Monthly Archives: August 2012

Fortune Cookies of Three, Give It to Me!

First, I know what you’re thinking… Amanda, were three fortune cookies really necessary? To that I say: a. rude, b. they wouldn’t give you three if you weren’t supposed to eat all of them… immediately… without sharing (duh), and c. I wouldn’t be publicizing the details of my gluttony unless there was a much bigger story here that had to be told.

With that out of the way, I can begin. This story, like all of the classics, unfolds cookie by scrumptiously crunchy cookie…

1. “Life is a series of choices. Today yours are good ones.” I can only imagine they’re referring to my choice of Chinese takeout for dinner… perhaps to my (ill-fated, according to my tummy) decision to eat all three fortune cookies in one sitting… or, maybe this is cookie #1’s sly way of suggesting that I make the ‘good choice’ today of taking cookie #2’s advice on what I should do tomorrow, something like:

2. “Do something unusual tomorrow.” Well, that goes without saying… I always do something particularly unusual on the last Wednesday in the 8th month of even calendar years… but, just for the sake of argument, what if I were on the fence about doing something unusual tomorrow? Or overwhelmed by the choice of exactly which unusual thing to do? Honestly, cookie #2, I really don’t see why I should take your advice (aside from the impressive fact that you’re clearly in cahoots with cookie #1, who so cleverly buttered me up by pre-praising my decision to do so). Perhaps:

3. “You will attend an unusual party and meet someone important.” My apologies, cookie #2! You were clearly a setup for cookie #3. I shouldn’t have gotten heated with you.

It’s all so clear… I’m going to make the good choice today to do something unusual tomorrow, specifically: attending an unusual party and meeting someone important! Cookie(s), you’re as brilliant as you are tasty.

Now, I think we can all agree that Tai Chi Chinese wins the award for most persuasive fortune cookies in the history of the world ever. But more importantly, I also think there’s a lesson in here for all of us. There is only one way to avoid spending your Tuesday night fretting over important people that you’re supposed to meet at upcoming mystery parties, and that to request four fortune cookies every time you order takeout. Always four.

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Let Me Help You With That, Karma Edition

As a consummate brightsider I can justify just about anything. Anything except unapologetic rudeness. This is the story of how I learned to tackle my brightsiding blind spot by twisting reality into an example of my noble character.

Earlier today I was jogging in my neighborhood when a giant Land Rover made a speedy left to cut me off in an intersection. It cut things so close (rude!) that I could see the driver’s (unapologetic) face. I got a little peeved, but was too busy huffing and puffing to stay irritated for long. I kept on trucking and forgot about it entirely. That is until fate intervened on my way home and I once again saw our friend the Land Rover.

I’ll set the scene for overly dramatic effect: I’m approaching a four-way intersection at high speed (read: snail’s pace) when I spot the Rover. He’s coming in from my right and it’s going to be a photo finish to the stop sign. Shockingly (read: not surprisingly), I’m narrowly beat by the Rover… no matter, I dart into the street anyway! Stupid? Definitely. Selfless? Absolutely. Cue brightsiding… I didn’t do this incredibly risky thing for the fleeting satisfaction of watching Mr. My-Time-Is-More-Valuable-Than-Yours’ heart momentarily stop as he slammed on his brakes; I did this to help him. Seriously-ish. Here’s what I mean…

…but first, a little math! This, our second encounter, occurred about 10 minutes after our first and in roughly the same spot. Now, if I had PB&J — crunchy, not smooth — on wheat for lunch, and I cut it on the diagonal (crucial), this tells us that the Rover had been roaming the streets looking for parking since he nearly ran me down the first time. That’s a lot of hunting time and I can be sympathetic to the suckage of an evening spent circling the same four city blocks for half an hour.

So, by running into the street like a complete idiot I gave ‘rove a second chance to do what he should have done in the first place (read: right of way, buddy!) — thereby righting the crap karma he had brought upon himself, freeing him up to find a spot, and allowing him to get home a little faster to what I can only imagine are his equally impatient wife, children, and a meal of gold plated mean-on-a-stick.

Hey, nobody says that brightsiding means I have to be nice.

My point is, I bet our little lesson-learner found parking on the very next block… and that he thanked me for it… after mentally applauding my spectacular running form… and complimenting my surprisingly fresh appearance given the difficulty of my course. Anyway, I’m pretty sure that’s exactly how it happened.

That, or perhaps I shouldn’t be allowed to run unsupervised.

PNS (Public Note to Self): You Like Flowers.

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…so stop it with the hemming and hawing. No, they will not live forever (with your wonky steam heaters, you’ll be lucky if they outlast your manicure), but having flowers in the apartment makes you happy. It brightens your space. And don’t give me the cost argument… you spend more on less.

While you’re at it, plant a couple. Living in a concrete jungle with zero backyard gardening space is no excuse. Look at how nice those $2 minis look over the kitchen sink! You love it.

Look, I know you’ve been burned before. It can be hard to trust yourself again after the trauma of repeatedly planting, neglecting, and tossing. Set yourself a calendar alert and get over it.

Don’t let the fear of failure trick you into thinking it’s just not something you really want… because you like flowers and damnit there will be flowers!

Finding the Time to Honor Personal Goals

You’d think this would be easy, right? The tough part, at least for me, has always been identifying and vocalizing what I want. Turns out, while I was recently able to tackle that, there is another obstacle I didn’t account for along my path to goal-actualization greatness: finding the time to make it all happen.

When I was younger I learned that if I tempered my expectations of others and wanted for nothing, the smallest action or show of affection would make me feel spoiled rotten in the most glorious and indulgent way. This was a game I played as an only child because, as most of us do, I required more attention than any normal person should ever expect to illicit from another. It may have been artificial, but I’ve never been one to turn down an off-brand hostess cupcake.

While I actually think this crafty perspective benefited me overall — I would describe my default mood as somewhere between blissfully happy and new puppy — suspending all expectation of others had the negative side effect of severely stunting my development of personal preference. The fact that anything would make me happy, regardless of type, size, motive, or any other specification, rendered this completely unnecessary.

All of this to say, I never learned how to ask and demand a thoughtful response to questions as simple as ‘what do I want?’. That’s always been my tough-spot, my uphill battle, my soufflé.

But there’s an obstacle that I always overlook when launching full-throttle into a new project (after celebrating the major accomplishment of first identifying what I want, of course!). I have the nasty habit of calling things off as a complete failure at the first sign of falter. It’s the perfect manifestation of expecting perfection 100% of the time when a. that’s literally not possible, and b. ‘good enough’ can carry you through the tough spots if you’re willing to cut yourself some slack along your journey. It’s also a bad habit that I’m ready to drop like a… don’t make me finish that bad joke.

Yes, part of this 9 a.m. self psych-eval was prompted by the fact that I haven’t posted here in a couple weeks despite my recent goal to post every day. I started this morning trying to figure out why it had been so long, what I was going to do to get back on track, how I could possibly re-enter after such a visible failure on a freshly pressed goal. I spent thirty minutes spinning myself into the false realization that I’d have to move mountains to set things straight again. Besides, I just didn’t have the time to follow-through on daily posts. What a silly goal! What bull. Do you know what I did from 8:30 to 9 a.m. this morning? I’ll tell you. I fell down the internet rabbit hole until I looked up and realized that the only thing a leftovers recipe for lamb pitas, a google search for Mali Ston, Croatia, and an article on reducing the risk of autism in children had in common was that they prove I’ve got time. And possibly some sort of attention deficit disorder.

Now, an hour or so later, I’m getting ready to push ‘Publish’ on a post that puts me right back on track. Just like that. I’m back. I guess the trick to finding the time to honor your goals is realizing that what you’re really looking for isn’t time, it’s the courage to make yourself a priority.

Things That I Love: Views Like This, Edition

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Finding out last minute that you have to cancel your Thirsty Thursday plans for an off-site work meeting (especially when said TT plans include watching your good friend go to the highest bidder at auction… no, this isn’t a euphemism… it was for charity, sickos!) is never fun.

Thank goodness there are redeeming factors to mitigate the tragedy of such a situation, namely:
• unspoken citywide dress code that allows a maxi-dress and flats to pass as professional attire,
• workday flexibility that permits me to leave the office a half hour early and meander the mile to my meeting (thus avoiding Muni, like a gangster… a gangster who really appreciates nature and early 19th century architecture), and
• being rewarded at the end of it all with a destination like the one pictured above.

Today I learned that work ain’t so bad, even when displacing better-made plans, when you’re under a willow tree in the middle of downtown SF.

It’s All Relative: Sometimes Fantasy is Closer to Reality than… well, Reality

Ah, such a scintillating title… unfortunately, I’m not talking about which Olympic athlete I’d rather see slink half-naked out of a pool. No, this is fantasy is far more satisfying.

What illicits all the hallmarks you’ve come to love and expect from any good fantasy… heart-racing, palm-sweating, hair-pulling, and screaming… but is done fully clothed from the comfort of your own home or local bar? Hint: in its advanced form this fantasy involves elaborate props, such as a styrofoam cheese wedge or viking hat worn on your head.

That’s right, I’m talking fantasy football and the 2012 season is here! This is the third year of our all-girl league (don’t misread that as anything other than ruthless… and proud for that matter, my favorite team name in our league: no cup required) and I’m ready to make my move. Year one I finished third place overall, and last year… well, as my girlfriend would say, the whole season was ‘rained out’… i.e. don’t ask.

This time I’m taking my role as coach far more seriously by picking my own players. Sure, I’ll refuse to pick up the Vicks (dog abuser), Roethlisbergers (female abuser), and Bradys (no one loves him more than he does) — and some might call that putting sentiment or politics where they don’t belong — but if I wouldn’t hire them to work in my office I’m not going to put them on my field. Watch me win without them.

So yes, I’ll admit the title of this post is a tad misleading. But who am I kidding? This body is never suiting up and getting out on a football field. The closest I’ll ever get is outfitting Glitter and Gore (an homage to my home town team) to go head-to-virtual-head every Sunday… and sometimes Thursday or Monday. In this case, the fantasy involves beer, fried foods, and luxuriously sedentary competition while the reality just brings bruises and grass-rash. Sign me up for the fantasy.

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