Monday, June 28, 2010

Woes Coming to a Close

My apartment was bombed, today. And by "bombed" I mean "the maintenance guy set off two flea foggers." I still have no idea how I came to have fleas in my apartment, unless I carried them home with me after lounging in a friend's backyard (which is the most likely option, at this point).

The big source of excitement for the day (apart from the bombing raids in Highland Park) was having Mrs. Robinson and Pacman back me up against Radio as to why we should not hire a gentleman named Luigi (not his real name, of course) for a contract job we may or may not get.

Luigi first appeared on our collective radar when he emailed his resume to the firm. Mrs. Robinson wrote him an email in reply, informing him that we don't have any positions, right now.

So he called, just to make sure.

Three times. In three weeks.

And then, out of the blue, he appeared in our office with his portfolio and proceeded to hang around for two hours while the guys listened to him lecture about the joys of ArchiCAD and how great he was at it, and then pulled out drawings.

Two hours. Of billable time. Wasted by a guy who didn't make an appointment.

Because we don't have any openings. Which we told him.

I was unemployed. I understand it's frustrating. I understand you get desperate. But no amount of desperation should drive you to interrupt the workday for people and cost them money. Because that's what he did.

He has continued to call every couple of weeks to beg for a job.

To refer to his "requests" as begging is not an exaggeration. His voicemails are along the lines of "Please! I really need to work for you!"

So now, we're looking at possibly having a large short-term workload, and Radio and Oldsmobile were kicking around the idea of hiring someone on a contract basis.

Luigi came up, because Radio feels sorry for him. Radio is the only person in the office that pities him that much. The rest of us, despite the fact that two of us were unemployed for extended periods of time and so should be sympathetic, are immune to pity in Luigi's case. His incessant calling - we've told him we have no positions available, that we have his resume on file, etc... - has driven us all to dislike him intensely.

Do I feel kind of guilty for disliking this man, who I have met only once? Yes.

But I also know that, if we were to hire him temporarily, he would expect us to keep him on permanently, and would probably refuse to leave. It would be like Bartleby, The Scrivener, but in real life, instead of a Herman Melville story (if you haven't read Bartleby, I highly recommend you do so).

So Luigi-Bartleby won't be coming to work for us any time in the future, near or not. I wish him luck in finding a job, but if he keeps his current approach up, he'll never find one.

He needs to start hitting happy hours. That's how all the best architects get their jobs...

Sunday, June 27, 2010

A Little Linnaean Lesson

What, Ms. Strained-consciousness, could an intern architect possibly teach us about the taxonomic system of Carolus Linnaeus?

That every member of the damned Class Insecta hates Ms. Strainedconsciousness and they are all bound and determined to attack me at the slightest provocation.

After a lovely evening of dinner and drinks with friends - some old, some newly minted around the dinner table - I returned home and crashed. I didn't even take off my makeup, I was that tired. This might have had something to do with the fact that I doubled up on carousing, this weekend, going out both Friday and Saturday evenings.

Sunday morning/afternoon, depending on which time zone you're in (in mine, it was afternoon), I woke up and dressed and was checking my email before going to get lunch, when my feet began to itch. I reached down, scratched my foot, and thought nothing of it.

Until the other foot began to itch.

My pet-free apartment has somehow acquired fleas.

I vacuum regularly. I don't hang out around animals all that often. And my apartment somehow has fleas.

Thus, I am convinced that there is a vast-Apterygota-Wing conspiracy amongst the members of Animalia-Arthropoda-Mandibulata-Hexapoda-Insecta. I believe that their network of spies has spread the information that I caused an all-out vendetta to be launched upon their Camponotus consobrinus cronies, and the flea-minions (aka Ctenocephalides canis) are acting on behalf of their sugar ant overlords.

But that's just my theory, and until the NISA (National Insect Security Association) gets back to me with confirmation or denial of insect-signal interception confirming or denying my suspicions, I won't know for certain.

I would recommend denying any and all knowledge of this conspiracy to any insects you may encounter in the future.

I wouldn't want to jeopardize your security because of your association with me.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Progress, At Last!

What kind of progress? Progress in that our client's son - the one who has refused to say "Hello" to me, shake my hand, etc., has finally acknowledged my existence. I'm going to chalk this up to the fact that I was infinitely less intimidating in my amazing beauty since I was sweating like a hog and slowly growing a lovely shade of pink under the influence of the Texas sun.

The fact that I looked like a condensation covered glass of Guinness (I was wearing a black shirt) was the son's fault, in fact. He decided that a meeting to discuss the project at 3:00 in the afternoon was an excellent idea.

I disagree with him, but he is - or rather, his parents are - the client. So I spent my afternoon sweating and my skin decided to thumb its nose at my SPF 60 sunscreen by getting rosily red anyways.

So there.

I ended up leaving work early, to head home to work, because 1) I felt disgusting and was in dire need of a shower, and 2) I'd been bitten by ants six times since I'd returned from the meeting at the job site.

I was not bitten by ants AT the job site. I was bitten whilst sitting in my cubicle, typing project specifications. With my feet off the floor.

Why are there ants in my cubicle? I can only presume that the combination of scorching heat outside, cool air inside, and errant blueberry muffin crumbs are to blame.

Tuesday evening, I had dinner with my mom, and she bought me a blueberry muffin to eat the next morning for breakfast (thanks, Mom!). I dropped a crumb. And I didn't realize I'd dropped the crumb. And then I felt a sting on my finger.

The ants had scaled my desk and were crawling across my hands. I touch-type, so I don't look at my hands when I type, and hadn't noticed the ants crawling across my fingers as they searched for more nourishment.

The crumb was on my desk shelf, 18 inches below my desktop. Those were some hungry ants. I cleaned the area around my desk, got rid of all errant crumbs, and continued working, assuming the ants would be gone by morning.

I was incorrect. The flow of ants from the crack in the brick wall by my desk had gathered strength and was a veritable storm surge. I abandoned my sandals and put on my boots and asked Mrs. Robinson to please call the building manager to request an exterminator's services, ASAP. She did so.

While I was at the job site, slowly roasting in the Texas heat, making sure I rotated rotisserie-style so the juices would baste me evenly, the building manager came and put out some ant traps with bait in them around my desk to kill the ants, and said someone would spray in the evening so I wouldn't be exposed to the chemicals right off the bat.

Guess what? Ant bait makes ants want to be around you even more. The flow of ants increased, and whether or not they died inside the little traps or not, I don't know, but the conga line of ants in both directions didn't seem to abate any.

I was bitten six times before I informed Pacman - my only remaining coworker at this point - that I was leaving, because I kept being bitten, and it hurt, and it sucked, and I was going home. He gave me a half-hearted "Cheerio" and I flounced out the door.

Hopefully, the next opportunity I have to flounce won't involve ants.

Monday, June 21, 2010


The week before last, I had a sore throat. It went away after a few days, gradually, and was never too troublesome. I chalked it up to allergies and went on my merry way, going to work, going out over the weekend, etc...

This past Wednesday night, I slept poorly. And woke up with a sore throat. And two huge lumps in my throat where my normally well-behaved and petite glands are. I chalked it up, once again, to allergies.

I chalked it up incorrectly.

On Friday, after 24 hours of purgatory, I went to the doctor during my lunch break. The doctor looked at my throat and ears and told me that:

1) I had an ear infection
2) I clean my ears too much (?!?!?) and need to let the earwax accumulate. Eww....
3) I had a lovely case of Strep Throat and needed to go home.

She then said, "Don't go back to the office, because the Strep I've seen going around" - I imagine it wears a bowler hat and a red suit - "Is very contagious." She hypothesized that a mild case - successfully fended off by my usually lax immune system - had come raging back due to my lack of sleep.

My family reunion was this weekend. Guess who didn't get to go?

Apart from the throat/elephantitis of the glands that I had going on, I didn't feel that bad Friday morning, so I was surprised. About three hours after I left the doctor, though, I started to really feel like I had strep throat. I started coughing, and not in a demure ladylike way, but in an I'm an old man and I hack up a lung in the morning kind of way.

My parents kindly dropped off some cough medicine for me on their way to Louisiana for the family reunion.

I hunkered down in bed and briefly considered working, since I'd brought some work home with me. I very briefly considered it, because I couldn't imagine working as I started feeling worse and worse.

I spent all day Saturday in bed, and a good portion of the day Sunday, too, although I actually worked some on Sunday, because I felt SO much better. And I was no longer running a fever! Hooray!

And then, my immune system came down with a case of the Mondays. That, and I once again slept poorly, despite the ingestion of NyQuil and Benadryl that usually works like a champ.

Monday morning, I had a fever. Again. I called into the office and told them I (still) had a fever, but that I had work at home I could do, and rang off.

I spent all day Monday working at home. In bed. And now I'm going to see if I can get some sleep, because I have to go to work, tomorrow. Granted, I have gobs of work to show the guyzos when I get to the office, but I wasn't actually in the office so I always feel like I'll be under extra scrutiny.

I just wish my portable hard drive was bigger so it would look like I had more work stored on it...

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

No Picture Today - Blogger Hates Me

In my excitement to write about running hither and thither, I overlooked a significant milestone: my 200th post.


Okay, now that I've celebrated (by eating tuna salad, the dinner of champions and tired intern architects), on we go. To... a place. Where I will write about... stuff.

Like the fact that neither of my clients have called us to schedule meetings or to discuss their projects, so I'm currently writing commercial building specs, which are a heck of a lot longer than our little residential specifications.

Residential specifications are maybe 100 pages long. Maybe. Commercial specs, however, are much much longer. By the looks of it, they'll top out around 300 pages. I'm not really sure how long they'll be. All I know is that: 1) we don't have most of them on our server, already, so I'm having to type them all up from a set of commercial specs written about 6 years ago; and 2) they make my fingers hurt, so I won't be typing much longer, this evening.

I still have an email to answer, too. I can just feeeeeeeel my fingers seizing up.

And my first project of my very own came back, because one of my supervisor architects (Scooter shall remain nameless) neglected to mention a requirement of the Home Owners' Association that was kind of important.

Okay, actually, it was very damned important. I received an email from the vacationing Scooter, this morning, and he informed me that he was aware of the requirement, but just forgot. So he's out of town, and I'm doing damage control. And working for free, because we obviously can't charge the client for work we're doing to fix a previous mistake.

The client's been really nice about the whole thing - they're a really nice couple, and have much less money than most of our clients, although they're not exactly hurting for cash - and they're super grateful that we're doing the revisions without charging them. I liked Aaron and Mirabelle when we first met them, because they're such a nice couple. With three kids. And they love Texas. And Mirabelle's originally from Arkansas (seriously, who in Arkansas names their child something exotic like Mirabelle?), so she has this lovely Southern accent that you don't normally hear in Texas, because the people I know who live in Texas don't really have accents. At least, not in my opinion.

But that's finished, and all I have to do is print off the drawings for Aaron and Mirabelle, courier them over tomorrow, and send them a PDF of the drawings, too. And they'll love us forever. And if they ever decide to build a new house (because, you know, they've inherited beaucoups of money), then they'll call on us. Which would be pretty awesome, because they're such a nice couple.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Running Hither and Thither

I spent most of my day running around like a headless chicken. This, in itself, is no different from how I usually spend my weekends, except for the amount of money spent.

My first task was to knock out Father's Day gifts, which I did with great elan. I wandered around Northpark for a while afterward, looking for clothes for myself, hoping I might catch some great deals, or see something I didn't see two weekends ago when I went clothes shopping (with limited success).

No dice. I have apparently exhausted my options for the current buying cycle and for my budget at Northpark Mall.

What to do? My wardrobe is still in a parlous state, so I decided to do the only thing I could think of doing: make the lengthy trek to Allen and brave the crowds at the outlet mall.

Outlet malls hold all the appeal to me that theme parks do: Jostling around with the unwashed masses, picking through clothes that were picked over in stores previously, and have been picked over again in their Outlet incarnation. The idea holds little charm for me. But my good old standbys had failed me, so I was desperate.

I hit the BCBG outlet first, to no avail. Even at "outlet" prices, and on sale on top of that, their clothes were still overpriced. Waaaaaaaaay overpriced. I almost wonder if they didn't mark them up before "marking them down." Or maybe I just always buy clothes at their regular retail stores when they're on superduper sale, so I've forgotten how much they cost.

After leaving BCBG, I walked halfway across the stupid mall to the J. Crew outlet. I found two shells and a cardigan and called it a day. The shells are both neutral - grey and beige - but are out of a crinkly silk fabric. They'll work well with multiple cardigan/jacket combinations, and aren't so ridiculously bare that I couldn't take off the cardigan if I was stuck on a construction site for three hours.

Granted, I'd be sunburned on that construction site, but that's neither here nor there.

The cardigan is basic black. I almost grabbed a black and white horizontal striped cardigan, then remembered that I already have one.

I have a thing for stripes, okay?

After leaving the Outlet Mall from Hades, I decided to go get a pedicure at the cheapo nail place near my parents' house. It was totally worth it, and my nails are now pretty and shiny and coated with a slick of metallic beige polish. The leg massage was better than usual, as was the foot massage.

And then, I reasoned, I might as well just go to my parents' house, even though I knew they weren't there for the afternoon. I wanted to hang out with my dog for a while.

What up, Dog?

Major Tom (yes, that is my dog's real name, not his nom d'usage for the blog - I don't think he'll complain about being outed) was overjoyed to see me, even more so when I left to get barbecue for dinner and let him have some of the pulled pork I didn't eat. I scratched him for almost the entire 5 1/2 hours I was with him - except for while eating, and of course when I went to get the food - and my fingers are sore, now.

And en route to my apartment, after abandoning my dear old dog, I freaked out. Because my car is really bouncy when I drive it. Which makes me think it might need new shocks and/or struts. So maybe I shouldn't have gone to J. Crew after all... Oh well, that's why they make their clothes Final Sale I guess! Oh, darn...

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

New Developments in the World of Medicine

Did you know magnesium is good for migraines? I sure as heck didn't, not until my doctor's appointment on Monday. That's when I went in and told my neurologist - who I see more often than I see my Happy Hour compatriots, sadly enough - that the preventive migraine medicine was exacerbating some health problems while helping with the migraines.

She now has me on what she calls a "three week wash-out" to get the old medicine out of my system (it accumulates over time, apparently) and to get me back to my "baseline of health" before we try something new.

She wants me to have something to compare my next medicine to.

And I'm now taking magnesium. Which you have to take with calcium for optimum absorption. So the good news is that I'm now getting plenty of calcium and the magnesium will help with my migraines, hopefully. In studies, it supposedly helps people with migraines.


I just did some research on the interwebs to see if I could find some fancy statistics to throw in here, and guess what? I'm taking the wrong type of magnesium. Good thing I didn't splurge for the expensive vegan $26 bottle at Whole Paycheck and went for the $6 "I eat meat, so I don't care" bottle.

Apparently, I shouldn't take it with calcium, because it counteracts the migraine effects. Or something. And despite the fact that most vitamins should be taken with meals, I should take the magnesium for migraines on an empty stomach. Hmmm... There's a doctor cited in a couple of the articles. Maybe I'll give him a shout and see if he can confirm this info (since the two articles - both with different copyrights on them for two different authors - were identical).
Because I'm sure there's nothing an internationally respected migraine researcher enjoys more than having an intern architect from Texas email him to ask him about magnesium and migraines...

Why would I feel the need to go straight to the source of the info, instead of taking the glorious interwebs' word for it?

Because the credibility of the articles I've read isn't particularly high.

They misspelled "components."

Seriously, people, there is no "I" in "Team," and there is no "a" in "components." Bust out a dictionary sometime.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Bryan Street Tavern

Friday's Happy Hour extravaganza took place at Bryan Street Tavern. It was my first experience at BS Tavern, and I have to say, I liked it.

The waitress was just attentive enough to keep my beer filled, and they had Guinness on tap, so I can't complain too much. The Ladies' Room was also in good shape, which is downright miraculous for an East Dallas bar.

That, and BS Tavern gave me the chance to say five little words I never thought I'd utter in seriousness and without a trace of fear in my voice: "I parked on Peak Street."

Peak Street. The street where women do not jog alone.

It's conveniently located no matter where you are, be it hoity-toity Highland Park (just zip down Fitzhugh, and you're there) or in Downtown (I don't know how to get there directly from my office, I went home to change before venturing out). With the exception of the masses of black flies that swarm around the pleasantly shaded patio, the outdoor congregation spaces were pleasant.

I'm going to chalk the flies up to the park-like space next door and their poor plant choice. And you don't notice them as much after you have a beer (or two) down the gullet.

The atmosphere is decidedly relaxed, with picnic tables outside, along with a dangerously oversized game of Jenga (I recommend steel toe boots), pool tables and sitting tables inside, and, as previously stated, the cleanest Ladies' rooms in any bar... heck in Dallas, let's be honest.

They made a good impression, okay?

As far as the food goes, I had a pizza, pepperoni (not feeling to adventurous), and it was okay, but a tad on the spicy side of for this wuss.

Maybe next time I'll order a super-healthy appetizer portion of mozzarella sticks to soak up the Guinness.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Holey Shirt!

While getting dressed this morning, I realized something. Something that is kind of disturbing. Something that is going to end up costing me money.

The clothes that I wear most often are those that I've owned for 5+ years.

What made me realize this? First, the dress I went to put on this morning - which I bought 4 years ago - is stained and discolored beyond repair (it's white, but with colored stitching, so no bleaching). That was okay, I'd suspected it was time to part ways with it... or turn it into really high-quality dusting cloths (I will be the only girl in my apartment complex with BCBG dustrags).

Then, I decided to wear a skirt (owned for 9 years). Nothing wrong with the skirt. Miraculously, it still fits after 9 years. However, the only shirt that I have with which it coordinates is also about 9 years old, and the pointelle detailing around the neckline is dead. The elastic has come out, stretched out completely, and pokes out between the knit border in gargantuan looping spirals.

One of my favorite summer sweaters has bitten the proverbial dust.

The shirt I'm currently wearing is a good 4 years old, and it still looks okay, but that's because I rarely wear it. It's black, and the neckline is a little bit lower than I'm typically comfortable wearing in the office. And I wear black entirely too often. It's paired with a denim pencil skirt I bought right after I started working for Oldsmobile, when its (8 year old) predecessor decided not to resume its shape after years of happily hugging my curves. Stupid Lycra. I can't believe it only lasted 8 years. On the upside, Oldsmobile complimented me on my appearance, today.

So it appears that the lampshades for my lovely lovely lamps will have to wait while I go through, look at my clothes, see what is salvageable, and what needs to be tossed, and then go hit the sales and discount clothing stores, this weekend. I usually avoid discount stores like the plague, but I think if I shop carefully, I can find some good clothes that will (hopefully) last me a long time. Maybe I'll find some more 8-10 year sweaters.

In other news, my favorite pair of jeans has a hole just south of a back pocket, but I'll be damned if I'm going to give up on them. That's why God invented iron-on denim patches, right?