Thursday, September 30, 2010

Ready! Set! Curse!

I will throttle Pacman upon his return from NJ.

Not only for the fact that he failed to tell me how long he'll be out of town (no one is actually certain when he'll be returning), but also because his absence has placed me at the center of a potential s**tstorm of contention between the firm, the contractor, and the owners.

Big'un pointed out to me some staining on the wood framing, and I took a look at it. Radio had expressed his concern about some areas, too, when I casually dropped the subject in conversation. It looks like mold (black spots on the wood) and not like staining (black streaks running along the grain of the wood).

I discussed the problem with the guys in the office, Wednesday morning, and Scooter helpfully suggested that I discuss the difficulty with the contractor, and that I might moot the possibility of having a bleach solution sprayed on the affected areas as a precaution.

I followed through with that suggestion today.

I now know why Pacman swears loudly after every conversation with the contractor.

Not only did he address me by a nickname I loathe and that - if he were not in his 70s - would earn him a stern "My name is Ms. Strainedconsciousness," but he became immediately defensive. And worse, he became dismissive.

I'm the fourth person to bring this up - the third to broach the topic with him - but none of us know what we're talking about. I tried to suggest the bleach treatment as a preventive measure, seeing as the areas where there appears to be mold don't receive enough light to adequately treat it with UV radiation, and he guffawed as if I'd just suggested we sing to it or something. He also accused Big'un of talking through his hat in regards to who had initially brought the staining to light (Big'un told me his dad noticed it, and that it concerned both of them).

I shot back, telling the contractor - who might need a nickname... Connie? - that we had just recently had a GC replace all the framework supporting the first floor of the house because there was mold growing in it from improper storage, that the contractor had had to pay for testing of the material, and then ate the cost of the framing. It was sort of one of those "you can do this the easy way, or you can do this the hard way" implied threats.

And then, he asked me not to discuss it with the client until he had a chance to look it over and discuss it.

And he tried to tell me that mold won't grow if it's surrounded by open air.

Yeah, tell that to the apples in my fruit bowl...

Just kidding! I ate my last apple this evening!

The EPA, however, would disagree with him, and does, explicitly, in their handy guide entitled "A Brief Guide to Mold, Moisture, and Your Home."

And then he called me back ten minutes after he'd hung up to reiterate everything he'd just said, as if I wasn't listening.

So I am meeting Big'un at the site tomorrow morning to discuss mirrors in the exercise area (which is bigger than two of my apartments, just in case you were wondering), and Connie is meeting us there to discuss what he calls the staining, and what I call the mold.

Place your bets, ladies and gentlemen, for the battle of the century. Or, at least, of the week.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

What the Modern Female Contract Administrator is Wearing NOW

I saw my neurologist, today, and it's okay, guys: my head is not going to explode any time soon (unless severely provoked by contractors and/or clients' sons). My doctor was a trifle worried by a few things, however.

1) The fact that the delightfully named Neurotin I'm taking - doesn't it sound like something Batman's nemesis would put in Gotham's water? - doesn't completely take care of the neuralgia I'm experiencing as a result of the pinched nerve.

2) The fact that I had three migraines in the past week.

3) The fact that my purse is too damned heavy for her liking.

Issues 1 and 2 are within her purview, but Issue 3 isn't, really. Except that migraines can supposedly by set off by carrying heavy weights on your shoulder. Supposedly. Attractive purses are expensive, though, so I'm going to hold off on satisfying her by buying a lighter one, for now. In the meantime, I've culled the herd of belongings within, and switched to a smaller, lighter weight one in dark green and black... which segues nicely into my post-doctor activity.

I decided I'd lighten my purse's load a bit by hitting The Gap's 40% off Wednesday. Last time around, the delightful cashier somehow managed to take 40% off my whole purchase (I bought a couple of T-shirts and a sweater, despite the 90+ degree weather outside). This time, he was not so generous, perhaps because I spent more.

With the advent of fall-ish weather (followed by its rapid disappearance, unless you consider 85 degrees to be fall-ish), I started surveying my clothes. A lot of the clothes I bought this time last year no longer fit me properly for one reason or another (no, I have not gained weight), and I'm tired of wearing jeans all the time.

But I don't feel confident in khakis. Maybe it was the summer spent trapped in the attic floor of a reputably boring architecture firm with a bunch of bitter female architects, all of whom wore khakis and pastel sweater sets every single day, but I just can't abide wearing khakis. I'd rather wear a nice pair of dark denim jeans with a trim crease down the front, thank you.

But I wear jeans every day, now, so I decided to shake things up by buying a pair of *gasp* corduroy pants, cut similarly to jeans, in a nice shade of dark grey.

The (attractive and straight) cashier at The Gap looked at the clothes I was buying - a few long-sleeved T-shirts, a lovely and soft cream colored blouse, the cords, and two turtlenecks - and remarked that I seemed fond of grey and olive green and cream.

He has a point, and a well thought-out one, at that. I told him of my Master Plan for clothing myself, which involves buying limited colors of clothes that can all be mixed and matched in endless variations. So olive green, grey, cream, and a lovely rusty-orangey-pinkish color are my go-to colors. I'm not about to toss out everything that fails to conform to the New Closet Order, however, because navy blue chiffon blouses from DKNY... from 10 years ago, natch... look smashing with dark grey and olive green.

And, of course, I still have black clothes in my wardrobe, because I'd have to hand in my Architect Card if I didn't. The funny glasses were recently made optional in order to retain the (imaginary) Architect Card, but I cling to the old ways and proudly wear them on those days when I get shampoo in my eye.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Is It Friday, Yet?

I know it's not Friday, and I'm honestly glad it isn't, but good gracious, this week is fraught with difficulties, already!

Out of the past six workdays, I have been on the site five days. Today, Tuesday, I was there twice: once for the regular Contract Administration meeting (guess who's contract administrator since Pacman's in NJ?), and once because the owner's son sent me an email loaded with questions, after I settled the Great Screws vs. Nails Debate of 2010. I felt the need to look at the framing to see exactly what he was talking about before fully addressing one of the issues.

Hmmm... maybe the owner's son needs a nickname... We'll call him Big'un, because he's a big'un (granted, he's tall, not fat).

At the meeting this morning, Big'un questioned the framer's use of nails to attach the joist hangers, instead of screws, like the contractor on the family's ranch house is doing (this being their Texas ranch, as opposed to their Montana ranch: keep them straight, okay?). I told him that nails were acceptable, I'd never seen joist hangers screwed into a studwall before, and that it wasn't necessary to screw all the framework together.

He pulled a framer, on me. "Maybe you could just call Adam and check?" I wanted to smack him right in his 24 year old bearded face. But I didn't, because he's the client's son. Instead, I hailed Scooter, put the question to him, and Scooter reiterated what I had just said.

Big'un didn't seem satisfied. The other contractor, the one at the ranch house, uses screws after all.

I have a hunch that the frames aren't the only things that contractor is screwing...over.

Once back in the office, I researched the exact joist hangers we're using - which specifically state NOT to use screws - and emailed the Big'un to let him know. He shot back a looooooooooong email, full of questions that compared the construction of the house in town to the ranch house (the Texas ranch house).

Apples and oranges, kiddo. Apples and oranges.

For starters, the ranch house is a renovation. Different methods must be used to construct the houses. They have different building envelopes. And if his email was accurate, which I doubt it was, then their ranch house is a mold/mildew factory waiting to happen, because it's being built to prevent the walls from breathing properly. It took me a full hour to fashion an email that defended the building envelope we've designed without impugning the design of the contractor and/or architect of the ranch house (I'm not entirely certain they have an architect).

One thing he did bring up was staining on some of the framework. I decided to check it out on my way home - so I left to go home an hour early - and took some photos. I'm not happy, because the staining appears to be not so much staining as mold and mildew on the framework. If that's the case, we'll want to rip out the affected pieces and replace them. And by "we'll want to" I mean "we'll make the framers do it."

I also scared the heck out of Lord Midget, the Electrician, who feared I had returned to give him additional directions. He seemed relieved that I was just there to look at the framing and the ceiling in one of the offices.

Just before leaving our office, I was indulging in a fair amount of griping about Big'un, and the somewhat idiotic questions he asked (with the exception of the staining), and Radio made the remark, "You know, you shouldn't be complaining about him. You're really missing an opportunity, here. Sure, he may not be the brightest bulb in the box, but he's rich and not a bad looking kid."

"He's illiterate," I replied, brandishing the typo-ridden email. "Enough said."

"You need to be more materialistic. Money can make up for lots of things, even being an illiterate idiot."

I sighed. "You've obviously never dated an illiterate idiot before."

"You've obviously never dated a rich one."

I smiled. "You obviously don't know my dating history." And with that, I left the office. I have a hunch Radio hasn't spoken the last in his attempt to get me to marry our client's son, however.

At least it would guarantee the firm more business, right?

Sunday, September 26, 2010


It's been a busy busy week. After discovering that the framers our general contractor hired roughed-in the windows on the front and rear facades approximately 2 feet away from their intended location (really?) and that they are putting up walls where they don't belong and leaving out doors elsewhere, Pacman was in a car wreck.

He's alive, but bruised and cut up from all the windshield glass. And guess who became de facto head of our project?

Ms. Strainedconsciousness, that's who.

I had a meeting Thursday morning with the framers and the superintendent to discuss the windows before they set about rectifying their mistake. During the course of the discussion, one of the framers asked Radio a question, who deferred it to me, and I answered.

The framer replied, "Maybe we should hold off until Pacman can give us an answer."


I'm not usually the project head, so I don't talk a whole heck of a lot to the subcontractors, but the guy asked Radio first, and when I gave him his answer, he said we should wait until Pacman got back? Which could be as long as two weeks?

I suspected a bit of sexism was involved, and I looked the framer in the eye and said, "I just gave you the answer. Pacman would say the same thing. And I produced that drawings, not him. So you're ready to go."

The superintendent seemed to get a kick out of the situation. The framer just nodded and said, "Okay," in a somewhat cowed voice.

He was much more respectful of me when I met with him on Friday - along with the midget electrical contractor and the interior designer - to discuss electrical outlet and light switch placement. We had a couple of questions for him, and he answered, and then asked me a couple of things, and I gave him answers, which he accepted.

All is right with the world.

I may be pretty and I may look young, Mr. Subcontractor, but you sure as hell better not underestimate me. I can be just as aggressive as Pacman, when you push me to it.

Monday, September 20, 2010

OCDesign Taking Over My Life

Once again, I took out my OCD tendencies on the company archives. We ran out of archive tubes for the drawings, however, so I unleashed my fury on the jumbled slides of past projects and miscellania littering our slide and materials library.

I accomplished a lot. Whoever last attempted the project had no idea what they were doing. In all honestly, I don't always know what I'm doing, either, as some of the projects in the slides are older, less prestigious projects that aren't much discussed around the office. Putting them with their fellows is difficult, at best, and I can't exactly ask Oldsmobile for help, as he can't see the slides well enough to tell what they are showing.

During my lunch hour, I performed my daily cruise of the Dallas Craigslistings in the furniture section, and found a pair of lurvely orange chairs, very mid-Century Modern and fantastic. They are not quite what I'm looking for for my apartment, though, although the $200 price tag (for the pair!) made me stop for a second look. And then a third.

Of course, the idea of chairs for the apartment - to replace the love seat that is looking rather sad, even under its colorful coverlet - got me on a roll, and I obsessively began collecting images on the interwebs of the shape of chairs that would be acceptable for my apartment.

Because, you know, I don't need lampshades or anything. Or clothes.

I gave up looking for chairs online - I found the ones I want, and they're beautiful, but some jerk in Elle Decor already owns them, sheesh - and began obsessing about other facets of design.

Facets of design that include my personal appearance. In particular, a facet of design called My Face.

This is not an unusual phase for me. I'll go through a period of time where I'll roll along, same old same old skincare routine, and then BAM I will want to try something new, because what I've done for the past 27 years just isn't cutting it in the pore-refining category.

Over the weekend, I had a little bite of the Skincare Bug, in the form of trying to use a mudmask my dad brought me back from his last trip to Jordan. I had used some of it about a year ago with no ill effects, and decided to do it again.

It appears that Jordanian mud masks do not last more than one year. It smelled, quite literally, like perfumed crap, and the salts and solids refused to reincorporate with the liquids, so it was rather runny, blobby crap, indeed. Not a pleasant experience.

I manage to mix a bit of it together in my hands to the right consistency - at this point, I honestly don't know why I was proceeding - and rubbed it onto my face.

I have sensitive skin. Skin that is sensitive to past-its-expiration-date once-wonderful-now-crappy perfumed mud. It burned. It stung. I cursed.

I was nowhere near as happy as this lovely young lady appears to be:

The resurfaced top of my lovely rental vanity was covered with watered-down muck by the time I succeeded in rinsing off all the mud/muck-mask.

I pity my neighbor. Every time I whack an elbow in my closet (once per week, on average) or slather something on my face that I shouldn't, she has to hear me bellowing at the top of my lungs, usually in language about as offensive as the mud-mask turned out to be. She should get a discount on her rent, akin to ambassadors who get hardship pay for living in uncomfortable or hostile environments.

So my disastrous dalliance with the mud-mask launched me on my newest skin-care expedition. When I had my facial a few months back, the aesthetician used some lovely glycol peeling pads on my face. I cannot locate them online. I could call the Spa at Nordstrom and inquire about them, I guess, but they're really expensive.

Or, I could go to Sephora when I go pick up my jeans (they're being hemmed, and not for free, because I wanted it done correctly), and hunt around until I find the particular product I saw recommended in a friend's copy of Real Simple magazine. It's the mid-range one, pricewise, and it looks promising.

Hmmm... Of course, that's one fewer shirt next month.

Decisions, decisions.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Gods Must Be... Kind of Mean

The Good News: I found my beloved teardrop necklace. It was sneaky, hiding under the stiffener-board in the bottom of my cowhide duffel bag.

You read that correctly: cowhide duffel bag.

The Bad News: The Gods of Lost and Found Articles decided to exact a price for my being able to locate my necklace. The price? An earring, sent into a death spiral down the drain of my sink.

I considered buying a wrench so I could save it. I went to Home Depot to price wrenches - the big kind, that you use to remove P-traps where your favorite earring lies, lonely and abandoned.

Buying a decent wrench - because I do not buy cheap tools - would cost more than buying a new pair of earrings.

I bought a new pair of earrings.

Ralph Lauren makes this particular pair every season. They're little silver pebble-shaped studs, and they're unobtrusive and classic. Like my teardrop necklace.

So I paid my pound of flesh to the Gods of Lost and Found. And then I paid about 6 pounds of flesh to Seven for All Mankind to buy a pair of new jeans, because they last a long time, and they're low maintenance, and they hem them for free.

So my clothing budget for the month is gone on a pair of earrings and a pair of trouser-cut jeans, and I will just have to wait until next month to buy anything else, I guess. Hopefully, it will cool off by that time, so I can break out my fall/winter clothes. Hopefully, but - this being Texas - doubtfully.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Lying Abed After Work

Yes, I am already happily ensconced in my bed, and it's only 6:30, Texas time. I have downed a bowl full of curry and rice, followed by a white nectarine for dessert, and am taking a well deserved rest.

You see, dear reader, I am almost finished with my archival duties.


Today, more boxes were sorted through, albeit with less gusto than on previous days. Today, the routine was more along the lines of my poking through the box, saying to myself, "Yup, they're all project files of one form or other," and putting a new lid on the box.

Most of our file boxes are lidless, a fact that initially struck me as inexplicable, given that file boxes are sold with lids. The mystery was solved when I found a stockpile of unassembled file box lids lurking in a corner of the office. WHAT. THE. HECK.

And the guys complained that the boxes didn't stack properly. No kidding, geniuses! They DON'T HAVE LIDS.

Anyway, Radio was kind enough to haul out four file boxes to the recycling dumpster for me yesterday, but did not make the mistake of doing so today. His comment to me after completing that task was "How are you able to carry these things around?"

"I just move them a few feet at a time, or I incrementally lift them and carry them on my shoulder," I said.

"Huh." I only have to move them a few feet at a time, as I decided to just sort through them all in the archive room, rather than moving them around.

Nothing interesting really stood out, today, insofar as archival articles go. I did find a box of framed pictures - mostly limited edition cartoons and prints - stacked at the bottom of a tower of boxes, all of which were much heavier and less fragile than the box full of pictures, none of which had the glass broken.

I also decided that I would reward myself, today, by taking a full lunch hour and by taking a few goodies from the archive room.

Now, before you call the police, or the TBAE, or something, let me state that nothing I took had anything to do with the firm, and they were duplicates. As in, I took a postcard, because there were literally 20 of them in a box, along with a Key Club bumper sticker (I have no idea how many of those there were, because there were so darn many). After carrying a 4-foot wide and 10-foot long roll of gridded mylar into the office and saying, "Uh, guys? What do I do with this?" and being answered with "Throw it away," I decided that it would be better off coming home with me for art project purposes.

Speaking of art, did you know it's almost impossible to find colorfast grey tissue paper? Anywhere? I tried "making my own" by layering black and white tissue paper (it's for a collage) but that didn't work out. It appears that if you want colorfast grey tissue paper, you must buy 480 sheets of it. So I now have 960 sheets of grey tissue paper coming my way, because I needed two different colors of it.

Everybody, prepare to have all of your gifts wrapped in grey tissue paper until the day I die. Or, conversely, if you'd like some, let me know, and when my project is finished, I'll send you some.

Or maybe I could just end my clothing crisis and start wearing tissue paper clothes.

Monday, September 13, 2010


I am still at the office, but I am taking a much deserved rest... before I leave for the day.

I spent the entirety of my day in the Archive Room - an oversized closet with plywood racks to hold drawing tubes - and sorting through boxes of old vendor files and personnel files. We don't want to shred everything, mostly because our shredder is terrible, but we also didn't want to risk a voided check falling into the wrong hands. So I sorted through the boxes, pulling out file folders pertaining to financial documents, and scanning for potentially historically significant correspondence.

As I winnowed the boxes down, piling the culled ones in the hall so I could move more freely, I came upon two enormous banker boxes of correspondence pertaining to projects from the 1960s and 1970s. They were in complete disarray, as the file folders had been piled haphazardly in the boxes to begin with. The boxes themselves were crushed, rotted from the dampness in Oldsmobile's garage. So I sorted through the boxes as best I could, and put the papers into new file boxes.

I was terrified.

Some of the paper was thin, onionskin paper, the weight of tissue paper, almost, and I kept imagining myself tearing some potentially priceless piece of paper a future biographer might require in order to complete a (hypothetical) biography of Oldsmobile.

I managed to get all the papers into new boxes - we ran out of file boxes, by the way - and placed them into our materials and slide library, along with the slides we have that show Oldsmobile's work, and that were scattered throughout the offices and the Archive room, taking up precious space that I need.

Of course, I also found more things belonging to Oldsmobile's son, and I cried over them. Maybe it was the physical stress, or the fact that I didn't sleep last night, but I found the boy's High School ID card, and a photograph of him with a friend. I found the letter Oldsmobile sent to the exclusive prep school in the northeast that his son attended, establishing a memorial scholarship in the boy's name.

I also found some humorous things. Oldsmobile collects postcards (there is a book on the shelf above my desk entitled Boring Postcards), and there was a book of postcards in a box - yet another haphazard collection of ephemera - called Lost, Lonely, and Viscious: Postcards From the Great Trash Films. They're reproductions at 5"x7" of movie posters for "films" such as Juvenile Jungle. It was good for a laugh.

We also, I discovered, were archiving a bottle of sweet vermouth from the 1980s. It is the second bottle of hard liquor I've found in the Archive Room. Oldsmobile, when I waggled it in his face with a mischievous grin, said "Babe, toss it! It's probably vinegar by now!" I didn't taste it, but the smell seemed to confirm that it was no longer drinkable.

Heh. Oldsmobile called me "Babe." And at a point when I was feeling very much not a "Babe": sweaty, dusty, and with aching smelly feet. Ugh.

Throughout the day, curious neighbors poked their heads into the door of the Archive Room. "Whatcha doin'?"

"A little bit of weight lifting."

"Haha. Well, I guess it's got to be done at some point, eh?"

"Yup." Leave me alone. I've got files to purge.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

A Conspiracy of Paper - David Liss

I have just finished a fascinating historical mystery by David Liss.

I first read Mr. Liss' entertaining The Coffee Trader while unemployed. It was a financial thriller that I borrowed from my mother. While roaming through Barnes and Noble, I happened upon The Coffee Trader once again and, next to it, A Conspiracy of Paper.

I enjoyed The Coffee Trader, not just because it was entertainingly written, with eloquent descriptions and an intriguing setting - 17th century Netherlands (I think that's the right century, it's been a while) - but because it was so gosh darned informative.

Yes, gosh darned.

I've read a couple of finance books that sought to educate me about the markets, and I was always a little hazy on the subject of futures. The Coffee Trader cleared that all up, as the futures trade (again, I might be remembering fuzzily) originated in the Netherlands in the 17th century. As you might expect, The Coffee Trader deals with trading futures in, of all things, coffee.

So I snapped up A Conspiracy of Paper because 1) it dealt with the early days of the stock market in London (early 18th century), in particular the South Sea Company and the so-called South Sea Bubble; and 2) the main character sounded fascinating: a pugilist (boxer) turned bounty hunter in the days before London had a police force. Technically, he is described as a thief-taker, because he hunts down thieves and recovers stolen goods for a percentage of the booty's value, but he also occasionally beat people into a pulp for a fee.

It was interesting, reading the book and finding out more about the South Sea Company, on which Mr. Liss wrote a dissertation in graduate school. His main character, Benjamin Weaver aka Lienzo, was based on a real life character by the name of Daniel Mendoza, a Portuguese Jew who earned renown and society's respect in the boxing ring in a time when foreign-born Jews were forbidden from owning property in England.

The book deals not only with the stock markets at the time - a highly informal affair - but also with the religious prejudices of society towards Jews and Dissenters (non-Church-of-Englanders), the societal restrictions of women, and the corruption that pervaded the judiciary and government during that time.

The book is not exactly a light read, but it was fascinating. Occasionally, I had to set it down to digest what I had read before I could take another bite, but it was well worth it. Mr. Liss has another book, I believe featuring the same Benjamin Weaver character, and I'm dying to go buy it to see what else he can teach me about the financial market's history. That, and I have a weakness for half-dressed men beating the stuffing out of each other. Alas, other preoccupations must come first.

What's a girl to do? So many books, so little time...

Saturday, September 11, 2010


I have lost a necklace. I have no idea where it is. The last time I remember seeing it - or wearing it - was when I was at my parents' house.

The necklace was incredibly special to me, not because someone gave it to me. Quite the contrary, it was special because it was the first piece of "real" jewelry I bought for myself: not silver plated, not costume jewelry, but a simple Elsa Peretti silver teardrop from Tiffany's. I had seen it and coveted it, and I wanted it terribly.

I managed to scrape up enough money, about 8 years ago, to buy it for myself, and I have worn it almost every day since then, save for those days when the pearls I received for my 16th birthday were more appropriate, or when I decided to be a bit more outlandish, and threw on the North African silver mail necklace I picked up in the flea market in Amsterdam.

Not having the necklace leaves me feeling uncertain, because I don't have my old standby to wear. I'm having to delve deeper into my jewelry box, past the tiny gold-leaf-encrusted ceramic heart my sister gave me, that hangs from a waxed cord - the only piece of heart jewelry I think I will ever wear - and into the jewelry box, to pluck out a necklace of heavy stones with a carved jade pendant, or the bronze necklace with the red coral beads, big around as your thumb, that dangle from the ends.

Perhaps the missing necklace will be good for me, and force me out of my comfort zone. I design for a living, and perhaps I should be riskier with the way I design my appearance.

But then, I have always had a penchant for the classics, and clung to the things that worked.

For years, I wore the gold locket I was given as a baby, until it fell out of the pocket of my purse while I hunted for a valet ticket. The restaurant washed their patio, that night, and no one had turned it into the lost and found. Gone forever, a gift from my great grandmother.

A pair of favorite jeans, ones I've owned for 10 years and that I fancied incredibly expensive when I bought them, recently ripped at the hem. Or, rather, they ripped a good 3 inches above the hem. I am left with yet another dilemma: do I patch them, as they are still holding up decently in other places, or do I toss them out? I wear them often in the summer, since the denim is now so thin that they are too chilly for winter wearing, but they do look tired. Particularly with the gash that cuts across them right above the arch of my foot.

For a while, I didn't buy clothes, because I had just bought a sofa, I was being more financially responsible and saving more money. Then, I didn't buy clothes because I had mountains of medical bills to pay and no energy to shop. The medical bills aren't flowing as quickly, these days, and I did buy myself a few things to wear, recently, but now I'm struggling with another question: I need new clothes, because the torn jeans, in addition to my first "expensive" pair of jeans that I bought 4 years ago, are verging on unwearable, so do I buy new clothes, or do I put that off and replace the necklace? Will the necklace have the same meaning it did before, now that I am able to replace it more easily (although that amount of money is one with which I will never gladly part)?

Or will it just be something pretty that hangs around my neck?

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Jill of All Projects

I am not a Jack of all trades, per se, because 1) I am female and 2) I generally know what I'm doing. I am, however, something of a Jill of all projects, because I keep getting shuffled from one miscellaneous task on one project to another miscellaneous task on another project. I'm not really in the loop on either of the projects, but that doesn't stop the guys from assigning me things to do.

Like lay out tile patterns for hideous tile that our client picked out. Her interior designer doesn't seem to realize that part of her job is to help pick out things like counter tops and tile, and she just wants to select furniture. You know, the fun stuff: playing with fabric swatches and buying sofas. I can kind of sympathize, particularly as our client acts like she's bankrupt. She could buy and sell our whole firm and our extended families many times over, but oh my God, she cannot spend more than $5 per square foot on tile! That's outrageous! Yeah, honey. Sure it is.

In between tile patterns and calculating seating capacity for church sanctuaries and wandering around church property doing a half-a**ed job of a tree survey - isn't that civil's job, anyway? - I've been archiving drawings for the office.

It's a mess.

We have drawings in our "current projects" drawers around our desks that were completed in 1985. You can see what I'm up against, here. Not to mention, our archive room is a wreck, with file boxes of receipts from 2000, for computers we no longer own. Seven years of records are all that are required. Come on folks.

I'm blaming the pitiful state of our archives on Lola, as that was supposed to be one of her jobs. She was too busy Facebooking and emailing her friends to actually perform any of her tasks, though.

So now, I'm in charge of the archives, which is okay, because it's the sort of task my little OCD heart goes pitter patter over.

It's not easy, physically, as it involves rolling up drawings (which requires some upper body strength), putting those drawings into tubes, and carrying the tubes 30 feet down the hall, then lifting them into their appropriate cubby spaces. If there's already a tube started for the project, I sometimes have to move 10 tubes out of the way to be able to pull the required tube out of the pile so I can check to see if it's full, in which case I have to start a new tube.

It's also turned out to be emotionally difficult.

My boss has two daughters. He also, at one time, had a son. His son drowned in the Gulf of Mexico as a young man, in his late teens or early 20s, I think.

There are things that belonged to his son in the archive room: a box of buttons from peace rallies, a magazine article with his name scrawled across the top, and family snapshots of he and his younger sisters on the beach.

I found the items on accident when I knocked over a precariously perched box, and three smaller boxes from Sakowitz spilled out, dumping buttons and photos and dice everywhere. I picked them up, and read a few of the things in the boxes, and realized that they belonged to Oldsmobile's son.

I sat down on another box (the lid of which promptly caved in) and sorted through the articles, looking at the funny quirky collection of odds and ends. The boxes were, appropriately enough, labelled "Odds and Ends."

The emotions I felt are difficult to explain: a mixture of sadness and happiness and a sense of loss, although I never knew Oldsmobile's son. Also, I suppose, there was surprise: why were the things in our office storage closet, instead of at Oldsmobile's house?

It's a question I can never ask, but I can guess at a few answers.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Ahhhhh! That's Better!

I am almost feeling back to my old self, health-wise. It's amazing, the recovery I've made since changing my posture at the office (and, just now, in my beautiful but ergonomically deadly chrome and leather chair in my bedroom). Who would have known that a little thing like sitting up straight could completely alter your physical well-being?

Okay, so my parents did, as they've always encouraged me to sit up straight, but at the office, when I sit for 8 hours straight (unless I have the pleasure of standing around on the jobsite for several hours being ogled by construction workers), it's difficult to maintain that upright posture so prized by Victorian ladies. Difficult unless you have the proper chair, that is.

In my newly feeling better state, I have accomplished a bunch of things, as you might have noticed from the two previous blog posts. I was not, dear reader, finished just yet.

Oh, no. No, I was not finished. (Rubs hands together and looks shifty).

Last night, after returning from a bonding session with Major Tom (read: scratching his ears and feeding him), I decided to rearrange one of my bookshelves. It's adjacent to the console table that holds my TV, and was the destined destination for my brand spanking new DVD player.

A word about boring DVD players (as opposed to Blu-Ray players, etc., which are exciting beyond measure according to the salesman who doesn't seem to care that I watch a DVD maybe once in a blue moon): they're much cheaper and much much smaller than they were when I bought my first one (may it rest in peace).

I think I'm getting carried away with parentheses.

The John Derian boxes were actually purchased to provide a nice little plinth for my DVD player, in addition to more places to stash the odds and ends that don't really belong anywhere else. They sit in a place of pride, anchoring one end of the bookshelf.

I then did something I never thought I would do, after removing all the books from the shelf. Bear in mind that these were mostly large art and architecture monographs, so the exercise I got performing this task was considerable. And exhausting.

Back to the thing I never thought I would do: I organized the books by color.

I know! IknowIknowIknow! I've seen it done in magazines and it always struck me that those people must not access their books very often if they organized them by color. Really, if you're going to jumble all your nonfiction and fiction and anthologies and art books together, how can you ever find anything?

I was at least methodical about it. Only my architecture and art books are arranged by color, with the black books together, the cream and white and yellow books together, and the blue books together. I did not realize, until Sunday night, just how many of my architecture books had blue spines.

I also realized that adding the boxes and DVD player left less room for the books. Hmmmm... So they are stacked, and a few of the books that are less attractive and not art/architecture are stacked behind the few modern fiction works that inhabit a shelf, in exile from their counterparts across the room.

I managed to keep my cigar boxes (thanks, Dad!) on display, as they create nice level changes for the books (red cigar box with blue-green books on top = graphically pleasing), and my favorite photograph - my paternal grandmother with a Christmas bow on her head and a look that say "What? Do you have a problem with this?" on her face - is front and center: it speaks volumes about her understated sense of humor.

On another note, while attempting to email the images from this post to myself, I accidentally sent them to an email address one number away from mine. I wonder if I'll get a response?

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Deranged Over Derian

I awoke this morning (okay, afternoon) and set about accomplishing even more fun things. I mailed a bunch of paperwork to my insurance company in order to get reimbursed a pittance for a provider who doesn't do insurance paperwork herself, and I mail that certified mail, so that required a trip to the post office.

But the post office is closed on Sundays! you cry.

Never fear, for I have discovered the joys of the Automated Postal Center, open 24 hours per day, 7 days per week. If you have a credit card, you too can send mail whenever you want. It's amazing.

Then I got an iced tea from Sonic, because I can't perform errands without iced tea. It's impossible. It's my anti-kryptonite. Or something like that. I don't go in for comic books.

Next was a trip to the office to print off the email I forgot to get yesterday. Ahem. We have a new printer in the office, and it isn't networked to our computers, yet. So I jotted down the info, and left. I was, so far as I could tell, the only person in the building, which left me with a decidedly unsettled feeling.

And off I flew to Target in Plano (a quick detour en route to visit Major Tom). I wanted to buy a cannister for my flax seed and some Dr. Pepper for my apartment and to see what they had left in the John Derian for Target line that went on sale today.

It was slim pickins, folks, and the products were scattered all over the store. I found some bowls and plates and things, but I don't need any more kitchen goods (except for cannisters. For flax seed). So I trotted over to the home office section to see if they had his papergoods over there. I was in luck! The boxes I'd seen online were there, in all their blue and brown faux marbled glory! Huzzah!

As I stood, leafing through the notebooks (soft back, so worthless for my needs) and opening every single box on the shelf, an elderly woman with a bandaid across her nose and a beautiful brooch on her pseudo-Chanel jacket approached and said, "Oh, these are lovely!" She saw the honeycomb patterned box - similar to the two blue/brown boxes I had in my cart - and exclaimed about how pretty it was! Oh, but it was marred by a spot of white!

"There's another one," I reassured her, crouching down and getting it for her from the back of the shelf. She was very grateful, as her mobility was limited. She was leaning heavily on her cart. That's when I noticed that her cart was FULL of John Derian for Target.

"You haven't seen the boxes like this with the lids, have you?" she asked (our boxes have a flap that ties shut).

"No! Are they sold out already?"

"I'm afraid so," she sighed. "I've been all over the store. I thought, surely, if I got here on the first day, they'd have some. But the website says they're sold out, and none of the store associates can find them."

I laughed and replied, "It's good to know I'm not the only one here on the first day."

"Oh, no!" she said. "There's tons of us crazy ladies running around! You're in excellent company."

I wanted to whisk her off for coffee, but instead we just stood and chatted for a little while longer before I headed to the checkout line. I decided not to tempt fate and my checkbook by going to the other areas of the store where there were more products to be found (she had, it seemed, hobbled around until she found all of them).

I might go get coffee by myself, though, and pretend there's a crazy old lady rabidly hunting John Derian with me. I know she'd be there in spirit, anyway.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Day of (No) Rest

I decided to put my long weekend to good use by accomplishing as much as possible in a short amount of time. So far, I have done almost everything I intended to do.

1) I went to Container Store - it was torture I tell you! - and bought a cannister for cereal (which gets soggy as soon as I open the box) and a cannister for epsom salts (in which I am supposed to soak every night). I then proceeded to buy a lovely plyboo shelf for my monster 11x17 printer, so I can keep my little 8.5x11 printer underneath it. They seem very happy in this arrangement. I also bought a binder for a later task...

2) I went to Fry's Electronics and bought a DVD player so I can get back to my pilates-lite and a new shredder, because all the medical crud I've shredded this past year did my old one in.

3) I went to Design Within Reach and pretended that I would buy an Aeron chair from the nice guy, David, who waited on me and helped me choose between multiple chairs. I will most likely buy a chair from someone else (gently used if she has the right size for me) after I get her contact info, which is on my computer at work, but not at home.

4) I took the electronic part of my old shredder to Best Buy. They recycle electronics - including small appliances - FOR FREE. Sweet. And I didn't have to drive through a sketchy neighborhood like I would have had to do if I went to the City of Dallas' e-cycling center that's open late on Saturdays.

5) I cleaned house. I sneezed a lot. This part is only about 1/3 finished. Okay, okay, 1/4 finished. I might need to find a housekeeper.

6) Laundry. Laundry. Laundry. Laundry. Laundry. Dear God, where does it all come from?

7) I began organizing medical invoices and paperwork from the past year. This took about two hours. It's why I bought the binder from Container Store. So all my bills are organized by date of service with their receipts - if I have them - stapled to the invoices, and the Explanations of Benefits right alongside the doctors' bills and receipts for MRIs and CT Scans and surgery.

8) I got a jump on my income taxes. Say what? Yes, because I have so far spent 1/7 of my projected income on medical expenses, and I didn't want to wait until January or February or something before I started making my yearly spreadsheet. In previous years, I haven't had enough expenses to warrant claiming them on my taxes - I was always just under the minimum you can claim for medical expenses. This year, however, I appear to be well on my way to outstripping that minimum, so I decided to go ahead and start the spreadsheet so it won't be quite so huge come February. I have a couple of receipts that are missing their explanation of benefits, but I'm thinking I can hunt those down on my insurance company's website.

Numbers 7 & 8 are essentially how I am spending my Saturday night. Woohoo! Party!

I am officially old. Heck, I take Centrum Silver (doctor's recommendation, because I need the extra oomph), so I'm practically a senior citizen, right? Right...

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Time to Get Envious

In my efforts to increase my level of healthiness, I decided it would behoove me to get a massage.


My muscles are all knotted up in my back, at present, so I called one of the Massage Envy outlets near my house to set up an appointment.

No one answered the phone. I left a message. No one called back.

Apparently, that particular outlet does not need customers.

After Mrs. Robinson went to the Massage Envy at the West Village and raved about the experience, I decided to give it a shot. I called that one and they answered on the first ring, booked my appointment ASAP, and I had my first appointment on Wednesday.

Oh, Dear Reader, it was wonderful.

For 1/2 the price that the Gorg at Nordstrom charged, I had a one hour massage. And because it was 1/2 the price the Gorg charged, I was able to book another one for next week.

Hopefully, these things are tax deductible for medical expenses (maybe if my neurologist writes me a prescription...) but regardless, the first one helped my mental well-being. And I adored my therapist, with whom I formed a bond based on our mutual love of black labs and the 80s.

I thought she was going to hug me when she found out I had a black lab named Major Tom. Seriously.

And she used to do massage therapy at Children's Medical Center for kids who had cancer, so when she found out (from my medical history) that I'd had leukemia, she just about started crying and proclaimed I was a "miracle."

I'm not going to go that far, but I think I'm alright. Major Tom is currently dancing around at my side, and he seems to think I'm pretty spiffy, too.

I ended up joining their fancy membership thingy, because I did a quick calculation on how much money it costs without the membership vs. joining, and I think in the long run it will save me money, since ideally, I will be getting a massage every month.

Aaaaaaaaaaaand Major Tom Shadowmaker just figured out it's raining. If you'll excuse me, I have a neurotic World War I flying ace to console (I think it's shellshock that causes him to get this way when it thunders). Man, Snoopy never freaked out like this...