Archive for October, 2010

Employee cafeteria

October 15th, 2010

"How's the new job?" friends ask me. I give them some expanded version of "nice." After I talk about all the interesting things I'm learning and people I'm meeting, I have made sure to tell the former coworkers, "Oh, did I mention there's a free employee cafeteria?"

My friend Darin probably gave me the funniest reaction. He paused for two seconds and said, "I hate you."

I laughed. The thing is, the folks at the new office don't get it. They think I'm nutty when I get all excited at lunch time. They think it's quaint that I would so cherish an available food source. They've been there for decades and the novelty's worn off.

One day near noon, I announced I was taking a lunch break and added, "I love the employee cafeteria!" One of the women looked at me and said, "Why?"

I said, "Because I'll never have to starve!"

She kept giving me an odd look. I tried to clarify by explaining life in daily news. "Where I came from, food was a big deal. You don't know when your next meal is coming. I've been re-routed from a pleasant feature story to breaking news about a standoff, and had to stand there until it was over. That could be an hour or four hours. I once stayed on a story for 12 hours," I said. "I learned to carry food and water."

"Twelve hours?" she asked. "What did you do when you needed to use the bathroom?"

"I knocked on stranger's doors."

I am pretty sure this holds true for both TV and print newsrooms, and I'm certain it pertains to all markets except maaaaybe the very largest ones. Maybe if you work at NBC network in New York City they have a killer employee cafeteria. I bet it isn't free, though.


I don't work on-property. I work in an office building, so we have a regular office kitchen like all other office workers. Except, ours is an oasis of tranquility. I swear, it's so civilized.

It's clean, it's neat, and it's well-stocked. There's actually a little section of the counter with snacks and treats that various people bring in. Sometimes there are cold treats. As long as I've worked there, there has been a little crate of sorbet in the freezer.

There is no garbage lying around. There is an actual set of silverware and napkins purchased specifically for dining (not just taken from the bathroom towel dispenser). The fridge doesn't smell. Nobody steals food. There are no passive-aggressive signs chastising mystery food thieves. There are no aggressive signs warning of an impending weekly food dumping.

I don't mean to make it sound like I used to live with wild animals, but newsrooms have a different, um, sanitation standard. Just to be clear, I liked where I came from. I rolled with it. But I can certainly get used to a kitchen with sorbet!


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October 13th, 2010

There's been a lot of buzz about October 10, 2010, and a lot of news reports on how it's a busier time than usual to get married or schedule a Caesarean section because of the nice symmetry of the numbers. The date comes around once a century, and I've read that some numerologists think it brings luck and rebirth due to the row of perfect tens.

It reminds me of my own wedding date, approaching nine years ago. We chose 11-1-01 to get married. Not because we follow numerology, though. Because Claus wanted a foolproof way to remember our anniversary. I would like to joke that's so male, but I have ended up appreciating his foresight. There have been years in which I am sure I would have forgotten the date, had it not been so easy to remember.

In fact, because he really wanted a mathematically symmetric number, we had to hustle to pull together our wedding in just four months. We had gotten engaged in July of 2001, and I had fully expected to do the traditional one-year engagement. As we spoke about a wedding date, he really liked the idea of incorporating all "ones" into the date.

I remember sitting there saying, "You want me to pull together a wedding in four months?" I suggested other symmetrical dates like 2-2-02, but it always came back to 11-1-01. Fine. Marriage is compromise, right? I agreed.

The funny thing is, people then assumed I was pregnant because it was such a shotgun wedding. I wasn't, and I wouldn't get pregnant for another six years.

So as 10-10-10 passes and my own wedding anniversary approaches, I'd like to put it out to you. What is your wedding anniversary, and how did you pick that date? Do you like it, do you wish you could change it, and why? And how will you celebrate your anniversary? I might even be trolling for ideas by reading yours... 🙂


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October 11th, 2010

When I was in the Philippines, I went to a place called Hobbit House. It's a bar owned and operated by little people. I bought a shirt and fondly wear it around the house sometimes.


Last night, Olivia walked up to me and started spelling it out. I notice that's what they are working on in preschool, and we've all been supplementing the school's initiative with our own homework. My mother, a former elementary school teacher, is particularly interested in working on getting Olivia to recognize letters and learn to write, but we all are encouraging her to know the alphabet.

The effort up until now has been spotty - some letters, some wrong guesses. But last night, to my complete surprise, Olivia simply pointed to each letter and smoothly spelled out, "H-O-B-B-I-T-H-O-U-S-E." I was flabberghasted and so proud, I ran to the phone to tell my mom.

Olivia recognized she did something great, and started spelling it out all over, and jumping up and down excitedly. After the commotion died down and we were all in bed for story time, Claus decided to give it a try. The favorite story of the week is Cinderella, so he quizzed her, "What letters are these?"


Now realizing she was "on display," she would not cooperate. "G-g-g-g-g-g-g," she muttered.

Claus tried again. "Maybe these letters are too curvy for you to read. Try this one," he encouraged, and pointed to the name Cinderella as it appeared in the story, in a font much less cursive. She would not cooperate. "G-g-g-g-g-g," she repeated.


He curled up his lip and looked at me with an "I give up" expression. "How come it only happens for you?" he teased.


"I don't know. Wear a shirt with letters tomorrow," I suggested. And then an afterthought. "Anything except your Deuce Bigalow European man whore movie shirt. Let's hope it's some years before she learns how to spell those words."


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October 8th, 2010

It's nice to know that my husband can make me laugh even when I'm in desperate situations. I recently had a severe head cold which turned into a sinus infection. I had never had one before, at least not that I am aware of.

This one was so nasty, my teeth hurt and I couldn't sleep from the pain. I had forgotten to buy decongestant, and by the time I realized I needed it, it was after midnight.

Claus, without complaining, left to get some for me. Longs apparently closes at 10 p.m., which is something we wouldn't know since for years now we've been going to sleep at 9. The grocery store closes at midnight, so he had to drive a few miles down the street and find another drugstore.

He returned with Sudafed and questions. "They made me show ID, answer questions, and sign a statement," he said. "Why would they do that?"

"They think you're going to make ice," I answered.

"From 20 Sudafed pills?"

"From a case. This was a big deal in the late 90's," I clarified. How do I know these things?

This next statement is SO Claus, to question the establishment. "Well, couldn't I just go around to all the drugstores and buy a few packets at each one to make some ice?"

"Theoretically, you could," I postulated, "but over time, it would probably be cost-inefficient and inconvenient to have to drive to a dozen stores to make just one gram. That's a poor business model." That tapped out my knowledge of DEA.

Am I really having such an absurd conversation at 1 a.m. while my head feels like it's going to explode? That husband always amuses me. And, I was grateful for the decongestant.


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Did you not get lost?

October 6th, 2010

Once, Olivia got lost. Sort of. It was at a festival at the Blaisdell, and she ran ahead of us in the aisle. It was crowded. We called her back, but she ignored us, typical of a three year old. When she turned to look for us, she couldn't see us. We could always see her, but she thought she was lost. She started to cry.

When I caught up to her seconds later, she had a different howl - one of panic, and it lasted for much longer than the usual cry that I'm used to. I used the situation to talk to her about why she has to listen to her parents.

It made an indelible impression her, apparently. Months later, I started my job at Halekulani. I came home on the second day and started telling my husband about my day. I had gone into several meetings and couldn't quite follow along, because there were topics and conversations that had been ongoing over months.

I was playing severe catch-up. It's normal and expected for a new hire, but it required a lot of concentration, and still, I couldn't completely follow. "At some point I was totally lost," I told Claus.

"Lost" was the key word for her. "Mommy, did you get lost at work?"

"I did, Sweetie," I confirmed.

"Did you cry?" she asked.

Her frame of reference is so cute. "I wanted to," I joked.

"Don't get lost, Mommy. You have to pay attention," she reminded me. It's cute, and if you really think about it, she's right.

For an entire week after that, she asked me every night when I got home, "Did you not get lost and cry at work today?" It's tapered off, but sometimes she still brings that up.


I've been told that at some point, I'll be traveling alone for business. I mentioned this at home on a different day. It alarmed her.

"You can't go by yourself," she scolded. "You have to take someone with you." At least she's actually listening to what we adults tell her.

"What will happen to me if I do?" I asked.

"The bad man will take you," she warned.

"Who should I take, then?"

"Me," she responded. "Or Inca." Inca is a dog.

"You guys will keep me safe?"

"Yup," she stated confidently.

I think she' d be better at keeping me company than keeping me safe, but it's an adorable offer.


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