The Arrow

There are no answers; only choices.

Archive for April, 2008

No Easter This Year…

Posted by thearrow on April 25, 2008

I’m scheduled to come up for air mid-May. It’s absolutely nuts at work; I had yet another out-of-control week. I couldn’t even remember to schedule a haircut appointment and to take my gym top out of the bag to dry up. Because I had forgotten to do that last night when I came home from spinning, where I usually sweat a storm, and I didn’t have a clean one. I was hoping to hang it on the back of my office door but it totally slipped my mind.

Well, I couldn’t go to the gym anyway. It took me one hour to organize my Monday workload at the end of a full day and I finished at 6:30, which was too late for my class. True, I can do most of the exercises at home ’cause it’s ab crunches and upper-body work, but I KNOW I’m not going to push myself that hard. In class I have no problem doing 100+ abs on end and I don’t care if it burns. The trainer pushes you and you get in that great Zen state where you concentrate on working out and nothing else matters; you enjoy the burn. At home I can always find a distraction.

But it’s sort of okay; at least I got to the spin class yesterday and that’s the one I really don’t want to miss because it’s the most intense cardio workout ever. Plus, Susan is a lot of fun. “Push! Push! Push! Earn that glass of wine!” 🙂 I should write about her encouragement lines at some point. My favorite (in the body-sculpt class) is, “squeeze your butt, so someone else will want to.” Always cracks me up. OK, so I see that if I didn’t go to the gym I need to at least talk about it to compensate :).

Where was I? Oh, Easter. Yes, this year it won’t feel like Easter at all :(. One, I don’t have a car, so I can’t go to the church tomorrow night, because, of course, the Romanian Orthodox church in the DC area is way out in the suburbs. The Russian and Greek ones are next to each other, in DC, but it doesn’t matter because going anywhere at midnight without a car is impossible (welcome to America!). I could probably find someone to go with, but I can’t tell you how sick I am of depending on other people for that. Plus, what other people want to do and ends up happening is a far cry from what I want to do and that ruins the whole thing for me. Thank you but no thank you, really. I prefer to stay home even though the midnight Easter service is very special to me. It is actually what I miss the most from home; that atmosphere of peace; things calm down for a few days, spring is in full swing, people enjoy their days off, they come home at midnight with lit candles… Sigh. And the commercial silliness of bunnies and egg rolls can be easily ignored.

Second, I have too much work to do. I’ll basically spend the next two days reading a big report and writing a press release for it because, you guessed it, there’s no way I can have time or peace to do it at the office. No effing way whatsoever. There, I’m battling relentless waves of tasks that keep coming my way. And even though they are small and no-brainers, they eat up a lot of time. Communications work is fun when you get to read, write, strategize, orchestrate, and, generally, scheme :), but it has a side of administrative tasks served up with that. I don’t mind and it doesn’t seem demeaning to me because I understand it’s part of the deal, but it really is incredible how much time this stuff takes. And if you don’t organize things as they come your way, well, good luck to you :).

So, with the brain almost completely fried, I went to touch base with my boss before leaving and I griped a bit (in a nice way) about the fact that this weekend it’s my Easter and I was planning to take Monday off but can’t do it because we have a big meeting where I have to present. Plus, I’ll be reading this report about what is called “jail reentry” (meaning the return to society of former jail inmates); you can imagine how uplifting it will be :). He quipped: Easter is another kind of reentry. Heh-heh. So I had to give him brownie points for this very witty and intellectual spin on things. That’s one of the qualities I admire greatly in him: the ability to improvise on the spot on what you say in a learned and (always) kind way at the same time. My brain cannot make that many connections per second even when it’s fresh 😀 I get exasperated at times by his very 19th-century ways (especially his aversion to technology), but I really like his old-school bookish style. And his humor and spontaneity are absolutely wonderful.

Oh, and he did another very nice thing today. He stopped by to ask if I need anything and I said, frazzled but grinning, “yes, a new brain and a three-week all-expense-paid vacation in Hawaii.” Seeing that I was being pulled in a zillion directions, he bought me a jar of macadamia nuts in dark chocolate, the closest thing he could find to Hawaii, which is one of the main macadamia-nut growers. So more nut points for him today :). But enough about work.

While waiting for My Precious to come, I’ll have another album up on Flickr this weekend. I promise!

Happy Easter!

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My Precious

Posted by thearrow on April 25, 2008

That would be my camera. Actually, my cameras: both the one I want and the one I have. The one I want I still can’t have. I really feel like Gollum now because, just as I was getting ready to buy it, something came up and I had to postpone my plan indefinitely again… The money is there but I can’t touch it. I’m trying to hope that it won’t end up like the real precious.

But at least the Precious I have has been repaired and is on its way to my open arms :). I picked a professional-repair shop to avoid any surprises. It cost me a small fortune, but less than buying a new good camera. Plus, even though I’m not a professional photographer, I’m so used to taking pics when I like something and so many projects are buzzing in my head that I’ve been feeling incomplete and anxious without it :).

So it looks like next Saturday I’ll be out and about. Yaay! Azalea bushes are in bloom around town and they are absolutely gorgeous. I can’t wait!

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Yellow is the New Green

Posted by thearrow on April 25, 2008

Yellow as in pollen, so I’m not talking environment, but allergies. When green is back in the trees, so is an all-pervasive yellow; and with it, runny/itchy noses and eyes.

I went for a bike ride last weekend and, even though I had taken one anti-allergic pill that morning, a couple of miles down the road I had to stop at a pharmacy to get more. And my nose and eyes kept running for hours! By the end of the day I was also very sleepy because all those pills knocked me in the head. So last Saturday I had to hit the hay at 9:30 :). I could barely keep my eyes open.

It’s great to see all these lush trees bursting with life but boy, the sneezing!

Later edit: Just saw that I wrote “anti-allergic.” Haha! Oh well… fried brains.

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Conserve Water!

Posted by thearrow on April 22, 2008

You got the message, ok? 🙂

It’s Earth Day today, so what better occasion to write my promised water post?

I think water, just like food, is sacred and each of us should do everything s/he can to conserve it. I know agriculture and industry are the biggest consumers, but that shouldn’t be an excuse for us to do nothing. Households account for 8% of water consumption (here is the source of my number) and I’m sure a big part of it is just wasted.

So the least we could do is cut the waste. That is, restrict our water use to what’s essential. Sure, the line between (absolute) needs and (superficial) wants is different for each of us. Besides a few more concrete pointers below, I only have a common-sense guidance for this: ask yourself honestly if the way you’re using a resource is reasonable or just waste. I’m sure you’ll have the right answer more often than not.

People use waste water and other resources in quantities way bigger than justified by any rational reason to increase their own comfort and — my pet theory — to add something to their perceived social status. It’s one thing to wash a lot of dishes in a dishpan in the same water and quite another to lavishly let the faucet run at full capacity while you use a drop once in a while. The former makes you feel you’re a maid in the 19th century; the latter makes you feel spoiled as if the whole Earth is your personal property.

I’ve seen this many times both in people’s homes and at work and it drives me nuts every time. At work especially people don’t have very dirty dishes. Most of us bring food in plastic containers and there are no cooking pans to clean. Well, everyone I’ve seen (ab)uses water as if there’s no tomorrow. Once in a while someone leaves the faucet on (at full capacity, of course) and then leaves the kitchen to do something else. Meanwhile, the water is running…

The same thing happens at the bathroom. I’ve seen people who will turn the faucet on (did I mention full capacity?), then take their time to wash their hands (always using more soap than necessary), then take their time to grab some paper towels (always 2-3 towels when one is just fine), then wipe their hands, and only then turn the faucet off using the paper towels, so that they don’t touch the faucet handles directly. I bet the ratio of water used to water wasted is something like 1 to 50. Gallons and gallons go down the drain because of this perceived need for enhanced comfort.

Speaking of the bathroom, the main culprit for water waste is the toilet. A friend of mine went at great lengths to find a dual-flush toilet in the U.S. Speaks volumes about how much folks think about conservation here, but I’ve seen outrageous things happen in Romania, too, so no one is exempt.

Below are a few ways I cut the waste. You are welcome to add your own.

1. Use just a trickle of water while you’re washing dishes and only just a bit more when rinsing them. Even better, wash them in a dishpan (in Romanian, lighean) to get rid of the grease, then rinse them under running water. I use rubber gloves to make the whole thing less unpleasant.

2. To pollute less, don’t use more detergent than necessary. A dishpan can help here, too.

3. Use hand-sanitizing gel if you don’t need a serious hand wash. Unfortunately, this doesn’t exist in Romania yet but someone should introduce it on the market :). When things are going to get serious about water, we’re going to use a lot more of this stuff. I should buy some shares in the companies that produce it 🙂

4. Use grey water. In other words, reuse water for different purposes around your household. The only example I have in mind is to clean floors with water I’ve used to wash clothes if I washed them in a pan. But I live in a small apartment, so I’m sure there are other things you can do if you live in a house.

5. Shower instead of taking baths. And, of course, don’t let the water run while in the bathtub (insert nudge to virtual friend who confessed to this sin). Personally, I wish bathrooms were warmer places. Mine doesn’t have its own heating unit, so I’m forced to let the water run while I lather just so I don’t freeze…

6. Flush your toilet less often if you just pee. I know this will sound gross to most of you and it’s probably not doable if you have kids or even just a partner. Maybe it can work if you use separate toilets. I live by myself and I don’t have to worry about that for now. So if you, too, live by yourselves, you can try :).

Of course, I would prefer composting toilets any time but I’m renting, so I can’t install one. Again, this is something that doesn’t exist in Romania, unfortunately.

My technology wish for water conservation is a sensor that will cut the water off when you don’t need it and turn it back on at a previously set temperature when you get your hands back under the faucet/shower.

But before my toilet-related and other wishes come true, we could all try points 1-6 :).

Posted in environment, home | Tagged: , | 4 Comments »

A Really Good End of the Week

Posted by thearrow on April 18, 2008

Wow! I’d almost lost hope this would ever happen again but, lo and behold, it did. Had one of the absolute craziest weeks at work. I got pulled into my favorite time suckers (event planning) for more than I thought I would be and yet, miraculously, I managed to finish two writing assignments, of which I did a pretty good job. Sure, I worked until midnight at home yesterday, but I finished and I’m besides myself with excitement :). Even though a heap of stuff still waits to be done (and probably always will), a few major hurdles are out of my way. I finally feel good for a change and I can dare to have some hope that things can work out. So now I’m relishing a glass of wine :). I absolutely have to celebrate this.

It was a festive day all around. My organization celebrates its 40th anniversary this year and we had a very nice lunch at The Ritz. It was very basic (we didn’t have any wine, which would have been a nice addition), but I think it was a very classy gesture. As a nonprofit, to do that for a staff of over 300 is quite something. It’s quality over quantity. Plus, we’re one block away from The Ritz, so we just walked over there. The hotel staff must have had an interesting day; I bet they don’t see 250 people walk into their building every day 😀

Then, the celebration itself was very touching. Our founding president, now retired, is still coming in every day, even though he doesn’t get a paycheck anymore. Our current president quipped, “that’s an offer that I’d like to extend to all of you” 😀 And then there are people who have been there for more than 30 years, which is pretty amazing for an American organization. We got to hear folks reminisce how they were doing economic research when not even fax machines existed 🙂 It was very touching for me to see how invested in this place so many people are. Not that I didn’t know that already, but it made me feel belong, too. Sigh… I love this place.

And, to top it all, last week an ex-boyfriend that I hadn’t talked to in 12 years dropped me an email at work. My jaw dropped. For at least 10 of those 12 years I wouldn’t have been able to talk to him but I was just thinking lately that now I finally got over the bitterness and I was wondering what he was doing. So he materialized out of thin air, just like things seem to always do for me. We had a really wonderful chat and were both happy about this renewed connection. Our lives are on different paths, but I was surprised that the fondness and affection were there, intact; even better, they’re now purged of all the noise and tension inevitable in a relationship. And we picked up the conversation from where we left off as if we last talked yesterday.

In the same vein of good news, my bike is tuned-up and the weather tomorrow is going to be gorgeous so I can’t wait to hit the trails.

So right now life is good; unexpected sunshine in my otherwise cloudy life.

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Coming Attractions

Posted by thearrow on April 17, 2008

Inspired/urged by other people’s posts and tagging, I decided to say what I’m going to write about in the near future. Maybe not the wisest idea because it creates expectations but I feel somewhat safe because the posts are already half-formed in my head. And then I secretly hope that folks will nudge me if I don’t deliver :).

Alexedi deserves a post on water. He hasn’t tagged me, but I’ve been meaning to write about this (in general) for some time and, without knowing it, he gave the topic a sense of urgency. He probably knows what’s coming :).

Oblia has tagged other people with saying what five qualities in a person inspire their respect. I’m concocting a mesh of that with some observations about what I like here in the U.S. Again, something I’ve been planning to write about and Oblia focused my attention.

Ionuka tagged me with posting pics of what I see when I wake up. It’s hard for me to resist anything that has to do with pics :). I just shipped my camera to a repair shop, though, so it will take a bit until I do this one.

I hope to have one down over the weekend.

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Wishful Thinking

Posted by thearrow on April 14, 2008

Lately, it’s become harder and harder for me to figure out what I really want. Apart from a few very specific things, like a digital SLR, more money, and a more stable situation, I can’t put my finger on it. Things used to be so clear for me when I was younger; another reason to miss my 20s. I was enthusiastic about school, work, friends, concerts, everything. Now I feel like something died in me. Sure, you can’t, nor should you, be mentally in your 20s forever but I miss the kind of decisiveness I used to have. I ALWAYS knew what I wanted.

One main reason for my being so wishy-washy is that I learned (the hard way, as usual) that not everything you really want is good for you. In the be-careful-what-you-wish-for department, I dreamed big, the dreams came true against all odds, only to feel like I got the short end of the stick. Now I second guess my choices. And then I realize that some things I dream of are in complete contradiction with how I am and I haven’t found a way to reconcile that. I guess because I’m an only child and I have just my parents and an aunt for close family (and, of course, my dog :), the ideal life in my imagination would be a big, gregarious family that would give me a sense of protection. But that clearly wouldn’t work for me since I barely get together even with friends these days and I just want to be by myself. Realistically speaking, I can’t imagine putting up with a lot of relatives :). I have zero tolerance for spending time with people I don’t like and never really liked the concept of relatives anyway. No matter; my imagination keeps going in the opposite direction.

Everything else is even murkier. Professionally, I like it where I am and I get frustrated when I can’t do things as well as I’d like to, but I don’t have the same zest I used to have. And, with everyone else around me being so articulate and super intelligent, it feels like an insurmountable task to become more competitive. Sure, I try to be better every day; I just can’t hope I’ll get where I want any time soon :). And I’m not even too sure where I want to get, so forget about the ever stupid brilliant interview question, “where do you see yourself in 5 years?” 🙂

And personally… well, that’s the biggest cloud of nothing you’ve ever seen :). Sometimes (for maybe 5 minutes every week) I want to be in a relationship. But when I think of figuring out the whole male-female miscommunication stuff again, not to mention explaining my complicated situation and hoping the other person will understand and accept it, thank you but no thank you. I already have a job and get paid for it. Plus, I cannot imagine accommodating someone else for 5 minutes of my life right now. I’m on autopilot with my work-gym-home routine and the thing I want the most is the least disturbance possible. So I miss my enthusiasm but I love my peace of mind. Maybe things will be the way they used to be when I know where the heck I’m going to put roots down. Until then, the buzz at the back of my head takes away any extra energy I might otherwise have left after 9-10 hours at work and 90 push-ups :)).

Speaking of, Susan (my beloved trainer) was on vacation for three weeks and just got back today. We were all hoping she’d have mercy on us but, alas, we had to do 3 sets of 30. We were all moaning and groaning and she had us count to make sure we breathe. Heh-heh.

But back to the wishful sheep, I really wish I knew what I wanted, so to speak :). I think this is probably one of the best ways of knowing yourself. On the one hand, you have to know yourself to know what your want; on the other, you learn more about yourself as you go through the exercise of figuring out what you want and, quite possibly, maybe learn some hard truths about yourself while you’re at it. I’m still somewhat paralyzed by the fear that maybe what I want isn’t really what’s good for me. So I keep the images of the things I want in the shape of a glimmer, never too well-defined. Also, my mind refuses to be specific because I actually don’t believe those things are possible; they seem too pie-in-the-sky, so I give up on the exercise altogether. And I think that’s really dangerous because nothing good can come out of not knowing what the heck you want.

So here I am, wishing I could wish…

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