Monthly Archives: May 2005

New job opportunites up ahead, on the left

Last Tuesday I got to work almost a half hour late. I sat down at my desk (hey, at least I finally got a new desk) and fell brain first into the fog of apathy that thicken the air around my chair. I felt hung over and sluggish, but there had been no carousing the night before, just a night of sleep that started too late and ended too early. My perception felt off, as if my eyes weren’t correctly transmit signals to my brain. My boss asked me to take care of some tasks and the words missed my ears and fell to the floor. After the third reminder, she pulled me to the round table outside our doors, and announced that she was frustrated and wanted to know what was up with me.

What was up was that I’ve been depressed. It’s kind of a hard thing for me to admit, but I’ve never thought of myself as someone who gets depressed and yet there it was, a black cloud of misery and mood swings (punctuated by moments of tearfulness). I’ve managed to climb back out of that hole and am feeling more normal, after a full week of having a variety of emotions.

It helps to know that I have a job interview this Thursday morning at the big west Philly university. It’s been my goal for some time now to get a job there, so this is very exciting. Wish me luck!

Philly MetBlogs

Hey kids,
There is this cool thing out there called MetBlogs. There are over twenty of them in different cities across the world. The way it works is that ten people in a city sign on to be bloggers on the site for their city, and commit to posting three or more times a week. Philadelphia is one of the only big east coast cities that does not have a MetBlog, and I think this is wrong. I’ve signed up to be Philly MetBlogger, but in order for this to get off the ground, nine more people need to sign up. It doesn’t pay, but it gets you linked into a network of bloggers across the world, and you never know who will read what you write.

So, if this sounds interesting to you and you’re a blogger in Philly, wander on over here and sign up.

My friend Seth

A couple weeks ago my friend Seth had an impromptu cookout (we can’t call it a barbeque, because as a native Texan, Ingrid protests to calling grilling barbequing). Seth, Jen, Georgia and I were sitting on Seth’s back deck and somehow the conversation turned to my blog. (Okay, it didn’t just turn to my blog, I asked Seth point-blank “hey, have you read my blog recently?”). He replied that he had, but he was a little miffed that hadn’t rated so much as a mention (I’d like to protest that fact, he did get a shout out in the Broad Street Run wrap up post) while Una’s cat had gotten several paragraphs at one point. I replied that I would make it a point to “tell a Seth story” sometime in the near future. So Seth, this one’s for you!

This is actually a story that Seth reminded me of that night on his deck, and remembering it made me laugh almost as much as that night when it happened. It was Memorial Day weekend last year, and we were cooking out on his deck that night too. My dad was in town from Portland and a bunch of us were hanging out, eating and having a mellow time. There is a sliding glass door as well as a sliding screen between the deck and the living room and they had both been standing open all night. We’d all been moving back and forth between the two spaces, not thinking a thing about it. And then someone closed the screen. Seth is an excellent host and was hurrying back and forth between the kitchen and the grill, making sure that everyone was furnished with an unending supply of burgers, hot dogs and chicken. He was in the kitchen when the screen was closed, and in the twilight it was admittedly difficult to see the screen. Walking brisked, he ran right up into the screen and then bounced backwards, the force of the screen sending him back into the room. He went up against the screen and the screen won. The look of shock on his face was pure, priceless and totally hilarious. I cracked up, and continued laughing in hysterical bursts, in a world unto myself for the next ten minutes. None of my Philly friends had ever seen this side of me, but my Dad nodded knowingly. He had witnessed my capacity for totally engrossing and contagious laughter before and knew that the only thing you can do is ride it out. (Friends from college who read this will remember my tendency to crack myself and everyone around me up during dinner, on a regular basis).

It was pretty damn funny.


My aunt Flora used to live on the 9th floor of my building. Flora is an aunt by marriage, my great-uncle Milty was her third husband and when they found themselves in love in their 50’s (and having known each other for much of their lives, Milty’s first wife was Flora’s childhood best friend), they married and forever tied their families together. Flora and my grandmother, already close friends, relished their newly minted sister status.

Uncle Milty died unexpectly about nine years into their marriage and left Flora broken hearted and and tramatized.

Several years ago, Flora started to actively decline, having been plagued for many years by a heart weakened by TB (contracted in a hospital wards during her med school years). For a long time we didn’t see it, as she was stubborn and smart, and able to cover with a veneer of irascibility. But last summer it became completely clear that Flora couldn’t live in her own apartment anymore (even with aides) and her daughter, my cousin Betsy, ran out of options and moved Flora up to New York and into a nursing home.

This weekend, I went up there to spend the weekend with Betsy and her family and visit Flora for the first time since she left Philadelphia. I didn’t expect her to remember who I was (and she didn’t really). I didn’t expect to feel so sad either. I used to be envious of Flora’s aging progress when compared to my grandmother’s. My Tutu (Hawaiian for grandmother) lost most of her ability to converse during a stroke the day after Christmas in 1990. Tutu’s communication was limited to a few words, hand gestures and snuggling. Flora was always able to talk and seemed very clear and I wanted to be able to interact with my grandma in the same way I could interact with Flora.

Flora is still able to talk, but her memory is now increasinly shot full of holes. In a series of moments I shifted from stranger to distant family and back to stranger again. We went out to lunch and I would smile and speak to Flora, and she constantly struggled to place who I was and what I was doing there at the table with her daughter, son-in-law and grandson.

I’ve really missed my Tutu over the last couple of years, but having seen Flora (who recently turned 90) in her wheelchair, sitting quiet and confused on the third floor of a Manhattan nursing home, I can’t help but wish she finds a way to make her exit from the bounds of that body and this life.

Humor – A Risky Behavior?

I’m taking a mandatory online sexual harrassment training right now and that’s one of the section titles. It made me think of a situation I found myself in at my last job.

I used to work in the Executive Office of a large non-profit here in Philly. They treated me pretty badly, giving me the most menial of tasks and generally expecting me to have the intelligence of a golden retriver.

One day, my immediate supervisor, who was the CEO’s executive assistant, came up to me and said, “Dr. X has a concern. She feels that you smile and laugh too much and it isn’t appropriate for the office environment.”

This women continued on to tell me that when the CEO walked by my desk and saw me smiling, she didn’t think I was getting any work done, so I needed to rein in my tendency to smile and laugh. In the moment, I just nodded and tried not to cry. As I repeated this story to family and friends, their reaction was resoundly flabbergasted and enraged, and I finally began to let loose my own frustration with the situation. I left that job soon after.

Humor was certainly a risky behavior in that environment, although not for the reasons that my sexual harrassment training is assuming.

Today I'm 26

I had a spectacular day, and it wasn’t even my birthday today (yesterday)! Tomorrow, the actual day of my birthday I head to DC for my UUA Young Adult and Campus Ministry training of trainers. Hopefully it will be a fun weekend! I’ll write more when I get back, or maybe while I’m there if I can get internet access.

They call it progress

About a week ago I learned that they are going to be building a 39 story building on an empty lot near my apartment. This means that the very last little bit of view beyond the skyscrapers that this little unit in the heavens has held onto for the last 40 years is going to be obscured. Eliminated. I’ve spent the time since I found out mourning for the loss of this view, despite the fact that they haven’t even broken ground yet.

My brain has been working overtime, trying to come up with ways to get out of here, before this new building emerges, hemming me more tightly into a world of tinted glass and reflected facades.

Then another part of my brain steps in, gently reminding me that it’s not like the building will be right up against mine. There will still be a full city block and a wide street in between me and the future offending monstrosity. And, there’ll be an Acme on the ground floor. I mean, come on, that’s exactly what this neighborhood needs, a regular old grocery store (although, since Trader Joe’s moved in, it’s been a lot better).

But still, a part of me feels sad. These things happen, they call it progress, right?

Jason Mulgrew

Hey kids,
So there is this blogger out there, named Jason Mulgrew. He mostly writes about sex, alcohol, drugs and poop, so of course he’s got a pretty big following. He recently put out a call for people to help promote him, in exchange for a link on his blog. Because I’d like more people to read my little corner of the cyber-universe, I’m shamelessly shilling for him in exchange for a link. Except that when I put him on my blogroll, I somehow saved a typo that I now am not able to get rid of, so it actually says Jasom Mulgrew. Oh well, close enough. (hey, the typo fixed itself, the miracles of technology)!

Anyway, check him out, and hopefully someday I’ll be linked on his site and a little bit of his slightly off-color fame will rub off on me.


I work in an office in the basement, right off the loading dock. Most days the scent of second hand smoke wafts into my space from the assortment of mail distribution, environmental and cafeteria workers who use the dock as their personal club house. I freeze in the winter and am constantly swatting bugs away from my face in the summer. But I don’t complain about these things. Really, I can take it.

But, about a year ago, I started asking Ray in plant services for a new desk. The one I work on these days is older than I am. It is heavy metal, with a fake wood laminate top. When they turned the heat on last fall, the warmth and moisture encouraged the glue holding the laminate to the metal to go on permanent strike. The corners all peeled up and I was forced to implement a careful and expertly designed system of “crap placement” in order to keep my desk semi-usable. The worst part is that it’s too old to have a keyboard return, so my keyboard sits prominently on the surface of the desk. It is an awkward and uncomfortable way to work, if I type or use the mouse too long, I start getting a numb spot in my right shoulder blade.

So, with all these things in mind, I started asking for a new desk. I asked and asked. Ray kept telling me that he had just the desk for me, but that it was in a different building, or that another department had just ordered new furniture and I could have my pick of their old desks. (I wondered why I couldn’t just have a new desk, but around here, we’ve learned not to ask such questions. Especially after they just ordered $20,000 in new furniture that no one actually sits in to artfully scatter around the building (in order to create am image of “warmth” for the LCME inspectors). Three weeks ago, Ray came into my office and said, “there are a couple of desks sitting outside or G48, go take your pick, just label the one you want with a post-it.”

So I went. I measured and I marked. And then I waited. I reminded Ray several times and he always replied that he didn’t have the man power to move the desk, but that he was working on it.

This morning he came to my office door and said, “how ’bout if we move your desk today? Clear out your stuff and we’ll be back in a hour.”

I was thrilled and started emptying drawers, throwing shit out and generally making my workspace ready to accept a new surface.

An hour later, Ray did return, but with a glum expression on his face. Now, remember that this man is the director of the physical plant around here. He’s supposed to be in charge of all things, well, physical. He proceeds to tell me that “they took your desk.” (Who took my desk? I thought you were in charge of all desks. And who waited three weeks to move it?). He tells me this, while standing in my mess of an office, an office that is now almost unusable because of all the displaced shit.

I think the only way I’m going to get a new desk is to get a new job. But really, we knew that already.