Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Oxford Bound

I'm getting on a plane this afternoon and returning to my old stomping grounds. It feels like Christmas-- I don't know how I'm going to sleep on the plane!

In my absence, enjoy my posts from the first time I was in Oxford. I can't believe it's been almost two years. Here are some of my faves:

If America Conquered England

A Tale of Three Gingers

Overheard

Back in the UK

Valentine's Day

Weirdest

Merrily, Merrily

The Beginning of the End


Have a wonderful week!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Heads up.

I am on the cusp of two weeks of adventures, so please forgive the sporadic nature of this blog for the time being. I'll post when I can, but I can almost guarantee it won't be on Fridays, so check back early and often!

To make up for it, please enjoy this photograph. It's my favorite I've ever taken.

Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, 2008.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

On Growing a Spine


In my job as a receptionist, my standard mode of operation can be summed up in the mantra You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. I have to make a lot of phone calls about things I don’t understand, and usually I can play dumb long enough that the person on the other end will give me more information than what I asked for.  Or if I have to ask a court clerk for a particularly annoying favor, I always say, “I’m so sorry… I’m new.” When I’m the one answering the phone, I try to be as helpful and overeager as possible. All in all, I have an awesome phone personality.

But there have been times that no amount of sweetness on my end can soothe the irate client or defendant on the other end. Once, a woman screamed at me for a while, and then said, “You have a nice day, bitch,” before slamming down the phone. I had sat there frozen, mouth hanging open, totally silent.

I’m not a confrontational person. I rarely get in fights. I’m never rude to waitresses or customer service representatives. I think I’m oversensitive to others’ feelings, and I tend to give people the benefit of the doubt—which doesn’t always end well.

But on Tuesday, I saw a whole new side of myself emerge.

I received a call from a man who said he’d been incorrectly served notice of a lawsuit, but that that the information on it wasn’t for him. He said, “I tried to tell the process server that, but she told me it was my problem and then she drove away. I swear, if I could get my hands around her neck, I’d strangle her.” I laughed uncomfortably and then in my pleasantest voice said, “Sir, all we need you to do is write us a letter—”

“No!” he interjected. “I’m not wasting any of my time because someone else screwed up! Why should I have to write a letter?!”

Still calm, I said, “Sir, we need to have it in writing so we can file it with the court and get the correct defendant served.”

He raised his voice to a full-blown yell, repeating his story about the woman showing up at his door and the fact that he’s the wrong person. “Sir!” I said, taken aback. “I’m trying to help you!”

He kept yelling about what a “stupid bitch” the process server was, and that he shouldn’t have to waste his time to fix this.

And that’s when I snapped.

I raised my voice’s volume to match his. I clenched my fist and extended my pointer finger, jabbing the air to italicize my words.

LISTEN,” I said. “I AM THE RECEPTIONIST AT THE LAW OFFICE. I HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH THE PRIVATE PROCESS SERVER. SHE TOLD YOU THAT IT WAS NOW YOUR PROBLEM, SO I’M TELLING YOU HOW TO FIX THAT PROBLEM. YOU CAN LISTEN TO ME AND FIX THIS, OR DON’T, AND SEE WHAT HAPPENS WITH THE COURT. I DON’T CARE.”

“But I should have to do anything!” he said. “I don’t want to do what you’re telling me to do!”

“THEN I’M DONE TALKING TO YOU,” I replied. And I hung up the phone.

I don’t know who she was or where she came from, but she was calm and she was quick. She didn’t mumble or stutter. She stood up for herself. And when it was all over, she didn’t break into a cold sweat or need to repose on the couch to calm her shaking limbs and racing heart.

Instead, she googled the belligerent man and discovered that he was a former attorney who was now the president of a successful wealth management company. Maybe he can bully other people into giving him what he wants, but not this girl. Not this time.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Five Chick Flicks I Don't Hate

When I was a freshman in college, two of my best friends (one of them being my roommate) wouldn’t let me watch movies with them. One too many snide remarks got my privileges revoked, and any time I inquired after the title of their chosen film, they would tell me and then say, “You would hate it.”

Which was probably true. If I’m going to spend an hour and a half escaping from my world of womanly woes, I want to spend it watching a woman of Substance! Depth! Profundity! Who doesn’t need a man if she doesn’t want one! Who might be a little bit clumsy and socially awkward but doesn’t pander to her less sophisticated audience members with prat falls and wardrobe malfunctions!

I’m about to give you a list of five chick flicks I don’t hate. The following list is in no order and is by no means exclusive, and they might not even meet the snobby criteria I laid out above. I don’t hate them because I don’t hate them, okay?

You’ve Got Mail. I have a big-time crush on Tom Hanks, and I’d bet most women do. He’s so husbandly. He’s attractive, but not unattainably so. He’s funny without being annoying, and he’s just sensitive enough to bring you daisies when you have a cold, but not so sensitive that he can’t quote The Godfather when times are tough. Also, it’s a movie about books. And who doesn’t love Meg Ryan and her shadow-boxing behind the counter of her independent children’s book store?



Pride & Prejudice
. Obviously. It’s my favorite love story. I like the Keira Knightley version for its length, beautiful cinematography, and soundtrack. But I love the BBC miniseries—it’s an indulgence. When I read the book, I have a mix of the two casts of minor characters in my head, but Elizabeth and Darcy are always Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth. Speaking of—Mr. Darcy Takes A Bath.



The Princess Diaries
. Abby and I watched this a couple of weeks ago. What girl doesn’t feel ugly and unnoticed in high school? What girl didn’t wish her grandmother was secretly the queen of a microstate after watching this? Who didn’t want a head-transplant-type makeover? Who didn’t wish she could utter Because you saw me when I was invisible when the boy of her dreams comes through at the last minute? Incidentally, this is still the only thing Anne Hathaway has done that hasn’t annoyed me.



Little Women
. I’ve identified with Jo March since I read the book at age 7, and I will never, ever forgive Louisa May Alcott for keeping Jo and Laurie apart. Especially when Laurie looks like Christian Bale. After watching this for the first time as a little girl, I went through a stage of making newspapers for our family and pining after a secret-message-mailbox of my very own. This was also probably the first movie I saw in which someone really nice dies, so that was, and still is, quite a shock to my delicate system.


While You Were Sleeping. The perennial favorite. Sandra Bullock in her early days. She has bad bangs and wears frumpy sweaters. She is kind to the creepy son of her landlord. She dreams about seeing the world while she sits in her token booth at the train station. Okay, so she goes along with the untruth that she’s the fiancĂ©e of comatose Peter Gallagher, but when she’s so lonely and his family is so exuberant, can you really blame her?