Tuesday, July 29, 2008


I have been SO long without blogging that I had to re-enter my password! That is NOT okay! What have I been DOING what my time?

Well, giving rides to strangers, for one thing. I was driving around late at night on Thursday, after giving rides home to R and A (hi guys!) and as I was driving down Mercer, I saw a girl on the side of the road, walking home. Nothing particularly unusual about it, except something about her movement caught my eye. I thought she was disabled at first, and then I realized...no. She was really that drunk. I quickly thought about my options. She looked about my age, maybe younger, and she seemed harmless. And I would have felt terrible about just driving by. I made a quick U-turn and pulled up beside her.

I rolled down my window. "Hon, are you going to make it home?"

"Idonkno," she said. I nodded.

"Get in, I'll give you a ride home."

"Imna'far," she said. "Jus' the nex' corner."

I understood. "You don't know me, and you don't HAVE to get in the car. But if you want a ride, you can have one."

She climbed in the car so quickly I thought maybe invisible bad guys were after her. "Than' you SO much," she slurred, and sure enough, she wasn't far--maybe another ten blocks. I dropped her off and she told me I was her best friend.

"Hon," I said, laughing, "you aren't going to remember this in the morning, but thanks. People have done me a good turn or two myself, so pass this on when you get a chance."

So. My good deed for the week.

Also, and there is no casual way to say this, the LT and I are no longer together. It seems like we might be able to salvage a friendship--even a good friendship--so that's good, at least.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Ode to My Stylist

It seems ridiculous that I have been with my hairstylist long enough to be a "special" customer, but it's the truth. I was with her when I was Young, Broke, and Barely Legal--I got my second real haircut in T-Town from her--and as I matured into Old, Rich, and Upstanding Citizen, she got her own salon and took me with her as her customer, and then she got a bunch of other services at her salon and she and the aesthetician took me under their collective wing and made me the relatively well-turned-out girl I am today. She was the one who cut off my hair when I donated it; she was the one who convinced me to color it, she is the one whom, now, yells at me to get my highlights touched up more frequently and get in and see Jamie, the aesthetician. (She and Jamie are big believers in tough love, which I need.)

One fine Saturday morning I arrived at the salon maybe, slightly, hungover. Okay, let's rephrase. I was so hungover that a lit match around me would have burned blue--that much leftover alcohol was wafting from my skin. Tyson--my stylist--spent about five minutes with me before bringing me a juicebox. "Here," she said. "Drink this before you pass out."

A little while later Jamie came in and Tyson called to her. "You would not BELIEVE how hungover Aarwenn is," she chortled. "Come and yell at her."

I rolled my eyes. Jamie appeared, stroking my hair and sniffing. "Have we FED her?" she asked Tyson. Tyson rolled her eyes in return. "I gave her a juicebox," she said, with the air of washing her hands of the whole event. "And I wouldn't let her have coffee." Right after my cut and color, I went to meet with Jamie, who poked and prodded at my skin. "You see all these little bumps?" she said. "This is all the toxins you've been pouring into yourself coming out through your skin. This is PARTY skin."

"I know," I murmured, "and I've worked damn hard for it." She smacked me on the back of the head. "Well, now you get to pay for it," she said, and got out her extraction tools. (Note to the uninitiated: extraction of blackheads HURTS.)

I absolutely love them, all the women at that shop, and I love them more because of our different worlds. The salon is all women, and of course my daily environment is all men. I know nothing about beauty, and they know nothing about technology--of any kind--which means that sometimes my arrival at the salon is hailed by cries of delight. "Thank GOD you're here," Tyson will say, pulling me back into the break room. (A sign of true privilege.) "Our computer won't do so-and-so. Can you fix it?"

"Of COURSE I can fix it," I like to say with haughty grandeur, and I haven't been wrong yet. The littlest things amaze them--how fast I type, keyboard shortcuts, Alt-Tab, the fact that I know what a "cookie" is, and not the chocolate chip kind. We're learning from each other, even. At first I was worried that the flow of knowledge was going all one way, that my skin and hair were looking better and better but I hadn't contributed much beyond my IT services. I love the challenge of trying to break down what I do for the layperson, but I wasn't sure it was having any affect until Tyson said to me, with pride,

"Hey, you know how you were telling me what 'nano' was? We had a hella fancy shampoo company in here last week giving us their sales pitch, and they were going on and on about nano-this and nano-that and finally I raised my hand and said, 'Doesn't "nano" just mean "small"? I mean, seriously?'

I laughed. "Good for you! Did that send her down a peg or two?"

"OH my god, it was like I had kicked her puppy," Tyson said, pinning my hair up. "The entire sales pitch was based on how cool this 'nano' was, and they were going on and on about surface area and all kinds of technical jargon, and I just said, 'But doesn't it just mean "really small"'?"

"It does, and it ALSO has to do with surface area versus volume," I said, and, unable to let an opportunity for education go by, gave her the Reeses Cup Analogy. (Later post.) She listened attentively, but even if she hadn't, it didn't matter. I'm bringing nanotechnology understanding to the masses! Hooray!

And I have pretty hair, also Hooray.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

The Need to Ball

No, not the need to bawl. The need to ball. The need to floss. To flash your bling. Okay, people over 35: The need to...oh, heck, I don't even know the older slang words...the need to flash your wad? Ah, I got it! The need to show off by the use of fancy toys.

It's a little long.

Anyway. Sorry I haven't been blogging much. I've had a lot on my mind, and while sometimes it's good to blog about that kind of stuff, sometimes it's not. I've been working on losing weight again--down eight pounds!--and working on saving money. I've been contemplating simplicity versus stuff. I've been drooling over my friend Sarah's apartment, which is a perfect little studio with the CUTEST kitchen and bathroom ever. (It makes my place look too large and overdone.) I've been obsessing over Mint.com, which has a bunch of new and amazing features, including a graph that shows how much money you've spent versus earned in the past six months, and if the numbers are right, all I can say is: No wonder I'm carrying a balance on my credit cards. Wow. My new plan is to visit Mint six times a day, hoping that the very act of doing so will prevent me from spending money, which will in turn hopefully swing the balance of earned vs. spent back to black. (However, in spite of all my other faults, my net worth is not too bad. My 401(k) balance exceeds my car loan and credit card debt, so disregarding my student loans, my net worth is positive! Um. If that even counts.)

It's so interesting, this need to floss. I COULD, of course, take the bus to work, and walk up the stairs, and drink tea, but I sure feel a lot spiffier driving my Jeep right up to the door of my work, getting a VIP parking spot in the shade, walking four steps, riding the elevator up to the fourth floor, taking a sip from my Starbucks mug and drawling to my personal assistant while raising my massive sunglasses, "Anything important, darlin'?"

Perhaps my imagination ran away with me on the last part, but that doesn't negate the ease and spiffiness of driving and elevating rather than walking and stair-climbing. Sadly, it's never cool to arrive somewhere out of breath and rushed. (Busy, self-absorbed, and on the phone, though, is still totally cool. Totes.)

The POINT is, I was recently talking to a grad-school friend, who told me that in waiting tables he had earned more than enough money for the whole summer and couldn't decide if he should keep working or quit and devote more time to his side projects. "Uh huh," I said thoughtfully, doing some fast mental arithmetic. Let's see, call it $150 per shift including hourly wage and tips, he's worked about ten shifts...okay, so $1500. We'll call it $2000 to be generous. Sure, that's a lot of money. And then I looked at Mint again and realized that I spent, on average, $4200 a month. (And no, I don't actually make that much, hence my problem.)

What happened to my days of subsisting on $500 a month? That summer in which I lived at my sorority for $300 for the entire summer, waited tables and participated in a few medical experiments, and had more money than I knew what to do with? Times were certainly tight, or could be, but the cash flow of tips makes up for a lot of budgeting ills. There was always more money. And there was always food, at the restaurant. A human's needs are actually very basic: food, shelter, transportation. (We'll take for granted that said human lives in a city and has access to clean water--this is basic living, not post-apocalypse living.) Once you've paid for the roof over your head and you have a place to get food, the rest of your money--which exists mainly to ensure your food and shelter in the future--should be excess, right? It seemed so, at that time. I imagined what would happen if at some point in the future I got a real job. I might make $50,000 a year, I thought. I would never want for anything ever again.

HA. That is not what happened. Instead, my needs expanded to fit my income. Suddenly I had a LOT of needs. I needed a car--and not a used one, a brand new one, and then I needed insurance and gas, and then I needed to drive fast, so I needed speeding tickets and higher insurance rates. I needed a nice apartment. I needed a lot of nice apartments because I chose poorly the first time, so I needed to spend a lot of gas driving back and forth between various apartment locations. Let's not forget that I needed to fill up those apartment with nice furniture. I needed new work clothes, and I needed (NEEDED) new work shoes. I needed high speed internet and cable TV, and then I needed to rent movies, and then I needed a Netflix account. I needed a better cell phone package. I needed to be online everywhere, so I needed a year-long contract with AT&T Wireless at Starbucks PLUS my home high-speed bill. Instead of drinking at dive bars where pitchers were 11 bucks, and that was all we got, I needed to go to fancier places with my new yuppie friends and order martinis.

Good LORD did I need a lot of things.

I thought that once I got a real job I had to change lifestyles--from the Young, Broke, and Barely Legal to the Old, Rich, and Upstanding Citizen. And I thought the Upstanding Citizen NEEDED all that stuff.

I was wrong, obviously. Completely wrong. I didn't need an apartment; I could have lived in a RV if I wanted. I could have even lived in a van, bought a $25/month gym membership at Boeing, and showered in the gym locker rooms. If I decided to get an apartment I could have gotten a studio. If I had chosen to get a one-bedroom I didn't need to fill it with furniture. Even after I got my work computer, I could have gone to a library all day and used their free wireless connection instead of buying one for myself at home. (I won't even mention how little I actually needed the one at Starbucks.) No one actually needs cable TV. And NO ONE needs MARTINIS at ten dollars a drink.

I'm getting on towards four years into my Old, Rich, and Upstanding Citizen lifestyle, and in some ways, I'm cutting back. I'm replacing martinis with beer and drinking fewer beers. I just cut my cable TV. (Need my internet, though.) (Yeah, sure I do.) I finally settled where I was going to live and I've lived there for more than a year, going on two. I carpool to work and take the bus where I can. I haven't gotten a speeding ticket recently and my insurance has gone down. I switched my bank account (FINALLY) so I no longer pay overdraft fees. Little steps.

But it's not really about that, because as soon as I freed up some money I found an amazing lingerie store and went to Japan and redid my apartment, putting me back in the hole. It's about reminding myself that the only thing I HAVE to do every day is shower, put on clean, presentable clothes, and go to work. I don't NEED anything beyond food for myself and Titan. I don't NEED Starbucks or to go out to lunch and I don't NEED to buy a cart full of groceries every time I'm at the store. I don't even need any more work clothes and I certainly don't need any more shoes. I can try to floss all I want to, but at the end of the day, Titan isn't impressed anyway and I'm home by myself bemoaning my credit card debt. Nothing flossy about that.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Movie Reviews

Everyone go see Wall-E immediately, IMMEDIATELY, seriously, drop what you're doing. It is really that good. Warning for sensitive people: BRING KLEENEX. I bawled through at least three quarters of the movie, often while laughing hysterically at the same time.

However, there is absolutely no rush to go see Wanted, and in fact, you could easily go without ever seeing it. You could watch Domino or Gone in 60 Seconds and have the same effect. Better yet, you could make a screensaver with shots of Ferraris, Angelina Jolie, and shiny guns, interspersed with screen-caps from The Matrix, and you would have the entire movie. Oh, and maybe a shot or two from Fight Club. Having said that, I enjoyed it, because I like all those things--Ferraris, The Matrix, etc--and getting them all together in one movie wasn't bad. Still. Not a work of art for the ages.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Overwhelmed by My Obligations

I have barely started on Japan pictures, I went camping last weekend and I have several good pictures from that, I did mostly nothing this weekend because I was down with strep throat, but I did see the fireworks. And so on. Blech.