spouses and families. If there are no spouses and families, everyone is still a bunch of robots, and that defeats the purpose of having an office holiday party."
I agree. However, I spoke to my friend Karen, who is a teacher. She says her holiday party is a real blast, a kind of insider celebration of the hard work the teachers and administrators have done over the course of the year. There is a pay-in, but everyone is happy to attend. Spouses are invited, but no one brings them along, because it would dampen the fun.
That sounds nice. Except most office holiday parties are intensely awkward, as you attempt to have social, non-work-related interactions with people with whom you have little in common. And many people drink heavily and then end up doing weird and embarrassing things (like herky-jerky dancing ... or middle-age hook-ups). And who really wants to spend more time with the people you already see for more hours a week than you see your family?
Who thinks having a good time means spending three additional hours away from your spouse and with a bunch of drunk and socially awkward coworkers?
This is where I want you to weigh in.
Email me at contact @ debcentral.com.
Tell me what you think. Tell me why you think significant others should be allowed at office holiday parties. Or why they shouldn't. Tell me an example of a great office holiday party celebration. Or one that was horrendous. I will post your comments in as party of an online holiday office party debate forum.
Happy 2nd night of Chanukah.
And happy snowish night.
The A train pulled up, and people spilled out, and then people piled in.
It looked awfully crowded. I felt like I was not in so much of a rush that I wanted to squeeze myself on. There was a young man in a du-rag and a big puffy jacket standing just inside the train. He looked a little of tough, and if I wanted to get on, I would have to push him aside, so I decided it was best to simply remain on the platform, knitting quietly.
The tough guy suddenly yelled out, "Hey, lady. You knitting or crocheting?"
I didn't answer at first, because I didn't realize he was talking to me. So he said it again. "You knitting or crocheting?"
"Oh," I said. "Knitting. Knitting is with two needles. Crocheting only uses one."
"My grandma used to do that," he called out to me. "Hey," he said, "Get on."
With that, he pushed the people around him aside and made plenty of room for me. So I stepped aboard.
It was two stops to Broadway/Nassau, and the whole time, this fellow asked me questions about knitting, what I was making, how hard it was to learn. I told him I had just started this past summer. He said, "My grandma also did the thing with just one needle."
A woman behind me called out, "Crocheting! I crochet. See." And she pulled a crocheted hat out of her bag. Now we were all talking. She crocheted, but couldn't knit. I knit, but didn't know how to crochet. This fellow's grandmother could do both, and she was very fast and very crafty. He was interested in learning and wanted to know which one was easier.
The train pulled into the Broadway/Nassau station, and the guy and I got off, but I headed east and he west to transfer to the 4/5 trains. The crocheting woman stayed on, and the doors closed behind us.
Yesterday, I approved the proof of my story for the Kenyon Review. It was thrilling, yet scary. Mostly, I went around saying it was okay to add or remove commas or correct misspellings. The Kenyon people apparently did not cotton to my liberal and creative capitalization of certain words. Oh well. Here is a picture of my proof. The proof of proof.
Because 31 is the reverse of 13, Brian and I decided to throw ourselves a Reverse Bar & Bat Mitzvah party.
I had yarmulkes and napkins made up for the occasion, and we purchased plenty of food and beverages. I even had my mother ship me my original Bat Mitzvah dress.
As we were setting up on Saturday, our phones began ringing. One after another, people called us to say they weren't coming. Brian and I got panicky picturing ourselves as the only guests at our party. But at almost 8 o'clock sharp the guests started pouring in.
Guests came from as far away as the Bronx, Inwood, Forest Hills, and Jersey City, and one person even flew in from Seattle (Thank you so much, Andrea!). People partook of the food and beverages, wore our yarmulkes, signed our signing board, and watched my original Bat Mitzvah video, which feature sprayed up hair, poofy dresses, and an early version of karaoke know as the "Singing Machine".
A number of people dressed up in their 1989 best. We did a lame version of the hora in our very crowded apartment. And some people even tried to lift me in a chair.
I am posting a few pictures, but plan to make a separate little scrap book. Hopefully, I won't forget.
Thank you so much to everyone who showed up and helped us celebrate this momentous occasion.
The next morning, we observed that almost all the food was gone, a vast majority of the beverages had been finished off, and though all the guests had left, a black single scarf still remained. Is anyone missing a black scarf?
ps: If you want to read more about our party, or if you would like to view some unflattering pictures of me, please visit Alana and Xander in New York.