The Chronicles of a Witty Observer

The Quirks of Life

My 2012 Resolutions…As If You’d Care

Normally, New Year’s Resolutions are a bunch of royal phooey in my head. Most people don’t carry through with their resolutions. And while most are made with sincere intent, many are just fads, like the typical ’10 lbs lost by February’ resolutions. If I’m going to make a resolution that is meant to make me a better, more self-fulfilled person, I’m going to personalize the shit out of my resolution so that I have the greatest chance of success, right? There really should be a lot of planning and thought that goes into creating a single resolution.

Well, guess what? I made two! One to improve upon a flaw, and one to open my mind to something new.

RESOLUTION A: I will *permanently* beat my sugar addiction, and be able to painlessly refuse a piece of chocolate by June.
Don’t laugh. I do, indeed, have a tragic addiction to both simple and complex sugars (which has been scientifically proven to be possible). It has, I believe, led to the fact that I feel absolutely gross even when I eat something healthy, like a salad. My theory is, without sugar, there will be no guilt, and my food phobias will be significantly reduced. Sugar apparently can inhibit brain function, and I have candy at least once daily to curb my craving.

I understand this challenge will be painful. I could possibly experience withdrawal symptoms similar to an alcoholic’s hangover. Candy surrounds me in stores, malls, and even in the office. Learning to resist my favorite food in the Universe is going to kick my ass so hard I could possibly die an emotional death if I don’t do this right. That’s why I added the second part of this first resolution. It gives me a realistic time frame in which to overcome Stage A, which is sugar-toxification, and transition to Stage B: ignoring the cravings.

I’m also doing this not just to curb a bad habit, but to prove to myself that I can do it. I’ve always been convinced I have minimal will power. I will say I’ll wake up at 6AM to hit the gym, then hit the snooze button and lock my cat out of my room so he won’t disturb me when I sleep in until 8:30. I’ve always been a spur-of-the-moment type, and when it comes to laziness, I’m about as miserably and tragically endowed as they come. If I don’t feel it, I rarely press through the laziness and overcome it in order to do what I need to.

RESOLUTION B: I will take up archery, and shoot three bulls-eyes by the end of 2012.
I am TOTALLY not doing this because of Disney/Pixar’s Brave coming out next year, and doing this will completely make me the ideal candidate to cosplay Princess Merida…despite us having the same hair, same personality, same heritage, and same degree of epic awesomeness (and I can just tell this from the trailer).

No, I’m doing this to counter-act some of my lazy personality. In my area, the closest archery club is 15+ miles away. This one will help me built up my motivation, and take on a hobby that is actually active. You know, something other than reading, writing, and needlepointing. I’ve actually privately wanted to take this up for a few years, and now that I’m not afraid to drive anymore, I think I can make that trip 15 miles down the freeway once or twice a week. I went to a summer camp for several summers in a row as a child, and the camp had an archery range. I remember getting a bulls-eye on my second attempt, and was one of only a handful of kids who could even hit the target.

This will give me something to practice and perfect. It is something that will take me time, and again, this is why I added a second claus to the resolution that paints a realistic time frame.

Well, fair readers, wish me luck on this quest! I will probably keep you updated on it if you care to follow me! *deep breath*

ASIDE: The first resolution will not commence before January 1st to accomidate for consumption of holiday goodies, of course!


Oh Fudge! Why the Stupidest Traditions Are Also the Best Traditions

In my house, we have a clod of dog hair hanging off our Christmas tree every year. It’s as much a beloved ornament on the ol’ plastic evergreen as any other.

It came from an ex-dog of ours who now resides in the Blessed Kennel Club in the Sky, Finn. Finn was a hairy, hairy German Shepherd/Collie mixture, and he shed so often our poor Dyson couldn’t handle it. But the one place we could never seem to get all the hair off of him was the place around his touchas. Finn wouldn’t let us touch his hindquarters, and as a result of neglect, the hair there matted into a giant hair clump just beneath his tail, and it drove my mother insane. However, on his last Christmas on Earth, Finn magically shed the giant hair clod, right beneath the tree, a present for my mother’s sanity. She tied a red ribbon around it and placed it on the tree, dubbing it ‘The Magic Dingleberry of Christmas.’ In subsequent years without our beloved doggy, Mumsie still tears up a little when pulling the blessed wad of butt-fur out of the ornament case.

This is probably the most perfect example of why seemingly stupid traditions to one household may carry emotional memories and lots of love in another. We are probably the only family in the country that worships a hair clump at the holidays. Of course, that is only one of many of our family traditions that are ungodly immature and annoying, but yet we still manage to hold close to our hearts. The Magic Dingleberry might not even be the most profound, but it was the first one that came to mind.

But while I get into the heart of this post, let me relay to you a conversation between my sister and I (verbatim) during a viewing of the Rankin-Bass Holiday Classic ‘Santa Claus is Coming to Town’:

SISTER: Holy s***! Santa was a ginger?!? Mrs. Claus too??
ME: Yeah? So was Dumbledore.
SISTER: Does that mean all gingers grow giant white beards, get magic powers, and walk around in flamingly flamboyant robes with droves of admirers worldwide?
ME: I guess so.
SISTER: Just wondering.
ME: That evil mayor’s face looks like a hamburger.

Apologies to Rankin-Bass for defiling their beloved masterpiece. And believe me, that was the least random of our commentary.

I do adore this time of year. You really can tell a lot about a household by their holiday traditions and how closely they celebrate, if they celebrate at all. Some people are Scrooges. Their houses are bare of any holiday décor, be it Jewish, Moslem, Kwanzaa-ese (?), Christian, Wiccan, secular, etc. Others spare no expense, and buy up every possible version of a Frosty The Snowman 8-foot blowup for the front lawn (an example of this would be my Aunt Robin). Some people sleep in until 10AM, some people get up  at the butt-crack of dawn. Some break out the fancy cocoa, bagels, sausage bread, and some just don’t bother with breakfast at all. Every family is different, and I really get into how many combinations of traditions that can manifest on a single block alone.

This is also why I cannot stand the people who insist that ‘Happy Holidays’ is offensive to Christians, who would prefer ‘Merry Christmas.’ ‘Happy Holidays’ is all-inclusive of what is ultimately a month-long season that contains more religious and secular holidays than any other time of the year. ‘Merry Christmas’ is but one of those many celebrations, and the only reason it is so widespread to begin with is because Christmas is the victim of the most commercialization. ‘Happy Holidays’ is an abbreviation that only takes a moment to say. People need to get over that.

Same goes for ‘Holiday tree’ versus ‘Christmas tree.’ Yes, Jewish people don’t open gifts around a ‘Chanukah bush’ or anything, but do these fundamentalists realize that Christmas trees come from an ancient druidic and Norse pagan rite that involved entire villages of ‘heathens’ dancing around a decorated evergreen in order to ward off the cold and summon daylight? ‘Christmas tree’ has come to be the more typical way of referring to the tree tradition, but it means something different to everyone. To a Bible-believer, it may represent Jesus, while to me it represents years of epic gift-receiving and pre-game poking/peeking while Mum was out shopping. If anything, however, a ‘Holiday tree’ is more accurate a label, as the Bible never insists on celebrating Jesus’ birth with a big old tree in the living room. If anything, Christians should be importing sheep and smoking ‘frankincense’ but that only seems to happen on college campuses anymore.

Those who bring up ‘political correctness’ and ‘the reason for the season’ end up ruining the holidays for everyone else, as opposed to reclaiming it. How do these people not figure that out? Are these people the modern-day Scrooges who insist on having December their way or no way? Perhaps so. At least that’s how I see it.

So, too all of you: Happy/Merry Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanzaa, Yule, Festivus, ‘Hi, Neighbor!” Month, Boxing Day, Las Posadas, St. Nicholas Day, and Holidays I Probably Forgot! May your season be filled with awesomely random traditions, and don’t shoot your eye out!

If I am what I eat, does that mean I’m nuts?

Forgive me, humble readers of my blog, for writing about what is on my mind today as opposed to what you care to read about, but I’ve been back at school for about a month now, and already I miss the little things I don’t get outside The Bubble that is my campus.

Like, food.

REAL food.

I know I’ve written in the past about how shitty my campus’ single dining hall treats its students and how limited the food choices can be. But it’s been especially limited in recent days to fried chicken smothered in heavy creams, soggy squash medleys, and mushrooms, mushrooms, mushrooms.

Mushrooms rank between televangelists and exercise on the mile-long list of things I hate. That’s in the top 20.

The past few days I’ve barely eaten at all, because the new BC I’m on is making me one look at Glenn Beck (#7) away from vomiting all over the room at any given point during the day. The Dining Hall is being so kind as to endorse my former food phobia, making my boyfriend nervous and sparking that dangerous way I use to obsessively count calories down to the single digits.

So at least there’s nothing in my stomach to vomit up, right?

But at the same time I’ve been experiencing what has become an annual event with me: the mid-winter What-The-Hell cravings. Last year it was for star fruit and dried mangoes. The year before it was honey-roasted peanuts. This year, it seems to be taking the form of grilled salmon. Fresh grilled salmon on top of a pile of basmati rice with toasty brussel sprouts and asparagus. Sweet, filling, good-for-you sustenance. The ideal salmon filet would have been grilled on a cedar plank with brown sugar on top (not too much, but just enough to add a little sweetness to it). The cedar plank I discovered this summer.

Forgive me while I go drool a little. Oh wait, I’ve got morning sickness, so never mind that. My point is, look at all the stuff I crave this time of year. Fresh, healthy, yet still mouth-watering things. My blue rice cooker can only give me so much pasta and Zatarains beans and rice (which is high in sodium anyway) before I want something other than quick carbs.

I’ve probably had the equivalent of one small steak’s worth of protein in the past two WEEKS. It’s clear in that I’m getting drowsier every day and how it’s getting harder to stay on the treadmill. I even experienced some chest-tightening and breathlessness during a workout I’d successfully and comfortably done for a few weeks the other day. I’m pretty nutrient-deficient right now. A lot of people are this time of year. But I get so pissed off when I can legitimately trace a lot of it back to the fact that my school’s dining hall forces me to resort to cereal for three meals a day.

I could logically buy my own food and cook it…but that’s just it. Like many college students, I have neither the time nor the talent to cook something like my salmon dream platter for dinner on any given night. Not to mention, the dorm kitchens lack the necessary sources (for instance, a GRILL) with which to make said items.

Also, I’m going to Hawaii in a month for Spring Break (!) so I lack the cash to be able to fund a quest for fresh fish and mushroom-less chicken soup (seriously, mushrooms belong in beef-flavored soups which I stay clear away from anyway). I’m stuck to crackers, cereal, and English muffins (with a little cherry jam for color/flavor).

And we can stop eating these things and let the Italian plumbers in the next castle over take care of them…

I think it sucks when you’re in my position. I have expensive/healthy food tastes but no means by which to satisfy them (at least while I’m at school). It’s the same with my fashion sense. I’ve always wanted a gorgeous gown that flatters my chunkish figure, but when I find one, it’s no less than 200 bucks.

My only other option is the Express Café, which the Dining Hall runs because the only coffee/sandwich shop in town inexplicably closes down for the winter. It has ready-to-heat food and parfaits and stuff, but it’s obviously just leftovers from yesterday put in containers and slapped with insane prices ($5.50 for a bowl of chicken and rice the size of a Wendy’s salad container). Students are given a credit card with a 100-dollar balance, but that does NOT last long, between the overpriced chef salads and exceedingly delicious raspberry-chocolate steamers (made with skim milk, so even I can have them!) that eat up my account.

Did I mention the Express Café used to be free with every meal plan? Not the case anymore. Good ol’ Wells! Exploiting it’s already-poor students for every damn penny their worth!

I know I already mentioned the fact that the lack of healthy food is extra-dangerous for someone like me who’s deathly afraid of regressing back into that which was this past summer’s calorie-obsessed hellhole. I’m fighting back the mindset, of course, with all the support I have backing me up.

But sometimes it isn’t enough.

Dear Wells College Dining Hall, Fuck you.

Fuck you for not listening to the students. Fuck you for being so obsessed with goddamned mushrooms and creamy bases that turn even asparagus spears into heart-attacks waiting to happen (they aren’t even GOOD creamy bases). Fuck you for putting out hamburgers every day but ignoring the requests that vegetarian options become more regular.

Most importantly, fuck you, fuck you, fuck you for starving me. Yes, I do, I fact, partially blame you. Signed, Me.

My Valentine’s Day Rant (hey, you knew it was coming…)

Let me tell you a little story about a sad, sad girl named Colleen…

Once upon a time, there was a sad, sad girl named Colleen.

She grew up in a not-so magical kingdom known as Culture-is-Outlawed Wasteland Suburbia (or COWS, now with 50% more right-wing conservatism!). It was a land where Image was King, Money was his Queen, and Reputation was Law (and Jesus his Manservant). For a sad, sad girl named Colleen, who possessed none of these qualities, high school was the bane of her very existence. She had her circle of allies, but beyond that, she might as well have been wearing a chicken costume to school every day. She was an outcast. No well-meaning male would dare come near her, and those who did were not only ill-meaning, but also the very definition of douchebaggery. COWS had very little to offer her.

One celebration COWS valued highly was that which fell on February the 14th, known as Saint Valentine’s Day. This was a day where paired (heterosexual) individuals were allowed to go burn their hard-earned monies on processed sugar, overpriced flowers, and tacky costume jewelry for their significant others, which, in COWS, was the only true way of expressing affection. The industries got a boost, and so did diabetes. Because nothing says ‘Je t’aime!’ as much as a bag of sugar-coated diabetes (disclaimer: the author of this tale is very pro-candy and is using this mockery in a purely sarcastic manner, in case any of you didn’t notice).

Colleen’s very few romantic exploits during this era never fell on this day. They would always bloom in late spring and dissolve by midsummer at the latest. She was never allowed her own bag of diabetes/candy, and her only tokens on this day would be dime-a-dozen Harry Potter paper valentine sentiments with silly puns and shiny paper from the biology teacher. Poor, sad Colleen.

So instead, she took matters into her own hands and gave birth to a tradition of her own, the Valentine’s Day Blood!Fest. Every year, whether by herself or with colleagues, she would pop in the goriest monster flicks and grosses of the Tarantino films and enjoy being independent. Cliched? Indeed. But it was a way to express the true meaning of Valentine’s Day: that some justice-of-the-peace was beheaded in Ancient Rome once. Blood!

She even carried this tradition to college with her, known as the land of Culturally Abundant Time and Space (heretofore known as CATS). She spread the word of the Blood!Fest and told COWS and their St. Valentine’s commercialist orgasm to shove it in their diabetes bags.

And Colleen lived happily ever after…

…until now.

This year, things are different. I have a significant other for the first time ever on the day of the Commercialist Christmas (you know, besides the…actual Christmas). I cannot participate in my own Blood!Fest this year and instead plans to spend the day with said significant other. He is bringing gifts for me and I have gifts for him too. We will exchange them, watch movies, he will cook for me, and do a lot of things I’ll leave to your imagination to guess.

Which begs to ask the question…am I a hypocrite?

Because even now, I stand by the fact that Valentine’s Day is a shameless exploit by the candy companies, florists, and Wal-Mart (because those bastards are always involved) to convince people to buy shit for their lovers to express their love for each other…because that’s the right way to do it in a capitalist society like ours.

Well, I can tell you right now, my guy and I have NEVER had a problem expressing affection, with or without presents and candy.

So really, if anything, the day should be spent like any other for us, right?

Well, I have to confess, I’m excited that I’m celebrating it this year not as ‘Single’s Awareness Day’ (a title which I have loathed since it was born). I’m excited that my boyfriend is coming down, giving me things, cooking for me, watching Battle Royale and Inglorious Basterds (old habits…*wait for it*…Die Hard) with me, and those ‘other things’ (hint: it starts with s and ends with –ex). It will be a wonderful change for sure.

But am I compromising my beliefs for enjoying it and celebrating the day with more than a glimpse of my Betty White calendar (more badass than you’ll ever be) and shrugging?

In my own defense, up until this year, I got a V-Day consolation package from my mother that had candy and a fluffy stuffed animal (I refuse to grow up. I will gleefully receive fluffy things until I’m 150). And this year I was home the week before so she just handed me my V-Day package to save on postage while I was home. So in all technicality, I was exploiting Valentine’s Day from a young age to begin with.

Maybe I LIKE the presents in spite of what day they are given on. I’ll happily accept free things given in a well-meaning manner on Ted Bundy’s Birthday if they were offered to me! I mean, people don’t look forward to their birthdays because it means they haven’t died over the past year…they love the parties, presents, and the attention! Maybe that’s my best defense yet. I was so deprived of all of that in my public education days. Maybe now that I can enjoy it at long last, I should make it the best ever.

Aaaaand now I sound like a capitalist pig.

But it’s the truth. I’m about to face the cold-hard reality of life on my own, working at a job that makes me consider suicide on a weekly, if not daily, basis, and the ever-looming threat of being forced to conform to society in site of what it may stand for in order just to survive in the dog-eat-dog world of America. The more fluff and candy I get now, the better. I need to live it up while I’m young and have a boyfriend who’s willing to buy me chocolate and roses.

Valentine’s Day, you may represent some stupid highly-marketable shit, but goddammit, I say we bury the hatchet for now. Treat me right and I won’t call you ‘Fucking Morons’ Day’ anymore. For once, I’m not going to spout hipster crap about you. Because I hate hipsters just as much as I hate you.

Except maybe this one…

Happy FUCKING Valentine’s Day, world! And Happy Mopey Blood!Fest Day all you singles! You deserve your fun/outrage too!

…and all was right with the world. At least until *cue ominous thunder crash*St. Patricks Day.

You fucking demons have your own rant coming…

…but liquor is quicker! (A Personal Entry)

Nostalgia is a silly little thing, isn’t it?

Physically extinct reminders, both wanted and unwanted, of our childhoods and distant pasts reflect on our simpler views of the world at the time. We call the various forms of these reminders nostalgia, and I have yet to meet someone who was able to resist its allure in one form or another.

And man, does it come in many forms.

Music, movies, television shows, fashion and clothing, world events, cars, celebrities, technology, even slang and verbal communication are all various manifestations of nostalgia. And these are just a few of the more general terms I could use. I suppose not all topics are to be treated equally by everyone. There might be a song that triggers a memory for one person that has no meaning for another, or a film where one person could recite every line from the time they were five (Beauty and the Beast for Yours Truly) and the second person hasn’t even seen. Nostalgia is as individual as people are. It comes to and affects people in different ways.

For me, it’s candy.

I’m pretty sure this is why I was moderately overweight from the fifth grade until about six months ago. I was truly a connoisseur of ninety-nine-cent confections in my day (adjusted for inflation). No chocolate bar was left unturned during my youth. It didn’t help that a simple fifteen-minute walk through the neighborhood from my house led me directly to a Kinney’s, where there was relatively cheap and unlimited access to a whole aisle of both seasonal and year-round candies. Hell, I only needed to cross one busy street to get there!

Not only does the smell, taste, and mere idea of the Ghost of Candies Past guide me back to those golden years of not caring about my weight (and they really were golden years to me, it meant one less worrisome burden that I had to carry then that I carry now), but the candy itself triggers memories whenever I eat them…if I can find them, of course. A lot of these treats are now either extinct entirely or can only be found on exotic candy sites that ship from India.

One of my personal favorites was the strawberry Charleston Chew. It was one of those candy bars I got at Kinney’s. Afraid of my mother’s scornful taunts that I didn’t need the extra calories (however true they were), I would refuse to take my kid purse and instead put the money in a pocket. I’d go out under the ruse of going for a walk (looking back, Mumsie must have known what I was doing all along) and start my journey in the hot summer sun.

I didn’t care that it was hot as I wandered through the woods behind the nearby school that led me into the other side of the neighborhood. I knew the prize at the end was always worth it. And damn, that Charleston Chew never failed me. For a dollar left over from my ‘paycheck’ mowing my Grandmum’s lawn, my taste buds were given the cheap-but-delicious satisfaction they’d been waiting for all week.

Fuck. Yes.

On the way home, after I emerged from the woods behind the school, I’d divert from my usual path to swing in the twilight on the playground, greedily chewing away the minutes until I had to go home to another one of my mother’s attempts to drop a few pounds off my sister and I (usually grilled chicken salad).

Those were the days.

Fortunately, Charleston Chews still exist, even the strawberry ones. So occasionally, I can still find a Kinney’s and relive those carefree summer days again. They remain to this day one of my all-time favorite candy bars.

Unfortunately, like many forms of nostalgia, many of my old favorites are now extinct and condemned to Vh1’s I Heart the 90s Part Deux.

Take, for example, the Wonder Ball.

The whuh?

The Wonder Ball. Bitches.

This candy was too awesome for words, especially to a ten-year-old mind like mine. For those who can’t remember the days of Wonder Balls, or never heard of them to begin with, imagine this: combining two of the best things to happen to children in the late 90s (Nestle and Disney) into a 2oz spherical masterpiece in shiny foil paper. This confection had the equivalent of about two Hershey kisses-worth of chocolate, but it wasn’t even the chocolate that made the candy epic. It was the fact that peeling away the thin chocolate shell revealed a foam ball you popped apart, which, in turn, revealed a small Disney figurine. And these figurines could be of absolutely ANY Disney character past or present.

This was not the Wonder Ball. This was the predecessor, the Magic Ball.

However, due to the combined effort of grown-ups who are too stupid to tell their children not to swallow the plastic thing inside their candy, as well as the grown-ups who get off on taking the happiness away from small children, the Magic Ball was declared a hazard and taken off the market. It was replaced a few years later by the Wonder Ball, which, instead of a Disney-figure inside the thin candy shell, contained a few Disney-shaped Sweet-Tarts and a Disney Sticker inside the box.

Despite the fact that it contained the same net amount of candy as a fun-sized Snickers Bar, it was still awesome. It was the only thing I wanted when the family went for Sunday-afternoon grocery shopping. I would pit my mother against my grandmother when I went to stay with the latter on some weekends, and convince her to let me have a treat from the Wegmans even if Mum wouldn’t allow it (and Grandmumsie always took my side, bless her).

And screw the candy! It was that damned sticker I wanted!

I collected the stickers like nobody’s business and stuck them to my door (much to my parents’ anger…at least I lived in the basement where few would see my acts of pre-vandalism). I think at the peak of my infatuation with the Wonder Ball, I had about 50 or 60 different stickers on that door. One of the best parts was that repeat stickers nearly never happened. I think I only had one or two sets of repeats total. I grouped them by film and had an ongoing contest to see which Disney movie had the most stickers. The winner always suspiciously kept changing to be the most recent Disney movie to come out (what a surprise, yes?).

Then, woe came in 2004, the summer I turned fifteen (Jesus, really?). Some douchebag snooty small-name company bought out the Wonder Ball brand name from Nestle. And put the Wonder Ball permanently out of production. Fuckers.
Instead of blubbering senselessly and wondering why someone would bother buying a brand just to stop it from being enjoyed world-over, I found around that time my candy tastes matured. I still bought strawberry Charleston Chews and some of my other old favorites. But I was becoming a fan of Riesen truffles (my new personal favorite), Godiva, and Lyndt. The days of cheaply processed sugar lay behind me, and I became a woman that summer…at least in the taste-buds department.

*Reverent Sigh*

Nowadays, my waistline means more to me than sugar comas (sadly), and I haven’t touched a strawberry Charleston Chew or Riesen since entering college nearly four years ago. Willy Wonka would be so ashamed.

Maybe one day I’ll find my passion for candy once again, and I’ll stumble upon a Charleston Chew or bag of Riesens, or even a packet of Gushers! Then I’ll walk out of the woods behind the old elementary school, another mission successfully completed, and sit on that swing set, chewing away the minutes before going home to a grilled chicken salad my mother made for dinner.

The View from the Cubicle: Part III (The Lunch Hour)

Mean Girls is not the best film I’ve ever seen, and its’ humor has worn off for me over the five years since its release. But I’m afraid I must make a reference to it when beginning to discuss the typical lunch hour in The Corp’s universe-with-a-universe.

If you’ve seen the film, remember the scene where the different cliques sat in the lunchroom, and how each one had its own language and exclusivist philosophy? You don’t think you’d find that in the adult world, especially in a business, would you? Well, The Corp has it, perhaps even worse so than the movie.

The lunchroom is pretty small itself, but there are still three small clusters of chairs and tables, allowing for some moderate clique-ing to occur. As with the popular girls in Mean Girls, the ‘best table’ is occupied by the pretty young executive assistants, who are not only the most physically attractive but also possibly the most anorexic. Meat, dairy, and anything that isn’t organic and full of chlorophyll and vitamin C is the enemy, and if you take out a sandwich with anything but hummus inside, you will be asked how often you go to the gym, no exceptions. Needless to say they are all a size 8 or under. If you try to sit with them, they glare at you, and their neatly-lined eyes stare deep into your soul and make your heart burst into a mushroom cloud of terror. This is hardly an exaggeration, by the way. They did give me a death glare when I attempted to sit with them.

The young men are allowed to sit with them, even though they receive not smiles but eye rolls when they take out their roast beef subs and bags of chips. But if they are young and handsome, I suppose the ill-conceived mating rituals of the beautiful people are not to be wasted, even during a work day.

The second table is more often than not occupied by the older women, whom I call with affection ‘The Old Maids.’ No, they are not maids by any means. Most aren’t even over 50. It is more a statement concerning their gossip-y mannerisms and lighthearted chatter that reminds me of the dratted Pick-a-Little Ladies from The Music Man. From what I gather, the ladies who sit here don’t have children, are divorced, or lack in the family department by some other means. They only have each other and their perpetually running squawk boxes to keep them going. They are amusing, though. But it is too tiring to attempt to dive into their conversation at any given point.

The third table is the most mellow, the most abundant in food, and also the most accepting. This is the table I have been welcomed to sit at, and this table is filled by the 30-something women with families. But it’s a much more diverse table than that. These ladies also have their share of office gossip, but their conversation always somehow route around back to their children. I, of course, cannot participate when the topic comes to antics of one’s offspring, but somehow I am integrated into the course of conversation once again when the tide of silly things my three-year-old-does ebbs once again. It usually lasts a few minutes at most.

Older men eat in their offices, not willing to take any of this shit.

Another interesting thing to note is the dynamic of food choices in the lunchroom at these three tables. Table A (the beautifully mean anorexics), as I mentioned before, lives off of rabbit food and complains how being 110 ponds is somehow fat.

Table B (The Pseudo-Old Maids) aren’t always overweight, but they will eat Lean Cuisines and salads as well, sometimes adding a pudding cup or bag of chips into the mix.

Table C (everyone else in the room) will practically have a potluck going. Lady One will bring wheat thins and carrots along with her leftovers from last night, Lady Two will come bearing wafer cookies, Lady Three will have a bag of ten-or-so Clementine oranges to pass. It’s a veritable picnic, and everyone gets their share. For everyone’s base lunch that they keep for themselves, it’s usually a standard sandwich or leftovers from last night’s family meal.

The hour goes by quickly and without much event. The groups generally stay to themselves, only to interact awkwardly when the battle for the microwave begins.

Believe it or not, there is nothing much to say regarding the daily battle for the microwave. It’s pretty normal, a first-come-first-serve basis. The awkwardness when a 250-lb Pick-A-Little skids in front of a bitchy anorexic to microwave a Lean Cuisine, and subsequent snickers from the anorexics is the closest you get to clashing.

Alas, would I were able to bring my loyal readers more from the lunchroom, but this is all I have to offer for today. For lunch time is over, and it is time to get back to the cubicle.

The View from the Cubicle: Part II (The Pre-Lunch Slump)

The morning is a busy, yet somewhat solemn time in The Corp’s HR Wing.

Energy is naturally low, though this doesn’t hinder most of the employees from doing their job. But there is an almost depressing tone to the atmosphere. The day is long, and it has barely begun.

After that first hour where little is going on, output slowly slopes to a morning climax by about 10:30. During these hours the only social interaction goes on between some of those who rank above us proletariat cubicle-hermits, like the heads of the departments, who will sneak into each other’s private offices to gossip and sample each other’s candy dishes in a way similar to kids sneaking into each other’s bedrooms after their parents go to sleep to listen to the radio and watch TV (I never did this, I promise).

Speaking of, you can always tell what kind of executive you’re dealing with simply by looking in their candy dish. A pretty porcelain bowl holding hard candies probably belongs to a woman, older, kindly but serious. A plainer bowl with lemonheads or fireballs will inevitably be a male’s, probably younger and ‘hip’, or if it is a female executive’s, she will be pretty lax. Fun-sized brand-name candy bars mean the executive is also relatively easygoing, but will mean business when something serious comes up. Lack of a candy dish means the executive is either very stern, or very skinny.

You can also tell who’s been working at The Corp longer by what they wear as they walk around throughout the day. Men pretty much dress all the same: slacks (either khaki or black), business shoes, and dress shirts (white or blue, with a few exceptions), and whether or not they wear a tie is a 50-50 event for the day. Those who wear ties more often than not are more likely to be veterans of The Corp.

Young women wear grays, neutral tones, and blacks, usually with black slacks more often than skirts. The older the woman gets, the more colorful her shirts get without losing the professional edge. Lots of floral and paisley prints can be seen on the matronly women in each department. I suppose this is what is referred to as ‘corporate casual’ but I can hardly take a woman seriously if her shirt looks like it would have a 3D image pop out if I crossed my eyes.

Yet this would be the mark of a woman who has been with the company a long time and feels comfortable flaunting her rather unfortunate fashion choices. She is to be respected.

As lunch hour draws nearer, time slows. Workloads decrease slightly. The prospect of the half-way point of the day gets exciting. Motivation drops and more social conversations erupt throughout the room. Notably, the executives retreat to their own desks and begin making phone calls or doing their own business. Most have the later lunch hour of 1-2PM, so they aren’t as chatting now as the rest of us worker-bees.

It’s almost as if the employees are just waking up mentally, and the energy increases in the room. This isn’t to say most don’t like working, and most have had a 15-minute break in the hour between 10-11AM. More and more of the lower-ranked employees choose this time to file, as they are finally motivated to get onto their feet.

The dynamics in the wing are much different than two hours ago. It’s as if the day begins here at 11AM. Ironic how the time of day that promises a rest from work gets people willing to work, as well as spreads the energy that motivates the tired to wake up and work.

Maybe it’s just one of the great mysteries of life.